Remember the snow, when it seemed like everything ground to a halt. As if in tune with the elements, I hit my own physical and emotional wall and was forced to a standstill. I often hear conversations around mental health that marginalise. Even stigma busting statistics like 1 in 4, suggest there are a certain number of people who can cope and a minority of us that can’t. I think it would be more beneficial to approach health from a holistic perspective and focus as much on the mental as we do on the physical. We all have mental health and who wouldn’t benefit from asking … how is my mental health today?
As the snow showed no sign of shifting, Sheffield battened down it’s hatches and - if the queues at the Moor Market haberdashery and B&Q were anything to go by - its people turned to their projects. Cocooned from the freezing temperatures, I holed up in my flat and reflected on the seismic shift in my outlook over the last decade. Where hedonistic tendencies had drawn me to dazzling colour, deafening noise and the intoxicating lure of disappearing into another human, I now crave solitude. With both companions and pastimes, I’ve stripped back to the basics and feel more alone and less lonely than I have ever been. 

This yen for simplicity has extended to my handmade wardrobe and I’m increasingly drawn to an amish like plainness, where the style lines sing and the fabric hue hums. I’d had my eye on the Simplicity 8230 Pattern, an apron dress for some time but had been lacking in inspiration. I’d been distracted by the granny chic presentation - with signature pockets and fabric mash ups - and overlooked the potential of its simple shape and clean lines.  But then I came across this Lightweight Denim Fabric and I returned to that front tie option, realising this pairing could be the everyday uniform I’d been looking for. 

Sizing wise my bust and waist measurements fall within the medium span and the fit is perfect, with no modifications necessary to accommodate my hips. When the fabric arrived, I had a crises of confidence - I’d already had a debacle with chambray which I couldn’t bear to document and it was lighter than any denim I’d worked with before. Thankfully, my anxiety was unfounded - this material is a delight to work with and couldn’t be more suited to the dress design. I’d pitch the pattern as advanced beginner and that’s only because there’s a tricksy bit under the arm, getting a clean finish where the bias strips end. In retrospect, I think a bit of hand basting here would have been prudent.

Controversially I went pocketless, as I knew I would be wearing it fastened to the front and didn’t want anything to argue with this feature. I also resisted the urge to lower the neckline and I’m so glad I didn’t tinker, as this apron is beautifully shaped. I can’t praise this pattern highly enough and the dress came together almost without incident. I did have to unpick the first underarm seam as I sewed a regular 1.5cm, when the seam allowance both here and around the neck is reduced to 1cm.  And next time around, I will remember to iron the bias to the shape of its recipient before attaching to mitigate rippling. 

The instructions invite you to understitch around the armholes and neckline and this technique is swiftly becoming a firm favourite. I using my walking foot with the needle swung to the far left and the bias edge lined up with inside edge of the left foot. My only deviation from the instructions was to edge stitch the bias from the wrong side utilising my beloved adjustable zipper foot to cosy up close to the bias edge. And here she is in all her glory - the first of what I envisage to be many apron dresses in a paired down aesthetic which is calling me.

Don’t get me wrong - there will always be space for patterned fabrics of note to infiltrate my wardrobe. But accumulating a bounty of beautiful threads with no overall plan in mind, is not a path I want to tread. I need to feel my feet solidly grounded in the earth and my aspiration is to make considered pieces of clothing that will wear with me. Even in this supportive space of like minded people, I’m conscious of the addictive pull to make, show and tell. And increasingly I’m asking of everything I invest in … are you with me for the long haul … even during the times I’ve nothing to offer you … when I’ve come to a standstill?