Alongside my Etsy shop, I try to make my own clothes whenever I get a chance. Sometimes I shout about them on Instagram (because hey, who doesn’t like some nice strangers complimenting your sewing ability?!), but more often than not I’m wearing them so much I forget to document them anywhere!
So, here’s to you, unsung heroes of my handmade wardrobe – we’re starting with a 60s inspired frock from last February…
This dress started life as an attempt to copy an old New Look dress I’ve had for years, but I wear it so much that I thought I could definitely use another, and it would soften the blow a bit if the original ever gives up the ghost (whatever it’s made of could survive an apocalypse, I’m sure of it!).
The construction of the original dress is a bit unusual – I wish I’d taken a photo to show you! The arms are cut at 90 degrees to the skirt, and sort of make a T-shape when they’re laid out. The centre of the front and back are almost trapeziums, with embroidered detail to hide the seams.
I found the fabric (cotton silk) at Jakel, one of my favourite fabric shops in Malaysia. The first time I went in I was a bit overwhelmed because there are 5 floors of fabric, people EVERYWHERE, and a shop assistant follows you round in case you need anything cutting. The prices also take a bit of getting used to because the price listed is for a ‘set’, or 4 metres. This is so you can tell how much it would cost to make a basic tunic and trousers, or a sari with a little top underneath, but it makes the prices look sky high when you’re used to pricing by the metre!
I looked at the trimmings while I was there, but the range was so overwhelming that I didn’t get any ribbons at all, and actually stocked up at my local haberdashery which specialises in all manner of bejewelled treats. It was pretty painstaking work, but I managed to stitch each piece down in (almost) straight lines to create a similar front panel to the original dress – it was pretty stiff to start with and was more like wearing a bib than a dress, but it’s softened up now it’s been through the wash a few times…
And there we have it – the finished dress! I used 3mm elastic to pull in the cuffs (GREAT for hiding a tissue when you have a cold), and double stitched the hem because, let’s face it, double stitching is the best.
If I made it again I think I’d move the empire line down slightly so the fabric would be less prone to billowing over my tummy, but apart from that I’m pretty happy with it – I think long-sleeved, short-skirted dresses are massively underrated, so fingers crossed they’ll make a resurgence in 2016!