Pattern: Butterick 5523
Size: size 8, with modifications discussed below
Fabric: coral wool blend knit from Fabric Mart
Comments: I love this dress. It's such a wonderful addition to my work wardrobe for the winter months. The combination of the long sleeves and the heavy knit fabric allows me to wear a dress in the dead of winter and still keep all my important bits warm and cozy. Also, this dress is so comfortable and easy to wear. And the best part? People kept complimenting me all day long (even the clueless men in my department that never notice anything!).
The dress is sewed up straight out of the package, with only minor alterations. The instructions would have you construct the bodice (complete with sleeves), followed by the skirt and then attach the two parts together.
Instead, I sewed in a different order. I completed the entire front, followed by the entire back. Then, I set the sleeves in flat. Finally, I sewed the side seams for the entire length of the dress (from sleeve cuff to armpit to hem). Since my fabric was a very stable knit, with only minor stretchiness, I wanted to have the ability to sew smaller side seams if I needed the extra room. In the end, I used 1/4" seams, instead of the typical 5/8" seams and this helped me avoid the stuffed sausage look.
My only qualm is with the depth of the neckline. It's a wee bit too low for my taste. I will be raising it by 1/2" to 1" in the next version. I like to be able to bend over at school and not have all my wares on display (however, paltry those wares may be).
I styled the dress with an enamel bee pin (Joan Rivers, similar here), worn at the waistline, a pair of opaque black tights and my fabulous new black leather boots (Clarks Wyld Polka).
Before I sign off, let me take a minute to gush about my boots. I always have problems finding boots that will fit my monster calves (they are 15" in circumference in case you're wondering), but these babies zip right up, no problemo. They are nicely cushioned in the sole, they have rounded toes and a lower heel, which is so important for a gal on her feet all day long. I wore them for eight hours with nary a pinch, twinge or ouchie. Also, the leather is soft and they are well made. An extra added bonus was that I got them for an excellent price ($90 CDN, regular $160 CDN). I will most certainly be looking for these bad boys in brown as well. So ladies, if you have problem feet, combined with the calves of a Russian weight lifter like I do, then give these awesome boots a whirl. You might be glad you did.
Conclusion: This cutie pie of a cowl neck dress is a definite winner! I can see myself making up several more versions of this little number.