Butterick B5930 - The Ultimate 50s Party Dress!

by - 7/16/2016

My finished Butterick B5930 dress!

Betty Draper eat your heart out. Now If this isn't the most 1950s garden party dress you've ever seen, then I don't know what is! And it isn't even marked as a vintage pattern! But I think my choice of fabric and styling certainly gives this little number some serious retro credentials.

Here's a peek at the pattern:

I love the pattern variations! I'd like to make them all. But I thought the one which would suit me most is option C, with little t shirt style sleeves. However, the main feature which sold the dress to me, were the pockets. I was yet to sew any and I knew once I'd learnt how to do them I'd be adding pockets to every dress from then on.

Beautiful supplies from the fabulous online haberdashery Sew Essential

Now lets talk about this fabric. Ridiculously beautiful, right? It's been filling up my Instagram feed for weeks! The fabric is John Kaldor Lizzano Fabric in Pink Rose Floral Print , one of many beautiful vintage inspired fabrics stocked at Sew Essential. It's a satin cotton and it has a super soft feel to it and a lovely drape. Perfect for an occasion dress like this! I wore my handmade baby pink petticoat underneath, which you can see a little more of HERE.

So lets talk about the sewing, and if you've checked out my other blog posts, you might have noticed there's always a mistake in there somewhere! Well this make is no different - and I was so close!

The instructions were easy to follow and the construction of the dress was rather straight forward. From now on, all dresses will have pockets! The bodice is lined which makes this dress feel extra special and I like to think I'm pretty good at lining construction now, so surprisingly that wasn't the issue. Again it was sizing. I tried on the bodice during sewing and all I altered was taking a little off the center back as it was too big. But I thought everything else was absolutely fine.

I thought everything was going swimmingly, finished the dress, thought it was beautiful and went to go try it on thinking it was going to fit like a dream.... Damn my short torso! The dress was far too big for me, in every way. I should have cut out the size smaller to start but also the waist was sitting almost at my hips and I'm not sure there's anything more unflattering. I was absolutely gutted! But I wasn't going to be beaten.

I decided the only way I could save this dress without unpicking it totally would be to cut up from the sleeves all the way through the collar to the neck and create a long shoulder seam. Long story short - it worked! The whole dress needing lifting up on my body and creating shoulder seams and picking it up a couple inches was exactly what it needed.

Even thought the long shoulder seam shouldn't be there, I really don't I think the appearance has been sacrificed and that the dress still looks great. After altering the length of the bodice I decided not to take in the waist and that I could just wear a belt to cinch in the loose fabric. Which I think works fine!

To get a super 50s shape, I also wore a tight lacing corset underneath, so the dress was even bigger around the waist than it would of been without. But the wide belt I wore covers that well!

Sewing Summary:

Pattern: Butterick Pattern B5930 - £7.50 - Sew Essential

Fabric: 4m of John Kaldor Lizzano Fabric. Pink Rose Floral Print - £7.80 per m - Sew Essential

Notions: Vilene H180 - Lightweight Iron-on Interfacing 90cm wide1 x white YKK Concealed Zip. 41cm (16 inch) and hooks & eyes and fasteners for the optional dickey. All from Sew Essential.

Sewing time: Two afternoons

Modifications: Took some out of the center back before inserting the zip. Adjusted pattern after sewing to fit my shorter torso.

Fit: Okay. So gutted about my fitting mistake. But I think I saved it well!

Difficulty: Rather straight forward. I discovered pockets are nice and simple.

Watch out for: Getting the collar looking sharp. Lots of ironing.

Make again?: Yes! I really love this pattern and its such a shame about the big fit. But now I know where I need to tweak it, I'd love to make it again. Perhaps with a contrast colour collar and a fuller skirt.

After my fit alterations I decided not to make the optional dickey piece. I thought with it the neckline would be too high on me, and look rather unflattering. I really like the shape of the neckline as it is. and how it fits on the shoulders.

Overall, I'm really happy with this dress. The fabric is so beautiful and the pattern is fabulous. It's a shame about my last minute sizing mistake because up until then I was very proud of my sewing and construction of this dress. But I will still enjoy wearing it. It'd be perfect for a wedding or Summer party (hint to my friends).

Get this ultimate 1950s Mad Men garden party dress look for yourself at Sew Essential! Thanks for reading, pinups! Let me know if you pick up one of these beautiful John Kaldor fabrics too.

P.S. Sorry for the large gap between this post and my last! I've had a Summer sale over at My Retro Closet and have been swamped sewing lingerie and designing new collections.

The pattern, fabric and notions were my choices supplied to me free of charge by Sew Essential. All opinions are my own.

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  1. Swoon!!! What a stunning fabric! Such a fun print. Definitely Betty Draper!!!

  2. Your dress is amazing. I'd seen the pattern but it didn't do anything for me. You've made it look fantastic! And the fabric is especially gorgeous. So glad your sharing more of your makes! Can't wait to see what's next.

    1. Thank you! A lot of people have said that to me about this pattern. I'm glad I've changed a few people's minds! xo

  3. I love this dress,it looks gorgeous on you, and I didn't really like it on the pattern envelope. Love John kalder fabrics!

    1. Thank you! It seems a lot of people over looked this pattern. Oh the John Kalder range is beeeautiful! xo

  4. Its flipping fabulous! The pattern and fabric are so perfect together!!

  5. ooh, I love a painterly floral and this one is perfect for this dress pattern ;o)

  6. Just bought this pattern and so excited to start working on it after reading this! I also have a short torso, so thanks for the heads up on that. Beautiful print and it looks lovely on you! :)

  7. Just bought this pattern and so excited to start working on it after reading this! I also have a short torso, so thanks for the heads up on that. Beautiful print and it looks lovely on you! :)

  8. This is also the pattern that made me discover the sheer joy of pockets (and how easy they are to make!). I now put these pockets on every skirt or dress with a full skirt. I used the pattern to make a pinup sailer costume for a burlesque act.