I am typing this on the train back from Newcastle following a lovely weekend in Northumberland. Train travel is without doubt the best mode of transport – just such a pity it is so pricey! So far I have read a magazine, watched the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ and typed this…efficiency savings!
I’ve had a super busy end to the summer and start of Autumn. I often visualise my life like a tightrope- operating at optimum frequency is balancing on the rope, just below the rope isn’t quite fulfilling enough and I get frustrated; falling over the other side of the rope and I’m in dangerous waters! At the moment it is fabulously balanced and I’m loving everything while being sure to schedule in down time. I realise that for me, spontaneity is just not a thing; like a person with Frontotemporal Dementia, I require routine and diarised events to make me happy! Oh dear…maybe I’ve got the gene!
Anyway, onto the sewing, which has been sparse for October so far, but was very prevalent in September! I liked the idea of a top and skirt combination as a ‘dress’ for a wedding outfit, and was given more inspiration when I saw Lisa Comfort’s version on her Instagram. I knew it would require a bit of thought – I have made a few pattern alterations here and there but never a crop top from a dress! Furthermore, I only had 2 metres of the fabric, as I had bought it a few months previously, so I had to be rather creative! The fabric is from Fabric Godmother, and I sourced some cheap lining fabric from John Lewis, for the skirt lining and also for the top facing, purely because I had no fabric left.
I appreciate I didn’t really stick to my resolution to sew one garment a month in August- hopefully finishing knitting the jumper can count- due to being away every weekend of the month. I was then looking at my diary for September and getting rather anxious that the month could go a similar way! I knew I wanted to make my dress for my friend Jess’s wedding and therefore I had a deadline. Consequently, I made this outfit largely after work, with a couple of hours at weekends every so often. This is not an ideal strategy!! Ducking in and out of the projects not only made for a messy flat but also led to multiple mistakes; e.g. for the top I was supposed to use Version 2 of the Sew Over It pattern…classically I started making Version 1 for the first few steps and then had to spend half an hour unpicking and slightly modifying the top to match my errors! Idiot. I’m sure I remember learning at school how important it was to read the brief thoroughly!
I ended up finishing the top before tackling the skirt. The top is such an easy pattern (usually!) – I have posted about the Ultimate Shift Dress before, and when I made it as a dress, I do not think I made a single error. As a top, you literally just make a shorter version of the dress! I made the facing out of lining fabric, which has worked fine, and left the bottom hem unfinished as I needed to finish the skirt to work out how short I could go with the top.
The skirt is a fairly simple lined pleated skirt with back zip. However, I would note that I found the pattern very hard to work out where the pleats were supposed to be (I almost think there might have been one mark on the pattern missing) and consequently that took me AGES! I definitely did something wrong as my waistband ended up being shorter than the skirt. I still failed with my invisible zipper foot and now just think it must be something to do with my machine rather than me…I did manage to hand sew it well enough that you can’t tell.
The final part involved trying on the skirt and assessing how short to make the top. I made it so it covered the waistband but no longer or I think it would result in a rather chubby looking Laura. I think Charlie potentially already thought it wasn’t as flattering as it could be, but I mean, what does he know about ladies’ fashion?!
I think the most valuable lesson I have learnt from this outfit was that I have improved so much as a sewer over the few years I have been making my own clothes. I have shown myself that I can alter patterns and fix mistakes. I am still to work out this invisible zip issue, but for now, that isn’t stopping me!
Before I end this post, I have a small confession to make. My plan for this year was to attempt to make all my clothes and only buy clothes if really essential. However, I recently found myself feeling really dowdy in my old work clothes and just not feeling ‘worth it’. I realised how much your clothes impact your feeling of self-esteem. Therefore, I took the decision that I needed to buy a few items. I went shopping and bought a mixture of work, casual, and evening-wear and have felt 100 times better since then! So weird how something as materialistic as buying a dress, two jumpers and a pair of trousers can change how you feel about yourself!