Happy 2015 folks. While the world was nursing its hangover on New Year’s Day I was getting intimate with my new Brother 1034D overlocker – one of a number of a truly amazing and thoughtful sewing-related Christmas/birthday pressies this year.
I have to say, I’m not massively into the festive season. Don’t get me wrong, I love to reflect on the passing of another year, count my blessings, spend time with loved ones and escape from the pressures of everyday working life. But the conspicuous waste that goes with the festivities gets harder to ignore. I’m not just talking about the excess food and stuff that gets thrown away. The influx of toys and gifts for my very fortunate two girls was off the scale this year. For some time I’ve been reading an amazing blog on living a simple life. It’s called Slow Your Home, and if these issues resonate with you I urge you to take a look.
Last weekend I spent a lovely day relaxing in central London with my family. My almost-four-year old and I enjoyed exploring the fabric shops along Berwick Street dreaming about future makes (with some vouchers for The Cloth House and Liberty burning a hole in my pocket). The flip-side was seeing the heaps of once-expensive now cheap-cheap clothes on sale in the shops along Oxford Street. Nothing affirms my desire more to spend considered time deciding what I want to wear and making my own clothes.
So on that frugal note, here’s my first make of the year reusing a favourite pattern from last year. It’s my second Deer & Doe Sureau made up with a gorgeous denim-linen fabric left over from my Emery Dress. The fabric originally came from The Little Fabric Store in Louth, and I was beyond chuffed to find that I’d bought enough for two dresses. I used the same modifications as last time, namely cutting a size 40 top and grading to a 42 at the waist. As with my last one, I encountered gapes at the neckline, but did nothing to tackle them other than pressing and re-pressing. I don’t seem to have much luck with sewing gathering stitches on denim; the thread always seems to break. So instead I hand-stitched the gathers with waxed quilting cotton before sewing by machine. Apart from a slightly gapey neck, the only other feature I’m not mad on is the width of the sleeves. They seem wider on this version as the fabric has less tendency to drape. If I were to make it again I’d probably tackle it and make them narrower.
After a quick practice with the overlocker, I got the hang of overlocking the seams. Nervous of an overlocking disaster (I’ve seen a few blog posts lamenting the aftermath of an overlocker blade attack), I took the precaution of overlocking all of the pattern pieces before I assembled the dress. I’m not sure if this is normal, but it definitely helped to stabilise the fabric. It does mean that the seams haven’t been trimmed down. I’m really pleased with how professional the dress looks on the inside, but boy does that thing make my old sewing machine feel slow!
I am happy with this dress: I love the fabric, and the pattern. I wanted a not-quite casual denim dress, although it’s a little ‘blousier’ than I would have liked. I took my time over it, sewing maybe a step or two each night. Most of all, I took the plunge with the overlocker without losing a limb. It was a real pleasure to return to sewing after after a few weeks off.
I’ve picked up a few useful overlocking tips over the past few months, such as Handmade Jane’s tip for changing only the left hand cone to match the fabric, and Four Square Wall’s tip for using an overlocker to create gathers. I’d love to hear your top tips for getting the best out of this beauty!