Sunday, December 17, 2017

title pic A Vintage 1950s “Walkaway” Dress – The City of Roses Dress

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 3, 2011



Butterick 4790 Pattern Review

If you have ever sewn the 1950s Walkaway Dress, you may have mixed feelings about the results.  Most of the comments online show that the updated retro pattern does not fit the way the original pattern cover shows.  But as I share in my post “How to Make Butterick 4790 Look Like the Pattern Cover”, it really is not that hard to take this basic pattern and make it look like an authentic 1950s dress!



This crisp cotton dress is pure 1950s, but is simple enough to wear every day.

 I absolutely love this new “vintage” dress I sewed, with the lovely cotton rose print, white flower buttons, and lettuce hem edge finishing the skirt!  The big, bouffant skirt “swishes” when you walk, and the wide grosgain ribbon tied in a bow makes it looks so much like a 1950s film costume!

I call it my “City of Roses” dress since Portland is famous for its glorious flowers.  These rose bushes I’m standing in front do not display the profusion of blooms which you can see all over Portland right now, but as this photo shoot was rather spur of the moment I wasn’t able to get the photographs in the location I had in mind.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it, or see pictures of it yourself at the International Rose Garden’s website.  This dress had 108 pictures taken of it, so since I can’t share them all here I’ve posted some more over on the Facebook page. 



This 1950s vintage style dress was sewn from a drapey faille fabric.

That first vintage walkaway dress I sewed was made from a drapey faille fabric which flowed softly over the crinoline underskirt I sewed.  But this time around, I was determined to make an authentic day dress, so I used a crisp cotton fabric. 


This crisp cotton skirt has more weight than the orange dress did.

  The lady who helped me buy this gorgeous coral cotton from Maywood Fabric’s “Roses” collection said that it looked like something from “I Love Lucy“!  Because this cotton is obviously a bit heavier than the faille I used for my first dress, the skirt hangs in soft folds, rather than lightly bouncing above the crinoline as my first walkaway dress did.  But this way may be better for a day dress anyhow, since I’m sure housewives didn’t always wear enormous “poodle skirt” styles while washing the dishes!



The wide vinyl belt adds a nice vintage touch to this cotton print day dress.





The inspiration for the wide belt came from this lovely 1950s dress which was sold at .

As with my orange version of Butterick 4790, I wore the corset and crinoline for the authentic 1950s look, but I added a wide vinyl belt at the waist to give the grosgain bow sash some stability.  When I wear it with the ribbon tied around the waist, it looks much more like a late 1950s or even early 1960s dress to me, instead of the very early 1950s feel if you don’t wear a belt.

The white gloves I wore with this outfit are vintage 1940s gloves which I found at a nearby estate sale this spring.  They have lots of topstitching over the seams and a pearl button closure at each wrist.

For the record, 6015 was the original pattern number back in the 50s, as the “4790” is just the number for the new, updated version.  If you have an original walkaway pattern (Butterick 6015), you will not need to do the alterations that I’ve mentioned.  



This ad for the "walkaway" dress (Butterick 6015) shows a much narrower skirt than the pattern cover does for either 6015 or 4790.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the Butterick walkaway dress, click here for a detailed description.  It was termed the “walkaway” dress because a woman could supposedly “start it at 9:00 in the morning and walk away in it to a luncheon at noon.”  The extra steps I take in sewing this pattern (such as turning the bias binding to the inside and waiting three days for the skirt to hang), necessitates a project that does take a bit longer than just three hours, but every minute of it is enjoyable!  (Thanks to Sarah of for allowing me to reprint this vintage walkaway dress ad from her collection!)

I have pictures of the construction steps for this dress, so if anyone is interested I just might host a “Butterick Walkaway Dress Sew Along” where we study how to sew an authentic 1950s dress.  Happy sewing!

UPDATE: We are hosting this 1950s sew-along this month, so be sure to join us in sewing!