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Tuesday, November 30th 2004

6:53 AM

Butterick 6015 - The Walk-Away Dress

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!

5 Additional Thoughts.

Posted by Sarah Lulu:

My Mother had several dresses like that. She didn't sew, but I fancy she might have hat them made. She did look beautiful. She's 81 now.
Monday, November 30th 2009 @ 2:25 PM

Posted by Amanda (in Vermont):

I was thinking the same thing - if it was so darned popular, why aren't we seeing more of them? Perhaps they all just got worn out from use. I was a big consumer of "quick and easy" in the day. :)
Tuesday, December 1st 2009 @ 7:36 AM

Posted by Gabriella:

I've made this dress from the repro pattern. It really was super easy, if you don't mind pinning yards and yards of seam binding. There are only a few main pieces and all raw edges are finished in seam binding. Unfortunately, due to the abundance of wearing ease, it came out GINORMOUS. I would make it again from the vintage pattern to compare results. If I was to make it from the repro pattern again, I'd definitely go down a full size.
Friday, December 4th 2009 @ 11:10 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Sarah Lulu, if there are any photos of your mother in her dresses, I'd love to see them.

Amanda, that is possible, especially if the sewer loved the design and made it multiple times like SL's mom. And not all sewers were careful with their patterns!

Gabriella, if you do make this from the original, please post back with the results. I might go ahead and buy a size smaller and make a muslin to see if that would work.
Sunday, December 6th 2009 @ 5:06 AM

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