Celebrating Turning 60, By Sewing A Vintage Dress

Making my 60th Birthday Dress Using Butterick B6318


Crossing over into a new decade is always a milestone, and turning 60 was the most challenging of all!  Not because it seemed that it was a grand old age to reach, but because I would be alone in lockdown. Not how I had imagined it at all. 

How was I to celebrate? I decided to make a dress pattern from the year of my birth, and fortunately, it did not take me long to find a suitable pattern in my stash: Buttericks retro pattern from 1961, B6318. 

My local fabric shops were all closed, of course. However, my local spice market had been allowed to open. Moroccans can’t do without their spices, of course; but the spice market also doubles as a fabric and haberdashery market, so, thankfully, I was able to purchase some cotton gingham.  In Morocco, gingham is generally only intended for use in covering the kitchen table, but it was cheap and available in numerous colours. I opted for a cheerful green, inspired by Moroccan zelig tiles. 

Not a challenging dress to make for such a milestone birthday or occasion, but I had no party to go to, for sure! It would be a dress that I could wear every day, for many summers to come. It would remind me of my milestone birthday and surviving the successions of lockdowns, living in Morocco. 

It is a very easy dress to make, especially as the sleeves are an extension of the top rather than set in. A full skirt makes it a very comfortable and feminine dress, whilst the attached belt gives a flattering cinched-in waist line. 


I made the dress with a cotton furnishing gingham that was 160 cm wide (62”) purchased for £2.40 a metre. I could not find a suitable plain contrast cotton, so I chose to use two scales of gingham in the same colour which I thought worked well. 

I also chose to make some alterations to the pattern:

▪️ First, I added pockets (totally essential, in my opinion) to this dress. I set them in slightly towards the front, rather than at the sides, so that I did not have to alter the pattern and also so that the fullness of the skirt was evenly distributed. I have previously made other retro patterns that did this. 

▪️ I added 12 cm to the skirt length, as I wanted a fuller 50’s style. I know it should have been 1960’s but fashions were still transitioning. I also love the romance of a full skirt, so any excuse will do! 


▪️ When I make this pattern again, I would certainly make the belt ties much longer, so that they can tie at the front of the dress. Having a bow at the back makes it feel a little too girly for my age, the bow also does not feel dramatic enough.  I would also consider lining the belt ties for a better finish, depending on the weight of the chosen fabric.      

▪️One thing to note is that I had masses of fabric left over! I do not know if it was because my fabric was much wider (although I had adjusted the quantity purchased to allow for this). Or was it because of the way that I had cut out the pattern (as I do not follow layout instructions if I often feel that they are wasteful)? 

▪️ If you choose to use a contrasting fabric for the ties, the pattern does not deduct this from the main fabric quantities. It calls for 1.20 meters for the ties, however the longest sash length was 105 cm for a size 22 and my size 14 was just 95cm. You can actually cut the ties from the width of fabric rather than the length. You actually only need 40cm for the belt! I had a piece of fabric left measuring 130cm x 1.20 cm.

▪️ For the dress I had pieces left over which measured 62cm x 224 cm & 94cm x 36cm (even after having added length to the skirt and pockets). I thought it quite wasteful. I actually made a skirt and three tops from what I had left over! 


A very quick and easy dress to make: great for summer days.

I would, however, definitely check your fabric quantities. I worked out that if I had made the standard pattern, I could have cut all the pieces (including the ties) out of 2.40 meters. My fabric was a great price, so it does not matter, however, I would have been upset if my fabric had been more of an investment. 

Depending on your choice of fabric and combinations, this pattern would make a wonderful cocktail dress or even evening dress / bridesmaid dress, if made in the right fabric.

I do love the final outcome though and highly recommend it, I will be making it again for sure. Why not try making one for yourself!

Thank you for reading

Michele x

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(2) Comments

  1. Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance
    from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog?
    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m
    not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions?

    Many thanks

    1. Hello,

      I am afraid that I am new to blogging myself, and I am still feeling my way.

      I researched as much as I could on line, and like you took a look at other bloggers posts.

      I am far from technical myself, and so I am on a steep learning curve and teaching myself as I go.

      It is a slow process, but it sounds as though you are up for a challenge!

      Good luck!

      Michele x

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