Friday, June 30, 2017
Twelve Dollars of Fabric
A year or two ago, when in Fabricland, I came across a remnant of the beautiful orange-flowered challis pictured above. Looks like a watercolour, doesn't it? I picked it up on impulse. They wouldn't cut the piece so I bought the whole length, which was a little over three metres, for $12. Pretty and inexpensive as it was, I didn't need it at all. I'm trying to do less of that sort of impulse buying. However, given that I did buy it, I intended to use and enjoy it.
Then this past spring, I began to plan what I was going to do with it. I had enough to make a dress, but sadly I don't have the kind of lifestyle that gives me many opportunities to wear a pretty, floaty summer dress, and I do have several summer dresses in my wardrobe already. I decided to make a top and a skirt that could be dressed down and that I would therefore have more chances to wear.
For a skirt pattern, I turned to an old faithful favourite of mine, Simplicity 5914, now out of print. I've had this pattern for about 15 years and have made option A twice. It makes a skirt that fits well and has flattering, stylish lines. For this skirt I would have to go with the shorter length as I didn't have enough fabric left for the longer length once I'd cut out the top I was making.
Here's the finished skirt in a size 14, seen here with an orange cotton top I knitted some years back. I had not only a suitable pattern but also a zipper and thread on hand, and only needed to buy a length of ivory voile for the lining -- the challis fabric is so sheer it had to be lined. This skirt pattern is unlined, but I just cut the skirt panels out twice, sewed the challis overskirt with french seams, and then basted it to the voile underskirt, which I had made in the usual way with flat seams, before I added the waist facings on the inside and put in the zipper. It's very pretty but I think I'll always be a little terrified when I wear it because such a delicate fabric could so easily be torn or snagged.
For the top design, I turned to option A (right hand photo) of Vogue 1245, which is also out of print. I bought this pattern a couple of years ago to make another top out a thrift shop piece of challis that ended up going in the garbage, as I failed to grasp that I needed to alter it rather severely if it was going to fit me. This time I didn't make that mistake.
And here's the finished top. I made several modifications to the pattern. First, I lengthened the top part of the body by four inches. I have to do this with every garment that has a defined waistline unless I want the waistline to wind up just under my bustline, because I'm well-endowed and my chest takes up a lot of length. Then I shortened the lower body pieces by four inches to keep the top from turning out too long -- I have a short torso. There are supposed to be two layers on the bottom part of the body but my version has only one as shortening that top layer made it so short it looked absurd, and the only remedy seemed to be to simply leave it out altogether. A three-quarter length sleeve is unflattering on me, so I cut the sleeves to an above-the-elbow length. Then, when sewing, I shortened the slit at the neckline by two inches as a deeper slit would have been too revealing. I also shortened the waist tie so that it wouldn't hang down too far, and found I wished I'd shortened the neck tie as well, but it's workable as is, as long as I tie it in a big bow.
The result is a top in an atypical style for me. I usually don't wear anything with ruffles and ties, and the effect is a little flirty and romantic, and probably also a bit young for me. However, when I tried it on, held my breath, and took a wary look at the mirror, I thought it looked okay on me (and hoped fervently that I was seeing it as it was rather than experiencing some sort of narcissistic inability to face reality). I won't be wearing this top with the skirt in the same fabric, though. They seem to need the toning down and grounding that's achieved by pairing them with simple, solid pieces.
And that's how I got my $12 worth out of that fabric, which I still love the look of, even after the numerous hours I spent working with it.