My routine is very simple. My main tasks every week are making art, cooking, baking, cleaning, sewing, teaching and playing the piano, walking Gia, going to the library, going to church, and the occasional visit to family or a museum. Such a routine requires clothes that are easy to wash, easy to walk in, and easy to wear.
I’ve been feeling the need for more work dresses. Having a need leads to thoughts about how to best fulfill that need, so I have been thinking about what makes a good work dress. I prefer cotton and linen for most of my clothes in the spring, summer, and autumn, because the climate tends to be hot in California. When I am inside, it is usually without air conditioning, and when I am outside, I need long sleeves to protect my arms from sunburn and long hem-lines so the wind doesn't blow my skirts and dresses up. Full skirts or loose dresses make walking easier, and give me a full range of movement to sit with my dog on my lap, for instance, or be able to climb on a chair to put dishes away in the top of the cabinets. The last consideration for a good work dress is color: a medium or dark color tends to hide any smudges from cleaning or painting or Gia's hair clinging to me. So most of my clothes tend towards brown, blue, navy, black and occasionally olive green, while some of my dressier clothes are white, cream, tan, and pale blue.
With my ideas of what a good work dress should consist of, I thought that a vintage pattern from the 1990s that I acquired recently, Simplicity 9343, looked promising. I made it up in a length of thin brown cotton that I bought at the thrift store. I’m pleased with the result. The sewing machine was giving me some trouble while I sewed it (although I think I found the stray thread causing the trouble since then---the machine seems to be behaving itself for now, at least), so the seams may not be perfectly edge-stitched when seen up close, but the dress is very comfortable and easy to wear, so I am satisfied. In fact, I like it so much I have already chosen some black cotton to cut out a second dress. My only adjustment was to add cuffs instead of using elastic at the wrists of the sleeves. I sewed the dress in a size 8 and found the fit to be forgiving and the instructions very easy. I’ve seen similar smock dresses online from British designers like Egg and Cabbages and Roses. The great advantage of making a dress yourself (other than that it is much less expensive) is that you can choose your color and material to suit your own tastes. And you can make it as often as you like.
Mr and Mrs Rat
Mr and Mrs Rat like to sew.