Once upon a time, a younger, hungrier, and decidedly more fearless (reckless) version of myself would have decided to make a dress and her process would have gone something like this:
1. Buy a bunch of fabric.
2. Buy a pattern.
3. Skip reading directions.
4. Start cutting immediately.
5. Realize something is not right.
6. Have a melt down.
7. Go back to the store (because she did not purchase everything needed to begin with).
8. Stay up all night because said dress was started oh, say, the day before intended wear.
9. End up with a dress that fits weird, has sloppy lines, and probably more than a few threads hanging off.
10. Have another melt down.
11. Take a blood oath to never sew again (until, of course, the next brilliant idea strikes).
Pretty straightforward (you know, like a train hurtling towards a cliff), but wildly inefficient (not to mention we’d like to avoid Steps 6 and 10 no matter what project we’re taking on). So with a decade of self-realization under my belt, we approach this project with the gravity that it’s due, plenty of time, and with a page out of my mother’s book (she was and shall always be a Librarian), we research, research, research.
Now my process looks something like this:
1. Decide on general colors and style, and acquire several reference photos.
2. Find a pattern that most closely resembles the ideal dress and read directions start to finish multiple times (I think I’m on my 5th time through) adding notes in margins and crossing out variations that are not applicable to chosen specific style.
3. Research articles on the materials you’re using and tips on how to work with them. (I’m pretty sure I’ve read Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing: The Magic of Horse Hair Braid at least a dozen times now- not to mention the Better Threads Winter 2014/2015 issue of Party Dresses Sewing Secrets from cover to cover)
4. Rough sketch any modifications, measure, and adjust pattern accordingly.
5. Purchase ALL materials prior to starting the project- making sure to purchase correct TYPES of fabric and quantities, as well as trimmings, closures, and tools (you’re damn right I bought a brand new pair of fabric scissors for this and only this project).
6. Set up your work space (lucky for me, my man has allowed me to turn his man cave into my sewing room, proof again I’m marrying the right dude).
7. Do a small/simple warm-up project (because there is nothing wrong with acknowledging you’re probably a little rusty and it would be a shame to realize that after botching something crucial on the actual dress)
8. Take the time to meditate and find a calm, thoughtful place to work from mentally and emotionally, prior to beginning said project and commence creating awesomeness.
Right now I’m in the middle of Steps 5 and 6 respectively. I need to procure zippers and some tiny buttons for detailing, as well as finish setting up my sewing space. In addition, for this specific project I am purchasing shoes first so I can make sure I make the skirt is the correct length.
My next entry will answer the question “how long will I stare at my laid out fabric and pattern before having the balls to make the first cut?” so be sure to stop by as I have a potential nervous break down!