Butterick 5495, Gather Waist Border Print Knit Dress

B5495 Thumbnail

Cidell and I had a little tug-of-war over this fabric on our Pilgrimage to Fabric Mart in November 2012.  I won.  :-P  I figured I should sew up the fabric so that I wasn't being selfish for no reason.  It's ok to be selfish if there's a reason, right?  I perhaps should not have been so cruel as to force her to do the fashion photos, but a blogger's gotta do what she can to get good photos and she is my best photographer.

My first instinct with a border print is to go wrap dress, but I felt like that was too predictable so I dove into the pattern stash.  I made the Knip Mode version of this top in December 2008 and it is still in my closet but I don't *quite* love it as it is a little shapeless through the waist area.  From the PR reviews, the Butterick looked a little less bulky and more fitted.  After much consideration, I decided I would take a chance on Butterick 5495.

I like the idea of the pattern with its belly-disguising front gathers, but my first order of business was to move the gather band from empire level closer to waist level.  After a triumphant run, the empire waist is over and I didn't want to feel dated.

Lengthening the pattern is a bit of a challenge because there is only a very small space between the end of the neckline and the loop placement.  I marked the center front and side front in that small space.

Lengthened Front Pieces

Then I cut along my markings and added 1 1/2 inches in length above the loop opening.  On the center front piece (on the right) you can see that the length is added juuuuust where the neckline slant squares off to become the center front seam.  My addition kept the neckline the same length so it wasn't a navel-plunger.

I wasn't entirely sure this would work with the gather moved lower, but my instincts were apparently pretty good--I later saw this lovely orange Ferragamo  ($1007) with a similar vibe.

The only downside to the lengthened front bodice is that if I wanted to make this into a top I'd have to cut off the bottoms of the rounded side front panels--the lower seam hits me quite low on the hip.

The dolman sleeves are cut as one with the bodice, and I thought this vertical print would make for a fun/interesting direction shift at the sleeves.  The effect turned out less noticeable than I expected it would, but it is still a nice subtle detail.

Overlay Back Piece on TNT Tee

As drafted, the back is cut on the fold.  With the extra fabric in the front I knew that was a recipe for a swayback disaster.  I used my TNT tee back pattern, laying it over the B5495 pattern.  This ensured that I transferred my broad back adjustment to the dress, as well as my swayback and waist shaping.

Back Pattern Piece

I traced the back pattern piece to a couple of inches below the waist, and then matched it to the back piece of my TNT knit skirt at the waist line.  I matched the length to the front skirt.  With my added 1 1/2 inches this was actually the perfect length for me, though the longest length is only supposed to be a tunic.

The side seam travels a bit toward the back as a result of my alterations--my TNT back is narrower than the more shapeless Butterick--but the fit is good and the fabric doesn't seem to drape funny or off-grain, so I'm ok with that.


I was careful in cutting to ensure that my borders matched up perfectly at the center back and side seams, but apparently I paid slightly less attention to how the motifs would work out at center back.  So I have some cell mitosis going on back there.  But at least the shaping is good!

I have two small gripes with the pattern.  The first is that I find the front facing a bit skimpy, though I haven't had issues with it popping out.

Gather Band OPenings

The second is the construction method at the horizontal seam intersection in the front where the loop is inserted.  The instructions have you clip to the seam allowance--fine, very standard procedure--but the design of the pieces and the construction method leaves you with essentially a raw edge at the point of loop insertion.  This poly jersey isn't going to fall apart or anything, I just don't think it looks nice.  Before I wore it the first time I went in and zigzagged those raw edges together, making the opening narrower and taking some of the strain off that raw edge.


I always feel uncreative with border prints and I didn't break any records with this one either.  I cut the skirt with the border at the bottom, and made "cuffs" with the border motif for the sleeves.  (The fabric is a double border print, and the top and bottom border are slightly different.  I used one border at the hem and the other border for the sleeve cuffs.)  I also used the border for the loop.  Perhaps I should think of my usage as "classic" rather than "boring."


Cidell had me try some new poses.  I look all fashiony.  I feel like this could appear in a Burda magazine as it doesn't show the dress at all, but is so cute you kind of want to make it anyway.

I am really happy with the dress. I received a surprising number of stranger compliments when I wore it out one day. I like that the sleeveless version of this pattern is drafted with shoulder coverage; I can see myself using that for summer.  In fact, maybe I have found a pattern special enough for some silk jersey I've been saving for several years now?

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Trena and Cidell

The occasion for forcing Cidell to take these photos was our visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond over the long weekend.  The VMFA is hosting the Victoria & Albert Museum's Hollywood Costume Exhibit through February 17 and we just couldn't miss it.


This was my first visit to the VMFA and I was just blown away.  The building itself is gorgeous both inside and out, and except for special exhibits like the Hollywood one entrance is free(!).  They have an extensive and diverse collection.  We had a little bit of time to duck into the Art Deco and Art Nouveau sections with their incredible furniture and jewelry as well as visit the small exhibit of photos from the Civil Rights Movement in honor of MLK Day.

Then we met up with Tommie of Unseamly Girl and Meigan of Get My Stitch On and entered costume wonderland!  No photos are allowed in the exhibit, but there were so many people in there it would have been impossible to get photos anyway.  They have so many great things, including Marilyn Monroe's famous 7 Year Itch dress (her waist was so teeny!), the green dress from Atonement, and an impressive variety of costumes from Elizabeth, Shakespeare in Love, Dangerous Liaisons, and Marie Antoinette, among tons of other pieces.  It is laid out well and a real pleasure to see.  The only thing is, the ruby slippers that feature so prominently in the branding of the exhibit are reproductions!  The originals, of course, are in the Smithsonian right here in DC.  They do have one of Dorothy's original pinafores, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West's hat.

Tommie, Trena, Cidell, Meigan

Another great thing about the VMFA is that it has a swank restaurant on the third floor with beautiful cocktails and lovely dessert.  Perfect for getting to know some new sewing blogger friends!  Cidell and I had a great time with Tommie and Meigan and hope to see them again soon.  They were both wearing awesome clothes they had made.  Meigan's pink coat was incredible, and Tommie was so styling in her tissue knit top that she made me think I could actually make use of tissue knit.

If you can get to Richmond RUN, DON'T WALK to this incredible museum and exhibit.  All photos from our visit are here.


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