Sunday, 13 September 2020

Sustainable sewing

This is a first - I've never posted a five-year-old dress on this blog before! There have been lots of posts about things made from fabric which has been lurking in my stash for that long (especially this year), but not a finished article.

Old dress, new repair

Because it slipped under the blogging radar, I can't remember exactly when I made this dress. But I do recall wearing it for a friend's birthday party in July 2015, so I'm going to guess that it was fairly new then. It's my second version of New Look 6093, and my favourite of the three I've made. As a result, it's had a lot of wear, and a couple of weeks ago the zip broke. Even though the fabric is now a bit faded compared to its covered hanger, I wasn't prepared to let the dress go.

Dress and hanger comparison

Fortunately, it was an easy fix. The broken zip was an invisible one, which made it a little harder to unpick but not impossible. Then it was just a case of basting the seam together, hand picking in a new zip, and stitching the back facing back in position.

It's always fun to make something new, but increasingly I'm finding that I get a different, but equal, sense of satisfaction from mending something I already have. As the harmful effects of throwaway culture become ever more apparent, knowing that I can care for and maintain the clothing I have made becomes as important to me as having the ability to make it in the first place.

Much as I'm enjoying the Vintage Sew A Dress A Month challenge, I did worry when I started it that I might just be 'churning out' a dress a month which I didn't actually need. But this repair has reminded me that by choosing my fabrics and construction techniques wisely, and making clothes which fit me properly so don't suffer from stress points, I am creating clothes which will remain in my wardrobe for a long time. And because I favour vintage over up-to-the-minute styles, they will never look more 'dated' than they did when I first made them!

Which brings me on to this month's dress. A couple of weeks ago I bought a 1930s dress at auction. It is beautiful, but currently in rather a sad state - I will post about it when it is restored. Also in the lot were 'assorted textiles'. I hadn't paid much attention to these, but when I got them home I found various goodies in there - a couple of skirt lengths, a coat length, some lining, and a dress length.

The dress fabric is only 90cm / 36" wide, and a print which just screams mid-to-late 1970s. It's also in a twill weave which I just couldn't imagine coming across now in such a soft material.

Showing the weave, and the pattern

Eventually it dawned on me that the fabric is probably Viyella, a wool/cotton blend with a twill weave. It was common when I was a child (growing up in Scotland, it was a popular choice for winter dresses) but is no longer made. Naturally such vintage fabric requires a vintage pattern, and I'm indulging in my love of 1979 Style patterns to make up this one.

Style 2630

Even though the fabric is narrow, there are five metres of it, so I'm planning to make the long-sleeved version. There's no cutting layout given for it on 90cm wide fabric, but when have I ever let that stop me?! So after 40 years, this fabric will finally be used.

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