Friday, December 2, 2011

Butterick 5521 - Mixed materials sheath dress

I saw a picture of this Johathan Saunders dress on Michelle Obama months ago and absolutely adored it. The mixture of fabrics really resonated with me, and I knew I wanted to make something similar.

However, finding the right materials proved something of a challenge. I had the black leather already in my stash, and was able to purchase the black wool gabardine quickly, but the dark gray tweed was a challenge. I thought I had some at one point but it sold out before my order was cut (an online purchase.) All of my local stores had some in polyester, but if I was using leather and wool for part of the dress, I really didn't want to use polyester for the main body. Just when I had given up the search, look what I found at the Goodwill secondhand store:

It was a Ralph Lauren 100% lambswool gray tweed maxi skirt in size 2P which was too small for me even if I liked wearing maxi skirts. But the fabric was LOVELY and at $2.99 I couldn't pass it up. I was just barely able to squeeze out the necessary pieces to make my dress, and had to put a vertical seam in the back bodice area that is hopefully not very noticeable.

And no, it is not an exact copy of the inspiration dress but I am okay with that since I didn't have to do any pattern drafting. (It was really cold and windy the day these pictures were taken. My face is saying oh-my-gosh-I'm-SO-cold-hurry-up-and-snap-the-picture-already!) I did make a muslin and only had a few minor tweaks at the hips and center front bodice. The pattern did not call for any interfacing and I didn't put any in, but now I'm wishing I had along that center front slit. As is I had to spray some starch on it to get it stiff enough to hold its shape.

I have this thing about sleeveless winter dresses. Maybe it's because I like long sleeved dress a lot, I don't know. Anyway, my plan was to include sleeves even though my inspiration dress didn't have any. I cut some out and stitched one to the dress but really didn't like the looks of it. By this point, of course, the bodice had been completed and the zipper was in. This forced me to iron the SAs in on both the dress and lining and stitch them together invisibly by hand. 

I think this was a good project for my first go at sewing with leather. The amount necessary was relatively small and didn't make me quite so nervous of making a mistake with it. At first I glued the leather SA to the outside leather where it gets folded back, but that was noticeable from the outside. So I found our rubber mallet and hammered them down instead.

Here you can see where I had to piece the center backs together because of fabric limitations. I hated to do it but now think it blends in perfectly. Also, this pattern was top notch for having all the various pieces come together neatly. Notice how the width of the flanges is the exact same as the distance between the back skirt darts:
The leather flanges were backed in the same black wool as the dress sides.
Here is the pattern envelope picture:

This dress fulfills item #5 in my fall/winter must haves list and I absolutely adore it. I have two more projects almost complete including some overalls for my little girl. Hopefully I'll get at least one posted by Sunday. I hope you all have a really great weekend!

92 comments:

  1. Oh wow Amanda, that dress is truly divine. You've done a superb job of everything - fabric choice, piecing, construction. And you look stunning in it. Very inspirational!

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  2. Wow, this dress is seriously amazing! I love how you picked a really cool inspiration dress, and found a great pattern to work with!

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  3. That is simply beautiful! Good job!

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  4. What a great dress! Wonderful combination of fabrics. Very stylish! Nice job.

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  5. This dress is a knock-out! The leather was a great design choice. (And great find with the skirt.)

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  6. Fabulousness! Great inspiration to outfit without making an exact copy.

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  7. Awesome dress! I love the mix of fabrics and leather.

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  8. What a fantastic interpretation of the designer original and it looks beautiful on you!

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  9. OMG this looks great I can see how adding sleeves would have given it a star-trek-y look. Great job!

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  10. I'm always impressed with your sewing, but in this dress, you've really raised the bar. The back piecing looks intentional, and the fit is supurb. BTW, the heels rock! Brava!

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  11. Stunning! You look better than Michelle :)

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  12. I only have a single question: how would you "wash" your dress?

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  13. Love it, very sophisticated look. I would never have guessed that was the pattern. Fantastic. and leather is fun to sew!

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  14. Bravo! You always create beautiful garments. Yours is better than the designer original.

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  15. Amazing dress! I've not been a fan of the mixed materials fad, but this looks very tasteful. :-)

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  16. Seriously - the first lady herself could be proud wearing your version of this style dress. You look smashing in it!

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  17. Totally gorgeous dress and it fits you to a tee.

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  18. Whoa! What an immaculately made dress. It is fantastic and you look gorgeous in it! I am also blown away by the fact that you found the charcoal grey fabric for $2.99. I think this dress was meant to be.

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  19. That is a superb dress in every way. Very chic. You did a terrific job.

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  20. Oh my gosh! Its perfect! And good for you for thrifting! I find the best fabric that way!

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  21. This is stunning. I absolutely -love- it!

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  22. That is one very stunning dress Amanda. I like the back with the piecing and it does not look out of place at all. Congrats on finding the right material from the pre loved skirt - and what a bargain it was too!

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  23. Wow, just wow. You look stunning, and the dress is an amazing copy.

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  24. Love how this turned out...and it looks great on you!

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  25. This dress looks great on you!

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  26. Wow - I love your dress. The leather accents are fantastic. I would never have picked out this pattern - the envelope doesn't do it justice.

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  27. This is my favorite thing you have ever made! Just a real home run in every way - thanks so much for sharing the details (leather scares me too)

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  28. Beautiful! Very flattering on you.

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  29. Amazing dress, Amanda. It is stunning.

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  30. Beautiful dress and you look great!

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  31. Your dress is absolutely gorgeous! You did a fantastic job in making it - I am very impressed (although, not surprised, considering the other work you have done.) :)

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  32. What a great dress, and a great eye you have (in first spotting the inspiration dress and in seeing the potential in the pattern you chose). Very inspiring! Thank you

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  33. That is one fabulous dress. Oh I wish I had your figure. Great use of second user fabric as well.

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  34. You're looking stunning in this fabulous dress!

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  35. I love the dress. You've made a perfect choice with the fabrics and the pattern. I've got the pattern as well, since I think it's got interesting lines, but I think the envelope fabric/colors suggestions make it look like something a Star Trec character would wear :-). Your fabric choices make the dress look fantastic.

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  36. Wonderful dress! I love the look of mixed material in a dress. And it must have been divine intervention to find the tweed at the thrift shop in a maxi skirt.

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  37. Amanda! I love this dress! It's so interesting looking. I love mixed prints / material. It has such a polished / RTW look. Congrats on an awesome dress.

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  38. Wow, this is probably my most favorite garment you have ever made! A fashion-forward knock off, super stylish, and a reconstruct of a cast-off garment... You are truly inspirational, so thank you for sharing this with all of us!

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  39. Wow. Double Wow. Really amazing, the style, the fit, everything.

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  40. Breathtaking! You took that pattern to a place it never knew it could go. This dress is just divine and you look gorgeous in it.

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  41. Wow! What a beautiful dress! I am really impressed. It looks so well constructed, and it's super flattering! Great work!

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  42. You did a faboluous job. This is perfect. It looks beatiful...

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  43. What a beautiful dress , I love the leather inserts.

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  44. Love this! Bet it would look great with tights & boots as well.

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  45. Wow! This is really beautiful. I would love to sew something with leather accents and this dress is a stunner. Great job.

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  46. GORGEOUS!! great job!
    Sorry to hear you might have come to the Austin PR weekend! Next time I will tell you on your blog, I think there might be a party in Austin in March. But I found out about the Nov one through the PR newsletter.

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  47. Your sewing is so inspirational Amanda. Gorgeous interpretation of your inspiration dress. Impeccable executions. You look fabulous and that style is so slimming in an elegant way.

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  48. Seriously stunning! Great take on the mixed materials trend. It really shows off the good proportions of the pattern.

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  49. Wow! I was sort of flying through blogs on my RSS feed (because I'm way behind) but this dress stopped me in my tracks! Just stunning - LOVE the side view!

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  50. Amanda, you always inspire me to start sewing again, showing the beautiful garments you made. THis dress is gorgeous! Great job.

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  51. That is so super cute on you.
    Love it!

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  52. Oh, what a gorgeous dress! Stylish and doing the inspiration more than justice. I too was flying through my feeds and had to just stop to leave a comment. Truly lovely.

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  53. I love your dress! I think it looks better than Michelle's.

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  54. Lovely! It's a great shape for you.

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  55. I loved that dress on MO too! Your interpretation is fantastic (great shoes, too!)

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  56. Amanda, you have outdone yourself this time! My goodness, that is one fantastic dress. Well done!
    It is so clever and flattering and beautifully crafted.

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  57. You've done an amazing job with this dress. And you look great in this dress too.

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  58. Fabulous dress!! A real masterpiece :) Good find on the fabric too.

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  59. Just gorgeous! Your makes are always so inspiring and so neat - check out that invisible zip! xx

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  60. Stunning dress and a great mix of fabrics, the piecing you did looks perfectly done.

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  61. Wow Amanda, this is a truly amazing success. I love that fact that your £2.99 skirt has reaped so many rewards - Ralph Lauren would be delighted I'm sure! Absolutely Fab!

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  62. Love Love Love it!!! Can't wait to see you in it! You are so talented.

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  63. Amanda,
    That dress is TO DIE FOR!!!! I want to make one for myself. How much leather did you use for the dress? I have to make this dress. I am wondering how many skins to order.

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  64. Fabulous dress! I absolutely love it and it's exactly my style, too! If you weren't so far away, I'd sneak in and snatch it while you're out! ;) Great job.

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  65. Okay, I MUST leave my "WOW" to the comments too! Really nice!!!

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  66. Best. Dress. Ever!! I love it, and want one of my own, but I know I wouldn't do as wonderful a job as you have. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  67. The dress looks flawless! The center back piecing is not noticable from far away, and up close, it looks like an intentional construction detail to add a utilitarian edge. Beautiful job with the leather too.

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  68. Fabulous!! Your dress is much more attractive than the first lady's. Love the thrifted fabric and the combination of the three textures is very creative. Perfect fit too...love it!

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  69. GREAT JOB Amanda. I LOVE it! I would never have bought this pattern, now I will. You look fabulous in that dress. Way to go girl!

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  70. Seriously one of the best "up-cycles" I've ever seen! You are a master of piecing - the seam across the back totally looks like a design element. Suh-weet!

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  71. words can not describe how perfect this dress is . Well done.

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  72. Your sewing always looks sharp and professional, but here, you'ver really excelled and exceeded your usual high standards! Very, very chic.

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  73. WOOOOOOWW!!!! the dress is just beautiful!! it looks almost exactly as Michel Obama's, WOW!!!

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  74. Outstanding.
    This turned out beautifully.

    I especially love the re-purposing of 'fabric' from the thrift store.

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  75. Great jog. Every thing came out great. And the skirt from the Goodwill was such a find.

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  76. wow. I bought the Butterick 5521 too but don't have the courage to sew as my sewing skills are not so advance. loved your version. Maybe I should try to do it soon

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  77. You did such a great job with this dress!

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  78. We think you did a fabulous job on B5521 and would like to post some of your photos on our Butterick Facebook page, with a link to your blog. Please let us know if this is OK with you. You can email your response directly to us at facebook@butterick.com
    Thanks,
    The Butterick Facebook Team

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  79. Amazing! This is why I want to learn to sew!! :)

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  80. A beautiful dress, love that you were game enough to mix fabrics and use leather, that is something I haven't convinced myself to try yet.

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  81. This dress is gorgeous and so flattering on you. It's way nicer than the picture on the pattern and I love how you used this pattern to make the dress that inspired you, I think it's very close to the inspiration dress. Excellent job!

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