The beginning of 2015 seemed to herald the best fortune I have had in some time. I had a modicum of my life back after losing my mid twenties to my doctorate, things were starting to look up after a tricky start at work and I was winning things. One of those things was a competition my workplace held to find the worst Christmas present anyone had received. On a whim, I dashed off an email describing the One Direction pencil case my dad gave me. I decided to omit that it was a gag gift concealing the Tatty Devine watermelon necklace that I’d been coveting. I think the clincher was actually my email signature at the bottom, which states not only my professional title, but also my rather overblown job title. I think what they put in the newsletter in the end was “Dr Monique Davis, Metropolitan Area* Educational Psychologist, was given a One Direction pencil case complete with stationery set. She adds that she is twenty-eight years old.” My prize was a £20 John Lewis voucher, which I intended to spend on some very luxurious wool. But on perusing the selection in the habadashery section, nothing set my crafty soul on fire. I was with a friend who was looking for a sewing pattern, and as I wandered around the fabrics, I spotted some rather lovely polkadot denim chambray. I am absolutely obsessed with denim at the moment, so it felt like fate. I bought a metre and had exactly enough left over for some eye-searing neon rainbow bias binding that was calling out to me. I had in mind a little skirt or blouse, but when I showed mum the fabric it spoke to her differently. It said “shirt dress”. Planning The pieces for this dress, for which we are improvising the pattern, are two fronts, a back, sleeves, pockets and collar. It will be pretty tight to get all of these pieces, but mum seems to be optimistic. The first step was to fold the fabric with the selvedges together and check the length. Any additional length could be cut off the bottom for the sleeves. We took my bust measurement and divided by four (adding a generous seam allowance) to get the width for the fronts. I cut the fabric thus. I was also able to cut an extra section of fabric from the back piece, which was wider than I needed. Shaping the fronts I think they call this draping on the Great British Sewing Bee. Before starting, I processed the edges that will form the button bands of the shirt (button bands is a knitting term, I don’t know if the sewing term is different). First, I ironed on some interfacing to strengthen the fabric along the selvedges. I then folded the fabric over around 1.5cm and ironed flat. Cute selvedges, right? Draping We held one of the fronts up to my body and used tailor’s chalk to mark out where to cut for the neck edge, shoulder and armpit. The most important thing to do is check that the fabric is hanging correctly when you start. At this stage, we also pinned where the bust dart would go, and pinned out some additional darts at the front so that the dress should fit pretty tightly. Once the neck, armhole and shoulder are cut and checked for fit, you can put the two fronts right sides together and cut the other side as well. Apologies for the blurry pic. We basted the three pieces together to check the fit. The final thing I have done is transfer the darts to the other side of the dress. I marked them using hand-sewn tacks. I have also marked where I want my in-seam pockets to lie. Pockets! There’s still a lot of work to do next time. We have to finish the shaping on the dress with back darts, then cut out and sew the sleeves, collar and patch pocket(s). I did a little sketch to help me think about where I want to add the pops of colour with the bias binding. At the moment, I’m thinking the top of the patch pocket at maybe at the sleeve edges.
Who would have thought that all of this would have come from a 1D pencil case? #missyouZayn