Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Make do and mend

Many, many years ago, I used to make lots of my own clothes.  Partly from necessity, I'd just bought my first flat, it was the early 80's and interest rates were rocketing and I had no money; partly because I could never find anything that I liked and that fitted me properly.  This second is due to being what is politely called 'top heavy'!

Even when my son was small, I made him dungarees from old pairs of jeans, and little tee shirts for the summer, but somehow, along the line, I got out of the habit.  It didn't help that Mum lent my sewing machine to a friend of hers and it never ever came back, so I was left with my trusty Singer.

Now I love my Singer, but its not exactly user friendly. I've wittered about it here  Sewing machine  But the overriding problem with it is getting spare parts, they are rare, and very expensive.  Only a few specialist places do them, mainly places that take in and strip down old machines for parts. So I'm wary of using it in case it finally gives up; added to that the fact that it really only sews in straight lines, its too heavy and difficult to manoeuvre for things like dressmaking.  Its absolutely brilliant for curtains and cushion covers! 

My brother got married in June, and my plan was to make myself something to wear.  Those plans were changed, as I spent most of June in hospital, but it sort of left me with the idea of making something.

Having a bit of a wardrobe sort out, I came across this dress. Now its not an amazing dress, but I like the material, but hate the neckline. Its hard to see from this photo, but it comes above the collar line, and is a sort of slash neck, which personally, I find irritating.
I've tried looking at it in the past, but didn't have the confidence to make the necessary decision.  
But, it was either alter it into something that would be worn, or off to the charity shop.

Big question though, how to do it?  Fortunately, hidden in the back of the wardrobe, waiting for me to fit into it again, was my trusty LBD, so using the top of that, I made a pattern out of brown paper.  (that sounds really Blue Peter!)

 Then the dress was unpicked at the seams and the pattern applied.  I forgot to take photos of the cutting out stage, but below is the very crumpled end result.

I then realised that as the original dress had a tie waist, it did have bust darts, but no other shaping, and of course I'd forgotten to copy this from the original dress.  So, guesswork it was, and I vaguely pinned where I thought the darts should go...

 Then I realised that somehow, I had to get the information onto both sides of the fabric.  My sewing  box used to contain things like carbon paper, and tailors chalk, but no more.  I did contemplate whizzing to the paper shop to see if they still sold ordinary chalk ( do children still play hopscotch?) but gave that idea up.

From the depths of my memory (needlework lessons in 1971!) I remembered 'tailor's tacks', so with a bright thread, marked the darts, pulled the fabric apart, cut the thread, and hey presto!  Marks on both sides of the fabric!

Very quickly, before it all fell apart, tacked the dart in place.

Now its all ready for 'proper' stitching, and the big question is....do I sew it by hand, use my trusty Singer, or use the little tiny sewing machine that my Mum bought me many years ago and which is still in its box.

Watch this space.

Post with the finished top Finished at last