Life of a Seamstress

Vroom vroom…. The needle pounds up and down and up and down.  Miraculously the thread on top catches the thread wound around a tiny spool below.  It swirls in circles and parallel lines.  It speaks to the warp and the weft, says,  “Work with me, and we will create a thing of beauty.”  The hours wear on, the needle gets dull, the thread breaks and the tension mounts.  Tears rain from above, softly falling against the stitch chart.  Each stitch becomes more painful and the woman rages.  Her words no longer whispers–just waterfalls of profanity splashing and pooling into the folds of a dress.

Such is the life of a seamstress.

It is the excitement, the creativity that drives us.  It is the lack of knowledge, cheap thread and overused machinery that disappoints us.  And yet, we still seem to carry on, figure it out, Google it- whatever we have to do to finish the creative process.  Or sometimes, it just sits, in the drawer, for a few days…or years.  Maybe it never gets finished.  It’s ok, because something else gets finished instead.  A new, exciting, vibrant piece that is TOTALLY worth every second/tear you spent on it.

That being said, I would like to share a recent victory in my sewing room.  A project bought on a whim and finished in a very reasonable amount of time (1 week).  It was THIS dress that caught my eye in the latest Vogue pattern book:

Vogue pattern 1300

A totally simple dress, but interesting with the asymmetrical giant ruffle.  AND it has pockets!  No buttonholes to make (hate ’em) and I already had a slip to use for a liner, even though the pattern includes one.

While the price is ridiculous for a pattern (and for THIS pattern since it’s so simple!), the one good thing I can say about Joann’s Fabrics is that they sell Vogue patterns for $9.95.  So I was game. ( Between the fabric and pattern and notions I spent 30 bucks on this project..It will last 10 times longer than anything from forever 21 AND I won’t bump into anyone else wearing it!)

Here’s the pattern description on the back:

Loose-fitting, pullover dress has back neck slit, button and self loops, binding, side pockets, stitched hems, flounce (wrong side shows, very narrow hem) and cap sleeves.

The trick was in choosing the fabric.  I found a woven polyester that I liked.  No big deal, right?  VERY big deal.  Although I have worked with polyester many times before, this one proved to be a REAL bitch.  It was thick and my machine WOULD NOT stop skipping stitches.  After re-threading, changing the bobbin and needles, I went on-line to get some answers.  Turns out the ballpoint needle worked better, but not great.  I think I ended up with a microtex 12 (I had started with a 14) and it did OK.  But here’s the trick:  I used tracing paper as a tear-away stabilizer beneath EVERY stitch I made.  Yes, I had done this before when sewing FEATHERWEIGHT man-made materials, but never on anything this heavy.  (This fabric was a little heavier than a regular weight quilting cotton).   So, there WAS a lot of screaming at the machine (ask my husband!), but it ended up being worth it in the end.

I knew this was a good bet for me because it wasn’t fitted.  I never know what size to make.  I made a 6 (the smallest option on this dress) and think it fits well enough to wear.  Take a look:

And…I discovered that it looked cute with a little belt too!

Also, a fun side note:  I realized that the shoes I chose to pair with the dress also happened to be DKNY. Hmmmm.

All of this to say…Happy sewing and don’t give up!

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4 thoughts on “Life of a Seamstress

  1. simple, lovely and I love the outcome, the writing and the creator of both! thanks for the sharing of it. Not the first time I have enjoyed your words. This brings back too many memories to count (and so well put)! the love, the frustration and the drive to go on. I have not followed that drive for some great time now but have sewed much in the past and enjoyed it (mixed the the other parts as well) immensely. My mother was a fabulous seamstress who made all my clothes as a young woman, often without a pattern; play clothes, dances, proms, wedding dress, trousseau and one made to order from a magazine I just “had to have”. I never sewed til I was newly married and got the gift of a new sewing machine. Then the ability just seemed to spring naturally from that well she had opened for me. By this time she had alzheimers and could not fully appreciate the fruits of her great talent. What a great model she was though in so very many ways…………..

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