Sunday, 2 June 2013

These posts are like buses

I did say I'd been productive. 
It wasn't just the draping class, there is also the Burda dress, and the Gertie blouse! Well, Gertie may have to wait - the blouse is the third project I've attempted from her book and perhaps they all should go up together. (Although I did make it for the new job, about which I'm most thrilled, as opposed to the new job about which I am distinctly fazed, so excitement overflow is likely imminent.)

But the Burda dress needs to be shown now, as it's just about the only timely thing I've ever done. Yes, it's still vaguely current! Hurrah for me! 

Front dress full lengthFront bodice close up

Back view

For anyone even feigning an interest, this is a mashing together of the elements of #124 and #125 in the May edition of Burdastyle magazine. Really, I took the 'poplin dress' and omitted one of the pockets and added some sleevage from #125.

It wasn't without a couple of issues. In honesty, this dress was in the middle of utter life-chaos - which maybe I'll have the wherewithal to post about when it's over - and I don't think I gave it the concentration it deserved. For some reason (probably distracted cutting on my part) the back ended up huge, so it found itself newly-fashioned with a pleat. I now fervently believe this is a good thing. Honestly. Then the shaped central band was somewhat fiddly and awkward, and baffled further by the 'instructions', but I worked it out eventually. 

This will always be my pinny frock. It's so comfortable I can't fail to love it. It reminds me of Mrs Lawrenson, Mrs Tipton and other friends of my nan's, who wore lovely wrap-around pinnies, although this is missing the bias-bound edges (I've just had the startling revelation that I noticed that pinny detail when I was eight and therefore probably needed to 'get a life' even then...)

I'm going to stop wittering about dressmaking now. This is really rather lacklustre - I'm not really in the headspace for writing and I'll regret having chuntered on. I just needed to clear the slate, as it were. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Pins and brown paper

Yup, I've been gone a while. A whole month, in fact! How did that happen? 

In the solid world, it was probably through dull life commitments... But here such things are impossible! I have a rule about stringently limiting doings of a non-frivolous nature. No, no, no. This must mean that it was to do with the world of marshmallow and smoke, and me being out exploring strange new worlds, running away with music idols, and generally being just too fabulous for school. Yes, that was clearly it.
However, somehow, alongside the stardom, notoriety and hedonism (aka working three jobs) I have found some time to do new stuff - I may have appeared quiet but this has been a most-industrious time. Oh, yes. I need to gush a bit. I've just completed Paul Gallo's class on Craftsy, and it was marvellous. So there.

Admittedly, my industry was facilitated by procrastination. I had told myself that the last few days would be spent learning practical things that I ought to know for one of my new jobs. Strangely, this had the effect of me desperately needing to sew. It made 'right now' the right time to do something I've managed to put on hold for the last 25 (or something) years. It was time for me to learn to drape and put together my own patterns. Naturally. Anyone would feel the same. But now that it's over, I feel I ought to have some form of guilt for running from commitments. I don't. I just have guilt for not feeling guilty for running from commitments. And that makes it OK. 

There is a further confession: the least-enjoyable part of the adventure was the sewing. 
I just wasn't so bothered about the sewing once my head had been turned by the relaxing smoothing and pinning of calico, the possibilities of how it could be tucked and pinned for future experimentation, of how the simple project in my hands could be re-utilised in different forms, with new angles and lengths... That new star system was suddenly navigable! I just wanted to architect a million designs, all to be magically sewn without me having to wait for my own ridiculously-slow sewing skills. And I use the word 'architect' purposely. The second joy was making the paper pattern. Measuring, aligning... I was home. A pen, an array of rulers, the crisp crackling of tracing wheel on brown paper. Ah, joy!

Side view of muslin
Muslin front view

Back view of muslin

See? Doesn't it look joyous? Doesn't Miranda wear it so well (despite my slowness at working out how to pin it correctly on her adjustable loveliness)?

Unfortunately, my shots of the final outcome can't be complemented by such an apt model...

Finished 'draped dress'Draped dress darts detail
Angled view of dress.

Dress with belt 

Rear view of draped dress

So that's that. 
In reality, it's allegedly summer at the moment, so I'm going to undo some of that work and remove the sleeves. I just had to prove that I could do them first. And maybe the doing and undoing is part of my reluctance to actually leave the project as finished. I am possibly that transparent; I don't really care. 

In the space of a week, I've learnt so-oo much my head might explode. And none of it what I should have learnt, which I may regret on Monday morning. But it was good. So good.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The dress that won't be worn...

I've realised over the course of the last week that most of my dresses have a tale. I have also realised that for any red-patterned dress I have made, this is a tale of horror and woe. I love red but it would seem I am doomed with a clear case of Profundo Rosso. Argento would be proud. This is the Tale of the Red Circle Dress. The dress that will be worn, however much it says it won't. A plague be on it.

The pattern was Vintage Vogue 1084, for anyone who wants their own Hell Dress. It looks gorgeous; I love Vintage Vogue. The dress is sweetness and decadence combined. With a dress like this, surely even oafish me can't fail but to float down the street on a mist, with elegance, poise and a classical tune emanating from somewhere intangible around me?


Wading in minus toile safety net was clearly my own fault. But I'd never needed to adjust anything before. And the urgency with which I needed such a creation forced me to take risks. I could hear the pattern whispering to me, hypnotising me, pulling me recklessly onward. Onward, it seems, to doom. They say hindsight is an amazing thing. Already The Dress was at work, spinning its evil spell; avoiding the toile wasn't really my fault at all!

The Dress went together amiably enough, masses of fabric making it feel luxuriant. I had pictures of wondrous swirling skirtage in my head, and dreams of ballrooms. But issues became evident. By fault (clearly not of my making, The Dress made me do it), or oddly-drafted pattern design, the top was determined to be way too large. And I do mean hugely too large. Massive, in fact. I made some tweaks and shrinkages but it was adamant it wanted to be for someone two sizes bigger, with an FF-fitting bust rather than the conventional pattern format of a B or C cup.
Undeterred, I did all I could to shrink it. Better too much than too little. And there was the rather marvellous design feature of a centre-front seam, which was ridiculously convenient in disposing of much of the frontal excess (mental note: any phrase involving the word 'frontal' makes a great band name). Plus another couple of panel seams. But the back needed to lose its centre peep-hole, leaving the tie somewhat homeless, before acquiring some additional dart-style top-stitch fashioning.

Thinking about it now, breast augmentation might have been a simpler resolution. 

Dress back alterations

Eventually it made a semblance of fitting. Except...

Except I found I had an overwhelming lack of confidence wearing it. I came to fixate on the fact that it still made me look way 'broader' than it did in my head. I'm not usually given to overly worrying about such matters, but the dress was there, working its evil into my brain, telling me it shouldn't be worn, that it should just exist to taunt and plague me, haunting me from the depths of the wardrobe. The Cenobyte in the closet. (This may have just been in my head, but I doubt it.) I decided to take up arms again. In an effort to narrow its appearance - and placate its underworld murmurings - I came up with the notion of giving it a narrower focal point by adding a couple of buttons at the front, to bring the waist in. They helped marginally but it's still not the frock of my dreams. Except...

Except for the back. The floaty, swirly back that is utterly marvellous and should be seen at every possible moment. Although, having said that, I realise The Dress has again enacted a cruel spite toward me by making its best angle non-photogenic. Despite what you see here, you must believe me - if you see me in this dress, you need to talk to me from behind. It's not that I don't want to face you but my rear is where it's at. And perhaps there's something safer about not facing The Dress head on.

Having come to terms with these niggles, last week I made an effort to dust off the dress and wear it again. Finally.

I approached brandishing a white scarf of peace; it stepped up its reign of terror. In the mere act of putting it on, The Dress vindictively found a small area of still-damp deodorant to catch on, to mark its side. I swear the deodorant had had hours to dry and that The Dress magicked up its own mark, but I still try to be generous when tempted to condemn it. (Like the errant child it is, one day it will recognise my love and realise it loves me in return.) Naturally, I didn't notice this mark until I was already at work. I will never know whether this was to the chagrin of The Dress Possessed, as it meant I couldn't change it and leave it alone to rest in peace, or to its joy, as I was then thinking how I hated it for this situation and I would never be so foolish as to wear it again. Once more, I gave it the benefit of the doubt and attempted to gently sponge the mark away. Lovingly. 

What kind of response could the tenderly-made creation have for such patience, kindness and respect? Surely we had emptied its immediate arsenal? Foolish, foolish girl. There is no such thing as karma in the Universe of Creeping Mould from whence The Dress emerged! No! Its gratitude for my gentle ministrations appeared in the form of a loosening of the seam in a small area by the waist. Just a small hole; nothing too noticeable. But it was there, in my waking nightmare, taunting me as I found myself helplessly imprisoned in its blood-smear-patterned embrace, escape still hours away in an ever-lengthening day. The Dress was letting me know, beyond doubt, that I would never feel good if I insisted on utilising its wares.

What it didn't know is that I would go home that night and re-sew it. And this battle of wills will not cease. In the end, in this abusive relationship, somehow I will conquer and The Dress will be worn. And worn.

Monday, 15 April 2013

I'm taking Sunday as the first day of my week...

Heck, it might be the first day of a lot of things.

On Sunday, I finally got round to reactivating a heap of mean-to-dos that have been lounging about for positively years.  This is one of them.  Being the proud owner of a completely empty blog for over a year now, I finally get to graffiti it with my scrawl.  Sorry, Blog.  

But, Blog, you're not alone!  I've also sullied the 'projects' boards of my BurdaStyle and Craftsy accounts. My first 'reveal' involved dresses done not-entirely-recently but which demonstrate my favourite pattern of all time (if 'all time' means the last few years) - Butterick 6582.  I could go on for years about this dress and how the fit is so va-va-voom good, straight from the pattern, I can face it even in my laziest hours. And how the simple glamour is so understated, it can be comfortably worn for anything, when I'm too lazy to think up an alternative. And how it makes me a cheeky cocktail, when I'm too lazy to mix my own. 

Butterick 6582 in green printButterick 6582 in strawberry fabric

Bodice of Butterick 6582

Bodice of strawberry print Butterick 6582
Back of Butterick 6582 in green print

It strikes me that, as it's taken me so long to get around to this desecration of much webspace, I could upload pictures of home-sewn items regularly for eons, making a terrible mess of webpage purity with posts of creations worn almost threadbare in the interim. How ridiculous. Instead, I need to use this new spirit to do new things, making the posting the spur, rather than the grave. Yes.

So, this week is an exciting week.  But, in other news, it's also a scary one.

It's one when I miss interviews for a job I chased, because it wasn't the job I hoped after all (or was it, and I'm now missing out?! Foolish, foolish girl!).  And it's the week when I re-try the theatre - something I've never been bowled over by - because a friend suggested it for an evening. This feels like a mission akin to kill or cure, not least because said friend later admitted to a similar theatrical aversion.  I have had more-promising excursions.  Add to that the fact that their choice of play is something I would fling on the dullity pile as the kind of reality that kids re-enact when they play 'house'.  I am working on the hope that maybe I don't like theatre because I am always attracted to the 'wrong' types of play and that the dullity will turn out to be just the thing that turns it around for me.  What a revelation that will be!

Still, if I can continue to collect myself, there is an odd double bill at the cinema the night before that should more than compensate. Danish horror, anyone?

So, here we are, at the start of a fresh page, at the start of a fresh week. Naturally, I had intended for my first post to be considered, beautifully written and positively stunning in every way. But that would take another year. And, in the interests of consistency, this is how I sullied all my other spaces...