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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Butterick 5523

Here is my version of this pattern, Butterick 5523. 

Again there is a back story on the photos. The day before Hurricane Earl we had our hottest day ever and my daughter and I  went to the pool with Miss Scarlett to cool off. The pool we go to is a wonderful outdoor pool with filtered salt water - which is nice and buoyant but you come home with red eyes and sticky hair. We decided once we got back to my daughter's place that she was a better photographer than anyone at my house so we put this dress on me and I kept my shades on to make me less raggedy.  That's the story in case you thought I was a different person and had become cool.

 The back view, obviously, showing the belty thing which you don't get in many knit dresses and also the shoulder squaring effect of the inverted pleats at the top of the sleeves.

There are a couple of things I would like to share about this pattern:

1. I am 5'9" and I added 3" to this dress, if it had been an inch or two longer I wouldn't have minded. You might want to think about length carefully before you cut ( I am lazy and usually add 3" to everything.)

2. The bodice is zero ease, i.e. the same measurements as you are and so maybe it looks a bit tight across the back, since it is a knit. It feels fine on but I would be very careful and use a knit with a fair bit of stretch for this pattern. In fact I think the window of suitable knits is fairly narrow. A heavier knit like a ponte would not have enough movement ease, unless you added or cut a size larger, but a lighter knit would not have the body to support the back belt or hold the pleats. I used a fairly substantial rayon interlock and that seemed right to me.

3. Since the bodice is zero ease the instruction to sew a casing between the bodice and skirt and insert elastic is unnecessary since this seam already fits close to the body and adding elastic runs the risk of adding bulk or distorting this seam. Forget this step, you won't miss it.

4. OK this is making me crazy but the construction advice for sewing with knits continues to be out to lunch. What matters when you sew with a knit is that the shoulders are stable (add tape or interfacing) and that the seam stretch. Use a serger or alternately, and this is what I did because I find it makes the most discrete seams in a knit dress, stitch with a very tiny, zig zag.

It is also important, if you don't want your knits to look harassed and tired before you even wear the garment, not to worry the fabric with lots of unnecessary techniques.

So why do the Big 4  keep giving instructions that aren't knit suitable? What is this doing to the success rate among new to knits sewers?

I am sure the folks at the pattern companies know this, so what's with the instructions as if this was being made out of broadcloth? Straight stitched seams, staystitching, notching the seam allowance, twice-basted hems (no mention of twin-needles much less coverhems, or a catch-stitch if you are hand hemming)? These just aren't knit techniques.

Final verdict. Nice comfortable dress, I will be wearing this with tights and maybe boots.

Now two more skirts and then I get to make another dress.


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Thanks for all the tips. This dress is on my to sew for fall list and I was going to use a doubleknit for it. Now I know to make sure I have enough ease in the bodice for my body!

This is really cute on you and I just thought it was a sunny day that's why you needed the shades!

Karin said...

Your dress looks great! I noticed this pattern, and decided I would never pull it off. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on knits. I tend to slavishly follow pattern instructions and then feel glum when things don't work out.

Eugenia said...

Love your dress! The draped neckline and the button tab at the back are really nice. I so agree with you about pattern instructions for knits - I'm just finding my way around sewing knits so I do wish that the big pattern companies would give better instructions.

Joyce in NC said...

I picked up this pattern last week. Thanks for all the tips. This pattern is in my list of dresses for the Fall. The dress looks very nice on you.

velosewer said...

I like how you resolved the pattern to work for you. Well done. It works well on you.