I was recently gifted a Singer 538 from a work colleague, hitherto gathering dust in her mother’s loft for 20 years strong. To test drive her capabilities, I returned to Yoshiko’s Jumper Dress G from Stylish Dress Book: Simple Smocks and Tops. Unsatisfied with the fit and fabric of my previous attempt, I tasked myself with adjusting the pattern to accommodate my friend Claire – petite in every way and understated to the core.
The pattern is traced off a size small with adjustments at the underarms, hem and pockets. For a more fitted shape, I took 2.5 cm off at each underarm seam, blending 12cm down. I neglected to add the recommended hem extension and raised the length by 23cm (leaving a hem allowance of 3cm) to accommodate my friend’s slight frame. She also requested side pockets and inspired by Victory Patterns’ Madeleine, I had a stab at creating my own aided by top tips from A Fashionable Stitch’s Patch Pocket Tutorial.
Uncharitable as it sounds, my yen to stitch has not been instigated by a desire to create for anyone other than myself. Neither am I propelled to explore the commercial possibilities of garment making. The responsibility and self-imposed pressure of meeting another’s expectations is the exact opposite of what sewing affords me. However, some things and people are worth stepping out of your comfort zone for.
Unlike my preference for big and bold, Claire is a proponent of the plain – clean lines with no frills or adornments. People often assume what makes them happy would make you happy – children, religion, alcohol ….. dismembered dolls and asymmetric hair (yes, I’m as guilty as the next person). Making for someone else is akin to being a good friend – appreciating their perspective and resisting the urge to put your own spin on things.
So I crawled into the mental landscape of another and fought against my desire to highlight detail with contrasting top-stitch. And I’m so glad I did – the results are subtle and classic imbuing the Japanese stylings from the book which the pattern heralded. I’m modelling the results which were fashioned for my understated and camera shy friend, who is much more petite than I. However, I’m so happy with the outcome, I’m going to replicate for myself – albeit a tad longer and wider.
Brother Jones was my first – a thing of beauty in shades of baby blue. Aesthetically, I was underwhelmed when I first set eyes on the Singer. Much less delovely with her sharp angles and muted hues but possessing a functioning buttonhole and zig zag capacity. She arrived with a predilection for incessant stitch when switched on and I invested in a service to see if this could be remedied.
£45 later and I was rewarded with a workhorse of epic proportions. Appreciating her functionality on this project, has caused me to look on her anew and appreciate her form through a lover’s eyes. Her angular frame and colouration are now reminiscent of Art Deco, the sound of her mechanisms a song to my ear. This is a steed fit for the long game – I’m not sure how Brother Jones has taken to his new sibling but she’s definitely won me over.