My Mother-out-law (perhaps I should call her my Mother-in-love?) is a delightful, kind and generous sort, who has recently turned a spectacular 92. Life is holding some challenges, as you might expect. And one of them is staying cool in a tropical climate. For this, she has an entire category of clothing she calls “the survival dress”. This is a pattern she has made again and again, and that she now feels unable to make.
Here is one she made. I know with the confidence a person has when she has done the washing and ironing during times of especial difficulty, that this dress is in constant rotation. And because I ironed it several times, I was able to put aside tales of my dear Mother-in-law’s stern sewing teacher, and concerns that my sewing might not be up to standard. Like most garments I make, this one has a few fudges on the inside that clearly do not cause trouble to she who wears it. And so, when the version that had been pinned on to a lovely cotton print fabric was unearthed in a drawer, I agreed to make it up. Just bring me the pattern and the instructions and all, and I’ll sew it up, I said.
I always make a few adjustments, she said. I’ve made them on the pattern, she said. Then it arrived. A startlingly small number of pieces pinned to some fabric with pins that had been holding for long enough to rust. No pattern packet. No instructions. No sign of any adjustments. Happily, I had asked for the completed item to be sent. So first I worked it over and wrote an account of how I thought it might have been constructed (reverse engineering, you know). Step by step. Then I drafted the skirt. Then I drafted the pocket. And then I went far enough to think I could check for likely adjustments–sure enough, the neckline had been narrowed. I gave this my best shot!
Well. I wasn’t sure at all. But bless her heart, she has received this frock with gratitude and applied ribbons to the inside shoulder to keep her underwear out of view, and apparently it has entered rotation. I’m going to claim success and apologise for having shown you every photo I took. And thank the crafty friend who was over for a sewing day and whose presence bolstered my confidence. Maybe I could have done it without you, but I sure am glad to have company instead!
4 responses to “The Survival Frock”
Great story and good job on the frock!
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Frock archeology…I love it.
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