Vintage Butterick 4379 - polka dot summer dress

Tuesday 13 March 2018

I originally made this swinging sixties dress back in December last year. I wish I could say that it's been work frequently over the summer just past, but in reality the fit wasn't quite right and after just two wears it has been sitting in my "to-fix" pile for the last few months. I love the fabric and the dress so I got over my laziness and made myself fix it.

This is a 1966 pattern that has been in my stash a long time and I've wanted to make it for such a long time. The main feature of this pattern is the tie neckline, but it gave me all sorts of problems trying to get it comfortable. The neckline in the pattern is quite wide, as it has a fold over component:

The neckline is cut on the bias and I didn't quite have enough fabric to cut it out in piece, hence the unsightly seem down the centre front. The first time I sewed this I found it sat too high, just under my chin, so I ended up trimming 3cm off the top of the front of the dress so that it sat lower at front. And then it still felt too tight, so I redid the zipper so that it finished well below the neckband hoping that would fix it. It felt slightly better, but after wearing it twice it did feel too constrictive and it looked like I had no neck. The photos below are the original neckline:

So to fix this, I unpicked the neckline once again and cut off that extension tab. So now the band is narrower and it can be worn standing up, but I prefer to fold it over to retain the essence of the original look and to make it sit lower.

I also spread out the point where the back and front dresses are sewn into the neckline band - there's now a gap instead of them meeting at the neckband. Doing this doesn't seem to affect the fit or show off too much underarm flesh so I'm calling it a final fix. I am wearing a strapless bra here so the straps don't show - this dress may be from the sixties but I'm not about to go with the free love bra less look!

I didn't have enough fabric to pattern match which is why those dots are so very badly place at the centre back. I also used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper because it's quicker and easier to install an invisible zip even if it's not authentic to the era.

The rest of the dress is pretty simple - it's an a-line shape with some gentle shaping darts front and back to give it a bit of shape.

The fabric helps too with the dress not looking too sack like - this is a nicely draping lightweight denim by Art Gallery fabrics that I bought from Selvage Fabrics last year. The polka dots is a nod to one of the dresses on the pattern envelope and I think it suits this style and era of the pattern perfectly.

Fingers crossed we have a  few more weeks of warmish weather so I can wear this again. The few times I wore it previously I got a lot of compliments on it, including from my friend's husband who is real blokey bloke so that was quite amazing!

polka dot dress in blue denim


  1. Ah, I actually made this or something very similar back when the pattern was new - as I recall the collar was hot and strangling in our steamy weather but I felt very cool. Probably it was a bit beyond my skill level too - fun to see it done right!


  2. Gotta love a halterneck dress. I can't wait for warm weather here so I can wear mine. Yours looks lovely. The style and colour suit you perfectly.

  3. Love the dress. Love your blog. You inspire me to sew for myself more. Here is my blog in case you are interested.