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.
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.
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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.
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.
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