It’s Not Me- It’s You: Breaking Up


Lydia and I haven’t spoken for nearly a week.  She kept her silence, but every time I passed her on my way to the sewing machine there she was in all her Lilac glory.  I couldn’t ignore her forever.

I kept putting off the “where are we going?” talk.  How could I tell this beautiful piece of dressmaking that I couldn’t see a future together?  What’s wrong with me?  What will Lauren think- she set us up together in the first place?

Finally, I knew I had to face my failure.  I poured myself a glass of wine, and then another.  She saw me and knew what was coming.   I put on a little Bunny Berigan from her era to set the mood.

“Lydia-” I began, but she cut me off.  She was always so assertive.

“I know what you’re going to say.  I’m not stupid.  You haven’t touched me for a week.”

“I’ve been busy, you know that.  I was sick, too.”

“Not too sick to cover that fluffy piece of corduroy with buttonholes and pocket flaps.”

I winced.  She’d noticed.

“Look Lydia, we knew what this was going into it.  An experiment.  We’ve had some great times together, but this isn’t working out.  I love so many things about you- your cut, your vibrance, your texture, your unexpected details.  But I’d be lying if I said I thought this was more than a fling.”

She said nothing.

“I tried to make it work, you know I did,” I insisted.

“Remember the alterations?

“Of course.  You were the first pattern I altered using my block.  I’ll never forget that.”

“Look at me.”  Up to this point, my eyes stayed fixed on the floor below her or on the wine in my glass.  “Look at me,” she insisted.

My eyes slid upward and filled with her brilliant lilac perfection.  For a moment, the whole world seemed dual shades of purple, the colors of the silk and cotton.  I caught my breath.

“Try me on.  One last time.  You owe me that.”  I couldn’t refuse and slipped her over my head, once more marveling at the way her tone compliments my own tones, how the asymmetrical cut of her bodice hovers smoothly over my flesh, and how the sleeves draw attention down from my bust.  I wavered.

“There’s so much good here.  We can’t just throw that away.” She crooned.  Just then, my eye caught the dreadful sleeve heads.

“Lydia, I can’t get past the sleeve heads.  They’re just not right.”

She switched and became spiteful.  “That’s hardly my fault, you’re the one who can’t set in a sleeve smoothly.”  At that, I reefed her off.

“I told you at the time, that’s never happened before.  I’m under a lot of stress.  I was tired.  How could you hold that against me?”

“Isn’t that what everyone says?”

“Listen, Lydia, I smoothly set in sleeves on a hemp jacket once.  Hemp.

“You’re so cruel to compare me to your other projects.  I won’t listen.”

“You will listen,” I said, needled by her remarks on my set-in sleeves.  “It’s not me, it’s you- your fabric.  That’s not my fault.  You’re the one who won’t give.  You’re the one who won’t ease.  You’re the one who wrinkles the second I touch you.  I should have known you were more suited to a breezy sundress or a straight-tailored shirt.  I’m the one who tried to make you into something you aren’t, but  I can’t keep pouring myself into you with so little return.  We rushed into this and I made a mistake.  Your fabric isn’t right for the pattern.”

Lydia sat silently for some time as I realized that in the heat of the moment, I hit the nail on the head.

“Could you try to salvage the skirt?” she asked at some length.  “Think of the front kick pleat- it’s so unique.  I know you want to watch it dance while you walk.”

“You’re right, I do.  I might finish the skirt.  I’m sorry Lydia, you’re headed for the ragbag.  You and I and the pattern don’t work together.”

She sagged silently; she knew it was over.  I tried to make the skirt work and realized I cut the right front yoke in the size 12, though the rest was a size 16.  I slapped in the bound buttonholes with all the finesse of a myopic baboon.

I plan to put the skirt together anyway and see what happens.  At any rate, it’s about $15 worth of fabric, which is next to nothing in Aussie dollars.  Now that I finally decided to give up and analyzed why it didn’t work out, I feel light.  I feel free.  I feel ready to start over.

Meanwhile, I still want this dress.  I know the pattern and construction inside out now, and I want a dress to show for it.  After some cruising around Fashion Fabrics Club, I noticed a few lightweight wools which might fit the dress better.  I don’t blame the pattern or my sewing skills, I think I was trying to make a silk purse from a hog’s ear and this time it didn’t work.

One of these might work better.  A completely smooth, plain fabric wouldn’t be right, I’d be back in Deco Star Trek territory.  With a subtle pattern in a color which flatters me, this will be a very smart work dress.  Especially if I steal Patty’s insanely gorgeous tailored buttons.  It could become something Miss Lemon would envy.

( Miss Lemon, from an era when women could be fashionable without compromising dignity.)

I’d love fabric input.  My husband overheard some of my conversation with Lydia and said I should just go ahead and buy the right fabric for the dress.  It’s always nice to be encouraged to do something like that.

Edited to add:  I shopped, slept on it, and then this morning bought this gray tropical weight wool:

It’s so scary to buy fabric online, but I think this will do.  Black silk accents and stitching?  I think so.


  1. I figure I learned a lot and I'm not out for a huge amount of money. She's a time-sucking muslin, and I may still get a skirt out of it. At any rate, I'll take what I learned and make a really fantastic amazing dress. I just can't give up on the pattern, I love it too much.

  2. Good to come to the understanding that you did. Some things just don't work out as we hoped. And you are so right about Miss Lemon, she was always dressed so beautifully.

  3. Anonymous, that's a great idea. If you want, send me your address and you can have the bodice. I'd love for her to belong to someone who could appreciate her.

  4. That's such a bummer. Too bad flops are a necessary part of sewing. :( I'm glad you are going to give it another go. It is a lovely pattern. I always stress about picking the right kind of fabric for a project.

  5. Aww, too bad, I'm glad you're not giving up on the pattern, though. I know that feeling—the fabric gamble that sometimes works and sometimes blows up in your face.A lightweight wool with a small scale print like a houndstooth or check sounds scrumptious!

  6. Been here done this. It's a wadder and you know it in your heart. The sooner you cut 'er loose the sooner you can start over.

  7. Oh my gosh, that's hilarious. I especially like the "that's never happened to me before…"I'm sorry you spent so much time on something that won't work. Better luck on the next version. I think houndstooth sounds delightful.

  8. I love Poirot and always admire Miss Lemon's clothes. The actress manages to look a little arch in the most demure dresses. But then you would have to be something of a character to work for a man like Poirot!Too bad about the bodice. So difficult to get past, but once you wad the wadder and stuff it into the garbage pail, the world seems optimistic again.

  9. Aww… we all have projects like that. I did love the two tone effect you were doing! Sometimes, for whatever reason, things just don't seem to work out the way we want. I did enjoy your clever conversation ;) I usually am blunt with my projects… as in "you're a jerk! I can't take this anymore!" *cue throw across room* ;)

  10. So sorry this didn't work out. I was so enjoying that color and especially on you, but breakups like this can be pretty liberating. (At least in my case, after my tantrum–in which something invariably breaks–is over I feel a little more free from perfectionism). Love your sense of humor!

  11. Oh, boy. I hate these moments. And you're much better at giving up than I am, hats off to you.Call me strange – I could really picture this dress in a mix of two fabrics, you know, top fabric on bottom and top in one fabric, the one it gets buttoned on to, different fabric.My preferance would be the small checkered one (and if mixed, together with the grey one next to it, bottom left corner).I think you'll be very happy with a new fabric, the pattern itself is very nice!

  12. Aww, what a sad (and hilariously told) story. :( I have no advice about fabric because I've barely moved beyond cotton, but I'm glad you're not disheartened about the pattern itself. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  13. You should seriously consider engaging you to write … you have an ability to explain things really interesting. I never did talk to a dress! Joking aside, I admire your ability to say "enough" when something does not make way. Anyway, looking forward to see you running.

  14. Ohhh, I'm laughing with you, not at you. This was a delightfully fun post to read but not so much fun to have to go through this experience. I tossed an almost completed faux Chanel jacket project earlier this year but it took me months of indecision. I admire your courage in making a clean break so you can starting dating some other fashion fabric soon.

  15. hehehe. I had such fun writing that. Thanks for all the support, ladies! I'm finishing huge military-jacket pockets and finishing the skirt, I think those two will work out better. And I might get into my corduroy Smooth Sailing pants this weekend. I want to line the pockets with gnome fabric.

  16. HILARIOUS! The writing, of course, not the painful experience. I hope it works out with the other fabric. The pattern looks very promising.And I agree with Rosy. You write with insight. I enjoy your posts – the sewing ones as well as the philosophical ones.

  17. Oh it brought a tear to my eye, so often have I been watched reproachfully from the corner. Brilliantly caught. Now, I suggest you make the bodice into an amazing bag!! Not sure exactly how, or what style, but those lovley buttons and buttonholes would look gorgeous marching up the front of a bag. :)

  18. Excellent post (totally agree about Miss Lemon she's so stylish!) have started stalking the postman while waiting for my sewing patterns to appear so I can attempt to make my K-Heps!!!!! X

  19. Oh, this was hilarious! I keep my unfinished projects and repairs in a box where they can't judge me.I also had to laugh when you mentioned deco star trek – I used to have a dress like that, and my dad would give the 'live long and prosper' salute whenever I wore it!

  20. Pingback: Finally Finished Object: Blue Cord Arches Skirt « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  21. Pingback: Finished Object: Housecoat 1939 (Or, My Answer To The Snuggie) « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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