Sunday, March 6, 2011

The strands of life

Simplicity 2403

I've been thinking a lot this last week about the stands of life - when I bought this fabric, I bought it solely because it reminded me of the colour my hair used to be. I then teamed it with some fur on the collar to what my hair is becoming.

Another reason I thought about the strands of life is how sometimes echos from the past can come into the present. One of the women I started my very first craft club with died in the Canterbury quake. This was more than 20 years ago, and I may never have even thought of her again had her death not been the result of such a catastrophic event. We worked together in a resort town, in the far backwaters of the South Island, and we were both working our student vacation cleaning hotel rooms. We were immediately set apart from the rest of the staff because we were students - further aggravated by the fact we didn't drink and were saving all our money! If word had got around that we also met to sew patchwork, do embroidery and knit we would have been mocked out of town.

I spent a year of my life in Christchurch and ended up in Auckland through the twists and turns of fate that all of us encounter in our lives - a decision to go here, do this work, date this person and marry that one. We are often blissfully unaware of what might have happened on the road not taken, the precariousness of life sheltered from us.

Such were the thoughts going through my head as I was making this dress, thinking about the things that have happened in my life from when my hair was one colour and what it is becoming as it changes to the next.

The other thing about it that reminds me a bit of life's journey is the huge number of mistakes, false steps, unpicking and recutting I had to do on it. Let me list them for you here

- recut front facing (forgot to lengthen after FBA)]
- sewed collar stand and collar and made a dreadful job of it, unpicked whole thing
- recut collar stand, threw out old collar and decided to use fur instead,
- recut and sewed new collar.
- recut front waistband - forgot that a 2 inch FBA is only for one side so had to add 4 inches to waist, grrr.
- let out one set of front pleats because miscalculated the difference between the top and bottom
- resewed invisible zipper as had twisted one side round the wrong way. grrr.
- recut one sleeve, lost it somewhere
- resewed one sleeve, put it in inside out
- ran out of thread and had to finish with black
- stuffed up the buttonholes, mercifully hidden by the buttons

Well, as you know, we do have to suffer for our art.

I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to wash the dress because the fur collar is attached, but then I though, "hey, it's BROWN, not like anyone's going to know."

I am in two minds about the fate of this dress - as is, I can tell you it does not look good. I am tossing up whether to literally cut my losses and severe it at the bodice to make a plain skirt or just to donate the whole thing to the Sally Army. At this stage I'm probably leaning towards the former so I can reuse the cute leather buttons.

Well, after all that work and all that frustration, a wadder.

That, as they say, is life.


  1. A wearable, unwearable poem. Thank you for sharing your meditation as you made this dress, I enjoyed reading it.

    It's almost like an O.Henry story.

  2. Using your hands frees the mind. Mine mostly gravitates to the shopping list, but yours is obviously on a higher level. Thank you for an interesting post. Sewing is more like life than I had thought.

    The Canterbury quake is so horrible. Having lived in the town and knowing a victim must make it a very close disaster. It is hard to know what to say or how to act in response to events on such a big scale.

    If I was sure I had a wadder, I would save the buttons (and maybe the fur?), but then, I am the one who had to cut up my t shirt because the pattern on the front was 1.5cm off symmetrical. If I had ever seen it on someone else post Sally Army I would have felt deeply shamed that it was out in public.

  3. I worried about you last quake, not knowing how close you were, and didn't worry this time knowing that you aren't in Canterbury. I'm sorry that you lost someone who was there. Bummer about the dress -- hope you salvage the skirt and repurpose the fur collar.

  4. You might not have got a dress out of your efforts, but you did get a lot of philosophical meditation! Which is also good stuff, though you wouldn't want to be in that state all the time. I liked your story. I remember being a college freshman at the University of Florida (biggest party school in the USA) and not wanting to drink and taking a handweaving course for fun! I haven't changed much, but life seems to have caught up to me.

    Your dress looks fine in the pictures, but if it doesn't feel right in real life, I'd cut it up and recycle the best bits.

  5. We all have sewing days like that. I have come to realise that, much as I love sewing, it is not a relaxing past-time for me. Losing pieces, sweating on collars, adding bits and taking away gets my heart rate up and pumping. Much more relaxing just to stroke fabric and look at pattern magazines.

    I like the dress on you, except for maybe the fur collar bit. I think you look very smart and the accessories look like you have got it going on.

  6. Sorry about the friend, that's always very unhappy.. One can always hope it was quick, which is the best part about earthquakes :-(.

    About the dress, I don't think it's quite that bad. The color does look very good on you. But there's something not just unusual but revoltingly unpractical about fur collar with short sleeves. Especially now that you've spilled the beans about it not being removeable. I used to contemplate on the bus a woman often sitting before me, whose coat matched her hair perfectly. I've looked for that effect since, it was really great. So I'd suggest keeping it for a jacket (it's Fall your way now..).
    Maybe just closing up the collar stand to make a little standup collar? If you're still intent on the color transition, maybe a silk chiffon scarf of the right color and texture?

  7. I'm very sorry about your friend. The earthquake devastation is just quite unimaginable. I worry that the world is becoming a little numb to these things with so many natural disasters of late.

    I really like the dress. I'l believe you that in person it's not so great but I love the photos. I think it's really flattering and I am a big fan of brown. Perhaps you might try the pattern again?

  8. I actually think the dress looks fine. I even like the collar. What about a wide belt? Who knows, if you don't like it, you'll never wear it!

    The images of both the earthquake and the flooding of the Lockyer Valley still haunt me. There's something terribly eerie about such devastation with no warning.

  9. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

    Also sorry to hear about the problems you had in tackling this dress. Sometimes that happens to me...when I feel like everything I touch goes wrong. When I get "the poo touch," I just try sit quietly and not touch anything for a day or so ;)

  10. I tried to leave a comment and got a lovely blogger error message and then when I went back my comment was gone. I love brown and I think the dress fits you very well. The fur collar is a bit theatrical for a summer dress but I think overall the look and your work is as always impeccable.
    I'm sorry that both the journey and destination were not like you planned.
    I am sorry too to hear about your friend who passed. I enjoyed the story of how you met and your crafting nerdom. I just read in my college alumnae notes "life is not fair but it is a gift". Indeed. Enjoy every day!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. This was good to read. Sewing is like life. I suppose for some of us, sewing IS life (:

    I'm sorry to hear about your old friend.

    I actually quite like the dress. The brown is nice. As others mentioned, a different collar or belt could change up the look.

  13. Oh - I hate when things turn out like that. Will a week in the magic closet help it? g

  14. Actually I love this dress on you, and you KNOW I would tell you if I didn't. I'm not so keen on the fur collar (your hair is much nicer, regardless of how much grey there is) but a contrast collar in brown polkadots would be cute, don't you think? And maybe a belt? If you don't want it I'll have it!

  15. I found this post really touching. Our lives do take odd twists and turns when we reflect on them.

  16. The dress may not be a keeper, but your writing is.

  17. I'm sorry that you knew somebody. I feel like I've been let off lightly in that regard, being a South Islander and all. So far, that is.

    I like the dress on you, and the colour. I suggest what gMarie said - time out in the magic closet!

  18. May be you need a collar in the colour your hair is becoming. I'm finding that steely grey suits me very well as I get older. We've just had a plague of ferrets take out the chickens and have to BUY our eggs so I'm feeling good about wearing fur, but maybe not with that dress.

  19. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as you made this dress. So sorry to hear you lost a friend. The bodice looks like such a good fit, so that part is a winner, at least from what I can tell, and the color is beautiful. Can I just say also, I LOVE the shoes you are wearing with it!

  20. The fur collar is unconventional but cute! I think it is a very well executed dress.

    I just made View B of this pattern you can see it here

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