Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Butterick 5664 -- Lilac Boucle Dress

An uncertain look

A lot of times with sewing you get the question:  which comes first, the fabric or the pattern?  In this case it was most definitely the fabric -- a lilac boucle -- which I bought from Walmart back in 2006, when Walmart stores had decent fabric departments.  I know this because the receipt was still with the fabric ($26 for 4 yards, which I probably thought was a lot of money at the time).

Originally I planned to make a suit, but I lacked the confidence to cut into the fabric, and it has been languishing in storage ever since.  I'm feeling a little bolder these days, so I decided to use the boucle this spring.  I had intended to finish it for Easter but instead wore it on Mother's Day -- it takes me awhile to get things done:)

I was concerned about the boucle -- which has a very loose weave -- falling apart, so before I cut it out I fused tricot lining to the back of the fabric.  Although this was time-consuming, it made the fabric very easy to sew.  I chose Butterick 5664 because I wanted a basic sheath dress, and the dress on the pattern cover looks like it is made out of boucle or suiting.

I must confess that I had some fitting issues with this dress.  It was not too difficult to make, but the way it's put together -- there is no shoulder seam, the sleeves go over the shoulders, the front and back are not sewn together until last -- makes it difficult to tell how it is going to fit until you are already done.  The lining can't be used as your trial dress.

I cut a size 14 but added one inch to the side seams and an inch to the hemline, which has become sort of standard for me.  However, this pattern has a lot of curve to the side seams, and when I sewed the dress as drafted and tried it on,  it looked like a cartoon -- my hips were way out from the body -- quite honestly, I was shocked at how ridiculous it looked!  I should have taken a picture just to give you a laugh, but it was so ludicrous, and I had already put a lot of work into it, that I just jerked the dress off and redrew the side seams, taking almost all the curve out.  Alas, my hope -- that making a curvy dress would make my cylindrical body look curvy too -- has been cruelly dashed:(

Also, I feel like the upper back is a little too large.  I keep having to pull the dress down to get rid of that gap.  The shoulders are also very wide, and they have to be kept wide or the dress will not fit correctly.  Here you can see the color -- it is pretty fabric, and I was glad to find a zipper that matched.

It is fully lined with a light pink cotton blend sheet -- a comfortable choice for wearing in the heat.  However, even with copious underlining and trimming the seams and heavy pressing, it is hard for me to keep the lining from showing on the outside at the neckline. This has been a problem on other lined dresses, too.  Any helpful hints?  I did put some effort into making this.  I even trimmed the lining with some cotton lace left over from my heirloom sewing days.
As I sewed along, I had a niggling suspicion that the dress was a little reminiscent of Adele's carpet dress. I am an Adele fan, but that was not the look I was going for;)  Despite my misgivings, I finished the dress and promptly put in the magic closet to marinate, unsure if it was a keeper or not.

Then a few days later my husband informed me that we had to make an appearance at a party in one hour and were to be dressed in Mad Men-esque attire.  I really own nothing that is even remotely Mad Men.  This dress was as close as I had.  So I got it out of the closet and put it on and realized it wasn't as bad as I thought.  It was WEARABLE, and that is still my sewing goal.
Off to the Mad Men party

Surprisingly, other people seem to like it, which has given me a little more encouragement.  I have since worn it twice more:  for Mother's Day and to an afternoon wedding.  I won't be making another one like this anytime soon, however.

I will close with a photobomb moment:
Ah, that's better.  This is my youngest son.  I have to take advantage of these moments when he still wants to be in a picture with me:)


  1. That's really beautiful fabric! You can especially see it in the zipper photo - very nice. About the lining, I'm not exactly sure what you're saying, but did you attach the liner to the skirt section, perhaps at the side seams? That might keep it properly aligned and not inching down. I don't do much proper sewing anymore, just repairs, and I can't remember the last time I put in a lining! Great job!

    1. M.K., I meant that the lining keeps showing at the neckline and I've clarified that in the post now. I did notice later that the lining was a little too long as well, so I went back and sewed a tuck in it to make it shorter. I've really just started sewing clothes again in this past year, and while there's certainly a learning curve, it's been a lot of fun!

  2. It looks fantastic and it looks great on. What a nice fabric, too. I'd never have thought to purchase such an interesting one. I certainly know what you mean about lined dresses. I have two and the lining is never where I want it to be. If someone comes up with a great response, I'd love to know it. Great family and your hubby and your youngest son is so handsome, too.

  3. That fabric is lovely and well used in this dress which I think looks fab on you. I think that sometimes we get disappointed because we picture something else in our mind but it really does look good on you.

  4. I do love the way you experiment with different types of fabric. This lilac bouclé is gorgeous. And I've yet to see you come up with anything that doesn't look great. Lining things is a bit of a no-go area as far as I am concerned - I get in a pickle with the idea but recently I've been thinking I must get over this as it does make a difference to the way clothes hang. So impressed you can tweak and reshape the fit when you aren't happy with the way it works. Lovely to see pics of your youngest son too! E x

  5. Very nice, I love the color! I haven't made anything for me in a long time. You and your hubby look so nice together, and your son is so handsome!

  6. Angela, you look beautiful, I love this color on you, and the close up of the fabric was wonderful! I really miss Wal-Mart's nice fabric dept. Great family photos! too.
    Thanks for your visit, and for your sweet comment!
    Enjoy your day.

  7. The lilac is a really good colour on you - very flattering. I did get a surprise at the photo of you hitching up the dress to show us the lining though!! Your son looks a lot like you in the photo - lovely to see a photo of you both. x

  8. It is soooooooooooo beautiful!! You did a great job and with your new hair cut it just looks so young! The pictures are great! You go girl...maybe one day I will sew clothes again. You really need to come get my serger and use it, it is collecting dust!
    Love you friend.

  9. I love your hair! Dress is nice, too!


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