Monday, September 30, 2013

Butterick 5244 Tunic

One of those garments that...I like, but not on me. Also one of those garments that...I'll probably wear often, despite my reservations.

This project started with the fabric, a poly sweater knit print from FabricMart, now sold out. This was one of their small-yardage listings; they probably only had one bolt of the fabric. Though the print is large and bold, I like it and love the combination of the colors of blue, lime, black, orchid and emerald green. It is a lightweight knit and, though sweatery in texture, not something that will provide much warmth. Because polyester garments mostly hang unworn in my closet during the winter (I need all the warmth I can get), I thought it would be smart to go ahead and make this up as a transitional piece for fall.

To get a handle on the many possible pattern choices, I made a quick-ish story board, which I hope will help me plan future tunic or tunic dress projects as well.
Storyboard of Tunic Options

Butterick 5244 likely won mostly because it has been taking up space in the pattern cabinet for a few years (it's now out of print) and because I like to try out new shapes. It wasn't apparent to me that this dress is, well, it's essentially a muu-muu. That wasn't apparent, I mean to say, until it was all finished and had been worn for a few hours.

Butterick 5244, view A. Dresses A, B in two lengths have front gathers, welt pockets, self-faced yoke, collar, tabs with non-functioning buttons and raglan sleeves in two lengths. A length is 3" above mid-knee.

The neckline is the best, and essentially the only, feature of the dress. It is fun and easy to make. The rolled collar, tabs and self-covered buttons are cute. The bustline gathers are not great for me. Actually, this would be a great nightgown pattern without the collar details. The raglan sleeve, gathers and easy fit would be perfect for sleepwear.

Center back seam, back collar detail and raglan sleeves

Definitely not the best angle for this dress!
I used size 6 with no additional alterations at the neckline, yoke, collar and sleeves, transitioning below the armhole to size 12 at the hip. I did not make any length adjustments, though I might yet decide to shorten it. Would that be a better proportion? Probably. The pattern specifies the longer length as 3" above mid knee, while mine is about 1" above the knee. I want to keep the dress appropriate for wearing to substitute teach, and I don't think I fancy wearing it with pants.

The welt pockets were omitted because the knit is too thin to support them, and because I worried that they would add bulk. I used Pam Erny's wonderful Pro-Tricot fusible knit interfacing and it was just perfect. If you make this, remember that there are multiple layers at the neck edge: yoke, collar, under-collar, yoke facing and tabs. The fabric and interfacing could get very bulky here if either were thick.

I fully lined the sleeves with some thin black knit, which was a good idea (lining short sleeves nearly always is!) because the back of the sweater knit is white, and the inside of the sleeve does show a little bit when the dress is worn.

A thread tack at the center front of the collar holds it in place without distorting the collar roll. The hem is stitched by hand. That just seemed simplest and best for this light fabric.

I definitely need to wear a slip with this dress, which is no trouble. Once I make or procure a black turtleneck, I plan to wear it under the dress along with black tights and boots--maybe my vintage green Roper lace-ups!


  1. You wear a Muu Muu very nicely! Have you tried belting it, you have such a lovely waist and bust line, seems a shame to hide it ;-)

  2. The neckline is very cool. I love those button tabs! I agree with the first comment. I think belting it would be a great idea, but I know that doesn't always work.

  3. That is very cute, and I like the pattern on the fabric, too. Hmmm, I may have to get that pattern myself. I like it!

  4. If you don't like it as is, I would recommend shortening it to tunic length. It looks so cute with the leggings! I am down with the big bold print.

  5. I love such kind of print, it is amazing. And you did wonderful job creating this pretty dress.

  6. Very cute tunic. Pretty fabric too. Personally, I like how it fits, I don't think everything has to be tailored to fit.

  7. I like it, the colours are particularly nice :)