The Great British Sewing Bee has started something, and I’m getting my dressmaking mojo back…
This is a little like a return to the seaside resort where you spent all your childhood summers. You recall it being a fabulous, pretty, exciting, relaxing place. Lit with the mellow glow of nostalgia and awash with all your favourite ice cream flavours. Shuffling through the scrapbook of your memory, the mere mention of its name is enough to fill you with warm fuzzies.
But as an adult you daren’t return. You don’t want to spoil the glow with the discovery that the lanes are overcrowded, the beach is littered with dog dirt and ice cream wrappers, and the real cream dairy ice has been replaced by grainy Mr Whippy with lurid sugary raspberry topping.
So it is with me and dressmaking. I used to do *a lot*. I got a sewing machine for my 18th birthday, and used to take myself off to Woolwich Market and buy yards of eyecatchingly inappropriate (often upholstery) fabric, and make basic, blocky clothes for myself. A square T shirt and 45 degree A Line skirt in zebra print spring easily to mind… And when the children were small, I would adapt patterns or work out of magazines and make all their clothes.
Anyway. Enough of the rose tinted stuff.
We’ve been watching the GBSB. The other week, Josh asked if I could make a dress in 6 hours, so I went stash diving and found some linen/cotton blend from the John Lewis remnant bin in my shed. I didn’t have a pattern for a fitted, sleeveless, round-necked dress, so I pulled out a pattern for a V-backed, wrapover evening dress and traced an adaptation on top of its basic block, and made myself a round-necked sleeveless dress. In 5 1/2 hours, including pattern drafting. It’s not perfect – I need to practice zip insertions if I’m ever to consider myself accomplished, and the back hem is a bit of a fiddle if you look closely. But it passes the cavalry test (you wouldn’t notice the mistakes if you rode by on a horse!) and I’ve worn it to work and nobody vomited.
So, this weekend, Mr P and I found ourselves wondering around Stratford (upon Avon), soaking up the sunshine and eating fabulous food in Hobsons. On the way back to the car, I spotted a sign to a shop called Sew Me Something – not a shop I’ve ever seen before. I am genetically incapable of walking past a fabric shop, so I persuaded Mr P that a visit would be a good idea. He’d just spent half an hour perched on the windowsill of White Stuff, while I didn’t buy a flippy, A-Line reversible skirt, so I was pushing my luck, a little….
Half an hour of joyous browsing and nattering later, I left Sew Me Something with 1 1/2 metres each of Art Gallery Fabrics grey, hummingbirdy cotton for one side of my A-Line reversible skirt and green, trellisy cotton for the other side.
On Sunday morning, I drew a quick pattern – curved self waistband, fitted to the hip, gentle A Line with the grey on the outside, about an inch longer than the green on the inside – the longer skirt with a faced hem, so that if the shorter skirt is worn on the outside, you see the grey fabric peeking underneath. Good. I whipped up the green skirt, using the grey fabric as a bias trim edging the lower edge of the waistband. So far, so good. It worked, and it fitted.
And then I totally messed it up, like a complete NUMPTY. I decided it would be cool to applique a big rose, and a pink humming bird and a red humming bird from the grey fabric onto the green fabric, over my left knee. So I grabbed some grey scrap, fussy cut the pieces I wanted, and stitched them down. Perfect. Looking good! Time to make the grey skirt. I picked up the pieces, stay stitched the top of the front skirt, turned to the back and – guess what!! – I hadn’t cut my applique from scrap fabric – I’d cut it from the back skirt piece!
So now I have a dilemma. I don’t have enough grey fabric to cut a new back piece. I don’t have enough grey fabric to pattern match a back piece with a centre back seam. So, my options are – go back to Stratford and buy more fabric – a perfect, but expensive solution. Or insert a panel of green down my left thigh into the grey piece. Maybe stitch a shaped grey patch pocket into it, to further mix up the fabric interaction. I have some thin red ribbon I could insert into the lower seam of the waistband edge, to break up the grey-green border… It’s a tricky one, to be sure.
Last night, gin was the only answer! Today, I’m asking you….