A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of travelling to Vancouver to attend the 5th annual BlogPodium conference. To be honest I hadn’t heard of the conference before, since it had been previously held over in Toronto. Then I received an email from Jennifer letting me know it was to be held on our side of the country this year. I got so excited and HAD to go. I even booked my tickets from Berlin to be sure I didn’t miss out.
Meeting up with like-minded peers, geeking out over blogging and travelling to the coast? Yes please. Blogpodium is targeted at design and lifestyle bloggers and provides them with a platform to connect & collaborate in a beautiful venue featuring brilliant speakers.
To say it was amazing would be an understatement and the energy from connecting with friends new and old was electrifying. I could go on but some of my fellow local bloggers have already recapped the event better than I could, so visit their blogs to read all about it!
What I’ll tell you about was the fact that I was attending a conference for bloggers. ie. the most stylishly dressed people of all time. If I was to attend this conference…what the heck would I wear?!
I knew it couldn’t be just any old outfit and I wanted to be sure it was handmade (after all, that’s what a huge portion of this blog is about. I need to live my brand! ha). It would also need to be pretty powerful. In crowded rooms I tend to shrink away, especially if I feel intimidated by the ambition, style and brilliance of those around me. I wanted wear something that made me approachable, yet seem cool and successful. I placed it upon the dress I made to make me feel bold, confident and be a true representation of myself. That’s kinda a lot of ask of a dress now that I think about it.
I dug out this dreamy structured linen stripe that has been maturing in my stash for about 3 years. It came home in my Sig Plach closing sale haul (among many unnecessary pretty things I needed to have before the store closed forever) and I knew it was something special. It had the potential to be something show-stopping, but I never previously had the project to make it shine.
I decided this is what my dress would be. The bold stripe deserved a cupcake-y Kate Spade-y shape and just the thought of it got me giddy. I grabbed the pattern B5982 because I loved the ruched and pleated skirt and felt it was perfect shape for what I was going for. However, I worried about breaking up the stripes on the bodice with the princess seams. Also I kinda wanted to have sleeves, since it’s just easier than carrying a sweater with you everywhere (I’m ALWAYS too cold, okay?). Enter V8766.
I had never franken-patterned before, but have seen it done many times to brilliant effect. I took the Vogue bodice and matched it to the Butterick skirt and I could not be more pleased with the result. A big plus about mashing up two ‘Big 4’ patterns, as I discovered, was that all the notches matched up! That means I didn’t have to adjust the darts or skirt pleats, they fell into perfect alignment. Hurrah!
I wanted to say that the sewing itself was a breeze, which it was technically, but it definitely didn’t feel that way at the time. This make kinda got emotional.
I first made a muslin and added my usual 6 cm length to the bodice and it seemed great. When I cut into my fabric, I made sure to end the bodice on a full stripe so the pattern could continue seamlessly into the skirt. But then for some reason when I tried on the dress…the waistline was WAY too long, like almost at my hips! I brought the skirt back up another 3cm and all was well…except my perfect stripe matching! Blast.
I also went with a full lining since the fabric was a little sheer (and itchy if I am completely honest) and when I put it in and tried on the dress, I felt like it was so lumpy and bumpy and awful. All of a sudden this amazing fabric and design felt heavy, and icky and it made me feel so insecure of myself and skills. It was clear I had tied too much of my perceived success at the conference into the success of this dress that it sabotaged the process. I wanted to quit so bad and just forget the whole thing.
But, I sat and thought about it for a bit. I had already put out a peek of the project on social media, so I basically blackmailed myself. “It would be quite embarrassing show up not wearing what you told everyone you would, no?”. I grumbled and pushed on.
I made a few fit adjustments and completed my hand-finishing (which I ended up quite proud of) and without trying it on again, hung it up for about a week.
Luckily, it does seem that time heals all sewing wounds, because when I made my peace with it and put it on a few days before I left (to see if I needed to pack a contingency outfit) it fit like a dream. It was exactly what it was supposed to be. The shape, the pattern, the FUN. The joy and enthusiasm I had for the project had returned. And I couldn’t wait to pack it.
Just some other alterations and sewing notes; I cut a size 12 from both patterns, added in-seam pockets, raised the neckline about 2cm and drafted a neckline facing to attach the lining. I found it easier to make the dress and lining completely separate and attaching them to the facing at the very end, just before hemming.
When you get heavily emotionally invested in any project you are making, I think it is so important to give yourself time to take a break. Once you distance yourself from the object of frustration, you gain a little perspective. Ask yourself why it’s so important to you to create this and what is the worst that would happen if it didn’t work out. You’ll probably find that you have deeper reasons for your emotional reaction than the project itself and once you separate the two, you allow yourself the simple joy of creating something, no pressure attached.
I relieved the dress of my expectations to have it make me connect with people at the conference, because really, it never had the power to do that for me anyway. I am so grateful I powered through and finished it. I felt so at ease with myself as I wore it and felt no need to compare with others in the room. Some people asked if I deliberately dressed to match the decor (nope, coincidence), and many were interested to hear about my process. The dress was a wonderful conversation starter (especially after Jenna called me out for it in her talk!) but it was me who got to do the talking.
I’ve learned that I find my joy in making without expectations. Tying yourself (and ego) into the results can be a frustrating and heartbreaking experience I’m hopefully aware enough of to avoid repeating. I am thankful that this dress rings true to who I am in the end, but the process felt way too heavy – creating is supposed to be fun! Just gotta let it go, and trust that it’ll work out.