Thursday, 17 January 2008

Making wonky plans

Firstly, thank you so much for all your input into the naming of the formerly known Lady Valet! I have almost settled on something, but want to discuss it with Ian tonight before finalising...yes, he's in for a fun evening - I'm sure it's the type of conversation that he relishes...and if he reads this first he may even dawdle on the way home!

Above are my plans for a dress that I'm currently making...I've had some thick black jersey in the cupboard waiting to be made into a shift dress for a while now. My starting point is a dress that I bought from Gap when I was about 18 (pictured below...not very clearly as that photo was actually taken ages ago to display the bag, rather than the dress, but you get the impression: it is very simple and plain and I love it). So that gives me the shape of the dress, but I am rather a fan of clothing that has a bib or a yoke at the front...preferably with little pin tucks or pleats to it, so I've put that into my design with a slightly wider central pleat, onto which I can add a vertical row of sparkly black buttons. The other problem with the Gap dress is that it has short sleeves, but is very much a winter dress, so I normally have to wear a long sleeved T-shirt under it...however, I want my new model to have long plumey sleeves, slightly puffed at the shoulder and then draping down over narrow little cuffs at the wrists...more sparkly buttons. Darts at the bust to give a little shape, a zip at the back to allow me to wear it, rather than just look at it and....that's about it! You'll notice that my plan shows one arm being somewhat longer than the other...that's my wonky drawing rather than a feature of the dress, although I've nothing against asymmetrical dressing as a concept.


Apart from my kimonos and some altering of existing garments, I've never made a garment from scratch before, and after inflicting on poor Jo my internal dialogue over the merits of first buying a Simplicity pattern so that I could perhaps learn something about the art of dressmaking before launching into creating the aforementioned dress, I decided that this may be a very good idea indeed and headed off to the shop, ooohed and aaahed over the pattern catalogue and eventually chose something from their 1960s retro range. I trotted happily back to the car with the pattern in my bag, just in time to pick Dinosaur-boy up from nursery, with visions of me being like a 'real seamstress' who can actually buy patterns and make fabulous-looking things from them. Maybe this was relying a little too heavily on the 'I buy, therefore I am' principle, because the illusion was shattered yesterday evening when I nearly wept on taking all that thin paper out of it's packet. A million lines intersecting one another, confusing codes, a presumption that I can actually understand the sewing terms that they throw around willy-nilly in the instructions...it was awful and confirmed the very reason why I had worried about buying one in the first place: that it would reveal my incompetence. It is now back in it's packet with the picture facing the wall so that I don't have to look at it and I am ploughing on with the dress I planned to do in the first place...and actually I am having so much fun making it, even though I am doubtless doing everything in a slightly odd way! But either way, I now have so much admiration for anyone who can actually follow one of those patterns - I was truly out-foxed by it!

13 comments:

  1. Your dress sounds fantastic. I can't wait to see the finished product. I'm rather new to sewing, but my mom sewed a lot when I was a kid and I can remember using her machine to make a pair of overalls for my doll. But when I started sewing again (a few months ago) I didn't realize so many people were a little terrified of sewing clothes. I haven't tried sewing any clothing yet, but I'm trying not to get terrified. I think it's great that you're doing your own thing and not letting the confusing pattern get in your way!

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  2. Good luck! I am sure draping the jersey will work brilliantly, do show the finished dress!

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  3. I feel like that about proper patterns too - they TERRIFY me! I think it's one of the reasons I put off learning to sew for so long.
    I bet the dress will be fab though, can't wait to see the finished article. Enjoy your wild evening - sorry I didn't suggest a name - I did too much mulling it over and ended up totally indecisive so decided you were better off by far without my input!

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  4. patterns are scary things indeed! i think a bit of experimenting + learn as you go is a good way. that's what i do a lot of the time. i liked the retro pattern you bought. look forward to seeing how you get on : )

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  5. Very brave of you. I feel safe with a pattern although I've rarely managed to make things that actually fit me! Too tight, too gapey or worse still, both!!!

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  6. Sorry I did not read your blog yesterday about the mannaquin, but I immediately thought of Kim Cantrall, as in the from the film mannaquin. Also Kim Cantrall was really cool on Sex in the City!

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  7. I'm so pleased you are out foxed by patterns - my friend is always going on about how easy they are (and therefore I am a fool...etc etc) but I think you need a special part of your brain to read them (and that part is missing in mine)
    Keep us updated, it sounds like a wonderful project, and good luck!!!

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  8. Don't let the pattern scare you! I think the most awful thing is that the paper is so fragile. The first thing to do is get all the pattern pieces out place them on a large surface and get them to lay flat. Then determine the size outline you need (eg size 12). Go around this with a dashed line using, say, a red felt pen. Then place a piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment over the top and copy the coloured line with a pencil. Voila, you now have your pattern, but still have the original pattern pieces.
    I personally find that Simplicity always finish a little on the large side (ie making the size 12 will turn out nearer a 14), Butterick seem to be a better fit.
    I made Simplicity 3887 last summer (version C without the belt) and it turned out really well.
    Good luck with the dress, hope it turns out to be just what you wanted.

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  9. I'm a big fan of winging it! I make myself pattern pieces out of newspaper but then risk wasting fabric when it all goes wrong I suppose.
    Hope the dress is coming along well.

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  10. Wow, I am super impressed that you can design your own clothes. To me that is much more technical and advanced than following a pattern. I grew up making clothes from patterns so they have never intimidated me, but I've noticed a lot of people don't like them. I consider them more the "easy solution" and people like you who start from scratch are the real innovators. Your dress looks like it will be fabulous.

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  11. Love that, "I buy, therefore I am" absolutely me too!

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  12. Oh poor you!!! I hate sewing disappointments and lack of understanding!! They do have their own kind of language on those patterns - why do you think I opted for a very simple pair of childrens pants!!! Usually our own sewing logic is different to others' so I am sure that your dress will come out great! I can't wait to see it and hope it is a major success!!!

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  13. hi there, i really like this grey bag in the picture. where can i get the pattern?

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Florence x