Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Of Sewing, Sisters and Saigon

Here are two of the reasons I have been a bit 'blog quiet' of late! The first is my sister, looking very glamorous here, as we prepare to see 'Miss Saigon' on Tuesday night. The second is the dress the Baby Angel is wearing. Yes, I have been sewing!!

I spent four days on that b***** dress! It turned out to be a LOT fiddlier than I realised when she chose the pattern AND we ended up taking it apart and virtually starting again at one point.

The 'babydoll' dress is all the rage here and I 'd promised to make her one as some of the rubbish they sell in the shops look as if they were made of dishcloths but are priced like silk. She liked the idea of having a dress which was an 'original' and we picked this lovely lawn fabric in a colour which really suits her. I deliberately steered her towards a pattern with thicker shoulder straps (see the image on the left), befitting her tender years and we also decided to line the skirt as the fabric was quite fine and a bit see through.

On the first day I realised there were a number of fiddly bits to contend with
* pleating everywhere, shoulder straps, front
back of skirt
* gathers under the bust
* shoulder straps which were not cut
attached to the bodice but which had to be
fed over the bodice inside out, sewn at the
front, turned the right way, turn the back
bodice inside out, attach to strap, turn the
bodice the right way again *pant pant*
* lining (my own fault)
Nevertheless, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and all the special features later and the dress was assembled.

The next day, BA tried it on and a very 'lukewarm' expression greeted her reflection in the mirror. Was it too plain? Too big? Too long? She wasn't sure. "I just don't think it's me mum," she apologised. I was aghast! "But YOU picked the pattern and the fabric...this has been a bugger to make...what do you MEAN you don't like it??????"

She was suitably apologetic and upset for me. She swore she'd wear it anyway and tried the old 'No, it's OK Mum, I DO like it...I really do....."

Enter Himself. Ah hah, an objective eye!! We asked him what he thought and got a blank face.

Me: You don't like it. Why don't you like it????
Him: Well, I'm not sure....I think the straps are too thick.
Me: What do you MEAN too thick???...she's only 12...they're perfectly age appropriate!!!!!
Him: Well don't ask me then if you don't want my opinion.
Me : (deep breathing) No, no, we do want your opinion...but the straps are exactly as they were in the pattern (gets pattern packet and thrusts it under his nose)
Him: They maybe, but they're too thick. It's top heavy. There's too much dress and not enough girl.
Me: (wailing) but she's only 12 I don't WANT there to be too much girl.
Him: Yes, but she doesn't LOOK 12. She looks like a pretty girl in a frumpy dress.

This was not going well. I had hoped he would tell her how nice she looked in the hope that this would convince her and ensure that she actually WORE the thing. After I'd examined the girl in dress a little bit more, I had to admit that there was something 'clunky' about the straps. Added to this, although the BA needed the width across her back, the front of the bodice was too loose and didn't sit well.

I had to face it. I would need to redo the top of the dress. In the process we drew a new line for the shoulder straps under Himself's designer eye. It took a whole day to unpick the bodice from the skirt, unpick the shoulder straps, reset pleats on a narrower bustline, recut the straps, reattach the straps.......you get the picture. We were determined that she would wear the dress to Miss Saigon but I still had the hem to do as we headed to the Bestie's place for a light pre-theatre supper.

As you can see however, it all turned out in the end and I think she looks gorgeous in it. She has new bright blue sandals to match (thank you Auntie!!) and a blue handbag as well. Note in the picture that she is taller than my sister and sister is wearing platform shoes!!! We have to acknowledge that she is half a head taller than both of us now.

Here's another one of the BA and Grandma, I think its particularly lovely. You can see how thick the straps are here...and that was AFTER I'd cut them down. Himself is not a designer for nothing! He was right as usual.

Miss Saigon was not so much an emotional roller coaster as an emotional Drop of Death. Set during the Vietnam War, it started off with the 17 year old heroine being picked up off the street to work as a prostitute and never got any more cheerful than that! It was stunningly staged and the performances were excellent but it left us all exhausted and a bit shell shocked really.

The Bestie used up at least two tissues and most of the ladies in the party had to resort to face mopping at some point during the proceedings. The songs are not particularly memorable except for The American Dream, sung by the pimp who is known cleverly as The Engineer. The famous scene with the helicopter which prevented the show from touring to smaller theatres in the past, was effective and devastating as the GIs leave and the desperate Vietnamese nationals try to climb the fence of the Embassy waving their immigration papers helplessly at the sky. Gut wrenching.

As a footnote to my sewing escapades, I developed a muscle spasm in my lower back, probably from sitting hunched over the machine for so long! I have had to have some physio on it as I could barely move Wednesday morning but it's definitely on the improve as our ice skating and 10 pin bowling excursion today proved! (pix in a later post)

So now to catch up on a bit of blog reading in between swimming, beaching and dinners with my sister and brother-in-law. Good times!!!!!!


HipMomma said...

It's adorable. And it seems you did a great job, too. That's definitely more of a pattern than I would have taken on. I think the fabric really makes it. She's just beautiful.

Brittany said...

Ah! I have missed you. :)

The dress is beautiful! What talent. I could never do anything like that.

I will admit, I was laughing at the "pretty girl in a frumpy dress" statement. Himself is quite the character, isn't he?

Stacy said...

You did a great job on the dress, she looks beautiful in it! I have been there, done that with the redrafting. It can be SO FRUSTRATING when you spend so much time on something only to rip it apart and start over. I had to do that a bit with Anya's Halloween costume/dress and I was happy when that bugger was finished. It is nice to see your originals worn, though. :)

Anonymous said...

I just commented here, but I think it disappeared. I was saying that you did a FABULOUS job on the dress. The BA looks like a model in it.
Congrats on finishing it. I would have been tempted to give up after the initial reaction.

Chris in Oxford said...

How many times have I used those words: "Why are you asking my opinion if you don't want it?" That's the worst position to be in - the source of a male opinion.

Colleen said...

The dress is beautiful! I'm just surrounded by talented women bloggers who sew, and knit, and scrapbook, and on and on and on. Very impressive!

Arizaphale said...

Thanks everyone and Chris, I know you're right! But we really DO want your opinion...really....

Anonymous said...

i looked much better after hair down. but thank you very very much for making the dress because I do luurve it =D

kim said...

The dress turned out beautifully and BA looks wonderful in it!
I saw Miss Saigon while in college, and don't remember being particularly impressed by it, but I did like the music, which I already knew when we saw the show.

Christina said...

Wow! that is an awesome dress, you did a great job on it. A lot of the sewing talk goes right over my head, but I am duly impressed and appreciate the time and effort. A labor of love! BA looks gorgeous...truly, truly stunning. The color is great on her. and I can't believe Himself offered so much design help!

And I love BA's comment here. awww!

Fear and Loathing said...

woah nice dress! and BA looks older than 12 but in a good way, very sophisticated! I like sewing too, but I am impatient and dont like following patterns... would you have guessed??!!