Vintage Sewing – 1970s Butterick 5941 Scarf Top

If you have been a reader of The Vintage Traveler for a long time, you might remember this post from 2012.  At the time I said I was going to make this garment, and it only took me seven and a half years to get around to doing so. Since I seem to have a bit of time on my hands and a large stash of fabric, I thought there’s no time like the present.

The pattern isn’t dated, but it’s the most  mid Seventies look imaginable. These were my college days, and we were all about taking something, like scarves, and turning it into something else, like a dress. It was rather like today, actually.

The pattern calls for either two 32″ scarves, or 35″ or 45″ wide fabric. I have some nice flowy silk from a box of lovely fabrics bought at an antiques show several years ago, so I went with it. It helped that it’s blue and matches ninety percent of the rest of my closet. And since I’m not really into mini dresses any more, I decided to shorten it into a top.

Sorry, no modeling but the hanging shot gives a good idea of how the top turned out.  In my original post about this pattern, it was pointed out that it looked too narrow to slip over the head. That turned out to be a fancy of the pattern envelope illustrator, as the finished product slips over quite easily. In order for the tunic to look that slim, one would need to add a belt.

In studying my fabric, I thought it was a bit plain. It wasn’t until I really looked at it that it noticed the tiny pattern of dots. And that selvage was so fantastic that I knew it had to remain.

Because the fabric was wider than the top I wanted to make, I cut off one strip of selvage and reattached it at the hem.

And because I’m a neat freak, I did a French seam on the only seams in the top. This was the easiest, and fastest, project ever. I am a very slow sewer, and even with reattaching the selvage and hand hemming the sleeves, I took only about two hours from first cut to final stitch.

Here are the instructions for the entire dress. Don’t let the “FRONT AND BACK 3” bit confuse you. 3 is the number of the pattern piece. The same piece is used for both front and back.  Basically, all you have are the two joins at the shoulders, and the two side seams if you were using scarves. Using yardage involves a bit more finishing.


Filed under Sewing

9 responses to “Vintage Sewing – 1970s Butterick 5941 Scarf Top

  1. Diane

    Fun project – thanks for sharing!


  2. Love this. Caftans were also easy to make. I wore them in college and through two pregnancies. And those late 60s-70s “op” and “pop” fabrics were dazzling.


  3. Fun! And .85 list price!


  4. Great pattern. I have tons of vintage scarves and you have inspired me!


  5. BethS

    i recall making halter tops with one of my cousins in, maybe, 1976—you needed a length of soft cord for the neck tie and one cotton bandana. We folded the bandana into a triangle, stitched it, turned it right-side-out, then folded & stitched a tunnel for the cord. It was a major sewing project for me at the time & I thought it was the coolest, cleverest thing EVER. (and I’m pretty sure I never actually wore it…..)


  6. Lamar Yvette Mendiola

    Hello! I am one of your silent readers and have been for more than five years. Thank you for the pattern info because I have lots of scarves (I upcycle clothing and leftover fabrics) and was about to use the majority of them to make those “infinity” scarves that everyone seems to be wearing during the winter. Anyway, I feel like I saw this pattern back in 6th or 7th grade when I use to hang out at the fabric counters looking through those huge pattern books. Thanks again, Lamar from Texas


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