Have you ever had a project that made you so irritated and annoyed, for no real reason?
Neil and I were invited to a 60’s theme engagement party recently. I knew about the party, but Neil didn’t mention the theme until a week before the party. “I’ll make something!” I decided.
This was obviously a silly idea and when I realised the dress wouldn’t be ready in time for the party, I slowed down a bit. I changed the rules — the dress would be ready in time to see the Arctic Monkeys a week later. I would call it Arabella. It was going to be great.
The pattern is Licorice from The Colette Sewing Handbook, with the sleeves omitted. I made two toiles (which is two more than usual) to get the fit just right. The adjustments I made included shortening the bodice, a swayback adjustment, a neckline adjustment to eliminate some gaping and some extra width at the bust and waist. I took extra care cutting out the slippery spotty fabric, the cotton underlining and the satin lining. The seams on the fabric fabric are flat-felled and catch stitched down, while the lining has French seams. There’s a hand-picked zipper and a small hook and eye.
All that love, but the process just annoyed me the entire time. Forget Arabella. This was turning into Maudy Bum. During the cutting process, the shoulder shaping came out different for each fabric, which made sewing it together difficult. The zipper took forever and I’m not convinced it sits correctly. Plus having that extra week to work on it meant I started thinking too much about why had I made the dress in the first place. I mean, another party dress? Did I really need another party dress?
I was getting ready to just donate it once I was finished and get it out of the house, but then, while dancing away in row NN at the Arctic Monkeys, I realised that how great the dress actually felt on as I moved. I was slouching comfortably before the show started and remained just as comfortable once I was standing and moving.
So I’ve kept the dress and taken notes on what I’ve learned throughout this process. The fabric shifting as I cut it out was definitely a big one. I normally cut fabric on the floor, but actually using a marked board my Mum owns to cut this one and it still wound up wonky. I’m going to look into getting a rubber self-healing mat and a rotary cutter, especially for these slippery fabrics. With the zipper, I’m going to try moving it to the side. I’m also thankful I made all those toiles — the fit still isn’t perfect (I think the dress is slightly too big) but it is significantly better than what it was.
As for the Arctic Monkeys, if you had’ve told me 8 years ago, when ‘Whatever People Think I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ came out (or even 5 years ago, which is when I last saw them), that these kids would grow up to still be a band, with 5 notable albums, playing sell-out stadium shows and looking like dreamboats, I would not have believed you. They’re even better than what they were. When Alex Turner isn’t combing his hair or effortlessly playing riffs big enough to reach the nosebleeds, he’s dancing like Jarvis Cocker and keeping his thick, Northern accent. Swoon. They can come back anytime.