Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some Patterns feel obligitory

One of the things that has become very apparent since I started working with retro and vintage patterns is that some designs, no matter how flawed, seem to be obligatory to make. For example Butterick 4790 also known as the “walk away dress”, or as we have dubbed it the “deceptively evil dress from hell”, and this one Butterick 4792 or what we call the “boxy dress”.

Not quite as evil as it’s spawn of Satan cousin the walk away dress, the boxy dress has a way of unflattering even the most flattering figures. Perhaps it is just that the fit is hard to get right but in all bar one of its inceptions that I have seen on my troll through sewing blogs and review websites, every case makes it’s wearer look like they have a box sitting on their hips.

This is me in my version, a black and white masterpiece. Originally it was meant to be all in the spots but apparently the skirt requires much more material than I had anticipated – the outcome was using the white material as the top and the spots as the skirt, though I think I like it like this.

On the top of the list about the positives of this pattern is that the gathering of the skirt, which leaves flat sections across the front and back and side seams allows for a very elegant flow, the downside, if you aren’t be anally retentive about reading the pattern directions it is very easy to miss that you are meant to leave these sections ungathered. The pattern also comes with a sew in crinoline type thing but I omitted that not wanting to have to sit on tulle for the benefit of a few centimetres of lift.

On top of the long list of negatives is the top half. Sure it looks in the drawing like it should be a very interesting feature piece, with its awesome reverse halter look. It seems to be flirty, unique and by instructions simple enough for the most basic seamstress to complete with ease. Realistically, here is the picture now available on the butterick site, as you can see even a professional seamstress (as I assume the people who do the outfits for these shots are) can’t manage to get any bust/waist definition in there.

Now Ange made her version first, and she warned me, “it’s very boxy” she said. Now given that I have a hefty 8 inch difference between bust and waist I thought it would be impossible to cause me to lose bust definition, surely that was just crazy talk.

So I set forth and created this pattern, and overall I must say I was pleased with the result. There are few errors (really only one and you can’t see it in the picture anyway – its a puckered gather in the skirt I did not notice until AFTER I had hand stitched the entire lining in place and I was NOT going to unpick for one teensy almost invisible pucker), and the white top, spotty bottom with a red belt I think looks nice and classic – but as the photo proves, I too look boxy in this style.

Having now written this post though I am consumed with an idea, I wonder if it would work better in a stretch fabric? I guess I could always find out after my next Cabramatta excursion... so long as I go before August.

Tune in soon as I will force Ange to write a long expose on the evils lurking behind the “super easy” walk away dress.... that is once she finishes it, yeah a project over 12 mths in the making.


  1. Hi,
    Can I just ask...what is wrong with Butterick 4790? I won a sewing machine at Melbourne International Fashion Festival this year as a result of that dress...what is wrong with it?

  2. Ange will have to do a post on that :). I have seen many finished versions that look fantastic, but so many people have the exact same problems with it (skirt at front rides up when walking, front bodice does not sit flat). We have spent now a year plus trying to iron out those issues on anges attempt