A Dress For Myself -- Butterick Pattern 5490

Sewing is not all fun and games around here friends!  Occasionally I get myself into a pickle like that one time (two weeks ago) I cut my foot and had to make myself a dress while hopping around on one leg.  Drama, drama, drama.

If you recall, I wanted to make myself a dress for a family wedding and I had all of the time in the world.  I picked out some fabric.

I decided on a pattern.

I waited until three weeks before the deadline to get the pattern so that I could buy it on sale for a dollar. (Butterick 5490)

I tested out the fit. (FYI, I added about 5/8 inch to the neckline seam to give myself more coverage.)

And I thought meh, good enough, let's get started.

The pattern recommended fabrics with body, such as cotton and linen.  Knowing full well that chiffon lined with charmuese (the only lining I could find in the right color) would require some improvising, I proceeded with the necessary adjustments -- removing the center front seam, cutting out extra layers of lining, and changing the construction methods.  Also, the pregnant belly required a removal of the band which led to some minor adjustments.  Fine.  So far so good.

I sewed the bodice to the skirt and then...

Things started to go a bit wrong.  The dress decided not to play nice!  The part above my bust poofed and the part below my bust hung too taunt, and the length was too matronly and bridesmaid-ish.  I took a picture of myself to gain some clarity.

Hmmmm.  Not helpful in the confidence department.  I fantasized about quietly hanging the whole dang troublesome mess in the back of the closet and buying a nice dress all ready-made like it should be -- no toil and unflattering-ness involved!

I was this close.

But then I saw the cost of expedited shipping and remembered how much that stupid charmeuse cost and came to my senses.  The piled up laundry would have to wait some more.

Time to make do!  To help with the gapping/poofing above the bust, I let out the center seam a tiny bit at the "v".

That helped about a smidge.

Something still needed to be done about the bottom pleat and I wasn't totally digging the exposed vibe of the seams down the center front and where the skirt met the bodice.

Meanwhile, Joann's does not carry light grey invisible zippers or light blue invisible zippers or even light purple invisible zippers.  In desperation I bought a white one and then hit myself over the head for the stupidity of such a decision. There is no such thing as an invisible white zipper in a gray dress, my friends!  It was going to stand out like a sore thumb! Thank God I had an ecru one in my stash!  (Perhaps my guardian angel put it there?)  The first attempt was not exactly perfect.

The second was significantly better!

I couldn't actually find my invisible zipper foot and I thought I was in big, big, big trouble until the regular zipper foot came through for me.  Go #4!

Back to the bust problems...

The wonderful thing about chiffon is that it has a habit of screaming DRAPE ME SOMEWHERE!  I listened to it's sultry little voice and draped...and re-draped...and re-draped some more.  The bathroom mirror and I bonded during the late hours of the night.  This happened:

It didn't help the poofing (perhaps I should look into the proper way to fix that?), but I felt significantly better about the pleating/underbust weirdness.  Since the dress was already put together and I was, ahem, a bit short on time, I tacked it inside the armpit, hand-sewed it in place here and there in the front in the hopes of keeping a natural look, and finished off the ends with ties.

Later, when I was finishing the hem, I snipped right into one of those dang ties.  See?


By the morning before we had to leave to go to the wedding (out of state), everything was done-ish except for the hem.  I needed something not long and not short and in keeping with the flow-y chiffon.  No one was around to help me pin the hem and I didn't have time to experiment, so I looked around online and got inspired by this.


This was the best I could do, under the circumstances (please pardon the wrinkles!):

My only hope was that my tame version of the hi-low style would look intentional.  I'm not sure I succeeded in pulling off the yes-I-can-sew-I-wanted-it-this-way look, but I sure did try! 

If I ever do something similar again (hahahaha!), I'd probably cut the curve with a more noticeable difference between the front and back lengths and also with a more gentle curve in the back...or maybe I'll buy a pattern that has the curve all good to go.  Fancy that!

All in all, the dress felt good on and I was glad it pretty much worked out in the end.  Charmeuse does feel delightful against your skin!  If you've never sewn with it, I'd recommend giving it a try.

Another day, another crazy sewing experience!  Perhaps one day I will try this dress pattern again with one of those recommended fabrics when I am not pregnant, crippled, or on a strict deadline.  There has to be a way to make that bodice fit right...


  1. It turned out fabulously, if not exactly what you had intended (what really does turn out JUST as we plan?!) and you looked lovely ~ great job!

  2. Oh, I loved your chronicle of sewing this dress, and it turned out Supremely Lovely, looks beautiful on you. The bodice draping is gorgeous.


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