Friday, December 14, 2012

People are put in prison ships because they murder and because they forge and rob and do all sorts of bad things… and they always start by asking too many questions!

I make no apology for my love of the novelty print. It's like my Kryptonite - I am powerless in the face of gingham, polka dots, or a ridiculous print. I can't help myself which is why, when I joined Marie, Kat and the other sewing bloggers posse in Birmingham in November, I came home with four different lengths of silly prints. After buying polka dots and Russian dolls in the rag market, I had decided not to spend any more money. But then we hit Barry's, and Mellie pointed out this fabulous measuring tape fabric and my resolve crumbled. I didn't know what I wanted it for, but I knew I wanted it. So I bought 2 and a half metres, and then Marie crumbled and bought some as well.

I don't usually buy fabric without a clear idea of what I'm going to do with it, but I didn't have anything in mind for the fabric. I just knew I had to have it. I bought enough to make another full-skirted Cambie dress, thinking that the skirt gathers would really show off the stripes in the fabric. I still think that, actually. I washed it and put it away and then last Friday afternoon I was ironing one of my Vivien of Holloway halterneck circle dresses and it hit me that a circle skirt would be perfect for this stripy fabric. As soon as work was finished for the day, I pulled the fabric and my copy of Butterick B5748 to see if I could make it all fit. I had 2.5 metres of fabric, but it was only 45in wide. I remembered from making my One Good Turn dress that shortening the skirt considerably pre-cutting worked well, and the skirt pieces still had the fold lines from where I did that before. By cutting the skirt pieces on the cross-wise grain and shortening the skirt, I was able to comfortably get the dress out of 2.5 metres. Happy days!

As before, I adjusted the bodice slightly by decreasing the side seam allowances and increasing the seam allowance at the shoulder seams. I also put some of that billions of metres of cotton tape to good use by taping the neckline. Seriously, I think I'm going to do this with most dresses in future. It doesn't take long to do and it just gives the neckline that bit of stability, it's ace. As with the One Good Turn dress, I lined the bodice but not the skirt, and I put in a lapped zipper.

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Bodice back- apologies for the slightly crappy photo, low light!

For funsies, I decided to play with the direction of the stripes on the bodice. They're running horizontally on the bodice front, but I decided to make them run vertically on the bodice back. No reason other than I thought it would look fun. Nic and I were watching Fringe on Sunday and I made the observation that the answer "oh, just for the craic" applies to almost any situation ("Walter, why did you design a scorpion boy?" "Oh you know, just for the craic") Well, I changed the directions of the stripes on the back of the bodice JUST FOR THE CRAIC. I'll stop taking about it now though because it's really not that big of a deal. But I like it, anyway.
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I lined the bodice with some cream cotton and I enclosed the waist seam in bias binding, which I also used for the hem. As usual, I machine stitched it to the hem and then handstiched it. This took most of a lazy Sunday afternoon and made me happy. I really like hand sewing. And this dress makes me really happy - as with the changing direction of the Russian dolls on my One Good Turn dress, I love the way the stripes of the tape measures swirl around the skirt.

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My turned and stitched seams and bias-bound hem

I love how meta it is to wear a dress with measurements printed on it, even if I wouldn't necessarily trust them. And I really adore the colours. This fabric came in lots of different colourways and they were all lovely, but this one looks like sweets.

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The Meta Dress - worn here with Poetic Licence Backlash shoes, and accessorised with an umbrella because it was raining really heavily.

I tried to think of a good cutesy measurement name for this dress, but I hated them all. So it's the Meta dress! This is now the fourth dress I have made using B5748 and, despite having disparaged the instructions before (fair enough though, I'm still not putting in a zip by sewing something closed and then unpicking it) it's clear how much I like the pattern. It's very simple so it works well with 'conversation' prints, by giving them space to do the talking. I really like the fit of the bodice and, as I have said before, the low scooped back. Even if I never made another one of these dresses (although I will be) the bodice pattern will be really useful for dart placement. But I will be making this dress again - in fact I have two planned for the spring. One in a large print gingham, colour as yet undecided, but with a sweetheart neckline (although this red gingham frock from BooBooKitty Couture is making me lean towards red) and another using the Michael Miller Paris Ville fabric, to make my own spin on the Bernie Dexter Paris dress I have been drooling over for the past year. And in the nearer future I'd like to make a blue polka-dot one!

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A delightful photo of my rather chubby looking back so you can see the stripes! 

The thing with this fabric is that, I know a lot of people would look at it and see it being used for a bag or accessories or even home decor, but NOT clothing. I can see why. I mean, there's definitely a fear that you'd end up looking like this:
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If you do want to look like this, you can

Can we take a minute to salute the genius who decided to put a Tape Measure costume into production. And also all of the people who have bought and worn such a costume. It's just so... unusual. But there must be a demand for it, there must be enough people out there wanting to get dressed up as a tape measure to warrant this being produced! Anyway, I must admit that I do occasionally become slightly concerned that my love of novelty prints is close to tipping over into the costume end of things. It doesn't unduly worry me but I do already get people asking if I'm in fancy dress, or if they can borrow my clothes to wear to a fancy dress party! (the people asking to borrow my clothes for that purpose can shite off, to be honest) But at the same time, it's a way for me to express myself and have fun, so I don't think there's any reason for me to stop just yet!

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Clearly, I'm not somebody who minds looking ridiculous. It makes me happy. So, onwards towards more frivolous sewing projects and novelty fabrics!