That pretty box hasn't had anything added to it for quite a few years now.
Then, out of the blue, this fall she signed up for a ballroom dancing course at her school and announced that for the big ball she was going to sew her own cocktail dress. With a little help from her mom :)
I was absolutely delighted and perhaps a tiny bit daunted, because you know getting dressed up for a ball is a bit different than hanging out with your play-date after preschool.
So despite any fears or doubts of course I said yes. First she selected a Burda pattern online that we downloaded (40 pages), taped all the pages together, traced the pattern pieces, purchased pretty burgandy taft and tulle, cut and started to sew.
Then she found a different pattern she MUCH preferred.
She didn't need long to convince me. I will admit that while it seems a waste of energy and money for the other fabric, I was relieved as I was feeling really overwhelmed by that German pattern with no drawings. (I'm still planning to forge on with it though...half of my pins are in that fabric and I miss them! The dress will be pretty for Christmas or New Years, and she can get some more practice sewing.)
The new pattern is McCalls with English directions. It sewed up beautifully and my daughter did a great deal of the work herself.
We both learned a lot. For the first time I sewed a corset bodice with wires. The seamstress at the fabric shop gave me an excellent tip – cover the ends with duct tape to keep them from piercing through the material. Much faster than sewing little fabric covers on each ends. You would have never guessed would you, isn't it fascinating to get the inside scoop on these things?
Of course this all gets hidden and I'm proud that the inside is as beautiful as the out.
At first we made the dress with the shirred waist. She tried it on and we both decided it wasn't flattering so ripped it all apart, cut out new pieces and sewed in the flat waist. I think at that point I had to go back to the fabric shop since my thread had run out. Then we had a few minor problems with the zipper / tightness of the bodice. By the end, I had sewn in the zipper three times. The fabric is pretty amazing still to be holding up so well!
(By the way, the seam-ripper is now on vacation getting a well-deserved rest!)
Finally, a day or so before the ball, the dress was finished. The ball was a dream. Quite different than the "homecomings" and "proms" I remember from high school. These children actually knew the dance steps, for one thing. All the parents were there, everyone dressed to the nines, the children (young adults I should say!) all had partners. The boys brought pretty little bouquets for their partners and the girls had boxes of chocolates in return. They danced a few dances to show us what they had learned (disco fox and waltz and cha-cha-cha to name a few), then the girls danced with their fathers, the sons with their mothers, the girls and boys (all looking so incredibly grown up) danced with each other.
Everything was lovely. And my daughter was too. And after all that dancing, the dress still looks perfect!
Phew. Now back to that other dress....