Do you ever sew the same dress more twice? I mean EXACTLY the same dress?
For me it never happens. There's just too many gorgeous fabrics and sewing patterns - and too little time.
And I NEVER sew for anyone else - my scrappy seams are for my eyes only.
But for this dress, and for a special reason, I made an exception.
But for the first time, ever I accepted 'a commission.'
Through the powers of the internet, a very old friend, who sadly I have not seen in real life for twenty years, contacted me to ask; "Would I sew a dress as a gift for another little girl."
I pondered and procrastinated and the months went past, before she asked me again, along with the tricky question; "What cost?"
This was the dress she chose - a Louisa by Compagnie M sewn exactly a year ago. Details here. (I can't believe how Missy has grown!). And it was a good choice, the Louisa is so practical and wearable, but also elegant and quirky.
Oh my! How on earth do I cost my sewing? I like to sew wonderful fabric, you could buy a dress cheaper in the supermarket than the price of the fabric. And if I started to cost out the hours spent online-fabric gazing and planning, and cutting and seam-ripping and... and...well this dress-thing is quite simply NOT cost-effective. Really thinking about this has made me look at ready-made clothing so differently. A dress for £15 in the supermarket? It's so cheap! The cost of the cotton! The design process! It's no wonder that whoever stitched it together in a factory in Bangladesh must be paid mere pennies. And it's the thought of this exploitation that makes me want to sew my own clothes.
But I digress. I told my friend that price was impossible - I would sew her a dress if she covered the cost of the fabric and made a donation to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors without Borders.
I have been so deeply moved by the Ebola crisis and the utter heroism of volunteers and local people and this seemed like the only thing I could do.
And my friend was equally happy with the plan.
So I sewed this dress for the fight against Ebola - and that was motivation and inspiration enough to replicate a dress.
It is exactly the same. Like my first 'Louisa dress' I modified it slightly, by adding a front panel with a pair of tucks. This was relatively straightforward although required a little maths to calculate those tucks. My original dress used a scrap of Nordika Whimsicol fabric by Jeni Baker. I spent literally hours scouring the internet trying to find another fat quarter of this fabric, but I think it has disappeared from every fabric shop in the globe now.
I had no idea what to replace it with - I mean, how do you follow that Whimsicol?
Then I stumbled on the perfect replacement, Katarina Rocella's Floret Stains in Tealberry for her Indelible range for Art Gallery Fabrics. Simply stunning.
I was making this for a little girl who is just 3, so it is tight on Missy (who is four and a half). And the photos aren't our best. Just days before Missy had tripped running out of the school playground, and her lip is all puffed up. And the weather was gloomy - but I had to get snapping before putting it the post to its recipient. I made a real effort to sew this neatly. The hems are all trimmed with pink bias, and every seam is finished neatly.
This was one of Missy's most worn dresses, and I very much hope that another little girl is enjoying this fun Louisa dress. And also that in some very small way we have spread a little support to those battling Ebola.
Have you ever sewn for someone else? Or for another cause? Or tried to 'cost out' your sewing? I'd love to hear your stories!