Monday, 4 May 2015

Sew Seventies

This Bank Holiday weekend has been delightful; all three kids have been away at Cub/Scout camp, so the adults have been out to play.

Leisurely lie-ins, browsing the charity shops and Record Collector in Broomhill, a lovely meal at Thyme Cafe, which never disappoints, watching films and over-indulging on wine - what better way to spend a child-free weekend? 
Oh, and some sewing too.
At last.

As you can see, I made the shorter version of this 1970s pattern with elbow-length sleeves, as I didn't have enough fabric for a maxi dress or long sleeves.
Mind you, it very nearly didn't get made at all; the pattern instructions were so confusing that I was ready to have a major tantrum, hurl the bloody thing in the bin, and give up.

I'm glad I persevered; the pattern is by far the most complicated I've attempted, and I managed to do things I haven't tried before, like gathering, inserting sleeves, and making the fitted bodice with square neckline front and back. It was the bodice paneling and facings which nearly defeated me; the diagrams on the pattern looked - to my untrained eye - nothing like the fabric pieces I had in front of me. So frustrating!

Now I've made the dress, I feel rather sad that I don't really love it. 
It's pretty enough, I just don't much like it on me. The gathered skirt adds bulk to my hips, the sleeves look too long (though I could shorten them), the crisp cotton fabric doesn't flow, and the puffed shoulders seem too much. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong fabric; this pattern required something softer with more drape. 

But here's what I do like.
I struggled to understand the instructions, but eventually, I worked it out. The fit is good. The sewing is neat. All the seams match up, the zip went in properly first time, and the back edges either side of the zip are in line. I also made a contrasting sash. 
It's a decent piece of sewing, and even if I don't wear it much, making this dress was an achievement. The fabric cost £2, the pattern £1, the cotton and zip were already in my sewing box, so all I've lost is £3 and some time, while gaining valuable skills.

Jess and Min agree. They both like to sit on the tissue paper pattern pieces. Always so helpful.

The kids came home this afternoon, very tired but having had a brilliant time.

This was how they set off - they looked a little grubbier on their return...

Dress made by me from a 1970s pattern
Flower, necklace, bangles, and 1960s straw bag - charity shopped
Sandals - retail (sale)

I'm determined to find time for more sewing once we're back to the routine of school and work, I really enjoy it when I get going (and get over my bad temper at not being sufficiently expert).

If I'm not too late, I'll pop over to Judith's Hat Attack with my hair flower, and join Patti and co for Visible Monday.

And I'll be catching up with your blogs soon, I promise; a couple of unplugged days and I am woefully behind!



Mother of Reinvention said...

Woo hoo! am I first? Lovely bit of sewing and you are right. Every garment is a learning curve. Usually most of the time that we go wrong with a pattern is by using the wrong fabric. I have a bad case of sleevehead puff too. Glad that you have had a lovely adult-friendly weekend and hope the kids that a whale of a time and have lots of stories to tell. Xxxx

Mother of Reinvention said...

Yay! Go me. :) xxxx

Kezzie said...

It's a shame you don't love it but yes, the valuable lessons you gained from the process are what is important!
How nice to have the weekend to yourself and for the kids to have an adventure too!

Angels have Red Hair said...

Keep at it and you'll be sufficiently expert in no time. What a shame you're not too keen on it ... but if it's any consolation my very first thought ... before I started reading ... was "Oooo that looks good"

Patti said...

Great job sewing, and sorry you don't love the dress. When I first saw it I had a very positive oh! reaction. I had a cat who sat on any project I was working on. We called her "PC" for Project Cat. Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday, xox.

Kylie said...

It's beautiful Curtise (and you in it)
Make a maxi
You sew girl! (sorry)

Goody said...

For what it is worth, I like the dress quite a bit. That neckline would have made me mad as well, though you'd never know it gave you trouble looking at it. I'm glad to hear you're satisfied with the sewing itself, because that's the important thing. I hope you try the pattern again (now that you know the quirks) because that maxi version with a better draping fabric would be, as the kids say, "Awesome"!

Have I mentioned how much I like those sandals?

PinkCheetahVintage said...

You do look pretty in the yellow even if you are not in love with it! Glad the kids had fun!!!

Jane said...

Girl, you, your dress, and your children are beautiful! Great job all around! :)

diaryofapennypincher said...

Beautiful, well made dress, and close up the fabric is pretty. You can't change the fact that you aren't warming to it, but like you say, what a fantastic learning curve and you have a great toile for future dressmaking projects. That's a win-win situation! xxx

Vix said...

Do you know, I often feel like that after I've killed myself over making something but it is all about learning new skills and accomplishing something and it definitely beats wasting hours on the internet or watching shite on the TV.
I think it looks fab, those sleeves are so you and the colour is gorgeous. I reckon you should try it with your tan leather boots and a tooled leather belt and bag and give it a bit more attitude.
Loving those happy campers. What a weekend to be under canvas They'll make proper festival goers in a few years time.
Jess and Min are looking picture perfect amongst the flowers.
Today might be my lazy day. I've done nothing but work and be polite to people for days.
Love you! xxxxxx

Ulla-Marie Nilsson said...

All Three cats looks great, and that applies even the children. My desire for yellow is big right now. Incredibly fresh!

Ivy Black said...

Absolutely gorgeous, love. Looks fab on. I always love the feeling of making something. There's something very satisfying about creating a thing where it didn't exist before...does that make sense or do I just sound like a twat?
Anyway, your creation is lovely.
Glad your bank holiday was productive and relaxing and had a bit of wine going on. I sewed but mostly pottered in the garden. Actually, that's a lie, I worked my arse off and grew some new muscles!
Have a great week.
Loves ya!

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

Well done you! It was well worth the hard work. It's a lovely colour on you. A made to measure garment for £3? Can't be bad. xxxx

Tine Jensen said...

Dear Curtise, my mother made so many versions of that exact dress back in the late 70s. I don't think she has kept any, which is a pity since they were all beautiful!

I remember how she twisted every one of them, like using bits of brocade for the bodice, or attaching the sash in the front, allowing it to be tied at the back and so on. I also remember how she added a cuff to the sleeves - and I think that could be a possibility in your case, if you can find the motivation!

Sometimes we just have to acknowledge the fact that a project's success isn't the piece of clothing in your hand, but the experience getting there. I do like the yellow colour though! Anyway, congratulations on your added sewing skills!

Suzanne Carillo said...

I must hand it to you with your tenacity. I would have given up on the dress.

I do think it looks lovely still. The square neckline is very flattering and I love the coloured sash. Too bad you don't love it after all that work.


Mim said...

It's a nice dress, but if you're not happy with it, best find it a new home and try the pattern with a different fabric. It's a lovely pattern. I get the same thing with knitting; if it's not right, it'll never feel right. (That said, I hang onto the wretched things and wear them because they were such a slog to make, I feel I ought to.)

Olga Rani said...

The dress looks pretty enough to be worn occasionally at least! Anyway, sewing it was a good practice for you. Good you didn't throw the pattern in the dust bin and had enough patience to finish it.

Porcelina said...

Aw, I'm sad you don't love it but it sounds like you learnt a lot and it's such a pretty colour! Maybe you could refashion it (if you could be bothered). I think you've probably put in enough effort already!

thorne garnet said...

you did a really good job on that dress! That kind of neckline is tricky and it fits you perfectly!

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Better than decent! Your dress looks beautifully made. I love the print and the shade of yellow is sunshine itself! There is the definite possibility that the fabric will soften, at least a little, with a few washings. But, having said that, it's matching the fabrication to the pattern that gets me much of the time too. It's frustrating to me as well, when things I've sewn don't come out as I envision. In this case, many sewers would call this dress a wearable muslin. Meaning...sewing up a pattern first time round to check fit and practice technique, using either muslin fabric, or a bargain priced fabric. Sometimes it's a bonus when it turns out lovely enough to wear out, like here! Maybe, focus on your favourite accessories? In any event, I'm sending you extra sew-manju for finding the perfect drapey fabric for your next make!

Fiona said...

Well done for persevering, I'd have probably jacked it in, but I've no patience. I think you did a great job and all for under a fiver...what's not to like. Your honed skills will be put to use on the next project no doubt. Blimey, can girls go to Scouts now?...I'm so out of touch. xx

peaches mcginty said...

It's a lovely dress! well done for persevering, you triumphed the bloody pattern! the colour is gorgeous and I definitely think Vix is right with the attitude accessories for a different look - I've only bought one pattern, very easy? my arse and it was the wrong size, I didn't even know they came in different sizes *sigh*
Good to see ya and good to see your lovely brood, a weekend of fun sounds perfect for all, my lot would come back with a dry towel and facecloth, blumming filthy! x x x

Forest City Fashionista said...

Good on you for persevering with the dress - I remember having many hissy-fits when I took a sewing class in high school and more often than not since then when I've attempted something I've just given up. Vix is right, it's about learning a new skill and challenging yourself, which you did. I'm sorry it didn't turn out to be something you loved; I see what you mean about the fabric - it does need something with a bit more softer drape to it.

Glad you enjoyed your child-free weekend. I was having a marvelous time with Krista this past weekend, and will post about it soon!

Diane said...

I'm about to embark on my first clothing sewing project for years too - and I've gone for yellow! I'll let you know how I get on (the silky fabric looks tricky though!) xxxxx

Laurie Duncan said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who had made mistakes like yours when sewing. But, your right, it is always a learning experience. I think it looks quite cute anyway! :)

Lesley Extance said...

What a gorgeous dress just such a divine colour , you are so clever making it ,thank you for the lovely comments you leave me best wishes x

señora Allnut said...

glad you finished the dress, even if you finally don't like it!, sometimes it happens!
and I'm admiring you: gathering!, sleeves!!! that concepts sound really terrifying to me!
Lovely yellow color anyway, and lovely bag too!, summery and cool!

Natalia Lialina said...

Having kids is bliss, and having kids-free weekends is another bliss! :) I'm happy that both parents and children had great time! Learning is invaluable, I also remind it to myself every single time I want to be an expert on pretty much anything I try. :) You did an amazing job, Curtise! This is not an easy dress at all, and you made it so well! A few mistakes with picking the wrong fabric will happen - it happens even with very experienced tailors (the worst one in my life was when I picked a completely wrong fabric for my wedding dress, and my tailor only mentioned it when the dress was ready... oops). Plus, both you and I wore happy yellow that weekend - how fun is that? :) Much love to you xxxx

ps If you feel inspired, do join the writer's link-up - I read your fictional character story over at Mel's a while ago, and it was great!

Melanie said...

Grrr. I feel your pain at not loving this! But I'm feeling your joy at having conquered this complex pattern. Maybe you could grow to love this dress - add a jerkin, punk it up as Vix suggests? Or not. I still think this dress looks great on you!
I bet those kids came home with lots of badges as well. You definitely need one for sewing.

Delia Ryder said...

I think you did great making that dress sleeves are really hard and something I never achieved when I used to make my own dresses many moons ago. I think you look great but at least you learnt from making it :-) Glad you enjoyed your child free weekend, dee xx

mondoagogo said...

I like it, but I don't love it either. I reckon maybe it could use a bit of oomph -- maybe some trim around the hem and sleeves? You're right about the learning part though -- I find that to be the case all the time with my classes!

Ladan Ladanu said...

Wowee, even if you don't love it t's so worth making this for the ton of stuff you learned. It's actually very pretty, the colour is fantastic and all those details are lovely. You are right about the fabric being too stiff but the only place it really looks like it could be softer is the sleeves. Lovely work, I look forward to seeing loads more.x

Vintage Bird Girl said...

Well done on the dress. I'm a bit reluctant to try gathering, zips and sleeves. Good on you for trying something more complicated! I get so frustrated if I can't work patterns out easily too. I'd love to say my sewing is neat but I still seem to struggle with straight lines! Xx

Beth Waltz said...

Very neatly done! Anyone who can get a zip in on the first try has earned my admiration!

The pattern and fabric appeal to me because they evoke happy memories of local Korean festival wear, updated for a Midwestern venue. If you'd used a softer fabric, my Korean chums would have clucked and reached for the spray starch can. It's a pretty dress, Curtise; perhaps it's simply not the dress you envisioned.

Pennyblossoms said...

Such a shame you're not keen on the finished article, 'cos it looks great on you in the picture! Like Vix said, maybe different accessories, or even a wash to take out any finish in the fabric, may make it more lovable.
And they say yellow dresses are selling out because Duchess Kate wore one with 'the baby'. NO, they saw yours and thought ooo, nice colour, must get me some of that!

The Style Crone said...

I'm so impressed that you completed this project. The dress looks great on you, and it sounds like you learned huge amounts for the next time. Even though you're not loving it, it sounds like it was well worth the time and energy.

Your headwear is divine, as usual. Thank you for sharing with Hat Attack!

Carina Rosenholm said...

I think you look great but if you do t feel it ..


Sheila said...

You do look gorgeous in that lovely butter yellow - it really suits you. Too bad about the fabric/style mismatch, but you did a great job!

freckleface said...

Woohoo! Kids away, grown ups will play! How wonderful. Lie ins, meals out and wine. Perfect. I am so inspired by your progress on the sewing front. This dress looks fab. The fit is great, the colour is lovely and look at those sleeves, you've nailed it. The square neckline is lovely too. Can't have been easy. I know how you feel though, I've been there and done it. Then you find a pattern you love and you make it four times. Can't wait to see what you go on to do bext. Xxxxx

Trees said...

I think that dress is fabulous! But if you don't like it, out it must go.... I know some sewists want to hold onto EVERYTHING they make, but my view is if I had BOUGHT something and decided I didn't like it, I wouldn't keep it. So why keep me made stuff that doesn't make me happy and who knows if you 'release' it into the universe it may be the perfect frock for someone else xo