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?!?