Ah... the dress is done. I can sit back and admire it. I will wear it tomorrow to the farmer's market. It's the kind of dress I could wear wherever and whenever I wanted to. It fits me perfectly, and making the dress, instead of buying it, suits me just fine. Sure I had to work hard at making every detail perfect, and perfectly finished, so that no matter what I choose to do when I am wearing the dress, if it gets dirty, I can just toss it in the washer and dryer and know that it is going to hold up. This is the kind of dress that I can multitask in, literally. While wearing it, I can simultaneously breath, sit, and eat. It doesn't pinch or pull me anywhere. These are inherent bonuses in sewing your own clothing, but I could have just as well gone to the mall and bought myself a dress. So why didn't I?
As you already know, I followed Kay Whitt's advice and made the muslin first. By doing that, I was able to make the necessary adjustments to the pattern before cutting my nice, colorful fabric. I increased the length of the arm bands at the edge of the sleeves and I also lengthened the dress by an entire 6" (that is almost 15 cm., for my foreign readers). Making the muslin first was like driving into the downtown area of a city I had never before been to; I was a bit unsure of myself. When I finally got to the fun fabrics, though, I felt like I knew the roads and the signs already. I had "been there before". I did encounter the equivalent of road construction detours with one of the sleeves, I had to make a U-turn and do a redo. If I happen to grow that third arm I have been praying for, I am ready with an extra third sleeve.
So why didn't I just go to the mall and buy myself a dress? It was a tough week, and as a mother of kids on summer vacation, the week was a busy one. I felt torn between what I had to do and what I wanted to do. I really wanted to spend the entire week sewing, but life has it's demands that can't be pushed aside. So I did the best I could. When I wasn't working on the project, I was thinking about the project. I thought about it while I was weed whacking the yard, while I was making toasted ground cumin seed butter to drizzle on the fresh squash & potato buttermilk soup, while I was driving to pick up the frozen equivalent of half a cow that had spent it's life grazing on the beautiful green pastures of the Tennessee countryside. I thought about the project while hiking around the lake, while I was on my way driving to a homeschooling conference; I thought about it a lot. I wondered what you thought too. I imagine you have thought about making yourself something and decided against it because it would just be easier to drive to the nearest mall, buy it, and be done with it. I could have done the same, but I would have missed out on so many things that have occurred in these past two weeks that have serendipitously made my life richer, let alone having the dress fit me to a "T". Before I share with you those things let me begin with the word, serendipity, since after all it is in the title of the book, Sew Serendipity, that I followed for the past couple of weeks. I got this off the internet:
- The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
- The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
- An instance of making such a discovery.
Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity, and I am grateful to him for it. Examples of inventions made because of serendipity include cornflakes, Post-it notes, the Slinky, the microwave oven, and one of my favorites - the chocolate chip cookie. To find out how they came about look under "inventions" here. In the past couple of weeks I have been living the word. Here are a few serendipitous things that happened to me while I was trying to learn how to sew a dress:
- Margaret became a new follower of my blog at my last post, by visiting her blog I learned about the beautiful Watts Towers by Simon Rodia in L.A., California. His work is worth exploring in depth. If you click on the highlighted words (above) you can see a short movie about him and his project.
- I went to buy fabric at a quilt shop that had lots of fabric by Kaffe Fassett. I was so impressed with his fabrics, they seem to ooze color out of every weft and warp, that I went home and researched him. On his website I found a short movie about him and his thoughts about living with lots of color. After seeing it, I can tell you with a certain degree of certainty, that I can feel a learning-how-to-quilt project coming on. His explanations of why he is happy living with lots of riotous colors, vs. decorating with a more monochromatic, minimalistic decorating scheme, is a part of an ongoing internal dialog I have been having with myself for years. I was shocked when typing back and forth with Alicia, on an unrelated subject, she brought it up to me on her own. It is a subject I plan to explore in depth and you will be reading about, I hope, on your subsequent visits to my space, here on my blog.
- I practically wore out my keyboard typing back and forth to my new friend, Alicia. The constant messaging back and forth with her has resulted in a deepening of our friendship beyond what I could have hoped for. I received, via snail mail, a beautiful watercolor painted by Alicia (see below). She has been sewing the same project and blogging about it on her blog, Possibilities. It wasn't until my dress was all done, and I was composing this post, that I realized my dress has the same colors that are in her painting. If the vast expanse of land between her home and mine were fabric, I would sew a running stitch through it and pull on the thread as hard as I could until, like the fabric in the dress, we were gathered together.
But that is not all that happened this week. Louis Pasteur, the French scientist who invented pasteurization and the vaccine for rabies, said "In the fields of observation, chance favors only the well prepared mind". This week I realized why I sewed the dress myself instead of going to the store to buy one. It is not because it is cheaper to sew it myself. It is because when I go through the process of making, I grow. I grow in a way that cannot be forgotten tomorrow, and in a weak moment the dress will remind me of that growth. I need that inner growth because it sustains me through all my busy, multitasking days.