The Great Devon Sewing Bee continues with me falling hopelessly for the whole ethos of Merchant & Mills, honestly I am a marketing consultant's dream customer.
Make it look old fashioned... she'll fall for that.
Go back to the old ways of doing things... she was there first time around.
Emphasise the basics of keep it simple, do it well... she might stand a chance.
Send patterns on card rolled up in a tube...she'll love that.
And so to the Factory Dress based on a 1920's working-class style...
The card pattern that came rolled up in the tube and when unrolled slips neatly onto a hanger...
...and which involved me digging out the tailor's chalk and deciding it really is the best thing and much better than ...er... a biro.
The way that I had to then draw around the pattern and mark it all up took me an evening, but the whole process felt time-honoured and traditional, and ultimately much easier than pinning tissue paper.
I ended up with a lovely pile of bits and am definitely up for more of this...
To that end I am really grateful to Karen at Barbican Fabrics who very kindly sold me some of her pattern card along with the hangers, and passed on the tip to stick your tissue patterns to it.
And then I started to stitch.
Things were going swimmingly, though with a new pattern it took me a while to figure out which side I had to iron the facings onto, and the collar facing dangled unhinged in the oddest way but came together fine once I understand the method.
But slowly I realised that, though seemingly lightweight, the denim I had chosen was going to be a nightmare to stitch in quadruplicate when I reached the collar. Mea culpa as usual, so many layers which the Bernina valiantly stabbed through...and yes, I had even remembered to put in a denim needle, but really it was going to be akin to wearing a neck brace. The facing went in wonky, by which time I realised I wasn't doing this at all well, or even simply, but denim frays far too readily and despite zig-zagging the edges this wasn't going to tolerate too much unpicking. When May and Patrick (Great British Sewing Bee judges) ask me to wheel out my creation there would be plenty for them to get their critical teeth into.
Too late to decide that I should have made a toile ( a calico trial run) but I soldiered on regardless deciding that for the £8 this had cost it wasn't too expensive an experiment, I would be re-learning a few things on this prototype along the way, which I certainly have, and in the end some things did go quite well.
Anyway it's finished and as you can see it's not far off enormous for a size 14, definitely more so because of the fabric. Where a lighter one would drape, well this one sort of stands alone ...hmm... it's like a tent, enough room for a troop of Girl Guides to camp inside ( I exaggerate ... maybe just a pack of Brownies)
There was only one thing for it, beat it into submission, as in ruin it, on a 60 deg fast spin cycle in the washing machine with those dolly washer balls. It was like being on the Western Front as they hammered around the drum for an hour, but can you believe it, unheard of, the dress came out looking as pristine as the minute it had gone in. Not a crease, not a streak, nothing... you'd be thrilled with this denim if you wanted it to keep its colour and shape.
Undaunted I will now just have to 'wear' it in, around the garden, for which is was built made, and for which it is perfect. Pulls on over my head, plenty of room to move, nice deep slouchy side-seam pockets (another first for me and a succesful moment) and actually very comfortable despite the thickness around the collar.
Even more undaunted I have cut out another one, this time cutting 'within' rather than 'without' the chalk lines which might help the sizing a little, and in a much drapier fabric. Note the can of beans which is recommended for weighting down the card whilst drawing round the pattern.
Watch this space for Factory Dress Mark Two, I've got the hang of it now.
So how's your sewing week been...