Making My First Folk Dress #Sewing

Last year I completed the Artist’s Way** book, and I was surprised as I wrote the morning pages how much I would write about my desire to start sewing.

(**For those of you who haven’t heard of the Artist’s Way it’s a 12 week course in book format that helps you to “rediscover your creativity”. Part of the programme is doing your morning pages where you write three pages of A4 every morning. You write a stream of consciousness and let yourself write whatever is on your mind.**)

As part of the Artist's Way programme you read back over your morning pages. In this process you find out about your secret desires and also what’s in the way. I found that I really wanted to sew, but didn’t really know where to start.
My sister bought a sewing machine about 7 years ago and we had a go at making a dress together. We found the process to be frustrating; the machine was complicated to work and the final dress didn’t fit.

I've noticed that we often put up roadblocks for why we can’t do things, various excuses which make what we want to do not possible. I had stories and excuses like...“Sewing machines are expensive”. “I hated the sewing machine last time”. “I don’t know where to start”.
I decided to slowly follow my interest by watching videos on Youtube. I discovered that’s there is a huge resurgence in hand sewing. I found a few hand sewing Youtube channels that really inspired me, including Bernadette Banner and Din Life. I realised if I wanted to sew I didn’t need a machine after all, I could do it all by hand!

The next roadblock for making a dress was dressmaking skills, because I didn’t have any! In my mind it was all cutting out complicated shapes and piecing them together, which to me seemed very confusing and stressful. Once again I followed my interest and found myself researching traditional folk costume in Eastern Europe, and historical dress. I discovered that many of these period pieces were made out of rectangles. The gathers and the placement of the rectangles can make very flattering shapes. So, I set to work designing and creating my first dress.

Making the dress was an amazing learning process. Part of these historical shirts, which is different to a modern top or dress is they have gussets in the arm pit. There is a square of fabric sewn under the arm, for more freedom of movement.

I really enjoyed sewing it all by hand. I found the french seams to be particularly satisfying. I wore the dress to a small party with some school friends. As soon as I arrived at the party my friend commented, “I love your dress” to which I gleefully replied “I made it”. It was such a buzz!
The final result!
Here you can see the sleeve gussets. The beautiful linen blend fabric is by TheRagShop
Very proud of my teeny tiny front button closure
Here's a closeup of the gathering
All ready for the party! With my beautiful baby Bobby
What do you think of the dress?
Are you a sewing geek like me?
Do you know about any resources for historical or folk sewing?
- Comment below -
Thanks for reading :-)
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