Saturday, April 20, 2013

The birthday dress that never was...

You remember the Choose-Your-Own-Adventures books in the 80s? I'm going to tell this story in the form of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book. It'll be entertaining. Or cathartic.

Once upon a time, Reethi decided she wanted to make the Burda January 107 dress. She had a lovely red wool fabric sitting in her stash, and this dress would have been perfect.




At the same time, Reethi remembered that her last pants would have been rather tight at a straight size 40 and she knew she`d need to compensate for this tightness. She therefore took out her tracing paper, and traced out a...

If you think Reethi wisely remeasured herself, and then traced out the corresponding Burda size, go to Page 100.

If you think Reethi guesstimated - go to Page 45. 

Page 45: 
... and traced out a size 40 on top, and size 42 below. The bodice had princess seams, and rather than add in petite alteration lines, she just decided to leave out the seam allowances on the bodice, reasoning that that would shorten the bodice appropriately.

So, Reethi cut the fashion fabric out, and got to work. She stitched the bodice seams, and then the bathroom project intervened. She fiddled around making t-shirts. She procrastinated and procrastinated cutting out the lining. The lining slipped and slid all over the place, but Reethi persisted. This became the project from hell, but there was a bit of dogged determination.

Eventually, Reethi reached the stage where she attached the supposedly-shortened bodice to the skirt, so she did that, serged the seams together (of course), put in the invisible zipper with applaud-able skill, and then tried the dress on. To find...

If you think the bodice fit perfectly, despite all the clearly wrong steps, go to Page 127. 

If you think Reethi should have basted her bodice first, go to Page 64. 

Page 64: 
Ill-fitting bodice, wrinkly hem. Oh, don't miss the peculiar tail-like flipping of the side hems.

Umm, yeah. That was a disaster. The dress' waist was significantly lower than Reethi's actual waist. So, Reethi proceeded to spend a good 3 hours ripping out the beautifully sewn invisible zipper, her serged-together bodice and skirt, took out another 2 inches of length on the bodice, fiddled to make the darts sort of line up, and then proceeded to painfully resew the dress back together. The bodice still didn't fit right, but at this point, Reethi had sort of given up caring.

Like people marching for survival in the desert (pardon the wee bit of hyperbole here), Reethi's only thought was - one step at a time. But at the same time, this project was now being approached with a fair bit of dread. These contradictory impulses meant that the dress would sit, neglected, for many weeks at a time.

But Reethi's 40th birthday was drawing closer, and this was the dress she wanted to finish and wear. And so it was that at 12.30am one night, Reethi found herself at the cutting table, slicing off almost 5 inches at the hem, to get the hem to be where she wanted it.

Slicing off the hem was a good idea? Go to page 138. 

Ooh Reethi, remember: measure many times, then cut once? Go to page 73. 

Page 73: 
Yeah, that was another disaster. The hem dipped up and down. It undulated like the hills. The skirt vent looked like a little tail. And so, Reethi did what she should have done the first time - measured the hem so it would be even. However, by this time, the skirt was too short to do a proper hem, so she had to use hem tape, and then hand sew the hem on the street-car the day before the birthday. Much puckering resulted.

And the result? This story does not have a happy ending. Somehow, I was hoping the red fabric would rescue this dress, so it was greater than the sum of it's parts. But in the end, an ill-fitting bodice and a puckering, uneven hem killed this dress. I wore it out to lunch on my birthday - hated it so very much, and wore an old pair of pants and a t-shirt out to the birthday gathering.

Trust me, I might be smiling in this picture, but I was throwing a tantrum on the inside.

In the end, the dress was rescued from the garbage bin. It fits my friend Jeeva really well. She's the happy owner of a well-sewn dress. (Badly fitted to me, fits her great!) She's happy, and me? Well, I need to learn to not be an idiot, no? Self-inflicted injuries are the worst!

And below? The future that could have been...

Page 100:
Reethi remeasured, realized she was a size 38 on top, a size 42 on the bottom. She traced out the right sizes, made the right pattern adjustments, and sewed a beautiful red dress. She wore this dress out on her 40th birthday, received a ton of compliments, and was all pleased and happy. The End.

Page 127: 
Reethi tried on the dress, and the bodice fit perfectly! She realized she'd dodged a major bullet. She then proceeded to do everything else by the book. She sewed a beautiful red dress. She wore this dress out on her 40th birthday, received a ton of compliments, and was all pleased and happy. The End.

Page 138: 
Even though no measuring was involved, Reethi evidently had crazy straight-line estimating skills, since she took a rotary cutter to the fabric like a mad woman, and no damage was done! She then proceeded to do everything else by the book. She sewed a beautiful red dress. She wore this dress out on her 40th birthday, received a ton of compliments, and was all pleased and happy. The End.

8 comments:

Gillian said...

Poor Reethi! I would have cut every single one of those corners too, if it were me... though I probably would have chucked on the floor and ignored it for month rather than rescue it as carefully as you did! :)

gingermakes said...

Oh no! This is the saddest Choose Your Own Adventure ever!

KayoticSewing said...

Lol! Reethi.. Sorry, Couldn't help laughing, but you wrote it so funnily .... :)

What a nightmare of a birthday dress adventure..

But boy! That dress silhouette looks fantastic on you... You MUST make another one in the same red color for it is totally your color.

Northlady said...

Been there. Done that. Not fun. Loved your story; you have a flair for words. I echo KayoticSewing: the color and style are great on you. When you've recovered, considered giving it another try.

Chloe said...

Adversity makes us stronger - or at least provides great blog post fodder! Great colour, though - here's hoping your next project is a breeze.

Chloe said...

Adversity makes us stronger - or at least provides great blog post fodder! Great colour, though - here's hoping your next project is a breeze.

L said...

OMGosh, I loved this post! I used to read books like this when I was much younger. I recognize your frustration, but I think the dress looks great on you. It may be a bit full in the bodice, but you had a Tim Gunn moment and made it work.

From now on, you must write all of your posts like this! LOL Just kidding, of course. =)

Audrey said...

Very entertaining post with the choose your own endings. This dress is such a good style and color for you, maybe you will make another version some day and choose one of the alternate endings.