stretching the brain

My anticipated 2 hours of dress-making morphed into slightly longer. The dress is made up of 4 rectangles which you’d think would be quick and simple, but as an unknown russian knitting blogger quoted by the ever-excellent carmela once said – “it is the precision and mastery of the details that make the difference between a beautiful garment and granny’s vest”. This was one of the best things I’ve ever read about making a wearable garment. I often think back to it.

This dress could have looked completely dreadful, but I was rather hoping it wouldn’t.

There were a couple of unexpected challenges:
+ cutting giant rectangles without pattern pieces and ensuring you don’t end up with a parallelogram (or even worse, a trapezium). I’m thankful for the sisal rug, a t-square and the retractable tape measure from the toolbox.
+ the fabric was quite textured, slippery and had a slight stretch, so cutting and sewing evenly was rather laborious.
+ pockets were never going to be realistic in this fabric (see above), so I abandoned that idea quite early on.

The overlocker (serger) was absolutely genius and made for stellar finished edges. I really need to investigate how to properly use it – there’s an instructional DVD and booklet which I’ve cheerfully ignored (as I’ve mostly cheerfully ignored the overlocker). Another project for the endless list.

Save for the pockets I mostly stuck to the plan. I realised mid-way through that no matter how simple the elements of the dress are, to make this you need to have a pretty solid understanding of the process of garment construction. I think I often under-estimate my skills and knowledge (in most areas). I mean, it’s not a blazer or a wedding dress, but you need to know what bits to sew when.

On with the pix.

dimensions – my “pattern”

cutting on the rug

The precision and mastery of detail had me pinning and then basting everything. The basting was time-consuming but made for a much more even seam – especially with the slippy fabric.

basting and tools – that tape-measure was amazingly helpful

inside – elastic casing

inside – adjustable elastic waist

twins! side by side comparison

After all that I was pretty pleased with the result.


ACTION SHOT! too many bags

It was a very hot day and I was expecting to cook because it’s definitely 1000% synthetic. I was pleasantly surprised to be reasonably cool – I suspect the loose fit helped with that.

I ran into JackieChan (our very zany IT Manager) in the lift on the way in to SML, we exchanged greetings and he commented “hey, nice dress” and I kept it all casual with a “thanks, I made it on the weekend”. He responded with a “no way! that’s awesome! are you joking? that’s awesome! you’re joking right? No way!” and called his amazement out to colleagues when we got into the office. Gratifying!

I do think though that I’ll save it for evenings and holidays – it’s a little too shiny for a casual office.

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6 Responses to stretching the brain

    • carolbaby says:

      Many thanks! Possibly the spotty tigers weren’t the chic-est of accompanying footwear, but I’m all about the sneakers these days – and am all about embracing the quirky old lady look.

  1. Meryl says:

    It’s fab! Am so impressed by the elastic casing bit. Must look up how to do that properly. You’ve inspired me to make something this weekend.

    • carolbaby says:

      Oh I definitely recommend making something! It really did shift my malaise (for a time anyway).

      I’d not seen that style of casing anywhere before I bought the original dress. It’s quite clever and uses that holey adjustable elastic sometimes found in children’s clothing. To be honest I am unlikely to adjust it, so probably could have just sewn it in, but I was aiming for verisimilitude!

      And thank you!

  2. Shauna says:

    Wow! It’s beautiful! You look so elegant! I’m in awe of your skillz 🙂

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