The Positano Dress – Retro Butterick B4919

Positano2 Dress

Hi everyone! I have just finished off another retro pattern project. This time it’s one from the 50’s, which is not my usual retro sew. I am a 60’s and 70’s girl, but couldn’t go past this pattern when I saw it on Ebay or Etsy. I can’t remember…., I have soooo many patterns and they all come from either Ebay or Etsy…..

DSC_0200 DSC_0201










I had been wanting to make a full circle skirt dress for a while now and for some reason it had to be in a navy and white spotted fabric. I only realised that all my blogged posts were either navy or blue dresses (hard to hide my current navy phase…) when a friend mentioned it, so I promise to do something different soon, but this one just HAD to be in navy and white spots. I actually already had the perfect navy and white spotted fabric in my stash, but I want to keep it for a maxi skirt that I am still planning on making soon.


So, while having a look at the newest fabrics at Tessuti online recently, I couldn’t believe it when I came across exactly what I was looking for – Marina Spot – Italian navy stretch woven cotton (97% cotton, 3% elastane) with white dots on it! I immediately called Tessuti to find out if they still had any in the Melbourne store and I was in luck! I went over and got it the same day at $27/m. The pattern said I would need 3.80m for the shorter version of the dress, but I risked it and bought 3.5m and still have some left over for a top.

ivona 7

DSC_0604  DSC_0587 DSC_0576

Sometimes, by playing around with the layout of the pattern pieces I find that I can save a lot of fabric and make another garment out of the leftovers. If not, they go into my bag of remnants that are too nice to get rid of and I make a dress or top out of the remnants, which I will blog about soon.

I was going to underline the whole dress, but after seeing that the bodice had facing, I decided to only underline the skirt to give it more body and shape. I used a basic white cotton voile and now that it is finished, I can say it was the right choice, as the skirt really does hang nicely. I think it would have been too shapeless without any underlining at all.

Ivona 1



ivona 2

Sewing the dress was quite simple. The only thing that bothered me was that where the bodice crosses over on the sides, there are two flaps that you first have to close with hooks and eyes at the back of the bodice, then close the zip and THEN tie the two ties across the front and the back. In my opinion, these two “flaps” are unnecessary and it would make attaching the bodice to the skirt much easier if the bodice was sewn together at the sides with the ties in the seams and the “flaps” completely omitted. There is one other thing that I probably would change if I made the dress again. I would make the ties like a belt – with fabric on both sides, so that the wrong side of the fabric is not showing if they are tied and the ends left hanging in the back. I have decided to tie them at the front for my dress, as they are just long enough for that.

ivona 4


After some tweaks, (such as hand sewing the sides down under the armpits to prevent them from sticking out) the dress fits like a glove with quite a snug bodice, which is how I like it and a perfect custom fit for me.


I would consider making this dress again with the improvements I mentioned but in the long, evening version in a beautiful red fabric, as pictured on the front of the pattern. The only thing is, I first need to have an event to go to in such a gown!

ivona 5    DSC_0616

To style the dress, I think high heels or flats work well to dress it up or down. I have used whimsical flats for my photos, as I didn’t think any of my heels would have looked good with this type of dress and I’ve added the hat with the bow to match the playful shoes. I think adding any jewellery would have been too much, due to the dress print.


Why did I call this the Positano dress? Because I can imagine being in Positano, Italy, strolling through the little town, having a coffee in a quaint café and watching the world go by, wearing this vintage style dress.


Thank you to my dear friend Meg, who took the beautiful photos for this blog.

Photography: meggi-design

Styling: Shoes: Zara, Sunglasses: Zara, Hat: Midas