Half a century ago (well, perhaps slightly less than that) Melanie came up with an awesome idea: to organise a function at which we sewists (me! That includes me!) could wear our loveliest self-made frocks. Sewists all over rejoiced at the idea, with quite the selection of lovely frocks from which to choose. At the time of the inception of The Idea, I had made a too large Amish-ish wrap dress, a red tiramisu and three shift dresses (one with awesome elephants on. I love my elephant dress.)
If all else failed, the red tiramisu could suffice, but something else, something more fancy was called for.
When a dress is made out of t-shirt fabric, it’s really difficult to perceive it as a bit fancy. Even for someone like me for whom the threshold for fancy is pretty low. My fancy is probably most women’s casual, or smart casual at a stretch. Or business. I am most fancy in my work suits, but I don’t think Melanie was envisaging me turning up to SewcieTea in a charcoal grey pantsuit with turquoise shirt and orange cuff links. And anyway, I didn’t make those items. Bought them I did.
There were a few months from the announcement of The Idea and The Event itself, so I figured I would have plenty of time to make something provided I started straight away. Immediately. Stat.
I didn’t actually even know what I wanted to make. I didn’t know what fabric to make it out of. I didn’t even know what colour it would be (although if I had applied myself to this last, I would have known it would be blue, green or yellow. Them be the colours I like to wear. The red was a bit of an aberration.)
Then, an awaited invitation to a wedding arrived. It was shortly after The Event. I decided whatever I made would have to work for both events, and then be unlikely to be worn again (not because it would be terrible, although that was a possibility, but that I just really don’t do fancy).
A long time ago, I had thought that maybe the Cambie would be the right dress for the wedding. So off I chuffed and acquired the pattern from lovely Sarah of Sew Squirrel, and traced out my size (4 bust, 6 waist, 0 hips, if you’re wondering), even grading between these sizes when tracing (accolades everyone, I deserve accolades). But I had not yet decided upon fabric.
Then I got a wee bit distracted by other patterns. I began to wonder if a Robe Belladone in yellow cotton twill with contrasting bias binding of rainbow colours (yes, really) would be suitable. Or a Robe Sureau in a navy print with oranges and leaves? See, I had the fabric matched up for those patterns and I wanted to make them but I knew that the time I had left would only permit me to make one dress. Only one dress.
And then I recalled: The Fabric. Rachel of My Messings and I went fabric shopping at Brunswick Spotlight shortly before it shut its doors for good. I have never purchased so much fabric in one go in my life. There was a lovely light cotton lawn / voile type fabric (I’m just pretending I know what I’m talking about) in blue and green swirls. Rachel had selected it but in the cull at the checkout decided (quite reluctantly) to let it go. I decided to rescue it and bought three metres, answering most eloquently, “dunno” when Rachel enquired what I would make out of it.
It was very beautiful, very light, and probably the most expensive fabric I have bought thus far (it wasn’t that expensive; it’s just that at this stage in my sewing life, I mostly buy remnants and op shop fabric).
I was kind of afraid of cutting into it. I wanted my skills to become totally awesome before I made anything out of it. It was special, it was beautiful, it was too lovely; much too lovely for me to ruin.
But it was a perfect fit for the Cambie. And proper fancy it was. Right proper fancy.
So I bit the bullet and made a muslin!
(More sewing accolades please. Accolades can come in the form of ice cream.)
But by this time, I was running short on time. So I muslined only the bodice and hurrah! It fit! No alterations required! The sewing gods were kind.
(I’m aware muslin is a noun, but I’ve verbified it. So there.)
I didn’t bother putting a zipper in the muslin but pinning wasn’t working for testing fit, so I sewed basting stitches up the centre back and then wriggled and wrangled my way in. This was fine and demonstrated that it fit fine. (Im quite flexible.) But not so flexible that I could wriggle or wrangle myself out. My partner was away, so I did not have another person to help me. But it was a muslin, right? Made up out of a pretty awful cotton-polyester blend that I bought not realising how much polyester and how little cotton it was made of. So I took my fabric scissors and cut the bodice off me. I managed not to cut myself, although I did wonder whether I should wait until the morning so that if I did injure myself I would not be trying to get to an emergency department in the middle of the night. I don’t really know why I think going to emergency during the day would be better, but I do.
That’s one muslin that’s not getting another life at all.
And then I sewed up the Cambie over a few nights, and even put in an invisible zipper without too much fuss, and even did really nice tidy insides. (You know what’s expected, right? More accolades, please.)
I didn’t do a perfect job of the insides …
I was pretty chuffed, though, with my top stitching on the pocket. I think I’ll make this skirt and this pocket again, frankenpatterning it with some other bodice. The Cambie is sweet, but it’s not very me (mostly due to how sweet it is!)
Oh, I lined it with a plain white cotton voile purchased from GJ’s. I don’t really like lining fabric: it feels sticky. Why put that next to my skin when I could choose lovely cotton instead? I suspect if anything else needs lining, it will be lined with cotton voile. GJ’s only has two colours: white and beige, so that’s going to limit my ability to line my clothes with awesome bright colours a la Ms Messings but beige can be awesome, right?
My hemming could be a wee bit better, but hey. How many accolades can a girl have for the one dress? (Well, if the accolades are ice cream, I think it should be limitless.)
I also decided to be lazy with the lining and I cut it with pinking shears rather than hemming it. I think this is rather awesome. Certainly made for easy hemming!
And here is the Cambie, in all its glory, at SewcieTea. Thanks to Rachel for the pictures. Only the model is to blame for the face.
I had a reasonable amount of fabric left over, so I thought it would be awesome if my partner had a matching tie for our ‘guests at a wedding’ outfits. Most excitingly, my partner agreed to wear a matching tie if I made one. He’s a keeper. I followed this tutorial with free pattern from the Purl Bee, but can I just say: it involves a lot of hand sewing. Be warned. I am never making another tie for my partner ever again. Never ever never. Na uh, no way, no sir.
I really don’t like hand sewing, and I’m really not very good at it. But from the side that most people will see, it looks quite dapper:
Matching glasses, matching grins, matching outfits. Operation Matchy Matchy was quite the success. Hurrah!