Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Dress That Wasn't Meant to Be

Please forgive me if I sound like I'm tooting my own horn here, but isn't this the cutest little tunic top?

Who would've guessed that a little top could cause so much drama? I worked my butt off trying to make that thing work last night. Read on for the story (prepare yourself - get a snack - it's kind of long):

It all started earlier this summer. I found this cute London Lawn by Moda fabric for 40% off at a local quilt store and decided it would make something for Caralie:

Not sure what I would use it for, I bought 1 yard of the pink and a fat quarter of the blue. That was mistake #1. Always buy more than you think you need.

A month or two later, I decided I would make a dress out of it and bought this pattern from Simplicity for 99 cents from Joann:

See, I thought I would make the pink dress in the top left corner (dress A) and use the blue for accent. However, the pattern calls for 1 and 3/4 yards of fabric. How much did I have? That's right. That was mistake #2. But in my happy and blissfully ignorant creative mind I figured I could just manipulate the pattern placement and still get what I wanted. Ha ha.

Fast forward to 4 pm yesterday. I remember that picture day at the school is the next day and have the brilliant idea that I'll make the dress for Caralie to wear! It's a simple enough pattern, it shouldn't take long at all. La la la la la.

I lay out my pink fabric and manage to squeeze out what (I think) I need. Hooray! I'm so clever. Those pattern makers don't know what they're talking about.

Then I get down to sewing. It's not long before I realize that I actually cut out two bodice backs instead of a bodice back and a bodice front. Mistake #3. Oh no! What am I going to do? Don't panic, let's just lay the bodice front pattern piece on one of the backs and see if it will still work. Miraculously, with a couple of cuts, it works. Whew, I think, that was a close one.
Ha ha.

(Insert making and eating dinner here).

I complete the bodice top with sleeves. and sew on the first blue accent. Then I grab the piece for the skirt.

Oh crap. I was supposed to cut two skirt pieces, not one. And all I have left of the pink fabric is a 6-inch strip. Mistake #4. I consider admitting defeat and pray that the quilt shop still has some of the fabric left (doubtful). I have to notify Caralie that she won't be wearing her new dress tomorrow after all. She is sad, but sees the look in my face and tries to console me as I put her to bed. As she says her prayers I am filled with a frantic new idea. What if I run to Joann and find a coordinating fabric? Then I could make the tiered version of the dress (dress C)!

I look at the clock: it's 8:35 pm. Joann closes at 9 pm. I grab my purse, pattern, and fabric and motor over to the store as fast as legally possible. I get there with 15 minutes to spare and head back to the cotton calico section. Serendipitously, there is a bolt of pink polka-dot fabric just sitting on top of a row of quilting fabrics, waiting for me. It's the same pink!

Miracle fabric!!!

This time there is no questioning authority. I buy 5/8 of a yard just like the pattern says and walk out quite content with this turn of events. After a quick stop at the grocery store to get my husband some tortilla chips, I return home and lay out the fabric.

I pin the relatively small pattern piece for the tier and think, why on earth do they ask for so much fabric? Whatever. I'm not complaining. I cut the piece out.

Then I need to cut the second tier out of the original skirt piece. It just barely fits. Another miracle. I gather this piece and sew it to the second tier.

Hmm, it doesn't look as full as I thought it would be... I hold it up to the bodice and what do you know? Mistake #5! I was supposed to cut two pieces for each tier, not one! Have I seriously made this mistake a second time? And, Oh no! I still don't have enough of the pink floral!

(Insert weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.)

At this point I am completely beside myself. And then I succumb to the despair.

But not completely. Somewhere in the back of my mind a tiny thought is forming that warns me not to give up. Okay, so my attempts at making a dress have been a failure to say the least. But who's to say this has to be a dress? Why not a tunic top?

(Cue heavenly music and angelic singing.)

It's 11:30 pm but I don't care. I pick out the stitches and pin the second tier to the bodice and sew with my heart on my sleeve and ... it worked. It actually worked. And it's cute.

But not cute enough.

Go ahead and laugh at me. I blame it on battle fatigue, but I seriously thought the top needed something more. And I think pockets would do it. Cute little gathered pockets. Only I don't know how to make cute little gathered pockets. So I Google and find instructions.

I loosely follow the pattern and instructions (I never learn) and about 45 minute later, it's finally complete:

My sweat and tears have finally paid off. I am so happy I could cry. But I'm not done torturing myself, because I decide I need to make a matching hair clip. It's close to, if not already, 1 am and I'm going to make a fabric flower, darn it!

I've seen them all over the web, though I first saw them in this pattern. But I made my petals rounded:

You can find a similar pattern/tutorial here. It actually came together very easily and quickly but I was too tired to take photos of my steps, so I'll do a tutorial the next time I make one. Which will probably be soon because, heaven help me, it's so CUTE!

Caralie was ecstatic when she woke up. She gave me a big hug and thanked me and that was enough for me.

Now she's all set for picture day and I'm praying she doesn't get all hot and sweaty before the deed is done.

As for me, my eyes are bloodshot and I feel like I've been hit by a bus. I'm going to take a nap.