crafty projects · fabric

Woman sewing badly

So Tuesday was EXTREMELY HOT and as I lay about quietly ‘glowing’ in the manner of a Victorian lady, I realised that my inherent hatred of summer has meant that I didn’t prepare for it by buying any summer clothes. I adhere to the ‘ignore the bully and it will go away’ mentality. Not effective in this case. Actually, never effective. Stupid advice.

Fortunately I did buy some lovely lightweight fabric from Abakhan a few months ago to remind myself that I would have time to make things once the holidays came along and I wasn’t a nervous wreck so I thought, ‘I know what would be super fun to do on a day so hot I can only bear to wear my knickers and lie on the sofa! Make a dress!’

I got out the iron (see why this was a ridiculous plan?) and ironed my least favourite of the three patterns as I was not feeling calm and suspected I would make a mistake and didn’t want to ruin my faves. As it happens, I made several errors (hence the title) but the finished garment looks A-OK so who cares?

I am a bit (a lot) of a fabric snob and I only tend to buy natural fibres (cotton, silk, wool, preferably alpaca…) which is why I am not rich. I have made things with synthetic fabrics in the past (when I was a penniless student) but they either sew up beautifully then stick out funny when I put them on (polycotton) or once they are washed a few times, start to make me smell funny when I get warm. I am very sensitive to funny smells. Maybe I should just crochet myself a nosebag. Be cheaper.

ANYWAY I was on the Abakhan website having a little browse to cheer myself up and saw these viscose fabrics:

2016-07-21 12.20.45

which I really liked. So bright! So cheerful! And look at the little tiny houses with even tinier cats on! After some research (Wikipedia) I discovered that viscose actually starts from a natural base (like wood/bamboo) but is treated with so many chemicals en route that it is classed as ‘semi-synthetic’. Well, they were £4-5/metre, so that was natural enough for me. I bought four metres of all of them just in case because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do and I would rather have too much than too little (this also applies to cake).

To make my day more fun I decided to invent a pattern. I wanted a sweetheart neckline that came further up than I usually wear because I BURN BURN BURN when the temperature rises and nobody wants wrinkly cleavage, a swishy skirt to create on-board air conditioning and quite a low back because it was hot.

I combined the skirt from an old New Look pattern I had (number 6557 if you can’t make it out):

2016-07-21 12.23.40

the bodice/waistband from a Sewaholic pattern I have used before :

2016-07-21 12.23.52

and then redrafted some bits of the bodice to get the line I wanted.The Sewaholic pattern is cool because you make a bustier-style top then post the sleeves into the front, which gives a lovely shape. However, they put a dart in to make space for the boobs where I need a seam. I have more boob than the average person. So I redrafted the bodice into three separate pieces. This also has the advantage of being easier to take in and shape because I also have a waist (ish) and like to demonstrate this. I took the back down quite considerably also; I like the high back on this pattern but not at 33 degrees.

The fabric turned out to be quite slippy to work with. I could have solved this by tacking everything but I couldn’t be bothered. It was hot, ok? It made up very well though and despite a little gathering on the seams as I was going, flattened out fine once I was done. Partway through I discovered the pattern was see-through in daylight (I mean, it could just have been my neon pink knickers, but it is best to be on the safe side when you intend to wear the garment in public) so I cut a lining out of the same fabric as I hadn’t planned to make a dress so had no plain lining to hand. Turns out that this worked quite well so I was glad that I had bought such a preposterous amount of fabric to start with. Again with the lazy sewing though: I only made the lining skirt long enough to cover my posterior and I didn’t want a hem bulge in the main skirt so I just zigzagged along it instead. It is lining. No one is going to see it. I will wash it on a gentle wash.

I always do my shaping and taking in after I get my zip in to give me something firm to work against. Also, I am terrible at zips and need to have a decent amount to turn over on each side in case I have to take it out and start again. Due to the heat I decided the slight wonkiness of the zip seams was acceptabobble. As I usually do, I took in from under the boob into the waistband then folded the skirt excess to make two pleats down the front. I think this is the most slimming of all the options and gives space for a little tummy bulge in case I eat too much ice cream (is there such a thing as too much ice cream?). So there you have it:

I am pleased with the end result; I wanted a light, floaty dress that I could wear when it was very warm (although, this being Britain, it probably won’t be that warm again until a freak one-off day in September) and that is what I have. I actually like the fabric a whole lot more now it is in dress form, even though I suspect it looks a little like I made it out of curtains from the 1960s. I reckon if the Von Trapps can pull off curtain clothes, I can too.

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