This Vogue pattern was marked easy. Did I find it easy? No. But that’s because I’ve come to the conclusion that my definition of easy is sewing a straight line and this pattern is ALL about the curves. And that’s where my new piece of sewing kit, courtesy of @lauraterkuile over on Instagram proved invaluable. A tailor’s ham – don’t even bother attempting this pattern without one.
I went on a bit of a journey with this one and as usual when I go adventuring, I contemplate jumping ship at various points. I was at a disadvantage from the the off and I can’t even pretend I was uninformed. Whilst I love the colour mustard with a passion, it does absolutely nothing for my complexion. Did I know this? Yes. But I went ahead and bought the fabric anyhow … because the model on the pattern envelope is wearing mustard and looks stunning (we have completely different colouring) … because it was late at night and I’d spent hours trawling through Ebay looking for the perfect barkcloth … and because the pattern and mixture of hues are so beautiful, I convinced myself – against all evidence to the contrary – that I could make it work.
I was particularly interested in fashioning this Marcy Tilton Vogue Patterns V9112 out of barkcloth, as I thought the weight would emphasise the structural design features. So, I was a bit deflated when the fabric arrived, as it’s so much lighter than the barkcloth I’ve used previously – a reminder of the perils of buying on-line. Not only is it lightweight, it frays to touch so it was a bugger to handle but more on that later.
I’d previously made a toile out of an old bedsheet and learnt that labelling all the pattern pieces helps construction enormously. I knew the sticking points were going to be the collar and gathering – two key elements of the dress. Controversially I ended up abandoning the collar, as I became increasingly certain of the fact that I do not suit yellow. I decided that I needed as much distance from the colour and my face as possible and ditching the collar meant I could easily layer it with a darker top and leggings and take the whole festival of mustard down a notch or five.
To finish the neckline, I traced the curve and made a front and back facing. Whilst this solution was by no means rocket science, it was a first for me and I’m pretty pleased with the result. It’s not perfect but it involved a bit of creative thinking and is something I wouldn’t have had a clue how to approach a year ago. And whilst I feel that I’ve cheated a bit by leaving out the collar, I’m convinced it was the right decision in this instance.
The most challenging aspect of this make for me was gathering the lower side front and the lower left side. And I’ve come to a conclusion – life is way to short to dwell on puckers. According to my sewing teacher, puckers have no place on a gathered piece but there was no way in the world I was going to achieve a pucker free finish. With the material’s tenancy to fray, I had to keep handling to a minimum. Thankfully the patterned fabric hides my ineptitude and my second attempt was vastly improved by heeding some top tips from May Martin. I can’t explain as eloquently as she did at the The Big Simplicity Bloggers Meet but it involved shaping the fabric over my hand to get a curve and bubbling between pins to allow ease.
I cut the pattern pieces on a M/M based on my bust measurement and made no adjustments, even though my waist and hips take me into the L/G. And that’s the beauty of these tent/trapeze dresses – no need for pattern adjustments to accommodate my bottom heavy figure. In retrospect I wonder if I should have scaled it down a tad as it’s super roomy but I figured that was the design and went with it.
There is an instruction NOTE, to finish seam allowances using a serger after stitching seams. Unlike other patterns I’ve followed, there aren’t step by step guides on finishing – probably because this is Vogue and a bit of common sewing sense is assumed. Inserting the seam pockets into the dress before serging was a faux pas I couldn’t remedy, as unpicking this delicate fabric was not an option. In the past, an error of this kind has sent me down a well of self flagellation but I’m glad to say I’m getting more pragmatic these days – it is after all a mere adornment. So I serged the pockets afterwards and judiciously applied a bit of fray check on the parts I couldn’t reach.
So here she is – Marcy Tilton’s Cirque Dress.
Despite a few obstacles, I think I’ve pulled it off and it will definitely see some wear teamed with darker separates. What I love most about this project is the fact that it’s creation was possible due to the kindness of others. Laura made herself a ham using sawdust from her beautifully crafted threadboards and she very kindly sent me a prototype to test drive. Having used it extensively I feel qualified to say it’s a resounding success.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of other makers in the blogosphere and over on Instagram. I recently asked if anyone had a source for the coveted Lisette 2245 Portfolio Dress and was humbled by the response. Numerous tips, two offers to trace it off and a larger sized pattern gifted to me for free by @annmariemakes – despite me pointing out she could sell it for a song. And that’s what I love most about sewing – the fact that’s it allows me to feel part of something much bigger than my introverted, slightly wonky self.