Collaborate on a scrapbook dress

The fantastic Lucy is getting married this year, and for her hen do as a bride tribe we decided to do something a bit special… a scrapbook dress!

Lucy is a lifelong Sound of Music aficionado, which quickly became the theme for her hen weekend.  For those who aren’t familiar with the Sound of Music in the film, our hero – Maria turns unwanted curtains into play clothes for the seven children in her care. Now let’s be honest Maria was ahead of her time, she was re-crafting unwanted curtains into wearable works of art, long before upcycling boards on Pintrest were in vogue.

Updating this for 2018 and a group of women who have never met, scattered across the country, the plan was to crowd source the fabric from the hens and make an outfit that would become a wearable scrapbook dress for Lucy from her favourite ladies.

There were no limitations to fabric submissions the more patterns/ fabric/colours the better – Sound of Music meets the Joseph and his Technicolour dream coat!

It was such a joy watching each piece of fabric arrive in the post – mostly from women I’d never met. Each telling a different story of their relationship with Lucy: be that in-jokes about cows, trips to Venice, University sports teams, a school tie or club t-shirts from memorable nights out. There was also a fair amount of crazy cat lady fabric!

My submission was a Bintang t-shirt, purchased like countless backpackers before in Bali, when I visited with the bride and groom-to-be six years ago. I also asked the groom-to-be for a submission and he managed to track down the t-shirt he was wearing the night they had met – I have to admit it had seen better days! (sorry Josh)

Lucy’s sister hit the jackpot and uncovered Lucy’s childhood comfort blanket, which was significantly chewed and rather disgusting. Plus Lucy’s childhood safari bedspread!

All this lovely random assortment of fabric was a bit intimidating – and cutting up people’s memories felt a tad sacrilegious! But that satisfaction of newly cut fabric and endless opportunity came back as soon as the rotary cutter came out! Having never drafted a pattern before I thought it was best to attempt a circle skirt, which I understood how to do in principle, and a pinafore top – so fit wouldn’t matter too much.

Using the 30° angle on my cutting board I cut the fabric into 12 pizza slices. I then arranged these on the floor until I got a good contrast of colours and textures around the skirt. ?

I then sewed these together with a 10mm seam allowance to create the circle. This was a bit of a nightmare as sewing jersey to cotton to reyon was a bit problematic, but it came together semi neatly. I finished the woven fabric seams with a zig zag stitch but left the jersey ones to their own devices.

Here’s where the maths comes in!

A UK size 10 is a 34 inch waist.
c/π = d
34/3.14 = 10.8 inches. Which is a radius of 5.4 inches.

I marked this onto my fabric and then cut out the centre for the waist. Then attached this to an elastic waistband to create the skirt. I trimmed the hem edges into something resembling a circle and then hemmed the woven fabrics.

To create the pinafore top I roughly traced around the bib section from my Tilly and the Buttons Mila pattern. Using the crazy cat lady fabric as the top and sewing a netball crest on for detail, didn’t bother with interfacing – there was enough going on already! The jungle fabric worked nicely as a lining.

For the back I wanted to try something a bit more complicated – one day I will learn how to quilt and this was my first attempt at piecing. Sewing together the different fabrics in small pieces was a bloomin’ nightmare and I regretted starting almost immediately. After a lot of swearing, unpicking and restitching I did manage to finish it – honestly I had a defeatist – ‘it’ll do’ attitude at this point. ?

The school tie and the section of comfort blanked worked perfectly for straps. Then it was just a case of adding button holes, sewing on the buttons and we were done!

I’m sure you will agree Lucy looks blood marvellous in it!

Make it your own

Obviously a Sound of Music themed hen do is quite a niche reference but this is a great way of channelling your sewing instincts into a personal and useful memento for a special event. Asking all the attendees to collaborate on it made it feel extra special – as insane as the dress looks it certainly is one of a kind!

If anyone attempts anything similar please share it on social @CatherineMakesStuff – I would love to see it!

Until next time…

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