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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.

34 thoughts on “Butterick 5491

  1. This is definitely one of my favorites that you’ve made. The colors rock, the style is so flattering, and it just looks so wearable. I think the extra trouble you went to was totally worth it!

  2. Pretty dress! And I love your new purse, the colour is lovely and I’m a big fan of quality vs. quantity when it comes to accessories! (Except shoes. Then I like both, quantity and quality!)
    I’m glad you mentioned the bra cups (or lack of) as I’m always curious what other people do when the dresses don’t work well with a bra. It’s never TMI when it answers a legitimate ‘how do I wear that?’ question! 🙂

  3. I love this dress! One of my favorite’s of yours! Simply stunning! And like you I’m pretty tough on my cheaper bags as well. Like you said, maybe investing in better quality bag isn’t such a bad idea.

  4. I think this is one of my favorite things you’ve sewn. It sounds like it was a headache, but definitely worth the perseverance. The fit of this is perfect for your body type and super flattering. Great job! The fabric is pretty awesome too.

  5. Fabulous! I’m glad you stuck to your guns with the neckline instead of converting it to a halter – I like the necklace sort of effect.

    Thanks for the tip on the shoes, I can never find nude anything that works with my blue undertones.

  6. Wow. You look awesome in that dress! And your blue bag is sooo cute. I have small shoulders so nothing fits me properly; it takes constant fitting to my bod. You look wow.

  7. I love that fabric and the dress looks great on you! I know what you mean about the purse dilemma… it will be interesting to see how the more expensive one holds up.

  8. I have the Dooney scottie dog bag that I also got on clearance. It is actually coated canvas–I have had it for a long time, and it looks absolutely like new. I do pamper it, though, since I love it so much. I love that blue and would buy another Dooney in a heartbeat if I found one on clearance again! You can’t go wrong with Dooney and Bourke!

  9. That dress is so adorable!! It fits so well. I picked up two yards of that same fabric the last time I was at Joanns, glad to see it sews up nicely. :]

  10. The dress looks fabulous! This is my favorite of all the projects you’ve posted- with and without the cardigan. Great job! I’m inspired- I need a dress for a wedding!

  11. The dress is lovely, your hard work payed off. I probably wouldn’t look twice at this fabric in the store, but seeing how lovely your dress turned out, perhaps I should expand my views.

  12. I love your dress – it’s grown-up sexy-stylish & you look really good in it. I think showing off shoulders for warm weather is great (now I just have to bare my own sunshine-lacking ones as summer seems to be creeping into London here in the UK LOL!).

  13. I bought my first “big girl bag” this fall for interviews (I’m 30 and have been working for 7 years, so I’m a bit slow on some things). It’s a Fossil brown leather tote kind of thing and I’m pretty much in love with it. I too was a Target purse woman until this bag. Now I’m searching for a good summer purse (man, I like yours) but since I’m paying real money I’m extremely picky. No canvas, no large logo, has to go with most everything, and still has to be less than $200. Yes, I ask for the impossible.

    I bought fabric this weekend for Simplicity 2219 based on your review. It’s in the queue though behind Simplicity 2178 which is only just cut out.

  14. I have this pattern in my stash of projects to make next, and I hope mine turns out this great! Love the fabric, and the dress looks lovely on you 🙂

  15. I made this dress last year for my summer vacation and its great to see your version, it reminded me that I was in love with that dress when when I first made it and I need to find a new short sleeve cardigan to wear it this year. I absolutely love that fabric, I saw it at joanns, now that I saw what it looks like sewn up and I don’t have to get it, I can look at this dress whenever I want too 🙂

  16. This dress looks gorgeous on you! You always look lovely in your dresses but this one is especially flattering! Love it!

  17. What a beautiful dress! Saw you featured on Butterick’s Facebook page and had to check it out . I also love Tiffany Blue and would have snapped that bag up in a heartbeat! Glad I found your blog.

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