Monday, 11 June 2012

A Maybe Sixpence top

I'd intended to take an entire week off sewing, but actually, there ended up being a few hours here and there during half term where my children were both out with friends and I had a beautiful little parcel of fabric from Dorte of Dragonfly Fabrics sitting on my table tempting me to sew.


I've coveted Anna Maria Horner's Maybe SixPence voile fabric since I first saw it, but especially since seeing it in Night Knitter's Flickr stream (this Tova dress, and later this child's dress are both made in this fabric). When Dorte very kindly invited me to choose something to sew with from her lovely shop, I made a bee-line for this print. It's a while since I've sewn with voile and I'd forgotten quite how deliciously silky it is.

I decided to revisit a pattern I'd used over the two previous summers, the first version being this one above in citrus Four Square (another of Anna Maria's voiles. Dorte stocks it in all four colourways), the second I created a year later in a Liberty print by Lauren Child. I love both of these tops, but suddenly realised that I'd love them even more if the neckline fitted with my favourite cardigans from Gap which I have in an embarrassing number of different colours. So this time, I redrafted the neckline to perfectly mirror that of my cardigan (predictably, I happen to have one that perfectly picks out the pink of the petals on this print).


I also drafting longer sleeves this time, as it feels like it may never stop raining.


I decided to use this fabric on the reverse side - the two sides are almost identical, but the face side is a slightly darker grey and I preferred the slightly faded, paler look of the inner side. I have to say that whenever I intentionally use the wrong side of a fabric it makes me feel as though I am being slightly deviant and when I sew the first seam together, placing the fabrics wrongside-to-wrongside, I feel as though fabric police are about to leap out of a cupboard and rugby tackle me from the sewing machine before I can make crimeful stitches. Luckily no one did do this, but my cat, who knows she's not allowed in the room sat watching me from the doorway with her ears pricked up (she has to sit half a metre inside the doorway to do this, so this is wilful badness on her part) as though she too were on the qui vive for people who might see me.


I love the way that the slight pleat beneath the neck opening means that darts can be dispensed with for this top.


You may have guessed that I love sewing summer tops more than anything else, but I do currently have a dress planned.

I fell in love with this eyelet dress in French Connection a few weeks ago. I am wearing my 'what do you think?' face especially, as I was taking the photo to text over to my sister for a second opinion. You'll notice that I had my sunglasses on my head in this photo - it was taken in the one week of the entire year when England was sunny, but as it now looks set to rain for the entire summer, which makes that price tag for this dress feel unjustifiable, even if I did feel like a doll in a jewelry box* the moment I put it on. I never wear full skirts like this as I've always suspected they may be rather unflattering at my height, but unflattering or not, I could suddenly appreciate what the whole 1950s feel that seems to dominate some dressmaking blogs is all about.  Wearing a flarey-out skirt with a nipped-in bodice makes you feel fantastic.


Yes, my hips suddenly looked twice as big, but the twirl appeal means that this ceases to matter and one actually feels like one looks like a girl** should (yes, I may have thrown a twirl or two in the changing room). It really struck me when I watched Mad Men last year, that our generation of women generally dress in a more low-key way now, with lines that give a slightly more androgenous aesthetic, which, rather than celebrating curves, seeks to streamline them from view. I'm not entirely sure that 60 years on we look better and judging from this report by Eva Wiseman which I read at the weekend, as a generation, we probably don't feel better either. Worrying. So a 1950s style dress will hopefully be my next project...but first I think I may make a quilt (or two).

Florence x

* not normally good things, but in this case, suddenly fabulous.
** There are times when using the word 'woman' would sound more appropriate in the context of a sentence - that one particularly justified it. But am I alone in disliking that word? To me it feels particularly dreary, lentil-ridden, bosomy word to me.

25 comments:

  1. I LOVE your blouse. I have been looking for a pattern for something like this for ages. I have asked, begged, even, bloggers to make a pattern and I have looked and searched high and low for something like this..with no luck. Can you shed any light on your pattern, please?

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    1. I was going to ask the same thing. Love the blouse.

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    2. I'm really sorry - it's my own pattern. At some point in the next few years (!) I'm hoping to turn that or something similar into a saleable pattern, but producing clothing patterns is a lot more long-winded than regular patterns and so I'd want it to be perfect in every way before I ventured down the road of developing it as a pattern. But thank you so much for the vote of confidence. x

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  2. I completely agree about disliking woman! And I really love the blouse. I think I will have to work ot how to make a similar one. And the dress....I think they work especially well when you have a tiny waist, but so long as you feel good in it, then other people will see that and think so too. Sounds a bit cheesy, but works for me!

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  3. I hate the word woman. I never refer to myself as a woman. I wonder when I'll feel old enough to do so? I'm 34 at the moment, I suspect it will be a good decade or so yet!
    I saw a very similar girl's party dress like that in Boden but just couldn't justify the price for my daughters.
    I do really like your blouse - will you be releasing the pattern for sale? I haven't tried making clothes yet (apart from fancy dress) but I am fed up with all the tops I like in the shops having 3/4 length sleeves! I also possess an unhealthy number of cardigans for this reason. I'm too cold for 3/4 sleeves!

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    1. I'm so pleased that others dislike the word woman too!

      I've answered the pattern question above...but basically, perhaps down the line once I've honed my skills!

      Yes, an abundance of cardigans is a good thing - feeling too cold is a miserable thing.

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  4. I love this top! It's sweet but casual. Definitely something I would wear all the time! I feel like "woman" is a really loaded, political term. It just seems so serious-- probably why I only use "girl" or "lady" (the latter is only used humorously in my vocab).

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    1. Yes, that's it. It does feel loaded and bogged down in a lot of stuff that's not necessarily a bad thing, but things that I don't want to attach to myself as part of my every day identity. Yes, we mockingly use 'lady' sometimes too, although I'd loath that term used seriously!

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  5. Such a sweet pattern, looks totally different in the different voile prints. Burda has some lovely dress patterns, Theresa and the Coffee Date Dress which you can find for free with other marvelous patterns here xxhttp://selfishseamstress.wordpress.com/downloads/

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  6. I totally agree with you about how delicious sewing with voile is and I love the fabric you have chosen for your top. I love the name too!

    But I also like being described as a woman and when I call my daughters (aged 31 and 28) women I mean it to be a compliment. Someone who can carry off pair of killer heels and a 'mad men' dress, cook up a lasagne (meat or lentil) and take the children to the zoo.

    It's being called a lady I don't like - they can only wear the dress and shoes :-)

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    1. I love your idea of what a woman is, Catherine! Isn't it odd how different words mean different things to everyone. Your daughters sound wonderfully accomplished :)

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  7. Gorgeous top! And adorable dress! You can totally make that and pull it off. It's my go-to design to wear: nipped in waist and full skirt. Makes me feel the most girly, which is too how I like to feel :) PS- hi from Europe! Wish I was close enough to meet in person!

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    1. Thank you!

      I've kept thinking about you being just a short Eurostar train journey away! I hope you're having a delicious time and that the time is passing slowly! x

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  8. Dammit, Florence - for a moment there I thought you'd made your Tova! It is of course a lovely top, though, and long sleeves were definitely sensible. Perhaps we should just start sewing everything in Gore-Tex?

    I'm with Catherine on 'woman' (and 'lady' - ugh!), but some dresses are more girly than womanly. By the way, I find half-circle skirts to be brilliant for the girly-twirly effect without the hip-enlarging effect. I'm currently daydreaming about a black Colette Hazel with a half-circle skirt adaptation...

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    1. He he! No, I'm yet to get to the printing stage with it! Gore-Tex, laminated cotton...I think they'll all become british staples and that even M&S underwear department will see the introduction of oilcloth to stop the rain permeating through our lowest layers.

      I've been considering the Hazel for that purpose too, but I'd need to build myself up for a SBA on the pattern and that overwhelms me slightly!

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  9. Love the top (and would totally buy that pattern if you ever decided to do it!), and the dress is a YES!! It looks super cute on you.

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  10. Just read the Eva Wiseman article and was interested to note how previously we had compared ourselves to local images but with the rise of the internet we have constant access to photos of 'the body beautiful'.Recently while watching repeats of Top of the Pops 1977 it was heartening to see so many of the acts performing in regular clothes with less than perfect teeth and hair - like real people! There was a lovely innocence about the whole thing.

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    1. Yes, you're so right! Now that you've said that I distinctly remember even in the early 90s Sonia and others being on TOTP and them just looking like normal people who happened to have signed a record deal. I found it really odd on The Voice that all the contestants had perfect teeth as though they'd been whizzed in for tooth whitening as soon as they'd passed through the first audition!

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  11. Your blouse is so beautiful! I have this fabric too, and I've been saving it until I have just the right pattern in mind for it.

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  12. I really dislike using the word 'woman' as well... it just isn't pleasant. I prefer 'lady' and 'girl' ;-) Makes my husband think I'm rather silly.
    The blouse is lovely, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the dress once it is made. =)

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  13. How often do you find a dress that makes you feel that good? Buy the dress. It's a pretty timeless design, and you could always throw a Gap cardi over it!

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  14. Your blue dress is stunning! Keep sewing, keep blogging, keep inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x