Vintage sewing patterns aren’t always the easiest to find. Trust me, I’ve been hunting certain ones for years and it’s certainly a challenge. As I continue to share sewing pattern reviews, I want to make sure I try out and test modern patterns that can be sewn up to look vintage. With basic sewing skills, you can really alter patterns to suit a vintage style if that is something you want to do. A lot of the time, I pay attention to the bodice of the sewing pattern as many can be made to look retro depending on the skirt length and of course your fabric choice too. Modern patterns are a little bit easier to track down and you can find them all over the place. Whilst op shopping a few years back, I came across Butterick 5982 which is a simple modern pattern that I believe can be made to look vintage so that’s what we will be testing out today.
Butterick 5982 includes three different dress styles; all three include a lined, princess seam bodice with style C having short cap sleeves. The pattern includes a pleated and gathered skirt, a back zipper a belt with an added bow. When I started looking into this pattern I realised that the bodice pieces were interchangeable depending on what cup size you would fit best; A/B, C D cup sizes. The pattern states that it is best suited for light to medium weight fabrics such as linen and broadcloth. For my first ever go at this pattern, I decided to opt for style C as I want to start sewing more dresses with sleeves and despite the skirt looking super cute with the pleats and gathers, I will opt for a normal rectangle skirt. If this pattern goes well, I will make it with the pattern skirt but I will add some length to make it more vintage looking. When it comes to sizing, I decided to go with my normal size 12 and I measured my um … bosoms, and decided to size up to a size D which is pattern piece 6. I can go down to the c cup bodice piece but I suppose I can bring the bodice in if I need to.
Now the fun part, choosing my fabric. As I’m not shopping for any new fabric, I shopped my stash and pulled out a stunning light cotton fabric with an embroidered floral border. The main fabric is a burnt orange tone with small Indian inspired embroidered florets in a teal, orange and burgundy tone. The fabric is inspired by Indian floral imagery and is very stunning and beautiful. Throughout the fabric, there are small rhinestones attached giving the fabric a little bit of sparkle as it moves. I purchased this fabric in Kuala Lumpur many many years ago from a store in their fabric district. I had quite a limited amount of this fabric, less than 3 meters so I really needed to be strategic when it came to placing my patterns. I knew I wanted to use the embroidered border print as the bottom of the skirt (I won’t have the hem this one so yay) and I wanted to use the small embroidered part as the bodice. When it came to the sleeves, originally I was going to use the same part of the fabric as my bodice pieces but eventually, I decided to use the border edge for the sleeves as well. I really hope it’s going to work out.
Sew, let’s get started! I started with the bodice and went about sewing the princess seams. The first thing I did with all my bodice pieces was to pick off all the rhinestones that were in the way of my seam allowance as I can’t sew over them. It had been a while since I’ve done princess seams and for some reason, it was a bit of a struggle. I eventually got them as smooth as possible but I did notice that the points of the darts along the princess seams were very pointy. Very pointy. I mean, I might have to buy a Madonna cone bra to wear with this dress. The lining was then attached to the bodice (which also had pointy nip nips) and basically, the bodice was done.
The sleeves started off really simple until I made the realisation that this fabric choice was going to be a little bit tricky. Due to the thickness of some of the embroidery, sewing through two-layer is quite difficult and due to the placement of some of the embroidery, when I tried to gather the top of the sleeves, it didn’t go smoothly. I’m a little disappointed in my sleeve gathers as there was no way to get them even but I did what I could and they looked cute.
With the bodice done, I used the rest of the fabric to make myself a rectangle skirt. I normally make my skirts around 27 inches long (plus an inch seam allowance) but due to the border print, I added on a few inches and opted for a 31 and a half inch skirt. Whilst cutting my fabric, I noticed the embroidery was not in a perfect line so I did have to cut through some of the smaller embroidery parts. As I’ve run out of dental floss (well at least the kind I use for sewing at least), I sewed two rows of baste stitching and then gathered my fabric by slowly pulling a thread and dragging my fabric along it. Some parts got a bit twisted and I think due to the fabric being quite thin and light, the gathers warped a bit and didn’t sit straight. When it came to attaching the skirt to my bodice, I ended up having to unpick and resew certain sections but eventually, I got most of the skirt as smoothly gathered as possible. I really need a gathering foot for my machine. The last thing I needed to add was a zip which I added to the back and after one last press with my iron, she was done!
Fit: Yeah I should have listened to my gut and sewn the C cup bodice instead of the D cup. The D just sat really weirdly on my own bust and it made me want to unpick the bodice and re-do it. I will have to redo this pattern and try the proper pattern piece because I feel the fit issue will be changed if I try it again; plus it gives me a chance to keep working on my sleeve skills. I love the fabric, at least the way it looks but I’m a little sad that I couldn’t get the gathers the way I liked them as the embroidery got in the way. I think if I had chosen a different fabric, the sleeves and skirt gathers would have been better so I really want to try it all again soon.
Wearing the dress was fun even though the sleeves were a tad tight; I think the embroidery made them very stiff and unable to stretch. The waist fits really well and I’m happy with the length of the skirt. I do want to bring the back lower bodice in by about a half-inch just so it didn’t gape but that’s an easy fix. The skirt is a little bit see-through so I definitely had to wear a slip underneath and if it wasn’t so humid, I’d have put on a petticoat. I loved wearing this dress but personally, the colours were a little difficult for me to style as the main colour of the dress is not something I have much to match with. I really found this fabric beautiful, despite it being a challenge. Simple bodices such as the one in Butterick 5982 are really great for vintage lovers. By adding a rectangle skirt, the dress really looks vintage styled.
I can see why this pattern would be really popular and for those wanting to sew up a vintage wardrobe but find vintage patterns difficult, this would be a great modern equivalent. After a quick look online, the pattern isn’t sold in any Aussie fabric stores but I can’t speak for those in the US as I can’t check Joanne’s or your other fabric stores. There are a few online sellers with this pattern so if you are interested, check them out.
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