Heat wave!


Last summer being rainy and cold, and last winter being rainier and colder, Portlanders haven't experienced a solidly hot day in many moons. I, for one, am ready. I like to get a solid dose of each season as it passes, and between the cold weather and the preoccupation of buying a home, last summer left me feeling like I never really got that lazy, heat-laden summertime essence. Now, at last, we're having a couple of unseasonably hot days (yesterday hit 98F), and I'm celebrating in the best way I know.


There aren't many things I like better than staying up very late on a hot summer night, sewing a sundress and listening to Bob Dylan's Bringing it all Back Home. Back when I was in college and spent summers un- or under-employed, I used to stay up ALL night sewing in my tiny apartment, with the record player going softly and all 150 square feet of floor space covered with fabric. The 5 a.m. train whistle and lightening sky would signal that it was time to put the cover on the machine and head for bed. Now that I am older, working full-time and living with my partner, I'm no longer tempted to be quite that extreme. But last night I engaged in a watered-down version, and boy was it lovely! The warm breeze coming through the windows, the whirring of the sewing machine, the sandy pop of pins going back in the pincushion, and the magical process of two-dimensional fabric becoming a fitted, three-dimensional garment. What more could a person desire?

The above pattern is the famous Butterick Walk-Away dress, of which I had actually never heard before a few weeks ago. "What a cute dress," I thought, like thousands of women before me, and like thousands of women before me I whipped up a version. It's by FAR the easiest pattern I've ever sewn; I got this far, from paper-pattern alteration to "it looks like a garment" stage, in four delicious hours, and all that really remains is hemming and bias tape. Even the bias tape is going to seem like a breeze, as I just got done trimming a suit jacket with self-made bias tape over much sharper, more challenging corners. (The jacket is almost done, by the way. I just needed something a little more summery to go with this gorgeous weather.)


It always cracks me up how much I have to cut out of the backs of patterns; the upper back above was cut from a pattern piece with 2 inches removed from the middle, and it could still stand to be a little narrower. My mom says she's the same way. I don't totally understand how a small-busted woman can have that much narrower a back than the "average" for our size, but it's the truth of the matter. I like to think it's down to our fantastic posture.

Also, there has been lots of knitting going on, so don't think I've forgotten about this whole "Family Trunk Project" thing. It's just that what I'm working on right now is secret at present, but it's almost done and then I'll be returning in full force to the Warren Johnson jacket. I can feel my grandfather tapping his foot, and I won't keep him waiting for long.


  • Wonderful dress! I'd never heard of the pattern until just now either. Did you use a paper pattern, or did you reverse-engineer it from the schematic on top of the pattern envelope in that wikipedia entry you linked? Either way, great work!

  • Emily--
    Color me shocked, but you have produced yet another gorgeous outfit. I am eager to get to see it in person.


  • What is it about sewing on summer nights? I did the same thing this weekend and whipped up a little skirt for my daughter (she's only 2, so it takes almost no time at all).

    What a great dress!

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