Sunday, May 22, 2011

The story of a bespoke P&E

The last couple of days have seen me busily attending to a custom order for a lovely repeat P&E customer. Before I go on, can I just say that repeat customers give me the warm and fuzzies. As if it's not flattering enough that someone wants to buy the things you make, some people like to buy them again! And in Yolanda's case, AGAIN! So thanks. It feels good, and it's fun for me, and you like wearing my clothes, so seems like no losers in this situation.
While I was sewing, I was actually organised enough to take some pictures of my progress, so that I could assemble a bit of a photo essay showing what exactly goes into me making a custom piece for my sweet ol' clients.
Yolanda's order came through Georgie Love, so I first got the heads up from Sal. I then emailed Yolanda direct, to confirm what she wanted: 2 dresses, a wrap 'n go, and a skirt like the black deadwood-inspired one I made a few weeks ago. Okie dokie. Yolanda's dealt with me before, and knows I'm generally trustworthy and fairly familiar with what she's into, so was happy to give me pretty free reign on this order. Super fun times!
Firstly, I set Florence to exactly Yolanda's measurements.

Olive likes to help me with this - I think, after me, she's Florance's biggest fan.

It's my favourite time of year right now, and the days have been spectacular, so I've been working with Florence on our super-lovely verandah. Lucky me, I know...

Yolanda had ordered a dress, so I had a look through my collection of vintage patterns to see if I had anything suitable.

I ended up picking out a 50s pattern with a V neck (one of Yolanda's requests), which I then modified to include an A line skirt (another request). Easy peasy. Now for the fabric. I recently acquired a pretty spesh tablecloth, made from some kind of wacky giant flower print. Actually, it's not really that wacky I guess. Unusual, yes, but very very beautiful. This one for the dress.

Other specs included 'birds, leaves, earthy tones', so I picked out some of them too. Once I have my fabric collected, and I make sure I have enough (especially problematic for dresses as they use up quite large pieces, which are not always easy to come by when you're working with vintage finds) I start to cut out.

When I'm working with a pattern, and I have to say right here that this is a minority of cases as I generally find them good for inspiration but over-complicated to actually use, I use the above method for holding the paper in place. Borrowed from my lovely, talented and inspirational friend Nicole, this method involves the use of cans of food (and jars of sewing oddments) instead of pins, which can and do damage fabric and paper patterns, especially if you're using them over and over.

Now, because my patterns are of various sizes, a fair amount of adjustment goes into making them fit my client exactly. This is where I get serious with my pins, held safely and handily in my trusty wrist-holster-pin-cushion. Yee har! I pin the garment together on Florence, so it fits snugly in all the right places, and hangs just so. I really like this bit, as it's the first time I get to see how the garment is actually going to look.

After she's pinned, I sew it all together on the trusty Combi DX and voila! Frockage complete.

I have to admit I was a little bit pleased with myself when I tried this dress on Florence, and kind of wished I'd made it for myself. It's hot. And matches my kids' bucket and toy truck perfectly. Just what you've always wanted, right?

The second dress featured a square neck, as per Yolanda's request, and is made using a cute little pattern I made a few years ago. It's bias cut, for flattering snug-fitting-ness, and has a little tie belt. If you look here you can see another one I made a few months ago. The style also works well without the belt when you're pregnant, as Pearl found out the summer before Oscar was born.

I'm usually a huge fan of scoop necks (just because I like them for myself and am such an egomaniac I assume that means everyone else likes them too) so was slightly apprehensive about making this one with a square neck, but once Florence had it on, I realised it was right. And cute!

The skirts are also nice, though, given my pleased-ness about the frocks, a little less exciting somehow. I believe that the wrap n' go from fancy crepe-like wool blend in a lovely rusty red, with vintage kind of oriental (bamboo??) bird print pockets is suitably autumnal.

And last but not least, the ruffly Deadwood-inspired pleated black skirt.

And I actually took a photo of the ruffle this time!


  1. Oh I love that scoop necked dress. Annie, can we have our sesh soon cause there are a couple of things I'd like to get made :-) love.

  2. Simply delightful and as always inspiring! Thanks for taking the time to share your process with us... (and ohhh I get a mention!) x

  3. These are gorgeous Annie! I love the V neck black and orange dress x

  4. As always, so so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I have promised myself I will get something made by you one day.