Butterick 5455


Looking for the perfect dress to layer with cardies, that can make either a summer or winter outfit? Welcome to the Butterick 5455! It’s a much lauded pattern, sadly out of print. Source it, if you can.

Look at the gorgeous bodice detail with those tiny and flattering pleats. Linen works well, and you can see why.



Do you know what’s really good about a bodice that’s fitted with pleats? If the final make still isn’t sitting quite snug enough to the neckline, you can just add an extra couple of pleats! That’s what I did.

When I’m on my death bed and someone asks me what my regrets in life are, I’ll say, My narrow upper chest. That’s the only thing I regret. It doesn’t half give me fitting grief. On the plus side, my hairdresser recently told me, I can only do so much, Karen, but you have GREAT hair. So, there’s that. Genetics, huh?


It’s not just the pleats I love in this design. There are separate pattern pieces for a lined bodice, which gives a very neat finish.


And the pattern has a very pretty back. This is a first for me. In all my years of sewing, I’ve never allowed myself to sew a pattern with a V-shaped back bodice. Why? I was convinced I had an ugly back. Allow me to repeat those words. An ugly back.

So, maybe I’ll have a second regret on my death bed. That I wasted so much of my youth hating my body. I could weep at the waste. Don’t do it, kids. Jump off the top of that wardrobe with your bits jiggling about! (I love that image from the David Bowie video.)


Oh, I should mention the print with this make! I was careful with the cutting out, that I didn’t end up with golden flowers over my nipples and crotch. That would have been … unfortunate.

I basted all the pieces together to check the fit of this dress. Then I sat on the sofa and unpicked all of those basted pieces, before beginning to sew the dress up properly. Sounds time-consuming, but it can save a lot of heartache. This is a trick I learnt from the Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns, which often instruct you to baste everything together first. It’s a trick worth bearing in mind!

So, what have I learned with this make?

That I can wear a V-neck bodice.

That basting really helps.

That this is a lovely pattern!

And that the human body is there to be appreciated, not despised. Sewing helps a lot in the teaching of this lesson. Unfortunately, I’m not always a good pupil. I wish it hadn’t taken me six years’ of sewing to finally have the humility to really and properly listen.


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36 Responses to Butterick 5455

  1. Melody A. says:

    As always you look absolutely stunning and you have a beautiful back!!! Isn’t sad that so many of us women get these ideas in our heads and then somehow always see that? I admire your workmanship every time I see your projects. Have a lovely weekend! Take care from Iowa

  2. Errant Pear says:

    Beautiful! Both you and the dress. And thank you for the reminder (we can never be reminded enough) that our bodies should be celebrated.

  3. Jen says:

    That neckline really suits you.

  4. Nancy says:

    Beautiful dress and I love the new hair!

  5. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    beautiful dress – it looks great on you and I like the fabric that is both a dark color and a print. As for this pattern, it is one of my all time favorite patterns which I have sewn maybe 10 times? and have written about why I like it so much. http://sunnygalstudio.blogspot.com/2012/07/butterick-5455-get-it-before-its-gone.html
    You know I love basting and checking fit before sewing – it a few extra minutes well spent. Paid off for you in this dress – you should make it again 🙂

  6. Caroline says:

    Such a lovely dress. The fit is spot on! Well worth that painful unpicking of basting stitches.
    You have a very beautiful back and gorgeous hair too!

  7. Johanna says:

    What a lovely dress! It suits you very well. I love those pleats. About the basting: I had sewing lessons for many years and we had to baste everything first. You can also baste with the largest stitch on your machine. When the size is correct you can sew over the large stitches with a smaller stitch. In case you must alter something, you can remove the big stitches very easy.

  8. Jane says:

    Stunning! The fabric, your skin tone and hair colour work beautifully together.

  9. It’s stunning Karen, what a result from all your hard work. Love the neckline especially. I think that bad fitting RTW can put us off styles that would suit us otherwise. It’s good to challenge preconceptions!

  10. PocketC says:

    What a great dress, love the pleated neckline! I’m thinking of doing something similar on a self-drafted pattern where the neckline turned out too loose (oops). A feature not a bug, we’ll say. Thanks for the pep talk on how our human bodies should be appreciated, too. I needed to read that today.

  11. Kathy Lynch says:

    Hah! Youth is definitely wasted on the young! I too spent too much time thinking I was too much of this or not enough of that. Crazy.
    Dress is gorgeous on you, your back is lovely……& your hairdresser is right – you DO have fab hair! Warm wishes to you Karen. 🙂

  12. Such a good post on all levels. The dress is lovely (oh those pleats!), you look absolutely smashing, and I hope we can all follow your example and ignore those mean whispers we all hear from time to time. Thank you!

  13. Jan Carr says:

    Lovely dress and lovely pics!

  14. belindajean says:

    You look so lovely in this dress I want to make one too! The only copy on etsy today is a size 6-8-10 and I am a 14! So, off to drafting class…….
    Did you make your cardigan too? Pattern details>?(please?)

  15. dkswife says:

    It is a beautiful dress.

  16. Val says:

    Fantastic dress! V-necks really suit you. I love the pleating detail.

  17. lovelucie1 says:

    Really flattering. Love this one.

  18. The neckine on this dress is so lovely. Maybe an independent pattern maker will be inspired to make one similar to help solve the problem of it being out of print.

  19. Very nice- I really love the inky softness of that print, very nice indeed.

  20. What a beautiful dress! Those colours look great on you.

  21. Wise words indeed. And such a beautiful dress: both style and that gorgeous fabric 🙂

  22. Miriana says:

    This is truly beautiful Karen, and you look superb in it!

  23. Jo says:

    I always baste everything together now – I used to rush and just sew stuff and hope for the best 20 years ago but now I baste – that’s maturity for you! I baste rather than do a muslin so I can get stuff round by backside. It is a corker of a dress. Jo x

  24. Isn’t it funny the hang ups that we have about ourselves? I think that your dress is gorgeous and you look stunning in it. The fabric is beautiful. Very much time well spend basting this together and a great shame that this pattern is out of print. Xx

  25. Catherine says:

    Why do you take the basting out before stitching? Do you then re-pin or something and sew a pinned seam instead? If so, why? (I learned to sew in the 60s by pinning, basting, then stitching along the basting and then removing the basting and I still do that most of the time.)

  26. New Capel Street: Fabric Division says:

    That is one beautiful dress right there. Love those precise little pleats, and the fabric is to die for!

    What you say about the time spent hating on your body really struck a chord with me. I spent most of my twenties utterly despising the way I looked, and it’s really only since delving deeper into making my own clothes (for regular wear, not for costumes which is where I got started) that I’ve internalised any degree of body acceptance. I still struggle quite a bit, but it’s better knowing that I can make things that fit me exactly how I like.

  27. Sheree says:

    I am a fair bit older than you (coming up to 63, so yes, MUCH older, though don’t feel it) and I can honestly say that in conversations with women my age, that most will say if only they appreciated what they looked like when they were younger. All those things fretted about? In most cases they are completely unfounded! Cherish what you look like (and the answer to that, is great) and enjoy every moment. I promise you, in years to come, you’ll look back and realise just what a lovely back you have!!

  28. mariacshell says:

    It is stunning and fits you beautifully back and all!

  29. Philippa says:

    Karen, I really like your new dress. Both fabric and fit suit you to a t. You look like a lady !

  30. Tricia says:

    Spot on, perfect dress!

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