Here is a little tale of fashion adventure, foolishness, haste, mis-adventure and then, eventual, triumph. Please enjoy and learn from my Fable of Measure Twice, Cut Once:
The very great, but also practical, thing about being confident in your personal style (and how ridiculous you are willing to go) is that your eyes become very well trained at spotting what you want/ need/ omg-i-must-have-this-in-my-life-right-now-i-will-never-be-the-same-and-will-probably-marry-Jeff-Goldblum-or-young-Han-Solo-if-i-have-this-item-in-my-repertoire.
I have developed a military-like precision at scanning a clothing rail from ten feet away and within a dozen seconds assessing if there’s anything hanging on it that’s worth my time. Which is a very useful, and energy-saving skill, because as much as I love acquiring new pieces, and the thrill of the hunt, I’m actually very short on tolerance and for retail activity and general browsing. Typically, after half an hour, I’m tired, getting grouchy, and it won’t be long until you find me at the pub with a pint.
So the other week, whilst at a market, I approached a vintage clothing stall with my usual Terminator-like focus, and immediately honed in on a vibrant multi-coloured dress. ‘Hello beautiful! Who are you?!’ I thought, and sure enough, on closer inspection, I realised that I had hit vintage gold.
This cotton sundress ticked all of my style-boxes – bright, bold, unusual print – and so very New Orleans. Cute neckline and sleeves. Free flowing, breezy, and so perfect for Summer – especially if accessorised up with a statement necklace or earrings. And! it had pockets! The label was still intact and says it came from India. It was a little long – usually length isn’t an issue- as I’m tall(ish) and would typically always wear a dress like this with heeled sandals anyway. However due to the loose fitting nature of it, I wanted to add some oomph, y’know, va-va-voom it up a little, and knew I could very quickly and easily take off a few inches, and bring it up to just above the knee.
I felt that this was like something that Beyoncé would wear in one of her jazzy Instagram OOTD slideshows.
And so, the dress was mine, and I could go have a very happy beer knowing that I had triumphed.
Which brings me to part two of this fable…
You know how I said “I’ll take a few inches off it and it’ll be so easy etc etc”. Well this is a prime ‘me’ craft moment, that proves why, as much as some people might think I’m a good sewer, my execution leaves a lot to be desired. Mis-adventures like this are the reason that I’ll only every be able to sew for myself.
Here’s an account of how this simple sewing task, something most people should be able to complete, without drama, went down:
1. Try on dress and pin where i want the hem to be shortened to
2. Measure length to cut off based on pin
3. Length to cut is 14 centimetres. 14 centimetres. Shall I write this down? Nah, I’m not stupid. I can remember that. 14! Easy!
4. Remove pin, to allow for marking of fabric, keep telling myself “14, 14, 14”. Very important I don’t forget the measurement. 14.
5. 14. 14. 14
6. 14. 14. 14
7. Get measuring tape. Measure 14
8. Pause. Ask myself ‘Is this right? It looks like a lot?
9. YES ITS FOURTEEN, STOP DOUBTING YOURSELF, LOUISE
10. Pat myself on the back for my confidence and sewing prowess
11. Cut fabric
12. Sew hem! Hurrah! Done! Lightning fast! I can go have a nap soon!
13. Try on dress
14. WHAT THE HELL?
15. It barely covers my arse. This is not decent. I cannot leave the house like this
16. WHAT DID I DO WRONG?
18. It should be 14 CENTIMETRES. I cut 14 INCHES
22. OH BLOODY HELL
25. Go make a cup of tea and lie on the floor for 20 mins, tearfully watching Vine compilations, to ease my distress
25. Eventually I realise I still have the original fabric off-cut, and thankfully its relatively straight and intact. There is a glimmer of hope
26. Pin off-cut to grossly inappropriate hem. Luckily the pattern means that any new join would not be very visible to most people
27. Sew off it back on, less the 14cm, that was originally meant to come off
28. Project complete. Just. Phew. That was close
29. Hope like hell every time I wear dress that everyone will think mismatched hem is a funky design feature and that I am a creative genius.
So yep. I got there in the end, but this kind of thing always happens with my sewing projects because I’m just not that fussed on detail or checking things. I’m impatient and impulsive and don’t like instructions.
That saying ‘measure twice, cut once’, as important as I know it is, I go more along the lines of ‘measure once, in a very-half-arsed way, sew 2-3 times, and maybe cry along the way’.
Please learn from my carelessness and emotional rollercoaster of a story. But also, I wanted to share in an honest way because I hate it when I read personal fashion blogs and these little DIY posts are always such an insufferable, smug, breeze. When the entire project consists of just one sentence that reads: ‘and then I crafted this 1952 Chanel replica ballgown from nothing but some vintage tea towels and tulle and voila! Now here’s 93 photos of my weekend in Paris wearing it along the Seine, with my impossibly hot boyfriend, isn’t my life so-fucking-glorious’. It breeds a culture where we all pretend that no-one in blog-land makes any mistakes ever, or screws anything up. I bet we all do! That’s the journey. Where the sense of achievement comes from when we do pull it off. Right?
And so my misadventure ended well, eventually. And now I get to present my newly altered vintage dress…with a dodgy hem…in all of its glory…which I’m hoping I can distract people from thanks to a bold and clever use of accessories, buying them a pint, and my shapely calves!
SANDALS: Swedish Hasbeens
SUNGLASSES: Happy to Sit on Your Face