Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things, lately

Things have been a little frazzled lately here at Mammoth Manor. For those of you who hadn't heard yet, Mr. Mammoth and I are getting married in June. I am the sort of woman who finds bridal stores to be infinitely terrifying, and since I make at least half of my living off of, well, MAKING things, it seemed only appropriate that I should make my own wedding dress. I was hoping for something with a really simple style, that would be loose and comfortable in order to avoid medieval style torture devices disguised as undergarments, and comfortable to dance in. I knew I wanted something long since I wear dresses all the time, so having a cocktail or knee length dress didn't feel as special as I might have liked. Essentially I wanted this Jcrew gown:

Since I was going to save a lot by making my own dress, and the style was set to be so simple, I was ridiculously obsessed with choosing the perfect fabric. I hoped for a 100% natural fiber like cotton, linen, or silk; something that would breathe nicely in Michigan June humidity, and not look to wrinkled in the photographs, hopefully something off-white instead of bright white.

As it turns out, the mecca that is Kalamazoo only has two fabric stores. Only one of them is not a chain, and both of them apparently love polyester. All of the cotton and linen options wrinkled horribly and looked like cheap bed sheets. The silk options seemed to be narrowed down to either charmeuse, which was way to sheer, or shantung which is very stiff and, again, wrinkles horribly. Lo and behold, it took me nothing short of 4 months to find and decide on my fabric.

When I DID decide, it was perfect. It was 100% silk, a luminescent and pearly off white that felt like water pouring through my hands when I held it. I spent more than I had ever spent on fabric, and purchased a luxurious nine yards of it so that I could line it with the same delicious feeling fabric. And I ruined it.

I spend a lot of time working with cotton, canvas, vinyl, and wool. Silk is a very slippery fish, and despite taking the utmost care, the purchase of special pins and a new, thinner, needle for my machine, I was no match for this beast. No matter how many pins I used when laying out and cutting, the fabric slid against itself and came out wonky. I was panic stricken. I couldn't believe that I had imperfectly cut the most perfect fabric. I tried, oh man did I try, to fix it as I was sewing; to keep the seams straight where the cutting wasn't perfect. But I couldn't fix it. Partly, I suppose, because of my lack of experience with silk, and partly because my machine couldn't handle it either. The material was so slippery and unsure of its own grain that even the pull of the feed dogs on the machine forced the two layers of fabric against each other and made the bobbin side thread come out all crooked. Even my beautiful Bernina machine couldn't master this tricky fabric.

It was devastating. I felt like I had failed at something I had been so confident in my ability to do. I was terrified of having to go to stores and look at dresses, or exhausted at the concept of possibly starting again after WEEKS of struggling with this fabric, and really upset that I might have to embarass myself by admitting I had failed to everyone who knew I was making my own dress, or letting down my dad who was SO EXCITED that I was making it myself.

I had a MAJOR meltdown. I mean, I am talking about epic style. Sobbing, hiding under the sheets, the whole shebang. In retrospect I am pretty horrified about how badly I behaved, and what a miserable experience I know it was for Mr. Mammoth, who did his best to love and support my sorry, sobbing ass. It was not my most shining moment. or day. or week.

Ordinarily I would never make a post this text heavy, but also, I have never been very good at admitting to needing help. I thought I could make my own wedding dress. What I didn't realize was that I couldn't make my own wedding dress ALONE. I needed my parents to tell me that they believe in me, for my dad to tell me how proud he will be to watch me stand to be married in something I made with my own hands, and for my future husband to help me figure out the geometry of pattern pieces, tell me that I will look beautiful in whatever I end up wearing (even if it's a paper bag) and to love me even when I am literally crying on his shoulder with snot running down my face and getting all over him. I put the pieces of silk in a bag and folded it into the bottom of my sewing cabinet, closed the door, and got ready to try again.

Two days ago I bought new fabric, and last night I started over. With the help of the people I love, I am learning to put a little less pressure on myself and enjoy the process. I am only going to get married once. I only get to make my own wedding dress once, and I am really, really going to enjoy ever minute of it.I have a surprise addition to the dress waiting in the wings, which I will reveal after the wedding, but until then, I promise no more long-winded monologues or stress about the dress!