If Style Arc was a parent rather than a pattern company, the kind of parent it would be is the kind that teaches its kid to swim by throwing it into a lake off a jetty.
There ain’t much handholding in the Mara Shirt Dress instructions.
Exhibit one: constructing the shirt pocket. “Fold the pocket in half and stitch as marked on the pattern to create a box pleat.” But fold in half which way? Right sides together or wrong sides? I went with right, which was wrong. An inch of ink could have explained. Instead I hear voices: ‘But Marianna mate, it’s so obvious, how could you have been so …. stupid?!’
Exhibit two: here’s the shirt cuff. And amongst the following sentences are the instructions on how to achieve it: “with right sides facing sew the top sleeve to the under sleeve. Follow the notches. Sew the under sleeve seam and the back seam to down to the sleeve opening. Sew the outer cuff edge to the sleeve opening, pin the inner cuff to the sleeve seam and sink stitch.”
My choice of fabric – a sheer linen from Simply Fabrics (£6) and redder than these pinkish pictures suggest – compromised the project somewhat as the seam finishes would have been visible from the right side. So to achieve a less unkempt look, I had to choose French and flat-felled seams; both annoying to alter. Also, I had to omit the side pockets as they showed through and just looked floppy like elephant ears.
But despite being traumatised by evidence of my incompetence and amateurism, I enjoyed making this and I think it’s a great-looking dress. The collar is elegant, the button fly-front looks very professional (and that part was easy) while the sleeves are narrow-fitting and feminine. During the project, which was drawn out and marked by many interruptions, each morning I’d enter the room where the dress draped over the dummy by the window and I’d be overwhelmed by the gorgeous colour, all walls awash in a shade of blood.
I’m not sure what to wear under it yet. My jeans are a bit heavy. Maybe a black leotard and a mini (sooo 1993)?
I’m sewing another vibrant-coloured version of this for my mum but she’s not around for a fitting so I’m off to make something from Colette Patterns now. Colette’s a helicopter parent. The kind that reminds you that after sewing the left sleeve to do the other side!