So, as I discovered during Me-Made-May, I’m sartorially a bit of a cutesie when it comes to homemade outfits. Which is rather frustrating, as personality-wise I’m aiming for more sophistication and sass. Small does not have to equal cute.
And thus I nearly fell over myself in excitement when I discovered Capital Chic Patterns’ Martini dress. London and cocktails embodied in an oh-so-2015 dress? Yes, please!
I came across the pattern on Fiona’s lovely blog, and, inspired by/stalking her, tracked down some similar stretch cotton sateen on Goldhawk Road. I’d actually had a fancy of getting some hot pink and bright red, and doing a clashing combo, but the colours on offer were a little more sensible than I’d envisioned and so I decided to go all classic classy with navy and white.
I was so excited by the thought of making something this stylish that I didn’t properly read the pattern blurb. If I had, I would’ve known that Martini comes up on the small size, so I probably should’ve gone towards a 12 rather than a 10. Except around the waist, where the 10 was perfect. Oh, and across the shoulders, also smaller. But not on the bust, probably needed a 14 there. My goodness did I get in a pickle with this one. I made a toile, and ended up hacking about the top part, and then hacking it about again once I’d actually made it up. And it’s still far, far from perfect. The fitting – seriously – my body is weird…
It would be too dull/traumatic to dwell on my extensive fitting issues so I’ll just haul up an example: when the zip went in it was initially snaking up and down my spine like the Loch Ness monster. I tackled this with a (sort of) swayback adjustment. As I understand it, swayback adjustments are supposed to deal with excess fabric at the lower back – but my excess fabric was sticking out rigidly at the top, like a little dino hump, and the only way to resolve it seemed to be pinching out the excess at the seamline between skirt and bodice. I pinched out a whopping 1.5 inches on both sides! Probably worth noting for any other shorties tackling this pattern.
The hardest part, other than the fitting, was the lined skirt vent – kind of a pain, kind of a joy. I really had no idea what I was doing, and in spite of a generous amount of instruction, just couldn’t get my head around it for ages. Then, suddenly, late one night whilst dozing off to sleep, it clicked. Just like that. And the next day it came together, well, if not quite like a breeze, at least like an enthusiastic gust.
Overall, I reckon Martini is definitely a pattern for more intermediate/patient sewers/taller people with smaller bosoms (the darts on my version are still too high). I actually don’t think I’ve ever sewn anything quite so fitted throughout before, and in that respect it’s been a fantastic challenge, and one in the end I’m quite proud of facing up to.
And so I look back on this project with something approaching fondness. Yes, my toile was like a corset, yes, I then overcompensated and made the top far too big and flappy, yes, I swore at the skirt vent and then nearly cried, yes, I sewed too close to the zip and then actually had to be unpicked out of the dress the first time I tried it on – yes, I floundered about all over the place. But – look! All’s well that ends well, and all’s especially well that ends up making you feel like a slinky, sexy Martini-mama. Seriously, I loved wearing this. I’m now in the process of trying to create a new muslin (or basically completely redrafting the bodice/top) so I can transfer all my alterations back to the master pattern ready for my next one. And there will be a next one – I’ve got winter dreams of sleeved versions in crepe and wool, plus I may just have offered to make one for my friend… Has anyone got any recommendations for another Capital Chic pattern to try?