Great British Sewing Bee: Walkaway Dress

Blue Polka Dot Walkaway dressGreat British Sewing Bee Walkaway Dress with bias binding

I haven’t managed to fit in much sewing lately, particularly since last weekend I ended up having one of those days where you start cleaning and decide that everything must be cleaned. Right now. The house would perfect (not that mine ever is!). And since we’re moving soon (just a few days till we get the keys, eek!), I decided to start packing a few things. I said to myself, “Surely you’re not going to find a single occasion to sew in the next couple of weeks before you move house.” But apparently every spare 10 minutes I’ve had, all I want to do is sew! Alas, the sewing machine, all my fabrics, zips, threads, patterns, scissors and every other random thing you wouldn’t ever think you’d need to make a dress but suddenly discover you do, are all packed away into boxes in our spare room ready to make the journey on Wednesday. I say this like it’s a long way, it’s less than half a mile to the new house!
Anyways, this is the last piece I finished before packing away my sewing stuff (aside from a couple of repair jobs), and to be honest, it wore me out enough that I needed a little sewing break! It’s the Walkaway Dress (based on the vintage Butterick 4790 pattern but I believe with a shorter skirt and a couple of more modern updates) from the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric book. (Random aside: I somehow managed to get this book earlier than the release date thanks to a mistake at Amazon, and fully intended to try out ALL the patterns before it was released so I could review it…yeh, I managed one…and that was a week after it was released – ah well!). My friend Charley had already made this pattern (although I hadn’t realised till I saw it on TV it was that one) and I’d loved it on her, so decided to jump straight in with it. It’s a very “me” style dress – 50s with a full skirt and nipped in waist. I got out my tracing paper, traced the pattern, cut out my fabric and started putting the dress together – all fairly simple so far, apart from a minor confusion on cutting out the skirt part of the pattern (you had to continue the line of the curve but I couldn’t understand that!). Until I put it on Maeve…and realised something was wrong. Why was the bodice so gapey?!
Yep, it turned out I’d managed to overlook a pretty major part of the pattern when tracing it out – the double pointed darts in the centre. That would probably be why the bodice was a lot less “bodice” and more “potato sack”. So those darts ended up going in after the skirt had been sewn on and the other darts had already been sewn in, meaning they weren’t exactly the most accurate ones I’ve ever sewn, but weren’t awful.
Aside from that, I had no major issues making the dress, but did when I put it on. I made the size 10 in this, following the size guide in the front of the book, but worried it would be too small since I usually make about a 12 in vintage patterns. This was most definitely not the case, and in fact, the dress is much too big! I did contribute to this slightly by making my button loops slightly too large, but the dress itself is not a great fit on me anyway (apparently it’s a hard one to fit on most people). I didn’t bother with trying to fit it properly since it was a bit of a test to see how the pattern came together etc. but the clashes with my body are pretty obvious including darts that seem to go on forever above my bust! It’s a pretty expensive one to make, using 5m of fabric (although I think my fabric usage was closer to 4.5m) and about a million metres of bias binding – I do usually enjoy doing a bit of bias binding, but this was insane, especially on the hem! I used some pretty Cath Kidston buttons which were a birthday present from Fran last year to finish it off at the front and back, which were really the perfect compliment to the style of the dress and the fabric.
Walkaway dress back viewGreat British Sewing Bee Walkaway Dress
But despite the fitting errors etc., this is still a perfectly wearable dress that I’m excited to wear on warm days in summer – although not too warm, as it’s got that funny double layer thing going on! I’m a little bit suspicious too that the back button had come undone in these pictures since the bodice looks particularly off, and I know that button does come undone, so may explain that a little at least!
I also managed to pretty badly overexpose these photos, taking them at pretty much midday on about the sunniest day we’ve had this year so far – apologies for that!
But back to real life for a minute – as you know, house moving is happening in a matter of days now and I am getting a little concerned as apparently I’ll be without internet at the new house for a few days, but since we have a bit of crossover time between the houses, I may sneak back and sit on the floor with a laptop to use the internet here ;D You’d hope that I’d have everything packed by now but, um, no. We’ve got all of Easter weekend to move though, so I’m going with that as my excuse.
And I did something crazy and scary for me today, I’ll probably talk about it more soon, but…I joined a gym!! I’ve never been the biggest fan of exercise, in fact you could probably say it’s my worst enemy. I did a bit of Pilates last year, took up running with the Couch to 5K (talked about it here) for a few weeks until I sprained both ankles, and did pretty much just yoga and swimming at school. But being in an office job has made me realise how completely inactive (and just plain lazy!) I am. I’d been saying I’d get back into running for a while, but living where we do, it’s impossible during winter as the roads are unlit when I’m home from work. I was also kind of terrified of spraining my ankles again. I really wanted to start swimming again as I thought that was easy at school, and went through a few stages of trying to find places to go before realising they’re far away. I finally decided to look a bit more into it all though and realised that there’s a gym and pool in a town about 7 or 8 miles away (and sort of almost on my route to work) that’s actually not a million pounds to join. Plus they had an offer on that expired today and you know I’m always taken in by offers #oops. So this morning, I decided I would just get over being terrified about it and got myself down there and joined! As I said on Instagram, it took me ages to choose what to wear which sounds ridiculous, but I wanted to look as if I knew what I was doing but wasn’t trying too hard – make sense?! I think it was more that I was scared and still trying to find a way out of it, but I did it in the end! So I had my induction, learned everything, did a bit of time in the gym then went swimming. Turns out I was way fitter at school than I thought (probably the fact that we had a good 10 minute walk up a hill to get to every lesson, multiple times a day) – I was expecting to just be able to get in and do 30 or 40 lengths like I did at school without even thinking about it, but got to 8 and decided that was enough for now! Uh oh, got some work to do I think! Now just to keep up with it…
Walkaway Dress

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