Finished: My very first ever sewing project; Butterick 4790 or "The Walkaway Dress"

13:49 Renée 5 Comments

Finally! My post about my very first dress; Butterick 4790, also known as the Walkaway Dress. Before I started sewing this dress, I had absolutely no sewing experience. My mom gave me her sewing machine because she never used it so I had to get acquainted with my new best friend during this project as well. That actually resulted in a lot of sewing mishaps, like birds nesting, threads breaking, tension problems, etc. My mom had been complaining about the machine doing weird stuff as well, and at some points during the sewing of this dress I really thought the machine simply hated me and started to call it the sewing machine from hell. But at the end of the project I finally managed to tame the damn thing. 

Butterick 4790

Front (The dress is too small at the waist for my dress form)


I started up really slow, I was so intimidated by all the lines on the pattern that I cut it out really, really slowly, afraid to cut the wrong line. Then when I wanted to cut out the fabric, I realized that my scissors weren't as suitable for cutting fabric as I thought, so that went very slow as well. (I ended up buying a rotary cutter, and love it!) Sewing up the first bits went super quick, I had the bodice sewn in about an hour. Adding the skirt took a little longer, but wasn't a challenge at all either. Then I decided that I didn't like the shoulders as they where, so I put the dress on my dress form and started to play a bit with the shoulders and the neckline. 

This is what I had wanted to do, but I realized I had no idea how to actually sew it this way, so I had to go with the simpler solution.

Eventually, I took the shoulders apart en gathered them up. Unfortunately, because of the weight of the gigantic skirt, the gathers have stretched out almost completely! I had no idea that could even happen. So now it looks weird, as if I wasn't able to sew straight.

stretched out gathered shoulders
From the start, I didn't really like the idea of finishing the edges with bias binding. Initially I tried to solve this 'problem' by using a satin ribbon as bias binding in stead of cotton, hoping that that would make it look a little nicer. But then I pinned it on the dress to see what it would look like and I still didn't like it. 

Then I stumbled upon Edelweiss Patterns' Sewalong where she gave instructions to finish the seams with bias binding on the inside, rather than the outside. So that's what I did. When I finished the dress, I still thought it needed something. I especially found the neckline quite boring and unflattering on me, and I remembered seeing a picture of a 1940s dress that had sundial pin tucks. So I practiced on a scrap of fabric and then sewed the pin tucks. Much better! I have to say that I was quite proud of the way it turned out. Even though I ran out of matching thread and had to use black thread instead. You can't really tell. I also played a little with adding decorative buttons on the front, but didn't really like it so I left them out. Oh and the fabric is medium weight cotton. I didn't really keep track but I think the whole process took me about 16 hours. Hemming the giant skirt alone took me over 3 hours!

Here is my very first sewing mishap; the machine was threaded with white thread when I started sewing and for the darts I figured that that wouldn't matter because it wouldn't show. First lesson learned! 
I just could not get the tension of my threads right, and almost wanted to pull my hair out in frustration. Eventually, all the machine needed was a fresh drop of oil. I don't know if that is normal for any machine, but being properly oiled apparently affects the tension of my machine.
Whoops. Bias binding too short, birds nesting and tension problems all in one!

Trying a 50's pose
And a vague picture of me attempting to twirl
The dress doesn't fit me properly at the bust, but I don't think I will ever wear it anyway because it simply isn't my type of dress. I already knew this when I started sewing, but because I needed something simple, but still wanted a vintage touch I decided to go with this pattern. And it got me hooked! I am already almost finished with my second and third sewing projects:

Butterick 4919
Mrs Depews Bathing Beauties 1940's Bathing Suit 


  1. Leuk, dat je ook bent begonnen met naaien (klinkt altijd zo stom in het Nederlands). Het is een mooi patroon. En ja, je moet je machine leren kennen. Is hij al eens nagekeken? Een nieuwe naald doet vaak ook wonderen!

    Ik ben benieuwd naar je andere projecten!

  2. Ja met al dat schrijven en lezen in het Engels is het heel raar om ineens iets in het Nederlands te schrijven! Ik heb de machine halverwege het project een oliebeurt gegeven en de naald vervangen. De verse olie deed wonderen, het onderdraad lag toen eindelijk vlak, de nieuwe naald maakte geen verschil. En ik moest ook gewoon nog veel leren, zoals dat je onder en boven draad hetzelfde moeten zijn omdat de machine dat anders ook niet leuk vindt. Hij naaide bij de tweede jurk in ieder geval min of meer zonder problemen dus we gaan samen nog vele projecten tegemoet :)

  3. Congratulations on your first dress! It is addictive isn't it!!!! You did a great job and I love those extra tucks you added. I had the same problem with my first dress with the bust area not being right but I think it might also have been a shoulder problem too. I would like to get to the point where I can taylor the bodice portion of a dress correctly. It sounds like we are both at the same point in our vintage sewing journey. I very much look forward to following your blog!! I think you could very much wear this lovely dress!

  4. Thank you Joanna! It is incredibly addictive, since I started I can't go one day without sewing at least a little anymore! I too hope to be good at tailoring garments perfectly to my body one day. Step by step we'll get there!

  5. I've had a walk away dress muslin cut out for months. I hadn't gotten a chance to sew it yet, but found your post when I was gathering ideas on what I could do with the neckline. I love the sundial pin tuck idea. I've heard of pin tucks, just not sundial pin tucks. I love them on that neckline.


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