Vintage Sewing

1954 Butterick Dress – Perfect for Spring

March 25, 2007

I found this great 1954 Butterick dress pattern at an Antique Mall for $1.99 — it had all of it’s pieces, the instructions, and it was my size. How perfect!

It went together quickly with the most difficult part being the inset collar. For some reason the opening for the collar was too big and I had to take in the shoulder seams a bit to make it all match up. I have had a vintage mint green plastic belt buckle for years waiting for just the right project. This turned out to be the one. I’ve also been sitting on some vintage mint green piping I picked up at the thrift store that wanted to be included too. I piped around the collar and cuffs and think that it really makes the dress.

The illustration on the pattern envelope shows a really full skirt, which mine is not. I’m not sure if this is because the fabric I used is quite heavy or if the pattern envelope models were wearing crinolines. I’ve played around with the idea of making this pattern in a crisper fabric to see if it would be fuller.

This is the first pattern I’ve sewn with kimono sleeves, which are so easy to sew but unusual to wear. As long as I don’t really need to lift my arms higher than my shoulders I should be fine!

  1. Gorgeous dress. From experience crisper fabrics give a little more of the full skirt look but it really must be assumed they wore a petticoat.

    I keep trying to find my net tutu burried somewhere to see what happens … even though its only mini length!

  2. great dress, I love the way it looks like you’re wearing a white shirt under it!

    I think a petticoat is the way to go, if you just wanted a little lift then a single layer of netting would do it, that stuff is pretty cheap to buy and all you’d need to do is cut it the right length and do a casing for elastic for the waist plus sew one side seam!

  3. Beautiful colors – they look fantastic on you!

    Regarding skirt fullness, I think its the petticoat thing, but also the illustrations often make the skirts look fuller. I’ve made up skirts that were illustrated as full but turned out to be far more A-line.

  4. I suggest that you take in some of the extra along the sides of the bodice. This dress should be fitted without much ease. Is that a dolman sleeve? You could just run up along side the bodice and continue around under the arm. That should make the overall fit better. It will also provide more contrast to the skirt.

    Great fabric and fantabulous shoes!
    Jane Smith

  5. Jane,

    I’m not sure that I would be able to get the dress on if I took in the underarm/side seams.

    I have never sewn (or worn for that matter) a dolman sleeve and was unsure of how it should fit. I know it looks roomy but it’s actually a bit of a tight squeeze to get the bodice on over my upper body, even with a side zipper.

    I had sort of assumed that it was another illustration/reality difference.

  6. Beautiful! I love the fabric and you look so pretty and feminine in it…Great idea to make up a vintage dress…I love it! =-)

  7. When your pattern was new it would have probably had a knee length, or longer, net petticoat underneath. I know – I’m old enough to remember! Does anyone else remember ‘paper nylon’ of which I also had a petticoat? Made your skirts stand out wonderfully – but goodness knows how you washed it!

  8. Your dress turned out really nice. I like the print of the fabric, was that new or vintage fabric?
    Who is that pretty doggie in the background?

  9. Carol,

    The fabric was new-ish. I picked it up in the bargain bin of a local fabric store for $1.99/meter about 4 or 5 years ago.

    The pretty doggie is my special girl Kya. She tolerates my sewing days in exchange for being allowed to nap on the bed!

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