I stumbled across this fabric 2-3 years ago at an old stone and mortar mill beside the Barwon River. A beautiful old bluestone building full of vintage fabrics, antique quilts and the lovely Jen. Sadly the physical space is not longer, after being bought out by foreign investors. Luckily Jen still runs A Piece of Cloth online and has set up a wonderful home studio which I’ve had the honour of visiting.
The bodice is hand block printed cotton from the 1930’s and the skirt is a sheer Edwardian from 1900’s, both in immaculate condition. When I purchased them, I had no idea what form they would take, my only thought at the time was that I couldn’t leave them behind.
They sat nestled together in my stash for a considerable period, coming out occasionally for a special viewing and then returned to fold.
One day in December 2013 I was feeling overwhelmed and sad, so I reached for my favourite fabrics again and on this occasion I decided that in order to shift my mood I needed to create something special. So many times I’d tried to match each piece with other pieces but they never seemed to coordinate with anything other than each other.
I was able to piece the Anna bodice with a few inches of scraps to spare. Stitched and hung on the wall with the Edwardian fabric pinned as the skirt, I stood and admired the potential outcome.
I tried to use as much hand work as possible in order to preserve the delicate fabric and to honour its age and history.
The skirt is simply three gently gathered rectangles leaving no waste. All seams were french seamed, with satin bias on the neckline and waist seam. And my first hand picked zip! I followed Tasia’s tutorial here. I remember it was 47 degrees in the middle of a 6 day heat wave when the zip was picked, no air-conditioning but much satisfaction when it was completed.
This dress is a firm favourite, not only for its age and beauty but also because creation its enabled me to channel my sorrow on a miserable day and make something that is both pleasing to my eye and suitable for frolicking in the forest.
It’s also a reminder to me that whilst I can’t control how I’m perceived by people, I can create pieces that are unique to me and make me happy to be who I am. I like for my clothing to have meaning and memory.
I also feel like a faerie when I wear this dress. All I need is some gossamer wings…
(Note that the photos in the forest are from a year ago when photos were taken for a project that has yet to come to fruition and my hair was wild and auburn. Additional photos taken at a family lunch two weeks ago.)