I must say I’m hanging out for my holiday in a few weeks. This time of year always feels quite long to me. Winter is supposedly over, daylight saving has kicked in. I’m slightly panicked about the thought of summer clothes (tights hide a multitude of “no I haven’t shaved my legs since May” shame…) but still a few weeks away from my annual “holy crap its nearly Xmas” melt down . Auckland weather is changeable at best, so dressing becomes a “let’s just take one of everything & we’ll be ok” affair. The back seat of my car currently has two coats, a spare umbrella , two cardies & a pair of sunglasses. Sometimes a girl just wants reliable, (in so many things…) I’d like a nice constant mid to high 20 degrees, no rain & maybe a cocktail. Or two. Roll on Fiji!
So I’m planning my holiday wardrobe accordingly. When this dress, the Eva from Tessuti patterns popped up on my radar, I knew it was a contender. It’s not actually a new pattern, but Tessuti have extended their pattern sizes so no pesky grading necessary.
The shape is simple yet distinctive. ( a friend & work colleague of mine has a similar dress she calls her First Day of a Trial dress, it makes her feel so good). Fitted around the bodice but not too fitted. Wonderful “swish” potential in the skirt, without the actual risk of taking flight in a stiff breeze. Top stitching details to make it just that bit more special. All good things (thanks Martha)
I made version A, I actually extended the sleeves by about 3 cm, and did a full bicep adjustment, adding an additional 2 cm to the sleeve for my upper arms. No one likes a tight sleeve!
The neckline, sleeve & hem are finished with bias binding. I was really pleased with the finish on my neckline, the binding is sitting nice & flat (for once, whoop!). Sadly things went rather astray with my sleeve binding, so much so I didn’t have enough fabric left to make more, so I ended up doing a hem instead. I think the bias binding would have given a nicer finish, I’ll know for next time! I’m not entirely happy with my sleeve insertion, I thought I could iron out a couple of tiny tucks…I know, really Kristina?! There is also a wee bit of fabric pooling above my bust, next time I will do a small FBA, Tessuti patterns are graded for a C cup, I’m a DD.
The bodice is constructed first, then the center panel, which is attached to it. Lastly the bottom panel is made & hemmed, then attached to the rest of the dress. I loath hemming, so this method pleased me, I knew once I finished sewing the bottom panel seam, I only had finishing & top stitching to go. Purely psychological I know (I still had to do the hem!), but there you go.
Now. a few caveats. I made this dress in a delicious chocolate linen from The Fabric Store, its really lovely to sew & to wear, but it does fray a bit while you are working. There are a lot of relatively long seams in the dress, particularly the bottom piece , which quite frankly felt about two miles long. I LOVED my overlocker on this project even more than usual. There is something deeply satisfying about trimming off all those loose threads & having a nice clean seam. It absolutely could be done with a zig zag stitch, or you could do French seams, just bear in mind it will be quite time consuming, despite the apparently simplicity of the dress.
On that theme, it would also really help if , like me, you enjoy top stitching. It really makes the garment feel expensive & finished, again a simple shape but done with attention to detail. Or it will be once I get new glasses, chocolate brown fabric & thread is something of a challenge at the moment!
Now the pockets. I do love a nice pocket, although I’ll be honest, very little other than my hands ever actually goes in them. Except for one memorable occasion I left a hair clip in my jeans, which then managed to completely bugger up our washing machine…
The method for the pocket insertion in this pattern is one I haven’t used before, but certainly will be again, its fab! The pocket stays at the front of the frock, and the finish looks really professional, win.
The thing I like most about this dress? It makes me feel grown up, in the best way. I may be on the cusp of a mid life crisis (sports car pending) , or possibly just having a moment, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about age, both my own, and those around me. If you follow Instagram you may have seen lovely Judith’s hashtag #sewover50 which she started recently, and has really taken off. Like the Curvy Sewing hashtag #CSCmakes among others, it creates a point of reference which isn’t necessarily the standard norm. I realize for many people this has been much, or indeed all of their entire existence, invisible on TV, magazines, mainstream media. I grew up in a very working class environment , Dad was a psychiatric nurse, Mum raised five kids & later did some cleaning for a bit of extra money. New Zealand in the 1970’s & 80’s was probably a good place to do that, no one I hung out with thought we missed out on much (except when that one person in your class got to go on a plane to Australia for the hols to visit the rellies, envy!). Certainly the internet has provided both a wonderful vehicle for inspiration, and in other cases a vehicle for comparison (and very much worse), which often has a very unrealistic reality. I can’t Photoshop my white legs or chunky biceps, despite all the will in the world!
So while I reconcile the reality of me as a 45 year old woman “built for luxury but perhaps not speed’ (thanks hun!) , and the memory of my young whippersnapper self , which I swear wasn’t that long ago, I want to wear clothes that make me feel like this. With red shoes of course.
Naturally I have yet more linen lined up, check out this wee combo 🙂
I hope you have a fab week, I’ll leave you with Tuppence, explaining to me with just a glance, no amount of sewing fancy frocks is worth making her wait for dinner. Nothing.