When I heard that the first topic of the season would be ‘On location’ I knew I wanted to pick something that was both quintessentially English and somewhere that means a lot to us too. What could be more special than the english oak woodland that my children have grown up with as their playground. This feels like a really personal and special sew – and I have enjoyed thinking about a whole look – I normally impulse sew individual garments!
I won’t lie, the Autumn weather has been a challenge – days of rain with minutes of strong sunshine in between. Fortunately my model was so excited to be dressing up she didn’t mind chasing the light and tolerated the chilly weather very well.
Once I had decided on woodlands it felt right to use an autumn colour palette, draw from the nature and if possible work in a bit of upcycling as that is an important part of my sewing life.
An enormous source of my sewing inspiration are the patterns of Twig +Tale. The concept for this outfit started with a classic length Travellers Cape, a scrap of faux fur throw, an upholstery sample book (for the features) and the most perfect Windham Fabrics ‘Tiger Lily’ print for the lining.
The free reindeer add on was repurposed with the addition of spots and tail and voila, a fallow deer… and a fluff filled sewing area!
The dress started out as a Lauren Pintuck tunic, from Made for Mermaids and a bolt end of linen. I wanted something classically clean and simple to showcase the textures and colours. I sewed and loved the Lauren for Miss Mookin when she was a toddler but its been an overlooked pattern since – I love those pintucks – and I toyed with the idea of curving them, but in the end a fan of tucks to reflect the a-line shape was what I settled on. By the time I had turned it into an a-line dress, added hem facing (from cape lining scraps that peep out as she roars around the woodland and climbs trees), and altered the number and orientation of the pintucks, the only thing left from the original pattern was the armscye.
It made my heart glad that I am a hoarder and had the perfect deer button in my stash – the sort of tiny accent that gives me enormous satisfaction. I also love hand embroidery – its a great source of relaxation as well as a good way to add a personal touch. It seemed to obvious way to unite the dress with the rest of the oaky theme and so I added simple outlines to suggest the life of the oak tree.
As always when I sew I like to reflect the tastes and passions of the wearer… in this case my daughter, the Mookin of BomblesandMookin, and that means accessories are a necessity. Her oak-leaf bag is made entirely from waste leather from the sofa making industry. I drafted the pattern from scratch, and added extra texture to the leaf-flap by sewing the ribs like curved pintucks. The soft malleable leather really inspired me to sew by feel and the shaping evolved as I worked. As always topstitching adds to the quality of the finish, but it was a tricky shape to work with on the sewing machine. My first leather bag was a big hit with her, and I have already been asked to make a matching one by Nanny!
Her top is based on the Immergrün top by Firlefanz, a free german pattern I have been meaning to try for a while (and pleasingly translates as Evergreen). Foreign language patterns are a rich source of different styles and techniques and I have gotten used to the vagaries of google translate when it comes to technical sewing lingo. For this outfit I wanted a slimmer fit, to go under the dress without bulk, so reduced the width of body and sleeves, used the subtle gathered sleeve cap option for texture, and drafted a cuff piece to give an oak leaf inspired wavy edge that falls just over the back of her hand. Its quite a curvy and complex shape but I am pleased with the end result. The pumpkin coloured cotton lycra was just the right shade to compliment her dress…. bang went my plans for sewing myself tights!
I’m proud of how this look has come together, reflecting her personality and my sewing style – resulting in an outfit which brings us both great pleasure. My Son, the Bombles, was mighty jealous of the cape and has put in his order for one… In the meantime he can be spotted twirling around our house in hers.
If you like my entry please pop along to the Project Run and Play Blog where you can follow along with the contest, see the other fabulous entries for the week and cast a vote for your favourite!
Happy Sewing everyone… sew your visions and who knows where your journey will take you!