finished! Wriggle Dress Butterick 6582



This too is a dress. I am more critical of this one though. The lining and the side seams are not good. There is way too much room around my hips, I could fit almost another set of hips in there. Or those cloggs, the big ones. Around the hem there’s one place where I had to pin up the lining because it was peeking from under the hem. The folding on the right shoulder is not excellent.

The overall form is quite ‘boxy’ and not very flattering from the front. It could be a much better bomb shell dress and I do have the curves to pull that off.

Look what can be had if the bottom is drawn in a bit (I am gathering a bit of the fabric with my hands, at the back):

But hey, it’s a dress! Lovely linnen. I made it myself. Learned lots. I am happy!

Trivia about the shoes: these are my Fit For Handknit Socks Shoes. They are a tad bigger than my usual size. I am wearing them without socks because socks distract attention from this dress (I tried). It was these shoes or those cloggs…


Finished! Summer Dress Butterick 5603


Tadaah from the side:
Nice fit eh? Perhaps still a bit too much fabric in the back but it follows the small of my back nicely. It is quite comfortable too!

From the back, also Tadaaah:

For a first dress this is a very nice one. I am glad!

Let’s dance!
trali! trala!

Wriggle Dress: cutting the fabric

I spend a day thinking about Butterick 6582. The various aspects, how to approach it, what to solve. I researched the internet, laid out the tissue paper and studied the instructions. At the end of the day I traced a slightly personalized version of it and cut the fabric and the facings. Linen and brand new cotton sheet.

After the sizing fiasco of the Summer Dress (B5603 which advised me to cut a 16 which then was 4″ too wide) I decided to cut a size 12. This approximates the measurements I take from the now fitting Summer Dress. (pictures pending)

Yes, I cut a size 12 but with wider seam allowance at the top of the body. Because of the folded fabric in the upper part of this dress this pattern does not allow for a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment), the fabric has to be already there.

Here’s how my first pattern outcut differs from the oficial Butterick 6582:

As size 12 should cover a size of about 97cm I think I’m good but you never know. I’ll also trim down to the hips a bit.

As per this review I expect to have to raise the hem, the waist and the arm holes. I too am 5′ 4″ (1.61m)
At this stage I already raise the hem but have not decided on the final length yet:

The smaller shoulder part, the left side, I’m going to make without gathering or pleats. Lots of people have complained online that the pattern ends up very high on the front and that it is difficult to make the two sides sit nice or even centered.
So I’ll make one side sit nice: the right one with the folds. The left part will be honest in its difference: flat and off centre.

For this I used the left front facing as a template for the left front fashion fabric.
Here’s the now cut out left front piece atop the original pattern:
No room for pleats or folds.

For cutting the back pieces I folded the fabric double and pinned it. Pins away form the cutting line. I laid my personalized paper pattern (PPP) on top and traced it with a byro or stylo. Yes, a simple pen. The one used for shopping lists. As I don’t want pen residu on my fabric this will remind me to “cut away the line”. The importance of that I learned here from Kathleen Fasanella, the Fashion Incubator.

the pattern I drafted and how it differs from Butterick 5603

I’d like to show you the difference between the pattern pieces of Butterick 5603 and the pieces that I came up with. Here’s the back panel of the top. Butterick 5603 is lying on top of my carton block, they all include seam allowances:
My block has a much higher neck and quite different sizing. On the lower end it is a bit longer and more curved than the original but it has the width of size 14 instead of 16. The dart has been moved and has been elongated and widened.

The front panel of the top has been altered in a similar fashion: higher neck, a little bit longer and with a much broader bust dart. I think the cat ate the picture that compared the original to my draft but here’s the picture of the muslin again:


You see which lines I intend to follow: less width in the side seam, more curve and deeper line at the bottom and a ridiculous wide bust dart. Oh well, if it works it works.

Here’s the side panel for the front of the dress:
It still has about the same width of size 16 but a lot of the flare has been cut away. The dart has stayed the same.

The centre front panel of the skirt:
the same width as the original but without any of the flare. It even grows narrow for a bit, going down. It widens again after that.

The centre back panel of the skirt:
much smaller than the original and without the flare because I felt it gave the dress folds that look like pleats.

And here’s my drafted side panel of the back of the skirt, under and on top of the Butterick pattern piece 12:

Major difference! There’s a dart now there and the flare at the side of the centre back panel has gone. It even grows more narrow as it goes down, following the curve of my lower back. The width at the top seems the same but there’s a dart now there so it is not.

At the waist line, which sits right under the bust, the back of the dress is now 42 cm wide (without seam allowance). The front is 45 cm wide.

42 cm = 16.5 inch and 45 cm = 17.7 inch.


I have left the crudely cut pink flowery fabric in the city house. I am now in the cabin in the woods. I brought the panels and some tracing paper. And the pressing tools. Let’s see if I can find some fabric here to play with. There are two fabric scissors here and I hope they are good.

For the cutting problems I have found these solutions:

  1. get a pair of micro whatsyamacallit scissors. They stay sharp. You can even cut silk easily. That’s convenient! Because I have silk… (in the city)
  2. trace the pattern -without the seam allowance- with chalk or carbon paper unto your fabric. Cut it with seam allowance, using a very fine tool for determining exact seam allowances
  3. procure a cutting mat and rotary blade.
  4. sharpen the scissors you have (at 14$ or 10euro a piece?! I don’t think so.)

I’m contemplating which solution to choose and apply to the pink flowery cotton. I will see it again in a week or two. In the mean time I hope to find some cheap fabric in one of the boxes in the cabin and play some more with the blocks. A wearable practice dress is next I think. I have not sewed with lining yet.

Oh! I did bring the flowery sheet and the pattern pieces for view A from B5603! That sheet cuts easily, even with dull scissors. So that will be next I think. Do that other view, give it lining, get a dress.

But in a couple of days because first I have to run around here and do Important Things I Should Have Done Ages Ago.

And I have to attack the weeds in the forest, there’s only a couple of days left before I will have lost the battle for this year and nettle, pispotje, bramble and other various culprits will overrun everything. As they have done every previous year. Still, I have hope. Every year.


altering the toile 2



I took in the waist dramatically. Then I used the darts in the bodice to fix the difference in width between the skirt and the bodice. This is easily done by sewing the horizontal seam from one side to the (torned loose) dart and then from the other side. The flap of extra fabric will be the dart. In this case the darts have not been sewn and are loose on the inside. Making for the boxy folds that are especially noticeable from the side. Once sewed shut and to one side THe lines will flow effortless.

In the front view you can see how well it is fitted now. There is plenty suggestion of a waist now.

I sewed the darts in the skirt by eye and I was a little too peeved enthousiastic. There’s not enough room for lining or breathing. In the real design I will give an inch or a little more of extra width.

(don’t worry about the uneven height in the side seam. I put in a zipper for better fitting and I sewed it quickly. I would have taken a photo from the other side if I were smarter at balancing iPads and trying to take photo’s with it.)

I took a bit of the seam below the bust to incorporate it in the dress, I need a bit more length now that the bodice has to cave in under the bust to meet the dress. In the real design I’ll probably give it even a little bit of extra length.

I made sure the middle lines matched up. From there I match the other lines. In the real dress I will not sew up the skirt separate from the bodice, I’m more tempted to follow the lead of the vertical lines and make sure they line up first.

What now? take apart the toile and make it into real pattern pieces?

I don’t feel confident enough to start cutting into the dress fabric yet. I think I want a practice dress first. The question is: do I go out and buy cheap fabric or do I cut out the view A and use that flowery sheet? hm. I need to go to the fabric shop to get a zipper anyway …. o wait. New fabric means washing and waiting for it to dry. eh….I’ll think about it.

Oh, one thing:

I’ll never buy a bloody pattern again! I can just as well copy pieces from a dress I have already and make alterations. What a scam, sizing in patterns!

altering the toile and the pattern

Today I am altering the toile. I measured two dresses that fit me just fine. I put them on the toile to show you how much difference there is in size:


both dresses have a waist of about 80 cm (10 cm ease on my waits of about 70) and hips at about 100cm
I’m still a bit peeved. I could just as well have taken these dresses and copied their panels and used them as a template.

The toile made from Butterick 5603 size 16 (hips 14) has a waist of 90 cm and hips starting at 107cm

what I want:
– reduce waist to 80 centimeters in the round.
– reduce hips to 100 centimeters in the round.
– lower the point of flaring, I don’t need it that high up.
– reduce the overall flare, I don’t need that much especially with cotton (light sheer fabric would love that much flare)
– reduce the flare in the centre front and centre back panel of the skirt, it makes for pleats in various dresses I saw on the internet, including the dress on the Butterick site.
– fit the bodice on the skirt: keep bust at current circumference. Make sure the darts and seams align properly. Probably have to lengthen the bust dart somewhat to account for smaller empire waist and meet it properly. Figure this out.

what I already did:
– took the flare out of centre front and centre back panel of the skirt. They are now rectangles with a 17 cm width, measured without seam allowance. I reduced the width of the centre back by two centimeters.
– reduced the flare of the side panels. I sewed it and then drew a quick line with pencil to show you better:
you (can barely) see the pencil line on the panel on the right. I have not cut away the redundant fabric yet.
On the middle/left you see the now rectangular centre front panel.

I wonder what to do now. The skirt fits reasonably now. The question is now how to make the top fit the skirt. There are lines and seams to be considered. I am not wild about the panels and how wide they sit on the shoulders. It would be easier to have a smaller bodice to start with and introduce bust darts into that one than trying to reduce a bodice overall.
I may switch over to another version of the dress, view A, which has a gathered bust panel.

here’s a view of how the toile sat before I altered the skirt:
meh… the line under the bust doesn’t touch the skin of my tummy by 10 centimeters. Making me look fatter than I need to look. I want a (semi)fitted dress. Not a sack.
Also, I think the shoulders may be too wide. Or perhaps they balance my bust in the total silhouette? I don’t know. The upper bust may be a size too large. Or two. I can fit another pair of boobs on top of mine… I’ll look at some more examples of the dress online.
Something nééds to be done about the execution of those bustdarts though. They end in unfortunate placed pointy points. I have seen others have this problem too. I think it’s ridiculous. Bust darts should nót end at the apex nor should they suggest they do.

I’ll now return to the sewing room to look and ponder and look some more. (I’ll probably cut out the bodice for view A….just in case….)(just for study purposes, you understand)(I know you do)(did I tell you I bought another sheet at the thriftstore? It has flowers on it. It is meant for a usable practice dress in view A.)(it is already laundred)

isn’t it nice?

I decided to persevere with view C for now. The shoulders will be a bit smaller because the toile shows the raw seams, including seam allowance. And I want this view in the pink fabric from an earlier post.

Detecting Ease in the woods

on the search to find the correct amount of ease!

for this pattern, Butterick 5603, I chose size 16 per instruction by Butterick.

because me:  Butterick 16:

chest 36″            36″

bust 38″             38″

waist 30″            30″

hip 38″              40″

we are made for each other! Just slim the hip down to a size 14 and you’re ready to twirl in that dress!



Butterick is carrying an invisible little bug inside it called “ease”. Each pattern’s got some. You need a little bit of ease at least, otherwise you couldn’t move in a garment. This is called wearing ease. I have not yet figured out what the required minimum is.

I know with knitting you can work with negative ease because knitting stretches.

Woven fabric doesn’t stretch so negative ease won’t work. Unless you have the Hulk’s sense of fashion:

Hulk smashes negative ease!

Besides ‘wearing ease’ there’s something called ‘designers ease’. This is the amount of ease the designer added to get a certain look. There’s the “fitted look” which follows the body forms and there’s “loose fitted look” which hides them pretty much.

A burlap sack has a lot of designers ease:

“loose fitted silhouette designer foot fashion insures easy victory”

somewhere hidden on the site Butterick mentions the ease they standard add to their patterns. You have to find it by yourself, they do not point to it when they guide you through the size determining process.

They have decided that a “fitted silhouette” needs about 4″ of ease. That statement reminds me a lot of squirrel poo….

I like nuts! I love nuts! I poop nuts!

4″ is the difference between a 12 and a 16! Between a European 40 and a 44! That’s not a “fitted silhouette” that’s the difference between a “Whoa there, foxy lady!” and “Hello there, gnome lady”:

“Hello there.”

I love wearing size 44, don’t get me wrong. As a matter of fact, I’m wearing the sweater on the above picture right now. A nice big handknit sweater. With bustdarts. It looks fine and is very comfortable. But when sewing a retro dress that has “hot mama” written all over it, I would like to know in advance how nutty the designers breakfast was when he decided the amount of ease.

On the pattern pieces there are little gems of ease knowledge hidden away. At the waist and bust area small circles occur with a cross in them. Nearby are measurements. There’s one on pattern piece 10 that reads:


size 14 = 29,5″ 75cm

size 16 = 31,5″ 80 cm

and one on piece number 5 that reads:


size 14 = 38″ 96cm

size 16 = 40″ 101 cm

That’s the ease right there! for a 30″ waist (real body) they give you a dress with a 31,5″ waist (wearing ease + designer ease)

And for a 38″ hip you get a 38″ hip! How stupid is tha…hey…..wait a minute! How come the hip on my dress is so much more than 38″?

I better remeasure one or two things….

And after that I’m off to raid the closet to find out what the ease is on some of my favorite dresses. But first let me do some detecting….

art by Bruno

Minimum wearing ease in a fitted garment is approximately 2,5 cm (1″) at the wasitline (to allow for large lunches!), 5 cm over the hip to allow for sitting, 7,5 cm at the bust and 3,5 cm over the upper arms for arm and torso movement.”

quote from The Design Manual

wearing ease bust = 2,5 “; waist = 1″ and hip = 3”

from getcreativeshow

bullet Bodices have 1 1/2″ – 2″ wearing ease at the bust
bullet Dresses have 3/4″ – 1″ wearing ease at the waistline
bullet Skirts and pants have 1/2″ – 3/4″ ease at the waistline
bullet All garments have 2″ – 2 3/4″ wearing ease at the hips

from Scott R. Robinson

and Kenneth King’s Wearing Ease Minimums for Torso:
Bust -3 inches 
Waist – 2 inches
Full hip -2 inches
Armhole- 1 -1/2 inches
Bicep- 1 1/2 inches

from Threads

conclusion: you need a little bit of ease on your patterns but how much exactly is only known by squirrels.

what shall I have for breakfast today?

humbug! size chart lied


I made the toile and it is too big. 4 inches too big! everywhere! 10 centimeters too much!

only around the bust, that’s where it fits. But the waist, the hips, the back: everything is too big.

I followed the sizing chart of Butterick to the lettre. They must be off their rocker. I bought the 16 as those fit my body measurements exactly.

But after making it it turns out I’m no 16. I’m a 12 or a 10 even. The pattern I bought is 14-16-18-20 so it’s not easily mended either. They lied.

is this what “ease” is all about? Butterick says they incorporate 3 to 4 inches of ease into any dress called “fitted”:

Ease Chart
Fitted, close fitting, loose fitting, semi fitted, very loose fitting…these are terms you’ll find in the garment descriptions in this catalog and on our pattern envelopes. They are our standard for fit and are the terms that tell you exactly what to anticipate when it comes to fitting. Each term indicates a general amount of wearing ease and design ease that is built into the pattern. Ease is the amount of “space” in a garment beyond the body measurements; the specific amount of ease will vary from style to style.

Misses’ Ease Allowances for Dresses:

  • Close Fitting = 0 -2 “
  • Fitted             = 3 – 4″
  • Semi-Fitted = 4 1/8 – 5″
  • Loose Fitting = 5 1/8 – 8″
  • Very Loose Fitting = over 8″

from Butterick

is this right? is this wat 4″ of ease is supposed to be like? But it looks ridiculous!

Who dreams of so much ease in a fitted, retro looking Summer dress?? I don’t. And neither does Gertie.

Lesson learned: Butterick is nuts mind the added ease when choosing your pattern size.

Now what?
redraft for a size 12? invent that myself? fiddle with the toile untill it fits and transfer all alterations to the paper pattern? (I’m not good enough to do a good draped fitting)
I’ll sleep on it. I do see a new toile in my future.

Gertie Hirsch says: measure (the ease on) a dress that fits you well. I have that pink galadres my mum made. It fits nice around my tummy. And there’s a red linen dress from Claudia Sträter…I could measure that one.
I’ll be on a quest to find out what my preferred ease is.


A plan hatched: I’m going to sew a dress.

This is a copy of the post on my other blog that started all this. I decided to set up this blog to keep all my snippets in one place.

“I’m starting a new project: sewing a dress. There’s a sewing bug going around. It’s buzzing on knitting site It’s busy on the BBC in the competition The Sewing Bee. And face it, modern women have been stung by it for years now. We love to make something that flatters us. We feel craftsy and creative. And wearing a dress brings a special kind of festivity to life.

why do they look so gloomy and serious? They must be malnourised.

pic by Bartek Ambrozik

It is so very satisfactory to make something with your own hands, using your wit. Loving the materials and your own skills. If you can make it fit your own body than you’re feeling like a hero! Taking victory over all the clothes in stores that only flatter store models, not real people. Blowing a raspberry to all advertisements and childhood insecurities they sparked. This is real people, people!

Anyway, for me it’s a distraction from having to lay down on the couch more than usual (health reason) and wanting a puzzle to solve. I like to wrap my brain around something! I’ve got enzyme pathways to study, knitting patterns to figure out. But right now I would like to learn more about how to sew a dress.

I purchased two patterns.

Patterns purchased: Butterick 6582 and Butterick 5603:

pics by Butterick

now don’t get distracted by the colour, the models or their bridal tendencies. The trick to patterns is to look for the lines they are sewn with. The long lines. The short lines. Where and how they decrease fabric to suggest a waist or hip. How the neckline falls. Where the lines are to make the flat fabric round a curve.

Me, I am a short, curvy person. Fairly petite were it not for a set of big boobs and broad shoulders to support them. I have no waist, no hips, no buttocks. I would look ridiculous in any poofy ball gown you can imagine. Or in ruffles. Or in Grease-type Rock and Roll skirts.

pic by Sarah Lewis

I will look good in slender long lines that elongate me. I’m “a goblet”. I need ‘prinsess lines’. They run from the top into the skirt. A V-shaped neck will elongate. A skirt that flares below (like a mermaids tail) looks fab on me.

So I did not purchase the patterns for the dresses above. I purchased the line in their patterns:

pattern and pics by

Now you see the lines: long ones. No poofy skirts. No ruffles. Each dress has three variants.

My size: a mystery.

Size converters on the internet throw me off because in the Netherlands I’m a 36, a Small (providing I get a bit of extra room for ‘the ladies’). The converter says that a (German) 36 is a US 8, Medium. A Medium? That sounds big. A US Small is a German 34 however which is way too small for me. Than there’s vanity sizing where clothes companies suddenly called an M an S or the other way around. Has to do with making the customer feel they are smaller than they are? Or guilting them into buying more? I don’t know, I never shop anymore, I’m a hermit in a sheep’s fleece.

pic by Markus Biehal

From knitting I do know a bit about sizing. Size is all about the frame. Your garment has to fit the back of your shoulders and the waist should be about the height of your waist. But you can amend the position of the waist easily (I think). You cannot amend shoulder width easily. Your shoulders is where the garment hangs from, get that size right.

So: I’ll base my ‘size’ for sewing patterns on my frame and plan to adjust the rest. I measured my upperbust and I think for Butterick I’m a 16 with hips going to 14.

(Converter says a US16 is an Xtra Large and a German 44. They are mad. I’d swim in a 44!) Yay, Butterick and Vogue don’t do vanity sizing, they are consistent in their measurements. I’m a 16 in sewing patterns and an 8 when buying of the rack. Mystery solved.

Just let me jot down some numbers here, so I can find them again. A blog is so much more convenient than scribbling on the inside of the carton wrappers of chocolate tablets! It’s Lindt 85% though, so I’ll keep bringing them into the house and scribble away.

pic from

my measurements:

upperbust: 92 cm/ 36″

bust: 97 cm/ 38″

waist: 76 cm/30″

hip: 96 cm/ nearly 38″

neck to waist: 40 cm/ 15,75″

bra: 70FF (don’t get me started on bra size converters!)

at 1.61cm/ 5′ 4″ I’m a Miss Petite to Vogue and Butterick patterns. Waist to hip is standard 18 cm/ 7″ in their patterns.

pic by Ariel da Silva Parreira

Things I do not know yet:

Lining. It is important. I believe this is a separate dress you make from the same pattern. You ‘hang’ it in the dress and you attach it to it. It is there to give the outer dress some stability and prevent seeing through and make the outer dress swirl around your body and not cling to it. I think.

O no! I have to learn about ease all over again! knitting stretches and I’ve got a basic of understanding knitting ease now. But sewing!

And seams! There will be seams!

and fabric…. which has bias. And grain. I can’t have grain, I don’t like gluten.

so much more to learn.

A few things to remember:

– make a dummy dress first. This is called a twirl or a voile I believe. Or a toile?

– my sewing machine is a vintage foot treadle. It goes to and fro. No fancy stitches. No fraying fabric. Just keep it simple.

– there’s a lot of hand sewing involved in sewing a garment. That machine is a workhorse. The fine print is done by hand.

– this is a multiple day project (think weeks). Make sure to put your stuff away in an orderly fashion (with notes would be splendid) so you know where to pick it up again. No need to invent the wheel every time you get out the project. A box of its own would be perfect.

– I plan to perfect one pattern, fit it perfectly to my body measurements. Than use that for future dresses.

It will be fun. And for once I showed up on time to participate in a trend!

pic by Zsuzsanna Kilian

Now for fun: go google some pictures of the patterns (try one and try two, not sure these links work), it’s amazing what different dresses these patterns yield. Dresses on real people! I’m already learning so much! and and many more sewing platforms have a lot to offer. So many women generously share their knowledge and experience. I love it and feel part of it, while reposing and reclusing.”