|The idea, and the reality|
But, I didn't feel that it was a failure, either. Two-tone dresses were a very 1940s 'thing', and I still liked the basic principle, just not this version. A definite failure would have been easier in a way - I could have got rid of it, and moved on. But instead it lurked in the wardrobe, reminding me that it was 'almost' what I wanted, just not quite.
Eventually, I decided that enough was enough. Despite not being short of other things to do, I would try to fix the dress by 'lifting out' the blue section and replacing it with something more suitable. My logic was that I would never wear the dress in its original version, so if I accidentally destroyed it in the process, then it wasn't a loss. And if it worked - bonus.
I settled on a dark red crepe for the new section. It's a slightly warmer colour than the maroon in the print, but a better match to the overall tone of the brown fabric. When I made the dress, I had made up the front and the back in the two fabrics, and then joined them together. This time I made up the red section, stay-stitching all the curves and completing the sleeve.
|Making the new section|
Then, I turned under the edge that would lie over the print part of the dress, and basted it down.
|Ready to insert|
It was crucial that none of the long curved edges stretched during the (re)construction, so I basted a stay tape (in reality, the saved selvedge of a lightweight but firm fabric) round the edge of the print part of the dress.
|Stabilising the dress edge|
Then, it was time for dress surgery! I decided to start at the side seam, which had to be unpicked along a short section.
|Scalpel! Well, seam ripper|
Next, I started to unpick the lapped seams which hold the two parts together. Not only was this a double row of stitching, but I also discovered that I'd used a very short stitch length! As I couldn't risk pulling anything out of shape or excess fraying, I had to unpick this stitch by stitch.
|The start of a lot of unpicking|
I decided to hone my technique, such as it was, on the back. I had already marked various match points, such as the darts and the centre back seam. My method was to unpick a short section, slide out the blue part, pin in the red part, and then baste it in place. I used a different colour of thread so that I could easily tell which basting was which if I needed to remove any.
|My replacement method|
Once I got almost to the neck, I repeated the process on the front. This included gathering up some of the red fabric to lap under the print.
By the time I got to the neckline itself, I was so absorbed in what I was doing that I forgot to take any progress pictures. Not for the first time, Current Black Tulip was very grateful that Past Black Tulip had not cut the seam allowances down to a sliver! Even so, replacing the blue section of the facing seemed like a step too far. Rather than try to sew dress and facing together in the normal way, I decided that it was far easier to turn under the dress seam allowance, and oversew the facing in place. This also meant I could include a generous 'turn of cloth' allowance to hide the blue!
Then it was time to sew the plain and print sections together. I did this on the treadle, as the flat surface and the extra harp space were really useful for moving the dress around. Most of the sewing was done by turning the balance wheel by hand, however. Then I had to take out all the basting threads and stay stitching, which took a while. I actually had some brown buttons of the right colour, size, and quantity in my button box (it's a miracle!) so I attached these, and the shoulder pad, and it was done. Even better, the rain stopped for long enough for me to nip outdoors and take some photos.
I am so much happier with this version. Using a darker colour has moved the emphasis to the print section. Even the horizontal line at the hip doesn't look so pronounced.
|Showing more of the side|
And here are the two versions side by side for comparison.
|Such a difference|
Did all this take an absurd amount of time? Yes, it did. It was pretty much the opposite of a Sewing Bee transformation challenge - spend about 15 hours making something barely different. Would it have been quicker to just ditch the original and start again? Almost certainly. Am I glad I did it? Heck yes. I have a stubborn streak, and the knowledge that this dress could be so much better was an itch which needed to be scratched. I know that this version will get a lot of wear, and as I try to consciously move my dressmaking practice to something slower and more detailed, this represents another piece in the jigsaw.
|One metre in, one metre out, nothing to see here|