1950s | Dresses

Butterick 4790 Because I Was the Only One Left Who Hadn’t Sewn It

August 11, 2013

I know, I know, everyone has sewn this dress.  Two years ago.  But, I was feeling left out, and two years ago I didn’t sew at all,  so I gave it a go recently.  Here is my version.  (The original pattern cover can be seen here)I did read about other people sewing this dress on other blogs and I read about fitting issues and some other tweaks that people make to this pattern, so I cut a size smaller than I normally would have so that I could learn from other people’s mistakes.  I must have read incorrectly because boy, did I over-compensate.  I cut this dress a size too small.  I left NO room for overlap on the front panels.

I ended up sewing little rectangles of bias tape to extend the panels of the circle skirt so that I could both wear the dress and breathe at the same time.  I also put some cloth covered buttons on the rectangle to cover the stitching on the sew-on snaps I used as fasteners.

I think that separating the panels like that actually adds something nice to the dress.  It allows  you to see the edges of the bias tape and the fitted skirt better.  I like the mistake – which doesn’t always happen.

The one thing I don’t like about the dress is the front panel.  I like the way it looks, but it floats all around and bunches up and it makes the dress generally impractical for walking, sitting or moving at all.  But if you fuss with it, then stand perfectly still, you can take some nice photos of it.  I did find other people complaining about this same issue… but only after I sewed mine.  I am thinking of ways to keep the front panel from floating and bunching.  The only thing I can think of at the moment is sewing a knit fabric to the back of the dress (the part under the circle skirt) – It would also have the added bonus of covering my bum because this dress feels really strange to sit down in.  Because the back panel separates, it feels (but thankfully, it doesn’t look) like you are completely exposing your rear.

Anyone have any other suggestions for tacking down the panels?  I know a TON of people have made the dress, so  I am hoping someone has a good solution.  Other than total impracticality caused by the bunching issue, I really love the dress.

More on my blog.

  1. You could try sewing snaps at the hem line, a little way in from the front edge, to help with the front panel. You could also wear a petticoat or the like to help with the exposed feeling, this is not a bad idea in general with full skirts and dresses.
    Happy sewing.

  2. I’ve made this dress twice- unfortunately I cant remember if I had this issue with either version or not. I’d go put one on and walk around but I’m 70 pounds lighter then I was when I made them. Kinda won’t fit very well now… lol.

    Your fabric choice is nice. It turned out really cute! Hope you can solve your issue!

  3. I made the front panel in white paper taffeta and the back in black taffeta with velvet dots and trimmed the entire dress in red satin bias.

    The weight of the bias seems to have helped because I don’t have the bunching problem at all.

    Perhaps adding some bias tape to the inside of the hem would weigh it down?

    You could also maybe put a hook on one side with a piece of thin electrics attached on the other and loop it closed but still have movement?

  4. I actually found it mostly rode up due to friction, so I wore a slip (one of those old fashioned things no one seems to use anymore!) and found it helped quite a bit with that. 🙂 It looks great!

  5. I have had the pattern and fabric sitting around for so long, I had to buy an other pattern because I have moved and the old one is in storage, plus do to a health issue I put on weight and figured with the wrap around, I Would Expose My Bum. If you make the hem a little deeper you might be able to sew a curtain weight into it. Obviously a light weight one, but I find I have solved a few problems that way. You might also try just cutting the dress out twice, once in thin,slippery lining poly that will allow it to glide over itself and perhaps stop the back from clinging or bunching around your bum, as happens with me on occasion. You could try an interesting contrasting silky to give it a little surprise! I love how you fixed the front, nothing like on the spot thinking. If you do line it sew the pieces together in the allowance first but leave the bottom open.

  6. I’ve made this dress three (!!) times and had the same problem every time. I think it is the cotton fabric I used getting stuck together. I bought little weights to sew into the bottom corners of the front part that wraps behind. I used drapery weights (little metal disks covered in thin fabric that you can stitch right into the hem. It keeps the front of the skirt flat and lets the outside that wraps around flow easily around it. I think they also make some specially for clothing – you might find in the notions department. I remember that they were pretty cheap. Well, they must have been if I bought them 🙂

  7. I haven’t made this dress, I’ve had the pattern since my fourth child was born 8 years ago, initially with the intention of making a nursing version, so just wanted to reassure you that you are not the last person to make this dress!
    Reading your issues, I agree with several posters who suggest a slip. I always wear a slip with dresses, and it definately helps with bunching and exposed feelings…and recently stopped me flashing my bum when wearing a wrap style vintage dress!

    1. 6 kids… (I read your blog) we are still trying to decide if we want to make one of the little suckers. You are more courageous than me. I am scared silly of the idea.
      In any case, yes, a slip could do wonders for all of the issues, including accidentaly (I swear!) bum flashing.

  8. You’re not alone! I also have never sewn this dress. While I usually lose my mind over vintage or reprinted vintage patterns, this one never appealed enough to me. I’m really short, 5’2″, with a little pot belly, and I never thought this would look good on me. It sure looks nice on other people, though!
    Great idea of the bias tape extender.

  9. Sorry, I don’t have any advice since your project is more advanced than anything I’ve done yet, but I love the dress! It’s a great color, and the silhouette is lovely!

  10. i made this in a bias cut vintage silk, with vintage (cotton) bias binding. It turned out really well! No riding up…maybe because of the silky texture? Nice work on your dress! it looks lovely on you 🙂

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