Steph shares with us her peasant dress project and why it's so important to her...
Over the last few years I have developed more of an affinity for trousers or leggings than dresses, largely due to my changing body shape, but the need for abdominal surgery very soon has made me realise i need more dresses in my life…
After years of pain and hideous symptoms I was recently diagnosed with Endometriosis of the womb and bowel, and at the end of July I will be having major surgery to remove my womb, ovaries and a small portion of my bowel. This means a lot of resting, recovering, and – much to my horror – no jeans or leggings for several weeks as they’ll rub on my scars and stitches.
Now don’t get me wrong – i love dresses. Just not on me. I’m short and dumpy, and incredibly conscious of my legs and stomach, and there are only a few styles of dress that really suit me. A dress shopping trip left me feeling anxious, frumpy and deeply uncomfortable, so I knew the only way to solve this was with something me-made.
As I was glancing through Samantha Claridge Studio’s incredible array of fabrics (which is very much a regular pastime, even when I dont have a project in mind!) a beautiful pale blue viscose with a pink and white floral print caught my eye and I knew that it would be absolutely perfect for something light and floaty. I have always loved peasant dresses and tops, and they fit the bill for what I’d need post-surgery: empire line, nice and loose, and should be cool and comfortable in the summer heat.
Peasant dresses are actually fairly simple to make without a premade pattern, and i have seen many really lovely ones that are actually just made from 4 rectangles (2 large ones for the back and front, and 2 smaller ones for the sleeves). The magic ingredient to this dress is in fact basic elastic.
I used just plain white narrow elastic in the neckline and under the bust to draw in all the excess fabric and create a nice silhouette. I also added a bit of elastic in the sleeves to make them a little puffier at the top. The end result was the first dress I have actually loved and felt utterly comfortable wearing in YEARS. The fabric is so soft and feminine, and the big floaty sleeves give the dress that little bit extra drama. I loved it so much I even wore it to a friends wedding and I was very proud when people asked me where i got such a beautiful dress that i was able to say ‘I made it myself’.