1950s | Dresses | Embroidery

Butterick B5708

February 20, 2014

A few weeks ago I decided to begin sewing this years summer wardrobe and I just finished another garment – Retro Butterick B5708, a sweet early 50s dress. I used a deep blue cotton with a weaving pattern that looks like wood grain and a white poly blend for the lining of the bodice. The dress is very pretty but the pattern has a few issues. The bows can be tied multiple ways, for example off-the-shoulder or the way I did it. That’s a very nice idea but the problem is that all these variants use the same pattern. This results in a much to wide neckline when you tie the dress on the shoulders. I therefore sewed several darts and it’s ok like this but still a bit too revealing… apart from that I was not happy with how the darts looked like and decided to use embroidery to cover them up. My boyfriend created a very pretty Art Nouveau/ Rick Griffin inspired pattern and so I stitched for the first time in several years and am very happy with it. The second problem is that there is too much fabric at the lower end of the costal arch, there is a small fold at the back and front of the dress. Others had the same problem with this pattern and the version on the Butterick website looks not quite right as well… as the bodice consists of three parts I have no clue how to take it in, does anyone have an idea? However, I still like the dress a lot and look forward to wearing it when summer arrives!

More about my sewing projects on my blog, Draped in Cloudlets.


  1. You can pinch the excess out of the paper pattern and reduce the length of the bodice. Trace your original pattern piece and experiment on the copy. Then try it out on muslin.

  2. Great job! The “moire” print of the fabric really accentuates the style lines on the bodice. Learned a new word too. I can now add Costal to my vocabulary. Oh and love the peeking petticoat.

    1. Hehe – I hope it’s not totally wrong? I tried to translate the german term for this body part word-by-word and noticed afterwards that it would have been so much easier to write “under the bust”… 🙂

  3. The dress is very lovely!
    I agree with Lisl about the alterations: pin the excess fabric when you’re wearing the dress, copy the upper bodice pattern pieces and alter those to pinch out the excess.
    And I think it is really weird that Butterick would offer the same top bodice pieces for all those different ways of tying the shoulder straps. There’s just no way the same neckline is going to work for all of those.
    I really like the way you’ve solved the issue by adding the embroidery though.

  4. Gorgeous! I’ve been having exactly the same issues with that pattern – I tried slashing the pattern and rotating the ties to make them more vertical (I guess it achieved the same thing as the darts). It stops it falling off the shoulders, but doesn’t work as well for all of the different ways of tying it… The fabric looks very much like one of my 50s dresses – a costume designer friend said that it was water washed taffeta. If it’s the same thing, then dropping liquid of any kind onto it will leave a visible mark – they generally come out ok once the whole dress is cleaned. I’ve heard that you can sometimes steam the spots out, but haven’t tried it yet.

  5. Thank you so much for your nice comments and hints! I also received a few rather helpful comments from my german readers on my blog and thought this might be a good place to sum them up: one reader told me that the fold on the bodice is probably caused by the bias cut pattern that results in a slight and unwanted stretchieness at this part. She also recommended to lower the armholes a bit to have more control over the bows at the shoulders. Another reader advised me to reinforce the insides of the bodice and suggested to add a bra-like structure that presses the fabric to the body. I will think about all of these tips in the next few days and will give you an update once I have tried to change the fit of the dress! And sorry for my awful english – it’s really hard for me to translate these technical things, I hope I can make myself understand (-:

  6. Yes, your English is good. You write better than many native speakers (probably because you are paying attention!).
    Now, your dress – wow! I especially love the embroidery because it’s a happy accident. I would never have guessed that it was put there to cover something up. And how nice that your boyfriend contributed the design.
    Enjoy wearing it, you look fabulous!

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