I’ll tell you a secret now – I H.A.T.E. shopping for clothes. I cannot even tell you how much. Partly it’s because I’m rather podgy at the moment, and partly it’s because I’m quite tall (almost 6′) and the combination of those two factors makes finding off-the-peg clothes a total pain. One of these problems I can (and plan to) do something about, but my height is never going to go away! So when I was faced with my cousin’s wedding in July, I was completely stumped by that hateful “What to wear?” question. I looked around a bit, but as so often happens, I was completely uninspired by anything I saw locally or online. Frustrated, it suddenly occurred to me that I really ought to consider actually making myself something to wear. I’m not a very keen dressmaker, but I have done a little dressmaking in the dim and distant past and needs must when the devil drives and you have simply nothing to wear! Accordingly, a few weeks before the Big Day I found a site selling a variety of patterns and went “shopping” with the aid of my mother-in-law. After much umm-ing and ahh-ing, I picked out two dress patterns and one shirt pattern that I thought would suit me, figuring that I should have time to make at least one of them. I also dug out the Liberty prints I bought not long ago and made the happy discovery that I had enough of my two favourites to be able to make two of the shirt pattern! That really decided the matter for me (the only extras I needed to buy were a couple of metres of ribbon), so I set to cutting out and running up Version 1.0 in the white and blue print.
(Uhmmm, yeah, I really wasn’t kidding about the podgy part!) This version came out ok, once I wrangled the ruffly front bit into submission, but I hadn’t really adjusted the pattern to better fit my shape, so I ended up having to really re-work the back seams quite heavily to make the shirt fit more closely. It did work, but with room for improvement. The ribbon tie round the back is not part of the original pattern, I added it in to help give the top better shape and to balance the ribbon on the front. This version is wearable, but I knew it could be better.
The second version is much better in all respects:
Armed with my experiences from the first one, I adjusted the paper pattern to give a much better fit, I didn’t have to re-do the ruffles several times over before I got them right, and the whole thing went together a lot faster too. You still won’t see me on the Great British Sewing Bee any time soon, but this has reminded me why it’s handy to be able to make clothes now and again. I still have the two dress patterns waiting in the wings, so there might be more clothing experimentation in the near future – especially since I’ve seen some really pretty fabric in Aberdashery that I suspect might really suit one of the patterns. 🙂 A benefit that I really noticed from becoming a quilter is that I am now a much more accurate sewist generally, with a much better appreciation of seam allowances and how they work. It sounds daft, but I didn’t really fully understand the 5/8″ seam allowance for clothing when I made clothes in the past. But now I do, and I have a sewing machine that really helps me with things like that, and as a result I made clothes that I feel much happier about. So that’s a very positive thing.
If you’re curious, I wore the blue/white shirt for the pre-wedding evening party and the blue/orange one for the actual wedding. The fabric, being very delicious Liberty lawn, is so lovely to wear that I think both shirts will see outings in future, especially on hot summer days, and that’s more than I can say about many wedding outfits! 😉 Also, I still have plenty of scraps left over for a bit of Liberty patchwork if the mood takes me. Yay!