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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hand Made

I haven't blogged for a month but have been productive, just not in the photographing and writing sense. The only finished piece of dressmaking is the totally handsewn Alabama Chanin inspired dress that I am blogging about today. There are another two dresses partially sewn waiting by the sewing machine, too, plus another cut out but not started, and fabric washed and prepared and patterns prepared to cut out another three things. (And uni starts on Monday, so I'm not really sure how quickly any of that will progress!) There are also two small shawls finished but not blocked or photographed.

I love the Alabama Chanin look (there's a link to her site on my list of links on the side of the blog, if you don't know what I am talking about) but for my first go I did not want to go to all the trouble of the stencilling and reverse appliqueing and stuff that looks so fantastic but I suspected I would get bored and grumpy with it. I intended to do a very simple tunic/short dress and make a feature of the seams with contrasting thread and possibly a little bit of stitched embellishment, just using one layer of jersey. In the end I gave up on the embellishment because I found it impossible to keep my tension on one layer of jersey - doing the seams and binding was easier because it was always at least two layers, so if I do another piece (and I would like to) I might consider double layers and a touch at least of reverse applique or something similar.

I used 1 metre of 100% cotton jersey from Clegs (navy blue), and the heaviest Guterman thread (uphosltery, perhaps? I can't remember) used double (bright red). I drafted the pattern from a jersey nightie I love could easily be worn as a dress, and it fits comfortably.

Navy blue is incredibly difficult to photograph. It didn't seem to matter whether I used natural light, filtered light or flash, it never came out the right colour. It is an ordinary, bog standard navy blue. It looks abominable just hanging on a hanger but I promise it looks better on, I'm just terrible at selfies.

This is a detail of the stretchy stitch I used to attach the bindings round the neck and armholes. There are a variety of options but I liked the simplicity of this one. The seams and flat felling are done in running stitch.

This is just another stitching detail, the same as before, but it gets a bit closer to the real colour.

I haven't worn it yet but will soon. Yes, I know summer is technically almost over in Australia, but there is always substantial warm (and often hot) weather during March and sometimes into April, and it's also designed to be a layering piece worn with a long or short sleeved Tshirt underneath and over jeans or leggings, so I intend to be able to wear it all year round.

It was fun to do. Yes, it was time-consuming, as you would expect with a totally handsewn item, but I could do it all in front of the TV and it was oddly relaxing to do. I'll have to wash it in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle but that isn't a huge imposition. I really enjoyed the handsewn ethic, down to the fact that I drafted my own pattern from something I already owned.