Overly optimistic darts and other issues

Looking for something to wear to my final personal block class, I thought this dress was a standout, lots of problems  needing to be fixed in this Butterick block. I hesitated though, because If I wore this lined, wool/spandex, optimistically darted dress and heels, what would it say about me? To me, approachable is preferable to aloof, I like to appear friendly and humorous. This is a dress I would wear to sign documents with the lawyers ‘n’ stuff, could I get away with wearing to a patternmaking class without feeling ‘try hard’?

IMG_3596Oh and sorry to have to bombard you with the clear blue skies of a Sydney winter, I’ll pay for that smugness in summer when I’m cursing the heat!

As it happened the ‘optimistically darted wool/spandex dress’ and heels didn’t attract the derision I was afraid of – phew!

Note to self: When making pattern changes, make sure to clearly mark the newest change otherwise you could have darts that point directly  toward the youthful apex of a 16yo and they will be unfixable, requiring you to wear a cardi at all times to disguise the mistake!


suited up
suited up

Real life tailors are almost always pictured wearing their beautifully tailored clothes even though they’re hanging around in a workroom, our local italian tailors do the same. Those guys don’t wait for a wedding or a funeral to break out their dapper suits – they dress like they want to make a style statement every day. Makes me wonder if they wear a smoking suit and velvet slippers in their down time?

More often than not I’m disgruntled with the clothes I make myself. Bad fit, inappropriate fabric, wrong style, I hope to one day get it right! According to Simon Crompton, a menswear journo, all tailoring is a work in progress, being tweaked at every step. I like his thinking,

“The thing about bespoke is that it takes a long time to get it right and that’s extremely expensive. It’s great fun getting it right but there’s always going to be things that you want to change six months later because suddenly you’ve become a creative person and before you were just a recipient. There are always going to be things you get wrong and you have to accept that. Some people have their first bespoke suit made and think that, because they can change everything, it will be perfect. But actually you don’t necessarily know how to change everything – your tailor will always have to make some assumptions about what kind of thing you’d like. But accept that’s going to happen because it creates an interesting process. I’ve had a dozen bespoke suits made and there are still things that I think I’ve never got quite right.”

Spot on Simon, he continues

“Good craft should be like that: you should look at it and it should just look better, it should just feel better.”

GQ Magazine by Simon Crompton of Permanent Style

Ooh, yes please, I’m looking forward to getting it more right!

Next time I draft this type of dress, I’ll use my new improved ‘Studio Faro’ torso block. I will bite the bullet and add much more oomph to the draped side tucks because these current ones look a wee bit apologetic. Anita suggests the drape should start higher, closer to the waistline or above. I’ll probably go with a rounded neckline, this V has never sat well despite many attempts at remediation.  But I’m quite taken with the little inserted CB gore that saved me from a lined vent effort! The wool twill fabric with 2% elastane may not be what Saville Row would order, but I love it – 10/10.

gored vent
gored vent

I think Kate recently commented –  “sometimes we dress for the spectacle”, I like that.

What influences how you dress? How do you prefer to appear to others? Whats your priority in clothing – style or comfort?




Add yours →

  1. I love your posts, Lesley – this is a good one. You look beautiful just the same. What a nice, balanced figure you have. My “struggle” area in sewing is still the torso, given my bust, slopey shoulders, etc., so not getting the darts exactly right is a common issue for me.

    I like Simon’s comment a great deal, as it’s what I’ve always thought. After thirty years of knitting I still don’t make things that I think are perfect. It’s really important to think of any craft as a work in progress. It would be boring if we knew everything already, although I agree with you that I would like to be able to match fabric to project in a better way more often.

    I’m no expert in Italian tailoring, but one of the things I love about being in Italy is walking by the tailoring shops, where you do, indeed, see very dapper men working. Many people in Italy embrace the idea of spectacle, which I applaud! I went into “Valli” in the posh area of Florence in May and had an interesting exchange with the guy in the store (who was dressed very nicely). They sell top-end fabrics for tailors and dressmakers. I think they also have a shirt-making service in shop. The guy seemed to think I had no knowledge of fabrics or interest in buying any given the prices. I didn’t buy any this time, but I would pay a high price per meter for really good wool if I had a special project in mind, e.g. a special skirt.

    Thanks for the interesting read.

    • PS Agree re. the back gore. I have a skirt that is finished in that way and I like the way you’ve done yours.

    • Might be time for a personal block S!! My drafting teacher added 2nd darts front and back to mine for a ‘keener’ fit. Watch this space as they say, the proof of the pud and all that! We have an italian district with smart fabric shops but they’re always empty and I have to say their attitude toward their customers leaves no doubt as to why! I’ll continue to look out for wool/elastane, its a dream fabric. Slopey shoulders, have you tried teensy tiny shoulder pads, just to square them up a touch?

  2. OOOH. Can. Of. Worms. Comfort implies an old cardi and some leggings, but on the other hand who wants a stiff necked 1900s blouse or a corset? I love soft, supple materials and a good fit is comfortable, but too laid back implies a lack of style.

    I really like your dress. It is so elegant and the fit is close to perfection. I think the elastane is key. It makes wool (or cotton) much more comfortable to wear. That way you can have both style and comfort.

    And please tell me that those blue skies are surgically enhanced.

    • I always enjoyed getting dressed for work, I walked differently back then! The blue skies were not perceptibly surgically enhanced, just a wee touch to warm the skin tone. Winter in Sydney is the best season to my mind. Hours before it had been grey and rainy though, I wouldn’t have predicted the turn around time!

  3. Interesting post. I also like to aim for perfection, but almost always feel slightly unhappy with my end results. Most probably because of too high expectations and pressure from myself to not mess-up. Simon’s words are very wise. As for going for style or comfort, I like to try to balance the two. The one thing in comfort I never compromise on however, is my feet. Gone are my days of wearing shoes that look great, but kill me.

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