Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ballgown: Day 26 (Or, Finding My Unicorn)

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Yesterday, I got to try on my dress for the first time. There weren't any sleeves yet, and the skirt lining was just barely pinned to the waist seam, and it wasn't properly pressed... but it was still sort of magical. In heels, I look ten feet tall, and the skirt fits perfectly at the hips and falls straight to the floor in soft folds. The director rearranged the train and exclaimed, "It looks like a movie star from the '30s!", which is exactly what I wanted. It was a nice reminder that in the end, this dress will really exist; the illustration on the wall is getting closer and closer to becoming itself, and the list of things left to do is getting shorter by the day.

Yesterday I did the last really scary thing, which was to set in the sleeves and sew the binding on. With the sleeve and bodice just two layers of georgette in some places, and the junction between the underarm and sleeve a major detail that gets looked at during the presentation, sewing it together was stressful but also kind of great - in the end, I turned the bodice right-side out, and the sleeve seam flowed right into the side seam. Not perfect, but pretty close to it.

It strikes me, how exhilarating it is, to take on an intimidating task and not just do it, but do the shit out of it. So many aspects of this dress have been incredibly scary - presenting and committing to it in the first place; setting in the zipper and sleeves in a difficult fabric; working towards a goal whose process and timeframe was murky in places - and I had no idea if I could actually do it at all, much less do it well. So it feels amazing to accept those challenges, approach them using my process and my work ethic, and have them turn out better than even I could have imagined.

As I enter my last few days, I expected to feel stressed, but instead I feel a sense of profound calm. Everything that I've done in the last three years to prepare for this gown, and everything that I've done in the last twenty-six days to create it, has led up to now. And I know for a fact that I'm capable of everything I have left to do.

Everyone gets something different from the ballgown experience, and I think the magical unicorn I've discovered is self-trust: of vision, of process, of skills. And that is a gift that I'll carry with me for a long time to come.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ballgown: Day 25 (Or, Dresshood)

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It's fumbling ever closer towards dresshood: the skirt is together; the hem is sewn; the godet is neatly sandwiched between three layers of silk. I have to carry the dress like a small child between my table and the machine and the ironing board, supporting the weight of the skirt. Today I set the lining into the bodice, and sew in the sleeve - then it really will look like a dress.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ballgown: Day 24 (Or, Seven Not-So-Easy Pieces)

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Yesterday was a big day in terms of construction: The Dress (whose secret name is Cutie, for reasons unbeknownst even to me) went from a lot of big pieces to seven much bigger pieces. I have a front and a back, and two sleeves, and coordinating linings - and today, I figure out how to put them all together.

The finish line is so close. Six more days feels both completely doable and utterly overwhelming. Seven pieces, and 50ish hours of work, and a few dozen buttons, and she'll be done. Then, what am I going to do when there's no ballgown to get up and make?

I really am going to miss this routine. Getting my pastry at the market every Sunday; laying on the couch in the magazine room watching a cluster of wasps building a nest outside the window; hugging my dress goodbye at night.

I'm sure I'll have more words later, but this has been the most incredible experience, and I'm not sure yet how to process the fact that it's almost over. While I'm excited to sleep in, hang out with my husband and rats, and have a social life again, I also know that this time will live in my memory as one of the most exquisitely difficult and fulfilling moments in my life. But I have at least six more days until I have to figure out what that means.

Happy Sunday, friends!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ballgown: Day 23 (Or, Everything is Coming Up Appliqué)

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Yesterday was another long day of appliquéing, but on the bright side, I have a whole front skirt panel constructed and the last of the really difficult handwork is done! I measured and pinned and basted for hours before finally getting down to hand-sewing, and I think it really paid off. Because I'm a sucker for things matching correctly, I planned the waist seam to meet across two mirrored edging pieces to create a little sunburst design - it's a small detail, but I love how it connects the two lace sections to each other.

And today, I start putting the whole shebang together. Hooray, hooray!

Happy Saturday!