Monday, July 19, 2010

A Horrockses Mistake

When we last left off, my mojo was AWOL and I was obsessed with making a Horrockses-inspired dress. Pretty soon after, my work mojo returned, and my sewing mojo wandered back into my sewing room a/k/a the whole downstairs of my house! I then started plotting my Horrockses masterpiece which soon became my Horrockses mistake as a result of my misguided fabric choice. I started off pretty well; I chose a 1940's retro fabric with a striped motif that seemed to be a Horrockses staple. I bought all my LQS had - 5 3/4 yards and I decided to use all 5 3/4 yards on the cross-grain to create a full skirt, and use the part I lopped off for the skirt length for the sundress bodice. My mother said, "Won't those horizontal stripes make you look fat?" Oh, of course not, I thought, I'm not fat, it will be fine. Well, I was so wrong:Note that I am not modeling the dress and you only get to see this baby on a hanger, partially constructed. I got the straps pinned in place and tried it on and I looked wide as the Mississippi. You could no more get me photographed in this dress for all the world to see than you could get me to pole dance. Oh. My. God. It wasn't just the horizontal red and white stripes that made it go wrong, it was also the quilting fabric that was way too stiff for the style I had in mind. I really needed a soft, drapey cotton or rayon blend for what I was going for. I don't usually made this mistake - I'm usually pretty good about matching up a pattern with the appropriate fabric choice. I blame the anesthesia.
I learned a few things though in making this dress. I learned that gathering 5 3/4 yards of fabric requires hand basting, rather than machine basting. Trust me, it takes longer but in the long run it is easier to gather and control those gathers. And of course, I re-learned that you are never to old to make mistakes!
This whole experience made me do something I don't normally do: I went shopping for a dress. I just wanted a summer dress and I was out of energy to sew it. But of course you know what I found: cheaply made dresses that cost too much. I found one dress where I liked the style and the color, but it was crap. And still cost $ 70. That drove me back to looking at patterns and I found Simplicity 2360 which approximated the style of the crapily made dress. In addition, I saw a Ralph Lauren ad in a magazine of a dress that I wanted in a way that wasn't rational:
I can't find this dress for sale because you have to actually go to a Ralph Lauren store to find out if they will deign to let you buy it. I can't find a price on it either because if you have to ask, you can't afford it. I assume it is in the $ 500 to $ 700 price range as it is in their spring 2010 collection. And I assure you that I wouldn't pay that kind of money for a dress unless I was getting married in it.
So I am using the Ralph Lauen dress as inspiration, and I am combining it with the Simplicity pattern 2360 to come up with a summer dress. I ordered some wonderful pink Kaffe Fassett rayon fabric, but I decided to be smart about this and made a hopefully wearable muslin of this brand new pattern. I used a blue flowered rayon challis I had in my stash for several years. It was cheap, and I bought a lot of it, and made a summer dress out of half of it about six years ago. I was extra sensitive to the fact that this pattern requires very drapey fabric after the Horrockses disaster and rayon challis definitely fits the bill. I got this dress done last night and wore it to work today and Aimee took a photo:
I swear this dress is more flattering in real life than in this photo and I really like it. I like the lace, and the sash is from the prior 6 year old dress. The waist is elastic, and I've never made a dress with an elastic waist before. It was nice not having to put in a zipper. When I make this again in the pink fabric, I think I will made the elastic tighter, bringing in the waist more, and I'll make the version with short sleeves. I'll also take some of the flare out of the skirt, making it straighter and less A-line. This dress has a 30's aura about it, and without the sash, it is as comfortable as a nightgown. I'm looking forward to using the Kaffe Fassett fabric - it's rayon, but a tighter weave - no more challis for me for a while! Working with challis is like working with silk: a PITA to deal with, but lovely to wear.
Parting Shot: Also to soothe my weary soul, I made another feedsack skirt because I knew it would work. I like this one because the colors are so cheerful:


Vicki W said...

1) The red and white dress makes the hanger look fat. I can imagine what it does to the human form.
2) The new dress is much cuter
3) I hope you aren't wearing it with bobby socks like the runway model.

Welcome back mojo!

Mary said...

I like the bobby socks! I agree the blue dress is very cute although I can't imagine any dress making you look fat so I want to see the red/white one on!

anne said...

Thanks so much for the humor...that is hysterical. Maybe if you weat the stripe dress once or twice Vicki will prefer the crab dress.

KimP said...

Anne, there is no way I am finishing that dress and putting it on my body - Vicki will just have to hate the Crab Dress. I can live with that - but I cannot live with the striped-big-as-the-Mississippi-dress!

Summerset said...

Hmm . . yeah, I have to agree that it looks a bit wide on the hanger. Bright side is that you have a new cute dress and skirt and the mojo back!

Georgia Rose said...

Oh wow, I just found this through googling 'Horrockses dress' and I have to say I ADORE the first one! The so-called makes-you-look-fat one (although I can't believe it). If you ever want to sell it on, let me know because I'll snap it up!