Vintage Summer Dress – Yellow Dots and Lollipops

Okay, so really this has *nothing* to do with lollipops, except a vague idea that lollipops and fluffy girly dresses go together….?


Butterick 6582

The other night I thought, “hey, I have all kinds of modern reproduction patterns for vintage dresses, why don’t I make one?”  So I cut out Butterick 6582, a “vintage” 1960s dress with two views – I went for the poofy skirt one.

What a horrible pattern.  It was ill-fated from the start.  The neck was too high, as was the waist, and it just….didn’t…it’s just didn’t work at all, not to mention it was too small despite cutting it to my measurements.  The difference between the drawing and what you actually end up making is quite huge, and don’t we all wish we looked more like the drawing.  Not only is the neckline unflattering and just plain weird, the skirt is disappointingly un-poofy, even with a crinoline underneath.  I can only imagine that the patternmakers at Butterick looked at the vintage drawing and then didn’t get it right at all.

Avi agrees.  “That looks stupid, Lauren, fix it, you noob”

Plan B.  I ripped the bodice off the skirt and threw it away.  I figured I could keep the skirt for the re-make.  I used a simple bodice pattern I draped last December.  Here it is:

Simples.  Back piece and front, three darts.

Originally this bodice, plus sleeves, was used on the gold brocade Christmas dress, but it’s such a nice, simple block that it can be easily adapted for many different styles just by cutting the neckline into different shapes.  For this summer dress, I scooped the back more, and made a little “V” cut at the front.

Same bodice, but with sleeves.
The back, nice big scoop.  It’s summer, afterall.

The bodice is lined in a stability+modesty layer of unbleached muslin.  The skirt is unlined, and I’m still not gleeful about its un-puff-itude, but I’ll wait until I have the hem in for the final verdict.  Simple dress though it may be, I’m thinking of adding a big white sash, or a white belt with a bow, maybe white bows at the shoulders.  More to come…

Here’s the progress.  That bow is just stuck on there – exploring waist finishing options.


  • Sandi

    April 8, 2011 at 9:18 PM

    One factor could be the difference between women's body shapes then and now, and under-pinnings. Not many women noawadays have the classic 'hour-glass' figure that was fashionable back in the 50s/60s. Do you have a waspie and pointed brassiere…? Just a thought…

  • Lauren Stowell

    April 8, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    Sandi, you're right – I went shopping on the What Katie Did website for some retro shapewear. I didn't buy anything, but I probably will. The problem with the pattern isn't so much that we modern girls aren't shaped right, but more than the neckline comes out too high (and uncomfortable), and the skirt is not full enough. The sheath dress, with some adjustment to the neckline, is probably quite lovely, though.

  • Anonymous

    April 8, 2011 at 9:52 PM

    I tried tho make that dress too, and the neckline turned out a little silly. I modified it heavily to keep the criss-cross front look, but I'm not sure what they were thinking when they made the pattern.

  • Unknown

    April 8, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    You managed to make something quite pretty out of such a disappointing begin. I love the idea at a sash and bows, do girly.
    What about adding some horse hair braid to the hem, just to give it a bit more oomph?

  • Alexa

    April 8, 2011 at 10:12 PM

    This reminds me of all the trouble I had with the vintage dress I just made! It was actually an original pattern from 1947, but despite being for my measurements didn't fit me at all. I had to do all sorts of dart modification/seam changes to the bodice. Your drafted result looks great. I love accenting with bows! 🙂

  • fabriquefantastique

    April 9, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    I agree with Dana….when I made all my own clothes in the 60s 70s I never bought Butterick. (then I got to a point where I wanted to wear better than I could sew)

  • Steph

    April 9, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    I like what you made, I've been thinking about a similar neckline for a while now.

    Alexa, most older patterns are drafted for someone wearing foundation garments so they don't have much (if any) wearing ease.

  • Lauren

    April 9, 2011 at 3:47 AM

    I also have this pattern- it was one of the first repro ones I bought (I think the reissued the reissue recently? Not sure), so am pretty bummed it's a pain in the butt 🙁 Dang! Thanks for sharing your trial and error with us.
    LOVE your Christmas dress, and what you're doing with the new dress, too.
    Funny about being too small. The Butterick repro I made (a 1930s suit) was way too big and boxy, and the other one (a 1940s dress) had super low armholes and a bad fitting bodice. I know most I've made are way different than the way actual vintage patterns of the period make up, but I don't think I've ever sewn a real 50s Butterick one yet.
    Any way, your dress looks way cuter 🙂

  • ZipZip

    April 9, 2011 at 4:26 AM

    Dear Lauren,

    Yup, that's JUST what my bodice looked like, although fitted less well.

    I think the designers made the shoulder straps too thick compared to the drawing, and yes, the neckline a tad too high.

    Your solution is *much* the better one!

    Very best,


  • Unknown

    April 9, 2011 at 4:34 AM

    I am glad to know someone with more sewing expertise than me has issues sometimes, too. When a pattern won't work I always figured it was me. The air around my sewing area is frequently blue and my family stays away from me when I run into one of these terrors.

  • Lauren Stowell

    April 9, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Well, I don't want to say that this pattern won't work for anybody. It didn't work for me, but I really like the lines (of the drawing), so maybe a little drapey-drape to do my own version, in the future.

    I have the hem and the zipper left to do. There is horsehair in the hem, but I'm thinking of flatlining part of it with net too. I like it to poof!

    And I still might buy a piece of What Katie Did shapewear (

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    April 10, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    Wow what a difference between the pic and the product! I buy these patterns because I like the envelopes, and interstingly when they do include a photo of the finished dress (sometimes this is in the book or on the website but not on the envelope) there is a huge difference- total lack of instant hourglass! if you could get it lover in the front and more boatnecked, it would be lovely. It's not your shape that is the issue at all I think your attempt was a really nice fit, it was just the clunkiness of the neckline effect that spoilt it.

  • The Dreamstress

    April 12, 2011 at 6:09 AM

    Ugh! How unfortunate! There are actually a whole series of patterns from Butterick from that era that I have had the worst luck with – now I just use them as inspiration and draft my own dress – just what you are doing! And your version – super cute! I actually like the slightly subtler skirt rather than super poofy.

  • Katie

    April 13, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    I had the same problem when I tried to make this dress a few years ago. It just looked icky and ended up in the ufo pile. I just cut the top off and am making a cute little skirt out of the remains!

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