This beautiful piece of fabric had been sitting in my stash since February 2019. It is a really bold cerise with yellow and black swirls, on my favourite fabric to work with, African wax print or Ankara. A sewing friend and fellow minister’s wife bought it for me at a time when I was grieving the death of a friend. She wanted me to look forward to the hope of a brighter future, one that my lovely friend was enjoying right now. A future free from pain and filled with great beauty and colours so gorgeous and rich. It was such a beautiful gesture which meant a lot to me.
I wanted to use the fabric to make something special, a dress. But not too special that I would hardly wear it. I didn’t think it needed to be fussy, the fabric is statement enough. It didn’t take me long before I decided that I wanted to make the Megan dress from the book, Love at First Stich by Tilly Walnes. I think my lovely friend would have laughed to know I was wearing a dress called by her name!
Although it didn’t take me long to decide, it did take a long time before I actually cut into the fabric. Fear of messing it up, fear of crying as I sewed it, fear that I wouldn’t like the finished garment. So I waited until I was ready.
Love at first Stitch is Tilly Walnes’ first book, it’s for beginners. I got it for Christmas 2018, having sewn for several years and made many patterns by Tilly and the Buttons. I bought the book mainly for the Mimi blouse and the Megan dress. I love the sixties vibe of the Megan, and it’s simplicity. Having stalked the Megan dress on line for a while, I’d seen several versions including some in waxprint. I’d also read about some issues with the neck. So for my dress, I lowered the neckline. I’m not entirely happy with it, but I will fix that later, for now, my hair covers it!
I made a straight size 5, based on the finished garment measurements. For a more fitted look I should have gone for a 4 bodice, grading out to a 5 at the hips. But I wanted a little space to eat all the cake! I also lengthened the hem by 2 inches which is my usual adjustments for Tilly patterns. I fully lined it too. I don’t really like facings, I find them lumpy and they show through the garment. I like the smooth finish and luxurious feel of a lined garment.
I also decided that I would like to add a little more drama afterall. I think that 3/4 length sleeves look good on a sixties dress and they suit me. So I added the flounce sleeves from the Indigo dress by Tilly and the Buttons. Now, I have to confess, the Indigo and I are not friends. I have a partially finished one languishing in my wardrobe. The whole wide, gathered smock thing does nothing for me. I need more shape and fit to a garment. However, I do love the sleeves, so here they are.
The cotton wax print fabric makes for a nice, crisp flounce which I rather like. I really don’t like gathering, the gathers here are not evenly spaced but I don’t care, it still looks good!
I really am pleased with this dress and so glad I finally made it. It does seem poignant that I made it during lockdown at a time of a global crisis, when thousands of people are dying. Was it pointless for me to be focusing on beautiful garments at a time like this? I’m not sure. It gave me joy to make it, it gave joy to all my family, I’ve had more praise from them for this dress than anything else I’ve made!