Sunday, July 15, 2012

Romancing the Dress Part 2: California Romantic Considers Realities of Life When It Comes to Sewing a Dress

Forever fantasizing about sewing the perfect dress
But do skirts really fit into my active and arty modern life?
I spent a lot of of my little girlhood playing with dolls. I also spent a lot of time drawing girls. Drawing girls merged into drawing paper dolls. The most important part of drawing paper dolls was creating their clothes. I particularly enjoyed creating patterns and textures for these outfits, which I made by rubbing my crayons over the paper atop a rough surface. Of course none of my paper dolls wore pants, trousers or slacks as bi-forcated womens clothing was called in the nineteen sixties.

If you werent around in that time, especially if you missed the early, pre-groovy part of the era, images from the time might lead you to think that American females wore mostly skirts or dresses. In fact, shorts and pants were nearly as much a part of our daily wear as they are today. However, when it came to creating artistic duds for dollies, I didnt see any point in designing the sort of togs I actually spent most of my own time in. On television, in magazines, coloring books and  movies, and in my favorite modern and historically themed stories, girls and women wore fluffy dresses and glamorous skirts. The clothes I created for my dolls were those I imagined Id wear myself as an adult, and they came from what I drank in from my culture. They came from images of traditionally skirted women.

As a sewist, Im still faced with the eternal challenge of an imaginary, idealized female lifestyle, versus the reality of my own activities. What I put on in the morning reflects what I'm expecting to do. Right now that involves walking or hiking, classes, study, a lot of computer time, and (unfortunately) a little housework. I'm usually pretty darn happy, and comfortable, wearing my most attractive tee shirt and a pair of long pants or shorts, both items that style up great with a pair of sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.

Despite what I actually wear, when I plan time for my favorite hobby, I'm tempted to sew dresses. In point of fact, I've sewn only two within the last few years. I'm relatively happy with the way both of them turned out. Yet, Ive worn each of those frocks two or three times, both times to events, to which, I could easily have worn some of my most feminine pants with a lovely blouse, a rope of pearls and a scarf.

Still, when I open the pattern book, you know what section I turn to first.

This summer I just couldnt resist the how-to-style examples for Vogue pattern v8810 shown in the Vogue pattern magazine. You can just guess I imagined myself hurrying off to an important meeting with a friend in that denim dress with those lovely heels and the model's jewelry. I dont actually wear heels, and the jewelry she was wearing wasn't my style. In point of fact, I usually plan on fitting in a long walk or bike ride when I go to a meeting, but I still saw myself togged out like the gal in the spread.

Well, maybe I could still figure out a way to fit that duster style dress into my lifestyle

Earlier in the month I created a toile of this pattern. Some stained home dec ex-curtain fabric was the perfect muslin for the fit I was looking for. Ive also pulled a heavy black houndstooth print out of my stash, and I think theres enough for the short-sleeved version. Im imagining it as go-to summer and fall garment, in our temperate California San Francisco Bay Area climate. It could even extend into our mild winter as a kind of jumper over my pale pink quarter-sleeve tee or my petal pink cowl neck long sleeved tee shirt.

But when it comes down to it, even if the dress turns out exactly as I imagine it, will I really get much use out of another dress to keep the others company in their far end of my closet? I hope those girls have an active social life back there, because they rarely see the light of day.

In the meantime, I've sewn a nice new pair of shorts and another cute tee. 

But the black houndstooth print is eyeing me from the back of my sewing table.

You may also enjoy.... Romancing the Dress 1: Dainty

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