27 June 2013

trying:: three


We are one lesson away from the end of term at the "soft tailoring" class. One three hour lesson to put in an invisible zip and turn up the hem before I wear this frock to a wedding party. Take my word, it will be done and there will be pictorial evidence.

I cannot believe how long this project has taken, or more to the point the wretched neckline. I made a muslin so that I could adjust the pattern before I cut out the fabric. The back was adjusted (who knew I had a narrow back?). Measurements were checked to make sure that it would fit snugly and I would sew carefully so it would all be perfect. After all, I had plenty of time. Three hours weekly in a well equipped classroom, top notch Berninas, industrial overlockers, professional cutting tables, a steam presser fit to compete with a dragon, a knowledgeable teacher who could remember exactly what you were up to and what the pitfalls were, encouraging co-students. All was exactly as it should be.

But, but, but.... somehow, those little sweetheart curves weren't loving me, weren't quite prefect. Eventually they looked fine and I thought it was safe to put in the lining. This time the three pleats at the neckline weren't quite even, just a slight extra fullness on one side. It just wouldn't do. Do you know how irritating it is to adjust neckline pleats when the lining has been sewed in? You start unpicking; you put it down. You realise you need to pick out some more. You mark the spot where the tailor tacks should be. You tack. You undo. You re-tack. You sew awkwardly. You measure one side against the other. You realise one of the seams is half a centimetre too short.  It needles you. You finally get it right.  And you learn that next time round when one side doesn't look quite right, it really will not magically work once you have put the lining in.

My mum would scoff at all this. I still tense up at the thought of her commanding insistence and my tears when, up against the clock, she would adjust a wonky neckline with a pair of cold, heavy, not to say sharp, shears against my skin. Looking back I realise that the results, measured by eye, without a pattern,  were amazing.  Unfortunately, I have neither her intuition or experience when it comes to creating a confection of frills and pleats and embellishments from a flat piece of cloth. So I conscientiously examine layouts and instructions, carefully measure and mark, laboriously follow seam allowances, sit up in bed reading the Colette pattern book and Adele Margolis, lurk around sewing blogs.

It takes 9000 hours of practice to become a genius I hear.  Three hours a week, 30 weeks a year.  Only another century of classes then. And I still haven't finished the dress I started last term.

10 comments:

ALoadofOldTat said...

Yes but you will have made it yourself and that it something to be proud of. Wear it with a beaming smile and all your hardwork will have paid off.

Anna said...

I've recently gone back to sewing and have realised - thanks to the Internet I guess - how much I didn't know twenty years ago when I made lots of my own clothes. The bit of the dress in the picture looks fantastic. Where's the class? It's something I'd be. Interested in. X

colleen said...

Princess Pea! You're back! How lovely.

The class is probably out of your way - it's a Tower Hamlets adult learning class in Shadwell, just a little east of the Limehouse Link tunnel. Three hours a week each term, Wednesday morning at a bargain price. I believe Morley college also has excellent classes.

Just popping over to your blog to catch up.

Liz said...

I do admire your tenacity. Although I used to sew clothes, I wasn't a natural dressmaker (and I have a feeling everything just shouted 'homemade'). Unlike Aunty M who could make anything (coats, jackets, wedding dresses, you name it) which was very handy when I was a teenager and a long way from Biba and the Kings Road. Good luck with the zip and hem.

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Ooh, excited to see the finished result. And I do like that fabric! It will be worth all your efforts I'm sure :)

annjennyg said...

I admire your patience! I'm sure it will look lovely when it is finished and I'm looking forward to the 'pictorial evidence'!

Rattling On said...

I can't bear sewing patterns, all that faffing!! I'm more of a look at a picture and have a go sort. Mixed results...

Stacey @ bakercourt said...

Oh, but just LOOK at the results! I can't wait to see the finished pic, the skirt - and the photos from the Big Reveal Day when it makes it out in the wide world. So very exciting. You've inspired me to take up a proper course on this. xx

rachel said...

Sounds like torture to me.....

My mother made lots of our dresses, and always seemed to leave a pin in the waistband when it came to first-fitting time, as well as having a cigarette break while making adjustments to her handiwork. I can picture her now, fag in mouth, squinting against the smoke, tweaking here, pinning there, but whatever she made seemed to fit beautifully.

Good luck with your dress! It looks lovely.

tut-tut said...

Lovely! I can't even get my apron sewn together, and it's all cut out. Sigh.