Sunday, 10 March 2019

Sewing a 1960s A-Line Dress: Butterick 5155

It's been a little quiet on the sewing front, but I finally finished a project that was started a year ago.  I have needed a bit of sewing therapy in between revising for my viva exam, which is fast approaching.  

The pattern is Butterick 5155 from 1969.  The short a-line dress has three necklines and three sleeve variations to choose from. I chose view B's scoop neckline with view A's flared sleeves.  The fabric I chose was a vintage bed sheet with a lovely daffodil print, bought for £2. This dress was meant to be a 'toile', with a view to using nicer fabric if I liked how it turned out.

Envelope for Butterick 5155 misses a-line 1960s dress sewing pattern

The construction
It involved 3 main pieces for the dress, plus sleeves and neck facings.  There are two darts at the front, one a normal bust dart, and a big curved one coming from the side seam.

Some elements of the sewing were quite satisfying.  I was really pleased with my neckline. Facings can be a faff, but this was only my second attempt and I had improved so much. I achieved a sharp edge. I also inserted a zip without wobbles, resulting in an invisible zip which is indeed invisible, which is progress for me. I also enjoyed putting in the curved darts from the sides. 

There certainly were some tricky bits.  Inserting a sleeve was devilishly difficult. It was my first attempt at this, and I hated it!  You can tell; my gathers are awful. I also messed up the top of the zip, and I lost the will with finishing my raw edges with zigzag stitch. I really must learn to use the overlocker I bought last year.

The finished item
The main issue for me is that the neckline turned out far wider than I anticipated, it's practically off the shoulder.  That's not right!  The fit is also fairly loose through the body on me. It appears much more fitted on the illustration, making me wonder if the pattern runs big.  My body measurements are very close to those detailed on the pattern envelope, and I was very careful to be as exact as possible when cutting out and sewing with the correct seam allowance.  Perhaps as my cotton fabric is quite thin, the dress would have turned out better in a thicker fabric.  Maybe a bit of Crimplene or brocade would have actually resulted in a better fit.

Would I make it again?
I think not. There are better patterns for me out there. I won't wear this one - the fabric is destined for recycling into something else.  Ah well, you sew and learn!

I will be uploading my feedback to the Vintage Sewing Patterns Wikia, a great resource for vintage sewing enthusiasts.  I really would have liked to have seen pictures of other people's attempts at this pattern before embarking myself.


  1. What a shame about that wide neck, the shape and fabric are lovely and you've done a cracking job of pattern matching at the back. Love the tights and clogs, too.
    I'm very much like you, even if what I've made isn't a huge success I always feel like I've learnt something along the way and sewing really is a wonderful way of relaxing, concentrating on something else when there's something important looming. xxx

    1. I find that sewing is an easy way for me to enter a state of 'flow', as us psychology people would term it. It's a form of mindfulness, when you are completely immersed in an activity, oblivious to the outside world. Very good for well-being! It gives our brains a rest from all the other stuff. xx

  2. I tried to sew something years and years ago, but I am to in patience. Love the color combination with he rights. Better luck next time

  3. As a non-sewer, I think this is quite an achievement, but I'm hearing you on the wide neckline and the loose fit. It is wearable, though, even if you won't. Whatever the case, you'll be definitely taking away something from the experience. Love your tights and clogs! And good luck with your exams! xxx

  4. I'm another non-sewer who things this looks pretty damn good! It's a great match with the tights and shoes too! Kx

  5. I like how you styled it and it was quite clever to make it out of a sheet!

  6. That's too bad that the fit didn't turn out well on this project. That happens to me a lot too, and it's always disappointing when you've put time and effort into it. I hope your next project will be a smashing success!

  7. I love that pattern, and it's my size!! If you would be willing to post it to NZ I'd be happy to buy it off you.


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