Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plans for Self-Stitchery: an update

I have not forgotten my pledge to make ethical choices in the creation of my self-stitched wardrobe.

Remember what I said?  Aim to use fairtrade / organic materials, but failing that "natural" fibres as the bare minimum.  So that would exclude velvet polka-dot polyester tulle, don't you think?

I haven't bought any new yarn or fabric since my trip to Edinburgh, but as you will have noticed, I have taken delivery of a rather large number of pre-loved sewing patterns.  Not just Janet's stash, but also a bag of patterns from a work colleague (who advertised them in the internal mail as free to the first taker).  Most of these are frankly hideous in that special early 1990's way, but maybe one day I will view them as "vintage", so I have put them in storage for now. 

All three of these, please!
 I really really want to sew some dresses.  I am so excited about some of my new vintage patterns that I want to see made into garments... but I am not sure that I necessarily want to wear them!  Do other people have this dilemma?  Wanting to see a design come to life in all three dimensions, but perhaps not having the lifestyle to support a prom dress?

So I am trying to be practical without losing the sense of fashion adventure that these old patterns inspire.  And I have been finding that even quite extreme looks can be surprisingly wearable.  I wore my shocking pink trousers "out" twice last weekend!  I dared to wear my navy shorts to work.  And I even wore my pumpkin plaid minidress (not me-made) to work without incident.  Now, either people are getting so used to my eccentricity that they felt it best not to comment, or else my outfits were less outrageous than I thought.  Either way, nothing happened to inhibit me from future public exposure of my home-made garments / knees.

Brannock and Patek fabric
 So I return to the smock-dress plan and the quest for the perfect fabric.  Several commenters said to beware of making something so warm and fluffy that it might be mistaken for pyjamas.  You have a point.
But I wanted to show you my latest fabric discovery from RayStitch:  Brannock and Patek Woven Basics.  The dark green / blue brushed cotton gingham is almost the same as the Anna Allen dress that sparked off this quest in the first place.
"Absolutely perfect for PJ's" it says on the website!  Maybe I need to just accept that this is a "homewear dress".  Something to wear from Friday evening through to Monday morning without the need to change!

Liberty Missenden jersey from Raystitch
 And then by way of contrast, I would love to make a dress from Janet's pattern hoard.  Something Spring-like and work-appropriate.

Again I have to accept I do not have any suitable fabric in the stash, because I have never felt the need to buy dress-lengths until now.  I am thinking of something slightly floral with a hint of mustard in the mix.

This Liberty jersey caught my eye.  For a 60's-style cowl-neck shift.  My only worry is that it looks awfully like something my boss would wear...

several sellers on eebaay have this one
 And finally, I am obsessing about my "need" for a red and white gingham-stripe full-skirted fifties dress.  Janet had the perfect pattern (top right)- and now it is mine!  I would run the stripes horizontally.

By the way, thank you SO much for all your lovely comments about my Valentine's Day story.  I have started to wonder if it was all true.
Especially after I tried googling Janet's full name and found "her" in Southend...!

She was also in lots of other places, you understand, but if I want to believe that "my" Janet is bringing up her grand-daughter by the sea, then that is where she is - OK?!

More thinking to be done before I splash out on fabric.  Meanwhile, there is the small matter of the purple velvet shorts...


Scruffybadger said...

Hoorah for braving it at work and ignoring your self conscious little voice. It is a challenge, I know! I am so with you on dress adoration but limited opportunities for actually wearing them. I am channeling dolly clackett as my spring/ summer Muse and will try to wear more dresses to work, and at weekends come to think of it. Not prom dresses though! I manage to resist those. Striped gingham - absolute must! And am learning from you in your ethical sewing quest.... Look forward to next steps.!

Clare said...

I used to feel quite self-conscious in dresses but now wear them to work maybe 4 days out of 5. Having said that, I know I won't actually wear a dress with a giant skirt even if I like the idea of them. Your Janet story made me cry - you told it really well.

Christine Laennec said...

I used to wear dresses a lot, and now I only have one in the closet, looking at me... Your stripey fabric and full-skirt pattern reminds me of the dress that Sigrid (analog me) made, I think last summer? She recently wrote that she'd worn it a lot more than she'd expected. I think its first outing was to the state fair. (The stripes conceal chickens, so that was appropriate.)

You made me laugh suggesting a dress that you would wear all weekend long and never take off!

And: of course Janet is in Southend! Having a lovely time, I hear.

Minnado said...

I too am tempted by dresses and would like to wear them more. At the moment I keep looking for dress patterns that I could still breast feed in! This rules out quite a few. I just emailed you a link to a british pattern and notion company, merchantandmills. Their dresses are kind of vintage-y style but look like there is lots of room for adaptations. Bit more expensive than average patterns. I enjpyed the Janet post BTW, sue she is in Southend, enjoying life!

Ali said...

"I am so excited about some of my new vintage patterns that I want to see made into garments... but I am not sure that I necessarily want to wear them! Do other people have this dilemma?"

Yes, ALL THE TIME. I think that's why I like reading blogs so much -- I get to live vicariously through other sewers. And hooray for you, wearing hot pink and shorts :) My wardrobe is getting more staid, but I think this year it will all come together, style-wise. A bit more color, a bit more mindfulness.

Urban Rustic said...

I am definitely in a "dress mode" at the moment.I really wanted to make lots of winter dresses this year and failed completely so I am going to make an attempt on spring/summer ones now.I have patterns for several dresses needing jersey and so far couldn't find any I liked.I had forgotten about Raystitch for some reason and they have some nice ones there so thank you for reminding me.
I always seem to make thinks that I want to see made up which is why my wardrobe comprises a disparate collection of items that just don't go together and don't suit me.

Anonymous said...

Roo, the dress patterns are vintage delicious. I love a good dress. It is a struggle to pair fabric to pattern and then ease it into contemporary wardrobe. I try to use a subdued fabric with a vavoom pattern. Your 50's full skirted pattern is calling my name in an indigo tercel linen denim sort of way. I'm 53 and wore the Betsey for Butterick patterns in the early seventies in jr and sr high school. They were not organic or sustainable fabrics one bit- poly all the way and unashamedly.

Have you considered the black floral fabric length as a pencil skirt? Talbots has just done them for spring- too fun.
Thanks for your blog. Inspiring.
Alice in PA