When I think of gingham, I think of school dresses. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, I never went to a school where gingham dresses were summer uniform. At junior school girls wore what they wanted (I think!) and at secondary school my only “official” school summer dress was in some special print fabric that probably cost my Mum an arm & a leg when she made me my summer dresses in that naiive first year. And then, after a certain age it was far cooler (in a teenage sense) to carry on wearing shirt (no doubt hanging out), tie & skirt (with rolled up waistband to shorten it) than the “regulation” summer dress. So I missed out on gingham. And when I was asking for guidance last week & you earliest commenters commended the vintage pattern, it never occurred to me that my Walthamstow “cheesecloth” gingham might end up looking like a school dress. I mean it isn’t really gingham. No, not at all until I was nearly at the end. I was thinking of doing some silly photos with white socks & sandals, but be grateful you have been spared. In fact, it was so gorgeous when I put it on, that I could only wear it at its best, as opposed to ridiculing it.
So, here is my first attempt at sewing a proper vintage pattern. McCalls 5694, procured from Ebay last year some time in my proper size, so no scary adjustments needed (in theory at least!)
Luckily for me this pattern is printed- I didn’t have to navigate my way around punched holes (phew). It came (size 34) with three different bodice pieces for different heights- I naturally missed this at first & sailed away cutting out the one that had already been used, only having to get the short*rses’ version to recut. And without any kind of bat of my eyelid, I adjusted for a sway back (oooo er! look at me!). The fabric was a real pain to cut out- I think after much more familiarisation that it isn’t synthetic mix afterall, but a type of cheesecloth & boy did it stretch all over the place when I was cutting, it was also pretty heavy (significant when cutting on a table & some of it hangs over the side & edges). I tried to line up rows, but did not succeed in all cases. The skirt, heavily pleated, was made up of 4 separate squares, which in the end I just measured & cut as opposed to pinning pattern pieces onto.
The bodice was lovely to make, nice kimono sleeves that were faced, & as in the Sencha blouse, handstitched inside. I did need to take in the side seams though, so the whole facing/sleeve thing needed some adjusting also. I’d say I just about followed the instructions for the bodice, but for the skirt, I winged it.
Imagine stretchy pretty weighty fabric x4 different pieces on my knee in the conservatory where I was trying to sew. Yep, I should have gone elsewhere with more space, but I was on a mission – that would have been cause for delay. Attempting to repin pattern pieces on my knee has worked in the past, but not this time. There are lots of pleats, suiting this fabric down to the ground, because the lines make it easy! & when it was finished it really hangs beautifully.
I kind of ignored the instructions, knowing my objective was to make the skirt fit the bodice (not exactly rocket science!) but the checks eliminated any kind of fiddly measurement to get the pleats the same size/ distance apart. So whilst I was doing this, I was beginning to realise that I was taking a more than slapdash approach. It seemed that the pleats in the pattern were positioned to hide all of the skirt seams, so I tried to keep to that ideal. The centre front also hid under a pleat, & having not followed the instructions up to that point meant that I also had to feel my way for the skirt front opening.
And I was making this dress on the day of the Royal Wedding – would I be able to wear it to the street party? I was sitting in my PJs until 4pm ( I think I already mentioned this) but was unable to complete it in time. I got everything bar the handsewing done, but with all of that hem, it needed a bit more time & space & TV without subtitles (we’ve graduated onto the French Spiral, being hooked on the Saturday night foreign thrillers the BBC are screening. Sorry, digression, but it is important to understand that handsewing doesn’t get done when subtitles are on. Just like knitting.)
No matter, it hung around all week. I’d even sewn the self belt with a vintage buckle that I’d scooped at a charity shop.
SO, as you can see from the photos, luckily I had no gardening commitments (this afternoon was showery+ no plan), so I was able to watch a silly film on TV & stitch.
It was only when I finally put it on though that I realised how much I love its weight, the comfortable, practical & stylish sleeves, & its mega swirl-factor. I apologise for posting so many photos – blame the self timer on the camera & my swirl love!
So thank you dear commenters for encouraging me to “go vintage” – it really suited me having someone tell me what to do! I know a second wave of you also suggested sewing another Crepe, which I could also have done if I hadn’t got straight into action !
Does anyone else like to “ask the audience” & then do you follow it?