You may have noticed the lull in my summer dress production. Little did you, my faithful readers, know it but I was in The Slough of Despond… seamstressly speaking.
Dresses number one, two and three went down like kingpins, and I was feeling quite the thing. I shared a confident post about dress number four, then… silence. Well, behind the scenes here in the Tomato Patch, I was industriously working away at resizing the pattern for that what I was sure would be lovely dress. But since the task was daunting (sizing up fifteen inches,) and my experience minimal (as in nil,) I was having a dickens of a time. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get those sized-up-pieces to fit together right.
Now, part of the fitting process, especially with a new or untried pattern, is the making of a mock-up of crucial parts of a garment, such as the bodice. This mock-up is called a “muslin.” It’s called a muslin, because one uses cheap, throw-away fabric… such as oh, maybe a huge old piece of fabric one purchased at the thrift store for $1.30 (originally $2.59 bought on half-off-blue-tag-day.) When I bought this fabric, I had high hopes of it being vintage; the print seemed older and the hand was a tad heavier than our modern calico and very soft. The gals on my favorite sewing board, who are experts on such things as dating fabric, helped me to see that this couldn’t possibly be an older piece due to it’s enormous width of about a hundred inches. Older fabric never came any wider than thirty-six inches. And so, when making my muslin, I ruthlessly hacked into this disappointingly-non-vintage fabric.
But when I cut into it, I realized that it was not in fact a single, very wide piece of fabric, but rather three narrower strips sewn together in very fine narrow seams. Which meant that it was most likely a truly old piece of fabric; a very large piece of older fabric… large enough in fact to make an entire dress out of. And I was slicing it up to make a muslin. I was verklempt.
I calmed myself down enough to make a somewhat coherent post-of-panic on the aforementioned favorite sewing board, and being buoyed by my sisters’ encouragement, decided to make an actual dress out of my muslin pieces (which was trickier than it needed to be since I had carelessly hacked into the fabric willy-nilly.) But I did it. And I love it… I absolutely love this dress. This dress has that truly older look that I have been striving for but somehow always hitting just off the mark.
I originally intended to trim all the little trimmy places with rick-rack, but couldn’t find any all cotton rick rack in the right shade of blue (or green, or red, or violet, for that matter.) I almost accidentally laid this bias trim made from vintage gingham across the fabric and loved the way the two patterns played together. So I used it.
*Not that I ever leave my dresses in rumply, inside-out heaps, ya unnerstand. so yeah.