Another wrap-it-up dress

by Erin on July 29, 2007

Butterick 6655

Reader Renee sent this lovely pattern image to me — she's actually made it, and the pattern was her grandmother's.

The pattern envelope reads:

"Make it in a jiffy — then simply slip it over your head, wrap the back to the front and button — you're set for a dozen chores in and out of doors. Carryall pockets are a handy addition. (A) Short cobbler's apron. (B) Coverall."

Renee also helpfully sends us the back of the pattern (have I mentioned lately how much I love you all? I really do)

Butterick 6655

Because I am an evil, horrible person, before I posted this I searched on eBay and found and bought one — in my size, even. I now recommend you do a search on eBay yourself (since I got mine). (See how awful I am?)

The only other one I found online is at SoVintage Patterns … and it's $35.00. I would love to go find Renee's grandmother and tell her that this Saturday knock-around dress pattern now goes for $35. Worth every penny, really, but still!

The nice thing about this version (compared with the the other wrap-around dress, Butterick 4790) is that this one shouldn't have the skirt-riding-up problem that was reported. Oh, and it has POCKETS! Triangular ones!

I think what I like best about these dresses is the implied assumption that you had STUFF TO DO; stuff that might be dirty or messy, but still, STUFF, and you were going to do it, and look good while doing it. And happy. You were going to look happy, too, or at least these women were. I don't see many modern clothes with this assumption … so I have a huge rant building up about the unnecessary disparagement of practical clothing for women. Prepare yourselves …

And I head to Tokyo today and Taipei on Tuesday, so posting might be spotty over the next few days. If you're a recent arrival here at ADAD HQ, may I direct you to the archives, over there on the right? Scroll down …

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky July 29, 2007 at 9:32 am

You know you are really evil, right? This pattern is simply fantastic and Renee is so lucky!If you are going to snap up the cute patterns and taunt us, I think it is only fair that you make it up immediately and post some pictures : )Maybe I can make my own pattern from the posted envelope scan using my bifocals… sigh.~Becky

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Latter-Day Flapper July 29, 2007 at 10:16 am

I just saw that on eBay a week or so ago, for much less than $35. Keep checking there.

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harthad July 29, 2007 at 10:24 am

On the topic of practical clothing: a couple of weeks ago I was cleaning house whilst wearing a skirt. My husband was horrified that I was working in “nice” clothes. I thought, generations of women before me cleaned house (not mention worked in the fields and did all sorts of tasks) while wearing dresses. What am I supposed to wear now, sweats? They’re too hot! A skirt is nice and cool, gives you freedom of motion, and if it’s a cotton/blend, easily washable. I swear, I’m gonna make myself some house dresses like my grandma had….

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Mary July 29, 2007 at 11:39 am

Wow, this pattern came from the May Co. department store, third floor. Department stores with fabric, that brings back nice memories.

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Lisa Martin July 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm

I love it!! that’s sweet. Makes me think of an old cookbook my mom gave me. In the eggs section it says “it behoves any wife to find out how her husband likes his eggs and make them for him” when he wants them!! To which dh replied “yeah!!”

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mamafrog July 29, 2007 at 2:45 pm

This makes me think of a dress pattern in an old book I read. It was about making clothing based on ancient Viking clothes. The women supposedly wore a dress like this over a tunic of some kind, or without in summer. (Hardy people, up there!) I can’t remember the name of the book, or who wrote it, wish I could as it was truly interesting and had easy patterns in it.

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Jen July 29, 2007 at 4:49 pm

That is DARLING! You are evil…”Utiltarian”, practical clothing…why it has to be hideous and drab, I’ve no idea. If they can make workout wear look mildly cute, certainly bumming-and-working-around-the-house clothing can be cute, too (I do have a few skirts exclusively for these sorts of days, but nothing nearly as charming as this in a jiffy fabulousness…).

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The J July 29, 2007 at 5:03 pm

I’m afraid to say, my grandmother was horrified at my talk of using those pockets – they were FASHION. One didn’t use the pockets, that would ruin the line!

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Rebecca July 29, 2007 at 6:04 pm

You guys do not let the grass grow under your feet! I scrolled and scrolled and finally came up with a Butterick 6655, Bust 30. Next Google: “Industrial Corsets”. Erin, you do well to keep your leads under your hat when dealing with this tricksy lot.

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Sondra July 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm

I have been converted. I am making dresses for working at home. I am cooler than I would be in pants, I look a whole lot better than I do in shorts, and I can move. I even ride my bike in a dress. That cool air blowing up my legs – oh, my! Every single time I go out in public in one of my flowery, or polka-dotted, or plaid cotton dresses, I get at least one compliment from a stranger. Thank you, Erin…and my dear daughter, for your pointing the way to true sartorial happiness.

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theresa July 29, 2007 at 7:44 pm

WWWAAAAA! I want it and can’t find one even close to my size. Poo Poo! Adding insult to injury at some point butterick used that number again for something hideous! I will pay one of you smart cookies to make me a copy (on a copier, paper bags, tissue paper — whatever!) Erin since you taunt us so – I agree that we should be a rewarded with photos of the finished product.

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Latter-Day Flapper July 29, 2007 at 8:45 pm

I’ve got a grand total of two pairs of rarely-worn jeans, no dress pants, no sweats, and no shorts. I *always* wear skirts or dresses, unless maybe I’m changing the oil in my car. Pants don’t fit me, they’re much too hot, and they look awful on us pear-shaped people. I do have “schlubby” skirts but they’re still skirts.And I love all these creative wrap-type dresses. I could go broke bidding on those zipperless suckers.

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Meg July 29, 2007 at 9:13 pm

so Cute, I love it…

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Chelsea July 29, 2007 at 10:23 pm

I made my first dress this last week. It was the “other” wrap-around dress. Unfortunately, it is not the most flattering pattern on me, since it accentuates my broad shoulders and rather flat chest. :(So I can only guess that if you don’t have linebacker shoulders and a chest to match, this dress would most likely be so cute! I’m sooo sad it didn’t work out for me.

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little dresses July 30, 2007 at 12:41 am

Just found you! I love dresses, you are a woman after my own heart!

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Barb July 30, 2007 at 7:34 am

The only “stuff” you do in these clothes, according to the pattern, are chores. Chores. Seriously. Think about it.While I like the pattern (I made the Butterick 4790, which I have not yet worn to complete any chores), I am always interested in how oppressive the jargon on these older patterns is and how people don’t seem to notice.And yes, I realize when the pattern was printed. But this topic is really intertwined with women’s clothing….maybe we should talk about it instead of just glossing over it. Just an idea. (not sure if this is what the huge rant is about…)

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Rebecca July 30, 2007 at 9:04 am

Good topic, Barb! I’d like to say a word in defense of chores and dressing with intention. I think our culture has been damaged by the wresting of all dignity from work which has to be done over and over again, attracts little outside attention, is often done for “the least of these, my brethren”, and is mostly done by women. Chores, in other words. In my opinion, we made a mistake in going straight from, “Hey! I shouldn’t have to do this all the time, all by myself”, to “This is stupid work that no one should have to do.”Pattern envelopes display a hearty dose of historically accurate mysogyny, I’m sure. But when I’m swishing through my routine in a vintage dress, I feel like my work has added worth and purpose. An attractive, functional, homemade garment is a powerful (and, I would add, subversive) thing.

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sara jane July 30, 2007 at 9:58 am

Hear hear! Also a die hard, pear-shaped skirt-wearer for almost all occasions. Bah, who needs uncomfortable, ill-fitting pants.And if you really like the apron aesthetic, check out this readily-available Park Bench pattern: http://www.parkbenchpatterns.com/22.htmlApron/dress with pockets. Not necessarily vintage, but still has the “watch me work” vibe.

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Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 12:09 pm

I’m having trouble visualizing this dress in 3-D: do you guys think there’s a danger of bending over and having the back bodice portion ride up and pull away from the back skirt portion? Would you constantly be tugging the back bodice down to meet the back skirt waist? Or is there sufficient overlap or a fastener?

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stacy July 30, 2007 at 12:17 pm

it’s not really a dress, it’s a cover-all, for wearing over a dress so you don’t muck up your good clothes. Like men often wear coveralls at work, no different except back then women didn’t wear pants so their coveralls needed to cover a dress.

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India July 30, 2007 at 3:01 pm

Oh, I love this. Want!

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Susan Marie July 30, 2007 at 3:02 pm

This dress and the collective reaction to it reminds me of a day shopping with my mother while I was in high school. I saw a simple, button down shirt-dress in an adorable fabric and declared it to be “such a pretty dress”. My mom, very practical, turned her nose up and said, “you can’t be serious, it looks like a Russian washer-woman dress”. Of course, that only made it more charming in my mind! It’s so funny that a work dress in one era is a coveted fashion in another.

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Sherri July 30, 2007 at 3:17 pm

HOW FUNNY that you post this the day after I finished my own Butterick 4790 wrap-around! I twirled around my grandmother’s kitchen in it and she was beside herself seeing me in a dress she once wore on a regular basis. :-)

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Tasbeeh July 30, 2007 at 3:30 pm

I just saw Hairspray and the movie is STOCK FULL of the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen in my life- I thought of this blog everytime I saw a dress I liked.They have an eBay shop: http://hairspray.ebay.com/special/hairspray.htm

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Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm

I have this pattern!! But I think that it is incomplete–now I will have to go find it and look!Dawn

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Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 5:44 pm

The skirt must be HUGE – look how many yards it uses!

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scormeny July 30, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Another voice in the discussion — seeing this made me think of artist Andrea Zittel’s a-z smock smockshop.org.There’s a great exhibit of Zittel’s current work, much of which deals with women’s work and women’s lives, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. If you can get there before Sept. 30 when it closes, it’s of definite interest!

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Anonymous July 30, 2007 at 9:47 pm

To Anonymous: it would gape at the back when you moved cos the back bodice is not attached to the skirt. Not a good look!

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saidee July 31, 2007 at 2:53 am

Love this dress/coverall/cobbler apron. The flurry of comments is interesting: I personally prefer not to clean house or do chores. I am the luckiest woman on earth because I SEW in trade for house cleaning, thus NO GUILT! I know women who feel that it is morally wrong to hire other women to clean their homes.Back to the proper attire for cleaning: what about women who clean in the nude??? I’ve never tried that, nor have I ever cleaned wearing a dress or skirt, except for a lick and a promise just before company appears. I’m just too messy and get too sweaty to wear anything nice for real cleaning.These wrap dresses remind me of Claire McCardell’s designs, especially her ‘popover dress.’ Many of her designs were comfortable, utilitarian, yet still wonderfully attractive. She has always been one of my favorite designers; I wonder what else/more she would have done had she not died in 1958 at 53.

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Latter-Day Flapper July 31, 2007 at 7:54 am

I would think that if gaping at the back were a problem, it could easily be solved by adding a small panel below the waist, to the bottom of the back bodice, and a couple of snaps or buttons. I think it would be one very small step from “coverall” to actual dress.I, for one, would never wear something like this OVER another dress: Much too hot in this climate. I would, however, figure out how to turn this into a dress on its own since it’s so durn cute.

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Anonymous July 31, 2007 at 9:29 am

T omake this work as a dress rather than cover up..you would need to extend the back so there would be a serious overlap. You couls also lower the back portion of the bodice.there is something so elegant about a wrap dress.real form follows function.

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Ladygrande (Texas Marie) July 31, 2007 at 10:08 am

This dress does have a gap in the back, but, as my mom wore this dress (and similar ones) she also wore a pretty petticoat/slip underneath just in case it slipped open. If she was leaving the house wearing this dress, she would use a safety pin to pin the opening about five or six inches from the hemline to keep it from gapping or blowing open. But, in those days the ladies wore hose most of the time when they were out and about. Even in this type of dress, if they were out of the house, they were dressed appropriately for the era.

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Renee July 31, 2007 at 10:56 am

WAIT! everyone, I have made this not once but twice – one in each length. The short one I made as an apron, but because it covered well, you don’t need to wear another top under it. There is NO gaping at the top of the skirt in the back because there are two buttons at the waist that the bodice buttons onto, to keep that gaposis from happening. You can see on the back that it calls for three buttons. It can be made as a dress, even, not a ‘coverall’ – and I only needed to add one button on the skirt at about thigh level where it overlaps to prevent the peek-a-boo from happening. So don’t dismiss this one as not being just about perfect….

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Moonwishes July 31, 2007 at 8:01 pm

I love wearing my skirts while doing my chores and everything else. I finished making a skirt last week in 100% crinkle cotton. Very cool and comfortable with a summer top from several years ago. I also wear aprons and need to make more as I like to color coordinate them with what I am wearing. It is so hard to find dresses to go with my plus size figure that don’t look dumpy though. After an extended building and moving project, I’m so excited about getting back into sewing and rooting through all my fabric stash. Even more exciting since I have lost weight recently. But back to the topic, when my family comes to visit and I’m wearing my skirts, they always ask why I’m ‘dressed up’. Unlike the women of many years ago though, I don’t wear nylons with my skirts and dresses. I remember nylons and garters and I just can’t imagine cleaning house with those things digging into my legs.

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Una August 1, 2007 at 8:16 am

I think it’s possible to reproduce this pattern using the good old Butterick 4790 pattern. I think I’ll try that… ;)

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Latter-Day Flapper August 15, 2007 at 7:38 am

It’s baaaaa-aack!

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Theresa September 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I see this is a VERY OLD post, but I have been lookng for this pattern forever in my size. Anyone looking to give it up? I need one for 34ish bust / 28ish waist.

email me aef1106 at frontiernet dot net

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