Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Auditioning Dresses to Wear to a Spring Wedding

Our family has a couple of weddings to attend this year. We are very excited to be able to watch our friends take a wonderful next step in their lives. I have plans to make a dress for "Little Miss" and a vest set for "Mr. Man". As the weddings approach, I will make their outfits when I can be sure there will be no radical growth spurts. I had been working on this dress, but as I no longer support the company I am auditioning new dress options for myself. 

First up is Butterick 5850. I was immediately drawn to the cut of the shoulders and the skirt options. It does not hurt that the black model has a fierce natural hairdo and great styling. I want those shoes and earrings!                                     

I like the styling of view B, but I wanted the full skirt of view A. I read the reviews for this pattern on Pattern Review. After what I read there, I knew I wanted to make a muslin to work out any kinks I may have. I shopped my stash and found Pottery Barn sheet that would do the trick.

Sheets are great sources for muslin fabric.
When I laid out my fabric I did not have enough fabric to make the ties the required length or four skirt panels. GoodbyeValentio suggested that the length of the ties could be folded in half so only the right side shows; this saved me some fabric. The skirt panels were very wide and while trying to “make it do”  I found three panels more than sufficient to achieve the look I wanted. I stitched the three together and gathered them on Bira. As you can see, three panels gives enough fullness around the waist of my dress form. I was concerned about where the seam lines would lay without the fourth panel. There were no symmetry issues when it is gathered, the seams are not visible.

Parenthetically, I no longer gather on my machine for projects like this. I hate fiddling with the double strands of machine thread. Instead, I  hand gather using an embroidery needle and a single strand of button and craft thread. I can sew a large running stitch with a continuous strand and it does not break. It is very strong and smooth so gathering is a breeze! I keep a needle threaded with the leftover excess for my next gathering project.

The instructions on this pattern made me feel quite stupid at times. The instruction on the facing fold-line to “sew invisibly” was new to me. I Googled it and eventually found a message thread on Pattern Review that explained what I was meant to do (sew the facing to the bodice fabric with tiny stitches only catching a few threads). I did not do this. This dress is muslin and the fabric stayed in place when pressed and pinned.

I found the instructions on the pleat confusing too. The illustration on the cover and those in the steps were not clear to me. I think the images were cropped too close for me to understand the orientation of the fabric quickly.  I figured it out, but between that and the invisible sewing, I was a bit frustrated with this pattern. The pattern called for a regular zipper, but I installed an invisible one like I did here. Here is the completed dress:
Front Butterick 5850

 Is this a pleat?

Tie end at half 3/4 width and 8 inches shorter.

When I bought the pattern I liked the neckline and fullness of the skirt. Now that I have made it, I think the shoulders are not as exposed as I expected. I thought they would be cut in further. In reality they fall in the same place an any other sleeveless dress.

Like I mentioned, I only used three panels for the skirt. I do not think I would like this any fuller. I can feel the bulk of the gathers where the bodice and skirt meet. The tie helps them lay flat so it is not a problem.  This dress could benefit from a right seam pocket though. With all the density of the skirt, I would need somewhere to put my hand. The perceived bulk of the skirt may not be an issue with lighter weight fabrics.

Now that it is all made up, I will wear this one, but I will not sew it again. The amount of fabric required and confusion on the bodice makes it not worth it to me. I have many other dress patterns to try. I also think this silhouette is too young for me. I am not wearing it in the pictures because it looks so sweet on me, like Easter Bunnies, Peeps and caramel eggs cute! With my baby face and all these polka dots this is will be my only version of this dress. If you were looking to make this one, I suggest you read the instructions to be sure they are clear to you before purchasing. If they are, go for it. 


I wore this dress for the first time today, Easter Sunday. I was a greeter at church and got stopped a million times by people telling me how much they loved it! They used words like, fun, classy, cute, adorable, bubbly, and springy. I had jaws drop when I told them I made it.

No one thought the dress was too young like I thought. This is a reminder to me to give my decisions some distance. The dress felt good when worn. I still feel the three panels of the skirt feel like just enough, I would not add the fourth.

I may give this one another chance. 

Happy Sewing,


  1. I liek your dress. I have bought this pattern and I think I have made enough such tops to know find my way. I was planning to use only the upper part of the dress to make a top. Or to make it with strait skirt.
    I would not feel good in such gather skirt - the same as you - eventhough I like this style.

    1. Thanks! I am sure your top will look great. I cannot imagine this with the full skirt, but I think 3 panels are enough.

  2. You my dear are quite the seamstress. I think the thing that frustrates me the most about sewing clothing is that what I make never turns out like the image in my mind or on the pattern. Although this dress in all it's Easter Egg goodness didn't live up to your hopes it sounds like you learned a ton. Thanks for inspiring Bianca.


    1. Thanks Hillary! I did learn a lot and I will wear this, so it is not a total loss. Thanks as always for the kind words.

  3. if it is too "sweet" because of the color, you could try dyeing it a darker color. might look good…or maybe not…it is something of a gamble with dying! : ) but a dark blue might work well…

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I guess I wasn't clear when I said it was too "sweet". I just mean I don't want to be in a photo on my own blog looking all adorable. :P I think this will be a great Easter dress, but not one for a wedding.

      I have tons of jersey and bottles of dye that I have been too scared to experiment with. Maybe it is time to gamble...

  4. Ooh, I love the black one with the straight skirt, but then you might look too sexy for your blog! Your dress is perfect for Easter. And I don't get why they call that a pleat - I couldn't see it.