Garment Stories: Floral Dress

This is a new category born out of my burning wish to tell this one thing… It’s not #100wears just yet for this one, and it is long way from being beyond repair, but it’s a lovely gem of a garment and the story behind it makes it even lovelier. In this case, because I made it!

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If you have followed this blog for a while – or met me in person more than once – you should have gathered by now that I am a dress person. For me those are the most comfortable and versatile garments, and I pity Western men for having stopped using them. On the other hand, in the era of skinnies and t-shirts, there is an air of something special around a dress, just because of their scarcity. Here, have a blogger quote about all that amazingness:

I wore only dresses for three months in 2017 just to make a point about their versatility (1, 2), and now I have finally made one myself. Aplaudiment! But it started with another dress and my desire to refashion… I picked a dark blue summer dress from my mom’s wardrobe during the same purge that the gingham dress. But this one is not made from jersey and is way too big for me as it is, so fixing it is not that straightforward. I brought it to Carmen at Opció Taller (the best place ever in Barcelona to get your sewing or shoemaking classes, for real) and she, finally tired of me winging it, suggested I finally do a pattern-making course because then I’d have my ‘base pattern’ to fix garments against.

So I joined one of her joyful mini-classes (sharing the professor with only two other fun ladies) in February, and went through the motions of measurements and pattern construction once a week. Just to calm my productivity anxiety, I was sewing the second yoga mat bag meanwhile.

What normal people do for the base-pattern class is to buy cotonet – the rustic 100% cotton used mostly for 3D pattern making – or to use some other no good fabric (old sheets, etc.) to do he second stage of pattern making, actually stitching it all together and trying it on a body. With no malicious intention but with my waste reducing subconsciousness clearly alert, I just ignored the idea and showed up without such material. Carmen proceeded to get out of her chambers of deadstock magic a loud floral fabric for me to practice on… and I fell in love. It even has a second-order story: it comes from a textile plant that Carmen’s family still owns, and they have made mostly bed linen out of it. Carmen took a bunch to Spain to cover her sofa, but Cristián protested it and to the cupboard that fabric went

Sooo… the practice went on and it just made perfect sense to actually make it into a garment instead of tossing it all out, mistakes and all. My 3D pattern got a skirt, and hand-basted all together, this is what I had:

Then on to the machine it went for some proper sewing:

Many firsts happened on this dress. Not only my first bust pattern, first darts, first sleeves, first pockets, but also my first neckline facing

…and three invisible zippers, because I really wanted trustworthy pockets (and no purses)!

I hadn’t taken into account that this floaty volume is not backpack friendly: it rides up and exposes my bum… Bah! So no backpack with this dress until I finally make the tulle petticoat I’ve been wanting since forever. Meanwhile, as you can see above, for additional comfort it works fine with trousers underneath. We’ll see how the fabric will feel in the sweaty Barcelona summer and how it will wear, both my stitching and the fabric. Already after the first few wears it seems that it is prone to piling, ugh… This is what happens when you live off random deadstock. Will keep you updated!

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What have you been up to, my talented friends? Have you done any life-giving fixes recently? Made any garments? Or is there something you would like to fix and don’t know how to? A fun fabric you keep looking at and sighing wistfully?

Garment Stories: Hunting Ensemble Beanie

This is a new category born out of my burning wish to tell this one thing… It’s not #100wears just yet for this one, and it is long way from being beyond repair, but it’s a lovely gem of a garment and the story behind it makes it even lovelier.

The cutest thing happened last week. I received the best gift in a long time. And here comes my lesson learnt (as a receiver of such gift) about gift giving: the best material gift is the replacement of something the receiver loved and then lost/wore out/grew out of. Of course, this is not applicable to irreplaceables (pets, people, etc.), so don’t be daft about it, but if you know somebody well enough to know that they have lost a material possession they were fond of, that would make sense to own again and haven’t replaced it yet, here’s your perfect opportunity to show how loving and attentive you are. Boom!

The other way of telling this is ‘my partner gave me a hat that’s very similar to the hat I had until last February and I couldn’t be happier about it’.

So going back a while… I found a red knitted hat among C’s possessions in 2013/2014. I have no idea where it came from, but it was cute and practical, and I started wearing it. As an adult I’ve developed sensitive ears, and year-round swimming (and hating the blow dryers) and bicycle wind don’t help. And I always felt cool when wearing. Few things have that power, so I cherished the little red beanie.

With time it got a patina of meaning and inside jokes, especially about being part of the crew taking after the aesthetics associated with Jacques Cousteau and Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. But during a beer festival in February 2018 I somehow lost it. Yeah, you tell me about the benefits of losing a hat in -17ºC Latvian winter. I looked for it, I wrote the organizers but that beanie was gone… the n-th proof that I am pretty reckless with my things and because of that it probably fell out of my pocket and was shoveled away by a snow/garbage truck. Sad.

I can’t even claim that all I wanted for Xmas was a little red hat, because after a few Pinterest searches I just assumed that the hat I was left with was the gray one I crocheted for C in 2012/2013, so I just wore that one. Yes, very in line with my ‘use up what you’ve got‘ ideology… it’s a fine hat, but it’s a long way from being as visually interesting as the red one. Sorry, gray hat!

I had basically forgotten about the red one when C showed up one day after work with a little package for me. Ta-dah! He had gone beyond a lazy Pinterest search and found Hunting Ensemble Fine Merino Beanie in bright red. 100% merino and made in Germany. This is what I meant before talking about perfect desired presents that bring so much joy…


The new hat also sparked an interest in learning – well, doing a basic google search – about the little red hat. Turns out it has a fun name (‘cap comforter’) and a long history in civil engineering diving that then TV made it Coustou’s trademark. Well, he was wearing it anyways and it looked good on the color TV. Read up: The Incredible Story Beneath Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat and An incredible Follow-Up to Jacques Cousteau’s Famous Red Hat. Googling ‘standard diving dress‘ you’ll see several historic photos with divers hugging the bonnet under their arm and sporting a knitted cap.

I unpicked the brand tag from my and now I have the perfect anonymous red beanie. It’s so similar to the old one I could have illustrated this with last year’s pictures and nobody would have found a difference… Ha!


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Have you received something very special this festive season? Have you ever had any successful replacements of this type? Do you lose things often?