I like to play around with the ‘governess dress’ theme and the brief I gave myself for this year’s version was ‘demure… or deadly?’
(You do realise, I hope, that almost everything I do and say is tongue-in-cheek 🙂 )
The fabric is pincord, the finest known to humanity. Over the last few years I’ve made many dresses and shirts out of this and will continue to do so till I run out of supply (this current batch is from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham). I love its softness and warmth; it has substance yet for some designs, say a circle skirt, there is the necessary drape too. I would have liked the contrasting detail to be just white in a crisp cotton or silk (for a particularly strict governess look) but I worried that the repeated washing would cause the black dye to spoil the whiteness. The tartan is, I think, a good compromise and on the few occasions I have worn this I’ve been given the thumbs up.
Back in March while making this, I listened to a dramatized serial of Jane Eyre on Radio 4 with what I consider to be among the most interesting young actors around, Amanda Hale and Tom Burke, in the main roles. As I worked on my governess dress, I imagined it on Jane. Here she is, pattering lightly on the stone-flagged floors of draughty Thornfield Hall, dabbing at her permanently dripping nose. That’s what one of those big, pouchy pockets is for – a hanky!
The other pocket’s a money bag. When he remembers, Mr Rochester tends to issue his wages in half-yearly lumps. But reader, don’t hold it against him, for we have traveled into the past, where there are no nice shops and no stuff to buy.
The back is shaped by two contour darts, the sleeves are ‘bracelet length’ and there’s a side zip. Do you like how I’ve used tartan leftovers on the inside, including a bias strip as hemming?
Email me if you would like to buy a pattern of this dress which I can design to your measurements. The fit is similar to a shift dress but with room at the front due to the volume from the bust dart gathering. Being above the knee, it has a sixties, mod vibe. The level of skill: intermediate.