the hormonal, meltdown dress of tedium, plus an essay on motherhood

I really wanted a new dress to wear on Mother’s Day. I wanted to feel pretty, and I knew the pattern I wanted to use: the Davie dress from Sewaholic. It’s a knit dress, which means two things: 1) comfort and 2) maternity-friendly. I bought a length of medium-weight ponte in Denver, knowing that it would make the perfect Davie dress.

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The construction of this dress is simple: eight panels, sewn together and topstitched, and hemmed at the neckline, sleeves, and hemline. Usually when I sew knits, I serge all of the seams and use my sewing machine for hemming only. That makes my knit projects fly by, and I love it. With this dress, however, serging each seam isn’t a good option. When you use your serger to stitch the actual seam, the edges of the two layers of fabric are overlocked together. I thought that with the topstiching involved, I could run into some unwanted topstitching bulk if I serged the seams, so I opted for a five-step seam construction: use my machine to stitch the seams, my serger to finish the two edges, and then my machine again to topstitch two rows on either side of the seam.

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To throw another curve ball into this dress, because I used my regular sewing machine to stitch the seams, I couldn’t use a regular straight stitch. Knits need a stitch that will stretch (and, for me, serging your seams is the easiest way to do that). So, on your regular sewing machine, the best way to stitch a seam that will stretch and stay secure is to use the lightning stitch. The lightning stitch is a really, really small zigzag and takes longer to sew than your typical straight stitch or serged seam. But that was the best way to sew this dress, so the lightning stitch it was.

And then I made a mistake.

A big one.

And a stupid one.

I’d finished sewing the two back center panels together completely, and then I went forward with attaching the side panels. And after I finished sewing one of the side panels to the center back, I realized my big, stupid, really stupid mistake: I attached it backwards. The seam allowance was facing the wrong way, and I’d just sewn the entire seam with the impossibly tiny lightning stitch.

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Like I sad: big, stupid, absolutely awful mistake. Taking out that lightning stitch took me 2 – 3 hours, probably as long as it would have taken for me to actually finish the whole dress. I cried and sulked and at one point even threw my seam ripper in frustration, at which point it broke, and then I cried even more. (And I definitely let loose some swear words.) Because the hemline needs to settle for 24 hours, I had to finish the dress the night I started if I wanted to wear it on Sunday. So I stitched the rest of the tedious seams at 10:30 at night with puffy, tear-leaking eyes, and hormone- and frustration-fueled emotion. As far as sewing experiences go, making this dress was not a positive one.

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But the dress turned out pretty in the end. I hemmed it Saturday night and wore it all day on Sunday. And this little dress that caused me so much frustration and anger and time did make me feel pretty and was actually worth all the work, heart, tears, and hormones that I put into it.

Being a mom is not an easy job. I make mistakes every day, and I often question my ability, competency, and worthiness for this job. I have been more hormonal during this second pregnancy and often feel so overwhelmed with the promise I’ve made to bring another babe into this world. Motherhood shows me all of my weakest parts and reminds me of how far I am from perfection. It’s easily the hardest, most taxing endeavor I’ve ever taken on.

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And yet I love it. At the end of the day, I would choose this life over and over and over, even when it means that sometimes I have to rip out a lightning-stitch seam and start again. I love this life even when it means that I cry until my eyes are puffy, because this little boy I have the privilege of loving and caring for is beautiful. This babe growing in my body is a babe meant to come to our family, and I am meant to be this babe’s mother, even though I make stupid mistakes.

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Yes, sewing this dress drove me to the brink of insanity, and it was all because of a stupid mistake that I made. Most of my frustrations in motherhood are the result of an imperfection in myself, not in my circumstances. But we–as sewists or mothers or both–keep moving forward to create beautiful things.

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And I can’t even begin to tell you how this boy of mine makes all of my tears and personal failures worth it. Not all of our sewing mistakes may yield a still-beautiful result, but I really believe that motherhood does. Motherhood is also womanhood, regardless of whether we have babes of our own. When we nurture and love others, we create beauty. Loving others–whether our own children or kids from church or neighborhood kids or friends’ children–always makes life beautiful, even when it’s so hard. Especially when it’s hard. I wouldn’t trade this life of mine for anything, even a lightning-stitch-free seam.

***Specs: This is the Sewaholic Davie dress, sewn in a midweight ponte. I cut out a 4 in the neck and graded out to a 6 in the waist. I’d recommend basting the side seams before stitching them permanently so you can adjust the fit if necessary. The armholes were a little low on me, so I stitched about two inches into the armhole itself. Next time I make this pattern, I’ll make that adjustment on the paper pattern. I also opted to turn the neckline under and topstitch, rather than using bias tape to bind it. Once again, the stitching sequence I used to finish each seam is: 1) stitch seam using lightning stitch, 2) finish each edge separately with my serger, 3) topstitch each seam allowance on either side of the seam. I topstitched 1/8-inch away from the seam and used a blindstitch foot as a guide to keep the stitch straight. And make sure that you don’t attach the panels backwards, because otherwise you will cry and swear and throw things.

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One Comment

  1. Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Love this! Like, Instapaper-ing it and highlighting stuff. Yes to everything about imperfection + motherhood + being hard + being worth it.

One Trackback

  • By the scrappy pencil skirt on August 5, 2015 at 7:43 am

    […] I made my Sewaholic Davie dress I had significant scraps left over. I loved the knit so much that I couldn’t just toss them. […]

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