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A practical project

In the last few months Sue’s Trifles has been in danger of becoming entirely a book blog. To restore a bit of variety and for the benefit of those of you, who have followed this blog for the craft posts, here is something a little different.

Just before I began blogging six years ago, I had made myself a dress to wear at a family wedding. Apart from a child’s dress, I have not done any dressmaking since then.

I decided it was about time I made myself a new dress. Starting my project was delayed. I looked for dress fabric in a shop and an indoor market, but nothing appealed to me. Then I went away for a week on the spur of the moment and had no opportunity to do anything about my project. After that I was catching up at home. Finally I looked on line and ordered two dress lengths from a company I had been satisfied with previously.

Usually when I am making a dress, I am rather obsessive about it and perhaps manage to complete it in a week. This time I took longer, perhaps slowed down by my online activities and trips out among other things. Anyhow the first dress is now finished. Its first outing was to a wedding blessing, where I was singing in the choir. Our choir robes do not fully hide our clothes and by a happy coincidence one of the colours in my dress material is a good match for the cherry red robes.

Dress in cotton lawn

Dress in cotton lawn

Both fabrics I chose were reduced, but one was more expensive than the other. I have made up the cheaper fabric first as a practice run. It is a printed cotton lawn. The second fabric is a Liberty print.

I have been told more than once that hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I buy fabric online again, I intend to enquire about the best colour match for thread and zips. It is difficult to distinguish white from cream on a computer screen. Also shopping online only allows a whole number of metres of fabric to be ordered. Sometimes fractions are useful.

I adapted a pattern I have used previously to allow for a few extra inches round my middle – time to lose weight?

As this post is published I have cut out the second dress and am well on the way to finishing it.

Liberty print dress in progress

Liberty print dress in progress

The photo shows the dress without the neck facing, which is  now attached, but not finished. After that there are the sleeves to make, a few seams to neaten and the hem to sort out. It could be finished by the weekend, but I am not forgoing any of my usual activities. It is not a race!

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The effect of our decisions on the environment

This post is a bit of a rant. Holy Week is a time for serious thought! I wondered what to write about this week, for publication on Maundy Thursday.

The Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge is about to begin. I haven’t finished reading any books, so a What I read post is not possible. So here is something I feel strongly about. The size of the problem is overwhelming. However if everyone did a little to reduce their use of plastic and synthetic materials, it would make a significant difference.

I have taken part in two organised beach cleans in the past few months and picked up litter on other occasions, putting plastic bottles and drinks cans in recycling skips. It is well-known that litter finds its way through inland waterways to the oceans.

There is a huge campaign against litter, plastic and other forms of pollution, which are damaging wildlife, especially marine life. The proliferation of hashtags relating to these issues bears witness to its reach on social media. Here are a few:-

#Plastic, #PlasticFree, #PlasticPollution, #BanPlastic, #PlasticKills, #PlasticFreeCoastlines, #2MinuteBeachClean, #StopThePlasticTide, #SurfersAgainstSewage

What I really want to highlight in this post is how our decisions regarding items we buy can also affect the environment. Much clothing is manufactured from synthetic (similar to plastic) material. It is interesting that plastic items may be recycled as polyester fleeces, for example. Not enough recycling takes place. In any case, we are warned that washing polyester clothing results in microplastics being released into our waterways.

Natural fibres are more friendly to the environment. Bamboo is a relatively new source of fibre for clothing and as a replacement for plastic drinking cups. Wool, cotton and silk are more traditional natural fibres, at least in the UK.

Consumers have rights, protected by law. For example, if goods are faulty they may be returned to the retailer for a refund. I wonder what the retailer does with the faulty goods. It is not cost-effective to repair a seam, which has not been stitched during manufacture, for instance. I suspect the goods are either sent for recycling or binned, ending up on land-fill sites.

It might be better for the environment to waive the right for a refund and repair the faulty item oneself. Of course there are many considerations. Safety may be an issue sometimes, but not in the case of finishing off an unfinished garment.

How do you react to the pollution problem? Have you changed your habits since this became such a high profile issue?

A sewing project – girl’s pinafore dress

I had a remnant of cotton fabric, which I realised would make a pretty dress for a small girl.  A pattern in a Woman’s Weekly Treasury from 1985 seemed ideal.

I can follow a sewing pattern, but constructing garments is not something I find easy.  Having to sew pieces right side together and then turn them the other way out involves some imaginative processes which almost defeat me.  I have to experiment and find out what works.  Over the years I have learned that it is best to spend some time testing what a pattern means than guessing and getting it wrong!

It took me some time to realise that the pattern outlines were full size.  I traced them onto greaseproof paper and cut out the pieces from the folded fabric..

The pattern suggested adding a motif to the pocket on the bib.  As I was using printed fabric I decided to cut the pocket with a flower near the centre and dispense with the motif.

The instruction for sewing the bib to the waistband confused me. I realised that it was necessary to join both bib pieces at the side edges before carrying out the printed instruction.  Both bibs and both waistbands had to be joined.  Without a picture of the back view of the garment, I had puzzled over whether I was making one or two bibs!  Insertion of the word pieces after bib and after waistband would have helped me. (Have I mentioned that I find words easier to understand than picture instructions?  I like the words to be precise too.  Fussy, or what?)

Then I found that I had made a mistake measuring the waistband pattern.  I realised that I could lengthen it by inserting a single extension.

The project is almost complete.  It needs the hem to be stitched and button holes to be added to the straps and buttons to the waist band.  I did not follow the instructions for the straps as given in the pattern.  Turning a long length of tube is time consuming, so instead of stitching right sides together, I folded the strap and top-stitched it instead.

Front view

Front view