Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My Crafty Life Part Two

By the time I was a teenager I was making a lot of my own clothes. Some by choice, but not all. Living with a Mum brought up on "Make Do and Mend" sometimes meant going without if you couldn't sew it yourself. Not that it was all bad, though. I was able to knit myself a "picture jumper" (pink clouds, purple mountains - hey, what can I say? it was in my black phase) when they were the right thing to have. And take my jeans in to make them tighter. Always had to have those inspected before I sewed,  just in case I was in danger of cutting off my circulation. But what I really remember is the designing and making of my "formal dress".

Once upon a time, in the days before Proms had been heard of (here), our Upper Sixth decided to have what we called a "Formal". It was simply arranged, just a meal and a band; but we still spent many happy hours in the Study room planning our dresses.

Mine was to be grey (faux) silk, I decided (still in my black period, I wanted something like the one the girl from New Order wore on Tops of the Pops). With a dropped waist. Nothing like it in the shops, of course, and I probably wouldn't have had the money for it anyway. But we did find the fabric and my Mum helped me to put it together She sewed pintucks round the hem and found a length of black velvet ribbon for the shoulder. We took jet beads from an old evening bag and made a new one and she loaned me a silver bangle and a crystal necklace; and I put on the dress we had made and I had a wonderful night.


I wore it again a year later when, as new girlfriend of the previous year's Head Boy I had drinks in the Headmasters study. Different do, different school, same dress. I felt very grown up. That's us in the photo. We don't look like that today. But the dress hasn't changed. It still looks a bit like a sack. And that is just the way I like it.

My Crafty Life - every day this week.

27 comments:

Alison said...

Do you still have the dress Sian? I would never in-a-month-of-Sunday's been able to make anything wearable..am very impressed!
Alison xx

Mary B said...

Love the story of the dress that would have made a good one for Story telling Sunday

Scribble Monster said...

Brilliant Sian. To still keep it shows preserving memories is in your genetic make-up.

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

Fantastic - looking forward to day 3!

angelfish said...

Lovely to hear the story of your dress at last. You mentioned you would share it, when I wrote the story of my own dress.
Loving the series so far:)

Karen said...

Reading your posts this week is bringing back all sorts of happy memories - I think that that's a big part of reading other people's blogs.

Lovely page too.

JO SOWERBY said...

i remember her wearing that dress on totp, heehee. love the idea of u not being able to dress twinkle, i loved cutting her out carefully and dressing her up in each lil outfits,
jo xxx

ps i was bemoaning the lack of sewing skills children learn last week with some friends

Cheryl said...

impressed by this! although the jump ahead in years surprised me. it means though that i'm intrigued by what tomorrow will bring.

Sian said...

Alison - yes, I still have the dress

Cheryl - you have got me thinking about jumping ahead. We're only teenagers in that photo!!

debs14 said...

I love the way your stories are making me look back at my memories too. Can't believe there was ever a time when I made most of my own clothes. One of the hazards of being 5ft 1in, you learnt to alter and make or do without!
Can't wait for the next installment.

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

This is so cool, Sian. I made a few of my clothes when I was a teenager, even made a few dresses for formals. I don't have the articles of clothing now, but I do have some photos somewhere... you've got me thinking about digging them out...

Maria Ontiveros said...

Oh Sian,
how I've missed reading your blog while on vacation. Such a treat to come back and find this wonderful series. My mom made my 8th grad graduation dress to my specifications, and I loved it!
Rinda

Alana said...

I blame my mum for my inability to sew...she's a dressmaker by trade and so I asked asked mum. She made what I called my 'curtain' dress. Yep made out of a pair of silky jade curtains. It was in the 80s and had a dropped waist too. Must dig that photo out.

Lizzie said...

Sounds like a veeeery cool dress, Sian! I did learn to sew when I was at school and took the needlework option in 6th form General Studies.
In 5th form, we were supposed to wear dresses or blouses (with winter skirt) of certain blue shades. We could either buy them from particular shops, or make them ourselves, using "approved" patterns and fabric sold to us direct from school. My mum bought me enough light blue and royal blue fabrics for two dresses. I made a light blue summer dress, but I didn't use the royal blue for school clothes - oh no! Tiered "gypsy skirts" were "in" that summer, so I made myself a royal blue, ruffled & layered skirt, trimmed with coloured ribbons. I thought I was something special... and the "school dress" was easy to adapt as a "home dress" for the summer holidays!
I haven't made any clothes for a long time. No worry that I won't remember though - we had a fab needlework teacher and the lessons "stuck" good and proper!
If you still have your lovely "Formal" dress, won't you take a photo for us?

Sian said...

A photo? I guess I could; but I think I'll always prefer the photo here of it in its prime! Thanks to its excellent sack-like qualities I could probably still get into it too!

Jennifer said...

A terrific post and I am loving this series! So impressed that you actually were able to sew your own dress. How great to recreate something that a celebrity wore. A terrific photo. The LO is lovely. Love how you have velvet black as an embellishment to tie in an aspect of the dress. Love the text background, tag and upper left button embellishment!

Jo said...

How great that you made your own clothes. I wanted to do dressmaking at school but my mum made me do physics, I know which would be more useful to me now! I'd love to see the whole dress :)

Sandra said...

What a fun series, just shows your can do spirit.

Clair said...

Still a mere novice at sewing, I can't imagine being able to create something I'd actually want to wear - what a great skill to have. And so many memories created at the same time as the clothes :)

Ginger said...

Really love your series this week Sian :) That's a great photo and I love how you carried the black ribbon theme throughout the layout!

alexa said...

Sewing silk must have been a skilful job! I remember my Mum making me a pink taffeta skirt and white blouse (hmmm) for our school formal. I don't think I had as much fondness for it as your lovely dress. :) Your Lo is just perect, with those formal black-tie touches.

Melissa said...

How awesome that you were able to make your own clothes even that young! My Mama made a lot of our clothes and really they were pretty nice, but of course I wanted the store bought stuff that everyone else had at the time.

Clare said...

Mum talks to me about when you made your own clothes as a matter of course (no Primark back then!) My Granny made me ra-ra skirts and I knitted my own jumpers (using those jumbo needles) I also made a formal dress in my late teens - although I remember worrying all night that the seams might pop open! Your dress looks like it was much better constructed!

Sandie said...

Lovely post Sian. I love the description of your dress (like a bit of sack). I've photos of dresses I made myself in younger days - thought I looked wonderful at the time and now smile at my effort.
Life was so much more simple and satisfying then.

Gail said...

Love the layout and your story. When I needed special dresses my Mum made them for me. I think I only ever made 1 thing (a skirt) that I ever actually wore in public. :) I need to find somewhere that gives lessons - I do have a sewing machine so thats a good first step. :)

S said...

Lovely layout and wonderful story. Reminds me of a story about why I didn't go to Senior Prom . . . but that will have to wait for another Sunday too.

Jimjams said...

Wonderful page and thank you - prompting memories of my own - I used to think nothing of running up a new skirt, adding panels in my jeans to make the flares wider, or even a new party/evening dress - so much more unique (and cheaper) than I could buy!

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