Finally … the lace dress of doom is finished

The finally finished dress

The finally finished dress

The hours of my life spent on this dress just doesn’t bear thinking about. Four three hours classes, homework every week of two to three hours, two hours at sewing club and then all the handsewing – phew.  Only to  discover that instead of looking exactly like Lisa Comfort in her dress, I look rather matronly in a dress that doesn’t fit very well.

I feel ambivalent about this dress.  It is very exciting to have finally finished a longer project, particularly one that introduced me to so many new techniques but there is also so much wrong with it I don’t know where to start.

Here are the errors that true sewistas would just sort out: the waggly hem, the dodgy loop fastening, it’s too big pretty much all over.

My toile - why couldn't I see this was too big?

My toile – why couldn’t I see this was too big?

I started the class at Sew Over It  – Clapham in November.  There were five in the class and our tutor was the wonderful Julie.  I love it that the studio has toiles already made up in all the different sizes for you to try on and then you take your own fitting from there.  I went for a 12 and had to take out a central V on the chest to take account of my small boobs.

Lovely studio at Sew Over It - can you see the lovely cake?

Lovely studio at Sew Over It – can you see the scrummy cake?

The dress needed further taking in on the seams and again after I tried the zip – I ended up trimming so much off I think I definitely should have gone with a 10.  The interesting thing about the class was how I emerged as a student.  Being a teacher I thought I would be a good student – retrospectively I think I was probably a pain. To encourage me every time I wailed, Julie would say “It’s couture!”.

My first problem was my lace.  I decided to buy my lace from Sew Over It so that I could look exactly like Lisa Comfort. I soon realised that everyone else had bought their lace elsewhere and it was far prettier than mine: moan, moan.

The lace and the lining

The lace and the lining

Then I realised I was slower than everyone else; my dress fitted less well than everyone else, and so it went on.

Cutting out - there seemed to me a huge number of pieces - a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

Cutting out – there seemed to me a huge number of pieces – a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

As I approached the class for the last night of the four week workshop I only had my zip and hem to do – I was very excited.  I came away from that class three hours later with still only the zip and the hem to do!  The last minute fitting took for ages.  It became apparent that what I thought was an invisible zip was not in fact so I decided to hand sew in a normal one which took me ages because I realised, rather perversely, that in my brief sewing career I have only put in invisible zips so didn’t know what to do.

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Working with lace was a pleasing challenge.  It had to be “mounted” on a base fabric = I used the crepe de chine I was using for my lining  – it has made the dress incredibly heavy.  Julie suggested a way of using my lace to make a more interesting necklines (others had scalloped edges as part of their lace).  I had to cut two rows of daisies out, run a line of stitches thorough the middle to gather and then sew onto the neckline – I am pleased with this.

Lace finish on the neckline - a unique feature!

Lace finish on the neckline – a unique feature!

I have realised that I need to get a camera that sits on a tripod – these photos on my IPAD are rubbish and my photographer has to be cajoled and bullied so does not undertake his task with good grace!

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

I plan to wear the dress of doom to my work’s Christmas supper on Monday week. It’s a very low key affair so I think I might just about get away with my waggly hem and matronly fit.  So, onwards and upwards on the sewing front.  I am tentatively thinking about booking the coat making workshop!

Front yoke – can’t imagine Tracey Emin, herself a great sewista, wearing a frock like this

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

New Sewing Club – Hoorah!

I am SO delighted that Sew Pretty have started a Sewing Club on the first Tuesday of each month and tonight was the inaugural meeting. I have been to a couple of workshops previously and really have enjoyed the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and the expert help and advice from Katya.

My concentration face - hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

My concentration face – hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

The focus for the club is that people can take along their various WIPs which they need help and advice with, or simply want to use a sewing machine or overlocker.  There were five of us and everyone had really interesting projects.

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

There was a quilt in the final stages; a child’s dress; one lady who had had a doll’s cot as a child and was revamping it for her own 18th month old daughter. Her father had renovated the cot and she was making bedding and a mattress cover. A friend of mine also went along who had bought back some GORGEOUS silk from her recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam and wanted some help cutting out the fabric (best done with tissue underneath – I did not know that).

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

And finally there was me. Remember my Dahlia dress with the off the shoulder neckline?

Dahlia neckline

Dahlia neckline

Well, I took that along to see if anything could be done – I had decided that I simply didn’t have heart (euphemism for couldn’t be arsed) to unpick my bias and take all the raglan sleeve seams in. Katya repinned the back and suggested I try an inverted box pleat.

Back box pleat - I had to take in four inches

Back box pleat – I had to take in four inches

I did that and it looks OK – an interesting design feature is what I shall claim!  Then it was onto my Time Thief lace dress. There is a strong possibility I may actually finish it this weekend and finally be able to blog it – but don’t hold me to that.

Super skilful Katya

Super skilful Katya

I really enjoy social sewing. It must be a real challenge for a teacher to assist with five different projects but Katya coped admirably and we are all looking forward to the next sewing club in January. Hope you are all having a fun week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x