How many of you look at a pattern, select the perfect (or not so perfect) fabric and think -
"I'll look like I'm a 10 in this?"
"I'll make this and when I wear it I'll be 3" taller."
"In this dress my neck will look like a swan's."
"I'll be 10 years younger in this little number."
Is it only me who has these fantastical images of my alter-self in home-made clothes?
One of the challenges of dressmaking is selecting the right fabric for the right design. I'm almost convinced that those high prices that Valentino and Gucci and the like charge are worth it because of the perfect fabric choice with the perfect dress. Read on........
In my most recent project I saw my alter-ego back on Madison Avenue with martini and cigarette in hand, wiggling my way across a busy office floor. It is of course Vogue's 1121, Badgley Mischka: fitted dress with lots and lots of panels and respectable but you really want to see down there! neckline. I'd lengthen it too to below knee - in keeping with my personal style and 1960 professional decorum. Perfect wiggle dress.
I noticed that JuliaBobbin is running a Mad Men lookalike challenge and thought to add this dress. While Joan has not worn a frock (1960s lingo) that closely resembles this design, I thought that I'd play the Mad Men inspired card.
I really wanted to make this in a black and white hounds tooth finely woven crepe wool but none was forthcoming so played it safe and went the old favourite of a navy wool crepe - v. expensive but beautiful fabric. Presses like a dream and frays like a nightmare.
Half built and hanging on Doris I noticed something frightening.... those multi panels at the front sort of resembled pleats and with all that navy wool all I could think of was GYM SLIP!
Those of you reading this who never had to wear school uniform may not appreciate the trauma of this revelation.
While in perfect keeping of the 1960s it was NOT what I had in mind. All I need is my son's white school shirt underneath this to look like like the second from right with her legs crossed. I want to look 10 years younger, not 10 years old!
Then I remembered St. Trinian's!
Back in the days when the world was black and white I was reared on Ealing comedies and the wayward school girls were one of my favourites. As a non-compliant uniform wearer - me and my little gang used to tie our ties with giant or tiny knots depending on our mood; roll our knee socks down to our ankles; fold our shirt cuffs out over the jumper sleeves; shorten skirts to well above the 5" above knee rule - anything to make our uniform unique to us. But those girls of St. Trinians knew how to do it for real.
The St. Trinian's sixth form were the best - almost, but not quite, unconscious sex appeal in a gym slip.