Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dress Express: 3 steps to getting that "new dress" feeling


How do you feel when you get a new dress? Maybe like me, a little floaty and a lot smiley punctuated by extra twirls and peeks in the mirror?

When I got home from a church meeting, before I took off my outdoor layers, put on my apron, and put my hair up for the tasks of the day, I stopped to take some photos for you.

This dress is the result of me coming to an executive decision at the end of June, when I'd been back home after the fire for a few weeks.


I came to recognize three things.

1) I did not yet have the tools, space, and strength to sew for myself.
2) I was tired of making do with what I had.
3) I live frugally so I can pay for others to do what I can't, i.e. solve my problems. Result: I set out to find a local solution.*

*You may recall that two years ago I imported my Suzannah Solution from Australia to sew as many winter garments for me as she could manage in 18 days. I was desperate, she was available, God met my need.

Providentially, here in my own town I connected with an 80-something-year-old "Dorcas" who trained in tailoring and pattern drafting 60 years ago and has been sewing for community and missions ever since. Despite having a challenging remedial wedding dress situation on the go, she was willing to help me immediately.

I sketched what I wanted and discussed with her how we could make it work, and she did nearly everything following, including contributing some lining pieces from her own fabric stash. My replacement sewing machine arrived Thursday, August 21st , and I went to collect the dress the day after that. During the next week I acquainted myself with the new machine and put the finishing touches to the dress.

Bluebelle Bliss: the joy of a modest dress

Yes, a drapey knit fabric can look modest -- if it's gathered in the right places and appropriately lined!
Narelle is wearing:

  • "Bluebelle" Dress by Carol, self-striped polyester knit, lined with cotton knit(skirt) and miscellaneous polyester pieces (bodice)
  • Cotton Drill (Denim) Jacket from Ezibuy on clearance.
  • Suede Lace-Up Shoes, lined with lambs wool, handmade by Dannevirke's Cobbler Strong in the 1990s
  • Flip-brim "Charmagne" Cap by Narelle
  • Wool-blend Gloves from Victoria Hill
  • "Ivory Tower" Reversible Shoulder Bag by Narelle

Yes, I'm thankful to be prettily and elegantly clad, but just as much am I grateful for the opportunity to be invited into the home, life, and retrospectives of someone with such skill and experience.

She allowed me to explore and ask about her dedicated sewing space, a large closet in a spare bedroom, equipped with gown-length closet hanger poles at each end, fluorescent lighting above, vintage tailoring tools I've never heard of before (brilliant and desirable), a sturdy Husqvarna machine (only the second she has owned), and the sewing table her father commissioned a local carpenter to make for her over 60 years ago.

My Dress Express experience sparkled with her kindness and generosity.

I'm passionate about encouraging older women to share their knowledge and skills with those younger than they. It's foundational to why I run this blog. One of the things that drives me is my own need to know and learn. Another is that I recognize there are women and girls like me who want to know and learn, but who struggle to connect with or ask the women who can help.

I want to encourage you: if you have knowledge or a skill, find someone to share it with. Somewhere, there's a lady or a lassie longing to experience what you have to offer.

If you long to know or learn something in particular, I pray that you'll be led to connect with someone who can give you the answers. May you have the courage and tenacity to ask the questions that'll get her started in the sharing. God help you express your need so that you soon get to that "new dress" feeling--a little floaty and a lot smiley.

Here's to you and I learning to "dress express", and may we enjoy a lifetime of "new dress" adornment of lightness and joy.

Fiat lux!

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