Ahoy friends, guess what, you’ll never guess, but GUESS ANYWAY! I’ll tell you. Shall I? I MADE A DRESS!!!! I made it with my hands! My hands operated a sewing machine and I made a dress!!
So, some back story maybe…. Some of y’all will know that my Mum passed away suddenly in September 2017. Since then I’ve been inheriting various bits and bobs that belonged to her, or that she had gifted to other people and that had come back to me. Jewellery, things she created. My Mum was tremendously gifted in the creativity department. When she left school she headed off to complete a degree in fashion design in between competing in the commonwealth games and generally crapping all over society’s expectations of a young female wheelchair-user born into an extremely working class family in England’s north east.
I, on the other hand, have never been particularly gifted creatively. I dabble in this and that and if I’m not amazing at a New Thing IMMEDIATELY then I pretty much abandon it entirely. My brain spends a few months obsessing over a new hobby or pastime and then I suddenly find myself not so interested in bullet journals but with an enormous collection of expensive Japanese stationery. Mea culpa.
I’ve always been a bit disappointed in myself for not picking up sewing machine and dressmaking skills any earlier. With a fully qualified mother I didn’t really have too much of an excuse (aside from my teenage obnoxiousness). I’m pretty sure I even once spent approx. 17 minutes in front of a sewing machine in home economics when I was about 12, but I never really caught the sewing bug. Over the years my Mum very generously made the occasional item of clothing for me, including That One Time I Went To Whitby Goth Weekend And Asked Her To Make Me An 18th Century Gown With Bustles In About Five Days. Parenting is brutal, yo.
But over the past few months, as I watched more and more YouTubers upcycle secondhand clothes and fabrics, I started to get the sewing itch. I started a Pinterest board (isn’t that always how it starts?) and I plotted some craft sewing projects. I told my stepdad that I was thinking about saving up for a sewing machine and he kindly offered to donate my Mum’s ol’ reliable Elna to me. I ACCEPTED.
Y’all, can I just give a huge shout-out to YouTube for giving so many folks today a free flipping education where stuff like this is concerned? Honestly, say what you will about spending hours watching videos online but YouTube has improved my life skills significantly. And sewing is no different – I finally got over my sewing machine fear and learned how to use the darn thing.
|For those of you who are still a bit scared of your sewing machine, or who could use some solid 101 videos along with some simple beginner-friendly tutorials, check out my own playlist here.|
I got the sewing machine in mid-December, and in the past month or so I’ve made napkins, box pouches, cushion covers, an iPad cover, tote bags, a cutlery carrier, and some other minor bits and bobs. And then I made some jammy shorts by copying a pair I already had. And THEN I bought my first dress pattern. I figured, how hard can a “1 hour dress” really be…..?
I’ve always been a fan of a sleeveless shift dress for the office so this seemed perfect for me. I picked up a delightful printed soft black canvas fabric with scribbly red circles at the recent creative craft show and, this past weekend as the storm raged, I decided to tackle the 1-hour dress.
I doubt this would have been achievable in 1 hour for any absolute beginner, so I don’t feel too bad that in total this took me maybe 7 hours. It’s a 1-day dress! I took breaks for dog walks, lunch, and dinner. But it was finished by bedtime, and I added the pockets the next day.
Y’all…. I MADE A DRESS!!!!!!!!!!! I mean…. Yes, I seam-ripped more than once. I had to look up a few new techniques. I will definitely alter the pattern slightly the next time I make. And I failed completely to understand the top shoulder seams and DIYed it with top-stitching in the end. But I made a DRESS!!
HASHTAG IT HAS POCKETS.
And so, with the Great New Dress of February 2020 I do declare a Make Nine Challenge open. Here I’m going to list the 9 patterns I hope to turn into real clothes in my wardrobe before 31 December 2020 rolls around….
1. The York Pinafore (Helen’s Closet)
The PDF pattern is $14 USD and the sizing runs to a max 54″ bust and 58″ hips.
2. The Fuller Cardigan (Cashmerette)
The PDF pattern is $14 USD and the sizing runs from US 12 to 32 with three bust sizes available.
3. The Estuary Skirt (Sew Liberated)
The PDF pattern is £13 GBP and the sizing runs from UK 8-30.
4. Fernway Culottes (Twig & Tale)
The PDF pattern is $14 USD and the sizing runs to a 51.5″ full bust and 53.5″ hips.
5. The Surtout Coat (Ensemble)
The PDF pattern is £12.50 GBP and the sizing runs from UK 6 – 26.
6. The Indigo Smock Top/Dress (Tilly & the Buttons)
The PDF pattern is £11.50 GBP and the sizing runs from UK 8-24.
Annnnnnd….. I’m leaving the other two open for now, and hopefully by the time I’ve made a few more beginner pieces I’ll be ready to level up to intermediate…. We’ll see!
So, friends, have you ever considered making clothes? Whether to avoid fast-fashion (which is tricky in the plus sizes, by the way) or to have more freedom over what you wear? Or are you taking part in the Make Nine Challenge this year, with any craft at all? Let me know!