Wednesday, December 12, 2012

....Something Completely Different .....

This weekend I tried something completely different!  My daughter came home from school last week with a note saying that she is playing a Chinese Girl in the Christmas play and could I provide a costume ...... If you a regular reader of my blog then you probably know where this is going .......
We don't tend to watch very much general TV in our house but we do like to watch films.  I have always had a passion for Chinese films, like the House of the Flying Daggers, Hero, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon .... For me these films are a visual delight to watch.  I love everything about these films. The fantasy of being able to leap across roofs,  to run through the tree tops with my body bending with the tips of the trees and my gown swishing around behind me ...... Wow!  A world where anything and everything is possible .....  The use of colour combined with the scenery is amazing, especially in Hero.  This is one of favourites just for the scenery.  It is beautiful!  The costumes are stunning, the sounds and the music all add to the fantasy and mystery of the stories.  These films take me to a magical world not unlike the world in my head .....
With all this in mind, I had a good idea what kind of costume I wanted to make for my daughter .... something similar to the costumes worn by Ziyi Ziang in the House of Flying Daggers ... a Hanfu Dress.
Now before I start I am not a seamstress, there will many errors in my sewing but I had a go and that is the main thing ..... not sure I want to do this again mind you!
So, where did I start .... on the internet researching Hanfu Dresses ...... there are so many different styles and they are so beautiful .... this took a while ......
I decided upon a fairly simple wrap around Hanfu dress.  I had no idea how I was going to make it and I didn't have time to purchase a pattern so more research ..... The internet is a huge resource and I really did think I would find a free pattern that I could work with but all I managed to find was a diagram showing the shapes that you would need to cut out to make a similar dress to the Hanfu.  Ok, bit of thinking, more contemplating and some head scratching, later .........I know I'll measure my daughter and try and work it out!  I made a rough pattern out of an old tablecloth, sewed it together (I didn't take any photos) tried it my daughter and set about making some adjustments before I cut out the final one in a nicer material.
I had some material lined up.  My old duvet cover which ended up with a big hole in the middle.  It is very pretty with tiny blossoms on pale ivory.  My daughter is very tiny so I figured I would have enough to make two dresses should the first one fail.
I lay my tablecloth pattern onto my material, made my modifications and very bravely cut it all out.

There is a reason why one side of the dress is a wierd shape ... it is because I needed it to wrap around the dress a few times .... you will see what I mean in a minute.

Once I got to this stage, my confidence grew because I had the shape that I was after and all I needed to do now was to sew everything together.  Out came my sewing machine and away I went ..... It wasn't very easy material to sew and I don't want to say why because you will be thinking how extravagant is this lady having a duvet made of this .... it was bought when I was a working career lady with no children and money to spare .... oh those days of luxury!  I wouldn't change it though, my children are my world now!

Once it was sewn together, I tried the dress on my youngest son because my daughter was out with my husband and he is roughly the same size.  It fitted!  Phew!  Unfortunately my son was very disappointed that it wasn't for him and he wants one as well ...... mmmmmm!
Everything up to this point was ok! Then I came down with a chest infection and everything went a little pear shaped!  Never mind! After all my research I knew I needed to add a border all around the hemline of the dress.  I had to give my Mother a ring at this point (she is a seamstress/sewing lady who used to make her own clothes ... and mine) to double check how I was going to do this.  After carefully listening to her suggestions I ended up hand stitching the border onto to the hemline.  This was mainly because I was sewing around a semi circle and I didn't want the material snagging in the sewing machine.  I hate hand sewing!  

But, I did it and this is the result!  I still needed to add a border around the sleeves .... I left this till last ... bit tricky!

This is the finished dress, modelled by my headless daughter.  It was lovely to see her little face at each stage of the dress making.  I remember this myself when I was little.  My parents were very arty and crafty people and were always making us marvellous creations.  We would watch in anticipation as a couple of pieces of wood turned into a dolls house or a train track with a tunnel!  Or a square piece of material turned into a couple of pairs of very warm pyjamas.  Nice memories!

I have now put my sewing machine away and am looking forward to seeing my little girl wearing my old duvet cover on stage!
Sarah xx

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