As the days get shorter, so too do Mr. Rat’s and my chances to photograph the things we’ve been sewing. So we are trying to fit in a little bit of photography on the weekends when we go walking. It is a pleasure to be outside in the sunshine and feel the warmth on our faces just like the squirrels who so quickly hump their way through the long green-yellow grass to hide their acorns for the oncoming winter. Yesterday we walked to the local monastery gardens, one of our favorite places, and we were enchanted by the late-season scattering of roses, the cicadas chirping and rasping in the bushes, the ever-present squirrels scrambling overhead busy at their work, and the other flowers that opened up for a brief afternoon of warmer weather. We took along Marianne Moore’s book of ‘the Fables of La Fontaine,’ and read a few of them together on a shade-dappled bench. We both liked the poem about the sun and the frogs. It was a good time to rest from worry.
I wore my birthday dress, made from vintage Simplicity 5180, circa 1972. Most years I make myself a birthday dress to wear on my birthday or the weekend when we celebrate it. It makes the day feel a little more special. Do any of you readers make your own clothes for special occasions? I often make something to wear for Thanksgiving, too, but don’t always manage anything new for Christmas.
I made Simplicity 5180 in a size 8, as usual, and was impressed by the fit. There is enough ease for comfort without losing the slim and fitted look. This dress had quite a few darts: for the bust, the shoulders, the lower back, and the elbows, but was well worth the effort. I find darts to be a part of the sewing process that has gotten far less fearsome the more I sew them. Using a tailor’s ham underneath when pressing the darts helps a great deal, as does flattening out the tip of the dart by sewing a few stitches right on the edge of the fabric before tying off the point.
I took my time with the plaid matching and was pleased with the result. The fabric, a dollar-a-yard brown plaid cotton from the fabric district in Los Angeles, was very pleasant and easy to work with. It was crisp and easy to sew and didn’t pucker like the lighter broadcloths do. The midriff is fully interfaced. The only change I made was to widen the skirt, although I kept the same silhouette and style of gathers as the pattern. The pattern also includes removable cuffs and collar, which I have cut out in white linen, waiting on the sewing desk. Once I’ve finished sewing those, hopefully Mr. Rat will photograph the dress with collar and cuffs again. Although I like wearing it plain, as I did here, with the tiger-eye necklace and bracelet that I made myself with the beading supplies Mr. Rat gave me last year as a Christmas present.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.