Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If you don't like what's being said, change the conversation

I deliberately held back what I wore on Sunday so I would have something to put into a blog post for today. Sneaky sneaky, what? I have spent the last two very long days at meetings in London so unless I wanted a rather dog-eared, travel-smudged, flash-faced oufit shot it wasn't going to happen!

Sunday 19th February 2012 
Dolly Dagger Scarlet gingham dress and Irregular Choice Patty shoes

Sunday 19th February 2012

With a coat! Fever Kobe jacket

This is what I wore on Sunday. My annoyance at this dress has abated slightly, and I felt happily springlike in this frock with a comfortable and warm slip underneath. I think it goes really well with these lovely Irregular Choice Patty shoes that came from my friend H. Towards the end of the day, I started to feel a bit cold, but the anticipation of the warmer weather that I felt wearing this drress really did my heart good. I'll tell you what, though. I know they're different styles but for the same amount of money (and in fact, a deal cheaper at full price) the Limb dress I wore on Saturday is twice the dress that this one is in terms of construction, design and finish. I'm glad to have this pretty gingham frock in my wardrobe, but live and learn. I wouldn't buy another one. It's one of those things that learning to sew has helped me to do - to spot what constitutes quality and value for money and what doesn't when it comes to ready to wear clothes.

Sewing has been at the front of my mind a bit recently. Partly because I'm looking forward to some potential fabric shopping (or at least browsing) when Nic and I are in Florida next month. I need to find out how to find these awesome estate sales I'm always reading about on American blogs! I went to the pub with Lysy last Friday night and naturally enough the chat turned to sewing. She was wearing a fabulous wool circle skirt that she had made, and I confessed that I felt I had stuttered a bit when it came to my own sewing.

Part of this is my struggle to get the fit right on my second Peony dress. I spent last Monday sewing it up and while I have rectified most of the issues with my (admittedly very cute and totally wearable) first attempt, it's still not quite right. After a day of sewing, at the end of which the bloody dress still wasn't right (and was all crumpled from having been worked on all day) I felt thoroughly discouraged. When Nic finished work I met him for a coffee and ended up crying into my latte right in the middle of the coffee shop. Way to keep it classy!

The tears weren't all about the sewing. As I explained in a previous post, I have been struggling a bit recently with SAD and have been having a stressful time at work. But also, I was just pissed off at not getting it right, and upset with myself at not having the patience to get it perfect.

All of this is totally contrary to why I started to sew in the first place. I want to learn new techniques and be good at it, and everything but mainly I want to sew because it's fun and because I enjoy making things. I'm not really after a perfect couture fit and I have ample evidence in my wardrobe that I can find ready to wear garments that I love. I wouldn't go around wearing something that plainly didn't fit me, but I'm not looking to be some sort of master tailor, either. All of this led me to wonder why I was being so hard on myself.

One of the reasons is that this knocked my confidence a bit at a time when I was feeling low anyway for non-sewing-related reasons. Another is that I read a lot of sewing blogs written by talented, determined, meticulous women to whom issues like a perfect fit are really important, and many of them are fantastically productive as well. Ladies, I admire the heck out of you all and you're all amazing, but for a while there comparing myself to you was wrecking my head. I had to have a wee word with myself on that matter and remind myself that I want to do this for fun and relaxation and creative endeavour. It doesn't have to be some sort of test that I need to excel at. So once I've stopped fiddling with this version of the Peony I'm done with that pattern, even though I haven't achieved the perfect fit with it. It's time to move onto pastures new, sewing wise, because this one is making me feel like I'm a sucky seamstress. And I'm not! Getting my spring clothes out of the wardrobe at the weekend helped to remind me of that, because packed away were a number of my handmade efforts and they're all good! So no more battling - I'm going to sew something fun.

I was inspired afresh by the rather marvellous Julia Bobbin's Mad Men dress challenge. I'm not sure that I will officially join in, as sewing to a timetable doesn't appreal to me. That said, I am inspired to follow along on my own schedule having seen her breathtaking Peggy dress and Joan dresses. I mean, Joan is an obvious choice for dress imitation, because I don't think there is a single one of her dresses that hasn't given me an attack of LOADS*, but I think my penchant for wiggle dresses has been fairly well satisfied by my ready to wear clothes. So I have decided to turn my attention to both Trudy Campbell and Megan. What I sew is going to be rather dependent on what I can find fabric and pattern-wise, but I have my eye on this simple yellow shift dress as worn by Megan Calvet in the season 4 episode The Beautiful Girls:

                        Photo (and inspiration) from the amazing Tom and Lorenzo Mad Style series

Made up in a bright yellow linen, maybe, this could possibly work with a few adaptations to Simplicity 2591 which is an old favourite of mine. I'd need to find a correspondingly fabulous vintage button with which to adorn the shoulder. I'm not too sure how well yellow would suit me but I think I'd be willing to give it a go. I love all of Megan's outfits - she breathes life and the future into Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, so this is an appealing idea.

The other dress that has caught my eye is one that the fabulous Trudy Campbell wears in season 2 episode Flight 1.

It looks like I could fairly easily find a suitable pattern, and that the joy would come in the embellishment. Trudy's dress seems to have a velvet bodice with a taffeta skirt, but I'd want something lighter and more summery so would probably look at cotton and cotton sateen, but I'll see what (if anything) I can get, and maybe use the cummerbund bit from the Peony to provide that detailing at the waist. It feels nice to be excited about the idea of sewing again, it seems like it's been ages since I have been.

What about you, dear readers? How do you overcome sewing frustrations, and do you think you'll take part in Julia's Mad Men challenge?

(* Lust Over A Dress Syndrome, as defined by Julia!)