Date Night Redux

I find myself in the same boat I’ve been in before, and so I thought a flashback post might be in order. My husband and I are heading out to an event tonight that’s “black tie optional,” and I don’t have anything to wear. A fact that I realized yesterday, naturally. The dress in the post below doesn’t fit any longer, since I was nursing when I made it and the…ahem…bustline is a bit more generous than strictly required these days. So I’m spending part of my afternoon figuring this out (and the other part denying that in 7 hours I’ll need to magically have a fancy dress that will make my husband proud). Wish me luck!

So, it’s 11 am on Tuesday. And I sort of lazily think about the rest of my week. I’m mulling over the classes I have to teach on Tuesday and Thursday, and then I wonder: What am I doing Wednesday night again?


I am attending a very, very large social event with my husband and massive numbers of older men in his profession. No pressure or anything. Also: NO DRESS.

I had planned to make something to wear, and had it on the calendar. And then I stacked some things on top of the calendar, and moved the stack to a stool in the corner and avoided going through the stack for a while, and now there I was: 36 hours to go time and nothing to wear.

So I did what we do when we sew: I got sewing. Boo-yah.

This is the same silk I used to make my Burda dress, but in a different colorway (I think that one’s “spice” and this one’s “poppy,” or something like that). The bodice is a McCall’s and the skirt is a vintage-look Vogue. Lining on the bodice is that wonderful Ambience rayon that I heard about from Amanda, and lining on the skirt is a lustrous poly china silk that I got on mega-sale.

The bodice took the most time, but was totally worth it. It’s actually a bodice with an overbodice–the pleated portion is separate, and has a full bodice underneath, for modesty. I love the whole overbodice thing, but wish I’d avoided the princess seaming in the underbodice. I also could have made it a size smaller. When you wait until the last minute, you don’t have time for last minute adjustments. Because you’re still putting in a hem 30 minutes before the car pulls out of the driveway. Just sayin’.

I love the fullness of the skirt, and didn’t even miss the crinoline I didn’t have time to go buy. What I did miss is the pockets I didn’t put in because I was worried I needed the extra 30 minutes to finish sewing. Which I did, but still. Pockets in a formal rock.

Hem: hot mess. There, I said it. I decided to reduce an inch from the hem, so rather than re-cutting all the pieces, I used the serger to take off the bottom inch while finishing the edge. Then, rather than easing out the fullness, I put in a super narrow hem by turning the serged edge under and stitching close to the stitches. Lazy, but it got the job done. The lining is even worse: I serged an extra two inches there, and left it undone. Which kinda stinks, because I meant I didn’t want to show off the yummy lime green-ness of it, which contrasted so strongly with the plaid in such a fabulous way.

I say all these things for a reason: generally, I recommend very strongly that we never apologize for our work. In fact, Stitch by Stitch Power Phrase #3 is “Thanks, it turned out really well.” We tend to point out flaws where other people don’t see flaws, and undercut the well-earned praise we ought to allow ourselves to accept. Shame on us. I’m making a point of sharing the flaws in this dress, though, because I think when a lot of projects–mine included–are blogged, only their best parts are pointed out, and it creates this illusion that there are some who sew perfectly every time and that YOU will never be as cool/perfect/talented/awesome. Totally not true. This dress looked great, and other than my forgetting to calculate my ridiculously short waist into the pattern, no one who was at this event of 400+ professionals ever knew that the hem was bootleg or that the lining was wonky. In fact, I got boatloads of compliments on my imperfect dress–which I accepted and was grateful for. I knew it wasn’t perfect. I also knew that if I’d worked to make it perfect, I would have missed out on a fancy party with my handsome husband in a tux where we got to have grown-up conversations and remember why we fell in love. And there is no way I would ever trade that for a flawless hem, y’all. No way.

Go. Sew. Be bold, and own your mistakes. They’re hidden from view, and are part of becoming better at what you’re doing. And most of the time, no one will ever notice. Not even your husband, when he holds your coat and tells you you’re beautiful.

You Might Also Like

  • Erin
    May 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Good luck and can’t wait to hear how it turned out!

  • Tiphaine
    May 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    I wish you great !!! And thank you again to remind us that as I am also rushing to finish up a dress for me for a very traditionnal tea party over here….

  • Sue Marie
    May 12, 2012 at 3:58 am

    What a great post.
    You’re so right, every time someone compliments me on making something I feel myself blurting out with things that went wrong, I think, in future I’ll just share them on my blog and then use Power Phrase 3 for complimenters 😀
    Sue x