Seasonal Wardrobe Fatigue

At the beginning of summer, I'm so excited to not have to worry about layers and just be able to throw on a dress and sandals and head out.  By the time it comes to September, I am so utterly sick of every single dress I own and long for more 'interesting' combinations of clothing - that involve separates and layers and scarves.  

Don't get me wrong, summer is my time. Heat and the constant need for sunglasses and sunscreen fill my soul with light and if I could live somewhere where it was constantly warm I would jump at it.  Despite or perhaps because of hailing from the British Isles and all the weather systems that entails, I have no need for rain or cold. At all. (The latter is pretty hilarious given how goddamn cold it gets in this city).

That said, I definitely see the fun and interest in all four seasons, but I'm not someone who wishes them away (well perhaps in April, when it's still below freezing and winter has been going on for a lifetime - but that's my fault for living in NYC.) I do, however, constantly wish for interesting clothing arrangements.  

I made this dress in July and have pretty much worn it non-stop since, and consequently my relationship with it has soured and we're pretty close to breaking up, or at least putting ourselves 'on a break'. (I just watched 'How to be Single' on a plane, and for some reason Rebel Wilson saying 'OK, Season Three Ross' won't leave my brain.)

And now having looked at photos of it, I don't actually really like it that much on me. I clearly need to increase the armhole depth and the length hits me at the worst possible fat-knee place.

But before the relationship reached that stage of disgruntled overfamiliarity, I was utterly in love with everything about this dress. It is very simple, but incredibly flattering (at least so I thought) and in such a fabulous, take you anywhere (as Annie (my mum) would say) fabric, and so easy to throw on, feel pretty and go. Oh and the construction instructions are just brilliant.  Really, really good.

So, she is Ruby by the marvelous Tessuti made in a denim shirting from lovely Caroline of Blackbird Fabrics. I can't tell you how perfectly the fabric met my vision.  

I love a beautifully packaged independent pattern as much as the next sewing nut, but I also love how Tessuti are so honest with their patterns.  They are hand drawn and graded with no frills instructions but brilliantly drafted and the instructions always teach me something.

I've never used stabilising stuff when sewing before, but this pattern has you use it all around the neck and the armholes to ensure nothing stretches.  And it works a treat, there are absolutely no gapes anywhere.  I'll also, usually avoid visible bias binding like the plague, but it just works on this pattern and (shock, horror) I actually enjoyed every moment of putting it together.

I made very minor alterations to the pattern.  I decided to include a centre front seam as the fabric wastage would have been ridiculous if I'd cut both front and back on the fold. (I didn't put the seam down the centre back as I wanted to sew the keyhole and facing as instructed.) The seam is barely noticeable and then when I saw that a CF seam had been used on this awesomeness - after I'd finished the dress - I felt like the coolest kid. (I will be copying that next summer.)

I widened the neckline slightly and I added a load of length and then promptly took it all off again when hemming - this seems to be happening a lot; not sure what is going on with my deluded understanding of how long I am.

I love the cutaway shape of the shoulders - which is so flattering (if it's not all wrinkled due to being too high), and how, even though it trapezes out from under the arms it manages to hang in such a way that it shows some sense of your waist.  Perhaps this is because the side seams are essentially cut on the bias. I'm not sure but it's fab.

And with that I'm done writing about summer wear.  I made a lot more than I managed to blog, but as Morgan so eloquently writes, I don't need to sew all the clothes and I don't need to write about them all either.  

The love affair with this dress was all consuming and intense, but now I'm ready for trousers and shirts and myriad jackets and sumptuous scarves. Until May, by which time, I'll be all over her again like a rash. 

And that, my lovelies, is Seasonal Wardrobe Fatigue.

Much love

See you soon x

ps: it's been a bit sporadic of late, but Noble & Daughter turned 2 this week!

A linen Sway Dress

I absolutely loved reading the comments on my last post.  So many of you were so kind about my dress and how I should embrace what I want to wear - because if I feel good then that is all that matters. Thank you! The best bit was reading everyone's thoughts on their own personal style evolution and how they feel now compared to how they felt at 19. I could relate to pretty much everything and it was so lovely to read so many different stories.  Thank you!

The comments were pretty much unanimous in how comfort in your own skin and feeling more at ease with oneself and one’s style seems to come as we get older and we fundamentally give less of a damn as to what other people think, or have realised that, on the whole, people are too busy thinking their own thoughts to pass judgement on other randoms in the street. I absolutely agree with this. I try to wear what makes me happy, which one day (thanks to all the supportive comments) will be a figure hugging red stretch dress and the next will be this linen tent. 

Oh the joys of fickle magpie fashion tendencies.

Last year, for some reason, I tracked down Gray Line Linen in the Garment District and went a bit mad. I say for some reason, as linen and I don't generally rub along that well together.  I'm not a huge fan of the artfully crumpled look - mainly because I just look like I forgot to iron (purposeful forgetting is usually the case when it comes to me and ironing) rather than attractively relaxed and often the silhouettes that linen fabrics are made into - in RTW - are not to my taste.  I do see the attraction of a beautiful soft linen and its breeziness for sticky summer days, but that doesn't, or at least hasn't to date, really translated into garments for me.  So it was especially strange to be buying a fabric I don't love that was not the finest kind, for that read; it's pretty stiff and scratchy.  But I am a sucker for a stripe and a windowpane, so this ended up coming home with me. 

Only to sit unused for a year.

A while back whilst doing the bi-monthly ritualistic ‘let’s match fabric to pattern and daunt myself with an absurdly unachievable seasonal sewing list’, I had a thought to turn this windowpane into a Lexi top until I realised the pattern called for a stable stretch fabric.  I considered inserting a back opening / fastening but crispness is the order of the day for such a pattern and this linen whilst stiff and scratchy would not stay crisp for very long.  And clearly has no stretch.

I can't remember what lead me to the Sway Dress by Papercut Patterns and this fabric as a match instead - particularly as the pattern held little interest for me when I first saw it - but I do know that I wanted to sew this up as something that would work with the stiffness of the linen rather than fight it and the swingy shape of the Sway Dress enables just that - it creates the perfect tent.  Seriously, I could ditch my kids' play tent and just use this. Double duty. And they'd then have room to swing a cat in their bedroom. 

The Sway Dress is quite possibly the simplest dress pattern in the world - no darts, no fastenings, no real fitting to be done; unless of course you're a lanky giant with an absurdly long chest and swimmer's shoulders (without actually being a swimmer), and an all-in-one facing that means no fiddly binding on the neck and armpits.  

May I just draw your attention to that pattern matching down the centre front seam ...

Simple. But at the same time with lovely details; the close fit through the chest and shoulders that tames the tent a little and the fact that you can wear it with the V at the front or at the back. 

... and down the back!

I chose the back and because I needed to make a half inch forward shoulder adjustment, I can't easily wear it the other way.  I could probably have done with a half inch broad back adjustment as well as I think it might pull a little. I did increase the chest length by half an inch. This is as simple as cutting across the pattern piece through the armhole and inserting some paper and rejoining the armhole.  Which is great (unless there are sleeves involved then it gets a little more tricky), as for me this ensures the armhole isn't too tight and also moves the bust point to, or closer to the correct point.  Even though there are no darts here, I can assume that the bust point will be too high for me as this is a standard fitting issue I have.

Going by my bust measurement, I cut an XS in the longer length - even though I don't intend to use a waist tie - as the short length looks like it would be indecent on me. I did end up cutting 4 inches off the hem (better that way around) as the hem length is crucial in this fabric to avoid this being about as flattering as a bin bag.  

It is such a simple pattern and really quick to sew and I could see making it in a very fluid silk would create such a different dress.   Thing number 218 that I love about sewing patterns - the versatility and never ending options from just one pattern.  

I’m pretty pleased with the outcome of this combination of pattern and fabric.  I don’t always get that right, but increasingly I’m learning what does and doesn’t work for a particular style and silhouette. It again, is a very personal thing that relates to one’s own style and the fabrics we as individuals like to wear - I’m defo a natural fibres girl (to be frank, synthetics just make me sweaty) who goes easy on the prints (large-scale florals aside 1, 2, 3…) 

So I’d love to know how you determine whether a fabric is suitable for your vision (recommended fabrics aside)?

And which are you most likely to change to suit - the fabric or the pattern choice?

Thanks again for the uplifting and generous comments. This is truly a special community to be part of.

See you soon xx