1. In the lead-up to May, I always wonder if I’m going to participate. I always think, “I should sit down and set a clear intention/plan.” I never do this pre-work. And instead, I wear something me-made on May 1st (sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally), and make a game-time decision.
2. The dress I’m wearing today brings me immense joy.
3. It’s one more iteration of a dress that I made for the first time in April 2016 – this is a shocking detail to have uncovered, because I can’t quite remember my life before these perfect (for me) dresses. One of the best lessons I’ve learned through Me Made May, and from this evaluative process of sewing, is that I should invest in high-value projects like this one. If the delight-to-effort ratio is too low on too many sewing projects, I’m going to lose interest. A dress like this, I can now assemble in a few hours (especially since my pattern pieces and process notes improve slightly each time) and I’ll likely wear it once a week until it falls apart – this is the type of project that refills my sewing mojo tank.
4. Things that fill my sewing mojo tank: learning a new skill and applying it effectively, quick/easy garments that I will wear frequently, making minor alterations that dramatically improve the fit of a garment. Things that empty my tank: making a garment for the first time and discovering that it does not fit me well (this should NOT be a surprise/disappointment, since my main motivation for sewing is that I’m not sample sized, yet it’s still a frustration), making alterations and discovering that they do NOT improve the fit of a garment, fear/anticipation of iterative sewing (which often includes the previous two frustrations).
5. I’m trying to re-conceptualize my sewing hobby based on this article, which encourages you to collect achievements through your hobby instead of collecting stuff for your hobby. One way I’m trying to do this is by attempting to sew every pattern I own. This has always been a vague goal, though my pattern-collection has more to do with what patterns appeal to me than with what I need/want to wear. Sometimes the purchase of a pattern is more accurately the purchase of an idea of who I might become if I were the type of person who wore that garment. And my previous goal of sewing each pattern included within it a sub-goal of becoming each of those potential versions of myself. That…was obviously subconscious, because it’s EXHAUSTING and IMPOSSIBLE to achieve those goals!
So the new goal is to sew each pattern once, and to decide whether or not the pattern is worth more of my time after that initial trial. I might discover that the pattern was a representation of some far-fetched ideal, and if I have to make a garment and try it on in order to cast off that ideal, that supposed failure can be re-framed.
6. THIS HAPPENED LAST WEEK. I connected all of those dots last week when I made what I assumed would be the base of my new professional wardrobe – a return to woven fabrics, a dress with some structure, but clean and simple and totally pulled together. (As if I’m not pulled together while wearing comfortable knit dresses, please give me a moment while I continue to rip apart this ridiculous ideal I’d created for myself.) This is the pattern – look at how unflappable those sketched ladies are! Now notice (like I did not) that the fabric wobbles/gapes ever so slightly at the neckline and armsyce on the real life model – an indication that this simple pattern is far too boxy/flat to allow for real life lady curves. My optimism and the allure of this ideal self were significant blinders – I even made a muslin (draft) of the bodice with leftover/wadder fabric, and managed to overlook those pattern flaws! It was only after I carefully made the full garment, using a VERY nice fabric, that I put on the dress and was confronted with how dramatically flawed the ideal was.
There are no photos of the finished garment. I attempted to take in a few seams to improve the fit, but the problems were too dramatic for that small fix. Instead of wallowing (or taking photos), I pulled off the bodice and inserted a shorter zipper on the skirt (which is still incredibly cute).
7. Whoops! I didn’t intend for this to turn into a rant about one particular garment, but this must be where I needed to go with it. This attempt still brings me great disappointment. It emptied my sewing mojo tank significantly. I’m sad to have cut into some beloved fabric – though one of my goals this year is to do exactly that. (So by this measure, I was boldly successful.) I am tempted to work and rework this pattern until it fits me perfectly, but one of the best lessons I’ve learned, which I’m reminded of as I wear the perfect purple dress pictured above, is that successful iterations start with something that fits. I don’t think this pattern will ever fit me without significant re-working. I did learn a few neat new skills – the dress is/was fully lined, and I put in the effort to understitch every seam. I can get rid of this pattern now – and firmly place it in the “tried, and rejected” category.