Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pattern Review: Butterick B5831

think this was the original pattern for my go-to current pattern, but it has gone through at least 10 different phases, no joke. Each dress has it's own mockup or two or three, so....yeah, that sounds about right.

The pattern pieces themselves aren't terrible, but they aren't great. I've heard a lot of people say that it is rather long, creating a "blouse" effect, which is NOT what you want; extra length to allow the fabric to pooch out completely defeats the small-waist look. I don't really remember exactly how long it was on me, but it isn't that big of a deal to chop the length off. On the other hand, several people said that they were long-waisted and it fit perfectly the first time! The instructions use French seams (not period accurate, but not the worst offense); if you don't use French seams, which makes a bigger seam allowance, then it may turn out a little large. Just make a mockup and you'll be okay.

The sleeves: usually, big pattern companies are used to making sleeves with really big arches, sometimes resulting in an extra puff of fabric where it is gathered to the top of the shoulder. Thankfully, they lowered the arch to accommodate the dropped shoulder, so the shape of the sleeve is good. HOWEVER, the sleeves are huge! Trust me, I don't know where the lady in the picture got her sleeves, yours' won't look anything like that unless you take out the fullness. It's pretty easy; the sleeve pieces are cut on a fold, so just move the pattern piece so it hangs off the fold maybe an inch or two. Also: the sleeves are rather long, kind of the like the bodice to create extra pooch. In a sleeve it isn't a bad thing, but you don't want them to swallow up your hands when you have your arms hanging down. So please: measure your arm length and chop accordingly.

The lines of the dress are very good to start out with; the shoulder seam angle backwards, the armscye is dropped over the shoulder cap, the neckline sits where it should. From what I can tell, the side seams don't angle backwards like they should, but that could technically be changed. It does lack the curved back detail that is seen in so many different original dresses and images, but it isn't evident in every single extant, so it can be forgiven. Actually, using Elizabeth Clark's method in The Dressmaker's Guide you can add in a curved back detail without changing your pattern piece at all. Or you can do what I did and free-hand draw the curve and add seam allowance.

Now for the lining: I used this pattern to make a wash dress, so my fabric was heavy duty and not see-through. I should have flat-lined, but I opted for no lining. I regret that now: if your fabric is not sheer, please flat-line! If it is sheer, I still don't know that I would have used this particular pattern.

I was really confused what they meant by "modesty sleeve". If you've done research, you'll know that most semi-attached linings for sheer dresses had a small cap sleeve of some kind. The modesty sleeve is just attached straight to the dress instead of to the separate lining; don't worry, it all works out once it's done if you aren't picturing it.

I would give this pattern a 3.5/5; good lines, terrible, difficult inaccurate instructions. If you have a companion book or reference, like The Dressmakers Guide, then the pieces themselves are worth whatever you pay for the pattern. 

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