This here is Butterick 6055, and I have some mixed feelings about it. Without feeling the need to ablogogise, I am stating for the record: this is a very imperfect make. It is not made at the peak of my skills. And I think I might be ok with that (mostly).
These photos were kindly taken by my partner, S, at noon on a very sunny day, so they’re pretty high contrast. Not ideal photo taking conditions but at least you can see the dress clearly! It also means I have more facial expression, although many of them are versions of exasperation! I enjoyed myself, anyhow. They’re taken in Soldier’s Memorial Park in Unley, after a morning at the Unley Museum. My dude knows how to treat me to a good time! (No sarcasm involved, it was lovely).
I fell in love with this pattern a little bit and had visions of a breezy, simple summer dress in linen. I was mildly put off my the slightly strange shape of the sleeves in the line drawing (see below, they’re kind of… tubular?) and the fact that only about three other people have made it. Which is not necessarily a sign of anything, but can be.
But I was in love with the idea of this dress (perhaps an inauspicious start! Expectations to live up to) and in fact paid full price for this pattern, something I never do. Full price patterns here in Australia are something in the ballpark of $20, which is too much for me. I will pay that for an indie pattern but not a big 4 – I usually save a list of patterns I want and then wait for one of Spotlight’s frequent sales. Which is partly why I have very few vogue patterns – they don’t go on sale much. Butterick doesn’t either, although it does happen if you can wait. But I couldn’t! I wanted this dress and I wanted it NOW. So full price it was.
The fabric is a cotton linen blend from Spotlight, from the stash. It has a VERY loose weave, to the point where it would be a bit scandalously see through by itself. Because of this, and to tone down wrinkling, I underlined the bodice with a navy lawn, also from spotlight. I just basted the bodice pieces together by machine before sewing. The skirt is lined with the same lawn. I had 3 metres of the linen, significantly less than it calls for. I just squeezed it out, by not doing the pockets and some pattern tetris. The skirt is a 1/2 circle ish skirt, which uses a reasonable amount of fabric. Because my fabric was thin, it limited the tetris I could do, and I was glad of the centre front and back seams in the skirt pattern.
The collar calls for sew in interfacing, but doesn’t say what weight. Is it just me or is that a bit strange? Interfacing weight can totally change a pattern. I used a medium-heavy weight because I do like a dramatic collar, but I’m not sure a lighter one mightn’t have been better, especially as there are a lot of layers here. There’s the fashion fabric, underlining, and the collar facing, and the interfacing. I like how it looks but it does feel a bit poufy and voluminous when on.
I made a straight size 22, the largest size. My measurements are, high bust 41″, full bust 45″. The pattern measurements are size 22 fits 44″ bust, finished garment bust measurement 48″. I wasn’t sure how an FBA would manage with this shape of bodice, so I muslined to see and it looked fine out of the envelope. I think a sleeve shape like this is kind of more forgiving my dint of kind of not fitting anyone – everyone is going to have bubbles under their arms, etc, so there’s not as big a difference for a large bust.
I say I didn’t make many changes but I did muck with the sleeves a bit. The first muslin, I basically couldn’t move my arms! It had huge batwings of fabric between my arm and torso and I couldn’t lift my arms much at all. I didn’t manage a photo, unfortunately. Given the scarce but hard-won knowledge I have pieced together about sleeves, I theorised that I needed to cut the arms higher up. Here is a good article about sleeve fit for tightness vs movement, and the last image in this pin shows how a low sleeve/armhole restricts movement. I often have this issue because when patterns are graded up they don’t reduce the armhole size and proportions. I need a larger sleeve but not a larger armhole.
Anyhow, I laid the BHL Anna bodice on top to see how they looked together:
A pretty drastic difference! You can also see the interesting collar piece, here. I ended up laying the Anna bodice sort of in between the centre seam and the side seam of the 6055 pattern, and drafting in the ‘sleeve’ shape. It’s much higher and closer to the shape one’s arm and torso actually make.
I also traced an inch more room up the top seam, but only on the ‘sleeve’ portion. So the shoulder seam still sits in the same place, but once it leaves my shoulder there is more room up top than the pattern has as drafted.
I shortened the waist by 1″, just at the lengthen/shorten line. I needed a bit more room in the stomach area, so I drew the darts back in a bit thinner after I adjusted the length. I had initially raised the neck 1″ because it was a bit scandalous on the muslin. However, with all the extra thicknesses in the real version, that was too high and I lowered it back to the original length. My second muslin looked pretty great, so I forged ahead – this muslin did make me think it would be nice as a top, as well. It’s long enough on me to be a top without adjusting.
The sleeves with the adjustment are MUCH better. They still slightly restrict movement upwards, as all cut-on sleeves will unless they are totally baggy. But I can still do this:
It just strains a bit. I actually am pretty happy with the general fit of this now. The bits that I am unhappy with are all with the finishing. The first trouble came with the collar. I had sewn the collar on in the muslin because I couldn’t understand the instructions and thought I’d need practice. That helped, but I should have sewn it with all the layers to test. There is one step in the pattern that I straight up do not understand, I cannot see where it would come in or how it would make sense. I also misunderstood and sewed the back of the collar together, and trimmed it. However, this is supposed to be left unsewn and then sewn to the back neck, and finished off with the facing. So because I trimmed it, the seam was a bit shallower and it doesn’t sit quite right.
I feel like the fabric wants to fold a bit wider out from my neck than it is, and it’s pulled back in by the back of the collar. This is not helped by the almost spongey effect caused by two layers of loose weave over tight weave interfacing and underlining – it feels and behaves almost like scuba fabric.
If i did it again I would also not overlap the back as much – I overlapped it less than called for but even then I feel like it pulls. I would sew it so the points meet but don’t overlap. I also wouldn’t cut the corner of the collar piece, I would sew it on square. It seemed to want to go like that but that wasn’t how the pattern said to sew it (sorry, I don’t think this makes sense without the pattern piece in front of you!).
I read someone else saying they had to fuss with the collar, I wonder if this was the same problem? I do wonder if it’s the larger sizes/larger busts that cause this? I am not sure if my suggested fixes would work, I am just sort of fumbling around by instinct here. I also feel like the top sits a bit far back.
The pattern drawing clearly has the top of the collar sitting in front of the collar seam. But it looks to me like the pattern photo of the real made up version might have it behind the seam. I did think about trimming it down but in the end, I like it enough. It took some fussing and pressing but I am ok with it now. Enough to not want to muck around with fixes I’m not sure will work! Here are the guts of the collar:
The facing actually sits pretty well once it’s on but I am going to go back and tack it down anyway. The interfacing is showing because I didn’t have quite enough self fabric to cut the collar facing out all the way down. I will be going back and trimming this.
The other issues I had were the hem, which was a royal pain to sew. I have worked out that the linen dropped a LOT. Like, three inches. So I sewed up the suggested 2″ hem but it was way way too long still. So I broke my own rule of not doing anything irreversible after 10pm (bad decisions happen that way) and just serged that hem off. That left me with a slightly wonky serged edge, and not much hem to turn up. I just aggressively sewed it by eye, and it turned out pretty wonky. However, after a firm pressing the next morning, it turned out my eye was much better at getting a straight-sitting hem in than I thought. The 2″ hem was, I assume, to give it heft, but I think the serged and turned hem does this much better, in a linen, than a deep hem would – it sits almost like it’s got horsehair braid in it. Next time I would do a shallow hem but with a ribbon or bias binding to turn it up and give it heft.
It looks ok-ish. It’s absolutely far from my best work, and I am disappointed with myself for pushing on when I knew I was making irrational decisions. On the other hand this was languishing needing a hem and a zip to be done for about a month so at least it’s done now? I was going to go back and rehem it but you know what? I probably won’t. It’s good enough. The sleeve hems are also pretty terrible, and I WILL go back and fix them because that’s quick and comparatively easy and will make a big difference since they’re at eye-height and will get seen. Speaking of zips:
YIKES. A total hash of a job, partly through rushing and carelessness, and partly through struggling with the loose weave of the fabric + underlining making it kind of spongey and hard to manipulate. The waist seam doesn’t even line up!
I had said I would go back and fix this zip. I probably won’t. I think I should but I also think the worst bit is under my arm and won’t show, and I am not confident I will actually improve on it if I do it again. I will go back and reinforce the seam above the zip, though, as it gets a lot of strain when I’m taking the dress on and off.
So, all up… mixed feelings. Mostly I think I am cross with myself for rushing and not taking care when I knew I should. On the other hand, doing that got me a finished object as opposed to a WIP which was starting to linger. I know there are things I should go back and fix, and I also know that I probably will only do about half of those. But I also also know that that’s because the other half are things that are signs of poor sewing, but don’t actually show that much in the finished object – or at least not to a non-sewist. I certainly have owned bought skirts with worse hems, but that doesn’t make me feel better for having done such a poor one. I guess that’s a good sign about where my skills are at, but it doesn’t feel good!
I am pretty sure, however, that those annoyances will fade with time, as the dress becomes more of an object and less of a project. And in the meantime, I have a dress which I quite like and I think I’ll grow to love, if I can just get over myself!