Vintage Butterick 3108

Butterick 3108 front view

Can there be a more 1970s fabric than orange polyester suede? I found some on a trip to Goldhawk Road a couple of years ago and something possessed me to buy a couple of metres. Whatever plans I had for it then didn’t come to fruition and it’s been sitting in my stash ever since. The day finally came when the stash overflowed and the suede had to be matched with a pattern or else given away. But what pattern to choose?

I was vaguely inspired by the lines of the Louis Vuitton Fall 2014 collection: dresses with big pointy collars, front zip closures, and a-line skirts. Look 23 from the collection is a good example of the sort of thing. Unsurprisingly the most suitable pattern I could find with those features was a vintage one: Butterick 3108.

Butterick 3108 envelope front

Pattern envelope pictures sometimes lie, but this one is a pretty accurate representation of the finished dress. The collar is just as large and pointy as I was hoping for. The skirt is nowhere near as short as the Louis Vuitton dresses, but as I’m hoping to wear this to cycle in that’s not a bad thing.

I added top-stitching on the princess seams for a bit of interest. I also made patch pockets. I’m not entirely happy with those. They have come out too close to the centre front despite my best efforts to choose a pleasing position.

Butterick 3108 front full length

Luckily I was able to get a copy of the pattern in my size so I didn’t have to make a lot of adjustments to the beyond adding length. The main change I made was to redraw the top of the sleeve pattern piece to remove all the sleeve cap ease. I didn’t fancy my chances of setting in the original sleeve without wrinkles as the suede has no elasticity at all. I’m pleased with the fit on the body, but the sleeves are very restrictive. Whatever I did to the sleeve caps obviously wasn’t quite right! And now I look at the pictures it could do with a touch more width at the back hip.


I made a couple of other small changes to accommodate the unforgiving fabric. I pleated the sleeves into the cuffs instead of gathering them. And the hem is faced rather than turned up. The hem allowance on the original pattern is two inches and isn’t tapered at all so there would be a lot of extra length to ease in if you tried to turn it up. I doubt that would work well even in cotton or wool fabric, never mind unshrinkable polyester.

The zip is brown because the orange is impossible to match and brown continues the 70s theme. The neck and hem facings are finished with some brown satin bias binding I had left over from another project. Unfortunately I didn’t change thread from orange to brown when sewing the zip in and the orange stitching shows up a bit against the brown zip tape, but I did remember for the binding. Not that you can see the stitching in the pictures anyway so I doubt anyone will notice.

Butterick 3108 side view

I’ve made the fabric sound awful but it does have some good points: it’s easy to sew, it’s machine washable, and it’s very warm to wear. I’ll be glad of the insulation when autumn arrives.

33 thoughts on “Vintage Butterick 3108

  1. Fabulous! Beautiful choice of pattern, farcical and colour. I love the 70’s and it’s good to see a non 50’s pattern being used around the inter webs. Hope you get to wear it too.

  2. The dress looks great, and I love the colour. The adjustments you made to the pattern seem very sensible with such an unforgiving fabric.
    Enjoy wearing your lovely dress!

  3. I really like this dress, which I am sure would look great with brown tights as it gets colder. I have made a few big collars from the 70s and I think they work fine. What I have a problem with are the great big collars on 1950s dresses which are too extreme.

  4. Yet another corker! I love seeing what you sew Catherine and I have a similar pattern to this that I love the idea of , but it’s always been the sleeveless version that’s drawn me. The idea of orange sueded fabric is so fabulous a homage to 70s style, and you’ve carried it off with aplomb!

    1. Thanks! Needlecord isn’t a fabric I’ve much experience of, but I’d say this was light coat weight so probably similar? It’s very stable – tightly woven – but doesn’t stand up under its own weight at all.

  5. I loved that YSL collection too – lots of sewing inspiration. The dress is great. Very modern (even with being a vintage pattern). Glad you are back from a mini-blog vacation and look forward to seeing more of your work.

  6. There is almost everything about this dress that I don’t like (70s style, orange and brown, big pointy collar,) but you, of course, look fabulous in it.!

  7. I think it looks fantastic and wouldn’t have noticed any of the things you mentioned. It definitely gives off that 70s vibe and I like how you’ve styled it.

  8. I love this dress, A retro style and in a great color. I found that type of fabric to be a B**tch to sew, but you did a great job.

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