01 February 2011

Pride is a powerful narcotic, but it doesn't do much for the auto-immune system

11th Hour Dresses: A Lesson in Sticking to What You Know:

Many of my friends are familiar with my 11th hour dresses. I usually make them at the last minute before a party or some other event for which I suddenly cannot possibly imagine wearing anything in my wardrobe. I become obsessed with having something new to wear, and I can’t shop, so I make quickie dresses. They generally take me about 4 hours.

Important things to know about my 11th Hour dresses:

1. Usually, I make these dresses out of cheap materials I have on hand, and use familiar patterns. I made this one a while back out of a 99 cent curtain panel from Goodwill with a pattern I'd used many times:

2. Usually, these dresses lack finishing details, such as overcast seam edges or slip-stitched linings. If I decide I really like the dress, I’ll go back later and finish up the details. If not, it goes back in the WIP pile to be transformed in the future. This red one was a one-time-only wear, but the purple one above has seen its share of nights out:

3. I put very low expectations on these dresses. They are exciting adventures, but I never delude myself into thinking I’m making a masterpiece…

What happens usually is certainly not what happened Saturday.

For a week, I’ve been daydreaming about a fluffy pink 50’s style party dress to wear to the Pussyfooters’10th Annual Blush Ball. The Pussyfooters are a sassy bunch of ladies who a) dress in pink wigs, corsets, and tutus, b) perform sassy dance routines in parades and at roller derby events, and c) raise money for important local causes. So, what’s not to like??? And, this year’s blush ball was our first New Orleans “function” as residents, so Bryan and I were stoked!

I had nothing suitable for this imaginary dress in my stash, so a few days ago, I walked down to Promenade Fabrics. This store is full of crazy beautiful fabrics and trims, but most of them are out of my price range. So, after sadly bypassing some beautiful pink silks, plaids, seersuckers, and florals, I settled on some good quality, baby pink Italian cotton shirting. I decided it needed some punch, so I also purchased some black lace to overlay sections of the dress. I had already chosen my pattern from my collection at home: Vintage Vogue 1172:

Remember, as of 7:30 Saturday morning, in my mind, this dress was going to be the most perfect party dress ever (already in violation of 11th Hour Dress rule 3 above). I had my doubts about the lace, but, hey, I could just leave it off if I liked the pink by itself!

8:00 – I cut out the pattern and fabric. There isn’t enough lace for the whole dress, but I’m ok with that! I decide to fully line the bodice instead of using facings. I start to sew.

9:30 – Bodice constructed. I’m starting to have creeping doubts about the lace, as well as the fit of the bodice….but they just look off because it’s not far enough along yet….it’s still very beautiful in my head…

12:00 – Skirt constructed. I’m frustrated at my time management, but I’ve never used this pattern before, and the Ball doesn’t start til 9, so I have plenty of time… I pin the skirt and bodice on Stella….du-du-duuuuuuhhhhhhhh:

I flipped and rearranged it every way I could. There was no hope for this dress.

Can I tell you how much I hate this lace! And the dowdiness is such that Michael Kors would blow an artery! Ugh! I store-bought the supplies! I had too high hopes and NO backup plan!......So, being in that obsessive state where there seems no other way….I started another dress at 1:30.

This one had more promise from the start. I used a super soft, buttery yellow, thrifted duvet cover ($4), and a simpler pattern I’ve used before. I cranked through it, relishing the adrenaline that comes from deadline pressure. I thought the bodice seemed a little roomy when I tried it on, but figured with a zipper and a little extra in on the darts, it would be fine…

6:00 - I finished all but the hem, added a raspberry velvet ribbon belt and an ostrich feather….not my dream dress, but it will do!...

…or not….The dress is SO too big in the bodice it’s ridiculous! I’ve used this pattern before, and (though I have lost a little weight) it should not have been this big. In my haste, I must have made a major (and completely amateur) error somewhere…Sorry, Pride, you’ll be ok…

Lesson Learned. The 3 rules of 11th hour dresses must be followed at all times. SOOOOO, after 2 dresses and almost 12 hours of near-constant creative activity, I had no fabulous creation, and wore the sailor dress I made last week to the ball…

BUT it was still the most fabulous of times!

AND, I did have one creative victory last week: My first ever man’s button-up shirt! Here’s Bryan sporting his new sailing shirt!

I wish I'd asked him to wear it out to the Marina last Friday, when we performed the renaming ceremony on his boat. I knew that sailors were superstitious, but this was my first hands on encounter with this old nautical tradition, which involves the invocation of water and wind gods, the sacrifice of (cheap) champagne, and the consumption of said (cheap) champagne while carefully following a detailed procedure!

Thankfully, my creative rut seems to be at an end. Yesterday, I put together a green buffalo plaid dress (same Butterick pattern that I used and loved a couple of posts ago). It's comfortable, and (though I wish I'd taken more time to match the pattern) I'm very happy with it. I'm wearing it at work today, but my camera died. I'll put a photo up soon!

I'm hoping to be more frequent with my blogging, as I'm embarking on several weeks of crazy adventures! Travels, houseguests, school projects, and, of course, the impending crescendo of Mardi Gras season! Here's to more successful crafting for me and for all of you! Tonight, I may have to invoke the gods of creativity and stamina with a little (cheap) champagne!


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