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.