Last week I put the finishing touches on Butterick 5179, another little shift dress. I figured since I'd been so happy with the last couple that I'd made, I'd pull this one out and give it a go.
The pattern has been in my stash for some time (OOP now.) I bought it and then never made it because I was worried that it just wouldn't work for me. Well, the joke's on me, because I'm not sure that it does work for me.
I made View A, the one photographed on the model. I really liked the print against the contrast hem and I knew that's what I wanted to try. Of course, as you can see, I made the yoke in contrast fabric also. I really like having "lines of demarcation" or borders sometimes. Anyway, the fabric just seemed to need the contrast at neck and hem.
The main fabric is a super cool rayon challis that I picked up a few years ago at Hancock's. I love the colors- green, taupe, and black- and the groovy print. The black is simply a solid rayon challis. I have a love-hate relationship with challis. It can be such a drag to lay out, cut, and sew. It's not slippery like satin, but it is limp and loves to wiggle around. It also wrinkles easily, although it presses pretty well, so that's not so bad. But once it's sewn, it's mighty comfortable to wear and usually flattering, so I take the bad with the good.
I cut a size 14 yoke and the dress front and back in a size 16. I made a 3/8" petite adjustment above the bust. I really didn't need to- I could have just raised the bottom of the armhole a bit instead, but it worked out okay. After checking the finished measurements, I decided I did not need to grade out to an 18 at the hip. I have plenty of room- the fit on this is loose. I did, however, add my customary 1.25" of length at the waist. There is some subtle shaping in the side seams and the CB seam, so I added the extra where I need it most. I also ended up taking in the waist about 1/2" on each side after the dress was all put together.
I made a muslin and the back yoke seemed to gape a tiny bit, so I took out a tiny wedge to compensate. Unfortunately, I did not notice any issues with the front yoke and I did not adjust that piece. Once I got the dress finished, the front yoke now seems too wide and instead of lying flat against my chest, it wants to bunch up ever so slightly causing it to look wavy. It's not bad sewing, it's bad fitting.
I did not use the instructions for this dress. In fact, I don't think I ever looked at them. It seemed like an easy enough dress to put together. There are only 5 pattern pieces- front and back yoke, front and back dress, and the bottom border. I sewed the front and back together, added the bottom border, ran the gathering stitches at the top of the dress, finished the armholes with bias binding and then added the yoke. I then attached the yoke facing at the inside neckline seam and then sewed the yoke and facing together by hand all around the lower edge. I did not put in the zipper as called for because I knew from my muslin that this dress would slip on and off over my head without it. I also interfaced both the yoke and the yoke facing to add some body to the flimsy challis and give the yoke some structure. I'm glad I did, too, otherwise the waviness might have been worse.
I love the dress... on the hanger. I think the fabrics are perfect for this pattern. It's also a super comfortable dress to wear- the challis really does feel light and airy- perfect for hot summer days. But... it does require a strapless bra. The bodice is cut in just enough that regular bra straps show in front and in back.
I'm just not sure this dress is all that flattering on me. I don't hate it, but I'm not loving it either. It feels very short. I don't think the photos show just how short it is because my photographer is taller than me and the photos are at a slightly downward-looking angle. I'm also worried that the busy print combined with the fullness of the dress is not doing me any favors. It's also possible that a wide, horizontal band of black right above my chubby knees is making things worse, but ironically it's the black contrast against the print that I like most about the dress... I don't think this dress would work at all without it.
I definitely will not be making this one again. I might be tempted to try the view with sleeves and no contrast band, but View A is officially retired. Now the question is, will I work up the nerve to wear this out somewhere and road test it?