Sometimes a change is as good as a rest (apparently).
As I have finished all my outstanding quilt projects I thought it was time to use some fabric I bought several months ago on my last trip 'out' before being locked in at home. I was teaching at Midsomer Quilting and during the lunch break I spent my time browsing the shop with Birgitta. In the very back corner of the shop 4 rolls of beige fabric were propped which, had Birgitta not pointed them out, I would have walked straight past. They were not the usual quilting fabrics that De stocks, but instead some rather nice medium-weight linen. Birgitta explained that they were a 'one-off' purchase by De and lots of people were buying it for cushions. But I didn't see cushions - I saw a dress!
Three of the rolls were prints - one with beautiful bumble bees, one with goldfish and the third with very pale gulls. The fourth roll was plain - a perfect compliment for the prints. Not being able to choose my favourite I did the obvious thing and had 1.5 metres of each!
I bought a pattern and made a toile using some old fabric that I had bought for another project that never got made. I'm glad I did because it was a disaster! Despite checking and rechecking the sizes indicated on the pattern it ended up large enough to fit both me and my sister (admittedly she is slim) in together. It is a problem I have had before- I just don't 'get' how to make commercial patterns fit no matter what I try. Apparently it is partly due to this thing called 'ease' - but why I can't get it right I don't know.
So instead of battling with the pattern I dumped it (Would anyone like it ? It is uncut as I traced the pieces I needed) and went to my wardrobe instead and got out an old dress that still fits. It was made of a fabric with 1 way stretch so I wasn't sure if it would work, but I was fed up by now and so I just went for it.
I laid out the dress, traced off the pieces to make my own paper pattern. It was as easy as that. I decided on the bumble bee fabric for the first attempt, crossed my fingers and started.
To try to accommodate the lack of stretch in my linen fabric decided to cut all the pieces on the bias. It was a bit more of a fuss, but I eventually managed to juggle it so I had enough fabric for all but 4 of the panels. I had to a bit of patchwork on 3 of the side panels to get it all out of the 1.5 metres - but what's the point of being a quilter if you can't use your patchwork skills in a pinch? For the remaining 4 panels I used the plain linen, which I hoped would make a nice contrast. This is all I had left - which makes me feel very pleased, as I it is shocking how wasteful making clothing is.
With all the pieces cut I quickly sewed them up with the scary overlocker - it's a brilliant machine which thunders through fabric (and any stray finger or other stuff that accidentally gets sucked into its teeth) and gives the most neat and beautiful results. With the help of my new dress making form (the best birthday present ever) I made the dress from start to finish in just under 2 days.
I am very pleased to say that at the first try on most of the dress fitted perfectly which I thought was a great result. A small tweak to reduce the amount of fabric in the zip panels by 2cm was all it took. I did wonder about adding sleeves - but as I didn't have enough fabric I decided to just make some bias strips and line the arm holes with that. It worked beautifully. The dress is now on the dummy hanging for a week so the hem will be nice and even when I stitch it.
I think cutting on the bias ended up making the dress drape so nicely - so I will definitely go that way again on the next one. I have ordered 5 more metres of plain fabric from De (the end of the roll :-( ) and will have a go at sleeves for the next one!
Thanks for reading.