Thursday, 19 June 2014

All's Well That Ends Well ...

What a week we've just had! My youngest daughter DD3 decided to come home for 2 weeks to resit her driving test, which she had failed four times previously a number of years ago. She works in London where a car is a burden rather than an advantage so hadn't bothered much about her lack of licence until she heard an interviewing manager berate someone for allowing someone without a driving licence to be interviewed. This manager was not aware of my daughter's position. In addition, a number of jobs were closed to her because of her lack of a licence. As she found herself between jobs, she decided to come home to take an intensive course of driving lessons and sit her test. She was having lessons for 3 hours per day and in addition her Dad was taking her out in his car. She couldn't take mine as I have an automatic.

Last Thursday evening, her boyfriend came to visit. Unfortunately, he lost or had stolen his wallet with money, cards, Oyster card, travel pass, driving licence etc. between getting off the underground at King's Cross and reaching King's Cross mainline station where he had to pick up his tickets - not easy when you don't have the credit card you ordered them on and no identification! As of tonight there is no positive word about his wallet, though his Oyster card was replaced very quickly.
On Tuesday, my daughter managed to crash her dad's car. No injuries. She was in a car park and seems to have repeatedly pressed the accelerator rather than the brake. She crashed into an empty properly parked car. DH's car is a heavy diesel car and basically swiped the other car out of the bay and the wheel of that car has totally collapsed - not a robust car! DH's car is damaged but he was able to drive it home, however, because it is so old, looks as if it is a write-off as the cost of repairs is more than the car is worth. The other car looks as if it is a write off too. And this in a car park! DD3 must have been going very slowly at the time as she had been manoeuvring into the space. DH phoned me to come get her. She was obviously distraught but had met nothing but kindness from the people around, including the owner of the other car, an employee of the adjacent shop, and indeed one woman who was delightful and turned out simply to be a passing customer. An hour later, DD3 was out for her 3 hour driving lesson.

Because my daughter was visiting, I started making her the Cynthia Rowley dress that I had previously promised. I bought a pattern I thought she might like and borrowed one from my instructor - and she unfortunately chose the latter. I was concerned as the few reviews I had read suggested it was a difficult pattern. She loved it, though, and I agreed to try if my tutor was on hand for help. Last Monday, we went to choose fabric. I had thought a nice cotton but she chose stonewashed denim - admittedly, this was a lightweight denim (though not so lightweight IMO) and was listed as suitable on the pattern envelope. I must say, that although the fabric was very thick, particularly in places with several layers and tight gathering, my new Bernina managed it well. I do like it. I love the sturdiness of the feet - and the invisible zipper foot was a joy to use. I do miss some of the bells and whistles of my other machine but I am willing to give these up for the quality and ease of stitching.

 See the rabbit ears on the back of the dress. A complex bodice. A nice jacket pattern but I'm not sure you could wear the jacket with the dress - certainly not with thick denim ears.

I had previously tried out the complicated bodice section in a muslin to check to see if I could even do it and for fit. My daughter felt it needed to be a little longer in the front bodice. The bust cups were perhaps a little large but I had no idea how to do a SBA - no problem, she'd wear a padded bra.
Last Thursday I went to my class with all the pieces cut out and started to assemble it. I looked through the pattern with the tutor to try to anticiapte any particular problems. I continued in any free time I had this week. I wasn't sure if I would get it finished but had said this would be for passing her driving test. She felt she might never get it but I said or as a commiseration for failing.

I planned a number of modifications.
·         No ties. I planned to close with hooks and eyes.
·         A slight increase in front bodice length
·         Miss out underlining as fabric already quite thick - this was a late decision and I did try unsuccessfully on a few occasions to insert it. Underlining too short.
·         I made the shorter length dress B with the wider straps from A as requested.
One unplanned modification was the need to lengthen the bodice lining quite apart that is from the lengthening I did. I read a few reviews - well 49 reviews! - and many mentioned the short lining. My tutor had thought that the underlining might pull this area up - and of course, I decided to miss out the underlining, which wasn't stitched together with the main fabric as I understand is usually the case but was added like a lining after all the darts and tucks were put in the main bodice. The underlining and the lining were the same pattern pieces. It became clear that the underlining had NOT been designed to pull up the front. While assembling the bodice, I initially accidentally missed off the lower bodice font and panicked when my underlining was too long! I adjusted the darts and pleats to fit the lining and then realised my error. So I had to redo the pleats and darts. I feel that the lining has failed to take into account the lower bodice and that this is actually a pattern error.

On Monday I was golfing but really was unable to complete my round as I was in so much pain. I'm quite a lot better now. I was also on duty at the golf tournament. I've attended the chiropractor, had an MRI and increased my intake of NSAIs.
Last night, I inserted the invisible zip into the dress. I wasn't very happy with the placement as the top of the zip was very bulky and shifted slightly but wasn't sure how to alter it. The original dress calls for rather large 'rabbit ear' ties on the back (which would cover a multitude of sins!) but in denim these would have been ridiculous. Today I was at the dressmaking class and my tutor helped me work out how to alter my zip insertion. I had to take out the top part of the zip, fortunately not the whole thing, and modify the underlying material. The zip is attached after the ruffle and lining is put on so I found it very awkward to manipulate the fabric. The gap in the centre which would have been tied with the rabbit ears was rather large. I thought that I might use hooks and eyes to close but my tutor suggested a band behind. That's what I went with and earlier this evening, finished this band closure with 4 small poppets - I had tried 1 large one earlier but this didn't work.

At class, I was asked by one of the younger 'students' (in her 30s) whether I'd like to adopt her and make her the same dress (I declined). She loved it and modelled it for me to check the top back closure.

I finished my dressmaking class at 2.30pm today, just as my daughter was about to sit her driving test. When I returned home, I busied myself completing the dress hem, poppets and stitching down the lining but began to get concerned as 3.30pm came and went and we hadn't heard. We had ingredients for a special meal (pass or fail) and champagne. A few minute later, my daughter arrived home - and she had PASSED!  She had a very good test with only one minor fault. When the examiner told her she had passed she burst into tears. When he learned that she had sat it a few times previously, he told her she was her own worst enemy. How many people do you know who have written off 2 cars and passed their driving test in the same week?

So, we had a photo shoot of DD3 wearing her new dress, holding a glass of champagne and her old L plates had been modified - also seen in photos.

I enjoyed making the dress for my daughter. It's certainly not a style I'd wear so I'd have no call otherwise to attempt this pattern. It was slightly frustrating but a lot of fun too and I feel a real sense of satisfaction in having completed it. I'd make it again, though I'd prefer a finer fabric. I also don't think she actually needed the lengthening of the front bodice and would reverse this - that would make the hem more straightforward - I had forgotten about my lengthening so the hem didn't lie evenly until I corrected it. I would also continue the bodice lining to make it full length as that would be a nicer finish at the waistband. It looks good and my daughter says she loves it. She's planning to wear it tomorrow to an interview prior to starting her new job on Monday.
Tonight my daughter learned that her boyfriend was promoted at work today and that her flatmate has just gained tenure (as a barrister).  She has now gone off back to London. I gave her a bottle of champagne so they could celebrate the good things happening today. We can have a relaxing night.

So, as I said, all's well that ends well.



  1. So much for perseverance - both for your daughter finally passing her drivers test (and thank goodness no-one was hurt) and to you for making this very lovely dress.

  2. Thank you, Sarah Liz. Now we need to look out for a 'new' car for my husband - and our middle daughter still needs to pass her driving test!


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