Every autumn, I pack away my summer dresses, and am left with nothing in my wardrobe. The closet that was colourfully crammed is now so empty that I've found Narnia.
This year, as I stared into Narnia, I thought: no more. No more empty winter wardrobe. I shall have a wardrobe as glam as the White Witch, and as warm too.
I briefly considered doing a wardrobe architect-style challenge for myself, but let's be honest: I find it boring and restrictive. I hate the concept of trying to fit my fabric stash around a palette and I hate pawing frantically through my pattern stash trying to find something that vaguely resembles something else on pinterest. I like the opportunity to be spontaneous and I now know that I'd never follow through with my grand plans, thereby generating a round of guilt and huge sense of failure.
So to buck this whole notion of being a serious sewist with a sensible, intelligent wardrobe, I made a peacock blue Gillian from Muse Patterns. Hacked, of course, because that makes it fun.
My red Gillian is one of my most successful items in my wardrobe. It's flattering and I always, always get compliments. But I decided that I'd like to modify it, so I slashed and squished (opposite of spreading!) to remove the gathered yokes, and made the bodice front and bodice back all one piece. Not because I wanted boring, but because I wanted to let the colour shine, and because I wanted warm. I made this dress in double layered merino so that I could wear it and feel super toasty. I feel the cold terribly and warm is always my top priority at this time of year... and warm won easily over the gathers and yokes, which in a double layer would have added extra bulk, the last thing you want on you during winter.
I ditched the waist band as well, because I've noticed on my red Gillian that it sits awkwardly on my short torso. Rather than fuss around with shortening the bodice, I ditched it altogether. Because easy is also important.
Gillian is a pattern that positively hoons together. You sit down in front of the overlocker and before you know it you've got 80% of a dress sewn up. Beautifully drafted, even my removal of the gathers and waistband gave no hiccups. I ditched the instructions completely and managed to get it all together quite happily.
I made two boo-boos with this dress. First, I didn't think my skirt through: I underlined it with some navy wool (and woven to boot, which made life hard) because I didn't have enough fabric for a double layered skirt. I could have left it, but I didn't want to risk having my knickers seen through it, or risk a cold bum. Anyhoo, I should have sewn the outer and inner together with right sides facing and then turned it right sides out, enclosing my seams. But instead sewed it all as one piece. And because the outer knit drooped more than the woven inner, I couldn't hem it with my machine as I'd end up with a weird bubble of merino above the hem, which wouldn't have been pretty. So I hand stitched the whole hem, when if I'd just been a bit smarter, I could have been done it cleaner, faster and easier and spent the hour or so I spent hemming knitting instead. Sigh.
We can call the second boo-boo a 'design feature'. Do you like my ribbon waist ties? Funny story - I cut out all my pieces and crowed to my beloved with vulgar pride at my tiny molehill of scrap fabric. It was all slivers and snips. It was only once I finished the bodice that I realised that I had forgotten to cut the waist ties, and there wasn't anything left. Ribbons were the only reasonable solution I could think of, and it was impossible to match the teal colour, so some duck egg blue-green and an ice blue ribbons were the best match. I can't complain, I quite like it - and amazingly, the ribbon doesn't slip!
My biggest goal this winter is to make clothing that'll last and that I'll feel joyful to bring out of storage each year (just as I do with my summer clothes). That means I need things I know I'll enjoy wearing, in colours that make my heart sing. I think that this was a pretty good step in achieving that goal.
A big thank you to Kat, my friend and designer of the Gillian pattern for taking the photos, and for being totally ok with my un-doing of her gorgeous yokes on the original pattern!