The Internet is a wonderful thing (does it still have a capital 'I'? I don't know. When change happens in any area of society, how can I be sure that anyone will tell me?). For example, when I liked a dress pattern, a few years ago there would have been no Jorth with a blog showing me umpteen different versions. There would have been no Flickr to search. It would have been like throwing my money into a deep, dark cave.
But no! The evidence was solid - Vogue 8511 was infallible. New levels of sophistication would be reached! Grown men would faint at the sight of my elegant box pleats!
(Sorry. I just had to break off there due to a fit of hysterical sobbing. No, no, I'll be fine. I'll just wipe my eyes on this piece of bitterly scrunched-up lining fabric. Oh God. I'd even lined it.)
I'm not going to show you the fabric. I could Google it; I could even go upstairs and photograph the scraps, but the truth is - it's just too painful. My dress was hideous. I've spent a lot of time trying to think of hilariously witty ways to describe my dress, but 'hideous' is the only one that covers it.
That, and 'like a big brown sack'.
I tried everything to save it. I cut the sleeves off. I tried a belt. Whatever I tried, it just looked more and more like a costume I had bought to re-enact something historical. It cried out for accessories: a muddy field, some kind of head-covering, a few wicker baskets full of cabbage.
I cut the top off and made it into a skirt. I cut the hem off to make it into a shorter skirt. Apart from cutting it into tiny tiny bits and using it to mulch the flowerbeds, there was nothing I could cut off which would make it any better.
I flew into a rage, which lasted all the way to the fabric shop where I saw this pattern. I mean, look at the state of it. Who would buy that without a single piece of research? That jacket! What is this, 1985?
I'd show them. I'd show these people with their patterns, ruining women's lives like that. I set about it in a complete frenzy, first checking the pattern for bits that I could miss out. Stay-stitching? Pah! Pressing the darts flat as I went along? Yeah, right. This wasn't sewing. This was running away from failure. I even tried it on with all the pins still in the sides and nearly had to take myself to Accident and Emergency.
And so, with a very muted fanfare which celebrates success whilst containing subtle echoes of past tragedies of which we cannot easily speak, I give you New Look 6013, in Liberty cord.
Let's get this out in the open right now: the facing at the top was too big and it stuck out and threatened to hit me in the ears. I sewed dirty great chunks out of it on completion and chopped the rest off with my scissors. I have shown it to enough people now to be assured that no-one will ever notice, and I am happy enough. We carry little imperfections on our shoulders all our lives; why should dress-making be any different?
*Fred and Ginger. Of course.