Sewing Break

It’s been a while since I’ve done some sewing. I tend to sit down and binge-sew in a weekend, with a boxed set of something on my computer (which has to share desk space with my sewing machine, thanks to our itty bitty apartment).

In December and January, the boxed set of choice was Witch Hunter Robin, an anime from about 2004-05, and one of my favorites. With that playing in the background, I banged out a Walkaway Dress in about three sittings.

The Walkaway dress is a pretty popular pattern from about 1952. In theory, it’s exceptionally easy, with only three pattern pieces. There’s only three seams on the entire dress, so the idea was that you could sit down after breakfast at the sewing machine and “walkaway” with a new dress at lunch.

In reality, there were some challenges. For example, while I do have a 38″ bust, I do not have the 26″ waist or something equally ridiculous the size 18 pattern called for (this is a true vintage pattern, not the updated version with modern sizing).

I had to make a lot of adjustments to the pattern as I was cutting the pieces, erring on the side of making it too big rather than too small. I added a little over an inch to the bust and about 3″ to the waistband, and about 4″ to the skirt waist, just to make sure I had some room to play with it.

One of the reasons for all the extra fabric is that my torso length didn’t match the dimensions on the pattern. I added an extra inch in that department, and then spent an entire day just getting the darts right. In the end, I went with a curved shoulder-to-waist dart on each side of the back, and much longer, deeper darts for the bust.

The neckline presented a unique challenge. I have narrow shoulders, and the distance from the top of my shoulder to my bust is (apparently) uncommonly short. I have a lot of problems finding commercial garments or patterns that fit correctly in that neighborhood. I raised the neckline about three inches, but because my shoulders are so narrow, the neckline gaped horribly. In the end, I added an extra dart down the center front, taking in that section about 1.5″


Finished dress on the left, and a couple shots before the trip and closures were added on the right.

The last changes I made were to the hemline (I raised it about 6″ from midcalf to just about knee length) and replaced the button/loop closure with two faux leather buckles. I think it gives it a sort of mid-century steampunk look, which I love. I’m going to wear it in April at Symposium.

I am going to take in the side just a smidge–about half an inch on either side. I’m still not very good at sewing on the bias, and once I added the bias tape edging, the armholes and neckline started to get a bit wavy. This will also help the waist fit better, since it’s just a touch loose–not much, mind, but just enough that I have to stop and make adjustments to how the dress hangs every now and then while I’m wearing it. This dress really needs a snug fit to hold all the pieces in place, since it’s basically a giant poncho with a built in belt.

I had enough fabric leftover to make a skirt and a project bag, too. Shots of those to come; they’re really nothing too fancy.

Next up: More sewing for Symposium!