Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Learning Curve

I know I'm not alone, I really struggle to buy stuff when I think I can make it myself. I drive my husband bonkers because I'm stubborn and take on far too much not always realistic about what I can achieve in the time I have available. I'm working hard at being kinder to myself, cutting myself a bit of slack, and that means choosing my projects a bit more carefully. Apparently overloading yourself with craft projects is not a sensible way to deal with being overextended in other areas of your life! Who knew?

So, what I don't need is another 'project' but a 'quick win' is a different kettle of fish.

I saw a dress in a shop in Whitstable and really liked it. P said 'treat yourself', I said 'it's just 2 rectangles' - so we popped in the fabric shop (twice, obviously, I'm an Olympic standard ditherer). I like to support the local shops - I just prefer to be buying the raw materials. The lady in the shop was very patient whilst I draped bolts of fabric over myself trying to figure out how much I needed.

I knew I'd recently seen something similar at cationdesigns blog but I wanted to add some shirred details like the dress in the shop. Actually, with hindsight I should have stuck to her design and fabric choice exactly but I was thinking of the dress in the shop. I thought of all the time I'd save that I'd usually spend tracing pattern pieces and cutting out - no pattern, just need to keep holding it up to figure out placement, piece of cake.

So, as a beginner, what did I learn from my first try at completely winging a garment for myself:

Totally over estimated the fabric width, even allowing for the gathering once shirred, so back to the drawing board. I do this every time, make everything too big, not sure why I'm getting it so wrong but measuring correctly would save me so much time and aggro. I actually ended up cutting my original Front in half length ways to make front & back which was much better.

5 lines of shirring at the waist did not work but that gave me masses of fabric at the chest so I ripped those out to replace with shirring under the bust, much better but led to another issue. The positive is that sewing, unpicking, and re-sewing endless lines of shirring means I got much better at it and figured out the best set up for my machine when using elastic.

I should not assume that liking a dress on the hanger means it will suit me once on, why did I do that? I would never just buy a dress in a shop without trying it on, I think I felt guilty about trying on something I had no intention of buying but it would have saved me some time.

Empire line styles don't really suit me, what was I thinking? I know this. And if masses of fabric at the bust is not a good look, why would shifting it downwards help? This would make a perfect maternity dress, not the look I was going for! So I should spend my time sewing stuff I will actually wear, that should just be obvious.

However, I'm not counting this as a total loss. I learnt such a great deal.

Pattern: None

Cost: 2.5m of fabric @ £10; thread 50p (staggeringly I did not have anything like a match in my stash, which proves that my stash is totally under control)

Made it myself saving: ??

Time taken: Totally stopped counting, I am clearly not good at winging it!

Satisfaction level: Mixed.

  • I don't have the sundress I was planning on but I learnt a great deal
  • I remembered some things I already knew (but ignored because I got carried away!)
  • The dress is a perfectly acceptable beach cover up and I will definitely use it for that, the cotton is cool and it will work fine over a bikini
  • I only used half the fabric, so I have enough for a blouse or dresses for my nieces
  • I will feel less resentful of the time I spend tracing and cutting pattern pieces in future, it is obviously time well spent

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