Saturday, June 2, 2012

Red Dresses Aren't Always Red ( even when they are) ...and now I need a derby, or a top hat.

This is Katelyn.                                             Eliviya and Katelyn.                                          This is 'Livia.

'Livia and Katelyn are sisters. The girls and I went to the fabric store Monday morning and they each picked out a pre-gathered dress fabric that tickled their fancy (I am a fan of fancy tickling) and they went to spend a day at the zoo with their dad and brother and grandfather.

I think the two of them were humoring me just a bit but they picked thoughtfully and seemed pleased. If you don't sew it can be a bit of a mystery when you are shown flat, kinda wrinkly fabric and told that this will be a dress. But the girls are polite and well mannered children so they smiled, looked a teeny bit puzzled and went off for the afternoon.While they were gone I put together little cotton sundresses for each of them. It was easy and fun and I hoped they'd like them. I always hope that people will like the things I sew but I am always not sure. I have this inner double-think-monologue whereby I become convinced that it -whatever IT I am currently working on (even though I might like it) - has suddenly turned hideous and not at all lovely and it won't fit and it is stupid and ugly and all home-madey and not at all what they pictured in their mind's eye and it is flawed in unimaginable ways and burdened. Yep, the garment is burdened (poor thing) by my hyper critical eye and the knowledge that I just might have sewn this wearing pajamas and fuzzy slippers (and certainly Vera Wang never does that.) All of this attaches itself to the poor, blameless garment and weighs it down in my mind until it is an ill-fitting, plaid gunny sack, a short sleeved suit, high water mom jeans in orthopedic is just wrong. The thing I loved only moments before has become ...dubious.

*puts on getting back to the point hat*

ANYWAY, I laid the dresses out on my bed and and the dresses I hoped the girls would like them at least well enough. They came home many hours later aaannnd.......they loved them! And that's the pay off. That's the power of sewing. That's the mighty banisher of insecurities for both sewer and sewee (is that a word?) That is the RED DRESS MOMENT. Katelyn and Eliviya spun and twirled and posed and giggled and felt special and fabulous. They made my heart happy. Man, I do love that part!

My Traveling Red Dress is All Grown Up and Leaving Home

This is the Stig. She has cunningly disguised herself by wearing dark glasses because, unlike other pictures of the Stig she is also wearing her head (you'll see.) The Stig is wearing one incarnation of my Traveling Red Dress...I'll explain.
So now we are at the part where I need a derby...or a top hat. Up there. That's my red, Red Dress. I made it. I made a wrap skirt gathering of yards and yards of tulle with a big 'old satin sash so it'll fit most everyone. I made three different corset tops in three different sizes from Stig size through a medium and on to a more generous size ensuring (I's the plan anyway) that one or the other will fit most anyone. I made it so you can wear the skirt and your Jammie top if that's what makes you feel fabulous.

I made it coz I love it and now I've put it in the mail and I'm all "Gleeps"and "what have I done?" and so I need a derby (or top hat) coz the dress just cries out for one and I could wear a hat and hide under my sewing cabinet and chew on the electrical cord.  

The thing is...I've made a dress that requires printed instructions and numerous, headless, pictures of the Stig (for the uninitiated info on the Stig Can be found on Top Gear UK, which you should watch ) demonstrating the care and feeding of the dress. Instructions for heaven's sake! Thats's not weird. Not at all. Perhaps I should elaborate. 

....I really wanted the dress to be a fantasy, a fantasy that lots of people could share but people are all kinda different shapes so it couldn't be a real dress it had to be, well, this dress (and because I'm me) this dress needed instructions. Greaaat...I made a dress that requires illustrated photographs and a website. *gnaws nervously*

Funny thing is though, I still love it. I've seen grown-up-type women laugh and twirl just like '
livia and Katelyn did in their not red, red dresses. This dress, It feels like something you might wear to a Tim Burton circus or to run down the street or sit barefoot in the grass. It feels like a dress you'd never wear but you are. It feels special as hell even though I know where the mistakes are. I've sent it off for the first (not people I know) real world experience and I am beyond being all geeked out and blarrgghh. I want y'all to love wearing it and to send me pictures and to see that it's not a dress in the dressmaker sense it's a red's a moment.

This is Annie. We love her.  This is how the dress will find it's way to you.
Please leave requests for the dress in your comments I will try keep the dress traveling as long as it holds up and people are willing to forward it to the next address or back to me. I would love it if you would send pictures to me (all that info is included in the illustrated guide to dress management.)           
You can email me there for shipping information.

Remember to post your pictures at  The Traveling Red Dress Face Book Page and if you post your pictures to your own Tumblr or site send me the link and I'll post it here.

Special thanks to Jenny Lawson, the incomparable Bloggess, whose  Traveling Red Dress Project made me do this.

Thanks to my darling girl who did the math and helped me wrestle the skirt around the needle and who mailed it out coz I might have thrown up at the I said "I'm all geeked out and blaarrggghh over here...under the table...wearing a hat...and playing with sharp things."


  1. There are a few middle and high school media specialists who love this idea and found your blog via the stupendous author Maureen Johnson. Georgia is ready for the red dress whenever it's available!


    1. Kari, the dress is on the move again. I would love to include your address in the " where to next" dress engagement calendar. If you go to the red dress instructions here you can click on the email me link and send your info directly to me.

  2. I love this. The engineering part of me LOVES that it comes with instructions! I love that it can fit so many people. I love, love, love it. Amazeballs.

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  4. You. Are. Awesome. I've been following the Red Dress phenomenom for about a year now (God bless the Bloggess). I've thought about participating, especially after my mastectomy in June. I did some searching of give-aways and didn't really connect with any of those dresses. And then, since I can afford to buy my own, I searched for one to buy. Disappointing search. I liked nothing.

    Until now. This...THIS...YOURS! Your red dress is the dress I imagined I would feel beautiful in. Part of the reason is most certainly because you've infused into the seams the compassion that oozes from your writing. You care so much that someone likes what you've done, yet you seem to miss the point that someone who doesn't like it doesn't deserve it (kids excepted from this last sentiment). But also, this dress is BEEE-U-TEEEE-FUL!

    I think it's an amazing thing you've done. May your karmic rewards be swift and plentiful.

    1. I would love to send my red dress to you.

      It goes next to California and then Vancouver.

      Please send me your mailing info by clicking on the email link at the bottom of the instructions page.

      Thank you for kind words and lovely post.

      I think you will feel beautiful in my red dress and I hope you contact me.