Wabi-Sabi Dress

From the UFO (UnFinished Object) files:

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Once upon a time, I was inspired by Julia Bobbin’s colour blocked Laurel. I decided to tackle a small stash of some exotic silk that I got from my Mother-in-Law, and I chose this lovely navy-grey piece. It was quite sedate in comparison to other pieces from said stash… It featured a beautiful scalloped pattern along one edge. After being strongly reassured by MIL that yes, you can wash it normally, I took all the pieces and threw them in the washing machine (on gentle cycle, I’m NOT crazy), an then in the dryer, on cold. All the silk came out lovely, much softer and more pliable, and the colours acquired more lustre. But my gorgeous grey piece had threads pulled out through the entire length of the yardage… I was heartbroken. I tried to cut my pattern pieces in a way that the most obvious damage was hidden by the darts, but to no avail… And what’s even more, the lovely scallops did not align on the bottom, which was too much for me… in the UFOs you go!

Fast forward 6 months or so, and I find this reasonable, mostly finished garment with a seriously funky bottom. So I cut off the bottom, and decide to make a tunic, but then I realize that I have some cotton that matches the colour almost exactly, so I add a panel to the bottom, make a weird neckline for more interest, and I have my colour blocked Laurel, just like Julia (same, but different)! My MIL recognized the fabric right away when she saw me in this dress, and was very surprised and quite pleased that I made something out of that silk! As for the damage, it’s still there.

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Enter the beautiful concept of wabi-sabi. Good people of Wikipedia will tell you more, but just to quickly paraphrase, it’s an idea that describes perfection in it’s imperfection. My dress is wabi-sabi. I am wabi-sabi. And you, have you ever felt like you’ll never be  able to pick yourself up and put yourself together after something that happened? But then you did, you got up, and now you’re mostly whole again, except that now you’re so much richer and much more interesting than before…

In life (and sewing), it is so easy to get preoccupied with striving for perfection. There is nothing wrong with perfection, but one does not have to be perfect all the time. This dress has many faults, but it is one of my favourites. Casual, comfy, versatile, but it’s a dress. Looks good belted, and loose (you know, for skinny or fat days!) The cotton part wrinkles like crazy, but hey, more wabi-sabi to me!

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Care to share your wabi-sabi creations, dear reader?

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Laurel, The Forgiving.

How ya all doin? Nursing your turkey hangover? For those who don’t know, yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. This is what I wore to the exquisite dinner at my mother’s-in-law:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou like? Yes, it is a Laurel by Colette, and I love her to bits!

The fabric I bought at King Textile, on my last day working there (I know, but to make a long story short, it was not the right fit for me, and now I work somewhere else, where I’m much happier). Anyhoo, I intended to make pants from that fabric, since it is a nice, thin satiny twill, with a little bit of stretch, in the coolest finger-print pattern in pinks and lime green. One of my co-workers convinced me that I needed to make a go-go dress from it. I thought she was crazy, but the seed got planted…

For a long time I wanted to make something from an indie pattern, but I was a bit concerned about selecting one that would be just wrong, like the Sewaholic patterns which are drafted for pear-shaped ladies. And if you factor in the steep price, it makes one think twice, no? But I did my research, scoured blogs and Flickr for pictures of dresses, and found tons of cylindrically shaped ladies (like myself) who made awesome Laurels. Sold!!! I read carefully about adjustments most women had to do, so I’ve decided to sew very cautiously, doing tons of baste fittings, instead of doing a proper muslin. Right off the bat I did the sway-back adjustment, took off 3″ off the lower back. I should have taken off additional 1″ from mid-back as well, but I kinda forgot to do that… Instead, I raised the back shoulder seam a bit, and it helped the situation somewhat. I found that I had to take most if the seams a lot, especially around the hips. I also added little tucks at the waist for a bit of shaping there. And as always, I convinced myself that I did not need to do a full-bust-adjustmnet… I have to say, it is the most forgivable garment that I’ve ever made, other than a t-shirt… The moderate stretch of the fabric, the print, and the pattern make it so easy to work with and wear it! I wore this dress to the Thanksgiving feast yesterday, and boy oh boy, it felt great not having to undo any buttons around my waist!!!

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See? that extra inch off from mid-back would have been nice. I have to say, I looooove the blue zipper!

But not all was sunshine and lollipops with this particular make. The print and colour was a problem #1. After I put the shell of the dress together, I discovered that the green totally washes me out. Also, there was so much craziness going on with that print that I needed to break it up somehow.  So I decided to do it by adding another colour (I know, right?). I settled for denim for a trim around the neck, and cuffs, and maybe a pocket or two. I loved the look of it, but hated how heavy the denim was next to the main fabric. So I settled for thinner black, abandoned the pockets idea, decided to make little ruffles for more impact, and add a little pretend tie for a bit of a vertical interest. Voila! And then I got to play with my blind hem foot, for the first time evah! So cool!!!

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The ruffles not laying flat on the cuffs are driving me bonkers… Will have to tack them on, I guess.

So, to sum up, I will not be resting on this Laurel, I will make another version. In less crazy print, in a smaller size (my 3 months of eating salads for lunch and working a retail job is paying off in multitude of ways), with a full-bust adjustment, 3/4″ off mid-back, much narrower hips with an addition of a slit on the side or at the back, and possibly narrower sleeves. And the BEST part is that I have enough of this super-awesome fingerprint fabric to make a pair of pants!!!

Have a good day, peeps!