I’ve been pretty busy of late. Since the latest batch of girls’ dresses, I’ve found little time to complete the outstanding orders due to a trip to the Lakes, a couple of birthdays, a few headaches, and a wedding thrown in for good measure.
But I have found time to make five things since 8th April when I last posted. The first – a pair of knitted baby booties and a baby beanie for my friend Vikki who is expecting a little boy in August (Vikki bought her gorgeous little girl, Charlotte, a Sophie Kingo African print girl’s dress and I thought it only right the bump get something too), a tank top for my nephew Oistin’s first birthday, and two new dresses for me.
Sadly, I completely forgot to take a photo of the three knitted items, so this post is about the two dresses I’ve made for me since.
It was my long-term friend Nicola’s wedding to Tim on Saturday and will be our friends Robin and Nicola’s wedding in less than two weeks, so a new dress was called for. I have found myself getting more and more disappointed with the offerings of the high street these past few months. Three years ago, any occasion dress you looked at in Warehouse, Monsoon, Hobbs, or the like would be made out of silk. Now it seems second rate man-made Polyester or Viscose will do. And I flat out refuse to buy polyester or viscose. I think the rise in these man made fabrics in high street stores must be to keep prices low and thus adhere to the somehow widespread belief that throwaway clothing is a good thing. Let me say this; It isn’t. I don’t want to wear fabric which doesn’t let your skin breath, rustles, goes static and looks just downright cheap. If I’m going to buy a dress I want it to last, wash well and look good. So no polyester or viscose for me, thanks.
After a long and unproductive scour of the internet for a suitable and re-wearable dress for a special occasion, I found myself browsing Liberty’s fabric ‘rails’. And what a lovely surprise. So many of Liberty’s new season fabrics are absolutely beautiful and when I came across the gorgeous Meandering Chrysanthemums Tana Lawn Art Fabric – an “iconic fabric… [to which] Zandra added her signature squiggle to the blotch of this archival design from 1966, which was inspired by florals from the 1920s with vibrantly coloured, oriental style flowers on dark grounds” – I decided to buy two metres of it and turn it into a new dress.
You may have noticed that lately the dresses I’ve been making – both for me and for girls – have been simple designs using beautiful fabrics. I’m all about the print at the moment and like to pair a simple dress pattern with a beautiful patterned and bold fabric. So I decided to make another shift dress out of this wonderful Oriental inspired fabric – a style which I know suits me.
I’ve made three shift dresses before (here, here and here) using Butterick pattern 4386 and tailoring it slightly. (The sizes of this pattern are very weird; according to the package I would need to make my shift dress size 14/10/16.) But this time, having bought Liberty fabric which is much finer and more expensive than the normal West African fabrics I make a lot of dresses in, and it being for a special occasion, I decided to alter the dress pattern by dropping the waist 3cm and tailoring the bust, waist and hip measurements (sizing at 6/8/12) on a test dress of African print.
After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, altering the bust measurements twice and the zip seam allowance once, I was done and ready to move onto my Liberty dress. (Of course, I left the hemming and ironically only finished this test dress today, three days after finishing my Liberty dress.)
And bish, bash, bosh. Having (almost) completed the test dress the Liberty dress was hassle free and any stressing that I wouldn’t get it finished in time was unnecessary. And I love it. I paired it with a new Biba cardigan from my Mum and Dad for my birthday, a pair of coral flats from Aldo, my bridal bag and silk hair flower and the family heirloom Victorian lace shawl I made for our wedding. And all at a snip of the price of a well made dress from the high street and completely unique. Perfect.