I went fabric shopping on Saturday at GJ's fabric in Fairfield which I've only just realised is 10 minutes from my house - amazing. I was looking for fabric to make wrap dresses for work and then stumbled across something far dressier and knew this was no work dress but I needed it in my life.
It was roughly made black netting over the top of very brightly coloured fabric. I turned it over to see it was a crazy floral print that I'd never buy but the black over the top made it tactile and mesmerising and it had a bit of stretch in it. yaY!
I cut out my usual long sleeve Vogue dress pattern thinking the stretch would be enough for a good fit. Alas I finished it and it looked like a total rectangular sack. I couldn't wipe the disappointment off my face. Mr J thought my annoyance was hilarious but was also very careful about agreeing or disagreeing with how good or bad the dress looked.
I was so annoyed at myself thinking why didn't I make a strapless dress or a skirt or something that didn't need the stretch! But then the more and more I looked at it I thought it looked like a dress your grandmother would wear and I couldn't believe how badly I had misjudged a fabric.
I decided then and there to throw it out... OR take to it with the scissors. If I could make it tighter and more figure hugging I might get away with the fabric looking more Dolce and Gabbana than ill fitting and grandma.
I cut straight up the centre back free hand (something I would never do!) turned it inside out and pinned out the fullness around the waist at the back. Then pinned in the side seams in as tight as I could to make it fitted and snug.
I roughly sewed it, put it back on and it was looking better but still dowdy. I took to it with the scissors again, this time the neckline and cut it lower... still dowdy, cut lower again. I was scaring myself with the way I was cutting into this beautiful fabric and thought this is going to look either amazing or like a total disaster.
Neck line looked good, it was fitting like a glove but now I couldn't walk because I'd made it so tight. I had to give it a huge split up the back to get a good stride in. And now it looked cheap and tacky from behind! It needed a vent or a pleat to cover up the giant split.
I made a few variations of pleats. Again I was free hand pleating, ironing and pining until it worked. I refused to get out a pattern and make it properly as I thought this dress was becoming a scissoring, draping piece of art I wasn't going back to the rule books now.
I sewed on some additional buttons to the pleat covering, gave it a good press and told myself to stop looking how roughly it was sewn as no-one except me would ever be able to tell. I hung it up, admired it and went to bed exhausted.