Last year the Butterick Walkaway dress was featured on the Great British Sewing Bee which was the start of a promotion by The McCall Pattern Company (who distribute Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew and of course McCall Patterns) that exceeded all expectations and culiminated in a massive £8000 cheque being donated by them to The Eve Appeal. Personally the best part from my point of view was the spectacular sight of over a hundred women wearing their Walkaway Dresses at the Knitting and Stitching show where McCall’s held a Champagne Tea Party. It was so lovely seeing these ladies walk around the show all day, and we all felt as if we belonged to a special club – and indeed we did!
The diversity of the dresses was also fabulous to see – so many different variations, different fabric choices and combinations so although we’d all used the same pattern, no two were the same. That of course is the beauty of dressmaking!
Still a great dress to make and wear, I thought I’d share my tips on making it fit – because although it looks very simple, there can be areas that are not quite so straight-forward if you have a fuller bust like me!
The first thing I did, as I always do, is take measurements to check which size I shoud be making. (This is rarely, dare I say never, the same size as ready-to-wear high street fashions and indeed, can be 2 sizes bigger than high street). Also as I am over a C cup, I take my bust measurement around the chest or high bust – which is above the bust, under arms and around the back. I then cut out the tissue following the cutting lines for the size I needed, merging from one size to another for bust, waist and then hip.
Full Bust Adjustment
My next job was to lowered the bust point and thus bust dart and front darts as sadly, my bust point is no longer where it once was! I also do a full bust adjustment in order to increase the area around the bust, but keep the shoulders, chest, torso etc the right size. The method I used is the most commonly used method – so I cut through the centre of the new bust dart close to bust point, then diagonal from bust point to mid armhole, and vertically up front parallel to centre front but in line with bust point. I pivoted open the tissue and added spare before redrawing the side seam. I then ’tissue fitted’. This gives a idea of how it will fit.
I also added an inch to the skirt section of the front from hem to waist to increase the waist size – but actually did take this out again when I’d made it in fabric and tried it on (before adding bias binding) as it wasn’t needed But better to have done that than find it wouldn’t fit!
I decreased the length on all corresponding pieces by 5cm (2″) as I wanted to make the dress shorter, more knee length suits me. If there is one asset I do have, it is good legs!
Added Insets and Godet
I also love to wear full petticoats, really 1950s style, which meant adjusting the shape of the front/under skirt which is cut straight normally and doesn’t have the swing of a circular skirt. So I added triangular inserts to the front skirt section at the sides to give it a fuller skirt and again, after trying it on and wearing it once, decided to add a further godet into the centre front of the skirt to further expand the underskirt to accommodate my petticoat. I had found that the front of the underskirt rode up when walking etc as there still wasn’t enough room under it. I added the insets by cutting up from hem to waist seam pivoted out hem and added spare tissue.
Lowered neckline at front and raised at back
Again because of my fuller bust, I decided to lower the curved neckline at the front to a more flattering height, but raised it at the back so that it wouldn’t slip off my shoulders all the time.
Ready to cut and sew
Having done all my adjustments, I cut out the dress and sewed it following the pattern. One of the most laborious aspects is the bias binding – but not if you have an adjustable bias binding foot for your sewing machine! This little gem wraps the binding around the fabric edge and sews it in place along the edge all in one go – so quick and easy!
I let it hang for 24 hours before hemming (although it says ‘make in a morning and wear to lunch’ the pattern does recommend hanging it for 24 hours, which is good advice when making any garment. It allows it to settle and bias cut seams to droop if they are going to so you can level them off before hemming).
Hemming could also be laborious unless you use a rolled hem foot on your machine, which again makes the task a breeze as it rolls the fabric edge under as it goes through the scroll on the front of the foot before it is stitched in place. Beautiful, and so quick!
So that is the story of my Walkaway Dress. I hope you enjoy making your own. (ps you can buy the pattern from www.sewdirect.com)