Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Completed: Lady Skater Dress in Hackney Checks


Oh my gosh it's December already and I still haven't got anywhere on my Vintage Pattern Pledge. At least I've given myself some wiggle room by not pledging to do anything specific- but now I think I might have a plan!

So, on to the Lady Skater. Yet again here's a make that wasn't super challenging or that time-consuming, but it's been 3 weeks since my last post! While this might make me a bad blogger, in reality I don't think I could cope with having a new thing in my wardrobe every week, so in my book it's not so bad that maybe I only make one or two things a month. I haven't actually bought any clothes this year (although I have bought lots of fabric!) so in a way this is helping me manage my storage issues when it comes to clothing. Another way to manage this and still indulge my enjoyment of sewing is to do a bit more unselfish sewing, although at the moment I don't think I'm precise or speedy enough to be doing this regularly - although I have just promised a friend a Birthday Box-Pleat skirt!

Not bad print-matching, in my opinion...
I bought the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 when it came out as an easy win to build my pattern collection, which at the time only featured three patterns, all from By Hand London! The Lady Skater was the main attraction as I'd seen it going round the blogosphere and it always looked great and had good reviews on the instructions and ease of construction. However after my (poorly serviced machine-related) chewed-up Plaintain I was a bit wary of knits and went back to sewing easier woven fabrics. But as it's getting chillier I decided to be brave and have another look at it, after all I wear my RTW skater dresses to death and it would be nice to have something that's easy to throw on as part of my handmade wardrobe. I do have a bunch of other projects in my imaginary sewing list, but what pushed the Lady Skater to the top of the pile was oddly my research for my Vintage Pattern Pledge!

Back View (is this lower back creasing what's known as 'swayback'?)
Allow me to explain. My access to vintage patterns has now quadrupled (at least!). It seems that my ma worked at John Lewis in the late '70s and early '80s and made full and comprehensive use of her staff discount when it came to the haberdashery department, but it's all been in the attic for the last 25 years or so. You have never in your life seen such a pile of Victoriana-inspired blouses, little house on the prairie-style flouncy skirts, capes galore and the odd flight suit thrown in! There are even a few dapper men's patterns in the mix. I spent several hours combing through these with my ma, just for the fun of seeing what she had. There were so many things to catch my eye- but I thought I would try and start with something simple, and a lovely '80s V-backed, cap-sleeved, slinky jersey pencil dress jumped out at me as something that might be quick to make up and would likely see a lot of real-life wear. However, it's a single size pattern, and upon taking my measurements when I got home I realised I was about 3 sizes too large!

So, this leads back to the Lady Skater how? Well, I have a hare-brained scheme in which I will somehow use the Lady Skater pattern as a fit template for the slinky pencil dress, and slash and spread the (traced) pieces so that I get a decent fit on shoulders, bust, waist and hips. As there are only 3 pattern pieces hopefully this shouldn't be too ambitious! And this finally gave me the impetus to make the Lady Skater. However, as I decided to make it in this mystery double knit check fabric (from Mermaid Fabrics on Mare Street's Narrow Way) I was a bit put off from getting stuck in by the challenge of print-matching, but I think I've done a decent enough job in the end!

A little bit of static tights-clinging action here!
I also like to make life a little bit harder for myself when it comes to making my own clothes. This time is was by modifying the neckline from a round neck with band to a boatneck using this tutorial from Heather B (this is linked through from another tutorial where she has also added a pleated skirt, but one thing at a time!). I also omitted the sleeve bands (which are a little too casual for my taste) to match the clean edges of the neckline (also recommended in the tutorial). It was pretty easy to do, but as the neckline is the first thing you make up I forgot about the different seam allowances for this pattern (3/8" instead of the usual 5/8") and accidentally made the boat neck a bit deeper and wider than I had planned. I think it still works, there's just a little more risk of showing a bit of bra strap! My other goof on this make was that, in my efforts to precisely print-match the sleeves I cut them on the single layer and ended up cutting two of the same arm! Oh well, I sewed them in anyway and don't seem to have had any problems so far! I graded between sizes with the bust a size 5 going down to a 4 at the waist and it's a decent fit but could maybe do with a little more ease in the bust. The rest of the dress came together really quickly and easily. In fact, I really want to make another in a solid colour to see just how quick it can be when you don't even have to worry about aligning checks!

I am wearing this dress right now and can vouch for it being comfortable and easy to wear. Over the weekend it survived a quick photoshoot in the fading light from the park followed by a 30 min skip/jog/run to the pub where we thought we were going to be late for a Sunday roast, and then more belly laughs later at Aziz Ansari's show at Hammersmith Apollo.

Normally I would dress up a bit more for a show, but for me I always feel dressed up whenever I'm wearing something new, no matter how casual the style! I'm not sure how long this fabric will last as it was quite cheap and it does have the habit of sticking to my tights, but all in all a fast and fun make and one that I want to make again.

All bundled up! Do I look like an evacuee?
So, not the most exciting of my makes but definitely a satisfying one. I think this is what other sewists call 'sewing the cake' (I assume as in opposed to the icing), therefore something necessary and wholesome but maybe not hugely eye-catching.

So, on to my birthday skirt promise and vintage pattern pledge! What have you been making? Any others out there dashing to fulfil the Vintage Pattern Pledge before the end of the year?

NorseOtter xxx


  1. Looove this!
    Would you mind me sharing this on SSB in the future? I credit, link to your post and let you know when featured.

    1. Hi Sassy! Thanks very much! No problem at all, I'd be flattered x

    2. To be shared on SSB tomorrow. Thanks for permitting.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! I have a feeling this won't be the only version! x