Yes, it’s meant to be scary…
If I was a contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee, my filmable speciality would be a tendency towards snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by sewing a seam the wrong way around, or cutting into the garment while trimming the final seam, or some such last-minute act of stupidity.
But I learnt a valuable lesson when I met Lesley last year, when in the course of conversation she said she doesn’t generally use small stitches! I received this heresy with a pretence of calm, afterwards beginning to ask myself why I insist on using the 2.2 straight stitch length which is there by default whenever I switch on the machine. Do I really imagine my garment would fall apart if I stray towards slightly longer? Ever since, I’ve been gradually forcing myself to go up to 2.6 or even 2.8 (wey hey!!) with no obvious compromise in quality.
This way, unpicking mistakes is much, much quicker!
There were several instances of unpicking in the making of daughter’s speed dress! It’s hard to concentrate in a busy home. Mum popped over on Saturday afternoon so there was chat – not to mention distracting, horrific cries coming from the TV as the ladies Wimbledon final was broadcast!
But I’m dead pleased with how this turned out. I had to think on my feet in designing it, adding to a basic idea of a bodice and a long, rectangle skirt. Daughter was away at a sleepover on Friday night so in her absence I made the bodice and lining based on a pattern made from the cling-film wrap but decided to put some gathering stitches at the neckline, just below the chin, so I had the option of gathering them to make the centre front fit better if it was gaping (it was). I ended up liking this as a feature.
The other feature – the sash – I copied from a dress with a pleated yoke I made for her three years ago which was dug out for reference. The new yoke is 1.5cm taller to be more in proportion with her now longer torso. I had no time to make pleats and no time for sleeves.
And I had a bit of serendipity! Mid-week I was asked to alter a dress for a very lovely client who came half a year ago to be measured for a bridesmaid’s dress which she ordered online (from China) for a now imminent wedding. Instead of having a skirt that’s fully gathered (too girlish?), the client’s dress has gathering around the middle part only. This I decided to copy for daughter’s dress. It has a nice elegance to it and mimics the gathering at the neckline. It was extremely quick to fit: I cut the rectangle twice the width of the bodice and just gathered tightly in the centre, leaving the half sides even.
The finish isn’t too bad: I pressed the bodice seams open but didn’t do anything else except hide them inside lining. The skirt (i.e. the rectangle) has French seams, even at CB below the zip, because I wanted the inside to look nice as she kicks around!
The hardest bit was getting the back yoke seams to level up across the zip. I spent ages fiddling and unpicking and sewing again then remembered to look at the clock. I also remembered the sash will largely cover this part! 🙄
Daughter was due at the Masquerade Ball at 6:30pm. I finished the dress at 4 o’clock then gave it a long soak to get rid of the gelatine with which I’d stabilised the fabric. I washed it and it dried in the breeze in only 20 minutes – that’s polyester for you!
But see this cascade of hair? Alas, she is going to have almost all of it cut off and sent to the Little Princess Trust to be used in making a wig for a child who has lost theirs. She’s also fundraising to help the Trust pay the wig weavers (in China) who make the wigs. If you can, please help her by making a small donation via her “fundraising page”; any amount would be most welcome (but is not, of course, expected.)
This is quite a bold move, I think, as her friends all have long hair. I would advise her against the short cut but I love that she’s been moved to support the charity … and quietly admire her desire to differentiate.