Thursday 13 July 2017

Butterick B6411 tested and perfected

When this Lisette Butterick knit dress pattern was first released I was all over it. I am such a fan of easy wearing, everyday knit dresses. Fun to sew and really nice to wear. Add in that I just can't help but accumulate great knit fabrics and it was going to have to happen...

With the pattern rolling round in my head I found myself wandering through the city, without my kids, on my way to lunch with my mother in law. It was birthday and I really did have to walk straight past Tessuti. Funny that. So I went in and found the perfect knit fabric. Did I say it was my birthday? :)

Anyway, I knew enough to sew a test run in something else first. I'd scored lots of fabric from my friends mum (thank you gifts here)  and included in there was this fabulous retro knit.

I was a bit on the fence about the print until I sewed up the dress and now I adore it. So much so that I wish I had spotted the problem with the pattern before I used this fabric...

So, the front view looks pretty damn good, I think. The dress is a simple front and back bodice cut on the fold. Then two front overlays are used to construct the neckline finish, basted around the armhole and gathered to the side seams. The waist line where the skirt attaches is unusually high, but since the overlay faux wrap is lower and right at the correct waist point it doesn't matter. But hang on, what happens when you turn around:

What is the back waist seam doing all the way up there? So yes, it's windy in these photos, but if anything that might be helping the look. It's a bit like having an empire, or maternity, level waistline, only back to front!

I was going to need to remedy that before cutting into my birthday fabric. But after wearing this dress a few times I don't care enough to not want to wear this one. After all, I never see myself from behind or even side on, and that crazy green colour just makes me happy!

I dug out the traced pattern interfacing for a knit dress that I made a few years back and that I love the fit of. It's actually a pattern for woven fabrics and turned out to work well in a knit without the side zip. I pinched the darts out of the pattern tracing and wouldn't you know it was exactly the width of the B6411 bodice, only about 3" longer.

So I traced the extra section from the woven pattern and added most of it to the bottom of the bodice of B6411 before cutting out my fabric. Looked like this:

That's the front bodice on the left and the back bodice on the right. They are the same width, so the additional wedge is basically the same front and back. The 2&1/2" additional length was chosen as that still gave me about 1/2" above the point where the overlay would attach on each side. I figured that would be enough to ensure that the waist seam was still covered by the wrapped overlays.

I liked the skirt hem length as it was, so I used the lengthen/shorten line on the skirt pattern piece to take that two and half inches back off. And then I was off and cutting.

This might just be my favourite dress ever now. The fabric is all kinds of me. Stripes, my sort of colours, and a lovely soft, drapey jersey but still with enough body not to feel clingy or skimpy.

I feel like my bodice changes did alter the way the overlay crosses over and how much of each side is visible, but logically I don't think it can have. All I've done is lowered the waistline closer to the point where the overlay finishes. I haven't actually changed the overlay, the amount it gathers or the heights at which it starts or stops.

I've seen only one or two other reviews of this pattern and there has been mention of the weirdly short bodice. Thankfully I can say that the fix really is as simple as adding length to the straight under bodice and there's no need to mess with the oddly shaped overlay at all. Easy!

And the new back view?

Much better.

A close up of my freshly sewn side seam went up on Instagram in a moment of self-trumpet-blowing, but here it is again in action in the breeze.

Other than the bodice length change I made no alterations to the pattern at all. I used the two rows of straight stitching sewing technique suggested by the pattern. I've done this before with knit dresses and it makes a nice change from overlocking. It worked fine for me for both dresses, BUT, a note of caution if you have boobs: By lengthening the bodice I have also narrowed the waistline. You can see from my pattern tracings that the bodice continued to taper. I didn't alter the skirt width, just gathered it slightly more.

The dress has no closures and is pulled on over the head. I suspect, with my altered version that if I had a big bust I might struggle to get the stitched waistline over my boobs without popping stitches. I wonder if that isn't the reason for the higher waistline after all. Solutions to that could be either to stitch the waistline with a zig zag, or more extensible stitching technique.

Or, possibly to ONLY lengthen the back bodice. There's no real need for the front bodice to be lengthened, and since the front waistline is not visible it wouldn't really matter if it didn't align with the back waistline. Staggering the seams would make it much easier to get on over an ample bosom. Anyway, not a problem for me so I'm speaking theoretically about something I know nothing of :)

I'm so happy to have freshened up my wardrobe of staple knit dresses. With tights, boots and a jacket these serve as everyday dresses and the green one has already been on the school bike commute and co-ordinated very nicely with my Breezer!


But at the park, in front of the toilet block, in a pair of heels, an everyday knit dress can look kinda fancy too! :)

Size: 14
Fabric: Mystery vintage knit from @topbikephysio 's mum. Striped jersey (not on website) from Tessuti
Alterations: None to muslin (green dress). Lengthened bodice as described for final version 


  1. I thought the green dress looked stunning (back waist notwithstanding), but the striped version! That is quite the most lovely knit dress I've ever seen!

  2. Oooh.. those dresses are beautiful! Now I must make one (or three or four). Thanks as always for sharing!!

    1. Thanks Emily. I'm delighted with them. Go for it - especially now that you have the heads up on the back waist height.

  3. These dresses are both beautiful, Shelley! That second one, though - WOW. So good!!! Such a versatile pattern! Love that wrapped front on you.

    1. Thanks Inder. The front is great, nice and secure and no plunge-y or gaping bits when you move, bend over etc.

  4. This style really suits you, waistline issues notwithstanding. My favourite is the green one, even though it didn't get the bodice lengthening modification. Both dresses are way too pretty for hanging round outside the toilet block!

    1. You don't like my park loitering modelling :)
      I'm surprised by how much I like the green fabric. It's a bit bright and a bit retro for my usual taste but it really grew on me as I sewed it.

  5. Wrap dresses are so your thing! You look great in both.

    1. Thanks Anna, i think you're right, this is exactly my kind of thing. :)
      Can you please remind me of that next time I'm thinking I should jump on some other dress shape trend

  6. Gorgeous dresses and agree the wrap style suits you as you look great in both.

    1. Thanks Sharon. I love how easy to wear this kind of style is.

  7. Stunning dresses, the green reminds me of lego boards.
    I wonder if I could squeeze a ball version into my capsule wardrobe....

    1. You know my first thought was it was a bit minecraft, so I get the LEGO board thing too... :)
      This dress pattern in a metallic knit as a "fancy" dress would be smashiong! Let me know if you want some gold shiny knit fabric posted out from the big smoke!! :)


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