Tuesday, April 20, 2010


When I was a young lass at university I made myself a couple of shift dresses. When I bought this vintage polished cotton, I though it would suit the style - it's kind of crisp, so it wants a design that needs fabric with a reasonably firm hand.

New look 6909:

So it was a little bit of a trip down memory lane sewing this dress. Only it wasn't - because when I was a young newbie sewer I did not

a) preshrink fabric
b) neaten seams
c) hand stitch hems
d) use interfacing
e) fit, tissue fit, or muslin
f) use invisible zippers
g) line
h) press
i) add wearable ease - I would have made this fitted, no, bursting.

Yes it's a wonder I wore anything at all that I made. And what's more I was SO proud of my efforts. Now I would be tsk tsking and saying as I examined a seam, "well, the main thing is that you enjoyed yourself making it."

At any rate, here it is. I have mixed feelings about it. It's very comfortable, easy to launder, with big slouchy side pockets and it's easy to wear. The print is pretty - but the thing is, it's really hard to find things to wear it with. Wear it with black and it's too hard, it's too busy with most things, and it looks silly belted (I tried) and silly with a necklace (yes I tried that too.)

The slanted pockets:

Maybe my mixed feelings come from my husband after he said, " you look like you're wearing one of those old house wives' aprons."

I'd be the first to say, "don't let anyone dictate taste to you," but it's hard to be convinced when someone else has doubts.

So then I thought, "what would Burda do?" They'd put a faux fur waistcoat over the top and accessorize with a big shiny patent leather bag and bracelets. Maybe I'll go there - maybe not.

Do you remember with fondness any of your early sewing efforts?


  1. I can really relate to your 'junior' sewing efforts. I like this look on you, but would love a coat in that fabric. Saw some very upmarket ones in something similar in Seoul.

  2. Looks great to me :-) What about doing a self-fabric belt for a different look? Or go totally burda and do the faux-fur waistcoat. Dare ya!

    Junior sewing moments...there are many, too many to list ;-) Highlights would have to be the polyester satin miniskirts with dodgy hand sewn zips and unfinished, fraying edges.


  3. Oh, yes, the red linen dress I made in the 80's. Remember when everything was reversed? It had a V back and buttoned all the way down the back. The front was plain and shapeless as things were in the 80's. It had massive white buttons and really badly made buttonholes. There was no interfacing, no lining and a crooked hem. I wore it with such pride. I like your dress and you should ignore your husband. I was once told by my bloke that a dress I had just made 'did nothing' for me. Everyone else tells me how great I look in it. Perhaps you could style your dress with some of the weird Burda accessories from the January issue? Then there's always the classic ugg boot look. If it were my dress I would use it as an excuse to buy myself a pair of nice burgundy leather boots.

  4. I had no fear sewing 'back then' - vogue designer patterns, backless dresses, bright colours, shiny, bows... those were the days!

  5. I don't know how anybody can make a dress with sleeves and have it fit...that is one mystery I don't think that I will ever solve...so I am impressed without even looking at the quality of the seams. The boots look good. You said you tried a necklace, but did you try a long chunky one? Have you lost your sense of nana chic...surely that would dictate a nicy, shiny brooch?

    When I look back on my early sewing days, I am amazed at what I sewed without a pattern. These days I spend so much time fussing over patterns that I can hardly get started. Back then, I had an idea and then just went and cut and sewed it. I think I need some of that confidence back!

  6. Wear it with a nice pink flower brooch?

  7. I think it looks fab as is, but if you aren't happy then how about a self fabric half belt with big self cover buttons.

  8. I love the "What would Burda do?" approach to styling!! I like it with the tall brown boots as you are wearing it. I'm trying to suppress the memory of some of my earlier sewing exploits. I'm pretty sure that I wasn't even clear on the seam allowance concept.

  9. Very funny! I think I'm still more at the tsk-ed upon place than at the tsk-ing, but I do enjoy my garments (and the children do, who receive my most slapdash creations). As to the dress (don't listen to husband, I like a flowered dress!) - what kind of necklace? A very short, very cuinky, very colorful one might work. Or a long skinny scarf in aqua/turquoise.

  10. Oh, yes...my first sewing experiences were a disaster. I didn't even CONSIDER measuring...why WOULDN'T I wear a size 10 pattern if that is what I wore in the store?? And I was fearless...I would sew anything...satin dresses, slip covers for entire rooms of furniture...things I wouldn't even consider doing now!

  11. I like your dress too. My husband would likely say something like that as well because he doesn't like floral prints. What do guys know anyway?!

  12. How about with a wider belt or sash, laid low on the waist/hips, like the low-slung ones in this post, especially this one. Also are you sure it wouldn't look right with a necklace of the more funky variety?

  13. I am so NOT gifted in Photoshop but here http://www.flickr.com/photos/myprojects/4538172181/.

  14. Don't believe a word of it readers, she has always been a meticulous sewer. I remember those dresses and they were beautifully made.
    Re. accessories, do you or do you not hail from Dunedin? That is, doesn't a black cardy go with EVERYTHING?

  15. I think I am still in my junior sewing days. seam finish? pressing? I never really noticed thesethings before I started sewing, but after seeing so many beautifully made garments around the internet I think I am going to have to improve my skills.

  16. He, he, I think I believe your ?sister. I can almost see those perfect seams from here. What is the matter with a house wife apron anyway? I think the dress looks feminine and practical - I love the pockets.
    It is hard not to listen to your husband though, I have some greenish trousers I never wear because of a leprechaun comment.

  17. The best things I ever made were my jackets. The most successful one was made out of a peice of fabric that a guest left behind at the motels at Franz Josef Glacier. (not the glacier itself, the motels). How weird is that? I 'happened' to have my machine and a pattern with me. It was a good holiday project and I made it, fuelled by chocolate biscuits bought at exorbitant cost from the local petrol station. I like the dress but B agrees with T. It may be a woman's garment.

  18. Yeah, I tried Photoshop and of course I now realize I didn't have to go to the trouble if I had just remembered your post before this one! So, yes, a belt LIKE the one you already have. Now how easy was that? ;)

  19. oh god I hide my head in shame with the things i made for myself as a teenager!
    I think the dress looks great, I'm seeing a blue belt or something in midtones to lighten in up.
    I think its more of a shoe dress than boots though.. pale tights and either funky mary janes or shoes from Mad Men. Big chunky long multicoloured necklace, maybe with turqoise, but that could be too matchy matchy, I feel a petrol blue might just lift the grey and highlight the turquoise in the dress.
    eh, what would I know!
    ps todays word verification Bostraci - your dress is so bostraci bella

  20. Well, since I am still in my early sewing days, I don't have that perspective. Yet. ;) I like this dress, but maybe it would look less house dressy in a solid color?

  21. Can I just say that I was struck by how different this dress is from the pencil skirt in the previous post! Two completely different looks . . .

  22. your sewing newbie self is just like mine, only I torture myself by having kept those early efforts a good 10 - 15 years on and shake my head at the memory of actually having worn them outside the house! and worse, I used to pride myself on buying cheap fabric

  23. If anyone else had made for me what I wore as a teenager, I'd have spent a fortune on decades of psychotherapy. However, I spent most of those early years bursting with pride at my resourcefulness and originality :-).
    Don't forget interfacing as one of those late discoveries that can really change your life :-).
    Seriously, I like your trip down memory lane, your husband is probably just disturbed because he remembers what -he- wore then.. Ignore him, it's a safe bet.

  24. Hi, I love it with the boots, only I would chop the dress off at the knee or a wee bit higher.