Blue linen

For the last two or three years I’ve been trying to learn to sew. The general aim is to make things that are comfortable and stylish, which will be worn regularly until they wear out, at which time I’ll make another one. This is not a simple matter.

Take the current project. The Inari dress pattern from Named is for a beautiful sack-like garment, cocoon-shaped, with side seams that curve towards the front and are slit to above the knee, and the back hem slightly longer than the front. See I wouldn’t have known much of this from the photo, which shows a small, pretty model wrapped in a tight shift. There are other photos out there, however, and rave reviews from makers worldwide. See, for example, Randomly Happy’s blog, which gives a much better idea of the garment.

I downloaded the pattern, stuck the A4 pieces of printout together, traced a size 14 (my usual) and made it up in a light woven cotton. It didn’t work. First, the cotton had no weight to it, it didn’t hang well. Second, the little short sleeves were too tight for my middle-aged arms. Oh well, call it a (not very) wearable muslin and move on.

I had some heavy dark blue linen from the bargain table at Tessuti, which was going to become a pair of loose trousers. There was just enough for a size 16 Inari. Trace the pattern again, a size up. Add a bit of length at the bottom, 10cm should be enough. Add pockets, taken from Tessuti’s Eva dress pattern. What could possibly go wrong?


The pockets went wrong, to begin with. Pockets do my head in, but when they go right it’s worth it. These have not gone right. Is the fabric too thick? Should I have used quilting cotton or something else thinner than my linen? The pockets stick out beyond the seam, shouting ‘home-made dress’ to anyone who’s paying attention. I’ve taken them apart, tried again – nothing works.


The length is wrong. I’ve added too much. This one is easily fixed.

The sleeves are not quite as tight as in the size 14, but they are still tight. This is a size 16, for godsake. Is that shrimp-like model on the Named Clothing website trying to tell us all something? Like, don’t try this pattern unless you’ve got firm young arms.

The body of the dress, in size 16, just looks too big for me. Clearly what I need to do is to undo the side seams, forget about the pockets or make them again in a lighter fabric, cut a slice off the sides of the dress, using the size 14 pattern, and take it from there. The sleeves will still be a bit tight, but I haven’t got enough leftover fabric to cut them again. And I’ve been working on this dress for several evenings.

Also, the dark blue, on this summer dress, is very dark. Too dark. How could I not have known? I should have made trousers, and they would have been divine. Too late.

Maybe this is an opportunity for a bit of stencilling and embroidery, to lighten things up? I have one of Natalie Chanin’s books gathering dust on the shelf. Is it time for some inspiration from someone who really knows what she’s doing? Or should I cut my losses?



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