The Retro Butterick Wrap Dress

by Erin on June 25, 2006

Remember the retro Butterick wrap dress? C'mon, I know you do. Well, Villain Extraordinaire actually made one, and here it is:

retro Butterick 4790

Isn't it adorable? I love the red and the red-orange print together. My only quibble is that she didn't solve the no-pockets problem (so that I could be lazy and just copy whatever she did). I guess that's why she's a Villain Extraordinaire … her evil plan is to make me actually think. Dammit.

I'm now even MORE hepped up about doing this dress, pockets or no pockets. I have some yellow polka dot fabric that keeps falling off the shelf RIGHT ONTO THIS PATTERN, which is on top of the cutting table. I think it's trying to tell me something.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

rowena___. June 25, 2006 at 9:09 am

i love this pattern, i collect this series and i have almost every one an version since the first issue in 1952. back then it was called the “walk-away dress”–later they called it the “wrap-and-go”, and even later they called it “wrap-arounded”.i’ve made several versions of the circle skirt design, and one version of the slim skirt. i have never made the a-line, but it is on my list. my favorite was the one in black and white wool, i literally had people stopping me on the street to ask about it. i practically had to strip to explain how it works.for pockets: just put pockets in the front skirt–the back skirt will cover them but you can access them very easily. i’d make patch pockets or bag pockets so the skirt still hangs properly.


star7girl7 June 25, 2006 at 9:22 am

That dress is *amazing*! The fabric and colors work really well together! I have this pattern but was always a bit skeptical because the illustration on the envelope was a drawing, not a photo. Now I might actually make one!


bani June 25, 2006 at 10:03 am

Hmmm, now I feel dumb. I don’t get this dress. It looks like a jazzed-up apron to me, both in the line drawing you posted Erin, and in Villain’s pic (although, yes, lovely colours!). Ah well, different strokes, eh? Make one, so I can see more examples. 😀


Jess and Britt June 25, 2006 at 10:44 am

I for one think the dress is lovly and so does Jess (i’m britt) .


Van K June 25, 2006 at 11:52 am

lol wow you people really like dresses…. but i like cows…. so hmmmm hey wut bout cows wearing dresses awesome possum! … sorry… i just started *blogging today* and im kinda bad at it….. yeeees… hmmm


patsijean June 25, 2006 at 1:41 pm

There is a review of this pattern on by MelissaB followed by comments. She wears it without petticoats and it looks quite good on her. you have not been to Pattern Review before, just scroll down to Sewing Reviews > Sewing Patterns, Choose Pattern Company: Butterick, and click search. Then Scroll to the bottom of that page, Choose Pattern Company: Butterick and enter pattern number 4790.


oracle June 25, 2006 at 1:41 pm

Check out and see cows attired in just about everything EXCEPT dresses, including one in a santa outfit.


oracle June 25, 2006 at 1:42 pm

My “cows” comment was for van kruger, of course, but patsijean got hers in just before I did!


Jilli June 25, 2006 at 2:29 pm

That’s it. I must get this pattern and make this dress, and then wear it with petticoats. The *only* thing I don’t like about it is the lack of sleeves. I am not fond of exposing my upper arms.But, oh! Such a charming dress.


poppleperson June 25, 2006 at 3:14 pm

its ugly


Absinthe June 25, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Its definitely different, but its just not me. I’m not sure even pockets could save it.


Villain Extraordinaire June 25, 2006 at 4:22 pm

I guess this is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of dress! Luckily for me, I fall into the former category…


Notamermaid June 25, 2006 at 4:51 pm

Its fantastic! I love the buttons too.


anno June 25, 2006 at 5:55 pm

I love the fabrics and the buttons–great contrast! No way could I carry off that much fabric around my hips, though!


msbelle June 25, 2006 at 7:13 pm

I love it and have now bought it and another of the retro patterns (plus 2 addiotional patterns – shaking fists at erin). Do other pattern lines have any similar lines of vintage patterns?


Julia June 25, 2006 at 9:02 pm

I made it too, and I don’t think you have to worry about fabric around your hips–all the fabric is really around the bottom, and the hips lie nice and smooth. My one problem with this dress is that the back is so heavy that it tends to slide backwards through the day so that the dress ends up being kind of short in front and long in back if I’m not careful. But I love it.


Harriet June 25, 2006 at 10:29 pm

Oh, cool! I’ve had that pattern for years, and still haven’t gotten around to sewing it up. It’s neat to see it on a real person.


demondoll June 25, 2006 at 10:58 pm

My mom made me a dress like that when i was a teen, and it got a lot of compliments! I’m going to have to go thru her pile of patterns and stuff. Again.


Anonymous June 25, 2006 at 10:59 pm

so iwas wondering what’s up with the pockets? why do you really want pockets? i mean what’s the big deal? then you won’t have teh need for a cool purse or bag or something. heh. anyways….i really love your blog its very amazing! its really fun to see all the beautiful dresses. nice job. 😀


Anonymous June 26, 2006 at 3:01 am

I don’t really like the dress I think if a teen wore that kind of dress i twould make them seem like a 3 year old dancing around. I hate the dress!


Anonymous June 26, 2006 at 8:54 am

msbelle–look at vogue’s vintage pattern line.


Karen June 26, 2006 at 11:59 am

I had the same opinion as everyone else about this dress! Loved the pattern pic, but was afraid to make it because there was no photo of a person wearing it! Erin I think yellow polka dots are perfect. I tried to get some yellow polka dot fabric this weekend, but it just doesn’t work on me, so I settled for black and pink. One of these days I’ll get some photos of the dresses I’ve made this summer after getting inspired by your blog (3 going on 5 so far!)


meesh June 26, 2006 at 12:26 pm

Oh, that is a terrific pattern! I’ll have to add it to my list of sewing day projects. :)


mickey June 27, 2006 at 7:42 am

I have this pattern too, but I am afraid of it because I am very short and wide. :( I think the dots are tryuing to tell you something…


McJulie-O June 27, 2006 at 9:31 am

I just bought the pattern, but I think I’m going to try to turn it into a German type peasant dirndl look. Wurstfest (the ten day salute to Sausage) is a big deal in my hometown and I’ve never invested in the traditional (and expensive, if you change sizes frequently like I do) German eyelet blouse, lace up corset, and dirndl skirt, but I think this will imitate it nicely with quite a bit of fit variability, and without all those gathers at the hips.I can make the front (flat) piece white eyelet, make the back bodice and the bodice that wraps to the front a dark material with some kind of embroidery, shape the front closure to come up a little higher under the breasts, turn the front closure to a lace-up style instead of buttons, and make the skirt a tiny floral print.Do you think it will work?


Ladygrande (Texas Marie) June 27, 2006 at 11:10 am

I made several of these for my Aunt Dolly back in the day! She had little younguns running around and these were fabulous for her. I never have worn this style – I’m too “fluffy”. But the dress is fabulous. By the way, I did add pockets to the front for my Aunt and they worked very well.


Raven June 27, 2006 at 3:07 pm

I was in a show about 7 years ago, and this dress was made for one of the costumes, it was great for a quick change. I thought it was okay, but wasn’t crazy about the fabric. I love the pic posted, however…great color, and the fabric gives a nice shape.


Lady Arwen of the Silver Rose June 30, 2006 at 2:00 pm

I have a nagging feeling that I actually own this pattern.


SweaPea February 5, 2013 at 10:43 am

Hi :) first time visiting & I’m sure it won’t be the last! It was a search for this pattern that brought me here. I was recently well enough to go to the fabric store to get patterns but had to have my bf take me(with what I have going on my thinking isn’t always very clear) so to not make him crazy, I searched online & found 12 patterns to buy. This was the only one they didn’t have in stock in my size. Can I tell ya’,it was the first time since I was a kid that I wanted to cry in the fabric store! LOL. I already have my fabric,black w/large white polkadots & white with tiny black dots :-) I simply can’t wait! But in the mean time I did make my Bf a coat for work that is awesome! Thanks for providing such a gr8 resource, it looks like a gr8 place to stop-in:-) Nancy


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