Fashion & Travel:
You are looking at what is probably the most famous vintage sewing pattern. It is so well known in sewing circles that it has a name - the walk-away dress. It is so-called because you could make it so quickly that you could literally "walk away" in it.
According to the Butterick website, the pattern was released early in the 1950s. It was such a hit that Butterick had to stop production of all other patterns so that they could fill the back orders. And I've read that this was the top selling pattern of all time.
Why was this particular dress such a hit? The little bit of sellsmanship on the back of the pattern tells the tale:
Here's the smartest idea of the season...a dress that has only back waist and shoulder seams, that has its back wrapped around to the front for a sheath and over-skirt look. Binding finishes the edges. Wear it for any occasion.
Most patterns of this era were complicated affairs with many pieces. Most dresses took days, not hours, to construct. I have no idea if this was the first such "Quick and Easy" to make dress, but after that time most pattern companies released patterns that were less complicated.
What is really odd though, is that for such a popular design, this pattern is very difficult to find today. I've been buying vintage patterns for 20 years or so, and until last month had never found one. Yes, it is for sale.
Butterick knows a good thing when they have it in the archives. Several years ago they re-released this design as part of their retro series. I'd love to hear from someone who has sewn both patterns, to see how they updated the instructions. I keep meaning to buying the new version, 4790, but whenever the fabric stores have a sale on Butterick patterns, they never have it in my size. Not that I need a big, full skirted dress!