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Gemma Cartwright writes...

There was a time when I could wield a sewing machine with the best of them. I put fifteen plastic bones into the corseted top of my leaver's meal outfit. But that was years ago, and since then I've done nothing except whip up a few cushion covers.

So it's with a fair amount of trepidation that I take on my latest challenge. Spurred on by the amazing stuff I've seen over at Crafty Crafty and on blogs like A Dress a Day, I'm attempting a dress from a reproduction of a 1952 pattern...

The dress is Butterick 4790, otherwise known as the 'Whirl Away' dress (so called because you can supposedly make it in a day and 'whirl away' straight away). The pattern is super-easy, made from only three pattern pieces, trimmed with contrasting bias binding. The whole thing goes over the head like a tabard, fastening back and front to create a double-layered skirt (a circle full over pencil).

What inspired me - along with the easy nature of the pattern - were the many, many versions that have been made and posted online. I love that I can see finished versions and use them as a guide. Having seen all the completed ones, I know I want to avoid the contrasting fabrics and go for one fabric only. I know to trim with narrow bias binding to avoid it looking like curtains, I know I want to use quite a light fabric so it doesn't look stiff and I know that I will probably want to alter the front so it ties rather than buttons.

So, it's with great trepidation but a lot of excitement that I attempt to make my first dress in years. The sewing machine is out, I've located my sharpest scissors and I've measured my bust, waist and hips (and had a little cry). If its all a disaster, it's not the end of the world. The fabric I'm using is a pink floral I picked up in a tiny fabric shop in East London for about 50p a yard (I kid ye not). My bias binding came from eBay for a couple of quid. Ironically, the most expensive part of the whole thing was the pattern itself!

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully by next week I'll have my 50s housewife dress completed! But first I have to tackle a slight issue. I think I bought the wrong size pattern...