Pattern Fantastique Celestial hack
Happy autumn everyone. Or for those friends in northern lands – happy spring. Here in Melbourne, we’ve welcomed the change of season with an endless wave of 30 degrees-plus days (that’s Celsius), and it doesn’t look like cooling down any time soon. As they say, we’re having an Indian summer (read: the planet is frying people – it’s freaking me out).
A few weeks back my sewing thoughts started shifting to the joys and challenges of trans-seasonal dressing. But here we are in March and it’s still too humid to contemplate sleeves – so I’ve raided what’s left of my summer fabric stash and made a breezy hot-weather dress. Life.
There’s been a lot of chatter about fabric stashes lately. Between Marie Kondo and the Craft Sessions #stash_less and a whole lot of news about the environmental and ethical horror-show that is fast fashion (and fast fabric), many of us are rethinking those mountains of lovely colours and prints, all squished into cupboards and corners, patiently waiting to be used. I used to think I had a hoarding problem until I saw some stash-sharing snaps on Instagram during last year’s #bpsewvember, and realised I’m a relative lightweight. Who knew?
I’m no stash-free specialist but I have a few loose rules when it comes to fabric shopping and self-control. By no means do I think they are ‘the answer’ to anything (as the saying goes – there are many paths to the waterfall), but they often work for me. With slip-ups. Always slip-ups. So in the interest of adding to the already long conversation out there, here we go:
Is it true love? Our friend Kimberley asks herself this question before making any clothing or fabric purchase, and I find it really helpful for slowing down that shopping-adrenalin fuelled lust and making sure I won’t regret my decision in the morning. I’ve adopted the method so wholeheartedly I’ve wasted time in front of a 5-pack of undies in Target, questioning the depth of my feelings. Obviously some small necessities can slip, but as a general rule if it ain’t true love, walk away. And don’t look back.
My fabric budget is relatively small and my love for very expensive cloth is rather big. I get around this unfortunate irony by trying to buy the best quality fabric I can afford. Spend more, but buy much less. I suspect the only reason this works for me is because I’m such a slow sewer. Plus, I’m hopeful my makes last longer because the fabric is good (sadly, not because of my super strong stitches).
I’m an opportunistic stasher. If there’s a good fabric sale, op-shop or travel to a cheap fabric-friendly location I will shop the shit out of that situation and try not to buy fabric again until it’s all used up. Klarissa and I have hardly entered a fabric shop since we spent our combined Christmas and birthday budgets (for five years) in Tokyo Fabric Town last September. It’s the gift that keeps giving.
Which brings me to the fabric I used for this dress. It’s a blue chambray Lithuanian linen that I got at a Primoeza studio sale last winter, a purchase that ticks off all three of my rules: It’s true love (blue-ish, denim-y, I’m not that hard to please). It was one of the most expensive fabrics at the sale – but also one of the loveliest, so I only bought 1.5 metres. And it was one of a pile of linens I brought home from that sale – I went slightly nuts on the offcuts as it was all amazing and affordable.
The dress is Pattern Fantastique’s ‘official’ Celestial hack – a sleeveless version of my one of my favourite dress patterns, perfect for endless summers. The additional pattern pieces for the hack can be ordered on the PF site (for free), and work in with your original pattern and instructions. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the midi length so had to improvise a bit – the back piece is in two parts; and the interfacing of the bodice is a different fabric – a beloved ikat scrap that I’ve kept from an earlier failed project (don’t ask, it still hurts). The upside of this improvisation is the dress has quite pretty insides – a rare event for me – thanks to the ikat and the sweet linen selvedge that I kept for the back seam.
This dress came together quickly and easily, and as always with PF patterns I felt like I learned a new skill – hard to describe but basically a roll-up method of inside-outing an interfaced bodice. I have no idea what it’s called, but it worked! The top stitching under the arm pieces adds some quirky detail and I really love the shape of the bodice (though it’s been super-challenging to find a bra that works under it). I made no big changes to the pattern – I think I could/should have reduced the size of the bodice a bit because it’s slightly gapey; and I shortened the midi length – and added a belt. I love linen sack dresses but they never seem to work on me – I need some shape in longer dresses.
So one less fabric in the stash, and a new dress to see me through a heatwave. Best of all, I think it will transition nicely into cooler weather with a turtleneck and tights underneath, which means without even intending to, my autumn sewing has officially begun. Happy transitional sewing season, wherever you are!