Tuesday, November 04, 2008

History in the making

History in the making
Originally uploaded by fishbellywhite.
this has nothing to do with sewing (I didn't even wear anything I made for the occasion) but is more important to me than anything else right now.

I also took a picture of my NO vote on Proposition 8 but the print was too small and it didn't come out very well.

I'll be on pins and needles all day long waiting for all the results!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dia de los Muertos dress

I have always been fascinated by Dia de los Muertos.  I like the way it combines mourning with a certain lightheartedness, with sugar skulls and dancing skeletons and visits to the graves of those we've loved.

A few years ago I bought some Day of the Dead themed fabric, and have been planning to make something out of it ever since.  This year I finally got around to it.  I didn't have anything to do for Halloween that warranted a full-on costume, so I wore this instead.  If something that required a costume had come up last minute I would have
just painted my face like a skeleton and gone as one of the skeletons on my dress, but that didn't happen.

It's a duro dress, which is a design that I think lends itself to themes.  I don't normally like to sew theme dresses, because then I feel limited in how often I can wear them and my thrifty nature requires me to only make things that have multiple uses, or at least things that I can convince myself will have multiple uses even if that is just denial on my part.  but this?  I can wear it every year!

So I wore it to work Friday, and got many compliments, particularly from strangers on the Muni train in the Castro.  I would have worn it Saturday too at the Dia de los Muertos
 procession, but it was raining cats and dogs so I didn't go.  Then I wore it again today under my choir robe at All Souls' Day mass where we sang the Mozart Requiem.

I also included a picture of my skull necklace,
 which I bought in San Antonio over 10 years ago at an artsy shop in the King William District which specialized in such things, shortly after I first developed this ongoing fascination with Day of the Dead.  I used to wear it quite a lot, though nowadays I'm only goth on Halloween itself so after today I'll hang it back up on the vanity where it's been for all 4 and a half years we've lived here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Back on the Blog, and what I learned by sewing my own wedding dress

When last I blogged I had plans to sew every day.  Since almost a year has passed since then it may seem as if I must not have met that goal.  Truth is, I didn't sew EVERY day, but pretty close to it for several months, if not sewing then definitely knitting.  I just didn't blog any of it.  At first because I was making things to give people for Christmas and didn't want to ruin the surprise for anyone by putting it on my blog.  Then, because my computer died.  And then the camera died.  

Plus, I am lazy.  I'll blog if it's easy, but not if it isn't.  Now it is easy again because I got a Macbook which I love more than pretty much anything else I've ever owned, and even though we still haven't replaced the digital camera I figured out how to use the PhotoBooth feature to make images that are plenty good enough for blogging with.

Since then a lot of things have happened, the main thing being that I got married.  I sewed my own wedding dress from Vintage Vogue pattern V2903.  I had these great plans to get it 
all done early and avoid last minute stress, which of course didn't happen at all and I was literally hemming that thing at 2 AM on the morning of the wedding.  

I didn't mind though, I'm pretty much at peace with my procrastination habit and I figure that as long as things that have to get done actually do get done it doesn't matter so much when.

the main drawback was the annoyance of having every single person I encountered ask me every single day during the two weeks before the wedding, "how's the dress coming?" and then react with extreme abject horror when the answer was inevitably oh I haven't started yet but I will soon, don't worry! 

Seriously, people looked at me like I said I had killed a puppy or something and everyone else was 500 times more concerned about it on my behalf than I was.  Including people I hardly even know: the hipster dude who cuts fabric at my fave store, the little old lady who struck up a conversation with me at the bus stop, waitresses at the rehearsal dinner restaurant, everyone.

I will admit to feeling that if I had given myself more time I might have been able to make it into a more flattering fit, but everyone I've mentioned that to says I'm crazy and it looked great so whatever.

I learned a LOT by making the dress myself.  Technically I didn't do it all on my own; my friend Carrie who is a dressmaker and has been sewing for longer than I've been alive helped me out, and having someone actually show me how to do things that before I'd only ever taught myself from books or websites made a huge difference.  Here are the things I learned for the first time, or learned how to do a whole lot better than I knew before:
  • Making and fitting a muslin: before I'd been too lazy to do this, but it wasn't hard at all and didn't take as long as I feared.  I still won't be likely to make muslins all that often, but now I won't avoid doing it if it's a project that really calls for it.
  • Installing an invisible zipper: this is one of those things I had always thought would be difficult but it was so super easy that I only want to do invisible zippers in pretty much everything from now on!
  • Using bias tape to finish the arm opening: I wanted to make the dress without the sleeves, and wouldn't have known how to make this work without help.  Carrie showed me how to finish the raw edges with bias tape, which before I had only ever used as a decorative trim, not as a way to smoothly and invisibly finish a raw edge.
  • Clipping curves: this one feels so dumb and simple when I think about it now, but I never truly understood what the instructions meant when they said to do this!  now I do, which is great because I tend to like designs with princess seams or other curved lines and it is much less challenging for me now to make these things work for me
Besides learning this stuff, working with Carrie helped me get a better sense of what parts of a project to spend lots of time on and what's safe to let go of.  For example I normally like to have very nice finished seams on the inside of my garments, french seams usually, but given the time constraints and the fact that I'm unlikely to wear this dress more than the one time it was nice to be able to give myself permission to just not worry about that.

Also, turns out I've gotten much better at sewing in general and I totally don't need to use as many pins as I have been.  Things do come together just fine without all the overthinking and fretting I'm usually in the habit of doing.

Overall, it was a great experience to have, and I am so very proud to have sewn my own wedding dress.  It gave me a great deal of confidence that I'll take with me when doing other, much less momentous sewing projects.  I'm at the point now where I pretty much sew an outfit for myself for every special occasion, whether it's formal or casual, a once in a lifetime event or just a day trip or regular old garden party or holiday celebration.  I intend to post about this much more often now and share my crafting fun with whoever is interested enough to check in on this blog.  Enjoy!