Saturday, 30 August 2014

Completed Project: April Rhodes Staple Dress (Unselfish Sewing)

Hello folks!

Hope you're having a good weekend. I'm having a quiet one after stuffing my face with ceviche and pisco sours last night, so taking it easy. We had a pretty full-on time last weekend too- we added a couple of extra days to make to most of the Bank Holiday and did a little 'staycation tour' to Epping Forest, Brighton (which had some great fabric shops in the Laines that I regret resisting), Notting Hill Carnival, and even a little eating and drinking tour round our local area in Peckham. I'm very pleased to add that I discovered some great new fabric shops in Peckham (Brixton used to be my regular haunt for this so it's nice to know I have some gems on my doorstep!) including a few places specialising in wax prints.




So many beautiful fabrics! I'm almost tempted away from my usual animal motifs towards some of these more geometrical designs. I didn't get the name of this place, but it's about half-way up Rye Lane if anyone is interested, and there are other smaller shops that sell thread and notions too nearby.

And, just for a laff, here's a novelty shot of me goofing around in some tudor costume! This was set up in a dressing-up corner in the hunting lodge at Epping Forest for a family learning event that we gatecrashed before heading out on a walk. Not a very flattering shape- but I love the slashed sleeves and fur collar.


So, onto the unselfish sewing! I managed to find a bit of time over the weekend to finish off the April Rhodes Staple Dress that I was making for a friend's birthday. I didn't manage to finish it in time for the actual day but gave it to her last week and am very relieved that it fits- and better- likes it! Here's birthday girl Holly in the finished article:


I love how this dress turned out, and I want to make a version for myself in a slightly more autumnal fabric soon! Maybe some houndstooth check or tartan? I chose to make it for Holly because it's a pattern that doesn't require any special fitting, and as I wanted it to be a surprise I had to just guess the measurements which worked out fine. It's a very simple but effective dress- the 'staple' is a good name for it as it's very much a dress that could be worn every day! Holly is a teacher so I wanted to make something for her that would be in her style but that would be good for wearing to her school; i.e. a modest (but not frumpy) length and with pockets. The fabric is a lightweight cotton with a kind of Japanese floral print that I picked up from Mermaid Fabrics in Hackney's Mare Street. I got the Staple Dress in Perfect Pattern Parcel #3. I bought #1 too as I was keen on the Lady Skater, but this is the first time I've got around to making anything from either 'Parcel'. They are a great idea though, a nice PDF package of curated basics and more fancy designs from indie designers with a chunk of proceeds going to charity. Keep an eye out for any upcoming ones here, they currently have a cute childenswear package especially for boys live at the moment: https://patternparcel.com/

This would have been a speedy make, even with several new techniques for me- my first in-seam pockets (or indeed pockets of any kind) and my first armhole and neckhole binding. It all turned out fine on the first go though, thankfully! The one thing I did have a little trouble with was the shirring. It was actually pretty easy (and fun) to run the first few rows of shirring in and looked great, but it turned out that I'd make the waistline a little wonky in following my pinned lines. So I unpicked, re-drew the waistline more carefully in tailor's chalk, and started again. But this time I'd taken off my detachable sewing table and I think having the waist of the dress moving around the arm meant that the shirring ended up a lot tighter- I could barely get it over my head in a trial try-on! So I unpicked yet again, re-attached my table and it was third time lucky. I think the lesson here is to definitely mark out things accurately, as I could have had it at the first go otherwise. Shirring was fun though and I have a few more projects lined up; adding a shirred waist to a RTW vest-top dress from Uniqlo, and re-elasticating the waistbands of some lovely old hippy skirts that my mum has passed on to me.



So, for the rest of the weekend I plan to finally finish off my Ultimate (Short) Trousers! Wish me luck.

What handmade gifts have you been making?

NorseOtter xxx



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