Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Surprised by pleats

on May 1, 2013

I decided to make a dress. And I think dressmaking may just be my favourite thing ever. It’s an intellectual challenge – trusting the pattern when you can’t quite see how it’s going to work, but also trying to understand it enough to get it right. There’s all the lovely potential, imagining how it’s going to be to wear something which fits perfectly, something which no-one else owns, in a style and pattern you chose, and thinking about how impressed everyone will be when you tell them you made it. There are all the new skills, and the satisfaction of trying to do something just right, of working really hard at something. And, of course, there is cider and Doctor Who to accompany the dressmaking.

And then there’s the pleats. I *love* putting pleats in.

I did not, of course, expect to love pleats. Who would? And why would you? Well, firstly, there’s the pattern pieces. You start with something like this, all jaggedy edges and craziness:



And if you’re really careful and you copy the markings accurately and fold it properly, you end up with something which makes sense, something with an unexpected straight edge, like this:



(They’re not actually the same piece. But hey, they’ve both got pleats in).

And then there’s the joy of the sharp folds, the straight lines, everything so clean and neat and perfect. I looked at my pleats and I thought ‘I have done that. My kitchen is full of washing up, my hallway is littered with toilet-roll confetti and my children have spread my books across the whole upstairs of my house. I will never be tidy but I have made perfect pleats’.

And now I have finished, and I have a dress.






Here’s the reality: I had to adjust the pattern because my boobs and waist are a completely different size to my hips and shoulders and I have a weirdly long back so I had to lower the waist. I loved working this out – it’s a bit like engineering except no-one is likely to die if it goes wrong – but it means the dress designed to fit me perfectly, well, doesn’t. Because I am not a dressmaking genius. And I forgot to clip the seams around the armholes, so it’s a bit odd. And all those pleats, those pleats I love? I think they make me look a bit pregnant. And, as I’m still breastfeeding, a dress is not a practical item of clothing.

But fuck it, I’m planning on making more. Where there’s pleats, there’s happiness.


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