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Not a pattern review: Butterick 5523

2012 January 7
by elizabeth_admin

You know that feeling when you’re working with a new pattern, especially a knit pattern, where you just want to plow ahead and cut out and sew right away, but a little voice inside your head says, “Psst, hey there! I think you need an FBA for this pattern.”  And then you just plow ahead ignoring the tiny little voice and cut out a straight sz 14 and even muslin the bodice  in weird purple fabric and try it on.  And you see that you obviously need an FBA, but plow ahead and make the rest of the dress pretending that when you add the skirt onto the dress that it will magically erase the need for an FBA by it’s sheer weight pulling the bodice down and the knit will magically stretch over those “large tracts of land”*.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you.  I know you do.  Where you abandon all reason and logic because you arrogantly think the magic sewing machine you’re using will turn all your fitting problems into beautifully fitted clothes just by sheer will alone?

Yeah, that’s the kind of magical thinking I engaged in last night and it gave me this.


I’m sorry, but my ego will not allow me to take a picture of myself in this dress.  Fat and pregnant is not a look I want floating on the interwebs until infinity and beyond.

What’s wrong with this dress you ask?  Let me count the ways:

  • The bodice is too short by about 3 inches
  • The fit of the upper shoulders is too big, but the back is too tight.
  • The bodice bust is too tight
  • The skirt is too big and because the bodice is too short, the dress hangs from boobs, I mean bust.  Remember when I talked about the shift dress look on full busted women?    Obviously I didn’t remember.
  • I did a sloppy job of the pleats and one of them is noticeably off

I really like the look of this dress though.  Despite all the mistakes I made with the pattern.  Here’s what I need to do if I want to fix it to fit me:

  • Go down to the sz 12 pattern and put in a 1.5 to 2 inch FBA a la Steph at  3 Hours Past the Edge of the World
  • Take better care of the pleats, this time marking them on the right side of the fabric so I can be more accurate

Here’s to a hopefully better dress with the next version.  Cross your fingers for me.

Happy sewing!

16 Responses leave one →
  1. January 7, 2012

    Ahh rats! Can you re-use the skirt on the new version though?

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      January 7, 2012

      Great idea, but I would have to unpick a serged seam. And then work with a minimal seam allowance, but doable I guess.

  2. January 7, 2012

    I love that you couldn’t even be bothered to trim off the serger threads – that really shows how much you dislike this!

    One of my new year resolutions is to learn how to do an FBA. I keep relying too much on “magic” as well.

  3. January 7, 2012

    Mmmm …. yes .. I think I know that… ok yes I have a dress that I love but same problem! I need learn to do a fba and then do it! I’ve just tried the Simplicity with the bust size options and that was much better. Why can’t they all have cup size options .. not that hard!

  4. January 7, 2012

    Ooh, that pattern does look nice. I would totally wear that. I am looking forward to seeing Version 2!

  5. January 7, 2012

    Best of luck!

  6. January 7, 2012

    I think I entered therapy after seeing myself in this pattern. I have a feeling your second version will get an FBA and all will be well!

  7. January 7, 2012

    Sorry that this didn’t work for you…are you going to try it again with the correct pattern size and the fba?

  8. January 7, 2012

    lolol. Sorry, but I HEAR you. Sometimes I am so worn out by the seemingly-endless-busty-pattern alterations. As a G-cup, I *really* get it. At least you know what needs to be done, which is better than having no clue. 🙂

  9. sally permalink
    January 8, 2012

    how to remove a serged seam. hope it helps.

  10. January 8, 2012

    Thanks for the shout-out! 🙂

    I do that willpower thing too.. If only I were a Jedi, then I could use the force to fit my clothes… Do you plan to sew a dart into the knit? I do that sometimes, it works ok. Sometimes I just make the bust area wider and smooth the seam into the waist. It looks WEIRD but it works fairly well. I can take a picture of one of my patterns like that if it helps.

  11. January 8, 2012

    Having just completed a knit dress I knew would be disappointing midway through the sewing process, I feel your pain. AND I love the pattern so I want to make it again, but I’m not sure I want to go through the process of making it work for me.
    I look forward to seeing your next version – I’m sure it will inspire others to never give up!

  12. January 10, 2012

    This has happened to me once or twice before, usually when I’m too impatient to listen to my inner voice and too excited to sew up a pattern. I usually ball it up into a wad and throw it into a corner and forget about it. :/

  13. January 11, 2012

    Yep and they say knits are forgiving! Damnit. i feel your pain.

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