Don't you just love dressing up, and feeling all pretty and glamorous? I don't get the opportunity to dress up too often but I feel fantastic when I do. Way back in September 2013 I attended a wedding in Canberra. Being a Central Queensland lass, let's just say there was a paucity of suitably warm and semi-formal options available locally. I was also still breastfeeding my daughter at the time, and although I'm not one for modesty the thought of wearing a dress that bared an acre of boob while feeding her throughout a cold Canberra spring day didn't thrill me. What to do, what to do?
Rather than drag myself through our local shops looking for something mildly suitable, I decided to sew my own dress. I chose Butterick pattern B5747 as it has a button-up front with removable modesty piece (known as a dicky—don't laugh—that IS what it's called!) It has a full skirt and oversized collar. And the moment I saw the bright yellow sample featured in the pattern book I was smitten.
It is without a doubt the most challenging and rewarding piece I've ever sewn.
I'm not saying this is a difficult dress to sew, it's not. But it tested my technical expertise and really developed my skills in a way that makes me totally proud. There are some tricky bits—I definitely struggled easing that huge full skirt into the bodice, but a bit of cursing helped with that. Same with the hand-stitching on the dress's interior—not technically difficult, just irritating because I really hate hand-stitching. The bodice was quite easy to put together and I used a tailor's ham and some steam to get it rolling correctly.
I didn't make any alterations to the pattern, apart from taking off about 5 centimetres from the bottom of the skirt to accommodate my lack of height. I used a cotton stretch sateen as it allows a decent amount of give for a woven fabric.
I'm particularly proud of carefully matching up the centre front seams and the fabric's polka dots. I'm also proud that I received a lot of compliments that night, and nothing gives my ego a bigger boost than responding, ‘thank you, I made it myself'. Such a warm feeling!
And finally, I particularly loved that I could quietly feed my daughter AND keep my boobies warm all day and night long. Hooray!
Final Verdict for Butterick pattern B5747
This pattern is not for beginners. If you've got a reasonable amount of experience with sewing clothes and want to lift your skill level, then this is a great piece to start with.
- Take care and go slowly with easing that full skirt into the bodice. The skirt also has pleats, and pleats over a seam, so try to be as accurate as you possibly can to ensure the pleats fall properly.
- Use a tailor's ham and plenty of steam to ensure your collar rolls correctly.
- Leave plenty of time to finish your dress because this is not a quick make.
- Use a petticoat to give you a full silhouette, particularly if you're using soft, drapey fabric.
Butterick pattern B5747