Monday, 28 April 2014

A stolen day of dressmaking


With an arm-length list of things I needed to work on for our apps last week, my plan was foiled when we lost our phone and Internet connections mid-week. Thursday found me with little else to do other than sew (which was obviously devastating, especially when it involved the prospect of a Peter Pan collar), so I decided to whip up a blouse as it's been so long since I've done any dressmaking and Springtime always seems to reawaken the desire to do this for me.


I bought this light-weight rayon feather-strewn print from Sew Over It last year. It has THE most amazing drape. I would go so far as to say that it has the best drape of any fabric I've ever owned. Although you pay for that by it being a little slippery to sew with, although not in a totally maddening way, just in a 'oh for goodness sake, sit still' sort of way. If it were a child it would be the one who wiggles around like it's got ants in its pants at story time, rather than the one who wilfully blocks up the cloakroom sinks and then turns the taps on at full force, so don't be put off welcoming a metre or two of it into your home; it will probably behave.


I drafted the pattern based on a much-loved shop bought blouse I have in my wardrobe, but have never tried to recreate previously as I knew it would need super-drapey fabric to work as it's not especially fitted, but remains flattering because the drape allows it to follow the lines of the body, rather than standing like a tent around it. I dispensed with making a muslin version because I felt I was on borrowed time in which to indulge my Spring dressmaking fancies and because I was feeling impatient after months of slow English paper piecing and just wanted to MAKE SOMETHING. And amazingly, it just worked: drape - perfect; fit - perfect; ability to blend in with the rest of my wardrobe - perfect; wearability - huge!


But do you remember those 'You Choose' books that we had when we were younger, where if you choose to confront the shadowy figure behind the curtain you should turn to page 78 and if you decide to run away you should go to Page 22? I think I had a You Choose moment when I was making this top, but the person authoring my day hadn't made me fully aware of how critical it was...and I chose the wrong thing. When I raided my stash for interfacing for the collar, I realised the black iron-on fusible I had was a little heavy, so instead I chose the lighter weight one, which was white. I realised that white interfacing wasn't ideal on a dark top, but decided I'd go with it as it didn't show through the fabric at all when placed beneath it. When I finally tried the finished top on, I was so pleased with its right-first-timeness that I chose to respect this with one more press before hanging it in my wardrobe. However, in between that time, I'd used the iron for something else and had forgotten that I'd turned the heat up above three dots to 'flatten that fabric like a steamroller' temperature. When I ironed the collar, white flecks of glue melted through the thin fabric and I was left with white dots all over the centre front of the collar. I'll leave it to the colourfulness of your own imagination to insert the expletive I may have used.


I followed a video on YouTube that showed me how to steam the fabric without pressure, then to soak it in boiling water, before scraping the glue off (I can't find it now, but the girl doing the tutorial had the most incredibly calm and reassuring voice that it did much to restore my equilibrium). It did remove most of the glue, but it's no longer perfect. It looks fine in the photos and I wore the blouse the day after and (curiously for me) didn't feel self-conscious about the slight dotting, but I'd really love to remake it, this time taking longer over everything: french seams, rather than overlocked edges; soft black interfacing; maybe putting in a keyhole opening at the back of the collar.


Those who know my dressmaking habits well will appreciate the freakishness of my wearing this top the very day after it was made! Despite daubing it in glue, it really was a success in Florence Land for I normally put just-made clothing in my wardrobe for at least a fortnight to percolate in my head as to whether it is suitable for wearing outside or whether it's a 'bless my heart' garment. Camille from Queen Bee Fabrics recently taught me this saying - apparently it's a southern expression meaning 'Well, you tried your best. Bless your heart!'. I think that's the most positive, optimistic and adorable way of embracing your own shortcomings! (I love Camille's posts on Instagram, even though she seemingly has no 'bless her heart' moments of her own, despite claiming to - do follow her if you don't already!)


Anyway, I must say that I feel totally energised by a day spent driving not only the sewing machine, but also the overlocker. There are few things quite so happiness-inducing than the sight of a desk crammed with machinery after a sabbatical from it (because I mostly choose to hand-sew, but every now and then it feels so refreshing to return to a machine and experience what a 1,000 stitches per minute feels like again).

Returning to the quilt that featured in the last post (a full 18 days ago - how did that happen?!) - thank you so, so much for all your comments - they were funny, helpful, empathetic, insightful, and at times, understandably stern ( you know who you are!), but they gave me so many good ideas and also made me feel incredibly lucky to have so many lovelies to share things like that with. Many of you suggested that I put it back under the bed until I have the will to unpick the stitches and make it right, so, as by that point it was already back under the bed awaiting the outcome of its fate, it felt like good advice and hopefully at some point in the future, you'll read a post where it's been finished in a way that I'm happy with and can then go and find a home somewhere where it will be loved.

Florence x

Ps. The photos for this post were a no-head sort of day. My husband declared that I looked mad in all of them! Sometimes it's best not to smile; there's an excellent reason why so many dressmaking bloggers go for photos where they're looking down at a particularly interesting point on the floor - it's a much more reliable stance for photographs! x

15 comments:

  1. I was just remembering those choose-you-own-plot books the other day and wondering if the internet has rendered them uninteresting to 21st century children. Lovely top and it really suits you, such a shame about the glue - I think it's Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) who prefers just to use muslin as a sew-in interfacing; I tend to take that route too, can't stand the iron-on stuff. See Brené Brown's RSA talk on Youtube for a totally different take on "bless your heart", by the way! x

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  2. This is so lovely! I'm sorry to hear that it was such a difficult make, but it really turned out nicely!

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  3. that is so simple and perfect. I need to make myself one

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  4. Beautiful blouse, and you really can't see the glue in the photos. It's such a pretty fabric too.

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  5. I love the blouse... the fabric seems to be such a good fit for the pattern! I hate it when I make a quick, wrong decision when I'm sewing and then feel so annoyed afterwards, wishing I could go back and make it again!

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  6. I love this top. It's exactly my cup of tea! Drapey fabric and Peter Pan collars woooeeee. Good work on squeezing this in to your schedule.
    I generally find whenever I rush something a bit it usually ends up being one of my favourites and I regret not being nicer to it during sewing :-)

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  7. So lovely - a day of dressmaking is such a treat and the Interfacing Ironing Incident must have been doubly frustrating. But what a beautiful finished result! You look lovely [not mad] in it - blessings x

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  8. Thank you for the 'bless your heart' tip. A much nicer expression than I usually use for those garments that I don't consider fit to wear outside the house.

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  9. I try not to use iron on interfacing as I don't like the feel of stiffness the glue gives to the fabric. But how horrible that your lovely work was messed up like that. Never mind. It seems that you were able to sort it out well enough.

    I don't think you can ever have made a 'bless your heart' sort of garment. Your clothes are far too well made for that.

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  10. Beautiful blouse, I need to see if the library has any you choose books for my daughter, I LOVED reading them as a child! Thank you for reminding me about them!!!

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  11. So cute and beautiful! You're skilled :D

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  12. this top is perfect! love it.

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  13. Florence, everything you make is totally gorgeous. I am a knitter and I find even putting a hem in, akin to the invasion of Poland... Well done on the blouse. Absolutely beautiful!

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  14. I love the idea of a "bless my heart" wardrobe! I made my first clothing item for 25 yrs this weekend, and I'm really pleased with it. I put it on today to wear on the school run- but chickened out and changed! You've made me feel like I'm not totally mad. Your top is gorgeous x

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  15. My mother always took lots of time and care with everything she made. As a result by the time she finished anything she was totally fed up with it. Solution. She put new makes into the back of the wardrobe until she had forgotten it and then hey presto! she had a new item to wear. Works for me too!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x