Friday, July 6, 2018

Butterick 5454, a knit wrap dress and upcoming classes

It's a wrap! I find it difficult to write a post about sewing a wrap dress without using that phrase. So getting that cliche out of the way early, I can say that this pattern is a winner and wonder why I had it in my stash for so long without ever trying it. Because this pattern is adorable! and quite easy to sew.

knit wrap dressB5454 front

Of course it helps to use an interesting fabric. I had doubts about it when it arrived, too weird? too wild? strange color combo? I get emails from FabricMartFabrics but I had never ordered, I just signed up for the mail list because I like to see what's out there, however I have so many good options at my local fabric store (Stone Mountain in Berkeley) or online with Mood Fabrics that I had never ordered from Fabric Mart. But one email mentioned Hawaiian designer fabrics at a big discount and I had to see that. They were from my favorite resort wear company (ToriRichard) so I ordered 3 different fabrics. One I have already sewn up, which was McCalls 6069.

My only regret is that I didn't really make it in my size!!! I decided to sew up a knit wrap dress because we wanted to put a dress on a form in the window at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I teach the garment sewing classes. I have SO many dresses, I don't need any more, so I just cut and sewed the size 12 with no adjustments. So while it looks like it fits ok, it is definitely on the small side. Due the the magic of knits I can make it work for a photo but in real life I would add some at the side seams. The pattern has some interesting release darts in the skirt front and back, and at the front shoulder in place of bust darts so if those small darts don't lie flat but are pulling a bit it takes away from the design.
knit wrap dress

Butterick 5454 pattern envelope SaveSave

Here's the pattern envelope. I like to take a look and see the copyright date on these patterns that I've had for a few years, this one is dated 2010. So 8 years old but the dress looks completely current to me. I even like the little ruffle sleeves and might steal that look for a t-shirt.

B5454 knit dress sleeve


So a friend of mine will probably get this one when the season changes and we put something else in the window at Hello Stitch. The red dress is a woven cotton, and I sewed up McCalls 7745 which is cute on the pattern envelope, and has raglan sleeves. However it is a weird shape - not comfortable in the shoulders, kind of all wrong for me. So don't choose that one for the class! But there are plenty of other nice wrap dresses. I just also made the Sew Over It: Eve wrap dress, and that turned out very well, here's a look and I will do a blog post soon on this dress.

What classes are coming up next at Hello Stitch? I'm glad you asked :) It's already been a full year that I have been teaching there, and I have met so many interesting people. It's really fun to see people meet in classes and become friends there. Part of the fun of a sewing class is getting the opportunity to meet other people who share your interest in sewing but you might otherwise never encounter. You get to spend a day doing something you love, with help to conquer techniques that might have frustrated you in the past. I really like to show shortcuts or tips that result in sewing success and make it easier to achieve the result you want.  Here's whats coming up in the next two months.

Pants Clinic: Diagnose your Fit Issues   Sat. July 14, 10-4. We'll take measurements, choose a starting size, pin-fit the paper pattern, stitch up a muslin and adjust the pattern.

Pattern Fitting: Adjust the Bust   Sun. July 15.  This class is 2 sections, with 10am-1pm section spent learning all about how to measure, choose starting pattern size, doing the various bust adjustments, FBA, SBA, darted or princess garments, doing hands-on pattern adjustments using paper templates to practice, learn, take notes on and take home as reference. Then 2-4pm section is the optional fit lab (limited to 4 students) where I will help you adjust your specific pattern. You can sign up for just the classroom part only or take both. This will be my fourth session of this class and I have been gratified by the response - pattern adjustment can be so tedious but hands-on practice with no pressure of fixing your specific pattern can really help you get familiar with the adjustments.


Sew a Button Front Shirt: an evening class on two Tuesdays, July 17 and 24, from 6-9pm. You can use any pattern and I will demo all kinds of shirt details like how to attach the collar and band (two ways) sleeve plackets, buttonhole placement, and my top tips for shirt success.

pink placket top close up on form

Copy your Favorite Garment: Sun. July 22 10am-3pm. Oh I love to make a pattern from an existing garment. I think doing that is quite eye-opening whether you have been sewing a while or are just beginning. It's interesting to see shapes in ready-to-wear and you can learn a lot about what you like in terms of fit and design. I will demo a few different techniques and different types of garments and then you will have time to work on making your own pattern. I suggest a simple top, skirt or shirt for your first project.

Pattern Hacks: Add new elements to your existing patterns. Sat. July 28 10am-3pm. You may or may not use that term, pattern hacking, but it does describe what we will do in this class. I will show how to change up the patterns that you already have to make a new design, add or change details and take advantage of the patterns you already sew to create a new look. I will show you how to easily copy your original pattern, then how to change necklines, how to add plackets or make a popover top, move darts and change darts to gathers, how to add pockets, how to create color block details and how to combine parts of two patterns into one. I'm really looking forward to this one, as when do I sew a pattern as is - almost never!

color block example

Sew a Wrap Dress: Sat. Aug. 4 from 10am-4pm. Choose any wrap dress pattern and we will review all the common issues with sewing wrap dresses such as how to choose your size, how to adjust the bust and make sure it wraps properly, how to stabilize and do bias binding, and how to hem full skirts. You can use a pattern for a knit or woven.

Sew the Bondi Dress: Sun. Aug. 12, 10am-4pm. You can make this cute dress in a day! We're offering this class again as it looks so good on everyone and is a perfect dress for summer. Plus you can make it again when the weather cools down in a different fabric to wear over a t-shirt for a different look. We have all the sizes sewn up in the studio so you can try on to determine you correct size, then trace your size so you have the pattern to take home with you. If you are interested in changing up the neckline style I can help you with that too. 3 main pattern pieces and includes pockets. Told you it was the perfect summer dress :) Here's the link to my blog post of my own Bondi dress.

Bondi dress 1

So that's the schedule for the next month or so. Whew! I will be busy but I really enjoy teaching and meeting people. There are so many reasons to sew your own clothes, from wanting a custom fit, to choosing the exact color and style, or the satisfaction of the handmade process. I've spent a lot of hours throughout my life with just me and my sewing machine so it is really fun to expand on the social aspect of sewing.

I get a lot of comments here on the blog and on my Instagram that you would like to join a class if only you were in the same city, or even the same hemisphere. I would love to do some teaching in other places so if you want to get in touch and help organize I am open to the possibilities. I am reorganizing my jacket/coat class to be different this fall, more demos and examples along with helping everyone to construct their own garments so that would be great to take on the road. As for travel, NY, sure. UK or beyond - that would be fun. Sewing tools don't take up much space in the suitcase and leave plenty of room for some fabric shopping!

Classes in the fall at Hello Stitch - some of these mentioned above we will offer again, and then I have a hint about one that's not on the schedule yet - CAPES.  So many cute cape patterns out there and a perfect outerwear piece for any level of sewing.

Up next - no idea. I have a LOT of stuff in process, for myself and for a few people that I sew for. I might even finish a couple of Burda things that I've traced from recent magazines - they are so cute and I want to get to them before summer is gone. This weekend is the Bay Area Sewists Meetup where we do the Pattern Swap - a chance to see some good friends and trade patterns. Like I need any more patterns, ha.

Happy Summer Sewing,

today's garden photo, a hydrangea I planted last year, and it is finally putting out these pretty blooms.



  1. What a pretty wrap dress! The colour looks stunning on you. I would love to make a wrap dress for the summer.

  2. I, too, would love to take a sewing class from you. I sew professionally but am always interested in learning how other sewists sew. I live in Houston but am moving to Austin so I'll see if I can cultivate a group who would be interested in scheduling you to come to Texas. Love your wild and crazy wrap dress. Karen

  3. That is a beautiful dress

  4. I’m fairly convinced you’d look awesome with a bucket on your head and a trash bag with armholes and a neck hole cut into them. What a cute dress! I love the fabric.

  5. Stunning dress and what a cool fabric choice! All your other projects/classes are tempting...just wished I lived closer!

  6. I love your dress! The fabric looks really cool.

  7. I love the color and the print on this one! And the whole dress and fit is no less charming! I love seeing what you make and being inspired by you! I have nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award -

  8. I love the fabric, though I'd never feel comfortable wearing it, I can certainly appreciate it on you. I like the wrap dress but I really love the Bondi dress. The shape of it is really wonderful on you.


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