Sunday, 22 March 2015

GBSB Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

So after watching episode three of the third series of the Great British Sewing Bee I decided that I had to hunt down the pattern for the 'Walkaway Dress'.  So named, because according to the original pattern's instructions you can make the dress in a morning, starting sewing in the morning and be 'walking away' in your dress by lunch time.  Safe to say that it too me a bit longer!

The first challenge was to decide which size to trace and cut - after measuring my bust, waist, and hips it still wasn't that much clearer.  My bust and hips were a size 12, yet the waist pointed to somewhere in between sizes 14 and 16.  The pattern I had was a 8-14, so I decided to cut a 12, but to be generous when cutting the bodice pieces.

As my material was wide enough I was able to cut the circle skirt in one piece rather than two - this did mean that I gained the seam allowance up the centre back seam.  I also cut the skirt an inch wider on the open edge.  When I cut the upper back bodice piece that wraps round from the back to the front, I left 3 inches of spare fabric to allow for the fastening at the front - expecting the size 12 to significantly too small.  On the shoulder seams I had to sew a 1.5 inch seam in order for the dress to sit correctly and for the bust darts to be in the correct place.

As my material was very thin, I decided to draft and add a bodice lining from the same material.  I cut the upper back bodice from the same pattern piece and then used the same depth to cut a front piece from pattern piece one.  As there was a very definite stripe to my fabric I decided to cut the front (pattern piece 1) with the stripes going top to bottom, upper back (pattern piece 2) with the stripes left to right, and the skirt (pattern piece 3) with the stripes across left to right.  (The bodice lining pieces were squeezed out the remaining fabric, so don't match up - but as you can't see them, I decided this didn't matter.)  As the material was quite thin this double layer added some structure to the bodice.

Bodice Lining - drafted pieces
Bodice Lining - sewn in place
The front apron piece that fastens at the back was indeed too small - so I attached two extra panels to allow the piece to wrap around my waist.  As I had fabric to spare on the upper back piece, I used three buttons to close the dress, rather than the recommended snaps, loops and buttons.

Back fastening
Front fastening
The bias binding was in the main okay, there are a couple of wobbly bits, it was really hard to keep everything moving straight! And I may have stretched the fabric slightly when putting in the neck bias binding.  I added a rolled hem to the circle skirt, so that I could keep the raw edges to a minimum.

Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

The only drawback is there are no pockets in the dress - but due to the full nature of the skirt I don't think that I will try and add any to future dresses, as I don't think everything would sit correctly if I did add pockets.  Despite the fitting problems, I was rather pleased with the resulting dress and will make it again - adjusting the front so that the skirt matches up with the bodice (corners are a pain to neatly bias bind!).  However as it is very fabric hungry (4 - 5 meters depending on fabric width) it will have to wait until I can get something from the fabric markets.  This fabric was a bargain of £2 a metre, plus the extra wide fabric meant I only needed 3 meters!

Walkaway Dress - Butterick B4790

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Simplicity 2549

After some rather fruitful visits to Wolverhampton's fabric market (Tuesday mornings) I had added some lovely lengths of fabric to my stash.  With numerous weddings this year I wanted a dress pattern that would be suitable.  The Simplicity 2549 view A fitted the bill.  As usual I started by comparing my bust, waist and hips measurements to the pattern. My bust was a size 12, with the waist and hips a size 14 - ignoring the fact that this felt far too big I graded my pattern between the two sizes by drawing in a gently curve between the two sizes from the bust to waist measurements.  I then traced my new adjusted pattern on to baking paper (so much cheaper than fancy dressmakers tracing paper - especially if you get it in the poundshop!)

Simplicity 2549 - inside encased waistband
The material was a pain to cut as it was silky, so lots of pins were needed!  There was also a contrast piece that I decided to cut the waistband from and I decided against the bow.  The pattern had a lovely encased waistband inside the dress, so it means that there are not many raw edges on show - took a bit of time, as needed neat hand stitching, but worth it.  I'm not entirely sure on the puffiness of the sleeves once set in, but perhaps this will calm down after a few washes.  I used the Sew Over It Tea Dress step to put in my invisible zip and didn't sew up the back seem until after I had fixed the zip into the dress.  This way I can adjust the fit of the dress and take in any extra fabric to allow for a snug fit - I get my handy husband to pin me into the dress, draw a chalk link, unpin me - then I pin in the zip to double check, before finally sewing in the invisible zip. I finished the skirt and sleeves hem by hand, as I didn't want a line of stitches to ruin the look of the lovely fabric.

This is a lovely pattern and I shall definitely make it again - just need to sort out my hat!