On the last episode of The Great British Sewing Bee the order of the day was vintage. The first challenge was to make the 1950’s ‘Walk away’ dress. During the patterns peak, Butterick stopped production of all other patterns and printed only this one, to clear all the back orders for it as it had become that popular. It was called ‘the walk away dress’ because you could start it after breakfast and walk away to luncheon wearing it. Unless you were one of the Sewing Bee contestants. When they entered the sewing room they were confronted with a scene nobody could have expected: gone were the normal sewing machines, in their place 1950’s sewing machines. Although the machines baffled a few contestants at first (here’s looking at you Ryan) all of them eventually managed to get on with making the dress.
The beauty of this pattern was that women in the post-war era could use almost any fabrics they could get their hands on. Back in Croft Mill on Friday morning, we were all feeling inspired. A few of the team members decided that if they were to make the dress, they would use a pima cotton lawn. The pima cotton lawns are soft enough to fall elegantly whilst still being easy to sew. If you are making the dress, I’ll have it in our Cherry Pop Pima Lawn, please. Other team members however, argued that they would go traditional with a good old chambray. We currently have a pale pink, a blue and a cotton rich blue chambray. Using one of these would make the dress a lot quicker to make as there would be no need to worry about pattern matching; you could simply cut the pieces, sew them together and off you go.
If you did want a pattern, there is always our Crafty Spot range of cotton poplins. The poplins are high quality and easy to sew, so perfect if you are in a rush or if this is your first attempt at a vintage pattern. Our range comes in a variety of colours so in all likelihood you will be able to find a bias binding to match, or even to contrast if that is your style.
Our Crafty Spot range, is admittedly a bit bright, but don’t let that put you off. Paul has made colourful creations all throughout the series and this challenge was no different. When we first saw him choose the fabric, I wasn’t overly keen. Once it had been made up however, the dress turned out to be a little ray of sunshine. Side note, how amazing is that bias binding.
For a modern twist on the pattern, you could use our denim shirting fabric. We are due to get more of this in stock, and it is a good traditional colour denim. The hint of lycra means that if your buttons are a bit tight, or even if you’ve just had a big lunch, it will still feel comfortable. I’m thinking of using this fabric and teaming the dress with a classic 1950’s red lipstick.
If you are feeling brave, you could even use a crepe for this dress. Our crepes are a bit heavier than the other fabrics we’ve mentioned, however we think they would make up beautifully. As an added bonus, they are lovely and swishy; if you were to twirl in this dress made out of crepe, you are almost certain to feel ladylike.
One of the great things about this challenge, was that it incorporated lots of the basics of sewing. Sewing curves, bias binding and button holes and loops. There was some lovely button work featured on this dress.
Although Lorna didn’t excel in making this dress, she did go on to win garment of the week for her stunning creation – well done Lorna!