Friday, 15 March 2013

The walkaway dress

Re-posted from 1st August 2008:

The trouble with finding an awesome hat in the sale is that it is very difficult to find a matching dress. Of course, I ended up making one. The wonderful Mr B spotted the perfect heavyweight cotton in a shop, and I decided to make up the "walkaway dress". Butterick 6015 from 1952, re-issued as Butterick 4690.

So simple, just a few seams and darts, I thought. Only take an evening, I thought. But no. Unless you are the exact size on the pattern packet, this dress is extremely difficult to fit. My lovely dressmakers' bust, Persephone, was still wearing my wedding dress back in Sussex. Result: the long-suffering Mr B had to help me spend an evening pinning in seams and re-stitching repeatedly as I tried to remove the fullness from the back. Even so, with such a bizarre wrap-around construction, it was hard to know which seams to take in to remove the wrinkles in the back.

I have a short bust-shoulder distance to I ended up taking a few inches off the shoulders. I also had to make a new seam right down the back to remove the fullness, and re-cut the back neckline to restore the round shape.

I even tried to make a toile of the bodice before I started, but without the weight of the huge circular skirt, it is hard to know how it will hang.

To top it all off, I had bought the wrong width bias binding (too wide), and there is an absolutely huge distance round the circular skirt to cover with hand stitched blind hemming. I estimate 3 hours of hemming while watching gutter-tv.

I found a small covered button was fine to secure the dress at the back, and not visible through the heavy cotton. Instead of snaps at the front, I made loops and covered buttons with spare bias-binding to secure the front. I was worrying that poppers would pop-off during dancing and expose me to the world! Also, if you wear the dress with tights the inside front tends to ride up a bit and you have to keep pulling it down. Perhaps a slinky slip underneath would cure this.

The moral of the story is:
This pattern is probably not great for beginners because it can be so hard to fit. I would recommend re-drafting the bodice pattern completely to your own measurements before you start. Otherwise, it's a pretty fun unusual pattern, and gets a lot of comments.

For photos, see my BurdaStyle profile.

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