Learning to Sew With Knits + Butterick 5546

I have never had much confidence in my ability to sew with knits, despite amassing quite a collection of patterns designed for them!  I grew up with the idea that they were difficult to sew and that I should stick to wovens. Now, it seems that everyone claims sewing with knits is “so easy!”  My experience has been mixed, so I decided it was time to do something about it.

I signed up for the “Understanding Knit Fabrics” class with Sarah Veblen through SewingPatternReview.com. I’ve blogged before about how much I liked her video class “Sewing with Slippery and Drapy Fabrics”, so I decided to try a “live” class.

Once enrolled, you get a package of materials in the mail including 20 samples of various knits, sample interfacings, needles, and a “1/2 size” project to get some first hand experience. The class also includes lots of downloadable pdf’s, three video chat sessions with Sarah and an online message board. I also bought the optional videos that go with the class. In all, I highly recommend it. After three weeks, lots of hands on experience (literally – touching, pulling, stretching) each sample, multiple downloads of information and tips, the chat sessions and an online class board, I feel I know much more and have far more confidence.

I decided to try my newly honed skills on Butterick 5546. I debated between that one and Vogue 8379, but I liked the more narrow skirt in the Butterick pattern, and it got good reviews (love this one!). Either pattern would have helped meet my personal goal of sewing at least 1 pattern from my stash that I have not sewn before, so the Butterick dress it was!

Butterick 5546

I had this black and white knit  – now I know it is a single knit with spandex (:)). It has cross-wise, not length-wise give/stretch, so good for this dress. This was really inexpensive fabric I bought for about $2/yard – so my hope was for a wearable muslin.

This pattern was really easy to sew and it came together well, but I felt like Frankenstein making pattern alterations before cutting out the fabric! I added about 5 inches to the length, I extended the sleeves to the wrist, I added length in the bodice and the back – yikes! It’s my first “See & Sew” pattern and they certainly don’t fit me like a Vogue pattern – it was like wandering into the “Petites” section in a department store!

Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out and plan to wear it for Easter.  Here are a few shots (think it’s time to straighten out my dress form!)

Butterick 5546 B/W Front Butterick 5546 B/WButterick 5546 - B/W Back

The only thing I would do different is to adjust the front so it does not gape so much. You can’t really tell in these pics, but when it’s on, it really requires a camisole underneath.

A tip I picked up from the class that helped with this dress was learning that when sewing a bodice like this with a knit, if it’s cut on the bias, it’s more likely to stretch. With this pattern, it is not – so no added worries there! Still, I wanted to figure out how to adjust the top.

Searching through the PatternReview knowledge board, I found a suggestion from member MasoumaRose to check out this tutorial for raising the neckline of a wrap front dress. Perfect!

Essentially you measure up your desired length at the center front line (see 1st pic), then using a curved ruler, draw your line from top to bottom. Super easy!

IMG_2281 IMG_2280
We’ll see how it all works. I’ve already made the pattern adjustments to get ready for dress #2, which will be in this fabric from my stash.
I’ll keep you posted!

5 responses to “Learning to Sew With Knits + Butterick 5546

  1. Hello Laura, you have been busy – congratulations on making such a superb dress, which will suit you well. And thank you for the tip – a lot of dresses are cut so that they are a little wide and don’t look that good even with a camisole underneath, – so I may have to use this trick one day. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Sarah Liz. Always gratifying to have a project turn out! Yes – I was happy to find that tip too! I’ll let you know how it goes with dress #2.

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