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St. Pancras

It is really hard to take a good picture of a piece of clothing while you’re wearing it, especially if the only camera you have is your cell phone. All the tutorials start out with, “Go buy a tripod and a remote.” But apparently I love a challenge.

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You know what else I love? This skirt. So much. Even if I can’t hold my cell phone far enough away to  get more than a third of it in the shot and still be able to press the shutter button.

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It helps that this skirt began with me utterly falling in love with the fabric.  This is some Valorie Wells Wrenly Wren cotton voile that I saw years ago on Fabric.com.  I tried to be sensible. I had no immediate use for it, and I couldn’t afford it. Time after time I resolutely closed the browser window, determined to be sensible. And still I found myself drawn back again to the bright colors, the delightful birds, the breezy, cool luxury implicit in the word “voile.” In the end I gave in and bought exactly two yards of the precious stuff.

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It sat in my fabric stash for years.  Every spring I would decide to make it up for an Easter skirt, but every Easter it remained uncut while I wore something else. This year I finally did it. I used a wrap skirt tutorial from Weekend Designer (a now defunct fashion sewing design blog that still has some amazing stuff in its archives). I lined it with cotton/poly blend batiste edged with lace. I finished the bottom edge with hand-rolled hems, both to get as much length out of the fabric as possible, and as a way to get lots of practice with the technique before I used it on another project.

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I faced the tie with the same batiste as the lining, and notched the ends because: pretty. The high waist is interfaced with some super stiff mystery stuff (it was in a basket of fabric Indy gave me) so that it won’t fold over or slide down, or turn into an unsightly, wrinkled mess. After Mass and several hours of Family Brunch on Sunday I can safely say it doesn’t, though having something rather unyielding wrapped around your ribs does mean you sit up very straight.

One of my favorite parts, however, is this:

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The waist band is hiding something.

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It’s a pocket! You never would know it was there, but it’s big enough for my cellphone, a pen, some money, and still have room for my car keys. I put it in using the instructions from the Red Velvet dress from Sewing Cake. It’s like my own happy little skirt secret.

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I also made the shirt – it’s one of the work shirts I made last summer and never photographed. It’s hand sewn Alabama Chanin style from cotton rib knit using my standard t-shirt block.

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The sleeves are finished with open Cretan stitch. Also, it turns out that it’s really hard to take pictures of your own upper arms.

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The trim around the neck is strips of the same fabric which I shell-smocked. (I learned how from a Threads article.) After a year of machine washing and drying, it’s not as crisp as it used to be, but I still think it’s awful pretty. Of course, the one good picture I got has a loose thread in it. But I think I like it better than the other picture I got:

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No, really, you’re supposed to be looking at the trim. I swear! Sigh.

The more I worked on this skirt, the more I loved it: the fabric so soft (like buttah!) and pretty, the lace lined edging like a little lovely secret, the high waist that turned out so unexpectedly flattering and chic. Knowing that I had drafted it myself (from a diagram), not to mention the couture techniques, some of which I was trying for the very first time, filled me with pride. As it neared completion, I decided that this garment, out of all the clothing pieces I’ve ever made, deserved a tag. I wanted to sign it like a masterpiece, or like a girl in the old days putting her own name in her sampler. A simple patch on the inside of the pocket, maybe, with my name and the date. For a while I debated over whether to embroider it or just use a fabric pen. And then, well, Pinterest happened.

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That, my dears, is my garment tag: A mini whitework embroidery sampler. (30 kinds of embroidery stitches. No, really. I counted.) It says, “Bernadette me fecit May 2014,” which means “Bernadette made me.” Because if you’re going to brag you might as well do it in Latin.

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Yes, my dears, we have reached the point where I am showing off the thing I made to show off the other thing I made. And now the only thing left is to sew it inside the skirt pocket where no one will ever see it again except me.

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Because that’s how we roll.

16 days until surgery.

Today I am praying for Patience Dzakwa.