Graduation Day Dress! Butterick 5884

My baby girl graduated from college!  Making her graduation dress was bittersweet to say the least.  I have three daughters and she is the youngest, so this is our last daughter to go through this life stage.  I remember my college graduation dress very well, and I wanted to make her something special that she would remember as well.

She chose the pattern and the fabric.  The pattern is Butterick 5884, from the Suzy Chin/Maggy Boutique patterns.  I love all of the Maggy London patterns, but had not made this one, so I was pretty excited that she chose it.  The fabric is a beautiful sky blue tencel challis.  It has a vibrant color and beautiful drape.

What you can't see from the pattern illustration is that the lining of the bodice is actually fitted, and that brings the outer fabric in so that the neckline doesn't gape.  It's brilliantly drafted, and the front just hugs the chest perfectly.

The back on the other hand was perhaps not drafted as well, as when she first tried it on, there was so much extra fabric at the upper back, that it made her look like she had a hunchback.  I think that if I had made the version with the sleeves, that this extra fabric would have been pulled sideways to the arms, but the sleeveless version doesn't have anything to pull this extra fabric out of the way.   So I removed about 1-1/2" at the back neck edge on each side, tapering down to nothing at the waist.  That took out 3" of the upper back, and now it fits beautifully.  I also shortened the skirt by 2", as girls her age usually like their skirts a little shorter.  Here it is on the dressform:

Here you can see the gathering at the shoulder seam, and how luscious this fabric is:

Since graduation day can be hot, and she was wearing a heavy polyester gown over the dress, I wanted a breathable lining.  I had a lightweight cotton voile that worked great for this.  Here it is turned wrong side out:

 Unlike some lined dresses where you don't see any seams on the inside, this one has the waist seams of the lining and the shell fabric sewn all at once, so that you do see the seam allowances.  The instructions have you leave the lining open 3" on each side of the zipper, then you tuck this under, so the seam allowances won't get caught in the zipper.

Here's momma and baby girl at her party:

And here's all three of my girls, all graduates of the University of Illinois:

Her degree is in Animal Science with a Business minor, and she is looking for a job in the dairy industry or joining the Peace Corps.  But first she's going backpacking with her best friend to Utah and California.  Then she's going to Bangladesh to work on an agricultural research project.  We are really proud of her and know that she will do amazing things!

Happy Sewing!



  1. You all look great and congrats!

  2. Beautiful dress. I love the colour. You must be so proud of all your girls!

    1. Thanks, Jean Margaret! Yes, my husband and I couldn't be prouder of all of them.

  3. Beautiful dress for your daughter. Congratulations on three college graduates.

  4. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know you must be so proud of your girls. They grow up so fast don't they?! Her dress is lovely, she's got good taste. You and your daughters look fabulous!

  5. Congrats to your daughter and all of her accomplishments and the ones to come. You both look lovely!

  6. Congratulations to your youngest! Lovely dress.


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