Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Nettie: stripes and friendship

This is a dress that is marked by friendship. Despite its distinctly autumnal palette, I made it during the spring in Scandinavia. I was living in Stockholm and feeling, more often than not, cold and alone. A friend from my undergrad days was also living there at the time, and kindly invited me to spend the Easter weekend with her mother in the countryside south of Stockholm.  After so many months living in a horrid white box filled with the cheapest furniture Ikea could offer, my friend's mother's flat was a warm, artistic sanctuary filled with genuinely creative and nurturing vibes. And what's more, there was an amazing fabric shop just a ten minute walk down the road!

I didn't take any of my sewing things with me to Stockholm, but my pal was running a small workroom at the time, so she let me use it off-hours. The pattern is the jersey body-con Nettie dress by Closet Case Patterns with the mid-neck and high back option. I was between sizes at the time of cutting, so graded up a size at the hips. Now that my kanelbullar tummy is beginning to disappear, the dress is a touch loose around the waist; but it still shows everything I've eaten! I lengthened the pattern by around a foot to get the ankle-length dress length, and created the split by leaving one side seam half open. The dress goes from modest to daring at the bevel of a leg.

When I tried the dress on, it became obvious that there was something weird going on at the shoulder. I didn't have time to hem the dress, and since I am not an acrobat, I was unable to do a decent fitting on myself to sort out the problem. However, a short while later I visited another close friend from undergraduate days in Copenhagen. Dorte and I shared a table during our final year studying costume making, and I was the fit model for several of her costumes. Lots has happened in both our lives since we spent all day every day drinking tea, listening to Nina Simone, and making period costumes by hand. I forced Dorte to do a fitting on me, whereby she came up with a simple and effective solution that involved no unpicking. Then I just had to hem the dress; however after struggling with her machine for all of thirty seconds, I managed to persuade her to also hem the thing for me.

And so, this dress started with one friend, and ended with another. It got its first outing at a fantastic little jazz pub in Copenhagen where we heard great music, drank tiny glasses of wine, and ended up running for the last train home. And since my Swedish pal is set to be following me in leaving Stockholm for London, I see more good outings ahead. I'm enjoying this summer so incredibly much; but this dress is one warm light to look forward to during the inevitable fall of autumn.

Project details:
Nettie dress
Pattern: Nettie by Closet Case Patterns. Lengthened to ankle length, with a side split.
Fabric: striped cotton/viscose jersey from Sweden
Cost: around £25 for fabric and pattern

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