So as promised I gave myself a day to make the Walkaway Dress this week. After my initial assessments of the pattern which I talked about HERE I looked at it again with fresh eyes.
I decided to use the Buttericks version and graded the pattern out from an 18 at the bust to a 22 at the waist. My first stumbling block was the huge amount of fabric required. Having cut out the long front section on the fold, the tiny back section on the fold and then the Huuuuuuuge skirt I realised that the skirt piece in fact required you to cut TWO!!!! Oh no………………….I’ve run out of pretty red duvet cover :-(
After a huge internal hissy fit where I threw all my toys out of the pram and almost gave up there and then I turned to a big piece of navy polka fabric that I had in my stash. It would mean using the stiff starchy almost see through white binding I had for making bunting with but I reminded myself this was a wearable toile and an experiment!
I re-started the clock (wanting to see if it really was possible to make this beast in 4 hours) and got cutting. Half an hour in and I was cut out with all my markings transferred and good to sew.
The Buttericks instructions are clear and easy to follow, more so than I would say the Fashion with Fabric book is which I was also referring to out of interest.
Quite quickly I had my dress assembled but not bound. It was at this point I tried my dress on and where I would look at making any adjustments needed……………….Have you ever tried pinning yourself in blind behind your back? Impossible! I tried a bulldog clip, various long pins nothing was working. In the end I took it off and pinned it and then wiggled into the whole thing and flipped it over my head. It looked ok, but it was impossible to really see. A good seamstress would have stopped and waited till someone else was on hand to look at it with her, but no, I couldn’t resist and cracked on with the binding!
I did decide to cheat and used a KAM snap at the back as I though this would be easier to do up than buttons. For a tiny while I thought about using them on the front too but then snapped out of my laziness and went back to button loops. It was a skill I needed to try and also part of the visual prettiness of the pattern so I was good.
A few more hours in (3.37 to be precise) I was stitching buttons on. I used some pretty red vintage floral buttons to give it some zing. So it is at least possible to indeed make the dress in a morning and go out for lunch in it the same day! Although the pattern does say to hang for 24 hours before hemming to allow the bias to drop so it’s not entirely true.
On the mannequin the dress looks ok, it is pinned in massively at the sides at this point though as it is very very gappy. I have to say, when trying this on I would never ever wear it. There is no flattering 50’s fit, the waist is far lower than it should be and as for the sides, they gape so much that you would see all your undergarments.
The next day Elspeth my trusty sewing buddy came into the studio and tried it on. At first glance she looked super, especially as she happened to have a red long sleeved top underneath, but on 2nd glance we all thought it reminded us of the housework aprons worn by our grandparents!
It was at this point I realised that without a big pattern rework to include heightening the side panels and raising the waist this pattern would never look beautiful I decided to leave it on my mannequin as a homage to the GBSB 2015 crew!
Following on from my disappointment I have discovered a few people online who have made this garment work but I’m still not sure I feel like trying again. I particularly like this blog by Edelweiss Patterns which tells you a little more history of how Buttericks re-drew the original 1950’s pattern and some changes you can do to make it fit. Who knows maybe one day I might try again but I think it will be chalked down to an experiment for now. Do let me know how you get on with the pattern I would be interested to see any you have made successfully or not quite so successfully!
Lastly huge thanks to Elspeth for agreeing to prance around in this monstrosity and have her picture included on my blog! You can read her blog ‘Ever so Elspeth‘ where she chats about her sewing and craft adventures.