Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Review of Butterick 5884: A Dress For the Fabricista Fashion Challenge

We are in our 6th Challenge for the Fabricista Fashion Challenge sponsored by Fabric Mart.  Last week we lost Meghan!  She writes one of my favorite sewing blogs and it was really cool to participate in this fun competition with her.  We have two more challenges after this one and I have no clue how it will all unfold!!  I've been blown away with each and every single garment the ladies have sewn up.  I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what everyone did this week!!! 

Let's take a look at what we did this week, shall we?    

Challenge #6: Fabric of Fabric Mart's Choice: A box of beautiful fabric showed up at our doors and we need to make something to wear this weekend! Fabric Mart sent each designer some material for the challenge.  Unlike the Bundle Challenge, we all worked with the same fabric for this week's challenge.
Challenge: Using the fabric Fabric Mart has selected for you, challenge yourself by making a unique garment and working with a material you may not have used before to create one well-made garment. You can use a pattern of you choice to construct your garment.  You will be judged on creativity, functionality, craftsmanship, and fit.

The folks at Fabric Mart will post all contestants work on their blog Tues, Oct 29-- voting will be open Tues and Wed the 29th and 30th-- results will be up on their blog Thurs, Oct 31, 2013.

Go check out everyone's work and choose your favorite!

We were given two panels of a sheer polyester chiffon, which was a little over three yards. (Shams of Communing With Fabric took a beautiful photo of the full piece of material we all received and posted it here on her blog. I completely forgot to do that myself!)  I've never sewn with a chiffon before, but that was not my worry... it was the color palette and bold vertical print on it that presented the challenge for me.  Choosing the right garment to sew up with all those vertical stripes took some time but I settled on Butterick 5884.  I love the soft blouson bodice, the ethereal, billowy sleeves and that it was a design that is outside of my comfort zone!

I did my research on how to work with chiffon.  I borrowed couture sewing books from the library, searched the internet on how to cut and sew such slippery material and what notions are needed for it.  I used brand new ultra sharp 70/10 sewing machine needles and ultra fine glass head pins.  I chose a bright but warm off-white polyester lining to help brighten the muted color palette of the chiffon.

One of the best tips I found for working with a wispy, light material like this: lay out an old sheet on your cutting surface first.  It was a lifesaver, I laid out a sheet and spread my fabric on top... it stayed put like a dream!  I was able to keep the grain exactly in line.

I doubled my lining fabric, I was nervous that it was going to be too sheer with one layer.  The double layer gives the dress a nice weight but still allows for the chiffon to softly drape.  I of course pulled out my handy dandy walking foot for my machine.  I improvised with this idea... I use my walking foot all the time for sewing with knits.  It allows the material to be gently moved over the feed dogs with minimal pressure on the fabric-- this helps prevent stretching and puckering of the material.  To be honest, sewing this fabric was easier then I imagined.  I simply had to go through some trial and error on fabric scraps with my sewing machine's tension and stitch length.  I wound up with my tension at about 1.5 and a fairly long stitch length at 2.8-3.0 depending on how many layers of fabric I was sewing at once.

When I opened up my pattern I realized I had the wrong size!  I needed a 14 bodice but had the 16-24.  No biggie, I just sized the bodice down and graded the hips to a about a 16.  I also added 1" (2.5 cm) to the bodice length.  I used a shorter hem then the patterns says to-- they say 1.5" (3.75 cm) but I just went up about a 1/2" (1.25 cm.)

All seams on the chiffon are french seams.  They are so easy to do!  What's nice is that the Butterick pattern explains how to make french seams if you need the guidance.  Overall, the directions are very easy to follow.  I strayed from them about 2/3 of the way through-- I wanted to make a hand picked lapped zipper in back as opposed to the blind zipper they recommend.  I love it... barely noticeable stitches!  I used a silk thread to prevent any snags in my thread as I sewed it up.  Silk thread is so smooth an slippery.

The hem turned out really well.  This was THE main thing I was most anxious about before starting this project.  I was nervous all my hems would be a puckered mess that I'd want to punch in the neck (well, if hems had necks, that is.)

I love the variation in the fabric here!  The bodice underneath has vertical stripes while the sleeve overlay is has horizontal ones.  It makes for a really interesting look in back.  I tried the dress on with a sassy silver belt here.

I love the shape the shoulders and sleeves create together.  Some moments the sleeves look like full, regular sleeves, but then a little skin peeps out!  This pattern totally has a Studio 54 vibe, I'm a big fan of 1970's era clothing design and sewing patterns and couldn't keep my eyes of this pattern before choosing it.

I did have to tack the front bodice pieces together, it was opening up a bit wider then I wanted.  The deep v-neck line is pretty terrific, though.  All the hems are machine rolled hems.  I used this lovely tutorial from Craftsy.  It created a smooth and perfect hem.... yaaaah!

This pattern has another view, same dress minus the sleeves/overlay.  It's cute but rather basic.  I wanted something with a little va-voom this week!

How much fun is this dress?!  I can wear it to a breezy, casual yet elegant beachfront affair or perhaps me and the ladies can go out for the night?  But it's October and the temps aren't conducive to flowy chiffon numbers like this right now.  Plus I need some different shoes to match this dress better.  I guess it can wait til Spring!


  1. What a fabulous dress! I was wondering what people would come up with for this interesting print, and chiffon to boot! Your description of the process is brilliant too. I used a new trick with chiffon the other day when I had to do alterations which called for a tiny tiny seam. I pinned the fabric to newsprint and sewed through the fabric and the paper, then tore away the paper. Worked a charm!!
    Good luck with the competition.

  2. You make sewing with chiffon sound easy. Your dress looks fantastic. Good luck with this week.

  3. Wow...It's perfect on you and you look stunning! You know what i did to cut a chiffon for a dress i made this summer? It's ridiculous, but i used adhesive tape to attach the pattern on the fabric and then i could cut the fabric as a paper! Finally i had to snap the rest of the tape off the fabric carefully. It's not so complicate as it may be heard but this trick with the sheet is much simpler. I'll have it in mind!
    Good luck this the challenge!

  4. Love it! This dress really does have a fun disco vibe to it, but also very summery/beachy. I love that fabric, although it looks kind of challenging to decide where to place your pattern pieces. You are totally rocking this!

  5. A great use of the chiffon print, Kathy. It looks lovely on you!!

  6. Thanks Tanya! When I first got the fabric I did not like it at all. It was only after I photographed it when I decided I liked it! I like it so much I hope I have a reason to wear it sometime... well maybe next spring or summer.

  7. Thank you so much!! That's a pretty ingenious idea... I have no idea what I would have done if it weren't for the researching on the internet how to handle chiffon... maybe crying on the floor with a mess of poorly cut chiffon?! :)

  8. Thanks, Sandra :) It took a lot of patience but I was just really surprised at how NOT completely awful it was to work with chiffon. I did have to do a great amount of trial and error with my stitching... I had a tough time getting the zipper right with the sewing machine (main reason why I decided to hand sew it on... it was soooo much easier that way!)

  9. Thank you!! That is such a great idea! The newsprint idea is going into my sewing idea vault... thank you sooo much, that's a good one!!!

  10. This is a wonderful dress!

  11. You're wonderful! Thank you Dorothy!!

  12. This dress is so cool! The fabric and shape are perfect for you. I would love for you to add it to my weekly Sew Selfish linkup!

  13. Wow. Love the dress and how you used the print. Per-fect! You're the clear winner for this one, I think. Can't wait to try these tricks with some fabric I have laying around waiting to be a blouse. Thanks!

  14. oh this was such a challenging fabric to work with! I think you did that print justice!