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Pattern Review: Butterick 5454 Wrap Dress

2012 June 18
by elizabeth_admin

This weekend, I was bound and determined to finish my 2nd muslin or 1st wearable dress from B5454.  I have a bunch of border prints that I am dying to make into this dress if it works. 

Butterick 5454


Pattern Description: Misses (wrap) dresses.  I made view B (the pink dress above) with the skinnier 3/4 length sleeves.

Pattern Sizing: 8-14.  I made a sz 12 with some design changes (see below).  This 2nd muslin is wearable if I wear a cami underneath it.  Without a cami, I would need to do an FBA to the bodice for more coverage.  But it fits fine despite the need for an FBA because it’s a wrap dress and therefore “adjustable” (up to a point).  Actually, I think I could go down to a size 10 if I did a proper FBA as the skirt was a little large on me.  I have to say size does matter a little to me, so I would be ever so glad to be a smaller size.  I’m vain like that.  Hmmm…. food for thought.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, except for the lack of coverage for the girls.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes they were!  Although they are still sewing machine centric rather than serger centric.  There are a couple of things I would do differently if you have a serger and/or coverstitch machine.

  • The neck line: Definitely fold it over twice if using the 5/8 allowance.  If you fold it once, you get a floppy neck line.  Double folded is better.  Ask me how I know.  :/
  • When sewing up the right side of the bodice, sew it using your sewing machine first before you serge the seam allowances or you won’t be able to sew a great looking slit for the tie to wrap through.  Again, ask me how I know.  :/
  • NOTE: There is ease in the sleeve cap, so if you decide to sew in the sleeves in the flat, know that you will have to ease between the dots.
  • I did change the order of construction to attaching the skirt sections to the bodice sections first before sewing up the side seams so that I could adjust for fit at the side seams if necessary.


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 


  • I loved the straight skirt design which will work great for border prints
  • I love wrap dresses
  • I love the pleats at the shoulder, nice detail


  • HATED the box pleats on the skirt both front and back.  They are NOT at all flattering.  Read about the changes I made below. 

Fabric used:  An ITY knit I picked up at Spandex House during last year’s NYC Shopping Day that Robin and I hosted.  It was perfect for this pattern: it has the right amount of stretch and recovery.  I won’t have to worry that it will grow with body heat and wear.

Pattern changes or design changes made: 

  • Since I hated the box pleats on the skirt, I changed each 4 inch pleat to two 1.5 pleats.  For the front pleats, I placed them in about the same place as the original box pleats and 1 inch apart from each other.  For the back pleats, I tried them in the original position when I basted this version together, but I still had the escaping buttock look.  Not a good look I’m telling you.  I moved them towards the middle of the back skirt, starting at about 6 inches in from the side.  Also, I curved the side seams 1 inch in from the waist tapering to nothing to the hip.  Also, after experimenting a bit, I decided that the most flattering way to position the pleats was to have them open toward the side seams.  Of course, after determining that, I still ended up having them open inwards on the back skirt.  Sigh…  I am not unpicking that serged waist seam to correct it on this version.
  • I also took in the skirt side seams about another 1/2 inch starting about 1 inch down from the waist seam.  There was just too much fabric on the sides and it was pleating itself.  This is why I am considering going down to a size 10 the next time (with a proper FBA of course).
  • I added two inches to the skirt length and only had a 5/8 inch hem.  It’s now the perfect length for me.
  • I used the sz 14 length on the ties.  I like longer ties.


Back pleats facing inward instead of outward. 🙁



Neck edge: next time I will double fold it


Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern?   Other than making fit alterations and human errors, no.

Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction?  I used my serger primarily for construction, the Emerald 183 for basting because it was already threaded with black thread, and my coverstitch for the hems and wrap edges.

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others?  Yes!  I love this straight skirt wrap dress.  Once you work out your personal fit issues, it’s a relatively simple sew.  I wouldn’t say it’s quick though because of all the details, like pleats and ties.

Conclusion:  I love my dress, I think it’s very flattering (if I do say so myself).  I’m wearing it today.  It’s comfortable and professional.  Really easy to wear.  The wrap coverage is great, no worries about inadvertant flashing.  I think this is a great dress to have in the TNT collection and will make it up in one of my great border prints next!  Oh and guess what???  This pattern is on sale at Butterick, but it ends today.  So go get your own copy!  Here’s the link.

And here are some pictures of the dress on me.




Now I will leave you all with a drafting question.  For my FBA on the next version, can I just add width at the neckline (meaning extend it further to the right (see picture below), making the pleat larger to maintain the length of the shoulder seam and just curve the waist seam lower tapering at the side seam to add length to the front pattern piece?  Or do I have to do a true slash and spread method?  Please weigh in!


Happy sewing everyone!

23 Responses leave one →
  1. June 18, 2012

    This really turned out great. I love the print and everything. Can’t help you on the FBA.

  2. June 18, 2012

    it looks great- the cami looks intentional with this print, so definitely very wearable. (and i love this dotted leaf print!)

  3. June 18, 2012

    Wow, that looks really fantastic on you! Nice job. Could it be that you’re experiencing a burst of sewing energy because you want to avoid packing?

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      June 18, 2012

      Why yes Claudine! How did you know? 😉

  4. June 18, 2012

    Your dress is lovely. I alway find it easier to do a true slash and spread. It opens up and legthens everywhere you need it to without changing areas that you may not need changed. You may only need to do a small one just to get the fit you want.

  5. June 18, 2012

    Great dress Elizabeth!
    RE: FBA on wrap top – try this link: and this one re: adding in “faux” camisole panels to tops: 🙂 Claire x

    • June 18, 2012

      P.S. The cami-panel is probably more suited to tops with v-necks that to actual “real” wrap-overs – but I thought it mightbe good reading 🙂

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      June 18, 2012

      Thanks Claire, but I really just want to eliminate the need for a cami altogether and adding a faux one sounds like it would add a lot of extra work.

  6. June 18, 2012

    Good job, it looks great!

    As for the FBA, I’d personally do a slash and spread method just because I’m more used to it.

  7. June 18, 2012

    Lovely dress

  8. June 18, 2012

    I really like how the dress turned out, looks great on you. Now to the FBA, I think Debbie Cook has that type of tutorial on her blog

  9. Allyn permalink
    June 18, 2012

    Fabulously flattering!!!!

  10. Brenda permalink
    June 18, 2012

    Great dress!
    On the FBA, I’m of the “best not take a short cut with this step” school of thought – do the slash and spread!

  11. June 18, 2012

    This looks great! You have managed what I haven’t yet – to sew things which are practical and look nice on you (rather than trying insanely complicated things I don’t end up wearing). You in particular have inspired me to try my first ever FBA, just so you know…it’s a work in progress but may end up changing my sewing life!

  12. June 19, 2012

    You are right, it is an incredibly flattering dress on you, it looks really great.

  13. June 19, 2012

    I can’t help with an FBA but I love the dress! You are quite the bombshell in it.

  14. June 19, 2012

    Wrap dresses are the best and yours is just perfect. The colours will take you through all seasons. I too wear a camisole , not for FB, just for security. But this look is fine. Nice job of avoiding packing.

  15. June 20, 2012

    Love your dress! The fit is perfection! And the print is fab! Awesome.

  16. June 21, 2012

    Great dress. My wish for a perfect wrap dress requires a design that doesn’t need a modesty cami.

  17. Susie Johnson permalink
    February 11, 2013

    I want to try this pattern. I did not realize there were pleats in the skirt. Could the pleats be eliminated from the skirt entirely?

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      February 11, 2013

      You could rotating the pleats out to the side seams, but I think there’s too much to account for with that method. The other solution would to calculate how much the pleats measure and remove that width from the center back. It’s a little more involved to do that to the front pattern pieces.

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