My projects,  Sewing

Vintage style dress with B5813 hack

One of my favourite dresses is my B5813 that I made some years ago. It has been my plan to revisit this pattern and make some adjustments to get the fit better. Now that I have created a well fitting sloper pattern for myself it is easy to adjust patterns to fit me exactly. Revisiting an old pattern gave also a good opportunity to do some pattern hacking.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with the original pattern without making a toile and/or taking the dress apart. The shoulders feel restraining, though, so there is something wrong with the shoulder slope, the shoulder width or the armhole/sleeve shape. Since these are pretty annoying to adjust, I decided to take my sloper and use it for the bodice base for my B5813 hack.

My B5813 hack: v-neckline, button-up bodice and lace.

I found this gorgeous viscose twill with light beige polkadots on smoky blue background at the factory remnant bins of Eurokangas. The fabric was something I have been looking for a long time and I was so happy that the piece was large enough to make a big skirt for this dress. I lined the bodice with white cotton voile and used acetate lining for the skirt to prevent it from sticking to my tights. However, I decided to leave the sleeves unlined.

Hacking the pattern

I closed the horizontal bust dart and replaced the bust shaping with gathers. I used the original B5813 pattern pieces to help me with the changes. In the picture below there are the resulting pattern pieces, although, the front bodice piece is unfortunately upside down. (Yes, my patterns end up looking like that after so many modifications and fittings!) After the initial fitting I had to narrow the bodice piece slightly which is probably due to the fact that the viscose fabric I was using is much draper than the ramie I used with my orange dress.

I tried the higher neckline of the B5813 but for some reason, I did not like the look. Perhaps, because I had lowered the horizontal bust seam, the balance of the bodice was now off. I replaced the original neckline with a wide v-neck and then also added a button closure.

My front bodice pieces for the B5813 hack.

I kept the original skirt but added a bit width to make the waistline fit better. The original design didn’t include pockets but I thought that they were something that my dresses needed to have, thus I added in-seam pockets.

I liked the elbow dart design in the original pattern. However, the sleeve pattern I have fitted better and I decided to go with it. I ended up with slightly puffed sleeves, though, since my fabric is different. This mean that I had a bit excess length at the sleeve caps. Rather than chop it off I gathered it up.

Little details

Since this dress was very much vintage inspired, I wanted to make proper fabric coloured buttons, too. I used these 11 mm Prym coverable buttons and covered them with the fabric. With some careful positioning I managed to use only blue parts of the fabric.

I tried my best to find cotton lace that would match the beige colour of the polkadots. This was impossible, so I bought white lace and dyed it with tea.

First, I made a bowl of tea with boiling water and three or four teabags. I put the lace in and let it soak while mixing the tea and lace so that I didn’t get any unevenness.

Then I made another solution with 2 parts of white vinegar and one part of water and added about two tablespoons of salt. I took the lace that had now got a light reddish brown colour and used the vinegar solution to fix the dye. To my relief, the red tint washed off and I was left with this lovely off-white lace the worked perfectly!

Dyeing lace with tea.

I decided to add a strip of lace to go around the neckline and down the sides of the front opening. With some little gathering stitches and pressing I was able to force the straight cotton lace to curve neatly around the neckline. I also added strips of lace to the sleeve ends.

The waistline was trickier. As it often happens with viscose dresses the waistline didn’t want to stay straight but drooped at the sides. This is due to fabric stretching and moving. One useful trick to fix it is to use stay tape that goes around the waist inside the dress. The stay tape is anchored to the dress at several positions and it helps to support the waistline.

Due to the thick seam and the stay tape at the waistline I wasn’t able to simply machine the lace onto the waistline. So I had to fasten the lace the old fashioned way by hand being careful not to sew into the waist stay tape that was suppose to free float inside the dress between the anchor points.

The finished B5813 hack dress

It took me several days to make this dress and I must admit that there aren’t many seams that I didn’t rip apart at least once. My first front bodice pieces ended up with stretched neckline that looked horrible and gathers that didn’t flatter my figure at all. Luckily I had enough fabric to cut another front bodice. However, all the work finally paid off and I am very happy with this final dress.

The finished B5813 hack dress.

Due to the lined skirt the dress doesn’t really need a petticoat but I decided to wear a puffy petticoat anyway to lift up the skirt even more during the photoshoot. Me and M drove went for a little walk at the sea side just before the sunset. It was very windy but warm night and just perfect weather to wear this new dress.

Side view with a bit of twirl to show off the wide skirt.

This picture shows best the gathered sleeve caps and the back neckline that is also wider and lower than in the original B5813 pattern:

The back view.

We just managed to take a few photos before it was too dark. It can be clearly seen that the summer is slowly turning into autumn here in Finland and the green is starting to turn into oranges, browns and reds.

Another back view of the B5813 hack dress.

Here is all for today. Thank you so much for reading and sorry for the two weeks of no posts. However, I have now more makes ready to be posted so stay tuned! Happy sewing!


I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.


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