Sunday, January 27, 2019

Redoing a Dress

In 1870, Mark Twain published a humorous account of repairmen working on his watch. It was funny when I read it many years ago and the moral of the story (if there was one!) has stuck with me since then;

"My Uncle William (now deceased, alas!) used to say that a good horse was, a good horse until it had run away once, and that a good watch was a good watch until the repairers got a chance at it."

You know, I was uneasy about sending my sewing machine to the repair shop a few weeks ago and when I got it back, finally, I was even more uneasy after seeing their sample sewing of the fixed machine. The tension was really off and the stitch lines puckered up the heavy weight piece of fabric the samples were sewn on. Still, I fixed the tension myself and sewed a pair of plaid flannel pajama pants for my 4 year old son and remade an old dress without much difficulty, but the sewing still felt "off" somehow. Then, the machine jammed, without warning or provocation. The same problem that made me send off the machine in the first place is back again. It's under a 90 day warranty so it is going back to the shop to be fixed again, but I am tired of it and not hopeful for a permanently good outcome. Blah.
Serpent Mound, on a very cold and icy January evening. Just a few months til the Peace Summit!
I hope they fix it. The timing seems off and the top thread will not pick up the bottom thread. I can usually fix the timing myself but I can't this time. It was an expensive machine and I do not want to give up on it!

I am in the process of testing a pdf pattern and really needed a decent sewing machine to make the sample projects. I was super lucky to find a nice old Kenmore machine at a thrift store. It's old and ungodly heavy and terribly scratched and has blue-marker guide lines drawn on it for very large seam allowances, but damn, it works. I had seen it earlier, shoved on a shelf at the back of the store with a bunch of other electronic equipment surrounding it. Fans, coffee pots, microwaves. I had a good feeling about it at that time  but I didn't buy it. It was $35. Still, the thought of that machine stuck with me. It was still there when my newly fixed machine stopped working and I decided to take a chance on it and I'm so glad I did! It chugs through many layers of fabric with no effort. It's beautiful. The stitch lines are straight and even and perfectly tensioned. I was shocked but thrilled. This old workhouse might replace my nice machine as my favorite machine ever. I love it! $35 well spent.
Yes, I know pictures from the woods have nothing to do with sewing
BUT I do wear my homesewn clothes when I'm out in the woods! 
So, this is my second project of the year for myself. It's kind of an extension of my skirt-and-kaftan project a few weeks ago. When I was dyeing the fabric for the skirt I tossed the remnants of this dress into the dye bath with it and it came out such a pretty color I decided I had to save it. A few years ago I purchased it for a few dollars and it was white and had some really lovely cotton eyelet work around the skirt hem. The whitework looked almost right for 1860's stuff so when I decided I didn't love how the dress looked on me (the style is a bit dumpy and blah) I cut off the eyelet trim to use for historic stuff. The top portion of the dress, and top part of the skirt, has been in my bin of trims since then. I forgot I had it until I came across when looking for some cotton lace recently. The bodice still had a lovely row of eyelet down the center front and the bodice tucks were pretty so. . .I decided to try to make it into something I would wear.


The dress came out a pretty greenish grey. While I did not mind a short skirt, especially for summer wear, the skirt was just a bit too short. And it looked odd with the slightly high waistline and the blousy bodice. A long skirt it had to be then, so I pulled out the fabric leftover from making my second pair of Arenite Pants last year and had just enough for a basic rectangular skirt. I sewed it into a tube, gathered it to the bodice waistband and finished the hem with a visible facing of material cut from the skirt of the dress. I decided it was good enough and worn with a blouse it works just fine for the colder weather we have been having, especially with a skirt and pants underneath for warmth.



It still looks kind of dumpy but I like it anyway - maybe because of its looser, easy fit. I like the colors together and feel like I can wear this without worrying about getting it dirty or damaging the fabric. The blue fabric wears like iron and the top fabric won't be under much strain. That was one thing that bothered me about this dress in its original, white state. It was just too delicate and impractical to wear much!


It was less than 10 degrees when Judah took these pictures for me a few days ago. So that's why I look like I'm freezing. I was! ­čśé Thankfully its a bit warmer now and as February approaches I find myself very much looking forward to Spring. In another month or six weeks the first little flowers will be out. It is a happy time to see the earth come awake.

Love,
Sarah

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