I’ve been given 2 narrow metres of an interesting Indonesian batik which is virtually vintage (well, from the 1990s anyway). Before cutting into it to make my Sureau, I’ve made this muslin to check the sizing and assess if I can get away with a small amount of fabric.
Sureau (which means “elderberry”) is a beginner-friendly pattern from the French indie company Deer & Doe. It should be a very quick make; however, the addition of a piped collar needed quite a few hours to make it fit after the neckline stretched through not being staystitched 🙄
The original pattern has a collarless neckline. According to my pattern-cutting guru Adele Margolis, this is “for the young and the beautiful only”. A collarless neckline, I quote: “calls for a firm chin, a smooth and slender neck, and a good set to the shoulders … This leaves the majority of us out. For us, the severity of the collarless neckline needs to be sotftened with a gay scarf [this book was published in 1959], our faithfull pearls [like I said, this was published in …. ], or a pleasing collar“. Now usually when someone tells me I can’t wear something, I call them “the bleedin’ Taliban” but I have to admit that I find Sureau in its original somehow … raw. It really is a pattern that requires an experienced sewist to employ some imagination.
The original neckline shape is tending toward the V so I ‘scooped’ it by widening from the CF (and before drafting the collar). The other change I made was to pleat the skirt rather than gather it. I eyeballed this: I pinned the folds to be more or less symmetrical from the centres but I didn’t measure much. I also shortened the sleeves to just above the elbow, then added bands. These, like the piping on the collar and the fabric of the covered buttons, are silver, which will hopefully be more dirt-friendly than white.
A word of warning about the sizing. According to the pattern envelope measurements, I’m a size 40. Having read some reviews of Sureau, I decided to make size 38 bust, shoulders and sleeves with size 40 waist and hips. It’s still very roomy!
Black dresses with contrast collars and cuffs are a bit of a fetish of mine (as I’ve explained here.) They’ve been quite popular in RTW recently; here’s a current cutie from Phase Eight. What I love about my creation is that it goes perfectly with the ‘fangs’ necklace my son made me at school. The main fabric is fine needlecord from Rashid and perfect for those not-so-warm summer days. In the autumn, I’ll wear it with tights, boots and a thermal vest. And a gay scarf.
My OH pulled a face when I first wore this and said it “hangs off”: one of those double-edged comments that manages to wound both the woman and the seamstress in one. Of course, ever since he made the remark I’ve been cutting his meals with catfood!
Then again, having looked at these photos, I suspect I could possibly cut a size 36 bodice. Time for making Version II.