HSM #9 + 10: Colour Challenge Brown and Sewing Secrets – Autumn Wardobe

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This month I made a decision. I’m not an accurate sewer. No matter how much I try to cut the pieces precisely, to do everything neatly, to think through in advance every step I take, finished garments often don’t turn out as I had planned or expected. There frequently are fitting issues or construction mistakes (like with the dress I’ll tell about here, where I basically made the same error twice), or the fabric doesn’t behave as I had thought it would. BUT: I am really good at going on nevertheless. I finish the garments and they are wearable and often nice or even beautiful. I can work around obstacles and develop a new design if the original one didn’t work. So I decided to change my focus – instead of again and again fretting over my insufficiencies I should enjoy what I do well and what I achieve with it. Yes.

Now for this month’s sewing: On a routine check of the fabric department at our local department store I came over a soft wool in a warm reddish brown with a white pattern, which called to be made into a dress. I bought it, although I had rather a blouse or skirt in mind for the Brown Challenge. As it turned out, the fabric wasn’t very enjoyable to handle – it’s very loosely woven, so it frayed like hell, bulged and lost shape very easily, and it is suprisingly itchy, inspite of draping so softly.

Still experimenting with the 1920s back line I thought I should try a pattern in one piece, without a waist seam.

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This lady I found in one of my favourite sources for twenties’ wear, the Fashion Sourcebook 1920s (ed. C. Fiell). She’ll be my model for different design ideas, with more realistic measurements than the fashion drawings from the time:

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I cut the dress in one piece, without shoulder seams, originally even including the side panels. Which is where the mentioned blundering started. Now they are set in, but I still forgot to see to an overlap, so I used a strip of broad ribbon on the inside to join the two parts.

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Doing the embroidery was a real joy. I love the colour combination, although I’m afraid it makes the fabric of the dress look a little duller than it really is. I learned to do cross stitch as a girl (my grandmother, aunts and my mother all did und do embroidery), but since then have rarely stitched anything. The design I came up with is very simple, so it was manageable in the given time, and I wanted something suitable for everyday wear.

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Since the wool is so unpleasant on the skin I fully lined the dress. I am not sure about how period correct this is, I imagine a slip would have been more appropriate, but still. And as I had several pieces of brown lining in my stash, but nothing big enough for the whole dress, I decided to piece it together – making my entry for the Sewing Secrets Challenge. It isn’t very fanciful, but I really was at loss to develop any idea for this challenge, so this is better than nothing.

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I didn’t want to miss out on one of the twelve garments though, so I made a last minute skirt from the rest of the fabric. While I am not absolutely sure if I really like the dress (it looks and feels very twenties – well, like a sack), the skirt definitely will become a favourite.

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The Challenge: Colour Challenge Brown and Sewing Secrets

Fabric: pure wool, acetate lining

Pattern: my own

Year: about 1924

Notions: yarn, embroidery thread, a zip for the skirt

How historically accurate is it? Very, except maybe for the lining of the dress

Time to complete: Daily bits of time over the whole month

First worn: not yet

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