Being a crafty type who knits, makes sock animals, cross stitches, etc., dressmaking is something that I always felt I should be able to do. I made a dress in GCSE textiles, with a lot of help, but since then I hadn’t really attempted to sew any other clothes.
About two years ago, I very confidently bought two dress patterns – a McCall’s sleeveless dress and the infamous Walk Away Dress, and immediately set about on the McCall’s pattern. One wasted weekend later I was left with a dress that could have clothed three of me, and with it being a lined bodice, I just couldn’t figure out how to make it fit me. It is still hanging in the wardrobe unfinished. I will probably hack it to pieces at some point and use the fabric to make something else. It really knocked my confidence and it was a long time before I had another go at sewing.
After being inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee, I bought the book which accompanied the series and had another bash. I made a top from the book which I’ve never worn. It looked alright, I’ve just always been a bit self-conscious about wearing it. I also made a skirt with an elasticated waistband. It looks OK, but an elasticated waistband really does nothing for me. I’ve worn it a couple of times, but it does make me look lumpy.
Eventually, I signed up to do a dressmaking course at my local college. I didn’t actually learn that many skills on the course, because there were a lot of us all doing different projects, so the teacher had very limited time, but more than anything it gave me the confidence to have another go. I made a grey pencil skirt. In hindsight it’s a little long for me, but I have worn it, and I was going to wear it again tomorrow, actually.
This is not the best photo, but then it isn’t a very exciting skirt!
With newfound confidence, I decided that my challenge for 2015, as well as learning to cable knit (which I haven’t done yet), was to make a wearable dress. My mum gave me a sun dress pattern from her Prima magazine which looked quite simple, so I had a go. I made it out of a cotton fabric, and despite a few faults, I was really pleased with it. The zip is a shambles, and I also managed to pull a hole in the fabric in the process of unpicking some tacks, but it is wearable. And I have worn it!
Please forgive the crappy phone pictures. I live alone (forever alone) so I don’t have a designated photographer. Maybe I’ll do an update with better photos at some point. Anyway, here is my wearable dress. TA-DAH! It’s a dress! With sleeves!
Actually the sleeves were the trickiest part, aside from the shambolic zip insertion, because it turns out I just don’t think in 3D. I pinned the sleeves in three times before I got them right, I kept pinning the wrong edge, or pinning them inside out. Such swears. Many angry.
Once I’d cranked the dress out, there was no stopping me, and I decided in a fit of excitement to turn a Marvel duvet cover I bought off eBay into a summer top. It’s basically two rectangles sewn together, and some straps. No pattern required! Hopefully it will come in handy for my upcoming Floriday (Florida holiday).
It does make me look a touch pregnant, but then that’s not exactly a challenge.
Fired up with even more sewing enthusiasm, I went into Waterstone’s and had a look at their sewing books. I absolutely fell in love with the aptly titled Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes. I couldn’t quite believe it as I flicked through the pages – I would wear every single thing in the book, so I trotted to the counter and bought it, then spent the next few evenings poring over the patterns. The projects are featured in order of expertise, so I decided to skip the beginners’ headscarf project, and go straight in with the Margot pyjama bottoms. I’m not really a wearer of headscarves, and I figured my sewing machine-wrangling was at least already up to the standard required for the Margot pyjamas.
I’m so impressed with this book. The pattern was true to size, the instructions were very clear, and there were some great tips. It would never have occurred to me to slide one PJ leg into the other in order to sew the crotch, but it worked like a dream. And so, I have ended up with some very cute cotton PJ trousers. Please forgive the scary rolls of back fat in this picture. Also, my boobs are NOT that big, I was just breathing in for all I was worth.
So, my next project will be Tilly’s gorgeous Delphine skirt, which is a little A-line number. I’ve bought some super cute red denim, which I am absolutely terrified to cut into. But cut into it I will! I will not, however, be doing an invisible zip, as the pattern asks for. I can barely do a normal zip, there is no way on this fair earth that I am capable of getting an invisible zip in yet. I know my limits. I’ve seen some other people online who did the Delphine with a regular zip, so that’s what I’m going to do, and show my zip with pride! I will post some pictures once I’ve made it….