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McQueen Meets McQuarantine: Adventures in DIY Dressmaking

Advertising Agency
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sarah Hardcastle, writer at 72andSunny Amsterdam has been using her screen-free time to create her own post-lockdown collection
Dah-ding. It’s 1pm.

72andSunny Amsterdam’s ‘AGENCY SCREEN FREE TIME’ has come into effect.

For two hours of my working-from-home day I am encouraged to eat, move, read, or create in any way I like – at a safe distance from others, of course.
Sewing, for me, is an ideal break from a screen. It’s tactile and physical work, a welcome mental holiday from copywriting into the land of three dimensional problem solving and pom-poms. I’ve been “teaching” myself how to make clothes for years with varying degrees of success (highs: a tinsel covered festival jacket. Lows: a tutu). Mostly, I just love dressing up.
So I put the radio on, dig out some scissors, and get to work optimistically constructing a post-lockdown summer collection. Think McQueen meets McQuarantine.
I start with a quick sketch for a summer dress, loosely based on one that I already own. For context: I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just going to cut shapes out and stitch them together. That’s why it’s fun. Using tissue paper, a pen, and a ruler, I draw around the existing dress to create a pattern for my design.
Next, I transfer the pattern onto some material I picked up in Japan last year. It’s a light linen fabric with an inky floral design that’s been waiting patiently in a drawer for months. I pair this with some spare silver coloured polyester, then it’s down to the nail-biting task of cutting out the pieces and pinning everything into place.


I roll the hems and sew them down with my retro mint green sewing machine, a John Lewis purchase from back in the UK and the centrepiece of my home workspace. The noise of the needle puncturing the fabric as it’s pulled along by the machine feels meditative, a drumming rhythm that winds up and down as my foot adds pressure to the pedal. It’s the sound of progress.
Before making the final stitches I use myself as a mannequin, being careful not to prick my chest as I pull the pinned pieces over my head. I decide I prefer the back better as a front so I switch things around and make a few alterations. After a close call with a pin and my left boob, we’re ready to finish things off.
I hold my breath (and suck my tummy in a bit) as I pull on the finished outfit. Yes, the hem is a bit uneven, the arms loose, and the back not entirely flattering, but I feel proud of my creation. It’s finished.

Wearing something you’ve made is unlike wearing something you’ve bought in a store. You’ve pressed a little piece of your soul into that fabric, handcrafting yourself a garment that nobody else has. You have made something, and in these uncertain times we can all appreciate the triumph in that.
Now, if only I had someplace to wear it…

Sewing inspiration (Thanks Rey and Gaia)
Read: The Vogue Italia Archive, available digitally for free for the next three months
Follow: @tillybuttons, for digital sewing patterns and online workshops