I truly believe the old adage "nothing ventured, nothing gained." Especially as it applies to sewing. I'm always saddened (and rather annoyed, I must admit) by people that post on sewing discussion boards asking questions about things that they could easily figure out on their own, either through research or hands-on learning. Sometimes it's pure laziness, but more often than not, they seem paralyzed by the fear that they might do something wrong. To that I say, "Who cares if you're wrong? What's the worst that can happen?" So you wreck some fabric - there will always be more fabric. So you waste some time - learning something new, even if it's just how to avoid making the same mistake twice is valuable. So you have nothing to show for your efforts - well, maybe you don't have anything material, but you will have gained knowledge and experience. But, I think the more important lesson here is "What if you succeed?" Either way, taking a risk and venturing outside your comfort zone is always a good thing.
That is how I came to make my second Prom dress (my high school boyfriend was a year older than me, so I needed a dress for each of our senior years). I wrote about my first Prom dress in an earlier post.
By the early spring of 1989, I had been sewing for a full year and I felt confident enough to tackle another formal dress. I didn't want any old Prom dress though, I wanted a fabric fairytale. I would be a beautiful princess in a sumptuous gown, Prince Charming basking in my glory. At 18 years old this seemed like a perfectly logical desire and I had the means to achieve it. So, I set to work.
I found the perfect pattern - puffed sleeves, nipped in waist, full skirt. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the identity of the actual pattern now, although I have been on many searches through vintage pattern websites looking to jog my memory. Up next was the hunt for the fabric. I was unsure of the colour when I walked through the fabric shop's door, but when I saw the heavy pale pink satin, I was smitten. To really make this gown a show stopper, I picked out various beaded and sequined lace motifs to embellish the bodice - the small local independent store I shopped at was renowned for their amazing bridal lace selection.
I wanted this dress to fit like a dream, so I started by making a muslin out of some yellow cotton broadcloth. Then the real sewing began. I worked on this dress for two solid months and it became a labour of love. Often I had no idea what I was doing - I had never worked with a difficult fabric like satin before. So, I improvised and researched and figured it out as I went along. In the end, I created a garment that was a test of my tenacity and skill, but it was a completely fulfilling experience.
Here is a photo of the dress and a closeup of the embellished lace on the bodice. I have kept this dress for 20 years and about once a year, I pull it out of the closet as a reminder of how important it is to accept a challenge.
Oh yeah and don't forget: "Beware the Ides of March." If you happen to know anyone named Brutus, don't turn your back on him today!