In a couple of weeks time, I shall be going to the US for some work-related events, chief among which is delivering a talk in this public lecture series. I don’t mind admitting that I’m the sort of person who thinks about what they will wear some time in advance of such an occasion. My lecture is about the intellectual and material lives of women in revolutionary Philadelphia — and I wanted to combine the material with the intellectual in another way, by delivering it in an outfit I’d made myself. So this is the dress I have made — the first of what I imagine will be many tweedy endeavours this Autumn.
The pattern is Vogue 8469, and I made it with two fabrics: russet coloured tweed I bought on Harris a few weeks ago, and Liberty tana lawn, in a print I’ve always liked — a sort of pleasing paisley rendition of cut apples and pears. I really love the combination of warm tweed and light lawn. I find both fabrics simple but luxurious – and together – very seasonal.
I wanted to make a dress which was made of tweed, but which was not stereotypically tweedy — that is, I did not want it to look the least bit matronly. I think tweed is ideally suited to winter dresses, and can look very feminine — the diagonal weave of the fabric makes it hang so beautifully, and this can also suit womanly curves (not that I have much in the way of curves, mind, but still…) Anyway, I picked a light, feminine pattern and made a few modifications to suit the tweed fabric. The principle change was to replace the recommended gathers on the bodice and skirt with darts. Tweed does not like gathers, but the darts worked out just fine. The waist ties are also folded in the pattern, but this would have produced a very heavy belt, so I lined them instead in the contrasting lighter fabric. My final modification was to accent the neckline and hem. I cut long strips of bias binding from the tana lawn, and bound the seams in exactly the same way you would the edges of a quilt. I love the way this looks. The pattern is a good one, with well-thought out, simple details. I tend to like vogue necklines, and this one is cut very nicely.
Though reasonably simple, the sewing required some focus and concentration to get right. I’ve been working on it a little bit each day.
The end result is a frock that fits well, hangs nicely, which can be worn in a few different ways, and that I will be very pleased to deliver my lecture in. I like it so much, in fact, I am already contemplating making another. Meanwhile, I am knitting a rather foolish hat of russet hue that can be worn with the dress. (Worry not, I’ll remove the hat when I give my talk).
In this final pic, you can see me running to John Lewis to buy a couple of hooks and eyes for the top closure.