Butterick 5778 – a sleeper hit

I’m finally sharing this dress that I made a couple months ago, back in the BC – before cast. I photographed it and everything back then, but just didn’t get around to writing it up, which is kinda crazy cause I love this dress! So, long overdue, here is Butterick 5778:

This is a really cleverly designed pattern. I’m calling it the “bike-proof cowl”, since the cowl piece is attached to a lining/stay of sorts that has a regular scoop neckline, so the lining hugs the chest like a regular t-shirt and doesn’t expose everything when you bend over – or in my case, ride a road bike (which, as those of you familiar with drop bars know, puts you into a perpetually leaning-over posture not at all suited to regular cowl neck tops). Anyway, it’s ingenious. The princess seams on the bodice are fun too, and they break up the bodice into little pieces so this dress isn’t a fabric hog like some cowl dresses can be. I like the proportions, the skirt hangs nicely with just the right amount of gathers… overall, just a win. It’s another one of those “make your cake and eat it too” sort of patterns.

That’s not to say I didn’t modify it at all. I was humming along in the construction, having attached the cowl piece to its lining, when it occurred to me that it’d be easy to fully line the bodice, rather than just have the center cowl be lined as instructed. I had some fabric left (see earlier non-fabric-hog note), so I cut two more front side pieces and another back piece, and I tossed the back facing. I sandwiched the center front between the side front and lining (like you would when attaching a midriff and lining to a bodice, for instance) and sewed the princess seams, then I finished the front armscyes by sewing them right sides together then turning. I sewed the back bodice and back lining at the neckline and armscyes in a similar fashion. I then used a trick from a Burda dress I made this summer (and never posted – someday, I promise!), which was to stick the right-sides-out front bodice into the wrong-sides-out back bodice, line up the raw shoulder edges, and stitch the shoulder seam. Then when I turned the whole thing out the shoulder seam was completely enclosed! I stitched up the side seams by opening out the sides and matching the front and back edges all the way along the outsides and the linings. Then I attached the bodice to the skirt as usual. Whew! Trust me, it was way easier to do than to describe – sorry no pictures, but if I make this dress again I can try to document the lining technique if you want.

In the end, I’m really glad I went with a full bodice lining, as my fabric (a probably-rayon jersey from, you guessed it, the crazy fabric store) was on the thin side, and also it made a nice finish to the armscyes and back neck without any futzing about with facings or narrow hemming (neither of which work very well on knit fabrics). I’m not sure why the pattern doesn’t just include a full lining, since it was so intuitive to add one, but I guess the mysteries of Butterick will never be known.

Anyhoo, the one thing I’m not totally sold on here is the belt. I was going to omit it, but the waistline looked a little barren without anything, so I sewed it on. It’s kind of weird in that it’s just topstitched over the waist seam just in the center front. I’m not a huge bow-in-back kind of girl anyway, so I’m toying with the idea of just adding a traditional waistband next time, and shortening the bodice accordingly. Because, after all, how could I not make it again – it’s the cowl that solves the cowl problem!

My pattern review is here.

In other news, I am still sewing, and I’ve gotten way better at using just my index and middle fingers on my cast hand to hold fabric, lobster style. I’ve just got to sew the buttons on my plaid shirt for my Halloween costume, so it’ll be done in plenty of time for festivities tomorrow. I will try to get my complete costume (and hopefully a couple others I’ve helped make) posted before actual Halloween on Wednesday, you know, for all those folks out there who are worse procrastinators than me – if there are any…

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11 comments
  1. Cuuuute! I also thought the way the belt is sewn on was really odd, too, but I just decided to do it ’cause I was almost done and just going with it was the easy way to finish. If I make this again, I might put a midriff band in between the bodice and the skirt instead.

    • I need to work on reading properly, apparently – you said you were going to put a waistband in next time!

  2. Wow! Flattering! I never would have noticed that pattern in a million years. As someone who bends over regularly to deal with young children, that lined cowl thing is just pure genius. I have a sweater like that and lurv it. Must buy this pattern now!

  3. This looks great and I love the sound of the cowl neck construction – so clever! Great colour too.

  4. This is so sweet on you- I’m going to have to check out this pattern!

  5. looks so nice on you, I love the vivid color. and a cowl that stays put, what a great find.

  6. lisa g said:

    oooh… the cowl treatment is genius! love me a cowl-neck, hate the potential over-exposure! i have young kids, so bending over is a constant for me! not a huge fan of back ties either, i’d probably take the lazy way out and just make them long enough to wrap around and tie in the front. i’ll definitely have to check out this pattern, looks great on you!

  7. Seconding (thirding?) all the people who have gripes about bending over and cowl necks! Thanks for the review of this pattern, and that color is lovely on you! I think the belt looks fine; I wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss if you didn’t point it out.

  8. I really love the color of your dress – so pretty! I am also not a huge fan of waist ties – when I see one in the store I assume they couldn’t be bothered with fitting properly. I don’t think yours is bad, but I’d like to see it with a waistband!

  9. You wear a gorgeous dress like this on a ROAD bike??? You are one ambitious lady. Such a great idea though, with the cowl and lining. Makes so much sense. And agreed – the belt really does add a lot to the back. Sometimes it’s crazy how such a simple little thing can make all the difference!

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