Butterick pattern B5209

I have made one dress from this pattern, so far. I can tell you already though that I will be using it again, and again, and again.

It’s pretty much a perfect fit in my size without any alterations. When you’re used to trying to do full-bust adjustments and taking in everything around your waist, this is just amazing. If anything, it is maybe a bit too small around my waist (while still having enough room for my boobs, yay!)

This leads me to think that vintage patterns from the 1940s are something I should look out for. On the pictures, the drawings are very much showing an exaggerated hourglass-figure, but I was worried that this wouldn’t mean the pattern itself was actually made for that, especially since it has been updated to fit modern sizing.

Here are the pattern pieces for the top part:

the pattern pieces


I am quite high-waisted, so the midsection of the dress is a tad long, which leads to it being a bit small. Next time, I will simply take it up about an inch and then add the skirt. So yes, it’s not quite perfect for me, but taking out an inch is a really small and easy adjustment.

I also made this dress into a maxi-dress, as I wanted to originally make a 70s-style garment, but reckoned that this would be the closest pattern to what I wanted.

I am still on the mission to make the 70s dress from this post, but summer is fast approaching… Also, I have had this chiffon fabric for about a year and I finally wanted to make something with it.

What I really love about this dress is that it’s actually a halter-neck in version A and then you simply add a back and sleeves to make version B. This is so clever and I would have never thought of it. Plus, it looks really good!

The construction was very easy. Just like every Butterick pattern, the B5209 comes with detailed instructions and pattern markings. All the stitches used in the instructions are explained in a glossary.

This is the front top pieces all sewn together:


front piece

I didn’t use a lining, but the instructions are very clear about how to insert one.

Most of the trouble I had while making this garment were fabric-related. The chiffon was a nightmare to cut, as it was sliding all over the place. By the time I got to the skirt, I realised there’s no way I didn’t need to overlock all the seams, as it was fraying like crazy, so I switched from my normal machine to my overlocker.

I actually finished with a more or less rolled hem. It isn’t really making those typical waves, but I do think it looks rather nice. This was the first time that I used my overlocker’s rolled hem presser foot and I found it to work really well, even though I clearly don’t have the tensions right yet.

The finished product looks a bit more elegant than hippy, to be honest, but I still think it is really lovely and I will make sure I wear it this summer (with an appropriate undergarment).


Other dresses I made from this pattern can be found here, here and here.

Adjusting a 70s dress pattern to a different size

As I mentioned in my post about the 70s GDR sewing magazine, I wanted to make some of the dresses from it. To do this, I would have to adjust the patterns dramatically to fit me, as most of them were in one size only.

The dress I most wanted to make is the one on the right here:


some beautiful dresses


The size offered as a pattern would be a contemporary German size 38 (UK 10). Being a relatively busty UK size 14, I knew I had some work to do. However, the fact that there are pattern pieces for this dress that solely enclose the boobs, made me think that it would be easier to adjust. Yes, I actually thought that…

This is one of my first forays into adjusting patterns, so I didn’t expect a perfect outcome.

As you can see, I finally got myself a tracing wheel.




I traced the pattern onto Swedish sewing paper and then measured myself. This turned out to be really easy for the front pieces, as I had hoped. The upper front piece had to be longer to accommodate my boobs. The shoulders actually seemed ok. (This is really often the case for me, size 14 patterns tend to be a bit wide and usually too long in the shoulders for me.)

Now the upper back seems a bit odd by my contemporary standards. I have never seen a pattern that uses darts in the shoulder seem. I understand that the back is meant to give me the ease to move around in the dress, but this still seems a bit strange to me. In any case, I also made it a bit longer and a little wider at the bottom.

I made both lower front and lower back pieces a little bit wider according to my measurements.

What I found really weird, was that I didn’t actually add all too much to the patterns. Maybe it was one of those patterns that has lots of ease built into it. There is absolutely no indication of this in the magazine or on the pattern.

I was also wondering whether or not seam allowances were included in the patterns. (Again, no indication…) I obviously added them to my adjusted pattern, so if they were included that would explain the small adjustments.






I just had enough fabric for a mockup. I used a classic polyester in white, which I had lying around.

Admittedly, I messed up the lower back piece. I later noticed that it is much too big in comparison to the upper back. I also managed to use the wrong side of the lower front on the fabric fold. At least I added an unnessesary seam allowance on that fold, so that cutting it and sewing it together on the other side wasn’t a problem. I should not attempt making patterns at 10 pm…

This is the mockup from the front. Trying it on, I find it a bit loose in the boob region and also around my waist (which is admittedly quite high.) I wonder if this style just doesn’t suit me, as it really accentuates my boobs.