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28 February 2016

A little red dress, Butterick 5917

I joined... Little Red Dress Contest ...the Little Red Dress Contest at Pattern Review!

Nothing like a PR contest to get me going. Butterick 5917 had been on my short list for a while but I was worried about how the ruffles would behave. For me ruffles are a source of fascination but also fear because I definitely don't want to look like a piñata. Who does! I once made a Burda ruffled dress that I couldn't bring myself to wear for that very reason. Thankfully, I was reassured by looking at all the very nice versions of Butterick 5917 at Pattern Review, especially LlanoGirl's version in blue linen.

So, motivated by the contest, I took the plunge and I am very glad I did.

I made it in a wool that has a clear stripey structure, and also a boucle surface. The fabric is almost too thick for the ruffles, but I managed to trim and grade all the seams enough that the ruffle seam doesn't look too bulky. I was careful when ironing not to mark the seam allowances on the front panels. It is also not uncomfortable on the inside, in fact I didn't feel it at all when I wore it to work on Friday. Mmmmhh... now looking at the close up photo maybe I need to use a couple of prick stitches to hold those ruffles a bit closer to the middle panel at the bottom. Or perhaps it is just the angle of the photo...

I did make a couple of modifications: my usual sway back adjustment at the horizontal seam at back. I also would have converted the back slit into a kick pleat since I prefer the latter because they hang better, but I forgot (happens often around here...). I also shortened the bodice (front an back) by 2.0cm. I did this under the armhole, so as to not change its shape. I did this to bring the horizontal seam closer to the underbust line. I find that this is most flattering on me. After a day of wearing it I think I could have raised this seam by another 1-2cm further (note to self for the next version). Having raised this seam I then added 3.0cm to the skirt length (so I lengthened the skirt by only 1.0cm).

The short sleeves (version A) are supposed to be lined in self fabric. But my fabric is a bit itchy because of the wool and boucle structure, so I lined them with lining fabric instead. I really liked how these sleeves were drafted with a soft curve over the arm and not too much fabric at the under arm. And I also liked how nicely finished the hem is without having to hem them by hand.

The entire dress is lined, but I didn't have enough of one fabric so I took a page out of my friend Beth's sewing book and mixed lining remnants. A red silky polyester was the best color match so I used it for the sleeves and fronts in case a bit of the lining ever shows. A stripy red rayon with a bit of elasthan became the lining of the skirt for maximum comfort. Unfortunately by this point the bright reds were gone so I had to use a burgundy georgette to line one of the bodice back pieces. Not too pretty but I'm feeling virtuous for being so thrifty!

This Friday I wore the dress to work, but because it is rather cold (by our standards, 2-5C) I wore a turtleneck underneath as well as tights and boots. I wanted to wear a cardigan or jacket also, but I realized my only chocolate-brown jacket (RTW) has a mandarin collar which does not go well with the ruffles of this dress. So, I guess I will need to make a matching jacket for it one of these days.

My review of Butterick 5917 is here at Pattern Review.


  1. This look wonderful on you and love how you paired it with turtle-neck, tights and boots

  2. Thanks Sandra. The turtleneck and boots are a must for me in the winter. Doing this allows me to wear dresses well after the autumn, so I highly recommend it!