Easy pattern rating? Kiss my behind Butterick B5353

I had desired this dress from afar for a long long time – the Butterick B5353.  The model looks so cool, sophisticated…and the dress so slimming and flattering.  I felt as my sewing skills had come on some way in these last few months that it was time to tackle this pattern that had been sitting in my stash.

Butterick B5353 pattern review.  For one true to sizing, and far too small for me!

The pattern rating is easy – yay – should have this done in no time.  I also threw a little caution to the wind. EVERY SINGLE pattern I have made up to date I have made according to the pattern envelope sizing and I have found when I cut them that they were always huge and needed a lot of alteration.  So I had no hesitation in reading that apparently according to the sizing a size 36 bust needed a size 14.  So I cut a 12 – obviously  – and still expected to take in at least an inch on either side.

Ah ha – and this expectation was my undoing.  Perhaps if I had read the envelope more closely I could have avoided my latest sewing failure – described as ‘close-fitting bodice'. There in tiny faint print on just one of the side bodice panels it tells me that the size 12 finished bust measurement is 36.5 inches.  But hey, that's always wrong – except this time it isn't wrong.


Butterick B5353 pattern review.  For one true to sizing, and far too small for me!

Hey, look over there, not at this dress…

Described as ‘easy' in the pattern rating, I certainly didn't find it easy at all. Granted, it is my first time doing a complete dress lining and with the funny neckband it didn't really fit into any of the usual tutorials for how to line a dress bodice, and I had to sew most of it by hand.

I could tell right away that it was going to be borderline too small, but anything worth doing is worth doing well, so I persevered and used this as an exercise in dress-making, rather than an exercise in making something that would properly fit me.  The lining is lovely and makes the dress feel quite special and expensive when worn, and my finishing and lining up of seams etc, my zip – all probably the best I have done to date.

Butterick B5353

You can see in this picture just how little room there is in the bust from the side view.  The bust isn't that much larger round than the waist/ribcage!  Although those seams look pretty damn good.  Looking again at the pattern envelope, the dress is being modeled by a woman with no obvious bust so I guess it must be designed for a small cup size.

Butterick B5353

Once its finished, I really do love the dress, love the finish and I learned a lot while sewing it – princess seams, lining, hand finishing etc  But I am modeling it here without a bra just so I can get it on and still breathe around the bust.  It's certainly too tight for me to wear right now, but hey, if I ever lose enough weight it could look great so its a keeper for the back of the wardrobe.

However – EASY – it ain't.  Easy if you have more sewing experience yes, but not easy for a beginner or novice sewist.

I really must get around to watching and learning from the latest course I signed up for – Sewing the Perfect Fit.  I just get too excited and charge in – I need to take more time and consider fit more before starting to cut and sew.  I'll try and set aside some time – the course looks fabulous as do the student projects – I want to sew a fit like that!

Authored by: Deby at So Sew Easy

If You'd Like To Support Our Site

If you want to help us continue to bring you a wide selection of free sewing patterns and projects, please consider buying us a coffee.  We'd really, really appreciate it.
Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Easy pattern rating? Kiss my behind Butterick B5353

  1. Nancy says:

    I just read this post. I made this dress and had the same issues – it was certainly not an easy sew and, although it fit VERY tightly when I made it, I outgrew it by the next year. I did get many compliments on it but I’ve had the same experiences with clothes being much bigger when they are finished than the pattern states. I just finished a dress (not this one) that turned out really wonderfully, however, after two muslins and many alterations, I feel that I had created a new pattern and the pattern was merely a suggestion.

  2. Deb says:

    I sewed up a formal dress with almost the same neckline- The bodice was lined, but not the skirt. However, following the directions step by step I did not find it difficult, but some of the construction did surprise me. This is a really cute dress, BUT I am really busty and with it fitting so closely, I can see having to cut 2 or 3 sizes larger in the bust then the waist and hips, and that’s a big difference to grade in smoothly. I have a few dresses in my closet that remain unworn because I can’t fit with the added bulk of a bra, because I did not cut the bust a size larger.

  3. Darlene Bender says:

    I think you did a fabulous job on your dress. I am so proud of you to share with us your “failures”! I have been sewing most of my life, and after I got hit in the head, sometimes the directions just seem like Greek to me now. So I might have passed on this pattern. Also the fact that for a beginner, you don’t seem too intimidated by trying something you haven’t done before. You go girl!

  4. Susan says:

    And I agree. I’ve made a dress with that neckline, easy, my bottom!

  5. Susan says:

    The sewing is great. A little more attention to choosing a style to suit and you’ll be there.

  6. Cat says:

    It’s beautiful! Love the color, the clean lines, and impeccably finished, so pretty on you! I agree – it looks more advanced than easy. But perfect for breakfast at Tiffany’s in the caymans!

  7. Ang says:

    Love this dress, you do look great – such a shame, but yes I too have been there.
    If you can’t let out the seams etc as suggested above, can’t you use a matching/co-ordinating fabric to either re-make the whole top OR insert some strips down the side seams to just allow that extra bit of ease required. It can be quite an effective look if done right….just a thought!!

  8. Susan Ramsay says:

    To all: I, too, sewed in high school and knew what size to buy. As the years go by our shapes change. Not just bigger, but sagging butts etc. I have finally gotten to the point of measuring the pattern at critical points. ie bust, waist, hips and adding an inch for ease of wearing. I don’t want it skin tight. Another good point to measure is sitting down with a straight ruler or yardstick, the crotch length. I am short, and I’m short there, short from shoulder to bust point. Ready made Vee necks are generally too low cut for me unless they are petites. Measure yourself, and measure your pattern and adjust accordingly. I find Buttericks don’t fit well through the shoulders in jackets and blazers. If you take in the jacket, you also have to take in the collar, facing, interfacing. Sometimes it is just too much altering! Another problem is a long waist. My daughter is longwaisted, and I adjusted a scoop neck dress to fit, but forgot that that meant the neckline got too deep. Live and learn, or sew and learn.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Thank you for your insight and all those tips Susan. I think getting a god fit is the greatest challenge when you start out in sewing, and probably the area where you continue to improve all your life. I hope I’ll improve!

  9. Theresa Hemming says:

    Thanks for this. I have already ;purchased the pattern for this dress and didn’t realise there were ratings i.e easy/hard etc. I have just got back into sewing and haven’t made a dress to a pattern since school which was 40 years ago . . . Oh heck!! But I will try and maybe I will place pictures when finished . . .or not, depending how it looks 😀

    • Deby Coles says:

      Good luck with it Theresa. Sometimes things come together easily and sometimes I just can’t get my head around it! Good luck with the pattern. I does look a really cute dress, I just made it too small!

  10. ratkin412 says:

    Thank you for your information. I am going to make this dress and your thoughts on the process are going to be very helpful to me. 🙂

  11. Pam says:

    I always find Butterick patterns to be on the large side, so I’d be caught out, too. You’ve done a great job sewing it!!!

  12. Michelle Day says:

    WOW! You did a fantastic job! Those seams are perfectly lined up! This is a very pretty dress and looks great on you. Thanks for sharing at Tasty Creations. Have a great weekend.

  13. titicrafty says:

    Hey You look awesome inside that dress… I don’t know if it feels awesome but it does look awesome. I think it was worth it! I use to sew when I was in Venezuela and I remember making some fancy dresses when I was like 18 years old. I really miss it!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Bewitch Me & Titi! Hope to have you back next Sunday with more awesome shares!

    Hope you are having a lovely week

    Cami @ TitiCrafty by Camila

  14. titicrafty says:

    Hey You look awesome inside that dress… I don’t know if it feels awesome but it does look awesome. I think it was worth it! I use to sew when I was in Venezuela and I remember making some fancy dresses when I was like 18 years old. I really miss it!
    Hope you are having a lovely week

  15. Natalie Buehler (@Marigoldsloft) says:

    Wow, again another amazing sew!
    Thanks for sharing on Tutorial Thursdays, I look forward to visiting your crafts again this week.
    Marigolds’ Loft

  16. It was worth the pain. it looks fabulous on! Thanks for linking up. Today a new party should open… and look forward to seeing there. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on. ~ Rose

  17. Justine says:

    I am trying to take more care with my sewing too, instead of rushing through a project to blog about it. there is no way to let out the princess seams a little. That would really help. I would take it out a little at every seam then it should fit fine. Also if you made the seam at the shoulders smaller that would help too. but you would have to remove the lining. Yikes!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Sigh – yes it all just ‘seams’ like too much work and I’m sure all the previous sewing lines would show. I rush too much because my time is so limited and I have so much I want to try out and so much to learn still. Fit is still the biggest challenge – everything is usually huge – but not this time. It was an interesting sewing and learning experience and I’m confident I might be able to wear it if I lose a few pounds. Thanks for dropping by.

  18. Amy Mayen says:

    Love the dress….I noticed your side seams look immaculate. I love it when everything lines up perfectly!

    • Deby Coles says:

      Oh yeah, that just happened….I wish ! I am really trying to take a lot of care on the details when I sew because I know what everyone out there in blogging land is looking at! Wonky seams, unmatched patterns, droopy hems, anything uneven-all very strong in my sewing repertoire, but I’m learning and improving all the time. So although it didn’t fit, it was well made and beautifully finished! Gah – you can’t have everything.

    • Deby Coles says:

      Love your blog Amy – I’m following you in my reader. Great content.

  19. Zoe says:

    The dress is sewn so well, such a pity it doesn’t fit! Lots of people rush in, because making and fitting a toile isn’t fun as where sewing the actual garment and having a new item of clothing is! I echo what Emma said, if your seam allowances were quite big you could probably let them out to give yourself some more room.

    • Lisa says:

      The dress looks great on you. I started sewing when I was 9, 60 years ago. I made all my clothes but haven’t sewn in about 25 years. When I was a teen I would have to make a gusset under my arms to fit my sleeves. Maybe something like that could be done if you still have some fabric. Just a thought.

  20. Becky says:

    It did turn out lovely. I have not sewn from patterns for years, but do remember Butterick patterns being more complicated than they needed to be.

  21. Emma says:

    You may be able to gain enough for the bust by just making every seam allowance a bit smaller, especially if the back is in four pieces… You would probably have to redo the zip too. So a lot of work. It’s a really lovely dress, very flattering and you look fabulous in it ( please don’t take this the wrong way but it’s much nicer than the blue one you were making for a wedding). PS I’m really enjoying reading about your projects …thank you for sharing them.

  22. Lovely dress! I’m not a seamstress myself, but you can definitely tell this had to be difficult! Visiting from Show and Tell Saturday. Debbie @ ilovemylemonadelife.com

  23. Daja says:

    Oh it’s soooo super cute! But, just looking at it, I can definitely tell it’s NOT EASY!!!! But, worth it, ’cause it’s adorable!

  24. I agree with Jayne that this dress in black would be stunning. I am also really surprised that it would be considered an easy pattern. Why not re-do the top part in the correct size so you can wear the dress now?

    • Deby Coles says:

      Sadly I don’t have enough fabric left to make the top a little larger. But now I know whats involved in the dress, I could certainly make it up again in a larger size. It is very flattering and unusual shape. But there are so many clothes on my must make list and never enough time…..

  25. I’m glad you looked on the bright side and enjoyed the process and the learning. Sewing clothes is frustrating at times, I agree. Have you tried any of the Colette patterns? they have a similar vintage feel.

  26. Looks great! The color is very pretty on you!

  27. Karen Schulz says:

    visiting from sew much ado. This is fantastic. You look gorgeous in it.

  28. rainonatinroof01 says:

    Gorgeous dress! I love the vintage vibe the neckline has! Thanks so much for linking up at Give Me The Goods Monday! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  29. Bethany the ngnrdgrl says:

    Looks like you have done a really great job putting it together. You seem to have really improved. But yeah, I wouldn’t guess that dress is easy. I tried sewing a button up shirt once and ended up getting frustrated and giving up. Have fun with your new course!

  30. Phoebe Moon says:

    Wow as always 🙂 The fit looks bangin’ on you. Fabulous.

  31. Andrea @ Mouse in My Pocket says:

    Super cute! The color looks great on you.

  32. Anita says:

    This is exactly my problem sewing clothes! I made myself a shirt a few weeks back and figured if I didn’t go with the bigger size, I’d regret it. So I did and regretted it. =) It was too big. I’m going to try again one size smaller. Your dress looks great though. =)

  33. Dree says:

    Pattern companies say “easy” to sell patterns! I pretty much stick to jammies and halloween costumes–fit and symmetry are not so important LOL. But I give myself more time if they say “easy”–it usually means less in the way of directions.

    Your dress looks great, even if it is a touch too small 🙁

  34. Kim says:

    I have seen a few of your projects posted at various Linky parties and I am always totally amazed!! There was one post about a “stolen” pattern…you did not like the finished product, but I thought even that was great looking on you! This dress is really lovely…”easy” or not, your finished projects are great! I will stick to sewing curtains!

  35. Your dress turned out beautifully! Thanks so much for sharing at Project Inspire{d} ~ pinning!

  36. Haha!! I used to sew when I was in high school and college. I made a lot of clothes. Most were easy a-line that I would whip together in an hour or two for my hot date that night. This ‘easy’ pattern looks a lot more complicated than those easy ones. And yes, I did make jackets and more back then… But today….oh my….I would have to fit my pattern. Then…I didn’t have much of a figure so I guess everything fit. Will I or won’t I sew clothing again?? I guess I’ll just watch your success. 😉

  37. Jayne says:

    I love this dress! It’s super sexy and you’ve done a beautiful job putting it together It would look gorgeous in black, the perfect “little black dress”!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *