SEWN: 1950’s style Sunday Picnic Pullover Dress (Butterick 6212)

Butterick 6212 Gwenstella MadeI have always been a fan of the 1950’s walk-away dress ever since it was featured on The Great British Sewing Bee. When Butterick reproduced the pattern as B4790, I was disappointed to find that the smallest size offered by the pattern was size 8. I’m usually somewhere between sizes 4-6, and having to grade an unusual pattern like the walk-away dress would require more thinking than I would like.

The Walkaway Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

The Saturday Morning Dress. Left: The re-issue. Right: The original (via Butterick site and Vintage Patterns Wikia)

So, when I found the B6212, a pullover back-wrap dress which is also another re-issue of a vintage 1950’s sewing pattern by Butterick, I knew I had to get it. Some sites and posts describe it as the “Popover Dress” or the “Saturday Morning” dress. I like both names, but it’s giving me more of a “Sunday Picnic” vibe. I was smittened by the white and red gingham version on the envelope of the pattern, and while I haven’t gone for a real picnic in years, I decided that it would be the perfect colour scheme for Chinese New Year.

Of course, as with all Big 4 sewing patterns (and the sad fact that I have almost non-existent boobs), I had to make some minor adjustments to the pattern before cutting the fabric pieces out. Most of the grading of the pattern involved the bodice. I didn’t make any adjustments to the width of the waist, because I thought I could always change the positions of the buttons to make a tighter fit if I wanted.

For the bodice of the dress, I used a white linen fabric I bought in Thailand some years back, and for the skirt portion, I used a polycotton in a red/white gingham pattern. For the buttons, I decided to make my own fabric-covered buttons using the same linen fabric I used for the bodice, to create contrast in the final look.

Unfortunately, the bodice was somehow still too baggy when I tried the dress on after sewing it together. There was too much room in front of the bust! I had to take in some fabric at the front of the bodice by making some fake vertical darts (ie folding the excess fabric inwards and then topstitching it in place).

There’s also some extra room in the underarm area which I could do nothing about. It’s a little annoying, but generally tolerable as I would be wearing a slip under the dress anyway. I think this is probably one of the biggest design flaw of the dress. I can’t imagine if having bigger or smaller bust will make this problem worse. On the bright side, at least my dress looks better than the one on the McCall site!

(via)

Despite the flaws in the design of the sewing pattern, I must say that this is a very easy pattern to sew. I love how it gives the illusion of a circle skirt without the usual yardage that is needed, since the back part of the dress is more like a shift dress. It could also probably be modified easily for an A-line skirt design!

Top: Front view. Bottom: Back view.

Making vertical faux darts on the front of the bodice

For anyone who is making this, I would strongly recommend adding the back-ties, because that allows the waist to be adjusted more easily. You know, sometimes the waist expands by an inch or so depending on how full or bloated you are!

Also, if you REALLY are thinking about making this dress, do a search and find out what others are saying about this dress. Some people really had issues with the underarms for this dress. Do your research and make an informed decision!

Have you made the Walkaway dress or this Saturday Morning dress? Are you a believer or a hater? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

And now for the million-dollar question – who wore it better? The Butterick illustrated model or me?

11 thoughts on “SEWN: 1950’s style Sunday Picnic Pullover Dress (Butterick 6212)

  1. I’ve long admired the walkaway dress and I was disappointed that it seemed to be so much trickier than it should be. It’s a shame that this one has problems too, but it still looks great on you. One day I’ll try one or the other!

    And naturally you wear it better!

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  2. Yours fits much better than the envelope! The white buttons are a lovely touch. Question – can you tell me again who you use for labels? I don’t find it now. Thanks!

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  3. Pingback: Me Made May 2018: Round-up and reflection | Gwenstella Made

  4. Thanks for the review of this dress. I recently purchased the pattern and have been searching for reviews of it. I wonder, if it would be possible to modify the shape of the back underarm seam to raise it to have a higher crossover point and then use something like a hook and eye or press stud (snap) in the inside of the front. Also, from the illustration, it looks like it is designed to be worn with a petticoat. Is that how you wear it or do you just wear it as is? Thanks so much for your detailed review and YouTube video!

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    • Hi Kaitlyn, thank you for checking our my video and my post! With the size I made, the eye and hook rest just right below my bust (i.e. on the empire line), so I don’t think raising the back arm seam will make the dress comfortable to wear. For my body, it was something about the front bodice piece (arm seam included) that just didn’t work quite right for my body.

      As the back of the dress actually looks like a regular shift dress, a petticoat will not fit well under the dress. Yes, illustrations can be so tricky! I just wear it as is. Notice I often have to hold the front skirt up to see the volume of the faux circle skirt. Hope all this helps!

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