Butterick 4790 (6015) Walkaway Dress Part 1

I got the pattern (finally!) this weekend, rummaging through the unopened stock boxes in the back of JoAnns, and it's supposed to be super cool because you're meant to start it after breakfast and 'walk away in it to lunch".   I started after lunch, and could have possibly walked away in it to dinner, if the neighbor didn't text about a party she was having.  Even though I left early, it appears I can not sew a straight line after 4 jello shots, (jello shots.  true story) so it is no longer a one day dress. 

I was trying very hard to use up some fabrics in my stash (of random clearance fabrics, garage sale finds, things that possibly used to be drapes, etc).  But I needed two fabrics that went well together, which is hard when you shop by colour, pattern, and shock value. 

JoAnn's had:


I just about fell over at the sight of bright pink, yellow, orange and red, all splashed about liberally.  I spent a considerable amount of time spacing out and staring at the flowers, to see if I could match the pattern at the center back seam of the circle skirt.  May be if JoAnn's bolt didn't run out 20" too short, I could have.  No matter, though, because currently pinned to Nora, it appears I will need to make it a half circle skirt.  It is a lot of skirt as it is currently.  I could seriously sneak small children into movie theaters for free with that thing. 

It's not put together yet, everything is held to Nora by pins.  So far I have done the front (black) piece, all darted, and it all goes poorly, it might make a nice dress all by itself.  If I make a back for it. 

The back top and bottom/front orange skirt are two pieces that I pinned on.  I could manage the pinning on jello shots. 

I also read the 30 reviews on PatternReview.com, and I am now sufficiently intimidated.  It appears that you need either stellar sewing skills, or boobs to pull off this dress.  As it usually goes, I have neither. 

Stellar sewing skills come in handy for the million alteration this pattern (apparently) needs.  I don't know, it looks OK on Nora.  I have made the shoulders narrower and higher, preemptively, since everyone on the internet who's made one before me has had to do this. 

The boobs come in handy, because, in the apron-like construction of the dress, the front is a small sheath thing, and the back is a giant circle skirt, which wraps around to the front and weighs most of the 4.5 yards of fabric that this dress requires.  So, the back, I hear pulls on the front, making it ride up.  Unless you have boobs, which fit into the darts on the front, and I don't know.. weigh down the waist?  As non haver of boobs, it's hard to speculate as to what they might do.  But, it is commonly accepted by people who have made this dress, that having them is good for this dress. 

I plan to:

1.  Make the back a half circle skirt, and if it's unwearable, I will flare out the front, as well, giving it more weight, and room for knees.  Also, I saw on somebody's blog.. which I can't find now, a version of the dress with the wide contrast hem at the bottom, so I think, 4" black hem at bottom.


2.  Keep full circle, still flare the front, and cut both skirts to about knee length.  + the above hem. 


3.  Keep it as is, and only wear it in house, like, when entertaining guests.  That way, if it's gaping, a little indecent and funny looking, I'm surrounded by kind and gentle people who will tactfully ignore it.

I'm also thinking a ridiculous petticoat might enhance any and all of these options.  I have seen these at thrift shops, thinking how sad it was I had nothing to wear over one.

I'm a little torn about altering the skirt.  Making the skirt less full takes away from the 50's look, and might make it even more apron-like.  But I also don't think having that much fabric around my hips is going to be a flattering look.  I'll find out tonight. 

I haven't sewn in a while, so I'm all types of excited.  And, I get to use all the random sewing stuff I continually pick up at garage sales for next to nothing.  30 year old chalk pencils?  I think I will.  Turns out they work!  (I have learned the hard way, that 30 year old thread, for the most part, does NOT.)

UPDATE (Day 2).  Instead of bloggying a whole new post.  The dress is still not done.  With the upcoming Utah trip, it might be a week dress.  Oops.  I spent all of yesterday evening re-cutting the skirt. 

I made it a half circle skirt, so, cutting it in half.  I cheated a little because I freaked out and thought it wouldn't be full enough if I chopped it in half, so, it's like a 200' skirt.  Extra 20' are darted on the hips in the back.  It is plenty full, still.  I got that idea on a vintage sewing website I found, I hope to have their chapter on skirts memorized at some point:

The half circle skirt has grain running down the sides, which makes it fall flat on the sides, and bunch up in the middle and back.  I'm not sure why, but it works.  It ends up rippling uniformly all around.  (I also have the extra darted fabric in back).  Cutting it the way pattern indicates with full circle, the grain runs down the center front and back, causing those areas to lay flat (good thing) but bunch up on the hips (I looked like a truckload when I put it on, which is what spurred the skirt modification before the dress ever had a chance to come together).   I am guessing, and with pettycoats, in the 50's they wanted the ballgown look.  I'm trying to avoid it. 

All the chopping at new waistline will have also brought up the hem 3" or so, which pleases me.  Right side hasn't been chopped yet.  I folded the front in a bit so you can see the "look".  The way it hangs by itself, it looks like a solid skirt. 


And the back view:

It is still a ridiculously full skirt, so I don't feel like I've completely changed the pattern.  Next up is the center back.  When I put it on, there's some gaping happening, everywhere.  It appears if I bring up the shoulders (like all the 30 reviews said) it gets better.  The waist sides and the armpits should come  up, too.  The armholes will need work also. 

2 days and counting. Ha.  


  1. The walk-away dress is apparently a myth. Here's another one of my friends' adventures trying to make it ... http://www.momfetti.com/2010/01/walk-away-dress-halfway-done.html

  2. I still think I want one. Make me one!! After you've perfected this one, please. Plus, I have boobs, so maybe it'll work out better for me!

  3. Quilts, thanks for that link! I love the fabrics she picked, but, yeah.. modifications..

    Giraffy.. Let's wait and see if I can get this one to act right, lol. I wonder if making it from something softer and more flowy will make a difference.

  4. Snork, that black and white one. I want one!!!