Thursday, 15 August 2013

Grand Plans – Poor Execution

Lately, I’ve found I have lost confidence in what I can make.  Not in terms of the technical (sewing) side of things, but in terms of transposing my ideas into reality.  As a result, I have lovely fabrics sat on shelves or lying across hangers all forlorn and feeling forgotten.  They are not forgotten though, rather I’m too scared to cut into them and attempt my ideas in case they don’t work out.

  • Knowing that I spent good money (not necessarily a lot) on these fabrics should spur me on to use them, but it doesn’t.  (Counter argument - the money is really wasted if I make something gross).
  • Looking in my wardrobe and feeling uninspired should spur me on to make lovely things, but it doesn’t.  (Counter argument – I’ll have even more yucky things to choose between if I fail).
  • Recent past successes should spur me on to make lovely things, but they don’t.  (Counter argument – I’ve had some failures too).

And then I read two blogposts that made me feel a little less nervous and ponder things in a different light:

Karen’s post about a seriously interesting and inspiring woman.  That post taught me that even “failures” serve a purpose – to improve us.  This is not a foreign concept to me.  When I was learning to ski as a child (a child that hated getting things even slightly wrong), my lovely (and patient!) older sister told me: if you haven’t fallen over today, you haven’t learnt anything.  I know this to be true.  My big sis said so.  Then there is this great quote:

The second is Sunni’s post about improving your wardrobe one piece at a time.  Looking at all the items you love, but don’t wear, working out why and fixing it.  Seems unrelated, but the message (ha ha Keith Lemon has ruined that for me: Yes, but what’s the message of your new book/record/trash mag sponsorship deal...”), anyway, the message I took away from that post was in relation to refashioning things.  If an item isn’t being worn anyway, what is the harm in trying to refashion it?  If it all goes pear shaped it can be recycled/donated/thrown out (without guilt) because now there is a good reason not to wear it.

In truth, having a stash makes me feel guilty.  To me, it represents money that has been wasted because the fabric isn’t being used.  (Side note, I’m really happy for any readers who view their stash like the fabric equivalent of saving for a rainy day – that’s lovely, and valid.  Enjoy your stash for me!).  I need to bite the bullet and put my ideas into action.  So what if they are duds?  I’ll learn something along the way.

Here’s to facing our fears.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Plain Sailing

Empirical evidence would suggest that simple things seem to suit me best.  The evidence is purely that I receive more compliments when wearing simple things compared to "fussy" things.  Maybe they are just easier to understand.

Case in point.  This dress always gets commented on. Always.
This pattern, from 1969, is described as Simple to Sew. "The button trimmed dress with back zipper and shaped bias roll collar features a pleat below left front seam simulating an opening.  V.1 has short set-in sleeves and welts.  V.2 is sleeveless".  There are a couple of these available on Etsy, if you are interested.

I made version 1, without the welts.  I don't like superfluous design details, and these welts are not connected to pockets.  I could have made pockets, but they would be silly sitting there and imagine if I put a hanky in them - I'd have a big lump on my hip.  Erm, no thanks.

The design is cute and clever - the fabric is only cut wider at the start of the pleat, so there isn't any excess fabric above that point.  The sleeves hit at that most flattering point - above the elbow at the point where the bicep kind of goes in and before the bingo bit.  Simplicity 8541, I think I may like you a little too much.

The Good:
The fit of the sleeve: length, width, height.  The silhouette, length.  The way this feels to wear.  You might know what I mean, wearing this dress makes me feel happy and like I don't have a care in the world.  Nice.

The Bad: 
I sewed this straight from the packet (not knowing how much ease would be included) and it was too big.  Way too big.  So I took the required excess out of the side seams and recut the armscye and went from there.  I shaved off a little too much.  This dress definitely lets me know how much sport I've been doing lately.  By the looks of these photos, not enough (for my liking). 

The Ugly: 
Nothing.  Yay!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

House dressing

In the '50s, when women kept a well kept home whilst looking perfect, there was an obvious need for clothes that protected ones real clothes from damage.  Ladies couldn't hoover in ones knickers.  I would never do that lol, but only because Mr. CT does the hoovering (and I do the groceries).  So, to get around this, ladies had house dresses.  Nowadays, with our loose morals, they are great for wearing outside too.  In public no less!

McCalls 6617 from 1962 (as pictured above) is one such beauty.  How cute is the blonde lady?  I would be her in a heartbeat.  Pious fake Sophia less so.  But we have to give her some credit - she is wearing a dress made of brown domino's with aplomb after all.

This dress is described as:
"Back wrapped housedress with unpressed pleats in three-gored skirt.  Rounded neckline is pleated at front and purchased corded piping included in neck facing seam. Bodice is buttoned at back of neck.  Cap sleeve has opening at outer edge.  Tie belt, included in right bodice back facing seam, is  inserted through opening in bodice left side seam.  Belt is tied at center front; interfaced patch pockets on skirt front."    

Once upon a time, gender roles were more clearly and more uniformly defined.  That time was the 1950/60s.  Part of me (the dutiful, well brought up child of parents who used to have vol au vents at dinner parties and make me kiss all the attendees goodnight part) likes the idea of living in the '50s.  Everyone knows what they need to do and it's not confusing; therefore less stressful.  Part of me, the part that enjoys doing whatever I want, when I want, imagines that I would be a ball of rage if I lived in that environment.  Being pigeonholed would kind of rattle me.  Not to get too political on it (although this subject does interest me); but the '50s would have been at least a little rubbish for anyone that didn't fit the social norm.  And by norm, I think I mean, young, attractive WASPs.

But anyway, back to the sewing.  My version of this is worn on it's own, outside.  Egads!  It has no need for patch pockets.  They, to my mind, are silly. Nor does mine have corded piping, as I didn't have any to hand.  Mine is also a bit longer to fit with the current trend for midi-length skirts. I can re-hem it when the economy improves and shorter hemlines become fashionable again (a la the hemline index).

The fabric I used is a lightweight cotton (like poplin), with a big flowery/rhomboid print on it.  It's kind of crazy, but I like it.  I bought this at a fabric/sewing/crafting fair that I went to AGES ago with the lovely Debi of my happy sewing place (who quite frankly, seems to make any place happy).

The back wraps over itself, and so, for the sake of modesty, I had to sew up the back seam.  I wear a slip underneath it anyway, because that's how I roll.  I wear this dress one of two ways - per below, with red heels and red lips.  (btw - see that big rugby ball trophy to my left?  Mr CT won that for being "best tourist on tour" on a rugby trip to Dublin.  I envy blokes on two things: rugby tours and piddling abilities).


As well as wearing it like that, with red heels, I also wear it with a belt and pair of gladiator wedge sandal things.  These more "edgy" accessories really make it quite different, and take this pretty look to something more like "I am woman, hear me roar".  We're going on a date tonight (YUSS!), and I may just wear this outfit.

Which brings this pattern (and it's purpose) into the new age quite nicely I think.

The Good: Easily, quickly made.  Comfortable, elegant and nice to wear.

The Bad: The wrap doesn't overlap enough to be modest.  The sides need to either be extended or sewn together to avoid any embarrassment.

The Ugly:  Nothing really, former social mores excepting.