Tag Archives: Butterick 5941

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.

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Making The Easy Scarf Dress

I recently picked up this 1970s pattern because I was curious about the process of making a dress from two scarves.  This is just the type of thing I was into when I was in high school and college.  In fact, I once made a mini dress out of a pillowcase after seeing it done on a local “home-maker” TV program, but that’s another story for another time.

This pattern says it is easy, and after looking at the pattern piece and the directions, I agree.  This is easy:

That is the entire set of instructions for the dress!  It would take you longer to cut this out than it would take to sew it up.  Two side seams, two inches on either side of the neck, and Voila!  A new scarf mini dress.  No finishing and no hemming required.

Seriously, I think this is a really fun idea.  The scarves would not even have to be identical.  And notice that in the view on the far left, two sheer scarves were made into a bikini cover-up.  But if you are tall and want to wear this as a dress, I suggest 36″ scarves.  Or you could use a smaller size to make a top.

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