Dear Rae,

I made a dress.

But not only did I make a dress, I made a dress that I WILL ACTUALLY WEAR.

Hang on a minute, I know what you’re thinking – Huh?  You mean she regularly makes dresses she DOESN’T ACTUALLY WEAR?

Well, no, that would be kind of stupid.  I mean, I have made dresses in the past and they’ve not been worn because they didn’t fit right or just didn’t suit me.  Which is why I stopped making dresses.

(Truth be told, I’ve never actually made an entire dress, I don’t think… nope, not that I can recall… I’ve never got past the muslin stage.  Those muslins can be kinda shifty, you know.  Leading you along the garden path, making you think it’s all gonna be great, and then, just when you think you’ve finally got it figured out (always after you’ve traced and cut out all thirty odd pattern pieces) it throws you a curve ball and before you know it, you’re at Country Road handing over your credit card for an expensive, albeit quite well-fitting, lozenge for your battered and bruised sewing ego.)

Now, I know it’s probably not the ‘done’ thing, this whole giving up and throwing in the sewing dresses towel (particularly in your part of the blogosphere!), it’s just that after a while, when you spend hours and hours on something that only succeeds in disappointing, it gets a little tedious.  Not to mention frustrating.  And so I gave up.

But mercifully (at least in this case),  I can be a bit like a dog with a bone.  In this case, sewing dresses happens to be that old bone that got buried in the corner of the yard a while back and is now so ripe and smelly that it got dug back up again, just so the ol’ dog could have another go at it.  Cos’ that dress, I mean bone, is not going to win, dammit!

Now, just in case you’re wondering why I’ve written this letter to you in particular (and please accept my sincerest apologies for taking so long to get to the meat and potatoes of this epistle) but basically, I made a dress, a dress that I will wear, and that dress was your Washi Dress.

But hang on a minute here – I don’t want you, or my readers for that matter, to think that your Washi Dress pattern was some kind of instant, electronically downloaded, pdf remedy to all my sewing dresses woes.  Oh no no no no no!

Oh no no no no no no no no no no no!

Oh no.

No.  No.  No.  It was not.

If only it had been that simple.

Once again, I set off all eager beaver, all “Hi ho Silver!”, the wind in my sails!  Because I looked at the myriad of Flickr photos of your Washi Dress on so many other people, and I thought, some might say rather arrogantly, “Well, if THEY can do it, so can I!”.  So I pressed that print button, I sticky-taped those pattern pieces together, and I cut that sucker out!

And then the wind in my sails quickly become more like that of the wind escaping from a half blown up balloon that’s accidentally let go.  And I embarked on a journey that was not unlike that of the Israelites when they left Egypt to go to Canaan.

Ok, so forty years may be a bit of an exaggeration, but what should have only taken me a few hours all up, has finally come full circle after approximately 1.5 years (conservatively speaking).

Now, I need to point out that this has absolutely nothing to do with your pattern (very professionally drafted, my circles matched up perfectly), or your fantastic instructions (refer to awesome tubey / sewing side seams part, for example!!) or the design of the Washi Dress (classic but current, and so many options!).No no, this was all about me.  This was all about me learning that you just can’t trust muslins.  At least not entirely.  You know, like don’t stake your house on it kind of trust.  Because muslins are just that.  Muslins.  Also knowns as draft garments.  They’re not meant to look pretty, and seriously, how can you expect them to when they’re quite often made out of, well obviously muslin, but more likely, as in my situation, that incredibly gaudy, but un-pass-up-ably cheap at $2 a metre, fabric……………?

And now, dear dear Rae, I’ve finally figured that out.  And I have your Washi Dress to thank for that.  I’ve finally got it through my noggin that the final dress, the dress that I will actually wear, isn’t the one that I start working on.  It’s not the one I figure out pattern nuances on, things like cut and shape and style and fabric drape etc etc.  It’s the one I finish with.  The one I get when I’ve done the hard yards and fiddled with this or that (and yes, I know your instructions say all this, but sometimes people just gotta learn the hard way!).  The final dress is the one where I take a deep breath and cut into that favourite fabric I’ve had squirrelled away forever.  The fabric that’s now out of print and which, if I stuff this up, I won’t be able to get anymore of.  You know, just to add more pressure to an already tenuous situation.

But, like my husband said, if you don’t do it, you’ll never know.  So I chose not to trust that muslin in almost-black-navy with bright orange-red poppies.  Because that red just isn’t my shade.  And, after breathing a few hundred times into a brown paper bag, I went the whole hog and did a pointed collar and pointed capped sleeves too.  I know, I know, risky, but hey! I am the monster YOU created.

Ok, so here’s the thing.Ready?  Are you sitting down?

It actually worked.I know *hands in air* I was shocked too.  I mean, who would have thought a dress made from nice fabric, a dress that I followed the instructions on, a dress that has worked for soooooooooo many other people, would actually work for me?blog11

I mean, I now have a dress hanging in my wardrobe that I’ll actually wear.

A dress that I won’t feel awkward in when I enter a room.  And for those first few potentially nervy wearings (I mean, I’m only human after all, and I’m just getting started on this make-your-own-clothes journey), well, I’ll just shove my hands in those awesome fully-lined pockets and press on. Because, did I mention those pockets are awesome?!  Uh. May. Zing.



So, Rae.  Thanks from the bottom of my sewing heart. Thanks for creating a pattern that works for sewing novices like me. And thanks for giving me back my ‘sewing my own clothes’ mojo.

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