27 November 2013

work and wear


Many moons ago, when the weather was warm, the days were long and time seemed plentiful, my best friend and I mooched around the galleries together. Along with hordes of people we squeezed in with the crowds swarming around Tate Britain's Lowry exhibition to peer at pictures of the industrial poor going about their daily business, always in a rush it seemed, whether it was to football matches or funerals. I'd never seen any of these pictures close up, and despite the pressing crowds, I found myself smiling out loud, so to speak, with their familiarity: altercations in the street, waiting rooms, the solemnity of funerals, and above all the energy of purpose. These were busy people, bent forward, squeezing life in.

I'd been thinking all summer about a green skirt that Salley Vickers' Cleaner of Chartres had worn, and found one in a charity shop, only to surrender it to a lady who had bent down to pick something up and looked devestated when she rose up and saw that I had picked it up off the rack. But around the same time, Kate wrote a post about her boiler suit which also struck a chord because I too love a bit of a workwear.

And with indoor stock coat*

With all these influences converging it was almost inevitable that I'd get over the green skirt dreams and so on a visit to Rye I found myself buying the Merchant and Mills Factory Dress pattern, made out of tough brown card and rolled up in a tube, beautifully utilitarian. Somewhat cautiously for me, I thought I should make up a toile before investing in expensive fabric. And so, with purpose and pleasure, my domestic workwear was cut out one night and made up in an afternoon from a second-hand gingham curtain, just as a try-out.

It turns out that the Factory Dress is an excellent dress for labour, around the house or on the allotment. For going out on the town - ha! -it is not quite right, at least not for me, though others here and there have fared better. It may be that because the pattern was a size smaller than my usual size it needs to be adjusted, at least made longer in the waist; or maybe I'm just more used to a more fitted style; or perhaps it's just inevitable that a dress made from an old gingham curtain might make you look like you really do work in an factory or  institution. Overall (sorry) the dress seems to work much better with sensible mary-janes and black hose, so a second attempt might be in order with a more drapey, woollen fabric. I thought I might get round to it in time to participate in the Wovember challenge to complete a woollen garment, but alas not - that jacket I started in September has taken its toll of my spare time with its tacking and catch-stitching, silk organza smoothing and sheepy-smelling hair canvas pressing.


There must be a moral to this lengthy tale but I've no idea what it is. Yet.

11 comments:

tut-tut said...

Looks nice. You might want to nip it in just a bit at the waist. Though you don't want to compromise the ease of wearing it while doing things

Shandy said...

I'm with you on the routine. In our second year of retirement, we have put some shape into our week, because otherwise it is all to easy to get into a low way. We never thought we could develop a gym habit but that has helped with the low mood too.
I love the way you come up with things I've never heard of - like this pattern company.

Knit Nurse said...

Looks ruddy brilliant with the headscarf imho!

rusty duck said...

Go for it. Uber trendy in the right fabric. And a doddle to make... unlike that jacket!

ALoadofOldTat said...

Just love it. Great style.

Jane Housham said...

How brilliant. And lovely photos as ever.

E15 kids said...

I made that dress in a Japanese denim (very small check) from the Cloth House. I do worry when I wear it that I look like a dinner lady but it is comfy and works well over a skinny rib roll neck in the colder weather. I am much more pleased with things I've made from Merchant and Mills Dress shirt pattern and Trapeze pattern. The latter I have made as both top and dress. The dress - made in a wool silk mix bought at Crescent Trading - gets lots of compliments. I like the fact that they are so easy to make that it means that you can really concentrate on the details like Hong Kong binding the seams and adding bra strap holders.

Joan

Liz said...

Looks great. I haven't given much thought to workwear (I don't do much work these days, domestic or otherwise) but you've reminded me of my dad's white grocer's coats, always sent to the laundry for washing and starching and returned in string tied brown paper parcels. Not to mention the men working in the iron and steel works, which we were once surrounded by here, and their uniform of trousers, waistcoat, jacket, flat cap and neckerchief despite the filthy and sweaty conditions.

Stacey @ bakercourt said...

You're so very talented - look at that pattern work! Spectacular headscarf and ambient brick wall.

Joanna said...

I really like this, and especially the way you have styled it with headscarf and beautiful brickwork. I need a dress for the allotment, I think. Actually much more practical than jeans for all that bending and squatting.

Felicity Ford said...

This post is so fantastic - my favourite fashion post of 2013. You look amazing in the factory dress, and the M&M pattern went straight to the top of my Xmas wish list after seeing you looking so radiant in it! LOVE it with the headscarf! xF