Sew Colette: A finished Peony

Peony looks like such an easy dress to sew, doesn’t it?

Pattern: Colette Patterns‘ Peony
Time taken: About a month, give or take
Fabric: Dyed cotton fabric plus some scraps for the facings
Details: Velvet ricrac

As other sewists taking part in this round of Sew Colette have found, Peony is not as easy as it seems. Despite making a muslin and sewing with extra-large seam allowances, I’ve ended up with a bodice which isn’t as comfortable as I’d like it yet has some unfortunate sagging around the neckline. So, while I can barely lift my arms (see below), the top part still looks as though it’s just a bit too big.

Hence I found myself nervously tugging at the bodice as I sweated profusely in the Scott Room at the Guardian’s offices – and it wasn’t just because I was up for an award. (I’d also been stuck on the Tube for half an hour AND had to run from work to catch my train… sweaty is probably an understatement)

But it’s funny how you can forget absolutely all of this when Charlie Stayt off of BBC Breakfast announces you as the Guardian’s Digital Student Journalist of the Year. It’s been a bit more than a week now, but I still can’t quite believe it happened!

I swear, the almighty roar my buddy Tom (pictured above) gave when the winner was announced is STILL ringing in my ear. Other souvniers include a lovely sign Tom acquired, which he managed to lug into the bar for the after party before he handed it to me to make its way back to Guildford. I got some funny looks on the last train home from those not snoozin’ from Thursday night debauchery.

All said, it’s hard to write off a dress with such obvious problems when it has that kind of memory AS WELL AS velvet ric rac attached to it. Sweatiness be damned!

On the sewing front, I really would like to get these terrible fitting issues sorted. Inspired by Sarah’s Peony, I was rather hoping to make a green lace version in time for Christmas. Does anyone have any suggestions what I could do to improve the fit?

Those of you who have entered the giveaway… the winners will be announced later this week! I still need to get one part of the package, so keep your eyes peeled for that…

Oh, and on a final note. THANK YOU for being lovely readers. I wouldn’t have won this award without you!

Caitlin Moran on clothes

Has anyone here read Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman?

caitlin moran how to be a woman

I’ve been re-reading it for the second time, and came across this on page 212:

“Before the high street, women would make their own clothes, or see a dressmaker, so that everything we wore was an honest expression of who we were, and what we were comfortable with – within the constraints of fashion at the time, anyway.

With the advent of mass fashion, however, not a single item of clothing sold is ‘for’ the woman who buys it. Everything we see in Topshop and Zara and Mango and Urban Outfitters and Next and Peacocks and New Look is made for a wholly imaginary woman  – an idea in the designer’s head – and we buy it if we like it, say 70 per cent. That’s about as good as it gets. We rarely, if ever, find something that is 100 per cent ‘us’, and that we truly desire – although we never admit this to ourselves. Most women are walking around in things they’re imagining to be that little bit better. An inch longer here. Without that braiding. In a slightly darker blue. It’s the first thing we say to each other: “I wish they’d had it without the collar!”

Because if you know I don’t like the collar, then you’ll know who I’m really trying to be.”

I’ve lost count of the amount of garments I’ve bought which don’t quite fit the bill. The beauty of sewing and refashioning your own means you’re completely in control of this process. Making something from scratch means absolutely every detail is up to you.

In this respect, it’d be interesting to take a look at sewing from a feminist perspective. After all, sewing for yourself isn’t sewing for some “imaginary woman”. You’re in control of every detail, and you don’t have to ‘make do’ with a garment which doesn’t quite fit you.

It’s food for thought at any rate. Moran and I may not agree on high heels, but I think she’s spot on with the clothing industry here. What do you think?