Gertie’s 5814

Howdy all! It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve taken on a more complicated project. So, I decided to attack Butterick 5814, which was designed by the talented Ms. Gretchen Hirsch.


Sometimes I have a good reason to whip up fancy dresses that I wouldn’t normally wear on a day to day basis, and sometimes I don’t (this is the Midwest…T-shirts and jeans are kind of our official dress code). My very good reason for this dress was my two year dating anniversary with Mr. 5!


I knew I wanted to make a dress for this special occasion for a while, but I had quite the time picking out a pattern…and when I finally did decide to go with 5814, only a week and a half before our anniversary, I definitely doubted my choice. I took about a week to cut, adjust and sew two bodice muslins, so I didn’t get my fabric cut out until the Thursday before our Monday anniversary, and did my sewing on Friday night and Sunday.  On top of that, this puppy is fully lined, is boned, and has more hand sewing involved than the average pattern I work with. I even hand basted the skirt to the underskirt. That’s dedication.


I had a hard time reconciling the FBA needed, but the wonderful ladies at Pattern Review graciously helped answer my insecure questions. I started out adding my usual 3/4″ (per side, so 1 1/2″ total), but ended up with a 1/2″ (1″ total) FBA when it was all said and done. Because of this, I’ll venture to say that this pattern runs at least a cup size than the Big 4 standard B cup.

Here’s what the original pattern pieces looked like up top, final alterations down below:


I added a bit more coverage to the neckline, added a side bust dart, and added about 1/2″ to the bottom of the pattern to true it up. I’m just showing one side here, but the right and left sides are very similar. I forgot to take a photo of the overlay adjustment, but I basically created an FBA and then rotated the fullness evenly amongst all of the pleats.

I admired this pattern a lot when it first came out, as many others did. Such a cute, vintage silhouette! However, it took me a while to finally buy it, because I was convinced that the off-shoulder sleeves would drive me crazy. I wasn’t wrong. I made a couple of different adjustments on the sleeves, but did not go as far as to round the top seam of the sleeve by creating two separate pattern pieces, as recommended by Gertie on her blog.

To keep the sleeves up on the shoulders, Gertie suggested pinching out fullness from both the sleeve and bodice; I decided to just shave 1/4″ off the bodice itself:


Not quite right…

I got the final look you see by moving the sleeve in another 3/8″ where the sleeve meets the bodice and stitched to meet back up with the original seam line. Basically, where the sleeve meets the bodice in the front, there’s a typical 5/8″ seam on the sleeve and a 1″ seam on the bodice.

And it turns out, it’s not a big deal that the sleeves drive me nuts, as I don’t anticipate wearing the dress much. This is especially because my choice of fabric (a poly dull satin I bought at many moons ago for another purpose, underlined with a poly pongee from FabricMart) was just a wee bit too stiff for this silhouette.  Cue random innards photos:


The fabric worked wonderfully for the bodice, but the pleats in the skirt, which are hidden under the drape, make the whole thing pooch out just a little too much. Like, a preggo amount. Not a flattering look.



Gotta say that I really love the skirt drape feature, though. I wasn’t sure I wanted to add it, but I’m sure glad I did! It really makes the dress.


I also love how the back turned out. Kind of weird, because I’m not usually wowed by the back of most garments. It just fits so nicely and hugs in just the right spots.  No swayback adjustment necessary, either!

This also happens to be one of the cleanest invisible zipper installations that I’ve achieved to date.

I’ll have it said, though, that achieving this fit did take just a small amount of work on my part. Because of the accursed skirt pleats, you really need all of the included ease in this skirt. I have 39″ hips, and usually a 14 fits me fine (Butterick’s hip in a 14 is 38″). However, the first time I zipped this dress up, it was tight and straining in all of the wrong places. I took out each seam so I had 1″ extra ease, and it was all good. So, be warned: you DO need every bit of ease in this skirt.

I also slipped when ripping out my old stitches and sliced my fabric with the seam ripper a bit. The only steps remaining were some hand sewing, hook & eye, and the hem. Doesn’t that just make you want to scream when it happens to you? It’s a good argument for not using sharp instruments on garments while tired.

The incident was especially disheartening because it happened at 11:30 the night before our anniversary, which was also a work night. I had to face the fact that I had at least an hour of work left on the dress, no time the next day to work out it before we went out to dinner, and I needed to go to bed. Wahh! I didn’t get it done in time, and ended up wearing a RTW dress for our anniversary dinner.


Though, I really wish I had busted my ass a little harder to have this special dress for our anniversary…


…because Mr. 5 asked me to marry him! :D

Needless to say, we are both very excited.

Overall, I think this is a really cute style. It’s a little bulky at the waist, and it’s hard to keep the seam facing down as directed by the instructions, but that’s really my only complaint design-wise. Made up in a more drapey fabric, I think this dress would be pretty darn sizzling and moderately flattering on my body type. If I were to do it over, I might be tempted to just pop a pencil skirt on the bottom instead of using the asymmetrical pleated skirt.


41 thoughts on “Gertie’s 5814”

  1. Beautiful dress, beautiful ring and you’ll make a beautiful bride! I can only assume you’ll be making your wedding dress…

    1. Aww, thank you, Melanie. :) My sister informed me many moons ago that I will not be making my wedding dress. I think it would really stress me out to attempt it, so I will probably be taking her advice on that. I will definitely be making many other things and garments for the day, though!

  2. Congratulations!! Gorgeous ring, and wowsers on the dress. You did an impeccable job, I know what a pain that silky fabric must’ve been to work with. Cheers all around!

  3. Your dress turned out fabulous, I hope you’ll have a new opportunity to wear it soon, as it deserves to be taken out :) Congratulations on the engagement!

  4. Congratulations! On your engagement and also on putting this complicated dress together so quickly! ;) I must say your ring goes very well with the dress… both are gorgeous!

  5. Oh my gosh, you look gorgeous!!!! I am just about to sew this myself, and I also need a FBA done. Thanks for posting this! I wasn’t sure where to begin!

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