Butterick 5559: Fitted Ponte Sheath Dress by Maggy London

Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress

Butterick 5559 (a Maggy London design) is not a new pattern. There are already 33 reviews for this pattern on PR.com, with the earliest dating from December 2010. So this pattern must be at least 3 years old. But it just goes to show a classic pattern will stay in circulation for years and look fresh with every new interpretation of it.

Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress

Ok, so I made my version in a ponte roma fabric. The colour description for the fabric is actually claret, and in real life it is not as red as depicted here. It is more of a deep, dark burgundy (maybe burgundy is not a colour that photographs well in sunlight, as this is the second dress made out of this colour where the pictures show it with a more pinky tone?)

Anyway, I selected my size based on the given finished measurements. I also did a flat pattern measurement check. There is no negative ease; but no ease either. It is recommended for moderate stretch knits only, so this is, as stated on the pattern, a close fitting dress. It is (also as stated on the pattern) WELL above mid knee. I added 2 inches to the length but I wish I had added 3 or so. In the end, I did as Amanda did in her version and added a facing which I then slip stitched to the inside. BTW, this is a sheath dress: the bodice is separate to the skirt and joined at the waist and then a tuck made. For me, sheath dresses work better than shift.

Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress

You can read about the other adjustments I made in the pattern review below, and also what I would do differently if I made this pattern up again.

Overall I am really pleased with this dress. It is comfortable and looks very RTW. Whilst not the most difficult dress in the world to make, I would question the “easy” rating on the pattern, for say a beginner. There are 7 darts which have to be sewn and 14 quarter inch tucks, so marking the fabric (I used tailors tacks/ thread traced) takes time. You also do have to be pretty precise with those quarter inch tucks. I used my quarter inch foot to help.

Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress

Pattern Review:

Pattern Description:

Close-fitting, above mid-knee, pullover dresses A, B have front and back darts and outside stitched tucks. A: above elbow length sleeves. B: sleeveless.

Pattern Sizing:

6 – 20

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Yes. Albeit with longer sleeves and a longer skirt length.

Were the instructions easy to follow?


What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Love the figure flattering tucks which direct the eye to the waist. Looks very RTW. Nothing to dislike – except, as every other reviewer has posted, it is very SHORT. I am 5’3″ and added 2 inches to the length and I still wasn’t happy with the length, and so added a facing to finish the hem.  Length is a matter of personal preference (and how good your legs are), but be warned…!

Fabric Used:

A claret coloured ponte roma knit. It is more burgundy in real life.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I chose my size based on the given finished measurements and I would say they are pretty accurate. There is no negative ease as such, but there is no ease either; it is designed to be a close fitting dress.

As mentioned above I added 2 inches to the length and I still wasn’t happy with the length, and so added a facing to finish the hem. If I made this dress again I would probably add around 3 inches or so.

I did a 1 inch sway back adjustment.

I started off lengthening the sleeves to make them full length, but unfortunately made the lower part of the arm too tight. So I shortened them to 3/4 length.

One thing I am a little concerned about it that it makes no mention of stay stitching the neckline in the pattern: as this is a pull on dress I don’t know if the neckline is going to stretch out. I should have done the stay stitching myself probably, but forgot.

Oh yes, the front neck is a little too high for me. Next time round I would shorten it by maybe 0.5 inch? Just added that I don’t  know if I should have done a FBA as there seems to be a very slight pull across the front?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I don’t know if I would sew it myself but yes, I recommend it.


This is a great twist on the classic sheath dress which looks great on all types of figures.

I wore the dress to church this morning. I was on creche duty and it survived entertaining 2 small 2 year olds and lunch at my mums. But I do have a question for  you all: I stabilised the shoulders using clear elastic. Should I have stabilised the waist line as well? I felt that the ponte didn’t need it. What your opinion?

Have a great week….

Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress
Butterick 5559: fitted ponte sheath dress

Posted by

By day I work in the exciting world of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, registering medicines (!), but by night I turn in to a sewing diva, making all manner of clothes in my beautiful sewing space (which you can tour using the link at the top of this blog). I love how sewing and sewing clothes that fit my curvy body continually challenges me. I enjoy working with all different types of fabric, and whilst I don't like to put restrictions on myself and say I won't buy RTW, the truth is that I probably rarely do buy it, preferring the fit of my own me-made clothes. I love to use natural fibres where ever possible and colourful coats are an obsession of mine! Sewing is both my addiction and my therapy. You can contact me at sewmanju@yahoo.co.uk

47 thoughts on “Butterick 5559: Fitted Ponte Sheath Dress by Maggy London

  1. Brilliant, I am very impressed with the consistent pleats, and that they join at the sides. I made lots of work dresses earlier this year and they are so useful. I also made a purple cord skirt but opted for a self made pattern using craftsy a-line skirt video as a guide and then added a side pleat and a wide waist band yoke, I would recommend this, the instructor talks you through how to make a basic pattern for a slightly aline pencil skirt, then adjust to make your own designs, such fun. I really enjoy your blog, Rachel

  2. You look gorgeous the dress suits your lovely figure perfectly. I think this length is perfect for you. I hate it when dresses are too short – it makes them look cheap.

  3. As always, great review! And, you did a wonderful job constructing the dress. I think you did right by stabilizing the shoulders only and not the waistline. Beautiful job!

  4. Out of all the lovely garments you have sewed to date, this is by far my most favourite yet! *Clap clap* I love it, love it, love it. The colour is superb, you fitted this so well & Im absolutely 100% sure you are going to turn heads wearing this. BRAVO!

  5. When I first flipped in, I went Wow! By the end of the review I was still saying wow! This is a great dress in an amazing color!

  6. This is lovely on you. I’m very impressed with the stitched tucks, you’ve matched them up perfectly. It looks very RTW (and I mean that in a good way!!)

  7. Manju, that dress looks SO good on you. Red is definitely your colour 🙂 I have looked at this pattern a few times and discounted it as I thought it wouldn’t suit me. After seeing your version I think I may give it a try. Thank you for the great review.

  8. This is such a gorgeous dress, it looks lovely on you! Where is the bodice/skirt seam you mentioned? I tried to spy it but I couldn’t see it!

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