Thursday, 5 May 2011


Bank holiday morning dawned and I pulled out the pattern, slightly dismayed by the immensely complicated drawings and instructions. It quickly became apparent that my measly metre of fabric would never yield the big collar, two sleeves, front and back with extra button-hole allowance that the pattern called for.
I didn't have a back-up fabric or a back-up plan. I'd have to make do - if I got rid of the sleeves, made the collar from a different fabric and replaced the button-holes with a zip it might just work.
By breathing in hard, I managed, just to cut out the pieces I needed - noticing the tiny tears on the pattern where Mum's pins had been, once upon a time.
Next I got the machine out and could see immediately that the needle was blunt. Which isn't surprising, as I haven’t changed it in the time I’ve had it - worried that if I took it out, I’d never get it back in again. It was actually surprisingly easy. Until the brand new needle crunched down onto the metal of the zip and shattered.
With another new needle in, I ploughed on - six long tucks at the front of the dress, zip at the back, then joined at the shoulders and sewed down the side before putting facing in where the sleeves should have been. The trickiest part was the collar. I cut out two giant white bat wings and sewed them together, then tried to figure out how to attach them.
Use bias binding, the pattern said. What bias binding? I realised they expected you to make your own. All I had left was a long, thin offcut of fabric which I eked as best as I could into a semblance of bias binding. It wasn't cut on the bias though, something crucial, as I realised when trying to attach it to the collar and finding that it wouldn't bend or stretch to the shape of the neckline.
On the inside it was more like a dog collar. On the outside, it looked like a gigantic pair of wings - all set to whisk us off for Never Never land.

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