Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Simplicity 9546 (1971)

I am so pleased to be blogging again after a pretty unpleasant month (flu virus, attendant weakness, then all the catching up that required. I am sure you can imagine!).

I started this skirt before I was ill, breaking the (bad) habit of a lifetime by making a toile (muslin). I may be a convert as it wasn't the pointless exercise I had feared!

The pattern was purchased from our local charity shop for 25p, and was printed in Great Britain in 1971, according to the envelope. I thought the skirt was classic and the blouse cute, although the blouse would need grading up to fit me. Charity shops are a great source of cheap patterns for keeping the cost of dressmaking down in my view. As long as you can see past the styling, you can spot the similarity to classic patterns being published today. However I cannot lie, upon opening there were 18 rusty pins folding up the skirt pattern, making it very mini and the maxi bit had been cut off the bottom altogether. Worse, no waistband piece (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth), so clearly this type of thing is a bit of a gamble. But only a 25p gamble!

The fabric I chose was also on the quirky side:

This is a size 22 dress, fabric composition 92% polyester, 8% wool, unworn with cute buttons, little shoulder  pads and self belt (all salvaged for my stash, obvs). Cost £7.95 from our other local charity shop. I was drawn to the earthy colours and geometric floral, 'cos you never know, it might turn out overall plan was to try a midi skirt. I have been reading they are no longer considered frumpy and to be quite frank it's another option for keeping legs warm at this time of year.

Only barely enough fabric - what, doesn't everyone cut out on the kitchen floor using various cheap tinned items as weights?! - and no discernible difference between front and back pieces. Cutting out was quick!

The waistband piece I cut using a waistband pattern of a similar age that looked a similar width - I will blog about that pattern another time, as it's the perfect A-line skirt and fits like a dream.

The pattern instructions were fantastically well written, suggesting the correct tension, number of stitches per inch, needle and thread type (urm, I ignored these though, having an overlocker :)). Waistbands should be slipstitched and the skirt hung ovenight to check for uneven hem, then finished using seam binding (I did do these steps).


Um, no!

It looks OK but in order to get it to this length (the one I had wanted), I had to pull it down below the natural waist and I want to wear it on my waist! Now I look again at the pattern, two of the models show knee length skirts, but who knew they were both 5'3" just like me?!

On the plus side, the raw materials were cheap, it fits and it's warm. Who knew 8% wool could make that much difference? The fabric was super easy to work with so it was quick to make. I also think this length draws attention to the slimmest bits of my legs (yes, my ankles, fortunately!). I would like to make it again but would add length so that it could be worn at the natural waist as intended while still hitting mid-calf.  I have some black medium weight jersey of unknown origin that would be ideal, I think together with a black satin waistband could look rather smart.

Btw jumper and shoes also 'thrifted'. Shoes genuine French vintage, how lucky a find were they!

Apart from a (kinda) successful toile, the main thing I learnt from this experience was that I am seriously camera shy. I don't know if you can tell from my tortured face but I felt extremely uncomfortable posing for this picture. I am not sure why (fear? if so, fear of what?). I am now worried that having my photo taken during Me-Made-May might be as difficult as making the clothes. If anyone has any tips about appearing less self-conscious in photos I would be very grateful to receive them. I don't want to show things I make on hangers or a tailor's dummy, as clothes obviously look so different with bodies in them.

Thank you, friends!

Happy sewing, 'til next time!