Have you ever had one of those projects that seems to kind of rip the wind from your sails?
Last week I got it into my head to work on a dress that I started YEARS ago. A silly thing, from Alexander Henry novelty fabric (skulls & roses), and a Simplicity cheongsam/Mandarin collar dress pattern. It was going to be something fun to wear when going out. I'd seen someone make a Victorian bustle walking dress with novelty sushi fabric (Trystan Bass, the Gothic Martha Stewart), and that's where the idea had sprung from.
I started this dress years ago, before I had Dashiell, who just turned 6 in July. I had finished it, and it needed altering, and it was lined and I'd have to take it all out, and that would be a pain in the ass, and I put it away, and then there was a pregnancy and baby and no time and it didn't fit etc. etc. etc.
For reasons I cannot fathom now, I had decided to line it. In black cotton. 2 layers of cotton that are not sheer or semi-sheer becomes very hot. Which is great for winter, but this was a short sleeved dress, and it didn't need the lining.
I decided last week that I wanted to finish it. We had floated plans for the weekend where I might actually be able to wear it too, and I just wanted to finish it once and for all. Taking the lining out was time consuming, but eventually got done. Then I had to try and adjust the fit in the bust, one of the longstanding issues with it.
As I hadn't sewn on this thing in years, I had little recollection of what size was actually chosen for this pattern. Nevertheless, it was too big in the chest, which meant there was some poofy thing happening above my breasts, and it looked like I needed quite a bit more padding to stop it looking all odd and slightly puckered. A first adjustment attempt sorted out quite a bit of the issues, but I was still having some problems. In the end, after several frustrating hours, I ended up just wearing it inside out, and hand stitching the bust seams, then machine stitching it. After all that, I had to put the sleeves back in again too.
Many many hours of frustration heaped on this dress the past few days. It has been the bane of my existence. I almost gave in to the urge to take it outside and burn it on a ceremonial pyre, but I persevered.
It's almost done, I'm finishing up some top stitching in certain parts. And I'm relieved.
I should add that I have little experience at all in garment sewing. I sewed on a bunch of garment stuff back in the day when my friend Kit still lived nearby, who was a trained costume designer. But when I had my first kiddo, that all went on the back burner, especially after Dashiell was diagnosed with Cri-du-Chat and needed a lot of therapy and doctor's appointments.
Garment sewing is something I'd like to get back into at some point, and it has been hard not to sour on that desire with this skulls & roses dress. This dress is certainly a case in point for why quilting cottons don't necessarily make good garment fabrics. I know a little more now than I did then about things like drape and such, even though a lot of it is still very intimidating to me. This fabric would work well as a skirt that's A-line or structured or something that doesn't require a lot of drape.
And so I am almost done with this dress, and I find that it has made me very frustrated and aggravated, and I've kind of obsessed with it and burned creative energy just stressing over the thing. And it also drained me of a desire to make anything else the past days too, which makes me doubly unhappy. But. It is almost entirely off my plate!