I FINALLY FINISHED A DRESS
Say hello to the Rebekah dress. A 1980s News of the World pattern from the collection of J E Wade. Named in honour of the infamous Rebekah Brooks - erstwhile CEO of News International and former editor of News of the World.
The dress is made from this pattern
How long did it take? 2 hours cutting, 3 hours hand sewing, 2 hours machine sewing - naturally I managed to make it last a fortnight. Yeah, I take an age with cutting, what of it?
How much did it cost? Main body of fabric was from Walthamstow market and a mere £1 a metre (!). I used about 3 metres. The contrast fabric was a simple black cotton poplin at £3.20 a metre. I used 0.25 metres. Total fabric cost £2.80. Buttons were 16p each and £1.28 for the amount required for the dress.
How was it to cut? Fairly simple, laying out illustration made sense and a total of ten pieces to cut.
Were the instructions clear? Sort of. Overall it was a simple make, but there were some instructions omitted that caused me a furrowed brow; an experienced sewer doesn't need these things spelled out, but I do!
Did I deviate from the pattern? Yes, but nothing too nefarious.
What techniques were required? Buttons, elastic, catch stitching, curved seams.
Any fitting issues? Nope. Its far too simple a dress for fit issues. Straight up, straight down. Also I cut a generous size (18 rather than 16)
Any sewing errors? Yes - this is in fact the second of these I've made. The first version is now jettisoned to the Michelle Obama bag of fabulous (aka bag o' scraps). Exposition to follow later in the post....
Would I make it again? For the longest time during the make and the initial fitting I thought the dress was going to be super dowdy. However, the addition of the buttons bought it together and I love it now! I think I'm going to make loads of versions.
Story of Rebekah
My post of 10th August is where I identified this as my next make; I also indicated a red crepe fabric as my intended material. You will see no evidence of the red crepe on this post. So what happened?
It wasn't a huge error, but it was enough. I fell victim to the curious lack of instructions on some of the simpler elements of this dress (front facing, button holes, hem). I've heard that this can sometimes be a factor with vintage patterns, but I didn't appreciate it fully until I fell foul of it three times. The mistakes didn't destroy my first attempt, but I couldn't ignore them enough to finish the dress. So my first attempt ended up in the Michelle Obama bag of fabulous.
Wherein I keep all my scraps. I needs to do some scraps bustin! The bag is getting pretty full #futureproject
My housemates tried to dissuade me from starting again, but the perfectionist in me would have always seen the flaws and it would have diminished my enjoyment of the dress and I probably wouldn't have ever worn it. The scrap bag was the right choice.
Aside from making me more cautious with the instructions of a vintage pattern, this make really reinforced the lesson 'to go fast, go slow'. This has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn in general, but especially with sewing. I get so excited about the prospect of a finished garment that I start rushing and make critical errors.
Aside from my generally hasty nature, I find myself provoked by the time it takes to make a garment. It is such a investment of time. Even with genuine proficiency (which I hope to acquire through application) I don't think I'll ever be able to do more than one garment every fortnight. I am not going to apply maths at this stage to prove the lack of feasibility to my project (400 plus projects at a minimum of two weeks each). Evidence is the death of ambitious projects. I apply it frequently at work, but I have no desire to be so limited in the private sphere. How depressing life would be if evidence would were applied rigidly to personal plans and decisions? Although better managed naturally.
First attempt discarded, a validation of the practice of muslins in cheap fabric, I began again. I selected a very light poly-cotton dove grey with florals, too nervous to splurge on an expensive fabric this was another Walthamstow market £1 a metre number.
I toyed with a royal blue cotton for the contrast, but settled back on the original black cotton poplin. For the buttons I selected cheap, over-sized black plastic rounds.
The second make was mostly simple, although based on my experience of the first attempt I adjusted some minor parts of the pattern. I increased the size of the casing for the elastic (which made it easier to insert) and moved the hem up by 4 inches. I initially resisted adjusting the hemline, as I am fond of a midi hemline, but was forced to concede because of the high neckline. I think that had I maintained the hemline the end result would have looked very dowdy. Although, I am not certain now that I see the end result and think perhaps I should have held out.
Everything was simple about the make, with the exception being the hand sewing involved which was lengthy rather than complicated. All around the neck band contrast and all around the sleeves.
And I found the buttons a chore...which doesn't make me think better of my love for buttons on garments (previously rapturous) but tempers it somewhat.
Rather joyful was the lack of seams that required finishing, finishing seams is always by least favourite task.
Onto the finished product. We have front:
We have back:
And that should have been the end of it... Except it occurred to me that I thought the front and back could easily be reversed!
I think it looks equally good, nay if not better! Version 2, front:
The highest accolade I can pay to the end product is that I wore it at the first opportunity, to work and then out with the ladies.
Naturally my second attempt was not free of mistakes, but such is my love for the finished product that I will not speak of its flaws. They shall be mine to know only. Hopefully the next dress will be made in a much more timely fashion.