Don’t faint with shock. I am still alive. December has been almost as strange as November, but Christmas is over and I am back in the studio and there is stuff happening!

Although admittedly, these here happened before Christmas. Neither photo was taken with the aim of showing off the dresses at their best advantage, and indeed in both I may have partaken a little wine. But to prove that I do still sew now and again, I give you two dresses (well actually I give you the photos, I’m not giving away either of them, no no no). You also get to see glamorous corners of the kitchen and my two very lovely cats.

So first up is red linen. Me posing in mad hat with cat flap and cat bed in shot and fabulous red shoes out of shot.

It goes to show how slow I am at blogging these things. I made this dress in about May, before work got really really manic. A summer dress actually ready in time for summer!?! But then something went wrong right at the end, there was a stain on the fabric I think. So I washed it. And it shrank. And yes, I should have thought of that. And yes, I thought I had pre-washed the fabric. I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t. It’s been in the stash for years and years and years. But fortunately it only shrank lengthways. Which made it rather too short for summer so back in the to-sew pile it went, ready for a ruffle along the bottom. Which never got done. Then suddenly it was winter and I could wear it with tights (aubergine in fact although they look black).
So hurrah! Teeny red dress. Which is waaaaay too big on the shoulders which the toile was not. I really can’t remember what went so wrong with this but as you can see I don’t care and am wearing it anyway. I think the linen stretched after I cut it. Linen is like that. The back bodice piece has a pleat in it too, I guess that stretched as well. Stay stitching. Remember. Stay stitching. Despite that, the pattern (McCalls Crafty 5576) was nice and easy to sew. I didn’t bother with a zip as it is loose-fitting anyway. I interfaced the yoke with silk organza (which in retrospect won’t have helped with the stretching, like an iron-on would). I also made lingerie straps on the shoulders in the hope that it attaching the dress to my bra would stop it falling off my shoulders. It doesn’t. So if I was to make it again (not feeling too enthusiastic), I would make the neckline smaller or make sure the fabric doesn’t stretch and i would cut it with a little more ease in the hipline. And a bit longer. And not use lined for poofy sleeves as they are IMPOSSIBLE to iron. So the poofy sleeves are kind of flat. That all makes it sound like an unmitigated disaster, but I’ve worn it to 2 parties so it isn’t that bad.

But for Christmas I wanted something easier to wear. And I wanted the zebra-print fabric which is Echino Kokka fabric from Japan, although I bought it from the lovely Kay at Clothkits, when I saw them at the Knitting and Stitching show a few months ago. I could not resist. It is too wonderful. I bought 1.5m on total impulse, thinking I would make a skirt. But I wanted a dress really. So I made one. Super simple smock/pinafore type thing, pattern made up very rapidly from my fitted-to-me basic bodice pattern with two bust darts and pleats centre front and centre back (because I cut it too wide (see a theme?). Side seam pockets. Neck and armholes faced with bias binding cut from this. I managed to cut it too short (again??) so had to piece bits from the upper part of the fabric onto the hem which then made it longer than I intended, so I may re-hem it tomorrow. There’s also a patched bit on the back to make enough for the extended hem. I’ll get a proper photo of it on a mannequin so you can see it without me kneeling down. Suffice to say, I love it. It has zebras. It has turquoise spotty trees. It has pockets. It has ample space for Christmas dinner.

And had precisely this much fabric left from my 1.5m. Close call.

Today I re-commenced the battle of the tweed trousers. Fabric bought in September. Started copying a pair of existing trousers in October or maybe November and never finished making the pattern. Today got as far as finishing the toile and cutting the wool. eeek. Really really had to force myself to press on with them although all I really wanted to do was make another new dress in time for New Years Eve. Yes, another. In the space of a week. I might still have a go tomorrow. If I get out of bed early enough. The holiday is working wonders. Yesterday I cast on 3 new knitting projects. Madness. But good madness, I’m sure you will agree. Stashbusting. Although I did order 600g of yarn this morning which is not going to do much to reduce the yarn stash. Yarn diet commences 1st Jan. Honest.

3 thoughts on “Dresses

  1. Loving the clothkits fabric. Really gorgeous. By the way I got your book for Christmas and I am loving it. I was reading it at 3am while slowly dying from the lurgy. It gave me the will to live – you will forever have my gratitude for helping me through this "long dark tea-time of the soul".

  2. Well done! Nicely rescued! There's only one problem. With impressive casualness you say: "pattern made up very rapidly from my fitted-to-me basic bodice pattern…" I definitely need expansion on this point. Is an explanation in one of your previous posts or books? I have other tailoring books which may tell all but I still haven't studied them properly (mainly because they require proper studying…). Relying on you, Ruth, for the succinct just-tell-me-what-I-need-to-know version. And a happy new year too, by the way!

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