Butterick 6494 ~ Athleisure + Retreat Results

A mixed bag of results from the retreat, and nothing finished that weekend. I came home with a car full of UFOs that are finally done, 2 weeks later. Only one pattern was new to me – Butterick 6494 – so the majority of this post is a review.



Butterick 6494 makes athleisure tops, a vest, dress and pants. It’s designed just for stretch fabrics. I bought it because I like the shape of the dress, and selected the open necked top as a first effort.


Several weeks ago I visited a new fabric store in Atlanta, Topstitch Studio, and picked up Twinkle Night French Terry made by Atelier Brunette. (If you’re in the Atlanta area, you must visit Topstitch in the Decatur area. A very nice selection of garment fabrics, sewing classes, sewing workshops, outings, open studio time.)

This fabric feels so soft against the skin – almost like a velour. I washed it before cutting and that made it even softer. I actually washed it in cold water and threw it in the dryer until about 80% dry, then hung on the rack. The instructions on the fabric are to drip dry however there don’t seem to be any adverse effects (shrinking) from the heat of the dryer. Put this one in the “cozy winter day” category.


I cut a straight 20 and didn’t make any alterations to the pattern. Were I to make this again I would probably add a bit of ease to the waist and hips. The finished garment isn’t too tight, however I like a bit more skim and a bit less grab.

Section cut off of sleeve

After stitching, I realized that the sleeves were much too large – both in width and in length. I have relatively ‘shapely’ biceps, so this sleeve would likely be too big on almost everyone.

Some time ago I read an article that said one of the easiest ways to make an inexpensive or home sewn garment look richer was to ensure that the sleeves weren’t too wide. So before I stitched the sleeve hems, I shaved off about 1 1/2″ from the width of the sleeve from underarm seam to cuff. I also took almost 2″ off of the cuff.


This is a very straightforward pattern. Princess seams front & back, raglan sleeves, collar, facing, hems. The pattern was well marked and everything fit together properly.

Section of collar that ‘grew’ while stitching with a walking foot. I just cut it off.

My fabric caused me some fits. The collar grew over an inch when stitching to the interfaced piece (I did use a walking foot). Fortunately I was able to just cut off the piece that grew without the collar pulling like a drum. I under stitched the neck facing and it simply did not want to cooperate, so added a row of topstitching about 1/4″ from the edge.

Hemming was the toughest part of the project. I first serged the edge, then using the walking foot, added two adjacent rows of stitching to mimic the look of the double needle. The hem flips out. I’ve steamed it a few times and it still doesn’t lie as flat as I would like. Bahhhh.


Simple and easy to sew top. This pattern would be a rewarding sew for someone who is a beginner, even if they don’t have much experience with knits. There are no pieces to be stretched to fit (like collar bands), and the princess seams give lovely shaping. I will definitely sew it again, likely in a fabric that is slightly lighter weight.


Next time I use a fabric like this French Terry, I will top stitch all of the Princess seams. I would also consider adding the grommets, but not metal ones – enamel grommets that match the fabric.

Unintended Consequence

My dissatisfaction with the hem led me to finally order a Brother CV-3550 Double Coverstitch Machine. Once it’s in my hands and I’ve figured out how to use it, I’ll redo the hem. Happy Thanksgiving to me!


See how the lower hem sticks out? I’ll be picking out those stitches when my coverstitch arrives!


Retreat Overview


I enjoyed the retreat again this year. The weather wasn’t as good … so there weren’t morning walks by the small lake. There were times when I wondered if I’d get more done if I just stayed home with the door locked. But the purpose of the retreat isn’t to just finish a bunch of projects, it’s to spend time with people who sew and I truly enjoyed the people! Plus, there were so many beautiful and unique projects under construction. It’s quite inspiring see the intricate quilts, cutest of the cute children’s wear, and handbags that should sell for hundreds of dollars.

Bottom line, I did come home with three garments that just needed a few finishing touches before they were ready to be worn.

New Look 6808 in Plaid Batiste


Second version of this top. The fabric was a real gem, and was priced at just $6 a yard (I’m sure that was a mistake). I made the neck opening a hair smaller, plus spent additional time hand tacking the neck and sleeve facings for a neater finish. The fabric is perhaps a bit lightweight for winter, but the plaid makes it perfect for daywear under jackets. Second attempt at a lapped zipper was dramatically better than the first, and there were just a couple of bursts of obscenities!


McCalls 6886 Shirtdress in Viscose


This was the last project I took on and I was a bit intimidated by the fabric because I paid a lot for it. And as I discovered, it was almost impossible to unpick because of the fine fibers which meant it was easy to pick up a thread from the fabric and create a pull. ARGHH!

I left the retreat with the dress about half done. The placket is finicky and needed space to spread out and my full attention.  In spite of sewing up the placket at home, I still managed to pull the fabric so it wasn’t square and OF COURSE I didn’t notice until I had topstitched, so there was a lot of swearing and picking this morning. It’s still not perfect, but I’m probably the only one who will notice.

Alterations/Changes: I used the split sleeve cuff from New Look 6808, and sewed buttons on one side of the split. After trying it on multiple times, I added two darts in the back. I just measured down my back and noted the point where my shoulder blades taper, then my waist, and finally where my behind (is there a more refined word that isn’t ‘buttocks’?) begins to curve out. For me, this was 12″, 17″ and 21″ respectively, and I used those measurements for the points of my back darts.

If I can find an old kit with belt shaping and a self-covered buckle, I’ll make a belt but until then it will be worn loose. My intention is to wear it this winter with lovely wollen tights I bought in London this summer and my flat boots. Ahhh, comfort 🙂

Next time, I will move up the bust darts. Why did I place them so low???

I didn’t touch the pink crepe, and now am not sure about the whole project.This fabric is too pretty to mess up. And I just didn’t get to the vest. It will be sewn up soon – right after a few quick Christmas presents.

All-in-all, the retreat was a success. It’s being expanded to 3 full days next year!

Packed and ready to head home!

2 thoughts on “Butterick 6494 ~ Athleisure + Retreat Results

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