Thanks to the Golden Age of Introversion Online, I can trust that you will all know what I mean when I say that I am an introvert.
I score well into the 90s on any test measuring that trait. Go ahead, throw one at me: it’ll spit back a result roughly stating “you never leave your house, do you?”
Q: When you go to a party, do you …
A: [interrupts] A party? Are you out of your mind?
Q: When approaching a group of strangers …
A: [interrupts] Strangers. Oh god. Is hyperventilating an option?
You get the idea. An instinctual horror overtakes me at the idea of being in crowds, particularly crowds of people I don’t know, and especially particularly crowds of people I don’t know with whom I am expected to interact.
This made it extra fun when I got to organize public meetings for angry crowds of people I didn’t know with whom I was expected to interact, but that’s a story for another time.
I am also a bit of a goody two-shoes.
People are generally surprised when they hear me swear for the first time, having assumed that I would never do such a thing. I’ve never been drunk. The closest I’ve been to smoking is picking cigarette butts off the ground and putting them in the garbage. I’m a professional tree-hugger by trade and I tend to sign up for volunteering activities well beyond my time and mental resource capacities. I got straight As. And I’m one of those unfortunate people who tends not to consider that lying is an option when being asked a direct question until after I’ve answered it truthfully. My main hobbies are sewing and reading, for the love of god. Sewing and reading. Put a bonnet on my head and slap me back in 1850, why don’t you.
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In fact, my reputation for goody-two-shoes-ness was so complete that druggy friends in highschool would use me as their mule. (“Can you hang on to this for me until third period? Thanks. Oh my god. Do my eyes look fucked? My eyes look fucked, don’t they? No one’s going to check your bag you look too innocent.”) (And they were right–no one ever checked my bag.)
But I did have one minor vice.
Using friends’ fake ID to sneak into nightclubs underage and go dancing.
(American friends, the legal age here is 19. So this was strictly a highschool endeavour as back then we all graduated at 19.)
Possibly alone amongst all of my nightclub-sneaking acquaintance, I’d go the bar and get a water and spend the night dancing. Because it was fun, and all-ages clubs were spectacularly lame–empty and boring, populated by the sad dregs of young people without fake IDs and older men with young-people fetishes. Ew. Sure the real thing was filled with letches with a blood alcohol level so high they didn’t even know they weren’t maintaining eye contact, not to mention the smoke that would take two showers to get out of your hair. The music was loud and the dance floor was packed.
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Then I decided to do something super-smart and get married at a ridiculously young age to a guy who promised he loved dancing too and we would go out dancing all the time–and after the wedding ceremony reneged (on that and a pile of other things which shall remain nameless). And my friends stopped having so much fun at bars, and I had a kid, and the kid needed a fair bit of extra help, and then my friends had kids, and one thing let to another and almost 20 years passed without dancing, barring the odd wedding.
(Sometimes being a grown-up just sucks.)
Then my Dad got sick and family dysfunction exploded into new shrapnel-laden patterns and Frances’s hips got worse and we were told she would need reconstruction surgery and I decided that this would be the absolute perfect time to just go out dancing with strangers.
It even involved a bit of lalochezia, a la:
“Oh my god this is such fucking bullshit. This year is a bullshit monkey that can suck on an elephant’s balls I am so sick of this. No embroidery in the world is going to distract me from this overwhelming mountain of fucking bullshit and its bullshit spawn. Either I am going to punch this year in the fucking face or I am going out.”
I went out. I found a meet-up group for dancing lessons and just showed up in a room of strangers and started learning the bachata. I did not even know what the bachata was. Now I do. It’s a 4-step latin dance. There has also been some swing dancing, involving a lot of spinning, which is fun, even when I trip over my feet and/or fall over. If no one gets a concussion or loses a limb, I count it a success. (The secret to happiness is often having a low bar.)
As a result, almost every free weekend night for the past month-plus has been taken up with dancing. With strangers and near-strangers. It has been a very effective distraction.
My one issue being:
An almost complete lack of going-out clothes.
I don’t buy clothes anymore and everything I’ve made myself for the past few years, that one dress excepted which yes has now actually seen the outside of the house, has been either for work or for casual wear. I’m not even sure what counts as dancing-wear for the 40-something set. (Going shopping for some brings to mind that scene from Sisters–you know the one.)
So when I haven’t been out dancing, I have been home sewing clothes for dancing. My poor neglected pile of library books remains noticeably un-shrunk.
Which brings me, at incredibly long last, to V1353:
(Andrea’s Prologues! Now 10% longer, with added swearing!)
Here is the first try:
The fabric is a mid-weight linen/rayon blend bought last year at Fabricland, lined with a poly/rayon that I’ve decided I really like as it is mostly rayon and not at all slippery, unlike bemberg. Easy to sew with, presses beautifully, dirt cheap.
This is a test version, so I made a few obvious adjustments to the pattern–grading between a 14 at the waist and an 18 at the hips and bust, then adding another inch at the bust to the side front piece, plus an extra 1/2″ to the shoulders–but otherwise left it alone to see how it would work up. The instructions were clear and worked well, all the notches matched, and it mostly fit.
I do recommend basting the shoulders together quickly before adding the lining to see how it fits. A few more changes at that point:
1. removed 1″ from each centre back seam, tapering to 1/4″ at the waist, to stop it from gaping. I could have taken out a smidge more and will for version #2.
2. Took in side seams at the waist about 1″ (1/4″ per piece). Will take in a bit more from the next version. The bodice is quite loose.
3. Need to take out some at the armscye between the front and side front pieces–a bit too gapey. Also need to lengthen the front piece on the next version as it’s just a bit too high to hit the waist properly in the front. Since technically it isn’t supposed to hit my waist at all this isn’t a pattern error–but thanks to being bizarrely short-waisted, it does hit my waist in the back and I’d rather lengthen the front to match than shorten the back.
Then hours upon hours of hand-sewing to finish internal seams plus the saddle-stitching, which is a nice touch but does take forever.
I love it, and have a fabric and lining all picked out for version #2–this brilliantly fabulous lightweight linen which just screams dancing dress. (For sure it does not scream business suit or casual summer shorts.)
I’ve yet to see any bad versions of this pattern on the interwebz, so it seems a pretty safe bet and like it suits a variety of body sizes and types. I’ve noticed that for those who posted their tweaks and fixes as part of their review, taking an inch out of the top of the back centre seam on each side seems like a consistent alteration, so be warned.
Who knew I would finally have a valid excuse to sew up a bunch of dresses?
*I don’t think they do, actually. But bonus points if you recognize the source of the quote.