Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ballgown: Day 21 (Or, It Might Be a Dress Someday)

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At long last: I'm finished fitting; out of patternwork; done with cutting. It's been a tiring and incredibly productive few days. I have little pile of skirt on the floor, and I'm slowly starting to connect the pieces of the dress to each other.  Yesterday I took my bodice back - which I haven't touched in over a week - and partially attached it to the skirt back, then sewed in the zipper.

The whole process took almost five hours of pinning, hand-basting, and extremely slow sewing. The georgette and the crepe moved through the machine at different rates, so in some places I had to take it (literally) one stitch at a time - turn the knob one stitch forward; presser foot up; let the feed dogs advance the georgette-crepe-zipper sandwich by a sixteenth of an inch or so; presser foot down; repeat.

Now, I have a weird, bottom-heavy flap of fabric with a zipper in it. No one would ever suspect what a pain in the ass it was, given how unassuming it looks.


Even though the zipper was one of the most intimidating parts of the dress for me, I had a really good day yesterday. The process of connecting everything and basting the zipper in was really slow and meditative: I listened to Sigur Rós while standing over the big table in the art room, hand-picking the zipper to the seam allowance, rain spattering the windows behind me.

It's been wonderfully cold and rainy the last few days, and it's been just the right atmosphere for the work I'm doing. I have to remind myself to take things bird by bird: when the thought of running my poor dress through a big, unwieldy machine is too scary, I should take a step back and start at the beginning. Line up seam allowances. Trim away loose threads. Pin. Do all the things that are quiet and meticulous, to make the big scary thing less big and scary.

As I expected, sewing in the zipper by machine was nerve-wracking, but I got into this weird mindset of authority rather than defeat: instead of frustration, I just felt this unflappable sense of purpose. So when half the zipper was just right and the other was skewed by a quarter of an inch, I took a deep breath and grabbed my seam ripper. When I stepped away from the machine at 8:30, neatly set-in zipper in hand, I felt both exhausted and triumphant.

Today, as a nice change of pace, I'm appliquéing lace to the front of the skirt and cutting out my lace godet. From there, I'm almost in the home stretch. Wish me luck!

Happy Thursday.


daywoods2 said...

I just wanted to leave a little note to tell you how much I've enjoyed seeing your process. I can't sew worth a lick (sewing machines terrify me, but I'm working on it), and seeing your beautiful creation coming to life is so incredibly inspiring.

Kat Riddell said...

Good Luck! As always, I am in awe of your work!

RC said...

Looking good! I'm excited to see what comes next. :)

Cory Ellen Boberg said...

Thanks, friends - I made a lot of progress yesterday, hooray!

And daywoods2 - I was really intimidated by sewing machines when I first started too, which was just about three years ago! What helped me was a lot of practice to learn my machine's quirks, and getting okay with sewing slowly - which I like because it allows more control of the fabric and less potential for injury. (Knock on wood, I've never seriously injured myself on my machine.)

I practice on scrap fabric a lot, so that when I'm working with my garment fabric, it's the 3rd or 4th time I've tried that technique with that fabric. I highly recommend starting with easy fabrics like midweight cottons and wools and branching out into harder fabrics (silk charmeuse, I'm looking at you!) once you're more comfortable with the machine.

And also good to remember that our first work doesn't have to be perfect - my sewing sucked a lot for the first year or so, and I look at as just part of the process. You have to make a bit of bad stuff before you can get to the good stuff.

I hope that if sewing captures your imagination, you can give it a shot. I believe in you! :)