16 March 2013

First Attempt At Formalwear

My new dress :) and the
faux fur bolero. While I
did make the dress, I did
not, in fact, hunt and
skin the mink.
So recently there was a formal affair I had to attend, and for once I didn’t have to wear my dress uniform, but could wear an actual dress. Thus, after a long and laborious search for an appropriate dress, I determined that there is nothing presently on the market worth wearing. At least, not in the color I was hell bent on rocking (I’m an MP; I *had* to wear hunter green to our Military Ball, as it is our branch color). However, there are very few formal dresses for sale that qualify as members of the green spectrum that are neither teal nor chartreuse. There’s not really a market, apparently, for a good, solid, foresty hunter green…except me. I looked through store after store. I even looked online, and not a dress was there to behold except a few super-cheap jersey knit ones that really wouldn’t be appropriate anyway, and this one with a slit all the way up to the hoo-hah…

Plus nothing came in my size.

Thus, deciding that my hunt for the perfect hunter dress was futile, and wanting practice in the formalwear-making department anyway, I figured I would try my hand at using a sewing machine.

Now, I had never used a sewing machine, ever. They always scared the crap out of me. I had this irrational fear—and I knew it was completely irrational—that I would sew my finger into the fabric. That said, I’ve done lots and lots of sewing over the years, to include every Halloween costume since second grade (Cleopatra, cut out of a old white sheet, colored with sharpie, and hastily stitched together with black thread), but it was all by hand. My hand-sewing skills have greatly improved since those days, and my sewn accomplishments include a Xena-esque warrior goddess and the Mother of Dragons—complete, of course, with a dragon—not to mention a rather detailed Joan of Arc. Ok, ok, so mostly my sewing exploits involve a lot of pleather and stretch velvet with something of an Amazonian flair. I figured, how hard can using a machine be? or working with satin? boning? corsetry? I can do that. I can do anything! I’m a freaking artistic, craft-master prodigy, after all.

At least, that’s what I told my mother when she expressed her doubts in my abilities to sew a formal gown in time. You see, by the time I admitted defeat in my purchase-a-dress pursuit, I only had one week left prior to the event itself. I went to the local JoAnn Fabrics, picked out some lovely glitter-coated satin in the perfect shade of hunter green, some matching lining and thread, interfacing, the whole shebang. I even purchased a pattern (something else I’d never used before). Initially I was going to wing it, but when I saw the pattern I figured that would be a good starting point, considering it was exactly what I had in mind plus I didn’t have a whole lot of time for my normal process of trial and error.

And…it worked! I didn’t exactly sleep much that week, but by Thursday I definitely had a wearable dress. I had another ball the week after, so I made a few tweaks for the final version—mainly, adding a beaded trim around the neckline—but all in all I was able to pull off the impossible feat, thus making me feel much more confident that the creation of my perfect wedding dress will be doable. Anywho, so the dress is exactly as I wanted it, and I made it all by myself :) if you can’t tell, I’m a little bit on the proud side, hence the blog post and the picture.

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