Peacock Collection ’08: B5181 Dress

Pattern: Butterick 5181, View A

Pattern Description: Misses’ Dress with lined, close-fitting bodice and slightly flared skirt in above mid-knee length with Center back zipper.

Pattern Sizing: F5(16-18-20-22-24). I made a 16

Fabric Used: 100% cotton from Joann’s and M&L fabrics

Notions Used: 14″ Zipper, Hooks and Eyes

Pattern Alterations: Changed Bust darts to gathers along the bust line. Trimmed the square shaped skirt of the dress into a slight A-line. Made View A but deleted the contrast hem and added the length to compensate.

The Good:

  • Love the fabric used as the skirt part of the dress. This fabric found on a whim at Jenny’s Fabrics for $1.69 a yard was the inspiration for the entire dress. I really loved this photo from Nordstrom’s and adapted that to be my theme for the Black and White collection. I love the combination of the mundane with the shock of color. I did get compliments on the dress but probably because everyone was distracted by the skirt fabric and the shoes :O)
  • The shoes!!! When I found them I knew this combination was meant to be. Finding size 12W shoes that are cute and comfortable are pretty rare, findind them in YELLOW unheard of, finding them when you are specifically looking for them is ASTRONOMICAL!!! I went to the Nordstrom’s Rack large shoe size event in search of yellow shoes and after 30 minutes of searching these lovelies were found. I LOVE them and I now will be a groupie at every Nordstrom’s Rack large shoe size event
  • I really like the dip in the back of the dress. Probably even more than the front 😕

The Bad:

  • This dress does and does not look like the pattern illustration. In theory it does, in that it has the general shape of the illustration, but the fit and drape in the picture is a far cry from what you get. The fabric even calls for light broadcloth and mine is a pretty thin cotton.
  • The bodice nearly touches your navel. Ok, it doesn’t go that far but “the girls” were feeling a little over exposed so a cami will always be worn under this dress. Good thing I actually like it that way. Even more so than the original.

The Ugly:

  • The pattern sizing. My bust is a 39 1/4″, C cup. I originally made the size 18, which is 40″ bust, B cup (this is an assumption on Big Four sizing). The size 18 was given two inches of ease in the bust making it a 42″ bust in the end. Holy Cow!! The 18 was like a tent. I guess I should have known that this needed a more fitted bodice, but I didn’t think 2″ of ease would make of break this dress. Suffice it to say it does and you should size this dress for your bust size minus the ease.

  • I changed the bust darts into gathers instead. I just couldn’t get the dart from looking like I had an extra nipple or that pointy bra that Madonna wore. The gathers proved to be even more of a challenge to make the bodice look good…or at least okay.

  • The skirt on this is a little too pregnant lady. The rectangular cut of fabric created a huge gathering of fabric at the band, which by the way was a pain to gather, and causes it to have a large petticoat nature instead of the slimmer fit illustrated in the pattern picture.  I tried to add a bit of an “A” line but I guess I needed to take out more because it still is pretty big.


I hated making this dress. In fact, I had to pick the pattern out of the garbage to remember what the pattern number was before I chucked it back in with disdain. I liked what the illustration reflected but there have got to be a gazillion similar patterns on the market that produce better results without all the trouble.

Tips/Tricks :

  • Gather the skirt in sections rather than across the whole shabang. It makes it easier to bunch up all the fabric
  • Sew your gathers very close, if not on the 5/8″ line. It will keep your gathers from becoming pleats
  • Stay stitch the curve of the front bodice pieces to prevent stretching. Due to the curving nature of the bodice it eventually get a bit of a bias going on the fabric. If this stretches you can get some gapping at the bust

31 thoughts on “Peacock Collection ’08: B5181 Dress

  1. Don’t you just hate that! The sizing for the Big 4 is done by some troll in the pattern drafting department pulling numbers out of a hat. Despite the sizing and gathering issues, your dress is fantastic and looks lovely. And I always dig a hot pair of shoes.

  2. GIrl despite what you went through the dress and shoes are wonderful! I hear ya on the large size thing lol. I wear a 10 and ALWAYS buy it when I see it. No waiting on a sale, it will be GONE lol

  3. Did you cut the bodice based on your high bust or full bust? As a C cup, you should cut based on the high and do a small FBA. With everything you had to do, I think you have great results and the dress turned out good! I love it with the shoes!

  4. That dress is fantastic, and you are rockin’ it with those fantastic yellow shoes! Great save, that skirt fabric is worth it all on it’s own, but what you did with the bodice really makes it happen. Lovely!

  5. Gee, that pattern may have disappointed you and not been exactly what you expected, but from here it is a dynamite dress on you. I am also, ahem, mature so I have learned the hard way to flat measure patterns and compare the figures with my own before I make a cut into my fabric. I have also started to do a partial muslin first as you can’t trust anything the pattern says anymore.

  6. Lovely dress and the shoes definitely add pop. I’m a size 10 and have to pluck the shoes first time around, or I would be left with flip flops….lol

  7. I am getting ready to make a dress from this pattern so I really appreciate your tips!! I just had a baby four months ago so I liked the idea that the skirt was gathered to hide the remaining baby gut. I will take Erica B’s advice and use the high bust measurement, since the girls have gotten larger. The dress looks great on you and I hope I will have the same results!

  8. Sorry you had to go through such a hassle, but the result is quite lovely! Everything I seem to read lately about Butterick ain’t too positive. Weird, but I don’t believe I’ve ever used Butterick patterns. I do look the book whenever I’m in a fabric store, however I’m never tempted to buy them for some reason.

  9. I’m about to make this dress, now I’ve read your review I’m going to go get another pattern. They are still on sale for $1.99, I surely don’t want to waste the pretty seersucker I bought for it! Thank you for doing all the work on your review. It was very helpful. You are a good seamstress!

  10. I’ve just come to the computer from floods of tears from attempting this pattern: the material wound up in the bin, OH got yelled at… i was not a happy lady! I’m relieved to see that others are having similar problems…. how i’m going to fix this, i have no idea, but fix it i will…

    thanks for cheering me up some!


  11. It’s a little late, but that dress looks “haute” on you. I hope you are still wearing it. I LOVE the fabric. I have been looking for some like that. I have never heard of Jennies. ALL we have hear is JoAnn’s – that it. But we do have a JA super store which has a few extra fabrics, but still mostly cheap stuff. ~Page

  12. Pingback: FO Butterick 5181 | Mad For Mod

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