I Made This is a weekly blog series that features makers from around the world and aims to talk about the things we are proud of; of the objects we make that have meaning to us and the journey we take to make them.
This week's I Made This is by the amazing Elizabeth Barnett - a visual artist and maker from Melbourne who I met randomly many years ago at a sewing class. When we met she was making these beautiful textile collages - some of which you can see on her website. Normally I include the person's logo (if they have one) below - but I really wanted to include one of her paintings - just to give you a taste of her work.
I made this Lisa dress from a pattern that I bought at Tessuti fabrics in Melbourne on the Cup weekend recently. Bel aka dyeingtrade (who I met at the Craft Sessions in September!) and I have been talking a lot recently about planning our summer wardrobes and so when I saw this pattern I was pretty sure it would be the centerpiece of my summer wardrobe. Bel and I met up on the weekend and madly sewed our dresses (Bel made the wiksten tank but as a longer dress version).
I bought the fabric at Treehouse Textiles in Mornington and the mother of pearl buttons are vintage ones from the beautiful L’uccello in the Nicholas Building. I spent quite a bit on these items but I am glad I did because I now have a dress that I love every element of and will wear often, rather than a garment that I sort of like but it isn’t quite right and I have a pattern that I will definitely use again and again. (and in light of Felicia's recent post on Materials... it confirms that one should use good materials that you know you will love to wear)
I had seen the pattern on pinterest and it instantly reminded me of a dress that I used to own that no longer fits me after I had my baby last year. I thought, YES! I can recreate the dress to my own shape and size in a fabric of my choosing. I like the way it is floaty and light for summer wearing.
I went through my stash to see if I could make this dress out of something I already had but none of the fabrics that I have were big enough (as the pattern required about 2m of fabric) so I decided to buy something new (going against the stash-less ideas that Felicia has been posting about recently and which has really got me thinking) But this project was special and I don’t have a huge fabric stash in large pieces so I felt justified in buying the Nani Iro fabric which I totally adore.
I am a pretty confident sewer these days after years of hacking away and fudging garments together. I have always been a maker/crafter (Craft has always been a part of my family) but my finishing of garments had always left me feeling unsatisfied with the things I made and they always ended up falling apart or I hated how “handmade” and dodgy they looked. I did a class a few years ago (where I first met Felicia actually!) at Amitie textiles when it was in Bentleigh. Our teacher Gwen has years of experience and she taught me things that I will never forget! Eg. button holes, hemming, inserting a zip, setting a sleeve, and the importance of pinning and tacking! These classes have been invaluable and have taught me not to hack at fabric or brazenly sew without pinning (which has its place for some projects but in most cases for me would end up in me unpicking and ruining beautiful pieces of fabric).
When I looked at the pattern I wasn’t that keen on putting in all the fabric stiffner and the shops weren’t open on the Sunday to get some so instead I did without and I decided to add a full lining for the bodice of the dress (with some leftover fabric from one of Mum’s quilting projects). I am really pleased I did as the Nani Iro fabric is really sheer and I am not that keen on see through garments for myself! I love the bias binding that finishes the neck and sleeves and helps them to sit nicely. I had never done that technique before but it worked amazingly and I starting thinking about other patterns that I could alter to achieve that look. I could even make different fabric bias bindings from my stashed fabrics for a nice bit of interest on the garment…. the possibilities!
I LOVE this dress and have not really taken it off since I made it. I will definitely the pattern again and maybe even in two fabrics, one for the top and one of the skirt (perhaps something in my stash will work for this).