Monday 28 August 2017

summer sewing: birthday dresses of varying success levels

My mum's two dresses were the last things I made this summer. That's partly because her birthday is towards the end of August and I didn't want to have the dresses just hanging around for months for me to obsess over and poke at, and partly because I had VERY SPECIFIC visions and was afraid of not being able to live up to them. In the end, I sort of did and sort of didn't, as I'm about to show you.

I'm going to start with the successful one:

This, obviously, is the Named Kielo, which I've made twice before (and worn constantly this summer). Mum asked for one of these after seeing mine, and I agreed on the proviso that I got to choose the colour. I love the way she looks in rich autumnal colours, but they're quite hard to find so she rarely wears them. I, because I am very smart, didn't properly realise that because these colours are hard to find, they were also going to be hard for me to find, and I searched for the right fabric for more than three months. This led to a ton of empty-handed fabric shop trips, stressing out, and panic-buying the wrong colours (and in one case, panic-buying the wrong colour online late at night, only to discover in the morning that I hadn't actually bought anything at all. I don't quite know how that happened). I finally found this one in A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road about two weeks before her birthday, and I legitimately gasped out loud, "Oh my God, it's my vision!" I am such a twat. 

I think this colour is absolutely perfect on her and I'm so pleased. The fabric has a slight crepey texture to it and doesn't wrinkle at all, so it's going to be a really useful travel dress (she's off to Las Vegas in a couple of months with some friends she's known since school, as a "we've all reached this milestone birthday this year, we're still alive and still like each other" celebration). I don't know whether it will carry over seasonally with cardigans and boots and so forth, but we shall see. 

At Mum's request I shortened the dress to below-knee length as an anti-tripping measure, and since that brought it to maybe a couple of inches below the start of the back vent, I didn't bother putting that in. I also put the secret pockets in this one, for tissue-stashing. 

I'm super happy with the way this came out, and I'm so glad I found the right colour. She looks exactly as fabulous as I thought she would. 

Now for dress number two, which I don't think is a success (and is also wrinkly because transport):

This is the Cashmerette Webster dress, and I don't like this version at all. I just don't think this fabric was intended for this kind of dress, and I don't know what I could have done to it that would have made it look good and fit Mum's requirements. Left to my own devices I probably would have made something like the Deer and Doe Centauree (the only cotton sundress I have), but it has a gathered skirt and Mum doesn't like any extra volume at her hips. The fabric feels lovely, but it just doesn't have the drape. She looked great when she tried my navy version on, but in the stiffer fabric it's really obvious that I didn't fit it on her. 

On the plus side, the neckline looks really nice. I also hemmed it with a narrow bias facing, and it's the neatest hem I have ever done in my entire life. Hems are the bane of my life, so I was very pleased with myself. The dress is very comfortable and breathable, but if it just ends up as house dress for hot days I won't be at all surprised or offended. 

Overall I'm quite OK with these outcomes. The first dress is great, so she's got a nice birthday present that she can get a lot of wear out of, and the second was a learning experience which led to me finally making an actually neat hem. I'll make her something else for Christmas to make up for it.


  1. The Kielo looks great! As for the Webster, he back view works, but the front seems too plain. Would a belt help?

    1. I totally agree, it is too plain. I suggested a belt but she didn't want one!