It's been a long time since I've done much sewing.. This is despite the fact that I have a dedicated sewing space out in our studio where my machines are permanently set up.
When I see it written down like that it seems sort of crazy that I haven't been sewing but I haven't. I'm not really sure why I haven't, I guess I'd sort of lost my sewing mojo, which is something I once upon a time thought would never happen. I suspect that's one of the issues when craft becomes your work, it's hard to balance the hobby stuff against the necessity stuff. It's hard to justify time sewing or weaving or even cross stitching when I have urgent knitting UFOs that need to be finished. I guess it's also sometimes hard to rekindle or even retain the love for something that used to be work.
Sometimes I think you just need to say, "Stuff it!" and follow your instincts. I've been doing this more and more lately. I've had a lot more weaving and cross stitch in my life and now this past couple of weeks I've been loving sewing again. So much so that I've been "stealing", yes stealing time when I should be working to actually sew! And it has been so wonderful.
I feel like I've found the love again.
One of the first things I decided to sew was this dress for Lily. This was something we could do together when she was home recovering from a bout of the flu, her first.
The pattern is Frida by Patty Young of Modkid Boutique. I bought this pattern, ooh, many years ago when Lily was much younger. I also bought the fabric to make the dress. I've sewn Patty's patterns before, my favourite being the Kyoko which Lily has worn so much. We love it because it's like a sewn version of my Oriental Lily pattern.
Unfortunately, because I did buy the pattern so long ago it is an older version. The new version goes up to a size 10 but my old version is only sized up to a size 7. Patty's sizing is much leaner than the Yarn Standards or even the ASTM sizing, which is something to be aware of if you're dabbling between crafts. Luckily, even though Lily is quite tall she is lean and the size 7 was going to fit with no problems.
The fabrics we ended up using for this dress were not the ones I'd bought. Lily chose all the fabrics, and with her typical colour flair she got it right. We didn't have enough of the bird fabric for the whole skirt but she didn't seem to think that was a problem. "Just use a different fabric for the back," she told me. I love sewing with her, her cavalier approach is refreshing!
The thing that I love about Patty's patterns are their readability and the focus on communicating effectively instructions. Everything is clear and accompanied by step by step visuals. I am a big believer in instructions that encourage the crafter rather than alienate them. If that means the pattern is longer or wordier or needs more white space to make it easier to follow, that to me, is a good thing.
We made the option with the elasticised capped sleeve, which were a bit fiddlier but I really like the result.
There were only a couple of things in the pattern that I would have changed in hindsight, but being the first time I'd sewn for so long I blindly followed the pattern. The pocket placement is the same for all sizes, I wish that I had lowered the pockets considerably. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the dress was finished that this became obvious to me, and by that time Lily was wearing it and I wasn't going to get it off her in any hurry.
The other thing was the finish of the bodice. Next time, I'd stitch the skirt to the bodice alone and then topstitch with the lining edging turned under and sitting over the seam to give it a neater finish, rather than sewing the skirt to the bodice and lining as per the pattern instruction.
One last issue that was more of an inconsistency was that there was no length specified for the side ties, even though you had the option of using ribbon for them instead of making your own ties. The pattern pieces included a length guide but it would have been so much easier to have a length specified in the pattern as well, as was the case for the elastic for the sleeves.
These of course, are very very minor things, and this is a terrific pattern overall. I'd have no hesitation in recommending it, the pattern is much easier than the result suggests. Patty's patterns are a bit like that, the finished piece is a bit of a WOW item, but this is a really simple sew.
It's good to be back sewing!
And Lily is very happy with her new dress.
How do you balance your crafting time? Particularly if one of your crafts is your work?
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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