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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Why it is so good to sew


My sister Nancy and my 14 year old niece Sophia have been staying with me for two weeks. 

They have both being losing their minds trying to find something to wear to the wedding in September so one of the things I have done over the last three days is make them both dresses.

They both chose their own fabric (OK Nancy twice because RTW and sewing patterns are not the same size ...) and I did the measurements, alterations, and sewing.

What I did in terms of alterations was very simple but it is instructive on how hard it is to get RTW to fit a normal real body.

Here we go.

Sophia brought down a chiffon in her favourite colours purple, blue and navy. 

She is 14 and petite. However she is a competitive breast stroke swimmer and has very developed swimmer's shoulders. She is also a modest kid and has no interest in looking sleazy which seems to be the trend for young teens. The wedding is fairly formal but she felt being a short person she would be swamped in something long so we decided to do high low.

The alterations were size 14 for her shoulders, shortening the torso by 2", the skirt by 4", taking in the waist 1" and curving the centre back seam to accommodate her shoulder development.

Sophia is pleased with the result and definitely we could not have been able to find anything to fit her: like this dress does:

The braces were removed two days ago. She is so happy about that.

This is the back of a competitive backstroker

Side view so you can see the high low
Sophia's mom, my sister Nancy, has a small boned frame and she buys a size six. That was the size she cut out in her original pattern when I wasn't looking.

The fact is that Nancy has a size 6 shoulder and a 14+ hip. If you sew you get the picture.

This necessitated a trip to the fabric store that no one minded at all. In the end we decided we liked the new fabric better anyway.

Here is her dress done with the additions made to the width where she needed it. Another situation where it would have been impossible to buy anything to fit and we think she looks terrific:

And finally a mother and daughter shot, with Nancy holding up Sophia's hair to show her back (actually in case you are wondering the back right does fit, figure she was standing crooked and self-conscious for the pictures - being 14 is not the best age for posing):

So that was my sewing last weekend. 

This weekend I made a silk skirt for my daughter to wear one of the pre-wedding events and if I get my school work done early enough it is off to start on the flower girl dresses.

Wish me luck.


Anne said...

Yes, good luck! One of my three daughters is already married and another follows in a few months. I'm confused about all the pre-wedding events. I didn't have them with 1st wedding and don't know what they are. Could you tell me what they are, please?

Barbara said...

Hi Anne, We are family of the groom so that would be rehearsal dinner night before and a meet and greet to follow since there are so many out of town guests on both sides. So many outfits but that is a fun part.

Graca said...

Lucky ladies, they look great in their new dresses! What pattern did you use for Nancy's dress? It is lovely on her.

Karen in VA said...

Both dresses are just gorgeous....

Barbara said...

Hi Graca, sorry Nancy's dress is Simplicity 1420 http://www.simplicity.com/p-11719-misses-dress-in-two-lengths-with-bodice-variations.aspx

Kathie said...

Both dresses are just lovely. ...and the family resemblance between you and your sister is also lovely!

Angela said...

Lucky ladies to have custom dresses made -- and they both look beautiful! Prior to me getting back into sewing, we attended a wedding when my daughter was 13 (5 or 6 years ago). It was IMPOSSIBLE to find something for her. In the end we settled for an ill-fitting skirt and blouse. You are right, fitting even normal figures into RTW is problematic, not to mention finding a style, color, etc. that looks good. Sewing sometimes feels like a form of empowerment to me:)

Donna W said...

Beautiful dresses and beautiful ladies! This is the joy of being able to sew. Perfect fabric and perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing your sewing adventures with us! Well done...sew on!

SewRuthie said...

Good Luck! Great dresses. What a great sister/auntie you are.

mrsmole said...

Such perfect colored wedding dresses and they look so comfortable and age appropriate too! Such lucky women to have you in the family!!!!

Anonymous said...

What an attractive family wedding party......good work!


Ginger said...

Good job! Your sister and niece look lovely.

Bunny said...

Two lovely dresses and a wonderful Auntie to the rescue!

Anonymous said...

That is what I consider unselfish sewing. Those dresses are beautiful. Thanks for posting what pattern you used for Nancy's dress in the comments section.

Anne said...

Thank you, Barbara. Good luck with the wedding. Are there additional events if bride's family? The two bridesmaids to my daughter are her two sisters.

Judi Pinkham said...

Beautiful dresses! I love the fabric Sophia chose. It can be worn by any age, but on her it's like perfect for her age...fun, yet can be formal too and she looks so pretty in it!!!

Leigh said...

You did such a lovely job. They both look great.

Keep us posted on the Burda Style class. I haven't taken any of theirs, but would make an exception for sure.

Beverly said...

They both fit so well & they look lovely in them!