Ugly Duckling Vintage Pattern

Have you all heard of Simple Simon’s Ugly Duckling Vintage Pattern Challenge?  I love these ladies and their vintage pattern loving style!  Liz summed up my feelings about vintage patterns exactly when she said that there is always something good to be found in a vintage pattern.  Sure, the styling on the packages can be pretty awful sometimes, or the drawings that the pattern companies chose are a little crazy, but there is always something good to be found in a vintage pattern.  I asked one of the neighborhood teenagers to help me choose my ugly vintage pattern to work with , which led us to the thrift store where we stumbled upon this one, Vintage Butterick 3851.  It’s made by Betsey Johnson actually (which is kind of cool), but the drawing on this package is what sealed the deal for me (and my helpful neighbor).  What was Butterick thinking when they drew these models?  Did they run out of time to add eyeballs?  Or did they think it would look more fashion forward to have zombies modeling their tops?  Who knows, but these girls are kind of creeping me out!

Butterick vintage pattern

I actually love this top as is and would wear it, as long as it was lengthened a little bit.  But, my favorite thing to do with a pattern is make it my own.  This is why I love to sew.  A pattern is like a blank canvas for me.  I could personalize it with fabric, or if I’m feeling very inspired, personalize the pattern by tweaking it.

butterick 3851

I first lengthened my pattern to make it a dress.  Dresses get a lot of wear in the summer from me, because it get’s so hot and it becomes so easy for me to get in a gym short and t shirt rut.  Dresses lure me out of that frumpy daily wear while keeping me looking like I actually put some effort into my outfit!

butterick 3851 hem

After lengthening my shirt to a dress I decided to eliminate a lot of fullness.  (I was worried I would end up looking like I was wearing a mumu.)  This is such an easy thing to do; just fold the pattern where you want to have less bulk (or width).  I folded my pattern so that the width was eliminated at the top and tapering out to the full width at my hips so that I could still pull this dress on and off without a zipper. I did the same thing with the sleeves so that there was no gathering left in the sleeves.

butterick 3851 vintage

Instead of gathering what fullness I left, I decided to add two tiny pleats.  When I went to sew the yoke onto the dress, I found that the yoke was way to big.  I cut off two inches of the yoke in the front and the back, so that I could have a lower neckline.

butterick 3851 yoke

Last modification was to taper in the waist and then back out again at my hips, and most importantly to add pockets.  Dresses with pockets are my favorite!

butterick 3851 back

Did I motivate you to try a vintage pattern?  It doesn’t have to be ugly, but if you can get your hands on a vintage pattern, try one out!  And check back at Simple Simon to see all of the ugly patterns being made into something cute!

vintage butterick 3851

  • Suz

    Gorgeous Teresa!!! It is such a lovely dress! You should see the rough deal I got with my pattern tomorrow!!! Your blog is looking lovely too!!

  • um, I think you are seriously amazing to create such a cute dress from that pattern!!

  • Love this!! And we were totally on the same wave length turning a shirt into a dress!!!

  • I wholeheartedly agree about vintage patterns. Even the paper they’re printed on seems heavier and nicer! Your dress turned out beautifully and looks super modern.

  • what I great dress! I love the way it turned out – casual yet still looks put together.

  • The dress is fabulous! Taking out some of the width and lengthening it to a dress length is a vast improvement over the original look.

  • I can’t believe it’s the same pattern – it looks so effortlessly fresh and pretty (and you have eyes – huzzah!)

    Great job 🙂

  • just one word: WOW

  • Oh my gosh you did wonders! I actually didn’t mind the original much other then adding length for sure but I probably would have ended up with a muumuu…your dress is gorgeous and so stylish!
    Grand job clever lady!

  • Sarah Helene

    A LOVELY dress refashioned from a vintage Butterick top pattern. Your modifications created a practical dress: reduce fullness in dress & sleeves, lower neckline, etc… LOVE your photos . . . brown leather belt adds to the FAB look! You’ve sewn a go-everywhere dress! Thanks for sharing. Sarah Helene, Minneapolis

  • Turned this pattern into a winner for sure! I have seen a number of patterns with varying degrees of zombie eys- must have been the look?

  • That makes a really cute dress!!!

  • So cute and modern!

  • Oh I missed this post while we were moving. I first quickly looked at the pics, and the photo of a pattern cover made me go, “Boy what was Teresa thinking”, and then I read the rest of the post haha Well done! The final dress is great!

    • Teresa

      Ha…you are awesome Jenya!

  • Nic

    cute cute cute! love the fabric!

    • Teresa

      Thanks so much Nic!

  • Pingback: the imagine gnats contributors team is growing! - imagine gnats()