Saturday, May 10, 2014

In Which I Invoke Rolling Stones Lyrics as a Herald of Sewing Good Fortune

Have you ever sewn something fitted for someone whose body you did not have access to for fitting purposes?

That's where I find myself at the moment, about to cut into a precious small amount of irreplaceable (if hideous) fabric for that bridesmaid dress my sister needs.

To remind you, this is the pattern I've modified to suit her dimensions:


Here's the thing, I got ever conceivable measurement from my sister. Nipple to nipple span, check. Height of bust apex, check. Side seam to nipple, check. Width and length of everything, check.

But as we know, in sewing, the end is not merely the sum of mathy parts.

I haven't yet cracked the code to make a woven princess bodice for myself. It seems grandiose to imagine I'll be able to do it for someone else, in another country, even if that someone else has a bust measurement in the realm of the original pattern dimensions (concurrent with her upper bust size).

The thing about princess seams is that they have to fall in the right spot. If you're fairly straight, you won't diverge much from the pattern-drafter's original schematic. But when you have curves - and my sister, while not outrageously bust-curvy has an interesting array of shape considerations in the bodice due to a proportionately wide back - then you're best served by trying and altering (as many times as it takes). Guess who doesn't have that luxury?

Look, no point in having cut paralysis. This dress has to get made and go back to America asap. If it doesn't fit well, too bad. Allison already made the choice to trust my version* of this dress over the one she received from an Etsy dressmaker who made a dress style other than the one my sister ordered, with inappropriate lines (in light of the measurements the dressmaker had originally requested). Those measurements weren't suitable for an empire-waisted, gathered skirt, high v neck made of freakin' quilting cotton. And not even the good kind. You can only imagine how horrid that end result was, if I'm willing to a) sew for someone other than me who b) isn't on hand to fit and c) to use a fabric that offends my every sensibility. Note: I like quilting cotton just fine - for baby dresses and, um, quilts.

I'm not naive. Good will does not a fitted garment make. Even the kind of good will supported by numerous measurements reflected (sewing goddess willing, accurately) in an altered paper pattern. If this does not succeed, it will not be for lack of effort on my part. I've spent hours debating the numbers, purchased a pattern, modified the pattern, resuscitated half of the pre-existing dress by painstakingly picking out seams. I haven't even started making the thing, which as we know, with my pace, is bound to take the full weekend. Mind you, if it doesn't succeed, effort won't matter. It'll still be a half-assed looking dress. And let's face it, it's not starting on a high note.

So, I'm hoping for a bit of providence. I would be so grateful for a gentle breeze of sewing kismet.

As my classic rock partners in craft so often remind me: You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.

*This is sister-lingo for: she begged me relentlessly until I couldn't possibly say no without being the worst human being on the planet.

20 comments:

  1. may the jagger be with you, my friend.

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  2. i do not envy your task! i have sewn and fit long distance, but i had ample time for muslin making and such. my only advice is to make the dress easily alterable. i would sew the entire front (bodice and skirt), the entire back, then join the side seams last. as a bonus, it makes for fast sewing. good luck! :)

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    1. I know - not enviable! In truth, there's no time for her to fix this if she gets it and it doesn't fit. I'm trying to make it as alterable as possible, but I'm the only one in my family who's ever touched a sewing machine. I don't know what she'll do if she receives it and it doesn't fit.

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  3. Ooh, she's venturing into bridesmaid dress making! It'll be fab.

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    1. This is the first and last time. Be assured! :-)

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  4. I so wish I'd said "May the jagger be with you". Can I at least echo that awesome sentiment?!

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  5. I don't envy your task! But by the sounds of it , your version will be a definite improvement on the first one :)

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  6. Sisters are so trusting, aren't they? With Jagger in your heart and pins firmly in hand, I think you at least can't do worst than the original, which sounds truly awful (you haven't mentioned colour, but since my last hideous bridesmaid dress was popsicle orange, that's what I'm picturing).

    I'm also very keen to hear what you have to saw about the pattern, which looks pretty nice on its own.

    Good luck!

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    1. Stupidly so. Im sure that the finished product (now it's done) is better than the original. It didn't go perfectly - and who knows if it will fit my sister - but it could have gone much worse...

      BTW - I love the pattern. Totally recommend it, unreservedly. Go buy and sew!

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  7. I'm wishing you the best of luck in this endeavor. There are so many stress factors involved that it seems like an insurmountable challenge, but if anyone can tackle it, you can. :-) Git 'er done. ;-)

    And seriously, post pics of the original and the end result so that we can see this monstrosity, I'm dying of curiosity over here!!!

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    1. Thank you! There are no photos of the original (except on my sister and I do not think she would allow those photos on the blog!). I've taken a photo of the finished product - a bad one, alas - but it will have to do. I'll post it soon. And Allison will send me a photo of her wearing the dress. If it fits, I'll definitely post it! If it doesn't - you will never see the evidence!

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  8. Oh geez - thanks. Now I won't be able to get that song out of my mind!

    I SO agree with you about the Princess Seams. Everyone is all, "They're so easy to fit!" That has NOT been my (limited) experience. As you said, you have to get all those curves just right, or the result is not stellar.

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    1. I'm sorry. Really. The princess seams are not as difficult as darts (on a busty frame) from an overall fitting perspective, but getting the seams in the right spot - and the apex at the perfect height - is a real challenge. And you're right, if the alignment is off, it looks amateur.

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  9. Good luck! You have convinced me to buy the pattern tho. I had a good experience with the magpie dress but it's such a simple shape so great to hear the drafting is sound on this one too!

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    1. Definitely buy it and tell me what you think...

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  10. I think invoking the rock 'n roll gods gave you exactly what you needed: a woven bodice that fits YOU (sorry, Allison!). For what it's worth, I think the dress you've ended up with is miles better than what you started with and your sister should be grateful.

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    1. I know! I'm finding it a bit hard to be upset about this, even if it means that the bodice is likely to be too large on Allison. Mind you, she won't look like a sausage!

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