Saturday, 24 September 2016

Gertie Shirtwaist Dress

Hi folks!

Finally finished and photographed, it's my last dress of the summer, which actually has lasted a nice long time this year. Unfortunately my trusty photographer has been away, otherwise I'd have had this up a little sooner. Luckily I had a trusty back-up photographer that I called on last weekend, my friend Simon (who is also an artist- you can see his paintings here) was willing to snap me, while my other friend Scott stood in as art director. These fine folks also got me a Cloth House voucher for my birthday which I've just got around to spending - I decided to just treat myself to the prettiest thing I saw rather than try to match to any specific plans and ended up with this lovely, rather structured Japanese cotton. I only got a metre, so think it will have to be a boxy little short-sleeved top.

 These were taken as we were out exploring the Open House Weekend, which is a wonderful opportunity to snoop inside the dwellings of people who live in places of architectural significance. We visited some beautiful self-build properties in Lewisham, designed by the architect Walter Segal, and we discovered this wall when milling around between venues. I was spotted posing by a lot of other architecture enthusiasts, hence my slightly sheepish photos in the shots. Isn't it perfect though? I love that the spices in the mural pick up on the print of the dress.

On to the dress itself, which is the Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, and has been a bit more of an involved make for me than usual for two reasons:

- I made a bodice muslin, which resulted in a few fitting tweaks (although as I only made the one muslin then plunged in, perhaps I could have refined a bit further).

- I decided to go all out and learn a new technique at the same time, so made my very first set of bound buttonholes! Very time consuming, not super neat, but I reckon worth it. Will hope to improve on my next garment, and I am quite pleased with these even if they do have “character”.

Here are the things I love about this dress:

I think it's really cute from the front and really sets this fabric off well. I had been considering making it shorter for a more modern look, but after wearing it out for the first time I'm a bit reluctant to make any more changes, and I got lots of compliments.

Things I'm not so pleased about:

The back. I have read a few reviews of this dress and how large and poofy the back turned out, hence the bodice muslin to assess how it would work out for me. It didn't look too bad in mock-up, but I decided to add two more rows of shirring (yes, another shirring project! I'll stop now, I promise)  in the hope that would be an easy swayback adjustment. On the actual garment it ended up looking much more voluminous, so I decided to add an inverted pleat at the top of centre back where it attaches to the yoke, which reduces the gathered fabric by approx 4 inches. It looks better, but as there's nothing to tether the pleat at the waist (it just gets distributed into the rows of shirring) there's still a bit too much volume around centre back. I would prefer a more streamlined look and think if I made this again I'd swap in a different dress back – perhaps from the coat dress or the zip-front house dress from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual.

I also find the back skirt seems to curve in under my bottom. I wonder if it's because the dress front is so structured and full, whereas the back is quite voluminous and only supported at the waist by the shirring. Just a theory but I think having the shirring there is allowing my bum to pull the skirt awry, whereas I think with a sturdier waist seam the skirt would skim over and hang a bit better. I could invest in a petticoat to help the skirt stand away from my rear, but realistically I wanted this to be a work dress that I pack in my pannier bag for my cycle commute, and it's hardly practical to stuff a petticoat in as well!

There's a fair bit of handstitching, which I gritted my teeth and bore, having committed to the bound buttonholes already. I'm not sure if I attached the inner yoke in exactly the right place- I was trying to cover as much of the innards as possible and therefore might have stretched them over a wider area, which is causing a little bit of distortion, it's pulling a bit at the back collar as you can see. Annoyingly with handstitching I'd have to undo the whole lot if I wanted to redo any of the seams, so for now I'm just ignoring it.

Other adjustments for my version:

I did a 1” FBA, but perhaps could have done a bit more. Gertie's FBA instructions tell you to add an inch for each cup size over C, but really shouldn't this be 1/2” seeing as you're working on a half-pattern piece? I don't know, I seem to have done a lot of FBAs in my sewing so far but not enough for the knowledge to have really dropped, apparently!

The shoulders were too boxy for my taste, so I redrew the armhole bringing it in on the front and back bodice and yoke. I did have to tweak this a bit on the fly but I think it looks OK. I kept the sleeves the same and hoped for the best. With wear I have noticed a little bit of pulling at the upper chest, so if I made this again I might add a smidgen back into what I scooped out to hopefully sort this. This might also be partially due to my badly handsewn innner yoke as mentioned above.

I redistributed the spacing of the buttonholes when I had a vague thought about having this button all the way up the neck and with a shorter length. I scrapped this idea, but the skirt buttons are a little closer together and end higher than drafted for.

Would I make it again?

As is, I would not. As mentioned I will be looking for a replacement back bodice. I do like the look of the front however. On my mannequin this looked really nice sleeveless, collarless and buttoned all the way up, so I might try a version like that (with the replacement back pieces – I'll let you know what works!). I might also see about a mishmash with the zipfront dress from Gertie Sews Vintage casual, as I think that would be so much cuter with buttons instead of a zip, which looks frumpy to me.

Despite my niggles with this dress, it is still very nice and gets loads of compliments, and I really love the print. I think this will see me into Autumn too, I reckon I can cram those puff sleeves under a cardigan, and the colours are nice for the transition.

What have you been making? Have you switched over to the new season yet?

NorseOtter xx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Peek at my Last Dress of the Summer and Autumnal Sewing Plans

Hi everyone,

How have your summers been so far? Mine feels like it's been going along at breakneck speed, with not as much time to sew as I would have liked. Sometimes due to sunny social plans, occasionally down to forcing myself into doing exercise and recovering from that taking up my evening, and very often due to just feeling very languid in the heat!

Sadly my lack of productivity has not been matched with my desire to create, and I've been busily dreaming up garments that remain unmade and may for some while yet. And, as the season's flown by, new plans need to be made for the Autumn.

So, here's a peek at my last dress of the summer. It's just pinned together at the moment but is a Gertie Shirtwaist dress which I hope will see me through Autumn too. I'm going to make it as directed (but with a few fitting modifications which I'll go into when it gets a full debut) but I quite like it sleeveless, high-necked and collarless like this. Definitely a version to try in the future! 

New patterns are also driving my need to make more seasonal garments; I finally caved and bought the Melilot shirt I'd been admirning from afar, the week before it was included in a discount bundle with another pattern I recklessly decided to just go for despite having to swallow my frustration about missing out on a deal, the Safran jeans. And this sodding Brexit palaver means the exchange rate on these patterns is terrible. Aw well, I'll just have to get my money's worth by making them up ASAP!

So, here are my plans for the next few months:

Safran Pattern by Deer and Doe

Septemb...arse”, or more realistically, “Autumn...bum”.
Get cracking on some “pants” making with the Safran pattern (in that stretch cotton I'd earmarked for the Gertie cigarette pants in my 2016 "Resewlutions"). Finally crack into the Cone Mills denim and whip up another pair of high-waisted Gingers. Plus a jeans version of the Safrans in some Ralph Lauren denim I picked up at Mood. I really want to get some more trousers in my wardrobe, so I'm 
going to go for it in a whirlwind of pantsmaking productivity.

Melilot pattern by Deer and Doe

Getting Shirty
I'd planned to make up the Melilot in this lovely banana-leaf lightweight denim (also from Mood, sadly now sold out), but think it's too late for it to get much wear now. Instead I might finally dare to crack into this lovely Paul Smith elephant shirting I've been hoarding since my first ever fabric shopping trip and make up a long-sleeved Melilot.

Wren Dress by Colette

Wrapped up in Wren
I bought the Wren pattern in a bundle deal with the Dahlia last year, quick soon after release – and both have only got as far as abandoned muslins. I intend to remedy this for winter and have bought some lovely charcoal merino jersey (which I have tentatively pre-washed in the wool cycle of the washing machine) from the Fabric Store especially to make a long-sleeved, gathered skirt version.

I've also got some nice autumnal coloured vintage fabric from my mum that if I've brave enough might fashion into the bohemian beauty that is - the maxi wrap dress from Chinelo's Freehand Fashion book.

I've also been intending to make the Gertie Wiggle Dress in scuba which has been languishing in my stash for too long, so I think that will be a fun dress to add to the mix – and depending on how it turns out might even work as partywear. If not, perhaps I'll have to concoct something fancy too...

So that's a couple of stashbusting projects, and even some that more or less stick to my original 2016 plan. However, a few of the projects mentioned are using up newly acquired fabric from my July trip to LA. Oh well, it's nice to give into temptation and buy new things sometimes!

How has your summer sewing been? Any new season sewing plans?

NorseOtter xx

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Shirr Madness - Amelia Tea Dress from Love Sewing Magazine

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the puns, I just can't help myself. I'm on a bit of a shirring drive at the moment, after making my Staple Dress I was just working through a bodice muslin for Gertie's Shirtwaist Dress when I decided to drop everything and make this. This is the Simple Sew Amelia Tea Dress from Love Sewing Magazine.

I bought the magazine on a whim too before boarding a long flight, not really that bothered by making any of the patterns (the sample made up in hot pink satin for this dress is truly hideous. I'm sorry but it's true). The free gift of thread snips have come in very handy for this make, keeping all the ends of my shirring rows neat, and actually I am rather tempted to add the gored skirt pattern, also from the magazine, to my growing list of things to make...

I cut the size 14 for this based on the finished garment measurements, which is all the pattern envelope gives you. I think I judged pretty well, although if I was being a perfectionist I probably could have cut a smaller size and done an FBA, and in this size a swayback adjustment would have been good too. As it was, I decided the week before my friend's wedding that I hated all my wedding-appropriate attire and wanted to make something new. A quick and easy, pretty yet modest dress was exactly what was called for.

This fabric was bought at my last Goldhawk Road trip from upstairs at Classic Textiles – I think I bought about 2 m for around £5-6 in total, intending to make this into the Colette Pastille dress which I ended up going all gingham over. I was drawn to the delicate floral pattern but was worried in the wrong dress it might end up looking a bit frumpy. This pairing of pattern and fabric seems very classic, if a bit safe, to me, but it worked!

The main problem I ran into was that the pattern called for 60” wide fabric, and this was 54”. I thought I could wing it, but after completely ignoring the cutting layout and getting stuck in with my front skirt first, I realised it wasn't going to work. There was a reason they called for 60” wide fabric with the flare of that skirt! Anyway, with a bit of headscratching I managed to get the front and back bodice pieces cut out correctly, squeezed the short sleeves (I had initially wanted the longer version, but beggars can't be choosers) on the bias onto a stupid triangle scrap I'd ended up with due to inefficient cutting. They're meant to be cut on the straight grain, but actually the print seems to match up better this way. I did however have to shorten (by about 2”) and narrow the back skirt pieces (making sure to make the same adjustment to the front skirt after the fact), and cut them in opposite directions on the cross-grain to fit them onto what was left! The eagle-eyed among you may be able to see that the paler flowers are facing different ways, but thankfully I think this print was remarkably forgiving given the hash I'd made of it.

While working out what I could and couldn't get out of my fashion fabric, I straightaway put my facing pieces to the side, and in the end had to give up on having a matching shirred waistband portion too. Again, through serendipity, this blue cotton I bought to be the contrast collar and binding on the Baby Dress and Knickers I made recently happened to match the paler flowers, so although it is a much stiffer fabric I think it works pretty well for the midsection. Because of the difference in weight I used it for the facings without the addition of interfacing, as it was beefy enough to do the job on its own. I was a bit worried the fabric wasn't suitable for the waistband as my shirring didn't seem to be gathering up as nicely as it has on previous makes, but thanks to a tip from the magazine a blast of steam from the iron shrunk it down like magic.

I did hit on a couple of further minor snags – one was I didn't have a matching zip in my stash. I nipped out at lunch from work to buy one in the local nice sewing shop – and balked when they asked for £4 for it! I out it back pronto and headed to the market nearby and bought one that was actually closer to the correct length and a better match for my thread for £1.50. However, I did wonder if it was the zip of hubris when I managed to fully mangle it that night. I managed to get it out of alignment when I accidentally caught some of my stitches too close to the teeth and then gave a frustrated yank to try and free it up when it got stuck! I had to unpick and bin it, but the next day I went back to the market and the chap on the stall gave me another one for 50p. So still cheaper than the shop, and the second one was the charm!

And, another confession. I think I put the sleeves on backwards. They kind of work, but the shoulder doesn't quite sit right. When trying to insert them as usual with the double snip matching the marking on the back bodice, none of the other notches would align, and I couldn't work out what was meant to be happening. So, I swapped my sleeves with the usual back markings to the front and all the other marks aligned fine, so I went with it. I don't really know what happened, whether it's a pattern mistake or something that happened in the almighty mess of cutting my pattern pieces, but if I have another go I'll definitely look out for it. However, as my dress form shows- sleeveless might be a nice way to go for future versions.

So, although this was a bit of a hatchet job with a few frustrations on the way (as sewing to a deadline without a careful plan beforehand always seems to lead to), I actually think this dress turned out pretty well and I'm looking forward to having an occasion to wear it again. It got lots of compliments at the wedding I wore it to, kept me cool during a hot day out in the sun, allowed room for eating as much as I wanted and was great for dancing. Even after narrowing the skirt a tad there was still plenty of flare – and even a few near-Marilyn moments when the breeze picked it up!

Have you ever sewn occasion wear to a deadline? Would you do it again?!

Now, on to that shirtdress I've neglected, before the summer leaves us...

NorseOtter xx

Monday, 25 July 2016

Summery 70s-ish Staple Dress

 Hi folks,

Here's something I just whipped up quickly to reacquaint myself with my sewing machine after the holiday away. I have so many ideas in my head about what I want to create next – but none that won't require pattern tracing and potential adjustments, so I really wanted a quick win project to get myself back in the creative flow. These snaps are day two of wear (and I'm a wee bit hungover in these) so not the best photos, but I have to grab my moments! 

This is the AprilRhodes Staple dress. I've made this three times now; the first time for my friend Holly, and then I whipped up the hi-lo hem version formyself as I needed something breezy to wear in the heat last summer. It's a great dress for keeping cool as it only really touches the body at the shirred waist, and it's sooo easy to make. For this version I was inspired by a top that one of my colleague wears that features dropped shoulders and these sweet little fluted short sleeves (sorry for copying you Kirsten!). I figured it would be easy enough to work with the Staple Dress pattern to achieve a similar effect, and it was.  

 I'm pretty pleased with the sleeve addition, and I think it's an easy nod to the trends as well as providing some cool summery coverage. This addition could be easily grafted onto any kimono-style cap sleeve so I'm sure would work with many patterns. I went with the straight hem version of the dress this time, and after being tempted to leave it loose in the middle (my boyfriend was not sold on this look) I brought it in with 6 rows of shirring, each 1/4" apart. 

If you're keen to try this yourself, the steps are as follows (sorry I didn't take any photos along the way, this was very much an experiment that I'm glad worked out):

1. Draft your fluted sleeve by tracing the armhole curve* from the pattern. Draw lines at the sides for as long as you want your sleeve to be, adding 3cm for seam allowance at the top and bottom of the sleeve extension (I went for 14cm + 3cm for these half-sleeves). To achieve a kicky fluted effect I copied the curve of the shoulder seam on both sides to form the overarm fold and underarm seamline. Use a French curve to draw a smooth outer edge.

2. Cut 4 of your new sleeve extensions on the overarm fold, 2 as the sleeve and 2 as the facing. Attach your sleeve to the sleeve facing along the lower edge, using a standard 1.5cm seam allowance.

3. For the order of construction, I attached these after I'd sewn the shoulder seams, but before sewing my side seams (if I did it again I think I would finish my neckline first, as there is a fair bit of fabric manipulation while you're attaching and finishing the sleeves which I think may have stretched out my neckline a little). Right sides together, sew the inner curve of the sleeve extension into your arm opening.

4. Sew the side seams of the dress, sleeves and sleeve facings in one pass and finish seam allowances.

5. Fold the facings back into the inside of the sleeve and press. Press 1.5cm along the remaining raw edge and pin to cover the inside sleeve seam, easing as you go, with all seam allowances caught between the sleeve and sleeve facing. From the outside, stitch in the ditch (if you can! I'm rubbish at this) or, if you're me, 1/8” away from the seam to catch the facing neatly in place.

6. Ta-dah, you have kicky little flute sleeves!

Things I might streamline if I did it again:

1. *I hadn't factored in the shoulder seam allowance would make a smaller armhole when I traced that curve. Next time, I might shave this off, as I had to do a fair bit of easing to get the smooth sleeve insertion I wanted. Or, if I was making this in a floatier fabric, I could go the other way and add more ease here for a more bohemian ruffled effect!

2. Cut the facings slightly smaller along all the edges to make the final folding back and stitching in place smoother, and also to ensure the facings stay inside and out of sight. Depending on fabric, you could always ditch the facing and just do a baby hem to finish the edge of the sleeve.

3. The length of these sleeves hits me right in the crook of the elbow. Next time, I might either shorten them a cm or two, or even take the length off from the shoulder seam so they start a little higher up.

I traced this pattern out as large on top and medium from the waist down and I think if I made it again I'd just go medium all over, as actually it's got plenty of ease and I think there is too much in the back. It doesn't bother me too much though for these quick and easy summer versions, and I appreciate the breeze!

The fabric I made this up in is salvaged from my mother's stash. There are still a couple of metres left I could make another little dress or blouse in! This is I think a polycotton, judging by its texture, which is a teeny bit crisp. Its likely provenance is Peter Jones in the early '80s, as my mum used to work in the haberdashery department there.

So, overall not a bad experiment and definitely an easy dress to chuck on for work or a summery day out. I don't think it's the most stunning thing I've ever sewn, but it does seem to have earned me a few more doors held open for me than normal so that's something I suppose! Is anyone else doing any experimental sewing?

Norseotter xx

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Classic Ginger Jeans

Hi folks,

I've just come back from the most amazing break away in Canada and the US. Bit weird to have watched the developments in the UK from afar (this was the topic of many a conversation as soon as people clocked my English accent) and strange to be back after so much has happened. But anyway, on a lighter note being away was wonderful- I swam in the sea in Vancouver, further up BC's Sunshine Coast, then in LA's Venice Beach and the OC's Newport Beach once we made it down to California. Swimming in the sea is what makes a holiday for me!

I had ambitious plans to have several things completed to take away with me, and although I did manage to pack a majority me-made wardrobe I didn't actually manage to take much that was created especially with me. Still need to get that shirtdress and pyjama set finished this summer! I did however  to finish these jeans, which came in valuable for the Vancouver part of the journey. I finished them the week before we left, and these photos were taken today- so about a month afterwards and not having been washed yet!

These have seen plenty of wear- I actually wore them on the 9 hour flight out, as well as the first few days in Vancouver when the weather was a bit changeable. They also protected me from mozzies the first evening at the cabin we went to on the Sunshine Coast (the evening I didn't wear them I scored upwards of 20 bites!). I had a vision of taking some lovely snaps of these in action out there for this blog post, but somehow when being at the cabin it just didn't seem like the thing to do - we were too busy seal and eagle spotting, diving off the dock, exploring in the boat, BBQ'ing and drinking beer!
These have left an indigo tidemark on the inside of my white raincoat (d'oh) so I was afraid to wash them while I was away. I bought some new denim while I was at Mood in LA (as well as some great banana leaf print chambray!) so I'll wash it with that and a healthy dose of vinegar to try and prevent further dye transfer. Here are my apple-print pockets (left over from cushion-making, always great to match the furnishings right?) which are unlikely to stay a nice crisp white after the wash!

So, these are the Ginger jeans view A (low rise with stovepipe leg) made up in a size 12 with no adjustments. I've made these once before in corduroy, and the fit straight out of the wash is pretty decent (although being non-stretch they do bag out badly during the day). This is Italian denim from eBay, can't remember where, but it was around £8 a metre so seemed a safe bet for a second wearable muslin before I cut into the Cone Mills stuff I've been stashing for too long now! This denim seems to be pretty decent quality and a very classic colour, with a decent heft to the weight. I am a bit underwhelmed by my rivets though, I definitely need to move on to the nicer ones included in the Ginger jeans kit for a more professional look.

Close-ups from when these were freshly made and unworn

These are comfortable to wear, but the waistband has got a bit bent and flips out slightly under the belly after a while (not the most flattering look) so normally I would wear them with a longer untucked top to cover this. I'm quite tempted to try and draft a mid-rise to avoid this as my abdomen isn't my favourite feature so I'm not that comfortable showcasing it. I could probably take a teeny wedge out of the centre back waistband too for my swayback, but it doesn't gape quite as much as previous RTW jeans I've owned. I prefer to wear these rolled at the ankle like this as the full length somehow feels a little bit 'blokey' on me. It doesn't show so much in these photos with my heeled clogs, but with my everyday brogues I almost feel like I should be sporting braces and a flat cap.

I really like how classic these are, and I have to say I actually found the contrast topstitching a bit easier than my first go of black-on-black. Maybe it's having had the practice now, but I also thinking being able to see it properly helped a lot! I also took my black Ginger view Bs away with me (these are pretty much my only pairs of trousers now) and they survived a hike up the Grouse Grind (although I confess I did have to unzip them at a particularly steep bit for ease of movement! Luckily I had a long t-shirt on). I can't wait to make more jeans!

How's your summer sewing going?

NorseOtter xxx

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Chequered Success: Colette Pastille + Simplicity 3257

Hi there!

Here's my summer dress, what was supposed to be a quick palette-cleanser after my latest unselfish sew. However, as my choices for palette-cleansers seem to often do, this ended up taking a lot longer than expected, and wasn't quite the easy win I hoped it would be- hence the 'chequered success', which is also a reference to messy print matching with the gingham.

I don't know about you, but I love sewing books. I've received quite a few over the last couple of years since sewing has become a major part of my lifestyle- I have the benefit/ curse of having a birthday quite close to Christmas which means I tend to receive a stack of them, get inspiration overload in January, but then find it hard to commit to one and get on with things. The Colette Sewing Handbook is one such gift, received about two years ago, and while I have read all the information and found it quite soothing as well as instructive, the patterns are of course five years old now and while lovely they do speak to the reinterpreted vintage style of a few years back which is a bit 'cutesy indie girl' for me now (although if I'd been sewing at that time past me would have loved it!). However, I'm still quite keen to try all the patterns, which have good bones and with style variations of my own can be made to be more 'me'. 

For some reason I'd been thinking about the Pastille dress a lot; I couldn't decide whether I loved it or whether it was really frumpy. I was also quite keen to get on board with the whole 'sewing patterns that teach' philosophy that Colette has. The neckline bow was a definite no, and I was torn on the skirt's horizontal pleats. Not really me, but a new technique to try, and I kind of wanted to do them just as a lesson. I also switched up the lapped zip for an invisible, as now I have the right foot these are much easier to insert and give a cleaner look.

Thanks to a warning from fellow blogger Lynne at Ozzy Blackbeard I decided to make a muslin to check for the dreaded gapy back that this pattern apparently inflicts on a few people. I took a different approach to this pattern than normal- instead of doing an FBA I cheated and graded between a 10 for the bust and 8 at the waist, back to 10 again at the hips. This seemed to work pretty well for the front bodice even if it was a bit fudged. For the back (again graded between 8 and 10, but perhaps I could have left it at 8 all over) I found I had to close and exclude the neckline darts and make the waistline darts longer on the back bodice pieces for a better fit. The skirt pieces on my muslin looked hilariously exaggerated where I'd graded between waist and hips- almost like the Elisalex which wasn't really what I was going for. As I wasn't 100% sold on the horizontal pleats at the bottom of the skirt I had the brainwave of subbing in the skirt from Simplicity 3257, a vintage skirt that was one of the first patterns I ever bought.
Luckily the front pleats of the skirt matched up almost perfectly with the Pastille's bodice darts, although I did decide to use the Pastille's back skirt pieces as 3257 has an interesting back vent construction that involves a large fold of fabric that goes all the way to the waistband that I thought would be too bulky and would interfere with the centre back zip. I also had redraft the Pastille back skirt pieces slightly to match 3257's length and side seams (although I added 1/4” more ease on each seam up to the hip on the 3257 just eyeballing as I cut as my last version is a tiny bit tight). 

So far, so good. It all came together pretty nicely, even if I had to find a way to (somewhat) neatly finish my slit at the back of the skirt on the fly as I realised it would be difficult to walk otherwise. My armhole facings are less than perfect- I've got a slightly weird shaping at the top of the cap sleeve where I must have curved inwards slightly when cutting out on the fold, meaning it isn't a nice straight edge at the top, and there is a little bit of gaping at the side seams under the arms that I would address next time.

My main issue with this dress is that, although the fabric I chose suits the style and gives the dress a flirty and casual air (in a different fabric it could look quite elegant and formal- and I'm tempted to give it a whirl again for sure) I managed to make a hash of cutting and as a result the check matching on this gingham is a total mess. The worst is at the waistline, where it seems that both the bodice and the skirt were cut at a slant, creating a little chequered wedge. The checks are also quite visibly running off the edge of the hem- and I just did the best I could with the back as how the bodice and new skirt back seams were going to match up was total guesswork. At least I kept the vertical stripes consistent for the most part...

It's frustrating as in a different fabric this dress would be a total win- I really like the combination of bodice and skirt and it fits pretty well, and after working through my adjustments would be a pretty quick sew for next time. It's just my lack of accuracy in cutting some of the pieces and, although I feel like I agonised over pattern-matching the gingham when cutting out it somehow seems to have gone awry. I don't know if this fabric is off-grain (which is possible, it was something like £3 a metre and has been sitting in my drawer for a couple of years) or whether there was some slippage in cutting, but it's galling.

I'm chalking this dress up as a 'curate's egg' which is an old phrase I've only recently discovered via my boyfriend, who came across it in his job as a sub editor (here are some bonus snaps of us being the homespun couple - he's wearing the GBSB shirt I made him last year). Apparently it means something that has both good and bad parts; it comes from an old Punch cartoon satirising manners where a curate who has been given a rotten egg by his host is loathe to criticise it and cause offence, so claims there are some parts of it that are still edible. Originally I suppose this phrase would have had a similar meaning as the less elegant 'you can't polish a turd' (i.e. someone desperately trying to make a good show of something patently terrible) but its meaning has morphed over time to take the kindly curate's balanced view as its driving force. So, this dress has good bits- but it also has some undeniably bad bits.

If it's not too cheeky to ask, have any of your projects turned out to be 'curate's eggs' recently?

Norseotter xx