This is our completed sew-along for Butterick 5813, like all our sew-along patterns this pattern is available widely available from many sewing stockists and online stores. You can join and follow our current sew-along on our blog.
Let's begin! But before we do, a preface: all commercial patterns come with basic instructions. Pattern instructions will help you create a wearable garment. On this page I'll be sharing dressmaking skills which will ensure a perfectly executed design, flawless finish and prevent costly mistakes. As a dressmaker I am constantly learning from others so if you have some techniques you'd like to share please post them in using our 'Contact us' page.
Firstly, we need to mark and then cut seam allowances off the pattern tissue; check the instructions as you go because not all seam allowances are 1.5cm, 5/8". Lay the fabric right side up and re-pin the pattern, begin to thread trace. As the layout for this pattern requires double thickness half of the fabric pieces, which are laying right side up, will need to have the pattern tissue pinned on wrong side down. When I initially cut the fabric I will often put a tiny pencil mark next to one of the notches on the right side of each piece of fabric so I always know which is the right side.
Constructing the Front and Back
Pattern instruction number 2: Reinforce
I'm using a lightweight wool so the reinforcing method suggested by the instructions is not really adequate. Instead I have used china silk to reinforce the inner corner.
Having basted the reinforcing fabric machine stitch and remove the basting.
Pattern instruction number 3: Gathers
Pattern Instruction number 4: Darts
To create smoother darts I prefer to 'balance' them, the following picutures take you through this process.
Pattern instruction number 8;Adjusting the gathers.
Pattern instructions numbers 9- 12: I'm contine as directed by the instructions
Pattern instruction 13: again I really feel it is essential to fully reinforce inverted corners, the process is the same as we did for the main fabric.
Pattern instructions 14 -16: continue as directed. Although I did 'balance' the darts in the main fabric these do not require balancing.
Pattern instruction 17: to avoid bulky facings, and ease turning and pressing it is advisable to trim the lining and clip the seams.
If you find that diagonally folding the fabric, as suggested, doesn't result in a crisp corner, proceed as follows:
Pattern instructions 18-20: continue as directed. Although I did 'balance' the darts in the main fabric these do not require balancing.
Pattern instruction 21: this inverted corner really needs fully reinforcing with fabric as we did for the main fabric.changes are essential to ensuring a successful finish.
Pattern instructions 22-25: continue as directed.
Pattern instruction 26: Baste the neck as directed. The pattern advises basting the armhole edges together because when the sleeve is later 'set' this is done with the lining already basted to the armscye and sleeve cap seam lines. Setting the sleeve in this way results in three problems: you can't shrink out the fullness at the sleeve cap; the seam will have excessive bulk; the lining will have less freedom to move and may affect the 'hang' of the sleeve. Instructions on how to set the sleeve more professionally will follow; if you plan to follow these don't baste the armhole.
Pattern instructions 27-47: these are for the full skirt option please email me if you have any queries relating to these instructions and I will endeavor to help.
NB: the pattern instructions advise continuing with the collar and sleeves now, but if you don't put your zipper in now,you won't be able to try on your dress to check that you are happy with how the collar sits and the sleeve hangs. The zipper really needs to go in now.
Baste the front seam edge to the dress
Press under the outer edge of the back seam allowance
Attach fold of back edge seam allowance to the zipper tape: pin, baste, backstitch
Attach front edge of dress to zipper tape: pin, baste, machine stitch. Do not stitch to the end of the zipper; stop stitching 1/4" before each end of the zip
Tuck the ends of the zipper tape under the lining so that the ends of the tape are concealed and sandwiched between the main fabric and lining.
Finish machine stitching the ends
Pattern instructions 48-51: Collar- continue as directed, making sure that when you trim the seam allowances they are graduated: the upper collar seam allowance should be the largest, the interfacing should have the smallest allowance left.
Pattern instruction 52-55: continue as directed; although we have balanced other darts these darts do not need balancing.
Pattern instructions 56-59:
Ease baste your sleeve cap: Make three rows of running stitches, measure the corresponding section on your armscye and pull up the ease basting to the length measured on the armscye. Make sure your gathers are even and that all of your match points align.
Shrinking out excess fullness: this is fiddly, time-consuming and requires copious amounts of patience but slowly, very slowly, the fabric will begin to shrink on the seam line. Due to a lack of patience I have made every possible mistake over the years so am well qualified to compile a list of don'ts:
It will seem like nothing is happening but it is: little by little. Some fabrics are harder to shrink than others: wool is fairly easy, cotton takes longer.
Hem the sleeve: it's tempting to pin and not bother basting but this can result in puckers.
Secure the lining at the sleeve underarm seam: Having already pressed the underarm and lining seam allowances open, place one on top of the other and secure the seam allowances on either side of the seam. Be careful not to stitch the actual garment, just the seam allowances; use loose stitches to ensure that the seam is not distorted.
Baste sleeve and lining together: ensuring that all match points align, pin the sleeve and lining together to check that the sleeve hangs well and is free from puckers. Once you are happy with the hang of the sleeve use diagonal basting stitches to secure the lining.
Finish the sleeve hem as above. Set the sleeve in the armscye before you close the lining. To set the sleeve: pin, baste and back stitch by hand. Repeat this process for the lining; I actually machine stitched the armscye seam lining by pulling the armhole through the bottom of the dress.
Pattern instructions 60-69: we covered this previously.
Pattern Instructions 70-73: Continue as directed.