This is it… The Walkaway Dress

If any of you are familiar with the sewing bee, aka the best TV show in existence, you may also be familiar with Butterick 4790, or ‘The Walkaway Dress’. If this is not the case (dear me where have you been. Pause reading, catch up on the sewing bee and then return immediately) then I shall do my best to explain. So dubbed because one could supposedly “cut it out after breakfast and *walkaway* in it for luncheon”, this pattern is a reprint of a popular vintage 50s dress.

All I can say is if 50s women were making this beast in a single morning they were flipping machines. The main time suck on this dress was the 5-6m of bias binding which is applied to the edges. So if ladies making this in the 1950s edged it in bias binding they must have known something I don’t about it’s application.

Anyway, this dress nearly didn’t get made at all. Soon after the pattern arrived I was given (very generously) a roll, yes a whole roll, of something dark blue and silky. I think its a lining of some kind. Thinking I might get a wearable muslin out of it, in June I began cutting out a walkaway dress. However, I hit a major snag in that the fabric wasn’t wide enough to fold in half to get the front piece out as a whole. I quickly abandoned the blue silky walkaway, stashing the pattern for the perfect fabric. I was prepared to wait years. As it turned out I only had to wait until September.

walkaway fabric

Isn’t she pretty? Could you have left her there? I thought not.

The “there” in question was the sewing and craft show I went to in September 2015. I spotted the little bunnies and instantly my mind went PING! Alice in wonderland style walkaway! SOLD. Anyway, I got it home and cut out (a beautifully simple process. It only had three pieces!).

Now, the construction. In essence it’s a tabard, an over-the-head jobby of the like worn by dinner ladies but with a big skirt that wraps around and cinches the waist. The front fastens round the back and the back skirt is brought to the front and fastens with 3 buttons under the bust. It is shaped with darts but the fit left something to be desired . The armholes were a tad gapey and the big skirt rested a little low.

Unfortunately I was on a bit of a roll with the bias binding and attached it all before properly checking the fit. But like I said, there was so much and it took so long there was no way I was re-doing it, so I made my adjustments anyway. I took in the shoulder seams about 1cm, and after toying with an FBA and a tuck in the underarm (the bit that came from the back to the front), I decided that if i just used button holes instead of loops the front would pull tighter together. This combined with the lifted front from the shoulder adjustments gave it a much nicer line to the waist.

unhemmed walkaway dress

I’m planning on shortening her for the summer. Can’t you just see her floating around the park with some pumps and huge shades? Hard to imagine with the roll neck underneath I know but a girl can dream. Though I might not make another for a while.

I also promise to get better at taking photos. And cropping them down.





What I’ve been up to…

In the words of Adele, “Hello, it’s me”. It feels like ages since I last blogged, but its only a week. I just thought I’d check in a let you know how everything is getting on.

The exciting craft project that my friend and I were working on last week has developed slightly, I’ve begun my coco top and discovered pinterest, which a dangerously addictive time suck. I have been on it for a while but only recently really got into it and this week it’s helped me notice something about my wardrobe plan. It’s missing something vital.


I have now added three pairs onto my ‘To make’ list. A pair of black denim, a pair in black background floral print cotton, and a pair of short ones in burgundy corduroy. I’m thinking the Turia dungarees by Pauline Alice. (Pattern on the wishlist).

No further on with the knickers unfortunately, but coco is in progress and I have a post waiting to be finished about the fabled walkaway dress which fingers crossed should be up this week.

So I think that’s all from me today, but I might post again later about Coco’s progress.



Ghosts of garments yet to come… and a tin of soup

Today I’m veering from my pattern slightly (sewing pun very much intended). I’m taking a quick break from blogging about my past makes to blog about some future ones.

Last week (on New years day) I made some resolutions, the first of which was to do with the creation of my hand made wardrobe. From this came glorious evening of planning makes for the year ahead. That’s right folks, the whole year. I’m aiming for 2 makes a month minimum, and wrote me a little list of what to make each month as a guide. This month its going to be knickers using the Sew Over It kit I got for Christmas and Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco funnel neck top. Anyway, because of the high number of patterns I have which are overlapped on sheets (like the free magazine ones) I decided to be a grown up about this. Today I traced them.

Well not all of them. I traced the Coco top and dress (for later in the year), the Margot PJs from ‘Love at First Stitch’, and the Mathilde blouse pattern (which I had been planning on buying but then came free with this month’s ‘Love Sewing’ magazine – too exciting). To counter all this grown up-ness I have decided to make the PJs in a dinosaur print cotton. This feels much better already.

I still have the Megan and Lilou dresses  and Mimi blouse to trace along with the Bowling shirt, coat and man’s shirt from the GBSB book, but I’m happy with three for today.

Tomorrow my best friend from way back is coming over for a crafting day. She makes and sells gorgeous jewellery which I can only marvel at. You can find her blog at, which I totally encourage you to do. We have some exciting plans which I’ll reveal in due course.

Finally, at the weekend I went to Leon’s, my favourite fabric shop to purchase specific things. Be prepared to be proud of me.

I left the shop with only what I went in for! I know, take a moment to take that information in. The result was some lovely black cotton velvet and purple lining for a short Arielle skirt and a gorgeously soft fleur de lis print chambray for a summer Bettine. Soon, dear readers, soon.



Fun with Bicycles

So when we last spoke (yesterday. shh I’m trying to catch up with myself so I can start making stuff again) I was regaling you with the tale of the simple but disappointing bardot dress. Therefore you should be pleased to hear that my next make was far more satisfying.

I was naturally now wary of the free patterns from ‘Love Sewing’ magazine. They were pretty, yes. Simple, no doubt. But right for me? Debatable. I was however looking for a new project. I had 2.5m of bicycle print cotton which I was itching to do something with. You see, I had bought it by accident.

Okay, I’m lying. I wanted it from the second I laid eyes on it and I unashamedly bought it with no thought or plans for its future like the irresponsible fabric parent I am. I should explain. I have a slight addiction to buying cheap vintage sewing patterns. One which I was particularly keen to get my teeth into was a 1980’s skirt/shorts combo. The button up circle skirt was retro and super cute, with big pockets (always a winner), and I knew I had to have one in my wardrobe. The pattern, being vintage, was already cut out in a size 14. “Huzzah!” said past Faith “No cutting out for me”. I was forgetting that sizing was slightly different in the 80s.

Blithely *unaware* of this (cough, ignoring and hoping for the best, cough) off I skipped to the shop to peruse, drool over and buy some fabric for the skirt. However, as is often the case I was drawn to something beautiful and entirely unsuitable. It was (pause for dramatic effect) a directional print!

simplicity sleeveless blouse 2

adorable though. I cannot be the only one in love with her surely? and look how well I nearly matched it across the back. Anyway, the trouble with circle skirts is that they do not take kindly to directional patterns and worse still there wasn’t enough on the roll to try.

I refused to give up however, told the bicycles “I’m not quittin’ you!” and carried it round the shop for an hour trying to A) find fabric for the skirt and B) figure out what to do with my new treasure. Eventually I found a white cotton with a touch of stretch, patterned with pink flamingos and green leaves. Tres Tropical. I bought enough for the skirt and said “To hell with plans!” and bought the bikes too. The skirt, as it turned out didn’t fit so she remains unfinished, waiting for the day when I lose enough weight to wear her.

But, as you can see, the bicycles have come to life. ‘Love Sewing’ did a wonderful thing (I’m sorry, I’ll never doubt again). It gave me a free ‘Simplicity’ pattern for a top. I KNOW!

Straight and shift-like style. Optional sleeve. slash/boat neck. Bias binding as armhole facings (frankly inspired). I whipped it up in an afternoon following the instructions in the magazine, and I’ve worn it and worn it. I had to add side seam vents to accommodate my bodacious hips and used a cute wooden apple shaped button in place of a hook and eye. I consider it to be the first real item of homemade wardrobe because I actually wear it.

simplicity sleeveless blouse

“I like your top.” “Thank you, I made it last week.” “You made it? really? wow.” went the conversation. I almost burst with excitement. Yes, I do make my own clothes. It looks good with jeans, cigarette pants, pencil skirts, everything really. It’s comfy, versatile and was easy to sew.

I’m definitely making another. Soon.



My first dress

Okay, so the title is a lie. This wasn’t technically my first dress. I made a can can dress for my A level project, a few velcro-down-the-side tube dresses for a production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ at uni and I started a dress for my friend Portia which unfortunately never made it passed the pinning together stage. But this was the first dress I had made to fit me and wear. What’s more it was to be the first dress that my 14 year old cousin had ever sewn and I was teaching her how.

A little background info: My cousin wanted to take GCSE textiles but it was in the same options block as PE. Sporty little thing that she is she chose PE, but still wanted to learn how to make clothes. I said that I would show her how to follow a dress pattern as her mum had shown my mum some 20 years previously. We decided to make one each together.

bardot dress pattern

I selected the pattern that came free with ‘Love Sewing’ Magazine. The Bardot dress was rated easy, had a handmade bias bound off the shoulder neckline and a zipped back. Keeping it simple we both opted for the short sleeve option and used light quilting cotton, though I added side seam pockets (to challenge myself) and a lining because my fabric was pale and lightweight.

bardot dress fabric

cute non?

It was a really simple dress to put together, shaped with darts and with raglan sleeves, the most difficult bit was the homemade bias binding as the instructions do not give enough length for the whole neckline. Having never made a garment before my cousin coped really well. The waist darts matched the skirt pleats pretty much perfectly, the topstitched the neck binding neatly and even made her own adjustments. I teach older students who couldn’t have done as much on their own as neatly.

Just as I added the much needed lining and (for me) essential pockets, she put her own spin on it. Adding a tuck on each sleeve and a gather in the centre neckline, changed the shape of the dress completely. It really suited her, in spite of her complaints about the length (it sits a few inches above her knee – a highly flattering but deeply unfashionable length for a 5’9″ 14 year old).

I on the other hand was unhappy with everything but the length. Proud as I was of myself for adding a lining and pockets, when I wore it I really hated it. the colour and pattern were wrong, the thing was the wrong shape and style for me. It did nothing for me but wash me out and make me look huge.

see the huge waist, washed out face and gapey back? (ignore the socks)

However, my cousin got a lovely dress out of the experience, and skills she can use forever. She mastered inserting a zip, making and using bias binding, pleats, darts and following a pattern.

So, in spite of her repeated use of the phrase “that’s not in my job description” (code for teenage laziness I remember all to well) we both really enjoyed the experience and I couldn’t be prouder. Slimmer maybe, but certainly not prouder.


(P.S. I tried it with a red belt. What do you think?)

Bardot dress with belt

Two simple skirts

I have a confession to make. I quite like a skirt with an elasticated waist. There, I said it! Usually restricted to the fashion realms of the octogenarian and abhorred by my textiles teacher, I find strange comfort in being able to take a rectangle or two of fabric and a piece of elastic, and producing a very wearable item of clothing. No fastenings. No interfaced waistband. No real measurements. Bliss.

I made two such skirts last year (yes, I know, only 2. My sewing game was weak in 2015). The first was in a beautiful, lightweight but drapey fabric which I’m still not confident on the name of. I found it in the discount buckets in abakhan’s Liverpool and fell immediately in love.

elasticated skirt 4

isn’t she beautiful? Flowers or party ring biscuits? Either way, a very exciting find.  I originally wore it to a christening but the pictures from that day don’t show the skirt well. I’m very happy with it. Its swishy and drapey and very flattering on.

elasticated skirt 3

The second was the result of another impulse buy (*slaps wrist* naughty. better impulse control needed). A gorgeous medium to heavy weight cotton from hobby craft of all places. Expensive for me at £12 a metre but super cute. I duly made my elastic casing and turned it into a skirt. Thing was, it was too heavy. The elasticated waistband I so loved was too bunchy and the fabric too thick and stuck out wrong. I wore it a few times but the waist made me feel huge. I’ve decided the time has come to make a proper waistband. I’m going to use the same method as my graduation skirt (first post remember? do keep up), and attach a plain black interfaced waistband and zip. Fortunately, Paris (as I have named her) is already hemmed, so all I should have to do is unpick and remove the elastic, press it (me, willing to iron, what a time to be alive!), cut the back piece in two, insert a zip, gather it and attach the waistband. Simples!

elasticated skirt 1

I may also take tips from Tilly and the buttons’ Clemence skirt (a self drafted skirt in ‘Love at first stitch’).

I should clarify that my affection for the elasticated waist remains strong providing I choose the right fabric. I am 82 after all (in my mind).