Thursday, June 05, 2014

bad pictures of a great dress

I made a new dress! I made this pattern once, last summer, and intended to make more but just never got to it. I picked up some quilter's showcase calico at JoAnn for $2.49/yard and used this brown tone-on-tone for Butterick 4443.

I know some people would be aghast at making a dress out of cheap calico like this but frankly, I am kind of sweaty all summer, exacerbated by the fact that my house does not have air conditioning, plus we spend time at the pool many days of the week so my dresses end up smushed into a bag and abused in other ways. I get inexpensive cottons, inexpensive zippers (from Wawak), and this way I can have lots of dresses at a low cost and when they wear out after a few summers I don't feel like I'm losing.

I wish these photos were better because this is a fantastic dress pattern and I'm really pleased with the results. Those puckers in the picture don't look like that in real is just the way the fabric is hanging. The dress is fully lined with lawn (ordered from a few years ago); the pattern calls for lining the bodice but I did the skirt as well. It not only prevents seeing through the skirt, but also gives the dress more body and nicer drape. It looks so much better on a body than on a hanger...I will try to have someone take my picture when I wear it.

Other than a few pairs of shorts for my daughter I hadn't been sewing a lot lately. But I re-watched one of my favorite television series EVER, Wartime Farm, and got the bug to make a frugal frock like they do in one of the episodes. Watching the ladies sit and sew together, making do and mending, lit my fire and got me to the cutting table.

Watching that series again also got me thinking about lifestyle in general. I was so happy, just totally experiencing flow while stitching away, and feeling so excited about this dress and looking forward to wearing it. And I started reflecting on how dressing this way is the most comfortable for me, and makes me feel both comfortable and feminine, but not in a girly-girl way, just in a sort of self-sufficient way. Knowing I can clothe myself (and my family) feels pretty awesome. 

During the school year, when I was driving my son to pre-K every day and interacting with other mothers in my age group, I semi-consciously started dressing more like them. The mom I became closest to dresses very "sporty spice" in workout-type clothes nearly every day. I rarely see her in jeans or what I consider regular casual clothes. It's always yoga pants, leggings, cropped leggings, sporty tops. (Nice ones, not the stained-and-holey yoga pants of parenting articles everywhere.) Lots of the moms at the preschool dressed like that, presumably because they were on their way to the gym after drop-off (?) so I was surrounded by sporty clothes and neon sneakers. And it's funny...I mean, I go to the gym for a run each morning but I only wear my exercise clothing there, then shower and dress in my regular garb. But I found myself dressing more like my new friend as time went on. I even picked up a few pairs of yoga pants on sale at Old Navy (I have never worn them before).

And I am comfortable in them...sort of. 

But now school is over and I am home more, interacting primarily with my son. I'm not seeing other parents much. I'm doing my housework and spending time at the park and library. And I am remembering how I really like to dress, what I really like to do with my time. Sometimes it's hard to be the crafty mama in suburbia. I live where some people our own age hire a lawn service rather than mow their own grass (unheard of in my family...a guy in his 30s mows his own lawn). When they hear I knit or sew or bake bread or any other "rustic" pursuit I get that weird reaction of awe and confusion, like "that's so neat! but....why would you want to do that?" Kind of like when I am knitting a sock in public and some joker offers that "you can buy socks at the store you know."

Well sure you can. But where is the satisfaction in that? I had forgotten, over the course of the school year when I was on the run so much, how much simple, satisfying pleasure there is in DIY. Sitting in church last Sunday I noted that my children and I were all wearing something that was the work of my hands and my sewing machine. That felt so good. 

So, the pictures are bad, but the dress is oh so good. I can't wait to make more and wear the heck out of them all summer long. They're just so me.

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