Saturday, 9 March 2013

HELP! And my swap partner revealed.

I received my International Craft Swap partner's details yesterday. I have been paired up with Louise from Elsie May and Bertha.I wasn't familiar with Louise's work or blog before, as (determined from a quick squiz at her blog) she mainly crafts rather than dressmakes, however it's always nice to meet someone new, and to gain access to more inspiration, insight and skills! Louise describes herself as a maker and says she would do it full time if she could, which is ever-so-slightly daunting, as I describe myself as doing zero crafting, so I'm hoping she'll be very tolerant of my very simple effort! Just need to pick up a couple of notions and then I'm hopefully ready to get going on that.

Rather sweetly, Rachel (from House of Pinheiro) opted to match me with Louise to provide me with support, which I really appreciate! It also makes me think she must have spent a LOT of time ensuring she'd made the right pairings! I'm impressed.

On another note, I need some help! I am really struggling with my Mad Men Challenge/Elisalex sewalong dress. Not the dress itself which should be fine (although I still only have half a muslin made, so perhaps I'm being overly optimistic there), but I'm really struggling to make a fabric choice. As a reminder, here is the inspiration dress, which is from season 5 (set in 1967, according to Wikipedia - I don't watch the show, sorry. Is that sacrilege?)

I don't want, or need, to be too literal on this, but if I go for a really different fabric, then it's just a random shift dress, as it has no real period distinguishing features. The fabric of Joan's dress is a kind of floral/paisley print on a purpley-grey background (looks more grey in the bottom pic). 

Here are my issues:
  1. I've never been a huge fan of paisley print and while I probably could find something similar I'm not sure I'd actually want to wear it once made.
  2. The colours here are fairly wintery and we'll be well into spring once the challenge is finished (mid April)
  3. I actually have no idea where or when I'm going to wear this dress. All the fabrics I've liked so far give more of a formal vibe (for me, anyway) and I have no upcoming formal events. I hate the idea of spending time and money making something I won't wear any time soon. 
  4. I fancy a stretch woven fabric to make it more comfortable (and therefore more "day"), but as I'm using the Elisalex bodice and it's lined, the stretch won't work unless I also line it in a stretch fabric. Won't that make it too bulky?
  5. If I don't go for a stretch, do I go for a cotton voile? or would a heavier-weight quilting fabric work for this (I suspect not...)?
  6. Don't want to spend a lot on this. If I could get fabric for less than £20 I'd be happy. And I will need at least 2m, if not a little bit more.
  7. Because of princess seams I don't want the hassle of having to pattern match.
  8. Probably something else, but now I can't remember!
Here are a few serious contenders so far:

Liberty cotton lawn from Stone Fabrics. Gorgeous, but 40's inspired, not 60's! Would be maybe a bit less formal? Not stretch.
Lightweight cotton from Stone Fabrics. Like this, but maybe a bit more formal? Not stretch.
Cotton poplin from Stone Fabrics. Really nothing like the inspiration dress. Not stretch, but quite fun and maybe a little bit 60's?
Stretch cotton from Fabric Godmother. Really like this, ticks all boxes, but £16 a metre!
Stretch cotton sateen from Stone Fabrics. Colours are right, print is wrong, but I got tired of looking at florals.
Cotton voile from Raystitch. Not stretch, but suddenly I'm feeling it for this one, AND it's reduced to £9.95. Would a a whole dress of this be too much? And I'd need to pattern match.
Cotton poplin from Stone Fabrics. Wrong colours, but right kind of era. Loving the summery-ness of this. But what is cotton poplin? Will that work for a dress? Not stretch. Does it look a bit too much like a tablecloth?
I have tons more on my Pinterest board if you're not bored already!

So, what do you think? Do I completely deviate from the inspiration dress in favour of something more "me"? Do I forgo stretch (and comfort) for a pretty print?

If I knew how to do it and had enough regular readers, I'd do a wee poll here, but I don't and I don't, so if you have a strong opinion, can you please let me know in the comments? I'd really appreciate some input on this, as I am really, really struggling! Thanks in advance!

H x


  1. I love the stretch cotton from the fabric godmother but £16 p/m is pricey... If I was doing the challenge I would go with something that I would wear in the future.

    Not very helpful but I look forward to seeing what you go with!


  2. Thanks anyway! I am a nightmare at trying to imagine fabric as a finished garment! I can spend hours in Mandors or the Cloth Shop!!

  3. Afraid I like the £16/m too but then I've always had expensive taste. It could be your fairy godmother dress. Don't think poplin would work as too thin and not rigid enough for the style jx

  4. Thanks Jo! So do I, unfortunately! :)

  5. Stone fabrics has a blue/green paisley knit (#3884) that's mixed with floral so it's maybe not too paisley or formal? I got my swap partner too. I was hoping for another novice but no go. My craft partner does amazing millinery work and also makes purses out of vintage fabrics. I'm quite intimidated! I see on your Pinterest board you've pinned some of the same nautical inspired things that I have. So much challenge, so little time!

    1. Hi Shar - I hadn't seen that paisley jersey, and I do really like it, but it's jersey and my pattern is for a woven fabric. I know it's probably possible to adjust the pattern accordingly, but I know I just have neither the time nor the inclination to learn how to do this on this dress. Next time maybe!
      Wow your partner sounds advanced! But I'm sure she'll appreciate whatever you make. I'm happy to share what I'm making if you like. Drop me an email and I'll mail you the details (want to keep it a secret, so won't mention in on here just yet)...

  6. The Fairy Godmother stretch fabric is stunning. The second one is lovely too, I guess it would just depend HOW lightweight it is. But if the $16 (sorry, I have no 'pounds' symbol) really does tick all your boxes, then go for it! You're better off spending a bit more to end up with a dress you'll actually enjoy wearing - a $40 dress you love and wear is more of a bargain than a $20 one that never leaves the wardrobe...It's the Dollar Per Wear Principle! (That being said, it's easy to spend someone else's money...)

    1. Thanks Danielle! You are probably right!

  7. Hey, I think I'm a little late on this one. I really like the first cotton lawn fabric, although I have a feeling cotton lawn would be too thin for the Elisalex dress. I am deviating quite far in terms of fabric choice for my Mad men dress so I reckon go for a fabric you really like. I agree with Danielle - pound per wear! :)

    1. You are (see next post), but thanks for the opinion anyway! :)


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