Leopard-print Walkaway Dress Inspired by #GBSB and #vintagepledge


Butterick 6015 was a bit of a phenomenon back in 1952, being dubbed the 'walkaway' dress, because you could "start it after breakfast...walk-away in it for luncheon". It was such a popular pattern that apparently, manufacturing of all other products ceased until all back-orders were filled.

All I'll say is that women back then must have been machines, because this dress has 6 metres of bias binding to contend with! Needless to say, mine took a tad longer than a morning to make.



Nowadays, the walkaway dress is fraught with fitting controversy and has solicited some damning online reviews. Despite all of this, I've wanted to make it for ages and reviewing the latest book from The Great British Sewing Bee - Fashion with Fabric - was just the excuse I needed.

Bearing in mind all the terrible things I've read about this pattern I was prepared for utter failure, or at very best, a wearable muslin. But with very little effort, I miraculously ended up with a dress I quite like. I like it so much that I unpicked all 6 metres of bias binding and replaced it with a wider one because I thought it would look better. 

I cut out a straight size 12 and I'm pretty delighted with the fit. Apparently the pattern has been tweaked to work better on the modern silhouette, both in the GBSB book and in it's reproduction guise as Butterick 4790. So if you've wanted to try this pattern and have been put off by potential fitting woes, you have options and you still have time to enter my giveaway if you're in the UK. If you're still dubious, check out this helpful post on fitting the walkaway pattern.



One of my favourite features of the walkaway dress is the fluidity of the armhole and wrap part of the bodice. I think it creates such a beautifully feminine shape. The other thing I like, which is probably like Marmite among stitchers, is the slightly conical shape the bust and waist darts create. I gives a really authentic 1950s vibe, which I happen to love, but can imagine isn't to everyone's taste.


Despite being a wrap dress, you don't have to worry about your modesty. It really does wrap almost all the way round with a voluminous, circle over-skirt for further 'protection'. For the curious among you I've shared some pictures of the shift-like under-dress. 


Fluke fitting aside, I've learned two valuable lessons about this pattern. Firstly, I recommend going with something a bit drapey (lawn, rayon, etc) for the main bodice parts for a smoother finish. It was hard to resist the pull of my leopard print poplin, but I think the bodice would look much nicer if it was less stiff. My second observation is about the bias binding. Narrow bias binding is far trickier to apply in large volumes and it kind of gets lost on this pattern. Wider stuff works better in my opinion, but it is prone to puckering/twisting, so go slow! 

As an aside, how do you feel about bias binding? I normally avoid it as I think it can make garments look obviously handmade in a bad way, but I don't hate it on the walkaway dress. Go figure!


In a random act of cheating, I'm counting this make as one of my five for the #vintagepledge. I figured I have the reproduction version in my stash anyway, so what the heck! I should be leading by example of course, but I'm hoping you'll let me off the hook...pretty please?!?

89 comments:

  1. That's pretty awesome! I've been a fan of this pattern for a while despite the online naysayers so it's good to know the GBSB version is easier to fit. I'm a big fan of bias but typically use it like a facing (turned to the inside) instead of exposed. It does look great here though to accent the style lines of the pattern.

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    1. Thanks Katie! I think this dress would look great on you *hint hint*!

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  2. Love your take on this dress.

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  3. Looks great with the red buttons and those shoes, really suits you ;o)

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  4. Gorgeous! This fabric and dress shape suit you so perfectly! I love the leopard, black and red buttons. Oh and the red shoes of course!

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  5. Adorable! After watching the show, I couldn't decide if this was a must-make or must-avoid. Yours pushes it into the category of must-make!

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  6. Looks lovely Marie! My eldest (14) saw the dress on the sewing bee and said please could I make her one! She is petite and curvy so it should look pretty good on her if I ever get round to buying the pattern!

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    1. Sounds like the perfect pattern for your daughter :o)

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  7. I love this dress on you. I have the reproduction in my stash and I even bought fabric but all the reviews about fitting woes - and having trouble keeping it tied once wearing (I read one horror story about a kindergarten teacher who had to use pins to keep hers on in class!) I left it. But I am a more confident sewist now and I am so inspired by your dress. I love the two tone and the bias tape. BTW, what constitutes wide bias tape to you?

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    1. Hope you give it a go soon! Hmmm, the wider bias binding I used is about 1.5cm folded I think!

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  8. Love this dress, and we'll let you off the hook if you let us off the hook! I have always wanted to make this dress and can feel one in my near future. Yours is fabulous, and the way you've styled it is wonderful. Running out of superlatives here...

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    1. Yay, everyone's off the hook :o) I hope to see a version from you soon, Sue!

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  9. i like bias tape but i don't like my skills in attaching it! i need way more practice. yours looks lovely and neat!

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  10. Ooooh I was so excited to see this for real after your preview in the last post. I love how you've made it so modern with the leopard print! I was looking at the pattern reviews after that episode and was put off after reading them, but now I think one day i'm gonna give it a go!

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    1. Aaaw, thanks Susie! The re-worked pattern in the book is really good!

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  11. This is a first. The first walkaway dress I wouldn't walk away from - this is actually very nice and I would wear it very happily. It's all down to that leopard print of course and the nice contrast of black, and I am very impressed you did your bias binding twice. Very well worth the effort.

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    1. Yay, another leopard print fan...it makes everything look great...hehe!

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  12. Wicked fabric choice and the shoes! The shoes!!

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  13. This looks great! Some of the other versions I've seen do look homemade with the bias detailing, but your choice of fabrics has pulled it together so nicely that I think it might make it to my ambitions list (if I ever think of anywhere I would wear such a dress!)

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    1. Thank you, I was so worried about it looking too handmade! It's definitely an 'occasion' dress, but when the summer comes I'll wear it to the office I think.

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  14. I saw the walkaway dress for the first time on the great british sewing bee a few weeks ago and was totally enchanted by it, then bummed out when i read all the disparaging reviews online :( I really like your version! It gives me hope haha with your fitting tips and some luck hopefully I can make one equally as nice

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    1. Thanks! The pattern in the book has been revised and it very good in my opinion!

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  15. I just finished my Walkaway dress from the GBSB book at the weekend and I'm loving it too! Unfortunately, my sizing went a bit off so mine is slightly big in the waist, but it may also be that my button loops ended up slightly bigger than I intended too, oops! It does have a crazy amount of bias binding, but was fun to do. The only real issue I had was that I somehow completely overlooked the double pointed darts in the bodice when tracing out the pattern and couldn't for the life of me figure out what they were talking about in the instructions till I went back and checked the pattern! I ended up adding them in after attaching the skirt, but it turned out alright in the end. I'm glad you mentioned the slightly conical shape you get from the darts too as I wondered whether it was just something that happened to mine with the darts added in later, but glad to know it isn't because I thought it was quite nice too! I'll hopefully have mine up on my blog within a week or so :)
    Sian xx Rebel Angel

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    1. Wow, sounds like you were determined to make this work for you, despite the challenges :o)

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  16. I love the leopard popping out from under the black overskirt! I didn't realize the history/backstory of this style dress. I'm like you, I don't think I'd be able to sew a dress between breakfast and lunch. I'm a slow sewist. I don't often use binding, but I think it can give a nice effect in the right circumstance. It works really nicely here to showcase the design lines of the wrap bodice!

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    1. High five fellow slow stitcher ;o)

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  17. You're off the hook! Wait does that mean I'll get to count if I make those Gertie Butterick B5895 trousers again and again this year? Although technically that's not a repro pattern, drat. lol

    Love this on you! And the leopard is awesome. Really gives it a totally different vibe than some of the others I've seen. I too have been turned off this pattern by reviews but your version is splendid! As for bias tape I don't mind it on occasion, although I'm more apt to use it on the inside in lieu of a facing.

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    1. Thanks for letting me off the hook Tasha :o) And no, I won't let you off with a Gertie pattern, though I can't wait to see all your versions!

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  18. I love the modern print on your version, it makes it feel trend, but with vintage flare. Nice job!

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  19. I adore your walk away dress, the leopard & black looks amazing. Has made me want to get the book more than any of the reviews of it I've read so far

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  20. I've got the reproduction in my pattern stash as well, but like so many others I've kept putting it off because of all of the fit issues others have run into. I'm going to try and tempt it later this year I think, though.

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  21. Fabulous. Love the black/leopard combo.

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  22. I have the Butterick repro pattern and really liked the style but was put off by the reviews! Especially as I would have to make so many fitting changes to it. Really love bias binding though. I make my own all the time and don't think that it looks handmade but I hear what you are saying. If it is not applied neatly and is twisted it looks appaling. Since I am having a bit of a romance with a Hong Kong finish I bought a binding foot. Makes life really simple. Xx

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    1. Oooh, a binding foot?!? What is this magical tool you speak of? And yes, I guess it's not the tape itself that can look handmade, but rather its application.

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  23. This looks great - I need to look at mine again I think - the fit is a bit off, but I think I still love it. I love bias binding as a facing, but I know what you mean when it's on the outside. Yours looks lovely here though - I think it's because it gives the dress better lines.

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    1. Thank you, hope you get yours sorted :o)

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  24. So love your fabric choices for this. This so suits your style. I've never come across this pattern before, but you've definitely made it a possibility... :-)

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  25. Gorgeous! I really love this dress! Your choice of the fabrics is perfect: black and leopard print, with these red buttons. It looks great on you!!

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  26. This is a great dress! The leopard print, the black and the red accents are perfect.

    I have to say I will need a lot more than a morning to do this dress, but this won't stop me to try it because it's lovely.

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    1. Thanks! And no, taking longer doesn't bother me as I'm used to being a slow stitcher ;o)

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  27. Loving the Sewing Bee it is my must see programme of the week (no talking or interruptions thank you!) The walkaway dress has been my favourite project this year! artali@sky.com

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    1. Thanks so much! I've loved watching the GBSB too...feeling lost without it now!

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  28. Oh my goodness, this gorgeous. The fabrics that you've used are fab, and you must love it to have unpicked all the bias tape!

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    1. Hehe, ta! Once I realised how good the fit was, I figured I should replace the bias binding!

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  29. Fantastic! I love the leopard print with this pattern.

    I wish we got the Sewing Bee in the US, have to settle for the books.

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    1. Hmmm, I heard rumours of it being replicated in the US...I wonder what the hold-up is?!?

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  30. Very good make, I will order the book I think.

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  31. Your walk away dress is stunning! I personally love bias binding, but when not 100% straight and accurate with the topstitch does end up looking home made for sure. Out of interest did you wear a conical bra underneath to give such a nice shape? If so which one?

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    1. Thank you! Nope, no conical bra...the beautiful shape was created just from the pattern and probably from using a stiffer fabric.

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  32. It looks great - I'd been put off the walkaway dress by the tales of fitting nightmares, but this is making me think that maybe I should give it a go!

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  33. You look amazing, as always! I love the fabric combo for this, and those cute little red buttons. I've seen this dress around and never really 'got it', but this is super cute! They should put you on the pattern envelope! You would sell the shit outta this pattern! They'd have to put everything on hold AGAIN just to fulfill orders!

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    1. Aaaaw, Sallie! You melt my heart with your super kind comments :o)

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  34. This style looks so cute on you!!! Especially in leopard, of course! :) I hear you about bias tape- it can look kinda crafty- but it totally works here!

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  35. I love love love your dress! I also watched GBSB and I also fell in love with it, I love the way it embraces the body :)

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    1. Yes, I love how it hugs the figure too!

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  36. Wow, that looks amazing on you! I'm not so sure everyone can pull off the Walkaway dress shape (I know I wouldn't!) but yours definitely works brilliantly. Good tip about using the wider bias tape as well, thanks.

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  37. Of course it should be your vintage make. Why not?? glad you like it. I would cut out a 12 too but I am so short in the body I think at the front it would look like my breasts were resting on the button front! Jo x

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    1. Hmmm, I'm really short waisted too and feared the same thing would happen. But mine turned out ok, so maybe you should give it a go too?

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  38. Hi there, love your dress - did you use the traceable pattern from the GBSB book or the actual pattern? I'm finding the back bodice and skirt waist don't measure out properly in the GBSB book and wondered if it was me. lol!

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    1. Hi Tracey! I traced the GBSB book pattern and didn't have any issues with the back bodice and skirt measuring up. Could it be a tracing error on your behalf? I know I hate tracing and could easily mess things up :o( Don't really know what else to suggest, but I hope you find a solution :o)

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  39. This dress is beautiful! Well done, it looks lovely on you. I've just bought the book specifically for the pattern but I've noticed that the instructions don't specify which width of fabric to buy. Can I ask which width you bought? Thank you!

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    1. Hey, sorry for the late reply! Due to the fullness of the skirt you'll need the widest fabric you can find, so 60" ideally!

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  40. Hi, I love your dress!! I'm having a big headache with mine. It's my second dress I've ever attempted to make. Its the bias binding I'm struggling with. I've never used it to hem before!! I can't really figure out the instructions either. Can you recommend any good tutorials to help me or have any tips? I love your blog, its very inspirational to a novice dressmaker such as myself!! :)

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    1. Hi Caroline, thanks for the kind words and well done on being so brave...it's the best way to get stuck in! Truth be told, I didn't use bias tape to hem my dress, I just hemmed it the regular way after I attached the bias tape elsewhere. If you tell me exactly what aspect it is you're struggling with, then maybe I can point you to a relevant tutorial?

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    2. Hi, thanks so much for your reply! I think my problem is the binding I've used isn't very wide. Its double folded (think this is the right term), I've flattened it out lining the edge of the binding (right side to right side) with the edge of my neckline. I've then pinned along the fold on the bias and sewn. I've then folded the bias over to the wrong side of my neckline. I've then tried to sew it on as near to the edge as possible but when I look at my dress (right side) my stitching has gone all over the place, onto the the fabric. Its really hard to explain without a pic. Basically I'm doing it all wrong and I think this should be a really simple thing to do!! Any advice or pin pointing to good tutorials is greatly received :) Thanks x

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    3. Hey Caroline, I'm not really good at visualising things if I can't actually see them...my brain is stupid like that! Sounds like you're on the right tracks, but maybe missing a trick or two. I've just come across this YouTube tutorial that seems really good...hope it helps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH4OGG8E3aA!

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    4. Thank you so much, this is exactly what I was getting stuck on. It was my edge stitch that was going all over the place, but this YouTube video is great. Thank you!! You've been a sewing saviour!! Hopefully I'll be able to finish my own walkaway dress now. Thanks again x

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  41. You did a great job. I'm sewing one now and struggling, even though I started with the alterations recommended at Edeilweiss Patterns. Hopefully I can tweak through them!
    Laurie

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  42. I'm making this dress at the moment but I've mislaid the instructions! With the button loops did you just use the same fabric you used for the skirt?

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    1. If I remember correctly, I think you use the bias binding to make the button loops, not skirt fabric. Hope this helps!

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  43. I do circle skirts with bias binding all the time, but I use quite a bit different method from yours--I use a stiffer cotton, like a quilting cotton, and make the bias tape in the same fabric rather than a contrast. I find that taped bindings don't look homemade if they're self bound. Matter of fact, I wore a skirt with a self bias binding to a job interview at a fairly expensive department store, and the interviewer commented on the detailing.

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