A garment of praise

It’s been yet another busy week, with work, political stuff that I won’t bore you with here (but you can find it on Twitter if you like) and, unusually for me, two big social events.

We attended the Lord Mayor of Leeds’ Multicultural Fundraising Dinner on Friday and then Frocktails on Saturday, hosted by Laura from Sew Different. As there was no overlap between the two, I set about choosing a dress that I could wear for both, saving time, creative energy and fabric.

After seeing a beautiful dress by Needle and Thread on Instagram, I started looking for ideas and asked for help in the Facebook group that links to The Fold Line, where Vogue 9253 was suggested, with a low back modification, learning from Bryony‘s experience. I decided to use a wax print fabric that I had bought to make a dress for my 10 year old niece (more on that later!), of which I had a full 6 yards and so there was plenty for both of us.

Following Bryony’s example, I drafted a lower back (created by folding the pattern piece from the shoulder edge to the waist edge), used a shorter (8″/21cm) invisible zip and created facings for the front and back necklines.

The facing was drafted using left over pattern paper and a long quilting ruler. With one edge of the paper along the neckline edge of the front pattern piece, a parallel line was drawn 5cm/2″ from this, the upper and lower edges were drawn, then the process was repeated for the back piece. Two mirror image facings were cut for both the front and the back, from self fabric and interfacing, which was then fused to the reverse of each piece. The facings and bodice pieces were joined at the shoulder seams, then the facings were attached to the bodice neckline, pressed and understitched.

I left the full plunging neckline as designed at first, tried the dress on and then adjusted it to feel comfortable and secure. This was simple to do thanks to the facings, which I ladder stitched together by hand from the waistline upwards and finished very securely!

The construction is relatively simple and lives up to the ‘Very Easy Vogue’ branding. I cut it out one evening and had more or less completed it the next day. Having found it tricky to attach the belt neatly to the dress back, I removed it and stitched the two pieces together to create one continuous length.

I absolutely love the results and felt amazing in the dress on both occasions. It’s designed as a celebration of coming through a very tough year stronger, more confident and happy in my body again. I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped make this possible, from my surgeons and nurses to our family, friends and virtual support networks. Hila (pictured below in her spectacular poppy print dress) has been at my side throughout, even accompanying me to the biopsy, and has listened and helped me weigh up my options.

It has been with sadness that I’ve received news from others of their own struggles with breast cancer pr referrals to breast clinics but also a privilege to be able to listen, support and offer information as others have done for me.

Before I forget, here’s the dress I made for my elder niece. She asked a while ago and has waited patiently for it. I used Simplicity 1382, which has two bodice options, in age 10, with the heart cut out at the back. I used an invisible zip and Kam Snaps as the fastenings, plus a hook and eye. The contrast bands are in black linen, left from making palazzo pants last summer.

(The title is taken from Isaiah 61:3, in which the promises to God’s people include ‘… a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…’, contrasting with the dull garments worn for grief and sorrow.)

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