Every project, despite the results, isn’t always fun or exciting. Skill limitations, time restraints, or expense can really turn something fun into something frustrating. I generally try to avoid being whiny or complaining about my first world problems, but I also want to keep it real. I suspect some of you may closely identify with the story I’m about tell. There is a silver lining to this story – I hope my moments of madness will inspire you push through any projects you have like this one.
Last week I revealed this year’s Halloween costume, Urban Witch. Y’all, it worked my nerves, but I’ve come out on the other side a better maker and creator.
My most important advice ever: EDIT. EDIT. Then, edit. Here’s just a few trouble spots and places I edited – multiple times ….
We knew we wanted big floaty arms that mimicked a cape, but weren’t an actual cape. Because I have no clue how to make 3D things like garments, I like to start with a pattern. The only one that we found that sort of fit the bill was Simplicity 1551. First sign of trouble – it only came in a women’s size 8. I didn’t panic. I went ahead and bought it and made it from muslin so I could adjust it way down for fit.
Honestly, I was rather impressed at this stage – it looked like we wanted it to look, seemed like the fit was going to be ok and had the general feel of the type of dress we were trying to make. I thought a knit could be a good forgiving choice and when a friend pointed out it knits didn’t need to be finished like cottons do, I was sold. On her other most excellent advice, I only took apart the front and back sides of the muslin dress to cut two solid pieces on the fold rather than all six panels as designed. This is where things go really wonky – I did a bad job adjusting the cut of the collar to accommodate the weight of the sleeves. I had to take some of the fullness out of the skirt to accommodate the two, rather than six, panels. I had also incorrectly measured the full length of the inside of the sleeves and bought fabric three inches too short. I had a mess, hot.
It gets worse. The sleeves were terrible. I made them from the same blue knit with a bright yellow/green on the inside. They were so heavy. They just hung there like saggy sacks of sad. I swear, they put 20 pounds on a 9 year old! I was so dejected. At this point, I thought it might be time to throw in the witch hat, run to the Halloween store and trade $$ for a finished costume.
I walked away from it for a few days then came back to with the eyes of an editor. I asked myself what’s not working and how can you make it work? Then, demanded an honest answer. The sleeves had to go and some seams had to be added for fit. There was a time crunch now, I couldn’t be finicky. I just let go of my ideas of what it “should” be and let the fabrics speak. Emily found both the bats and the blue tulle like sleeve fabric. Wait? What? I don’t have to MAKE bats, they are already on the fabric? Check! Don’t have to add bling? It’s already in the blue fabric? Check! Things are looking up for sure.
Also on the cutting room floor – dying the fabric to create an ombre like effect, painting buildings along the bottom of the skirt, adding a FMQ bat across the neckline, adding hot fix crystals through the dress, and shortening the length of the wig. See how much different the first doodle is from the finished product?
My second most important advice ever: Let go. Trust the process, Trust your instincts, and follow the project where it leads you.
After all that aggravation, frustration, and deviation from what I thought it should be – I’m happy. Once all the accessories were added and I wasn’t focusing on every single detail, I even liked it! I swear, some of the biggest headaches turned out to be the dress’ best features. Running down the street with her billowing sleeves, sparkly shoes, and witchy accessories, she looked exactly as I had envisioned even if it was nothing like I planned.
Projects that look effortless rarely ever are. Have you experienced one that you absolutely hated right up until the second it all came together? Knowing what you know now, would you make that project again?