Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pearl & Elspeth goes corporate!

Well, not really, but I did just make a couple of my version of 'corporate' dresses for a woman who, sadly, works in an environment where the colours grey, navy and black dominate, and armpit hair must be covered. What is the world coming to? Luckily, Ali can see beyond her restrictions, and saw the possibilities for a P&E infused corporate wardrobe. What a champion. She was an absolute delight to deal with, sending awesome guidance and ideas through to me, but also letting me get creative. I'd say, in fact, she was the perfect client. And she's now the proud owner of these little babies.

So. The interaction went something like this (including a selection of quotes, because the emails were pretty funny). I've also put it in typewriter font , so you know it was written correspondence, even though it was over email, which is not usually typewriter-like:

Ali: Can you make me a couple of corporate dresses with sleeves to cover my "armpit hair of doom"?

P&E: Absolutely! What were you thinking?

Ali: Mostly navy, black or grey, but "I was thinking of adding cuteness/detail somewhere in the form of (a) little buttons on the sleeves, (b) lining/trim on the pockets in your nice vintage tablecloth fabric (c) trim/hem elsewhere in the tablecloth fabric, with any of those details up to you subject to how much of a pain in the arse any of them will be, and how nice you think they'll look." Oh and I like REALLY BIG, DEEP POCKETS!

Then she kindly emailed me some pictures of dresses she already has and some dresses she likes.

P&E: Sounds super-fun! Check out my blog and see if you like some of the other stuff I've made.

Ali: "I love the dramatic lines of the full skirt & defined waist of the wedding dress particularly- the full-circle skirt profile is what I prefer (some kind of alternate 1950's vision where ladies worked high-power corporate jobs in delightful outfits seems to be the fashion fantasy I like to inhabit)."

At this point I pretty much fell in love and my brain started planning in over-drive. I settled upon 2 of my vintage patterns, both original 50s designs which, my Nana helpfully pointed out, have what's known as 'cape sleeves'. CUTE!

For sizing, rather than my usual "send me your measurements" style of fitting, I asked Ali to send me one of her dresses that fits REALLY well. I put it on Florence, and adjusted her so that the dress fit her perfectly. Then all I had to do was make sure the new dresses fit Florence, and felt pretty confident they'd fit Ali as well!

The charcoal coloured dress has a panel on the back which is, I believe, the product of what is alternately identified as fate/divine intervention/a hum-dinger of a coincidence. I, in some kind of brain-lapse bought not enough of the grey fabric. I happily set about cutting out the frock, only to let out a fairly lengthy string of swear-words when I realised my error. Luckily for me THAT VERY DAY a package had arrived in the mail from my friend Claire, containing some awesome linen, one item of which being a tablecloth that was, I thought, perfectly complimentary to the grey fabric I was running short on. Conundrum solved, and the grey dress now has a lovely detailed back-panel and matching (albeit invisible) pockets. Hallelujah!

The pockets proved to be the most challenging achievement of my sewing career thus far, I reckon. I have never really done proper inset pockets. I knew theoretically how they're done, having half-done a couple before, but I was nervous about doing them on Ali's dresses because I knew they had to be just so. But I was careful, took my time, didn't drink too much red wine, and they turned out REALLY WELL! if I do say so myself... The only problem with them is that when I came to take the pictures for my blog, as you will see, they are so well done that they are, in fact, almost invisible. So you'll just have to look closely and/or use your imagination.

Speaking of photographing, I was musing today over the generally sloppy nature of the photos I post on my blog. Obviously, these are meant to showcase my sewing rather than photographic skills. But I think they also give some insight into the general nature of the environment in which I sew. That is, surrounded by 2-little-kids-chaos, with toys, craft projects, babies and cats permanently in the background. I like to think of it as a little somethin' somethin' you don't normally find in your average sweatshop.


  1. How glorious! Congratulations on your pocket triumph - I love the red + white diagonal detail which looks like like postage / airmail design amidst the sternness (but gently firm) of the grey.

  2. The red & white is actually polka dots. Stern contrast-striped businessladywear with a secret pocket full of polka dots! I am wearing this dress today and can't get over how good it is. Full-skirt swishing at work is the bomb.

    Thank you SO MUCH Annie, these dresses are amazing. And your work on the pockets is very clever indeed!

  3. Wowee... Well done and a match made in crafty sewing dress heaven! x