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Meet Deirdre

November 1st, 2008 by tatterdemalion

Do you know I was the cutest kid in the whole wide world when I was 3? No, really. I’ll show you.

me being cute


still me

See? I told you so!!

So what happened between then and now? I don’t know, but I’m counting on it to happen to Deirdre. Because I have taken to telling her “See, when I was your age {technically, I was younger in those pictures than she is now—she’s six}, I was cuter than you. And now look at me. So when you’re my age, you’ll look even uglier than me!!” This infuriates her, but she has no come-back except to say, “Yeah, well I’m not yet!!”, to which I laugh evily. (Isn’t evily a word? Maybe I have to say wickedly. If you ask any 6 year old, I’m sure evily is a word.)

Yes, she is cute. She has been cute since the day she was born, and she continues to be cute. And everyone tells her so, so she knows it. Which makes me have to do horrible things like let her see a glimpse of the future in me. And laugh evily. She is not only cute, she knows how to dress herself, when she puts her mind to it, proving that Mr. Sartoralist is looking in all the wrong places for his fashion shots. He should come out to out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere to see the real deal.


This picture was taken at the end of last January. No one in their right mind would be wearing a sun-dress, but, undeterred, she found not only blue-striped tights but a perfectly coordinating blue-striped shirt, with silver shot though it. And then accessorized with green clogs, blue hair bands and two braids. And a yellow necklace for accent, and who told her that yellow is the official accent to blue and green? I didn’t even know she owned half this stuff.


But she, apparently, knows her stuff, and will not be stopped by things like inclement weather. Here, she decided she would wear her getting-smaller-and-wrinklier-by-the-minute princess dress that I made her several years ago. That it was April and frigid and the dress was short-sleeved was immaterial.


No one even noticed the shirt she was wearing under it wasn’t part of the dress. . .though if the bodice hadn’t covered the perfectly hideous decals someone who manufactured shirts thought was stylish, it would have been painfully apparent.


But of course, you can’t see, and it looks perfect. And she looks stinkin’ cute, but don’t tell her I said that. And on her feet she wears. . .


Those striped blue tights again, which I never knew striped tights could be so versatile, but the just go with so many different shades of blue. And her blue sneakers, which also match.

And none of this was deliberately bought for the occasion or the outfit. She just puts things together like of course that’s what you’d do.

I am pretty sure that maybe we aren’t related.

Anyway, Deirdre has come to kind of sort basically take my sewing for granted, without realizing the difficulties involved. I can seemingly make up dresses in no time, but she doesn’t realize the effort that goes into them. Here’s a picture of her and her cousin, last December I think. I made them stop playing to snap this picture, so don’t expect them to look all put together.


In about the space of two weeks, I realized it was nearly Elizabeth’s birthday, and set about making her a dress, which, if you ask me, was a very clever feat. See, someone had given me a half finished project (why is that people say, Oh, you sew; here, have my half-finished projects? Exactly what do they suppose is the appeal of someone else’s half finished projects? Don’t they suppose I can make my own half-finished projects?). It was a very ugly project, I am sorry to say. It was hideous. It was a women’s dress, barely knee length. It had poofy darts at the waist. It buttoned down the front. It had a long, deep v-neck. It was made out of polyester and some awful coral/cantaloupe color, or at least I color that looks awful on me. I nearly chucked it in the trash, but at the last minute I changed my mine. I don’t like that color, but surely there is some little girl in the universe who would like that color.

So when Elizabeth’s birthday came around, I remembered that ugly, hideous, half-finished dress. I had this princess pattern that someone had given me, and that was my starting point. I’d scan it in for you (it was Simplicity, and I’m sure out of print), but I’m lazy. You can see a picture of the pattern here. I was sooo clever. I had to piece those puffy sleeves from the sleeveless bodice of the hideous dress, though you can’t tell it from here (and alas, I only have a few pictures of this dress, most much worse than this). I used a different fabric for the bodice (which has batting in between it and free-motion quilting), a very versatile fabric that I actually used some of in Millie’s original fancy dress (but I am too lazy to dig up a link back that dress, so either you remember it or you don’t). I didn’t quilt the sleeves, though the called for it in the pattern, because that made them stiff and ugly, and you need to feel like a princess. You can’t see it in this picture, but the sleeves come down to a point on her hands. I just gathered the original (hideous) skirt, so it wasn’t as full as the pattern called for, but it was as long.

I was so please with my turning this awful half-finished monster into a cute princess dress for a cousin.

Deirdre was rather blase about the whole thing, because, well, of course. That is just what I do, I make dresses out of nothing on short notice. Big deal. She has taken to coming into my sewing room and saying “You’re still working on that?!” Which is so annoying, because for one thing I agree with her, and for another, what does she know? She doesn’t know how hard it is to make things, or at least make them come out well.

So when Millie’s birthday started inching squinching closer, I began plotting. First I was just thinking I’d make a dress, because little girls’ dresses are so much easier to make, and it would go very fast. And then I thought, what on earth? Millie is Deirdre’s friend! Deirdre should be putting some blood, sweat and tears into this. It’s about time she stopped taking for granted every stitch that I sew.

Naturally, I didn’t phrase it quite that way to Deirdre.

And naturally Deirdre took the bait.

First I picked out a pattern. It was one of those “9 great looks in one pattern!!” deals, which means you had the same dress nine times with minuscule differences, which means you can offer a six year old a choice without really offering her a choice. Brilliant, that. It was a very simple dress, so that we could actually make it in time. It had a perfectly rectangular skirt, gathered to fit. It could be either sleeveless or have ruffles at the shoulder, but none of that fussy-sleeve setting business. Simple, yes?

But you see, Deirdre is related to me.

She didn’t want to make it simple. She wanted to make it fancy. I wanted this dress to be from her, so I didn’t want to over-ride her artistic choices. Some how, we agreed to put a ruffle all along the bottom of the hem in this synthetic suede. And she did want it to have pockets. I was afraid she would pick the curvy, hard-to-sew heart pockets, but was hugely relieved when she said she was not going to do the heart pockets, because she has some pants with heart pockets and it’s way too hard to get your hands into them. (Yay, she has some shared practicality with me!) But the pockets, too, must have ruffles.

It started off well enough. We prewashed the fabric in the sink. She learned why we prewash as one of the fabrics bleed dye profusely and refused to stop (well, hey, I’d bought it off the $1/yard table at Wal-Mart. You get what you pay for). In had been almost a velvet; when we ditched that was when we decided to use the suede. Guess why I had that on hand?

isn't she cute?

It’s leftovers from a dress I had made her when she still needed help to stand! Since it doesn’t ravel, it was the perfect choice for the ruffles so we wouldn’t have to hem them. Some of the other fabric was the same as what I had used to make clothes for Millie’s piggy last year, and some of it was a coordinating print to go with fabric I had used for Millie’s piggy. So it was all come along oh so perfectly.

Deirdre helped cut out. She did the square and rectangular shapes, and I did the bodice and the ruffles. And that was all for the first day, which pretty near burned her out.

We sewed a little bit here, and a little bit there. It worked best, I found, to have her sit on my lap. We both guided the fabric, and she put her foot on top of my foot, which was on top of the pedal. She got to make it go and stop, but if she inadvertently “stomped” on the pedal, I still had veto power and could keep her from sewing through her finger. And we sewed.

We sewed some here, and some there. We used the iron. She was amazed by the wonders of turning things out, like lining the bodice, and turning the ties. Ruffling the sleevelets was just too cool.

But we were running out of time.

And she was finding it more and more and more tedious.

Finally, there was the last day. And we were not done. And we MUST finish. Deirdre clung to images in her mind of Millie’s face when she opened it, much the way I always do when I slogging through the worst of a project. We were making progress quickly, though. We put in the zipper; we finished the edges of the seams with a zig-zag stitch so they wouldn’t fray. We put the pockets on.

But then we came to hem ruffle. Oh, the hem ruffle.

First of all, it was about sixty-three miles long once it was pieced together. Holy moly. But we bravely forged on, and put two rows of long gathering stitches into that whole long snakey thing. And then we gathered it. And we gathered it. And we gathered it some more. And then it started snagging, and we started hearing very scary snapping noises. The synthetic fabric was seriously abusing the gathering thread. We didn’t have it gathered anywhere near enough, and our thread was threatening surrender.

This turned it from a very tedious gathering project to a walking on eggshells disaster. If we didn’t gather it enough, we couldn’t attach it to the skirt. If the thread snapped, the altogether too much time we’d already spent gathering it would be wasting—precious time we couldn’t lose, because it was now three o-clock in the afternoon, we were supposed to be there sometime in the early evening (6 o’clock?) I had yet to take a badly needed shower, we still needed to eat supper, and of course there was the 45 minute drive out to Millie’s. We could cut our losses and just drop off the ruffle. But that was the fancy part, and we’d already put so much work into it. And we were nearly there, it’s just that the last 20% needed to be very gently eased along, tiny bit by tiny bit.

Deirdre and I tried to hold onto our patience, but it was rapidly getting as frayed and worn as the thread. Hurrying would undoubtedly undo all the progress we’d made, but how could we not want to hurry with the second-hand sweeping around the clock with alarming speed? There really wasn’t much Deirdre could do with such a delicate situation, so she finally delicately suggest she might play outside until the gather part was done. It was a wise request, and probably the only thing that saved us from inter-personal disaster. Plus it meant I could focus my few shreds of sanity upon the uncooperative ruffle.

After what seemed like more time than any earthly ruffle ought ever be allowed to consumed, I did finally manage to get the ruffle gathered and pinned onto the hem. I called her in, and we sewed it on.

And then I quick took a shower and we ate supper very quickly, and in the car—-every true to form—I hand sewed the lining down (someone else was driving, honest!), and crammed it into a gift bag.

Finished! And in time! By about . . .5 minutes!! Yea, verily, I am teaching her to follow in my very footsteps.

The ruffle really made the dress. Perseverance pays off, although it does take blood, sweat and tears. Or at least sweat and tears; I think we avoided the blood, and even technically (and narrowly) avoided the tears.

And also, Millie always makes my (and now, Deirdre’s) sewing look good, as does Abby’s photography.


Look. At. The. Dress!!





(I stole these pictures from Millie’s mom’s blog, because she is forever and never not sending me pictures. If I ever get better ones (higher quality files) I will try to fix the post.)

Posted in Completions, Projects | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Meet Deirdre » The Ethereal Voice Says:

    […] _uacct = “UA-1202685-1”; urchinTracker(); Map of the Ethereal Land The Ethereal Voice Front Page – Politics – Money – Knowledge – Art – Food – Fun Masthead About Meet Deirdre By Tatterdemalion | November 1, 2008 – 1:52 pm Posted in Category: Front Page, Art Do you know I was the cutest kid in the whole wide world when I was 3? No, really. I’ll show you. See? See? I told you so!! So what happened between then and now? I don’t know, but I’m counting on it to happen to Deirdre. Because I have taken to telling her “See, when I was Click Here to continue reading. […]

  2. Gwen Dickerson Says:

    good luck

  3. Beal Says:

    Lol! I wonder if Dierdre wanted to try sewing again??

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