Standing Room Only

Once upon a time I was at a wedding reception, in line to get a drink from the open bar, and while I admired a dress worn by a woman next to me, I paid her a compliment. She said, “Well, it’s really good that this party wound up with standing room only because that’s all I can really do in this dress.” I, too, was experiencing my own customary pains from party attire and replied, “Yes, I think we have a room full of stand-up dresses and sit-down shoes.” It stuck with me as either a good joke to make among women at a party, or a gauge of discomfort by which I will purge things from my closet.

Well, hopefully this new skirt I made won’t be purged any time soon. I had a bit of a close call amidst the fitting process but I can sit down in it, I promise (however very upright).

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It’s the second I’ve made from BurdaStyle’s pencil skirt 137B, which was in cotton/spandex sateen the first time. So yeah, there might have been some “give” lost in translation between that and this fancy brocade fabric that’s rigid, but here’s the story about why I chose it.

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In preparing to tackle my main goal for Me Made May this year (reducing my fabric stash inventory by making 3-5 new projects) I had spent some time pairing fabrics I wanted to use with patterns to sew. I landed on a collection I felt pretty good about, shown below.

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I had initially planned to use the pink, white & black stretch jacquard on the center left tile shown above, but wouldn’t you know it I came up about 4″ short when I went to cut it out. I tried to talk myself into making a mini skirt, but for the life of me could not imagine becoming a mini skirt kind of girl just to use up fabric.

So, back to the stash I went. I struck gold, literally, when I unearthed this brocade in an exotic dragon motif. However, I did need a little moment of intervention to overcome a sentimental hangup, which had kept it hoarded in my sewing stash for nearly 20 years. Yes. That’s a two followed by a zero. Two decades! Made in China, bought in San Francisco, taken home to Utah, coddled in its own box rolled in acid free tissue paper, then moved to New York City (where finally a little of it was used to line a coat), then put in a box again (with other stuff, sans tissue paper this time), moved to Florida years later, and nearly passed over for Me Made May.  Phew!

Here’s the deal…my mom bought me this fabric. It was just the two of us on a trip to San Francisco, the Spring before I got my driver’s liscense and became a sullen teenager. I’d just caught the sewing bug, my eyes having an appetite for fabric beyond my skill level. We were in Chinatown and passed by a dress shop and I was drawn in by the wall to wall shelves of every brocade imaginable. Cherry blossoms, dragons, medallions…gold, silver, white, black and every color under the rainbow.  As it was Springtime, there were mothers with their daughters patiently awaiting a turn on the dais for fitting their wedding dresses, in traditional Chinese red.

I don’t know exactly how I wound up with this color, because it’s pretty unusual for me (then as now), but I knew I wanted dragons and these ones breathe gold fire! Which in my morbid-geek teenage mind seemed just so awesome. Either then or later as my learning curve pushed its use ever outward, my mother had expressed a thought about how I could make my wedding dress out of it some day. Which is all well and good but those thoughts basically claimed the end use of this fabric for time and all eternity! My sewing skills caught up along the way, but it goes without saying there’s a critical missing ingredient being that I’ve never met The One.

So there I was in my Sewing Lair searching for a pencil skirt candidate. Miraculously intact after so long (though suffering from some crease marks) I just thought: If not now, when? And if “when” comes along, in what shape is this fabric going to be? In the sprit of Me Made May, with the intention of wearing, making and sharing one’s labor of love, I decided it was time this fabric and me should be joined in sartorial matrimony.

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Some constructon notes, to conclude -One reason I really like this pattern is because it’s drafted with a front yoke instead of vertical darts, and a pocket is inset on that seam. I also put a pretty lilac lining inside, with a cotton double weave facing for comfort.

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