Monday, September 1, 2014

The Marie Laveau Dress

Sometimes, there's a project that comes along that is determined to test all the patience you wish you had.  No matter how enthusiastically it is approached, how carefully you proceed through the steps; even if you've made it a thousand times before, success will elude you at every turn.  You will swear it's been cursed by some gypsy or voodoo queen as you grab the seam ripper yet again, stabbing yourself in the process (I had a dress once where I sewed the right sleeve into the left armscye FOUR times).  This dress has been one of those projects.  I've had the damn thing on the sewing table for weeks, but everything from stupid sewing/cutting mistakes to everyday life has made this a long and winding road on the path to dress glory.

Ah, one day my dream of independent wealth will come true, and I will finally be able to immerse myself in a hermitage of sewing bliss...  Begone, friends and family!  There's a new pattern to try!  And I have recently obtained a length of fabulous fabric that cries out to fulfill its destiny!  No, not for you, foolish mortal, the fabric is mine, all mine! Now fetch me a vodka and soda!  Mhuahahahahaha!

Well a girl can dream.

First, the pattern. It's another BHL Anna dress (oh Anna. You sexy thang.).  This time, mainly spurred on by the gorgeous version over at Dolly Clackett, I decided to dive in and try the maxi version.  The only fabric I was interested in busting out for this was a lovely, heavy weight linen blend I've had for close to 15 years.  It was originally earmarked to be a summer weight 14th century dress, back when I still hung out in the SCA.  It's a gorgeous shade of navy with deep purple tones - so I thought it would be the perfect dress for late summer, since we'd had an amazing run of 80+ degree days.

Oh, the best laid plans of mice and seamstresses...

The beginning of the project was set spinning off course pretty much as I was cutting the fabric.  Big person life got in the way around the Stitchery and kept me from my machine for the better part of that week, and I only sporadically (and distractedly) got back to the dress for short stints.  My only long sewing session was interrupted by the thrill of seeing how culottes make my ass look gigantic; fun as that was, it was an entire afternoon away from dressmaking.  THEN  I hurt my back getting out of bed (because getting older is that amazing) and couldn't sit at my machine for several more days.  The most interaction I've had with my sweet Janome has been longing looks on my way out the door, and the occasional loving caress.  But I digress.

As soon as I could, I forced out some time to begin assembly.  Then, the mistakes started.  The bodice went together as smoothly as ever (once I got to it), but the skirt.  Oh, the skirt.  Cursed.

I really should have listened to, oh, EVERYONE in the bloggersphere who said "make sure you mark the skirt pieces, they look pretty similar".  Oh, stuff and nonesense, thought I.  Surely keeping the pattern pieces with the skirt pieces until pinning is sufficient, as this has worked for me in the past, and I am awesome.  Cthulhu tried to be helpful by offering me a marking pencil, and helpful suggestions like "hey, maybe you should cut the notches on this bad boy?".  After a haughty scoff by yours truly, he just shrugged and went back to designing cities with non-Euclidian geometry and driving cultists insane.  Yeah, I should have known.  Always trust the advice of the house demi-god.  Just saying.

Didn't mark the skirt, huh?  Hand me the seam ripper...

Not only are the skirt pieces similar, I'm hard pressed to find much difference AT ALL.  Really, I'm not sure why they don't just have a CF and CB, then just one other piece you cut 4 panels of for the SF and SB sections.  It would save a lot of swearing.  Especially when you realize that you forgot to cut the CB section, and scramble in a panic for the remnants you've lovingly stored.  Then, you find that said remnant is a good 3 inches shorter, and now the skirt will need trimmed (and only brush the tops of your feet instead of majestically floating just above the ground).  Then you decide to start assembling the ^&%*'ing skirt after a cocktail break, and discover that you have flipped the SB and CB pieces, and the only hope of correction is to rip it apart and resew.  After you pinked the seams.  On a linen blend.  Yeah, fuck that.  I'll deal with the skirt as is.  Lucky for me, Cthulhu has the good grace to refrain from "I told you so".  At least out loud.

In the interests of full disclosure, I did rip it apart.  Then I pinned it together and after resewing realized half the pieces were inside out. Yeah.  Fortunately there was not a lighter handy or this would have burned.

And did I mention that in a whirlwind frenzy of pinking, I also finished the CB seam, before the skirt was attached to the bodice and had to rip THAT open?  Yeah.  Have I mentioned this was a cursed project?

(The love affair with my Janome, however, is still going strong.  Oh Janome, you understand me, don't you?  Of course you do.  The 7 piece feed dogs on the Superior Feed System are no joke.  I may even risk sewing up some rayon I've been too afraid to touch but would make lovely culottes.  Maybe.)

I also tried a new technique for zip insertion.  It's not too disimilar from what I usually do, but there are some extra steps in the tutorial that turned on a fair few light bulbs for me.  There's also a fantastic tutorial on using a walking foot that I'm going to try for stitching down bias facing.  Craftsy is a lifesaver.


Bias facing action shot

So after all the frustrations and annoyances, I managed to power through and finally get the dress done.

Oh the suffering I endure for my art

Yes, there's vodka in that cup

But it was worth it in the end

It's even elegant from the back

And I did pick up an adorable new purse from the RockIt Roost - the brick and mortar store is here in town and my friend Holly presented me with this saying "it would be so cute with your style of dresses!".  Sigh, isn't the kiss lock sweet?  I was smitten, and as it was on sale for $20, how could I say no?  Nothing takes the sting off a project from hell like fabulous accessories.

Cute new purse, you understand me.

And that's it for this edition of Watch My Projects Turn Me Into An Alcoholic.  Stay tuned for more adventures!

And one triumphant pose for the road

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