A comment was left on my recent Wool skirt post which referred to my first (not so great) skirt in that blog as a ‘wadder’.
A new word to me, it nevertheless made me snort with laughter the moment I read it. Once I’d wiped the coffee off my keyboard I looked it up, only to find that yes indeed, in sewing circles it’s a term given to a garment that’s good only for rolling into a wad and stuffing something with. Surely, I thought, we’re none of us strangers to that experience – and yet it seems a shame to consign every sewing snafu to the recycling bin.
The wool skirt in question is in a pile of goodies heading off to a local charity shop, since it’s a perfectly lovely skirt – just wrong for me. However the experience has prompted another ‘occasional series’ on the ClothSpot blog. The ‘Wadder result!’ posts will lay bare my dressmaking disasters and (hopefully) lift your spirits if you’ve had that sinking feeling as you face the mirror for the first time in a misguided make. I’m be aiming to snatch victory from the jaws of dressmaking defeat.
My misguided striped dress
This then, is the story of how I recently fell back into that ‘wrong for me’ swamp with my decision to use the MariaDenmark Karen Drape Dress pattern…
…to make up our ‘Rhoda’ coral & burgundy striped jersey fabric, which I’ve been itching to have a go with.
Before I go any further, I should say that any failure to succeed with this pattern is entirely mine. The pattern was easy to download and came with excellent illustrated instructions; this post is categorically not a negative pattern review. I love the MariaDenmark patterns and she’s even produced an eBook on fitting. The problem here was a personal one.
The clue for me should have been in the title: Karen Drape Dress. I posted last year about three jersey tops I made; two of which were based on a draping cowl-neck pattern. As I discovered, since I don’t have anything much to drape from up front; these were consequently the saddest-looking jersey tops in history. The same applies to anything expecting to drape from my bottom. However elegant this dress looked on the pattern picture, I should have known better.
Having said all that, I do think the sizing is perhaps a little big. Even though I based my pattern selection on accurate measurements and graded down from the waist to my narrow lower hips, the result was clearly too big for me, both in terms of back length (which I hadn’t altered) as well as width. My next rash action then, was to take it back to the overlocker, shearing off about 2 inches from either side and 6 inches off the bottom. This is the result.
Can we see what’s happening here, readers? Oh, those stripes. I had honestly thought the diagonal stripe direction at the top would be great.
<Pause for laughter and general eye-rolling>
Of course what’s actually happening here is that as the fabric is gathered into those side pleats, the stripes appear to draw closer together. Or conversely they move further apart as they move up to my shoulders. Shoulders which can make a fair old attempt at butterfly down at the local pool, but which hardly need signposting with orange stripes.
Let me take you back to 1984. Meryl Streep appears in Falling In Love with Robert de Niro (a sort of NY version of Brief Encounter but without Celia Johnson’s accent). In one scene she’s getting ready for an extra-marital rendez-vous with Bob and can’t decide what to wear. (We so know the feeling, Meryl). Not wanting to keep Robert de Niro waiting… (sorry) she’s getting more and more frantic, trying on outfit after outfit. At one point she pulls out a raspberry pink jersey dress and pulls it on the wrong way round…
…before finally getting into it the right way round and rearranging her shoulder pads…
In my striped dress I really was beginning to understand how she felt (although I suspect Robert de Niro wasn’t particularly bothered either way. *sigh*)
I realise at this point I’m probably doing the pattern and myself a disservice but this extra fabric was really beginning to bother me…
But I’m a practical girl and like to consider all possibilities.
Hmm. Lesson learned for the next time. I am decidedly not a drapey person and I promise not to do this again. Meanwhile I’m left with a dress-worth of perfectly lovely fabric. I can’t bear to throw it away. What’s to be done?
Striped dress rescue!
I figured that there was surely a top and skirt to be had out of this dress. I knew what my grandmother would have done. These days it’s called ‘upcycling’ – a word I hate, mostly because the spirit behind it has been around for decades and it’s nothing new.
On this occasion, out with a favourite t-shirt that I know fits me…
Now for a jersey skirt that I usually wear over leggings…
Time to cut out all that drapery…
A bit of elastic later, and this is what we’re left with – a back, two sleeves and a rather immodest skirt.
Let’s have some of that draping fabric.
I was still hooked on the idea of using a diagonal stripe somewhere. Plus my spare fabric was cut on the cross and using the stripes diagonally meant that there was no need to worry about matching at the join.
I will confess to having had to snaffle another 0.75m of our fabric supply for my front in order to match the stripes. I used the lower half of my old t-shirt as a template for the torso, but used the armscye of the original pattern to make sure that my sleeves would reattach accurately.
Striped dress transformed!
And here we go! Followers of my Style Crisis posts will immediately observe that I’ve fallen back into my black jersey comfort zone.
However these are clothes that I am comfortable working in. They’re practical for the jumping around that I do – and there’s potential to dress these pieces up with other colours, too.
And that top?
Perfect with my leather jacket – just as I’d hoped.
Of course one option would be to recreate my original intention of having a striped dress by wearing the top and skirt together. I can assure you that I tried this. However I looked as if I was about to audition for a dance sequence in a seventies production of A Chorus Line – so gave that a miss.
No pictures; I have some pride, you know.
I hope that my rescue job will reassure anyone who’s every had a disaster; there’s nearly always something to be done.
Would you have done something different in this situation? If so, then what? Have you rescued something that you’ve been pleased with in the end? Perhaps it’s even turned out better than the original plan – do let me know.
Meanwhile I’m about to embark on a spot of tailoring; much more grown up I promise – details in my next post!