A place where a wee Scot can talk about the stuff she bores other folk with. Sewing, The Beatles, cats, and zumba may feature...

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Ooh Betty, the cat's done a whoopsie on the carpet

Not long now till the first afternoon of the dressmaking class I'm taking at The Makehouse here in Victoria. The pattern I've chosen is one I bought in Manchester's Imperial War Museum gift shop (of all places!) during a trip back home in August. It's the Mad Men inspired Betty Dress by London-based pattern/fabric/workshop company Sew Over It.

I'd been eyeing up this pattern for months, as well as the 1940s Tea Dress, so I just couldn't resist buying them both when I saw them in the museum gift shop. Not to mention I saved money on having to pay postage if I'd ordered them while in Canada. Score! And just check out that sweet retro vibe on the packaging...that alone is worth the money.

My first idea was to do the 1940s Tea Dress at the dressmaking course, mainly because I am in love with the pattern (and it's very similar to a fave worn-till-it-fell-to-pieces Primark dress). I even have fabric for it already! A bargain that I got from a lady selling remnants on UsedVictoria. I paid $15CAD for just under 3m of this gorgeous Amy Butler Honeysuckle Bloom in Rose rayon challis. I'm not hugely knowledgeable about what rayon challis is or how to work with it, but the Tea Dress pattern calls for drapey material, so I think I'm not too far off with this.

Even though I have my dance card marked for the Tea Dress, after talking to the course instructor (and my dressmaking friend back home in Glasgow), I was given some good advice to work on the Betty Dress first, and treat the Tea Dress as my Second Big Project. So Betty love, you've pulled!

Now Betty is rather a greedy gal, and requires 4 and a half blooming metres of lightweight cotton fabric (or only 3m if your fabric width is 140cm) which I think is all to do with the skirt, though I will find out soon for sure! That put me in a quandary as I only have 4.5m of one cotton fabric right now (in fact, it's very unusual for me to have that much yardage...or should that be metreage?...of any fabric) and it's the belovely and so cute it's criminal Timeless Treasures Kitty Chronicle! I've been making tonnes of tote bags from this material all summer, and have been wanting to make a dress from it ever since I saw this beauty on Modcloth.

Back in April this year, I made my second ever tote bag when my friend Stef announced she was holding a fundraiser to help stray dogs in Romania (where the level of cruelty, abuse, and neglect meant she just couldn't stand idly by and ignore the poor doggies' plights - check out this website for more info and how to help http://www.animalrescuecrew.org). She was looking for raffle prizes and I thought, well I have virtually no spare cash to donate to the cause but I could make something as a raffle prize. So I set out on an online hunt for the perfect doggy fabric. But the thing is, Stef is the craziest cat lady on the planet. No, you think I'm exaggerating as you dear reader probably think you/your girlfriend/mum/sister/co-worker/exercise instructor is the craziest cat lady you know. You're not, I can assure you. Stef is.

I'd had success with making my first tote bag as a reversible bag, so decided to pay tribute to Stef (and of course I am mum to 3 furry babies myself, and even I don't rank myself in the crazy cat lady echelons that Stef inhabits) by having both dog and cat fabrics used in the bag. During my search, I came across the fantabulous Timeless Treasures companion fabrics of the Canine and Kitty Chronicles. I ordered both and have had so much fun with them ever since. My tote bag also raised £85 towards the Romanian dog appeal, so I was pleased as punch to have helped contribute to it, from across the ocean and far away.

After the success of the raffle bag, I've been selling these bags at local markets all summer long and they are by far my most popular tote bag. I still have one or two left in my Etsy shop too. Now that I am using up my precious last lot of Kitty Chronicle fabric for the Betty Dress, I will need to order more. I know I could easily have a whole bolt of it and never run out of things to make from it! Just look how cute the stories on it are, I never get bored of looking at them.

My only reservation about using this print for the Betty Dress is that I read, somewhere (I think it was in the Sew Over It Betty sewalong?) that one-directional fabrics are not recommended for this make. I have been looking for alternatives on fabric.com (and inspiration on the Betty Dress pinterest board) but money is tight and I can't really afford 4.5m of anything right now. So When Betty Met Kitty it is! Now I just have to find some quarters so I can wash the Kitty Chronicle (and dry it) in time for Saturday (since I moved to Canada I've not had a washing machine in my apartment, which seems quite common here. There is a special laundry room here in my condo building and the washing is a dollar each time and the dryer is 50cents. It mounts up I can tell you! And not a single bit o banter about Galloway's Mince either...;)
The Steamie by Tony Roper is an extremely well-beloved Hogmanay telly classic about the old Glaswegian public wash-houses (steamies) and the hardy women who inhabited them
Oh, and I nearly forgot...but using the Kitty Chronicle fabric will also make me eligible to enter my very first online Sewing Challenge! Miss Crayola Creepy blogs out of California (I first came across her blog when I was slevering over various bloggers' retro makes during the Mad Men Challenge earlier this year - which hopefully I'll be able to enter next year). Now having followed her for a few months, I was so excited to read about the Cat Lady Sewing Challenge she is hosting this month, as it's right up my street. Her button for the challenge is the first I've installed here on the blog. So many firsts this month! The judging of the best cat-themed fabric finished item takes place by joining this Flickr group, if anyone reading this wants to take part too. Or you can hashtag #catladysewingchallenge on Instagram.

I have no hope of winning if I'm making a dress that is a close copy of a Modcloth dress but it's the taking part that counts. Although if you truly do get extra points for having cat hair on your finished dress, then I'm in with a massive shout! PS is it wrong to want this book for christmas?