Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Pinafore Dress

I mentioned recently I was working on a custom dress.

Julia came to me with a request to make her a pinafore dress. A what?? A pinafore dress! I wasn't familiar with this kind of dress either. :-) For many years, her pinafore dress was her favourite, but one day it just disappeared.
In comes Adrienne! After exchanging sketches and pictures to make sure Julia and I were on the same page, I proceeded on drafting the bespoke pattern from her measurements. A muslim fitting later, and we were in business! Well, pattern-wise, at least...
Finding the right fabric proved to be a little more challenging. Julia wanted double knit in a shade of blue with a little purple in it -- simple request, I thought. Wrong. After looking almost literaly everywhere in Sweden for such a fabric, we finally turned to Gorgeous Fabrics online (thanks to a Reader's suggestion!), to find a crêpe textured double knit in Royal Blue.

The trickiest parts of construction was probably to sew the round pockets. This fabric was quite thick and bouncy, and didn't really respond to pressing (like, at all). This meant that creating a nice, even curve in the pocket was really, really difficult. After several failed attemps, careful and precise basting turned out to be the solution.

All and all, I really like how the dress turned out I expect it will look fabulous on Julia.
Now, is taking custom orders something I want to do more of? Mister AS+AS asked this question over dinner the other night and I was surprised to hear myself say that I wasn't sure. I always thought of bespoke tailoring and custom dressmaking as THE best job anyone could have.

I found out that the stress and pressure of meeting your client's expectations does take away a bit from the fun and pleasure of sewing. It's not longer "lah dee dah, I'm sewing!" if you know what I mean. Not that Julia was a difficult client -- far from it! She was the best first client I could have asked for. But it was still a bit stressful. What if I mess it up?

But of course, the other side is that there is something extremely rewarding in allowing people to feel confidant and beautiful and enabling them to go out in the world and do the things they want to do. Not that I would be pretensious enough to think that I'm doing that with my dress, but I imagine it's how the tailors of Savile Row feel at the end of their work day. :-)

Thank you for allowing me to share this sewing milestone with you. It's Sewing Club tonight, so I'm leaving you on an extra happy note.

Happy sewing everyone!


  1. This realy is a great dress! The fabric looks great with this pattern.

  2. I don't much like sewing (or programming, I'm also a web-developer) for other people either. It's that whole deadlines thing -- if I get tired of something, I can just work on something else, but if someone has requested it... well I better finish it! But it's a good thing to learn and you can keep it in the back of your mind next time someone asks.

    the pinafore looks great, so I'm sure your friend is really rapt!

    1. Thank Nyssa! Yeah, I think a lot of professional can relate to this feeling. And it's good to know what works for us and what doesn't. I'm definitely grateful for having been given this experience.

  3. It turned out really good! and well done for going the extra mile to find that perfect fabric :) I can really relate to your post; I've done smatterings of bespoke sewing here and there; (one set of bridesmaids and about half a dozen ball gowns for school balls for friends' daughters) and it is enormously stressful and not really much fun at all. Even the tiniest of imperfections stand out like glaringly obvious stuff-ups to yourself, the dressmaker. I'm very picky and choosy now and never ever put myself forward for those things.
    But it does get easier with each job. Best of luck!

  4. Nice! I love how the fabric looks in this style! Do you have a wood clapper? I've found that they really help when pressing knits (and wool and a bunch of other things, too).

    I do bespoke sewing as a part of my business (alterations, sewing classes). I've found I really enjoy helping people figure out what they want, advising them on what will work, and maybe most of all, getting to work with beautiful fabrics I might not be able to afford on my own! I do have highly anxious moments, but the high at the end makes it worth it to me.


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