Butterick 4870: still going strong

I first made this pattern in the mid 1970s when I was in my early twenties. I see that it was bought at a fabric shop at my then local shopping centre, which is long gone and which I can barely remember now.


I remember making a maxi version of this dress from some gorgeous blue and silver fabric which swished and glistened and I was so happy when I found the pattern recently. I didn’t know if it would still fit me, but decided to risk it as the measurements seemed to be about right, and it did have 1.5cm seams, so I could let it out a bit if necessary.


The dress is cut on the bias so takes a lot of fabric and I was determined to use stashed fabric, so went on the hunt. I found a lovely cotton lawn which I bought from Spotlight about six years ago, and which I had a lot of because (a) it was ridiculously cheap, from memory about $2m; and (b) it put me in mind of Mary Quant, sort of.


It’s a really simple dress to make, coming together in a few hours, and I thought I’d wear it on Christmas Day because it’s usually pretty warm and this would be a breezy, cool dress, although not very festive.

The back is almost identical to the front, although there must be some differences as there are two pattern pieces, so I put a “this is the back” label in it, much to the amusement of one of my friends. It has saved me a lot of trouble every time I put it on though.


Speaking of putting it on, I can’t remember what I did more than forty years ago (eek!), but tying those ties when the dress is on is almost impossible, so I have now got them tied properly (after I took the photos of course!) and I wriggle in and out of the dress, which is much more satisfactory.

There are pockets in the side seams of the dress, but they are so small that I forget they are there. They are cut in one piece with the body of the dress, so it should be a simple matter to make them slightly bigger.

The pattern envelope shows the dress worn with a belt, so I thought I’d give that a go too and auditioned several, settling on this plain black elastic belt with a 1930s buckle, which I made many years ago.


Of course the dress also goes really well with my new sandals, made with The Shoe Camaraderie earlier this month.

You can’t really see it, but I have a Mary Quant flower magnet on the dress, which I bought at the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A earlier this year. It’s extremely well disguised as it is also black, although if you squint it’s on my right shoulder.


This is a dress that will get a lot of use, and I am beyond pleased that the pattern still fits. I feel another one is in order, and I have just the fabric – a drapey viscose. I’m rather looking forward to making it.





12 thoughts on “Butterick 4870: still going strong

  1. How pleasant when you find a pattern from the past! Moreover, when it still fits and the style is still on trend. Your version in black and white looks so stylish and breezy. Perfect with your handmade shoes.

    For those who won’t have the chance to put their hands on that vintage pattern but love the style, I could suggest the Mississipi Avenue dress by Sew House Seven. I’ve been wanting to make it for the last couple of years, and now that I’ve seen your lovely dress, I can’t wait for the summer to jump and make it!

    Happy holidays xxx

    1. Thank you so much Hélène, and thank you for the suggestion for an alternative pattern. This is a perfect style for summer, although it does use a fair bit of fabric. xx

    1. Thank you Sonja, I do love Mary Quant and although this isn’t really like her fabric it did remind me of her. I have worn this dress pretty steadily already.

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