Sunday, 14 July 2013

Summer sewing and Simplicity 1800


Well, now that everyone should finally have started to recover from the whirligig that was “The Joy of Washcloths”, I thought that it might be safe for me to have a little blog.

Dressmaking for me is a little like being a serial killer.

I tell myself over and over again, “this is the last one. This will be the perfect one, the one that completes me” but I’m always wrong.
It’s the same every time: you start out all meticulous planning and careful cutting, then the adrenaline kicks in as you realise you’re running out of time and you’ve got to just finish it, no matter how much of a mess you make, then it’s done and for about 24hrs, you’re all smug and serene. But it never lasts, and within a couple of days you’re rifling through patterns and groping fabric swatches and the whole thing starts again.

I tend to stop knitting around April and start sewing for the summer. In a lot of ways, dressmaking is far more satisfying that knitting- it’s just that much faster (which makes sense when you think about it: when you sew a dress you work with a piece of purchased fabric, but when you knit, you have to actually create the fabric to start with).

I’m incredibly lucky, in that I have two little girls who sleep very well, and a husband who doesn’t tend to notice the dust until it starts to form little bunny colonies in the corners, so I’ve got a lot of sewing done this summer, vintage and modern.

One of the first things I made was this dress, from Simplicity pattern 1800. 

I get my patterns from Sewing World, they're quick, reasonably priced and their customer service is always excellent.
 It’s actually a very good pattern- the instructions are clear, and the whole thing came together beautifully- all the problems I had with this pattern were through my own mistakes.

For a start, the fabric wasn’t the right choice- I love the pattern on this dutch wax print cotton, but think it’s too much for the dress, it obscures details like the way the princess seams extend down to the pockets.  (I’m willing to overlook it though, for £2.50/m)


 The other problem was the sizing, I cut a size twelve, thinking that it would be a little big, and sewed a 6/8” seam instead of 5/8”. Turns out this was a mistake- there wasn’t as much ease as I’d imagined, so although the dress does up fine, it is very snug around the bust and the empire line sits a little high. All in all, rather more Nell Gwynn than the casual fit on the pattern envelope.  The sleeves are a little too big in all directions but the neckline is lovely and the skirt is great.

I will make it again- I’ve got this lovely feather print cotton which I think is less likely to drown the design. I’ll make the short sleeve version, and use the proper seam allowance and I think I could have a really hard working dress in my wardrobe.

I bought this at Fabrics Galore in Battersea, where it's £7/m cheaper than at John Lewis.

 Buckle up kids. Lots more dresses to come.