Early this summer, I offered each of my kids a half-hour "date" with me. During that time, I abandoned my usual control-freak ways and allowed my children to tell me what they wanted to do. (I offered suggestions, but they got to choose). K-daughter and I made a garden box; J-son got jealous and followed suit; N-son and I played a no-holds-barred version of Connect Four.
K-daughter liked this idea so much she asked me, "On our next date, can you teach me how to make a dress?" Of course, I said yes.
Truth is, though, the Make-a-Dress project is way bigger than just one little half-hour date. So far we've had three dates, in fact, and we haven't yet brought out a sewing machine or a needle.
|Date Three: we cut out the fabric.|
What's more, sewing a dress from scratch requires a lot of knowledge about of little details. Our first "date", all we did was wander through the fabric store and buy stuff. The first stop was the patterns: an overwhelming (to K-daughter) wall full of drawers, with each drawer full of envelopes. I got to show her that the envelopes were organized in an order of their own quirky way. She found a pattern she could fall in love with . . . until I pointed to the price tag: $15.65. (And that's just the paper that tells you how to make the dress, not the cloth you use to make it!)
She gulped, and we regrouped, finding another dress pattern for only $2.50, and I promised her we could modify it to match the first one, sort of. (Veteran sewers will know that we could have used a coupon and waited for a sale day to get even a lower price, but in this situation I figured forward progress was better than slow frugality). Once we got the pattern, we had to buy the material and all the extras. I assured her I could help her get a zipper and thread from my stockpile at home, and I tried to explain interfacing (seriously, does anybody who doesn't sew know what interfacing is?*), but even narrowing the next step down to fabric was overwhelming. At one point, when she'd pointed to a fabric she loved, and I'd gently folded the fabric over the cardboard bolt to reveal the price (um, $30/yard), she was ready to give up.
[* As I write this, I'm totally imagining Evelyn and Rozy nodding their heads and smiling in knowing amusement. Yes, yes, this.]But I got to practice being a "calm, non-anxious presence", and eventually K-daughter and I found some inexpensive fabric she liked. We bought the pattern and the fabric, and Date One was over.
Dates Two and Three were pinning and cutting. For me, it was a flood of old memories --- it's been so long since I thought about lining up those arrows so they lie parallel to the selvage edge, or cutting those diamonds (out, not in!), or giving proper homage to seam allowances, or paying reverence to good side/back side of fabric. I felt like a wise old woman, sharing ancient incantations.
We're still waiting on Date Four; that's when the sewing machine will finally come out of its cabinet and begin its work. I figure we still have at least four or five dates remaining; far off on the horizon lie the mysteries of zippers, ruffles, and hems. At some point, for sure, the almighty Seam Ripper will make its inevitable appearance. There's so much to learn.
The title of this blog post is a little bit of a sad pun; before the summer is over, K-daughter will be moving into another apartment, and so she will have a new address. That's a subject for another post. But we've agreed to schedule weekly dates, and making her new dress (from scratch) is sure to be part of those.