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Butterick 5491

Pattern: Butterick 5491

Fabric: Rayon/lycra jersey from Joann’s (current season,) 2.25 yards

Shoes: Chinese Laundry (the blush color is the perfect nude shoe if you are pale and cool toned like me!)


This dress took me much longer than I thought it would!  It is, of course,  entirely my own fault.  I really wanted to use this rayon jersey, because I thought the print would play nicely with all the gathers in the dress.  Unfortunately, I had enough fabric to make the dress, but not to line.  I don’t like to use separate lining fabrics in knits, because it changes the stretch factor (even with a knit lining.)  I managed to cut the bodice lining (although I did have to make one piece backwards, but oh well… who is looking in my dresses?)  I eliminated the front underlining entirely.  This turned out to give me a few headaches, but I stand firm with my decision that three layers of fabric in the front is too much!

Rather than basting the gathers to the underlining, I sewed them to the lining.  I did underline the waist piece (which is only in the front) but did not line it.  The waistband I cut on the straight grain to save fabric.   Since it wasn’t overly stretchy that way (though it stretches enough) I was able to skip the handsewing called for on that piece (tacking the pleats down.)

I  cut a size 8, but I ended up removing about 3″ total from the side seams at the end.  I like a knit dress to fit tightly on the top!

At first I wasn’t sure… should I use the neck piece called for?  I was worried about it stretching out, and the casings were giving me fits (since I had not underlined, it was difficult to sew them evenly.) I did end up using the piece, though my method of attaching was complicated.  I did this last, after constructing the entire dress.  First I threaded the neckband between the fashion fabric and lining (at this point I had not sewn the second line of stitching to make the casing, so it was loose.)  Then I tried it on, adjusted the fabric, and pinned it where I wanted the band to meet the dress.  At this point I removed 3.5″ total from the center back neckband, because it was big on me.  Then I basted the neckband in place.  I still had to sew the casings, and I had a stroke of inspiration – what about using a zipper foot to get close to the neck facing?  So that’s what I did, using a long straight stitch (3.5 mm) and adjusting the gathers by hand as I went (I had to lift the presser foot every few stitches.)  That worked great – they don’t look uneven, and the stitching isn’t crooked the way it was with my normal or walking foot.

I trimmed 4 inches off the bottom of the dress, and then took a 1″ machine hem.

I am totally thrilled with this dress – it looks just how I pictured it!  It did take a long time, but I’m pretty sure that was my fault for trying to squeeze it out of this fabric.  I did not use a zipper, which is fine (the only tight part is the neck, which is my fault for shortening it!)  At this point I have not sewn in the bra cups.   Because it has two layers of fabric and a high waist (and I have no real bosoms to speak of) I’m going without (sorry for the TMI!)  The sides are too low for my strapless.

I recommend this pattern – just follow the instructions, and watch that you don’t cut it too big!  Here is how I’m wearing it today:

Cardigan: NY & Co

Shoes: Mia

Purse: Dooney and Bourke

I’m wearing it to teach with the cardigan, and when I go out with friends later I can take the cardigan off and have a nice going out dress!  It’s 80 degrees and muggy today – I’m a little worried about rain, so I changed into these shoes (which I care less about.)  You can’t see it well in the photo, but this is my new bag for this spring/summer.

It’s the Nina by Dooney and Bourke.  I am slightly obsessed with the color (the perfect tiffany blue!)  I don’t usually get expensive purses, but this one was on clearance (maybe most people don’t want an aqua bag?  I do!)  I’m actually experimenting to see if a nicer purse lasts me longer.  I tend to buy cheap ones, and run through them like crazy.  If this holds up I may adjust my strategy, since after buying 4 cheap purses (my average for a year)I might as well buy one nice one.  This color goes with most of my wardrobe, which is predominantly blue and gray.