Sunday, 26 June 2016

The blackbird dress, part 1

The Secret Sewing Project has hit a major fitting crisis, the sort which can only be dealt with by an emergency visit my mum, wailing, "How do I fix this?" That's scheduled for tomorrow after work, so in the meantime . . .

My London trip unsurprisingly included the fabric shop heaven that is Goldhawk Road. This time I went for quality rather than quantity, and bought silk for a couple of projects, but despite my best intentions, a couple of cotton dress lengths somehow insinuated themselves onto my shopping bag!

This tree print was available in three different colourways, but I really liked the green (or possibly turquoise/teal, I can't really decide on the colour).

Trees in a row

When I looked at it closely, I noticed that one of the black leaves was actually a little bird sitting on the lowest branch.

Blackbird on a branch

In the summer I have a little table and chairs in the yard (or 'patio', if I'm feeling posh) where I take all my photographs, and eat outside whenever the weather is good enough. A blackbird often sits on my neighbour's TV aerial, and warbles away beautifully for ages. So the association was enough to make me buy the fabric (any excuse).

I've decided to use it to make New Look 6723, view B. As ever, I'm lengthening the skirt a bit.

I'll decide about the belt once the dress is made

For New Look patterns, I have to shorten the bodice between the bust point and the armscye. This produced a really exaggerated curve on the princess seam.

The bodice is lined, so because I wasn't entirely convinced about my alterations I decided to make up the lining first, as a sort of wearable toile. I've also had a few problems with straight-across necklines gaping on me, so this was a good way to check if the neck needed altering.

It turned out that the neckline was fine, but the armholes gaped a bit. The solution was to take in the princess seam, which made the bust curve even more exaggerated. It also meant that the front and side front no longer joined, so I had to redraft side front completely.

The final bodice side front piece

It was well worth doing however, because the bodice does now fit perfectly, and I made my mistakes in easy-to-replace locally bought lining, not fabric bought 200 miles away!

When it came to cutting out the dress, things got 'interesting'. Like a lot of fabric, this wasn't quite printed on the straight grain. The row of trees is on a slight slope, with the occasional wobble in the row added for good measure. I decided to go with the printing line rather than the grain line; my logic being that the skirt is full enough to hide any wonky hanging issues, and the lining will keep the bodice in shape. It did mean that I had to cut everything out from a single layer of fabric, marking the tree trunks on the pattern pieces so that they would match up, and pinning the pattern pieces on far more firmly than I would usually do.

Lots and lots and lots of pins!

So, all cut out and ready to sew.

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