Whenever I am asked, do I sew? I am never quite sure how to reply. On the one hand, I've been making myself all sorts of funky hand-sewn garments since my teenage years. On the other hand, I never actually learned how to sew! Not properly, I mean, like on a sewing machine and following a pattern, and sewing in a straight line with the stitching nice and tidy, and all that.
It's a situation I have tried to remedy for the past few years, only to discover that I am remarkably thick when it comes to learning how to sew! While all things knitting I find quite intuitive, sewing is like an alien language. My hands are clumsy when dealing with teeny pins and needles and swathes of manufactured fabric. Having to use a machine makes me nervous. And every sewing machine I touch I seem to jam, or break in some novel mysterious way. I even took a formal sewing class a little while back, only to drop out half way through because I just wasn't getting it.
With that said, perhaps you might understand my state of utter disbelief at having finally successfully sewed something! Like, properly - on a machine and following a pattern and everything! It fits me, and I even wore it out last night -
- paired with my 'tweed' linen stitch jacket - which believe me, was much less intimidating for me to knit, than the dress beneath it was to sew!
The Burda 6848 pattern I used to make the dress was not my first choice; I would have preferred something not quite so 'youthful,' and with an A-line or flared skirt. But it was available in my nearest fabric shop, and it is a very basic pattern - which was what I was aiming for. I promised myself that I would follow it without attempting modifications. But of course I did end up mixing and matching, using pattern C for the main part of the dress and pattern B for the neckline. This later came back to bite me, when the V-neck edging proved more challenging than I anticipated. The rest of the pattern was very easy though. The front and back of the dress are each 2 large pieces, plus the sleeves are a piece each, and the neck edging is one additional strip - so not many panels to sew together, and no tricky curves. Had I stuck with the round neckline in version C I would have had the whole thing done in an afternoon.
With the V-neck snag, unfortunately the dress sat for a month in a state of near-completion, until an acquaintance was kind enough to help me fix the V. Thanks to her help and advice, I do understand how to finish this style of neckline now. But I also see that V-neck edging on stretch jersey is a bit too ambitious for me at the moment. I will opt for round necklines until my skills improve.
The fabric, which was white with a sort of pixelated fleur de lis pattern, was also not my first choice, but it was one of only two rolls of cotton (as opposed to synthetic) jersey available at my local shop, the other one being a horrendous brown and navy pattern. When I finished the dress, I dyed it using some leftover half-packets of Dillon's dye (lavender and gray), and the finished result is what you see here.
The colour turned out quite nicely. And I am also pleasantly surprised with the quality of my sewing - considering this is my first completed project on a machine. The hem looks almost passable if you don't study it too closely, and the seams look downright okay. I got the fit right, for the style of dress this is. As I said earlier, a figure-hugging minidress is not exactly what I typically wear. But if anything, not being in love with the fabric and pattern kind of worked in my favour here, as I didn't feel so pressured not to mess up. It works as a going-out dress and will look better when I wear it with heels. It does feel comfortable to wear, and I can even ride my bicycle in it, since the hem is quite stretchy - so it won't go unworn.
I do think that I can re-use this Burda pattern for future projects. But I will definitely modify it: scoop out the round version of the neckline to make it a bit deeper, flare out the skirt, and perhaps do 3/4 sleeves - as I seem to want to push these up all the time. I also need to figure out where to find a decent selection of affordable cotton jersey fabric.
For now, it is back to knitting... But it's good to finally be grasping a skill that I have always found evasive. Still can't believed that I've managed to sew something 'properly!'