Getting started. Never finished.

Category Archives: Life

It was less than a year ago that I embarked on a challenge to make a dress per month. It started with finally finishing a dress I had long struggled with: a Colette Myrtle in a bright abstracted leopard rayon knit. 

Working with rayon knit, especially if you’re new to it, is much like sewing drunk. It will escape your serger. It will laugh at your attempts to sew curved seams at a consistent allowance. It’s a pretty, drapey beast designed to lure you to novice sewing madness. And I was up against that beast, attempting to coax it into an encased waistband.

But I fecking finished it. I was more frustrated with its half-finished state and Myrtle’s occasional turn-me-inside-out-and-stitch-me-in-blind-belief ways. I figured out that a piece of cardboard would provide the temporary stability to get the elastic encased despite the rayon knit’s wiles.

The second I finished that knit dress, I cut another one in a so-gaudy-it’s-good yellow toile. I finished that Myrtle, hoisted it over my head and down my hips… And realized the elastic waist on a twill fabric was the cruelest thing I could do to my figure. I made it vanish. Then I promptly made another Myrtle in an orange twill festooned with ducks.
Myrtle and I have since made up, and frequently spend productive weekends together. Along the way, I’ve put a few other patterns under my belt, and began to develop my own.

I had one of my own patterns on when I got stopped by a woman who wants to develop a clothing line. Am I ready for this? No. But I know what I need to do to get there. And I also know I’m ready to start experimenting with this silk that has haunted me since the first time I laid eyes on it:


I am just *not* a subtle gal.


Today I wore this dress:  

 
The fabric was one that made me squeal upon finding it at the textile shop where I’ve become a regular. With an upcoming library conference, I was determined to finish it in time to wear among my professional colleagues. I chose a red piping to give it just a little color and to pay homage to the Olivettis in the design.

I was able to pack this and eight other dresses I made in my case for Denver. Far more than I needed, but enough to account for whim and occasion. 

Today was the last full day of conference sessions. I’ve received compliments on each of the dresses I’ve worn, with some realizing my delighted replies of thanks meant that I had sewn them.

This evening, I walked alone to a street lined with upscale bistros and boutiques. Wanting to wait out a line at one restaurant, I wandered into a shoe store known for eclectic design. I was curious about a couple of styles I had seen online and was surprised to find them less charming  and more cartoony in person. What I was greeted with, however, surprised me more.

“I love your typewriters! Were you lucky enough to find that dress, or did you have to make it?”  

It only occurred to me only recently that I should blog the sewing project I gave myself this past fall: make a dress per month. A simple challenge to build a skill and see where I could take it. I’ve overshot that goal, made a few other non-dress things as well, and have found that it has shifted my feelings about consuming and about presentation and a host of other issues that the one-day blog will give me space to discuss. Lucky to find? Lucky to make.



A few days ago I had the happy surprise of learning I won a sample of Neela Vermeire’s new perfume, Ashoka. The sample arrived today – along with a sample of the upcoming Mohur Extrait, and samples of the original trio: Trayee, Mohur, and Bombay Bling. How delightful!



Woohoo! My death, courtesy Gretchen Lowell, made the NYT Book Review!



Oops.