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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another Retro Butterick 4790 WalkAway Dress

I say "another" Butterick 4790 Walkaway Dress not because I have made one before, but because EVERYONE ELSE has.  I was reading on one blog that if the author saw another walkaway dress, she was going to scream.  Well, who can resist that?  Here is my version.

I love the original artwork on the pattern cover. I was really tempted by the black and white one, but I went with a one color dress in a printed quilting cotton.  I had promised myself I'd stay out of the quilting cottons, but then there was a sale.  All bets were immediately off.
As I am sure that everyone has seen a million times, this is the diagram of the dress.  It is one piece of fabric.  The front part has a closer-fitting skirt that fastens in the back and the circle skirt fastens in the front.  
The two ends of the circle skirt are supposed to overlap slightly on the front and button over each other.  Except I cut mine too small.  I had NO overlap.  What to do? The way I saw it, I had four  choices:
  1. Scrap the project - I would have needed to cut the entire back part out again and I didn't have more of this fabric.  (sad and really bothers the very cheapskate in me)
  2. Continue making the dress and put it in my closet until I stop eating so much chocolate and lose weight. (you would have to pry that chocolate out of my cold, dead hands, so not an option)
  3. Continue making the dress and give it away to a smaller friend. (Yeah, right)
  4. Find a way to make it work, not waste fabric and continue eating chocolate. (winner!)
I ended up making two rectangles of bias tape and sewing them on to the edges to make a little extension.  I put snaps behind the bias tape, then made three cloth buttons and sewed them on.  VoilĂ ! Une petite solution pour mon gros problème de chocolat.

I'd apologize for the unneeded use of French, but it makes me feel good actually using something I learned at university.  Almost like I wasn't paying student loans for 17 years for nothing...  Almost. But I digress.  Here is the bias tape extension.
 I think I actually like it better with the space between the panels.  I shows off the more fitted skirt and bias tape hems better, which I think is a really attractive part of the pattern.
All in all, I do like the dress.  Except if I have to walk around, sit, bend or move in any way.  Because the more fitted skirt is floating except for a small button at the waist, it bunches up and goes everywhere.  I fought with it like crazy just to take photos.  I think I can sew a knit panel to join the back sections so that they lay still.  It will be stretchy so I can move, but keep the front panel down.  It is just an idea at this point. But I am open to suggestions for this issue.
And one more photo of the dress when I am standing perfectly still.
Fabric: 5 yards on sale at the evil Walmart = $5.00
Bias tape: (sadly, I didn't make my own) JoAnns = $7.50
Button kit: JoAnns = $2.75 (with coupon!)
Total: $14.75


  1. First of all, it looks great. Nice save on the bias tape extension. Really nice. I never would have thought of it but it looks great. I see what you are saying about the bunching - I think an under-extension could work there too. I know I'm not much help, but the dress does look really good and it is worth saving. When I run into problems like this, I head back to the fabric store and ask them for suggestions....

    1. Thanks! I think I can get some stretch jersy that would work. The dress wouldn't be as cool looking when it is off, since the skirt would connect in back, but I think that would be ok.

  2. I think that the problems everyone mention with this dress are two-fold. These dresses were meant to be worn longer and with a crinoline type slip. That would prevent the problem from the back wrapping and feeling funny. Also I suspect that the crinoline would support the skirt and prevent the bunching. I would not use jersey with the quilting cotton. You need something that slides. Have you thought of putting a slippery lining in the skirt? Especially where it overlays the front? The 2 layers would slide over each other better and probably eliminate the bunching.

    1. I think a slip would work... It would also cover my rear, which would be good. I like the look of crinolines a lot, I just wanted it to be a little less full so I can wear it out of the house and not feel like I am in a costume. But you are right, that is probably what it was made for.

  3. Lovely, lovely dress! And a wonderful save on that extension. I do hope that you solve the bunching problem (slip does seem like a brilliant idea), because this dress definitely needs to be seen.

  4. have you thought about weighing the front panel down? maybe with stainless steel washers? that way it'll stay flat! i really like this dress, i just wish it had sleeves! there's a neat alteration sew along on another blog where it's been altered at the waist over lap to have the V shape of the fashion drawing. (i only mention that because it seems to be a dress you like enough to make again)

    1. That would work. I haven't worn the dress since the photos... it is just hanging in the closet. I think a combination of a slip and sewing some kind of back to the front skirt in a knit. The truth was that since it was open, it feels very airy in a "I am showing my backside to everyone right now" sort of way.

  5. yay, i have that pattern, and keep thinking i want to sew it, and putting it off, and putting it off again... now i HAVE to make it, because it looks so nice!

  6. I just made this dress -
    Mine sort of bunches up, but not enough to bother. I love your dress!!

    1. Nice! I just went to see it! I like the way you did the buttons on yours. The red edging is nice!

  7. I'm curious if you ever did anything with the skirt to prevent the bunching?


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