Thursday, 13 June 2013

Staple Dress Mania!

I have no idea why its taken me so long to get back to making my own clothes. When I was a student I made long silky flowery skirts to wear on a night out with little vests in a freezing northern town, when the shops were full of 1990's black bootleg trousers and the only skirts you could buy had elastic waists! The thing is, then I had quite low construction standards. As long as it didn't fall to bits on a night out it was fine. I made my own patterns. That sounds too grand. What i did was lay a favoured skirt down on top of the fabric and drew around it. Invariably I found the whole construction a bit hit and miss. I had a tiny pink singer featherweight sewing machine that used to bounce itself off the table if it had to go through anything thicker than three quid a meter polyester from the local market.

Fast forward 15+ years, hundreds of quilts, miles of bunting, several dozen kids pjama trousers, but never again have I felt the desire to make myself something. It was kind of creeping up on me after the Great British Sewing Bee and all those amazing Liberty and 1940's styled dresses. I loved the GBSBee but I kind of felt it missed an opportunity to show more of the construction and skills that the contestants were showing. I could see they were fab, but I was none the wiser about how to start sewing my own dresses.

I aquired a pile of old books on garment construction and started to read. I drew myself a pattern based on a favourite dress from Kew ( what happened to Kew? Loved their occasional Liberty tops). Then I saw a Staple Dress ( by April Rhodes) on a blog. It was THE SAME as my Kew dress, except it had an ACTUAL PATTERN. Now I get that this should not be a revelation to me, but doh!!! Sewing from a pattern is, like easy! Yipeee.

The flood gates have opened. I've made three dresses in a week ( 2 for me and a Tweenie Staple). Admittedly I couldn't resist a dabble with DIY pattern cutting. The final pattern I went with was kind of a hybrid of my Kew dress with the Staple. I didn't shir the waist, and I scaled the whole thing down for my 10 year old daughter. Its a great pattern, especially for summer, with really easy to follow instructions. I can't recommend this pattern enough as a first dabble into dress making.

I made my first version in Liberty. I couldnt resist a bit of quilters fabric play and added the facings in a kind of neon mustard solid I had. For this dress I made a matching fabric casing and made a tie belt ( as that was how the Kew one was made.

The next day I bought this gorgeous linen mix denim fabric and made a second dress. I scaled down a size on the top which I prefered. As this was a slightly thicker fabric I felt that the tie middle option wouldn't gather up properly so I again made a facing and added elastic inside it. I LOVE this dress. It will get worn all year round.

Then my daughter got in on the act. She had a Boden dress from last summer that is also this style ( although the Boden one also has a gathered neck.)It was getting a bit periliously short so we decided we could make a version of the Staple for her. We scaled down the pattern using her dress as a guide. I used Sweedish apttern paper and tacked the whole thing together to be sure on fit - its fab stuff. We just used quilting cotton for this one ( this is Lotta Jansdotters new line, the pink is so pretty).  I've just ordered myself this pattern the Amelia dress which I've also heard good things about in blogland. I also want to make this and this. But first I have 6 pairs of pjamas to sew! Enough indulgent mummy sewing for a bit!