Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Butterick 5455 for this year's Birthday Dress

That last post was slightly serious - even though I am very happy with that blue dress - so it's time to switch gears and indulge in something frivolous, a completely unnecessary floral frock. Say that 5 times fast.  I like that word frock, it seems to be used mostly by Australians as far as I can tell. Do you say that in the UK?  Here is the US we only have the word "dress" for this garment. Maybe frock will catch on. It sounds quaint to me, like something from a movie set in the 20's or 30's. Although Frocktails - that is something I can get behind. Perhaps I should organize for the bay area. Anyone interested?

But this post is all about me, and my birthday. Aaagh, how narcissistic that sounds. but after all a sewing blog is sometimes a bit narcissistic - or at least self indulgent, filled with photos of one's self modeling the latest creations. I do admire the people who can make their photos very interesting, sadly I am not one of them, and have to hope that I can get some shots that are at a minimum in focus and the garment is visible. But for my birthday I am usually on vacation so the background is at least improved:)

Butterick dress on me front

I have mentioned my pattern love for this one before and decided to make a version for myself, as I have sewn this pattern at least 10 times but never once made it for me. It is Butterick 5455 which is sadly OOP. I have mentioned before that I think this is a stellar pattern, looks good on lots of figures, has pockets! and a very pretty neckline front and back. Here is my previous post with a number of versions pictured.

Front and back on the dress form. I mentioned in my previous post that this is a sleeveless dress which is designed as a sleeveless dress. One of my pet peeves is patterns which have sleeved and sleeveless versions, when you take off the sleeves I find the armhole and shoulder to be a bit clunky which this pattern avoids.
Butterick front on form4Butterick back on form

The fabric is a remnant that I found at Stone Mountain earlier this summer. I actually bought it as my sister mentioned wanting a ponte dresses, then I found a dress in her size on sale in just her colors (navy blue and white) My sis and I have a challenge of finding things for each other on the super sale rack. She started it years ago and now we hunt for some perfect item with a price limit of $ 10 in summer and $ 15 in winter. Anything is fair game from exercise wear to tops, dresses, pants and even shoes. You would be surprised how fun it is to shop for someone else with no pressure, with just the potential to find something perfect. I think we are even so far (sisterly competition of course :).

price tag ponte

I am not the biggest fan of ponte and the colors might be too bright for some - although not for me. Turquoise and coral in one print, how could I resist?

back view on me Butterick dress

I didn't really try to match anything however now I see that the print kind of flows across the back skirt. so yay! and eek I need to get to the gym after this vacation - great meals going right to my hips. Oh well, that's what vacations are for.

How about a little inside view and some fitting info?
I made a size 12 which is my typical Vogue/Butterick/McCalls size and this dress is well proportioned so I would not say there is any excessive ease. I always cut things out with a 1 inch side seam allowance at the hip and then fit it as I go on the body, to create just the right fit and hip curve. This metal ruler is something I've had for ages and so useful for long curved seams. And Frixon pens.

Butterick dress side seam

I don't usually take fitting photos in the mirror but I was working on this one and realized it would illustrate one of my fitting mantras which is "pinch an inch". Reading other blogs and feedback on pattern fit I think the preference is very close fitting garments but I prefer a slight difference between the body and the garment measurements makes it so much more pleasant to wear, and actually hangs better on the figure, with no drag lines or pulling. So this dress is fitted but I can "pinch an inch" at the side seam, meaning that it might measure about 2 inches more than my measurement. Of course with knits you can have less ease but with a woven that 2 inches in circumference is really necessary.
and ignore my messy floor - plus my footwear :) those are my sewing clogs. Never step on a pin with those on my feet.

Butterick pinch an inch

Other fit adjustments, I added a bit of length in the upper part of the bodice, about 1 inch at the center.
The yellow line marks where the pattern piece would have been without the addition. Look at the above photo and imagine if I had not added that front bodice length, the seam would have been too high and bisecting at an awkward spot. Interestingly I didn't need to shorten the back bodice which I typically do. I also took it up at the shoulder seam about an extra 1/2 inch which is also typical.

Butterick on form close up

Inside view, lined the bodice with a white poly lining and left the skirt unlined. It's kind of hard to see but the hem mark is thread traced. Once I decide on the hem I usually run a thread trade along the fold and then I can unpin and finish the dress without having pins come out or losing the hem place. It takes a couple of minutes but actually makes the garment easier to handle for the last few steps.

Butterick inside view

So that's the scoop on this year's birthday dress. The weather has been great despite the state being in the path of 3 hurricanes in a row - which all have taken a turn and moved their direction away from the islands. A little more rain than usual, and very hot and humid. But the alternative could have been a lot worse! And we are all saying that it will seem extra brown and dry when we get home to drought stricken California.

Butterick dress on me5

Beach day tomorrow and then dinner at one of my favorite restaurants - what a perfect way to spend a birthday.

Aloha, Beth


  1. Beth,
    Your dress is fabulous. I love your choice of fabric colors. Your frock fits perfect and I appreciate your description of assembling the dress, very helpful. Happy Birthday! You look lovely!
    Bonnie @

  2. Happy Birthday! I love your dress and the fit is great! I also have stories about pins and carpet, I'm thinking to get rid of the carpet ...

  3. I love the shirring or small gathers at the neckline. It's beautiful on you. Happy birthday!

  4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! To us both, since today is also my birthday. :) The dress - as usual - looks great. So if we share birthdays why can't that translate into sharing your impressive sewing skills? Sigh..... guess I'll continue to improve the old fashioned way of practice. :D

  5. What a lovely dress for your birthday celebrations - enjoy! I am so glad the hurricanes did not cause damage to Hawaii. Oh, is that a Rocketeer I spot in your sewing room?? I have one and just love it (my mom taught me to sew on one, so I got one recently from Craigslist).

    1. Yes it is a Singer Rocketeer, which I actually found in Hawaii and shipped back to California :) also I have two Singer 401's. So all the Singer slant needle foot attachments are interchangeable - so convenient.

  6. That's a great dress on you Beth - yes dress not frock here in the UK- happy birthday!

  7. Happy, happy birthday. That is a gorgeous dress. Thanks for the fitting information.

  8. Happy birthday! Love that dress and your fabric choice. And I'd love to join in a bay area frocktails. There is sort of an impromptu fabric shopping spree in Oakland this weekend with Fiona Parker ("Diary of a Chainstitcher"), who is visiting from the UK.

  9. Happy Birthday! What a pretty dress!!!

  10. Happy birthday and what a happy frock! The use of the word "frock" in Australia is a bit tongue in cheek as it is a very old fashioned word. We normally call it a dress. Frock I feel is a bit more formal and posh talking. I would have thought it was English in origin.

  11. Beth I have a dress from the same Stone Mountain fabric, also bought for vacation in Hawaii! Haha! We will have to have a luau get together. Yours looks fabulous, and happy birthday!

  12. In the north of England "frock" and "dress" are interchangeable. Frock is old fashioned but it is such a brilliant word.

  13. To have your birthday in Hawaii in this pretty dress sounds heavenly!!!

  14. The perfect dress for a great birthday! You look amazing in it too.

  15. What a beautiful dress, I love the fabric and shame the pattern is OOP. Forgive my ignorance but what is the process (thread trade) you mention you used for the hem?

  16. Happy Birthday! Very pretty dress (sorry, frock!) in a gorgeous fabric, I love those colours together. Frock is used in the Uk, but I think really only in a jokey sort of way these days, I mean you wouldn't see a sign in a store pointing to "frocks"!

  17. Happy birthday! Enjoy Hawaii!! Aloha!

  18. Happy birthday Beth! and I hope you have a wonderful time in Hawaii. What a gorgeous location for your celebrations! The new dress looks lovely, the colours are divine on you. Hehe, yes, we use "frock" in Australia pretty frequently, at least as often as "dress". There's a shop near me called "Get Frocked" which never fails to bring a smile!

  19. Gorgeous dress! I love the colors and the print! Hope you had an excellent birthday!

  20. Happy Birthday! I picked some of this fabric up at Stonemountain too -- mine became a sweatshirt, but I think a dress was a much better choice! So fun!

  21. Happy belated birthday Beth! What a perfect dress for such a special occasion! I really love this fabric and what you did with this pattern!

  22. A while back you recommended Butterick 4978, which I eventually made and was very happy with. So I'm having a very good look at this new pattern recommendation from you! (Yes, I know it's out-of-print, but Ebay can probably help.)

    Which makes me wonder: do you plan to do any more pattern whisperer posts? You got such a great response to those.