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Completed: The Cocktail Dress, Butterick B5814

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, dramatic posing! | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, side view | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, bust detailing | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, waist detailing | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, back view | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, sunny day on the rooftop of the Fairmont in San Francisco | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, dramatic angle | @vintageontap

Pillar at the Fairmont Hotel | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress, sitting in the Fairmont Hotel | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress | @vintageontap

Butterick B5814, Cocktail Dress | @vintageontap


Butterick B5814 was nothing but an uphill battle, but the results were beautiful. 

The amount of hours I spent working on the muslin is enough to throw my dress form out the window! But, happily, I can say that I stretched all my pattern drafting skills to the max and made it work.

Before I got started on Butterick B5814, I did a bunch of research because I wanted this to be EPIC.

I knew that I would need to do some sleeve alterations to make the dolman sleeves stay up, as well as use bra carriers. I also wanted to make sure that my waist stay and lapped zipper were both properly sewn in as well. When I got to sewing, however, there was just so many things going on at the same time. I ended up with 5 different muslins that took a full week to try and get right.

When it came to the sewing the actual dress, I think I easily spent over 26 hours on the piece. And there is still way more work that could have been done, even as I type this.

The fabric used was a lovely acetone/viscose Italian crepe that is absolutely beautiful and sourced from Britex Fabrics here in San Francisco. I also used spiral steel boning in the bodice, which I’d never used before and which was a pain to cut, even with decent pliers.

I could realistically make a huge list of everything that needs to be fixed or done with this dress. But even with that information, I’m still super proud of the amount of skills I was able to use on this. I can easily say that Butterick B5814 has been the most challenging piece I’ve ever made, but I’m happy with that.

Additional tips for anyone about to embark on making this dress:

  1. Twill tape the V-neck, front and back. The instructions don’t include this, but if you’re working with a great fabric, you want to make sure to stabilize it properly since the V-neck is cut on the bias.
  2. If you’re using spiral steel boning as I did, cut those pieces ahead of time because they take longer to cut than you might think. Use a zipper foot to sew around them.
  3. The draping at the waist is nearly impossible to sew through. Change needles to something thicker and hand crank the needle through, slowly. For the waist drape, there are at least 10 layers you’ll be sewing through if you used spiral steel boning.
  4. There are over 50 steps to this dress. Take your time!

While I am super happy with how Butterick B5814 turned out, I’m actually really craving a simple project. I spent so long trying to get it to fit, that I want to sew something that isn’t as taxing and I can make quickly over the course of a day or two.

I ended up stitching up B5814 just in time to see Dita von Teese here in San Francisco– definitely felt like a million bucks when I got to enjoy her show. All the time spent on this dress was worth it.


  1. Thank you so much for sewing this. I’m a similar shape and was struggling to visual it. I want to make this for my 5 year anniversary so I want it to be spot on!

  2. I always learn so much with a difficult project, even though I curse it at the time! It is always a good thing to push yourself. Especially when the results are so fantastic!

    • Oh absolutely! The struggle of every project pays off in the end- its also part of the challenge and joy of the craft!

  3. Mando Mando

    The final result is so stunning and it suits you, your body and personality so beautifully. I hope there is a video coming. I think seeing the process on this one would be really cool.

    • The video is (hopefully) in the works! Since I worked so many hours on this project, it extended past filming hours, so we’ll have to see what we can do from the footage we were able to shoot. I’ll have to talk with the director (haha!) to see what can be done before my next post!

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Vintage on Tap started in 2013

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