Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress

Man, it has been a week. My mother passed away peacefully last Friday after a very long battle with Alzheimer’s. That was a blessing. She’s with Dad now, which is good. The family drama that accompanied her death? Not so much. I’m not going to bore you with the details; every family has its own version, I’m sure. It’ll pass, like a kidney stone maybe, but it will pass. Her funeral was today, and it was lovely. I was able to hold it together until the incensing of the casket. That killed me.


But, as they say, life goes on. Last week I bought Butterick 6734, a retro dress with some style variations. I’m not usually much of a retro girl, but I do like some of the styles from the 1940s and this one really appealed to me.

Pattern Description: From the Butterick website, “ Dress has shaped front with gathers, side seam zipper, shoulder pads, shoulder gathers, sleeve and neckline variations. A: Long sleeves with elbow darts, swan neckline and snap opening. Optional ribbon for bow. B: Three-quarter length sleeves, shawl collar and front buttons. Buttons are not functional.
Circa 1944″

I made a combo of Views A and B, using the neckline treatment from View A, the sleeves from View B, and omitting the buttons.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 12 at the shoulders, tapering out to a 14 at the bust and below, along with a whole lot of fitting stuff (see below)

Available as a PDF? It doesn’t look like it right now.

Fabric Used: Space Flowers Silk Crepe de Chine from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course!)

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MO654DE, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, ham, sleeve board, shoulder stand.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needles, scraps of interfacing, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Of course, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes.

How were the instructions? They were great. I didn’t really need them but I did check them out and they are good.

Construction Notes: I made two muslins. The first was almost straight from the envelope. I say “almost: because I measured the distance from the shoulder seam to the bust apex and (as usual) it was too high. So before I did anything I sliced the pattern and lowered the bust dart one inch. Then I sewed it up to see how it fit. It needed a few mods. First, even though the bust dart started at the right place at the side seam, it pointed up too high, as you can see in this (sucky) selfie

1 - Lowered Dart Needs Adjusting

You can see that the angle of the dart is WAY above where it should be

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better...

Really sucky selfie, but the angle is better…

I did a FBA, which I transferred to the pattern so you can see it more easily. The FBA added a little bit to the waistline, which alas, I need these days, and as with a wrap dress, I transferred the changes to both sides of the pattern.
3 - FBA and Dart Adjustment

I also lopped 4 inches off the bottom to make it a more modern length.

After the fitting was done, it was really quite easy to put together. I sewed all the seams with a straight stitch, and finished them with the serger.
Seam and Facing Finish

Inset Finish

I used an invisible zipper, stabilizing the seam with scraps of interfacing
Invisible Zip
Zipper Interfacing

The gathers were less full than I was expecting, though not in a bad way.
Front Gathers Detail
I haven’t decided if I’ll add the shoulder pads yet. I want to try it on first
Shoulder Detail

Likes/Dislikes:¬†I LOVE it! I mentioned that I’m not usually a retro girl, but I do love the 40s. They suit me. And this suits me. I was going to finish it in time for my mother’s funeral, but it was really hot and humid so I wore a StyleArc that I made several years ago instead.
Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes! This goes together easily and it’s a really pretty pattern. I recommend a muslin because it uses¬†fitting norms that don’t necessarily match to today’s standards.

Conclusion: A winner! Here are pictures on Shelley. At some point I’ll get them on me.
Finished Front
Finished Back


And in Happier News This Week,

We moved DS the Younger into his dorm at college. He’s with his (marching band) tribe, and I guess we are officially empty nesters!

Wow, that time went by fast.

Wow, that time went by fast.

Happy sewing! I guess I’ll have more time for it now.

39 thoughts on “Pattern Review: Retro Butterick B6734 Dress”

  1. Hearthrose says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. Prayers for you and your family.

  2. Liz says:

    So sorry for the loss of your Mom, it’s never easy.

  3. Diane from Boston says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Families are something, aren’t they?

    The dress is very cute! Enjoy your empty nest (but it will be like heaven when your boys are home for the holidays)!

  4. Karen says:

    Prayers to you and your family. On a happy note I love your retro dress and enjoy your empty nest and the quiet it will bring.

  5. Ginger says:

    So sorry to hear about the death of your Mother. Hugs and prayers during this time.

  6. Diane Doherty says:

    I recently lost my mother, and I understand completely about the family drama. I could write a book about the last 8 months. But remember, there is really no LOSS. Your mother is around on the other side of the veil. Loss is not possible with God. Her spirit will present itself in the most remarkable ways, be receptive to it, and you will be amazed.

  7. Jessica A says:

    I have a thousand words for everything but in situations like this I never have what feels like the correct thing to say. I am sorry for your loss seems like it’s not sufficient enough. If you were one of my in real person life friends I would just show up with banana bread, wine and Monty Python.

    1. Jessica A says:

      Also, you don’t have to post that for the world to read. It’s really late and I can’t sleep and I just realized that gets read by EVERYBODY and it kinda just dawned on me that email exists. My bad.

  8. Mary morrison says:

    So sorry about losing your mom. My grandma used to say “God chooses your family, thanks god you get to chose your own friends!” Your dress is lovely! I’m a retro fan too Enjoy this new road in parenting! It’s got many perks!

  9. Elle says:

    I’m sorry to hear that your mom’s death was followed by family drama. So many ups and downs in families….

  10. Nakisha says:

    So sorry for your loss Ann, and that your mom had to suffer through Alzheimers.

    Happy news with getting the kid off to college – I moved one into a dorm room this week too.

    The dress is stunningly pretty and can’t wait to see it on you.

  11. Jill says:

    I am so sorry to read of your loss. I lost my mother this past May… It is a killer. I love your dress, thank you for sharing all the sentiment behind it. Wishing you peace and comfort across the miles.

  12. AJW says:

    Wow–two family milestones in one week, plus a new dress. You’ve been through a lot and in terms of the dress, we are the beneficiaries. It is beautiful. Can’t wait to see you wearing it. Take care and remember–just when you get used to the nest being empty, the holidays arrive and they all come home! (which is great, actually)

  13. raquel from JC says:

    My prayers to you and your family.

  14. mlga 730 says:

    Sorry for your loss – I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
    The dress looks great!

  15. Ann,

    Sorry for the loss of your mother. Nobody loves us more than or mothers.

    Hugs, Valerie

  16. Oh, awesome dress! Vogue has/had a similar one, which I made ( ) I was thinking that it would be great to have this design with sleeves, so it’s great to know that there’s a similar pattern out there that does.

    So sorry to hear about your mom and the accompanying family drama.

  17. JustGail says:

    Sorry about your Mom. And the drama.

    DS the Younger has certainly grown into a fine looking young man!
    The dress is sweet – *almost* enough to make me want to wear one.

  18. Carolyn says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom but if she’s with your Dad now that’s wonderful. Wow is life changing for you now. I remember when you first started blogging and the young men were little boys! And yes, you will be amazed at how much time you will have to sew. It’s a great time to live life as you and your husband want to and do anything you want.

  19. Nancy K says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I lost both of my parents after long illnesses and while a blessing it’s still hard.
    The dress is lovely. Should look fabulous on you.

  20. Rhoda K says:

    So sorry for your loss Ann, it’s never easy. Your dress is lovely and look forward to seeing you model it. God Bless.

  21. Marie Donnelly says:

    So sorry, Ann. It will get easier. We lost my mom ten years ago at a very young 68. Eventually, you stop thinking about the void and think more about the wonderful memories.

  22. Mary says:

    As a friend of mine once said, “Here’s to the F word: …..Family.” Funny/Sad how often it applies in family dealings, particularly after a death. Sending good thoughts your way in hopes the drama will soon fade away. Glad you were able to get in some solace sewing time–lovely dress.

  23. Angela says:

    So sorry to hear about your mom! My mother just passed away this past June – it was not expected, she became a bit ill for awhile, then critically ill and passed away with the week from liver cancer. There is no pain like losing your mom, I know…. still feels like I’ve been sucker punched. ((hugs)) – for both of us!

    The dress is beautiful!

  24. Karen says:

    So sorry about your mom. My dad also has Alzheimer’s and I heard someone call it a really long goodbye. You lose the loved one twice. I’m pleased you can take joy in your children. Thank you for all you contribute to the sewing world.

  25. Cate says:

    Sorry about your mom. And even more so about the drama. Is your son at UD? It looks like it, and that’s where my son is a sophomore. If he is at UD, I am 20 minutes north of there on 95 if you ever have an emergency need.

  26. JS says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. But yes, the time flies. It seems like only yesterday that your younger son was practicing with his teacher for his dance competition.

  27. Rosemary Vicarioli says:

    Thoughts with you. Having lost both my parents I know just how it feels and the family issues with two sisters were awful. The pain does ease but there are moments when you wish they were just there to talk with.

  28. Karen says:

    I just read that an empty nest is really another sewing room.

  29. Nina Scherini says:

    Onward. Upward. Love.

  30. ritas says:

    There’s nothing quite as therapeutic as stress sewing. And, you get something great in the process. I really love your choice of a retro butterick. It seems somehow modern today – with all of the rouching happening at the waist. I wonder… if you think it could be made in a jersey / sleeveless?

    1. Gorgeous Fabrics says:

      I think yes to both, Rita. The armscye is reasonably high so you could make a facing, and I bet it would work great in a knit!

  31. Helen M says:

    I lost my Dad 6 weeks ago also to Alzheimer’s so can understand your feelings. He also used to say you can choose your friends but not your family!

    Loved your dress.

  32. Peggy says:

    So sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you. Love your blog and your beautiful garments.

  33. Sharon says:

    Ann, I’m sorry to learn about your mother, and the family drama that followed. We lost my mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s a few years back. My prayers are with you and your family.

  34. Patricia R Moore says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Family drama seems to rear its ugly head at the worst times.
    I don’t like retro but that dress will look so perfect on you! Please post soon.
    Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and posts you have for us. Love your fabrics!
    Take care!

  35. Jennifer Shaw says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother, Ann. It is not easy. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Onto the lovely dress.. it is gorgeous and somehow, I have not yet, seen this pattern. Thanks for the tips with the making of two muslins. It is going to be amazing on you.

  36. Cennetta says:

    Ann, your dress is beautiful and thank you for showing the FBA.

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