Monday 10 October 2016


I suppose it was inevitable that at some point I would take the Anna bodice I make all the goddamn time and the tulip skirt I make all the goddamn time and put them together into a dress. I'm not sure I would have predicted it would be this dress.


I made this dress because I had a thorough sort through of my wardrobe and realised I was sorely lacking in professional-looking dresses to wear to the office. I planned for just the right colour and just the right silhouette for understated but still flattering workwear, then someone posted about a sparkle-themed birthday and I was suddenly in Walthamstow Market with no clear idea of how I got there.

There's a blues dance night at the end of every month here in London, and every September the event has a birthday. This September was its fourth, and I have been to every single one so far. Last year I was depressed and miserable, forced myself to go but couldn't muster the wherewithal to put on anything other than an old T-shirt and shorts, had a bit of a crap time and left early. I didn't want the same thing to happen again, so when the organisers posted a "suits and sparkles" theme I decided I was damn well going to give them sparkles.

In an odd way, this dress is exactly why I got into sewing. If this had happened two years ago, I would have spent multiple afternoons tearing apart shops trying to find a bright sparkly minidress. If the quick Google search I just did is to believed, I would have found several pastel bridesmaid dress-looking things and several terrifying glittery bodycon tubes. On day four or five I would have found something I hated slightly less than everything else I'd seen and debated long and hard over whether paying £95 for a one-night party dress could possibly be a thing. I would have decided that no, it wasn't, and I would have freaked out some more. Eventually, on the evening of the party, I would have gone to Claire's Accessories, dumped all the shiny stuff all over myself, then felt incredibly embarrassed when I saw the pictures. This has definitely never happened before.

But now? This was the simplest thing in the world. Pretty much every cheap fabric shop has colourful sparkly fabric for next to nothing. I spent £4 on sparkles, £2.50 on lining, and 40p on a zip. Sorted.

This fabric is a) extremely sparkly; b) not actual sequins so I didn't have to work out how to do that; c) entirely see-through; and d) itchy as fuck. Hence, lining. I mounted the sparkle fabric onto the lining rather than make two separate dresses because I haven't done that yet and wanted to see if I could. Answer: yes I can, but it has made me realise that my cutting out is terrible. I couldn't get the two sets of pieces to line up exactly and as a result there's a bit of weirdness at the waist seam. I need to get a new rotary cutter blade and a bigger mat. It wasn't exactly fun to sew this fabric, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, either. I think backing it with lining really helped.

The Anna and the tulip skirt went together almost exactly. At first I was considering shifting pleats around so that they lined up, but decided I couldn't be bothered. This dress wasn't meant to be a headache. Because of the aforementioned misaligned lining issue I lost a bit of width and the dress is consequently a tiny bit snug in the waist. If I were making a dinner dress that would be a problem. As it is, not so much.

The hem is SUPER obvious in this fabric, but again, for a quick fun cheap thing I wasn't going to spend hours doing it by hand.

(I got my hair cut on the day I took these photos, and my new terrifying Italian hairdresser informed me that I was going to have "cool hair" and gave me a flapper bob/undercut hybrid. I think it's completely amazing, but I now have this super short bit at the back that's all fuzzy and I can't stop touching it. I may be standing like this in a lot of photos. I'm sorry.)

I am not planning to make this my new default dress pattern. I think it looks great, but it does not lend itself to daywear. I've made a second version in stretch fabric as part of my holiday sewing, but my main focus for the rest of the season (i.e. however long autumn/winter lasts, so probably until July 2019 or something stupid) will be to find the right long-sleeved dress pattern. The underarm/shoulder/boob area is my absolute bete noire when it comes to fitting, and if someone would release a pattern or a class promising to sort that out, I would pay all the money for it. I'm looking hopefully at Cashmerette - I considered buying her fit and flare dress pattern to have a go at a specifically drafted F cup bodice, but the pattern is sleeveless and I do not like the way that kind of sleeveless dress looks on me at all. If she releases a dress with sleeves, or a sleeve extension pack, I will be buying it and giving it a go. Until then, experiments. I have a long-sleeved Very Easy Vogue pattern that I keep putting off making because it looks like a lot of work, but now may be the time.

PS: The dress was a huge hit at the dance, possibly because almost nobody else had bothered with the theme at all. I don't care, I looked good. 

Evidence, courtesy of the awesome Fred Lindbom:


And because I can't not include it, one of the strangest photos I've ever been a part of: 

Why? Why any of this? Why do we look like we're in at least three different photos? What were we even going for here? Why did we take about a dozen pictures together and THIS was the only one coherent enough to be made public? It is batshit nuts and I love it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment