I have been very remiss with my dressmaking endeavours over the last couple of years. I have taken to knit fabrics mainly due to the fact that there is no need for buttons or zips and I can whizz through those seams with my overlocker like a dervish. I would say I have no patience but, with other projects (see above for instance), I show that I do so it’s not that. Partly, I think it’s because I have far too many clothes already and don’t need any more – although that doesn’t stop me when I’m in Zara – one of my daughters is now making her own clothes and the other isn’t overly interested in clothes per se.
So, when Tilly and the Buttons released the new Rosa shirtdress pattern with a separate online workshop I thought it would be an opportunity for me to go back to basics, take it slowly and try to produce something to be proud of again. This was a leap for me as I usually try to avoid anything with buttonholes and this has 12 of them. The pattern also has button stands, a separate collar stand, mock felled seams and a pointed yoke at the back – none of which I had tackled before. I figured that if I paid money for a workshop it would force me to sit still and concentrate.
I originally intended to make the dress for my daughter who, at 21, already appears far too old for it judging by the lovely model on the pattern who is surely about 14 years old. Despite this, I thought it would be a versatile enough garment for both her and me. I know, from past makes with Tilly patterns that I am a size 3 or 4 – which doesn’t mean I am a 15 year old eastern European catwalk model – only that Tilly’s sizes are numbered differently. I’ve never made anything in the range for Mlle. Tialys the younger however so thought I’d first make a toile. Not being a lover of ‘wasting time’ I thought I’d make a size 4 toile in a stash fabric and we could both try it on and, like Cinderella, whoever it fit would have the handsome
To save fabric, I thought I’d make the shirt rather than the dress and I used a black needlecord fabric I’d found in the local charity shop some time before. I made the toile – which fit me like the proverbial glove – and made a good job of the pointed yoke until I realised – holding it up to admire my handiwork – that you could see daylight through the fabric. On closer inspection, the needlecord had some wear and tear in certain areas and, unfortunately, it was one of those areas that I had used for the yoke construction. It had to be redone and, as so often happens, I couldn’t quite get it as good as the first time.
Meanwhile, the cutting of the cord – so to speak – had resulted in a black dust that had settled over every single surface in my workroom. It was under my fingernails and on my skin – in the evening when I used a cleanser on my face, the resulting cotton pad gave me a shock until I remembered I hadn’t been toiling up chimney stacks like a female version of Bert in Mary Poppins (although more authentically cockney) but just chancing my arm with black corduroy in my workroom.
So, I re-cut another toile in a cloud of black fibres and it was at this stage, laying the pattern pieces on for a second time, I forgot about ‘nap’ which has resulted in a couple of variations in the shade of black which may or may not be noticeable enough to bother me although Mr. Tialys picked me up on it straight away as men tend to do.
Serging up the unfinished edges was a trial as my overlocker – a Pfaff model bought cheaply in Lidl three years ago so that I could see if I would actually use one or not – is on it’s last knockings. It chews up the edge instead of slicing through it neatly, one of the needle threads keeps coming unthreaded and little ‘nests’ of thread keep forming under the foot which all inevitably lead to the dreaded ‘overlocker re-threading nightmare’ which generally has me running screaming to the wine rack instead of just casually walking over to it as I usually do.
(New overlocker now on order – with jet air threading – hoorah!)
The only good thing I have to say about the cord fabric is that there is a lot of topstitching involved with this pattern and, as I opted not to use a contrasting thread, any less than perfect stitches are neatly hidden in the pile of the fabric. My next version will be in chambray so there’ll be no place to hide.
The option of a contrasting inside collar stand and button stand makes for a nice feature which is mostly hidden but I know it’s there and it makes me feel good. Having said that, I don’t think I’ve done up a top button on any piece of clothing since I’ve been able to do buttons up by myself.
I’ve half throttled my mannequin – who feels no pain – in order to prove that I can do it if I want to though.
(some sort of optical illusion is going on here as both sides of the collar are definitely the same length in ‘real life’)
Here’s how it will more often be worn
Of course, having shed its fibres in every possible nook and cranny while being constructed, the dreaded cord is now attracting every microscopic piece of fluff, thread, hair and dust and displaying it proudly to the world. Have I said ‘never again’?
I didn’t take any photos as I went along – too busy concentrating and anyway I probably would have got cord dust in my camera lens.
More on the pattern and a full size ‘reveal’ in Part Two.
By the way, the top patchwork block was one of the three I sent to Kate for our F2F block swap and I can’t resist showing you this one which is from the Elizabeth Hartman Fancy Forest quilt pattern.
Have you ever had cause to pledge never to use a certain fabric, yarn or other craft accoutrement ever again?