Thus Hurdle Number 1. Do I have another fabric in my stash that will be suitable and has enough yardage? The answer, after a good rummage, was "Yes".
But Hurdle Number 2 . It had not been washed. I have learned always to launder fabric in the manner in which the made-up garment will be washed before cutting out and sewing it up. It prevents nasty horrors, such as finding the fabric shrinks or bleeds. Into the washing machine the fabric goes and 3 hours later, (no tumble drier so I have to wait for it to dry on the line), I have it washed, dried and pressed fabric on the table.
Just to show those 3 hours were not wasted I used them to finish this dress pictured below, made in a jersey fabric with a silvery thread through the material that gives it a slight sparkle as it catches the light. Unfortunately the silver thread is so subtle that you cannot see it in the photograph, it needs body movement or shifting light to make it catch the light and glisten. I finished it with silver ball buttons, taken from an old dress, at the throat and at the cuffs of the straight sleeves. The pattern is an old one that I picked up for a few p earlier this year.
To get back to the original dress and Hurdle Number 3. The substitute fabric came from the oddments bin at "Simply Fabrics" in Brixton for £4. There was plenty of yardage to make the dress but it had been cut out to an odd shape, which I didn't realise until I came to spread it out to place the pattern on it. It took me some time to work out where the straight grain lay and it was a stretchy-stretchy knit that slithered away from me. Anyone got any tips on handling fabric like this? Also my old and fading eyesight made it difficult to determine which way the tiny but regular motif needed to be.It took an hour and a half to get it laid out, pinned and cut (not including the inevitable tea break because I got fed up bending over) Once cut out I could legitimately sit down and put in the tack marks for various features- where to gather, match seams etc.
Then I basted the side seams and did the gathering required on the front of the dress so I could try it on for fit. And, Boy!, did it fit- like the finest kidskin glove, absolutely skintight. That was fine because the stretch of the fabric meant that there was no impediment to movement but -Oh!- I shall have to hold my stomach in as the evidence of every cake that I eat during the day will be there for all to see.
So now to Hurdle Number 4 I had forgotten that the pattern called for Vilene Bias tape or stay tape to stabilise the neck and certain sections of the armholes. I had tried to buy this from a fairly local store but they did not have it and I forgot about getting it. However I now thought that probably I could use some light-weight fusible non-woven interfacing instead and that, as only a small amount was needed at each point, I could use some of the little scraps that I can not bring myself to throw away that were left over from other projects. But it did mean tracing each piece individually from the pattern to fit the required section.. Luckily, as the interfacing was fine and see-through, I could trace directly from the pattern on to the interfacing- fiddly job though.
The tracing one of the pieces is seen below.
Now many of you will know all about this but, from questions I've had from some of our members, beginners are not always sure about how to use or handle interfacing and how to apply it. Very basically there are two types of interfacing used to reinforce or stiffen garments or, as in this case, to prevent stretch fabrics from stretching where no stretch is required. Those types are "sew-in", where the interfacing is stitched to the main fabric, and the other is fusible where heat from an iron is used to fuse the special backing to the fabric ( and, once that is done, there is no unpicking it!).
So, to apply this fusible interfacing, firstly I am going to iron the fabric to which I am going to apply it. If you fuse interfacing to wrinkled fabric it is going to stay wrinkled permanently
Next, check that you have the fusible side of the interfacing against the fabric or you will get the fabric sticking to your iron instead of the fabric. The fusible side looks a bit shiny or has small dots visible.
I've pinned the interfacing in position in the photograph below so I can lay it on the ironing board. Then I remove the pins, making sure the interfacing and fabric are flat before the iron is applied.
After applying all the interfacing pieces I confess that I gave in and abandoned the idea of trying to complete it all in one day- failure. What happened next will be in Part 3.