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


  1. This looks really nice and I like the placement of the pattern on the bodice. What a bargain the fabric was too!

    1. Thanks :) there were rather a lot of drawings and paper folding to work out how to cut the fabric to get the stripes in the right direction! I'm hoping the fabric stands up to being washed a few times and doesn't disintegrate.

  2. Help! As a newbie sew-er I've stupidly bought fabric with a directional fabric - birds on branches. Can't picture how to cut out the fabric so the birds are not on their side or upside down. Any tips?!

    1. Hi,
      It's going to be impossible to cut your fabric without some of the birds being on their side or upside down. You could cut the skirt so that the pattern will be correct at the front, this will mean you will have sideways birds at the side, and upside down birds at the back.

      Or you could split the skirt into 4 pieces (4 quarters) rather than the two the pattern will cut. Cut the skirt piece in half and cut out 4 pieces, lining up the birds with the front edge on the front quarter and the back edge on the back quarter. This way your birds will be the right way up at the front and down the back seam. They will be sideways down the new side seams you have created. Remember to add seam allowance to the new side seams you will have created by cutting the skirt pattern piece in half.

      Or you could ignore the skirt piece altogether and create a gathered skirt from a rectangle - probably between 2-3 the length along the bottom of the upper bodice. This way all your birds will be the correct way round along your skirt.

      Hope this helps xx

  3. I've made one of these dresses and I love it, but the snaps didn't hold so I switched them out for hook and eyes. Now those show. I'm thinking about doing the buttonholes like you did. I wonder if I just made it a smidgen too small. It's hard to do a muslin on something like this...