Friday, 11 November 2011

This is nothing you couldn't have learned from Fred and Ginger*

The Internet is a wonderful thing (does it still have a capital 'I'? I don't know. When change happens in any area of society, how can I be sure that anyone will tell me?). For example, when I liked a dress pattern, a few years ago there would have been no Jorth with a blog showing me umpteen different versions. There would have been no Flickr to search. It would have been like throwing my money into a deep, dark cave.

But no! The evidence was solid - Vogue 8511 was infallible. New levels of sophistication would be reached! Grown men would faint at the sight of my elegant box pleats!

(Sorry. I just had to break off there due to a fit of hysterical sobbing. No, no, I'll be fine. I'll just wipe my eyes on this piece of bitterly scrunched-up lining fabric. Oh God. I'd even lined it.)

I'm not going to show you the fabric. I could Google it; I could even go upstairs and photograph the scraps, but the truth is - it's just too painful. My dress was hideous. I've spent a lot of time trying to think of hilariously witty ways to describe my dress, but 'hideous' is the only one that covers it.

That, and 'like a big brown sack'.

I tried everything to save it. I cut the sleeves off. I tried a belt. Whatever I tried, it just looked more and more like a costume I had bought to re-enact something historical. It cried out for accessories: a muddy field, some kind of head-covering, a few wicker baskets full of cabbage.

I cut the top off and made it into a skirt. I cut the hem off to make it into a shorter skirt. Apart from cutting it into tiny tiny bits and using it to mulch the flowerbeds, there was nothing I could cut off which would make it any better.

I flew into a rage, which lasted all the way to the fabric shop where I saw this pattern. I mean, look at the state of it. Who would buy that without a single piece of research? That jacket! What is this, 1985?


I'd show them. I'd show these people with their patterns, ruining women's lives like that.  I set about it in a complete frenzy, first checking the pattern for bits that I could miss out. Stay-stitching? Pah! Pressing the darts flat as I went along? Yeah, right. This wasn't sewing. This was running away from failure. I even tried it on with all the pins still in the sides and nearly had to take myself to Accident and Emergency.

And so, with a very muted fanfare which celebrates success whilst containing subtle echoes of past tragedies of which we cannot easily speak, I give you New Look 6013, in Liberty cord.

Let's get this out in the open right now: the facing at the top was too big and it stuck out and threatened to hit me in the ears. I sewed dirty great chunks out of it on completion and chopped the rest off with my scissors. I have shown it to enough people now to be assured that no-one will ever notice, and I am happy enough. We carry little imperfections on our shoulders all our lives; why should dress-making be any different?

*Fred and Ginger. Of course.


  1. That looks absolutely amazing. I love the whole outfit. I can hardly believe it is the same dress as the one on the pattern envelope. Well done for seeing beyond the hideous 80s floral number.

    and thanks for the Fred and Ginger. God, I love Fred Astaire.

  2. Sorry but I have howled with laughter at your post today. And here was me thinking patterns should be reported under the trades descriptions act. Nothing EVER fits the way it's supposed to and NEVER looks half as good as what the model is actually wearing. Or maybe I am just crap at sewing ;)

  3. Oh, Bitsy Beans. You are very right.

  4. I think this is one of my favourite blog posts of yours EVER!

    And the dress is stunning.

  5. My god!
    You've done it.

    I must say, though, that I walk around in large sacks nearly every day of my life. And I probably would have loved it.

  6. The first mistake you made was in choosing brown fabric. Nothing can ever look good in brown.
    Your new dress looks good, well done!
    I'm not sure that Jorth has put her zip in properly, my Mother would have told me off for doing it like that.

  7. Hey, it looks great to me.
    Alas, I can't sew so ... you worked magic in my eyes.

  8. I'm with toffeeapple on the whole brown is a bit poo thing ... Let's face it, even sacks don't look good in brown!

    but ... my oh my! You done good with the 6013! I am way impressed. Looks great! Congratulations are very most definitely winging their way to you there from me here.

  9. You were very modest about this in the Changing Room. It's brilliant. It's like a Boden dress except that (and there IS a fanfare here in this comment for you - tooteetooooot) you bleedin' made it yourself so it's ten times better.

  10. THAT is beautiful.

    Well done.

    And stop saying you can't sew. I smell pants on fire!

  11. It's beautiful!

  12. That looks brilliant. It fits beautifully, the straights and curves and everything is where it is supposed to be, and the fabric is lovely. THat must feel pretty good, knowing that you made it yourself..

  13. Oh God! I've just found this post and laughed till I cried. Been there a thousand times, but never thought of using the results as a mulch. And hey, your dress is beautiful!

  14. I bought this pattern a couple of days ago, made it, then thought, 'I've seen it somewhere before...' So this post has now made me laugh twice, nearly a year apart!


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