This was passed on to me by my sister, with the tags still on it. I was immediately struck by the lovely print and how beautifully it was made. I hadn't heard of the brand Ti Mo before so I looked it up. Here's an excerpt from the web site, regarding the founder Tine Mollatt:
For Tine truthfulness and honesty are also guiding beacons. She does not believe in exploitation of any kind to reach her goals. Not towards the people involved on the way, nor towards the animals that provide materials or towards mother earth. She believes in sustainability on all levels. She believes the time of mass consumption is soon to be past. She believes in high quality clothing that’s long lasting. She believes there is a right way to approach the calculation of costs, without cutting any corners. She believes in the value that lies within the garment and she believes in the masterful skill that lies in tailoring.
I thought that was just wonderful, and it's an approach I really want to support. Unfortunately for me:
This is why I don't wear A-line or trapeze style dresses.
There was plenty of potential though to make it more me-friendly. The three rows of broderie anglais ruffles are sewn to a "skirt" which was attached to the main body. The clever thing about those ruffles was that they gave the hemline enough body to stand out to create the A-line shape; while this doesn't work for me in this particular instance, I'm definitely filing it away in my head as a technique to remember.
My first thought was to make it into a simple blouse by removing the "skirt" (because I know I'll never wear a dress that short), and creating more shape through side shaping and front and back darts. The original dress had a button placket at the back, and I didn't want to change this. Nor did I want it to be so fitted that it required an additional closure.
First things first: removal of skirt. You can see the A-line shaping pretty clearly here.
Next, I tried it on and marked where the front and back darts needed to be. I also marked where I wanted the sides to be.
After sewing these steps I tried it on. And, well, it was a bit blah...
The more I looked at it, the more I felt it was too "undecided" - too blousey to be a successful fitted top, and not blousey enough to be a proper blouse. Clearly more thought was needed...
Luckily, I still had the skirt. I unpicked all the lace and put that aside. From the bottom edge of the blouse I cut two 2cm strips and one 4cm strip. These were still large loops of fabric, so I cut them down one sewn side. The two 2cm strips I sewed together to make one long one. With a 0.5cm ( 1/4") seam allowance I sewed it into a cord and turned it in the right way. I always forget how long turning cords can take... I folded each edge of the wider strip under 1cm and pressed it flat. They ended up like this:
Then I trimmed the same amount off the sides of the skirt that I had cut from the sides of the top. Actually, I think I cut all the excess from only one side. Then I sewed the skirt back to the top. Having marked the centre front, I sewed the pressed strip over the fabric join, folding the edges under, to form a casing. You can see where I'm going with this, I'm sure!
Once that was done I just needed to thread the long narrow cord through the casing and tie knots in the ends to keep them from fraying. Voila! A blouse I'm much happier with:
No extra closures were needed, because it still slips over the head and shoulders easily. The front and back darts which weren't working in the first attempt give the blouse just the right amount of shaping here. And I love that there was almost no fabric wastage - just the little I trimmed from the sides!
I saw an idea on Carolyn's blog that impressed me; she kept a notebook for a year detailing which handmade items she'd worn each day, so as to have an accurate overview of what actually got worn and how often. She actually drew beautiful "paper dolls" for this; it's a really lovely record! Now I know that if I decided to do something similar it would be a meticulously detailed record... for about one week. Then it would be shoved to the side and forgotten about till the next Top 5 Reflection Lists. But I thought I'd take a slightly more basic approach, because I love the idea. So blutacked to my sewing cupboard is a scrawled list of handmade items and a running tally. This blouse is outstripping the field by three to one already! It's proving to be really versatile - I've even worn it to work in 45 deg heat (that's 113 for farenheit people). I've got cardigans that go with it perfectly too, so I think it'll see me though autumns and springs very comfortably too. I'm really thrilled with this one. :)
Next time, Part 2 of the refashion. After all, I still have all this broderie anglais.... It's the dress that keeps on giving!
What's on your sewing table at the moment?
Have a wonderful week :)