Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Dress repairs and discoveries

I got up early this morning as the sun was shining brightly, but instead of heading straight out to enjoy it I thought I'd make a real start on fixing the straps of a dress I bought in a vintage shop in Los Angeles.  The dress was a wee bit tight round the neck and this seemed to have put enough stress on the straps that they looked like they might come apart at any moment - not a good look! So, once again the dress had been consigned to the back of the wardrobe until such time as I got round to fixing it.

The first step was to seek advice on what to do! I already knew that just sewing it back up was probably not the most sensible option as if it was too tight in the first place it was still going to be too tight.  So I knew I wanted to add a piece of fabric in.  When fabric shopping with Jessica on Goldhawk Road I asked her advice on what type of fabric to buy.  With her help I found a fabric and the guy in the shop very kindly gave me a wee piece as a sample (I didn't lie, I did say I was only after a tiny piece).

The scraps of fabric to be inserted on the straps, with edge stitching.

I was a bit worried about it fraying so I decided to do a stitch round the edges of the pieces to be inserted.  This involved some new things for me - changing the foot on the sewing machine! I thought this would be tricky but it's easypeasy, yay!  I changed it from the 1 (which I've checked now and is the 'reverse pattern foot') to the 5, the blindstitch foot.  Do the numbers of the feet differ for different makes of sewing machine? With that hurdle over I started sewing.  I did some edge stitching (I love getting the terms from my Bernina instruction book and bandying them around like I have a clue what I'm talking about!)  round the edges of the inserts for both straps and then pinned them in place to ensure they matched - now I know they don't look like they match up exactly but it was really hard, the dress seemed a bit lopsided!  I tried the dress on to make sure it looks reasonably straight - it looks fine on so I'm happy with it.  After that I sewed them in place, using the same foot and stitch as for the hemming - was this right? I thought afterwards that maybe I should have done a different stitch or changed the foot back from the 5 to the 1?

I had always assumed the dress was handmade but as I was fixing it I noticed the label for the first time 'ILGWU Int. Ladies Garment, Workers Union - Union Made'.  It is really such a weird co-incidence to just notice this now as, for anyone who hasn't read my posts at Archives and Auteurs, I've just started a new job cataloguing the Archive of the National Union of Women Teachers.  I've written more about the excitement of discovering more about the Union behind the label on my other blog - When work and hobbies collide.  I also found this great guide on EBay for dating vintage labels with a whole page about the ILGWU.  The label I have dates from after 1964.  It was so exciting to discover all this, on top of actually fixing a dress and having it done in time for a hen do in Saturday! I just can't get over that I didn't notice this before, and that it all ties in with what I do in my work life. 

I don't have any photos of me in it - maybe after the hen do next weekend!

All that work for a tiny area of fabric like this!       

No comments:

Post a Comment