The Elephants See Manhattan Dress

One night thing about sewing is that you can always make yourself a new outfit for an occasion. This is also a very dangerous thing about sewing, because you can just make new things all the time, so your wardrobe can become populated with dresses themed to specific events and therefore limited in their use, and also, if people know you sew, because you’re like me and you proudly declare it to every damn person that you meet who doesn’t really care about your weird hobby but is just trying to buy some coffee so great, thanks, bye, then people start asking you if what you are wearing is a new outfit and then you feel some kind of compulsion to make something new for every occasion and then even more stuff finds its way into your closet but your life in New York, a land where closets are an endangered species, so you end up getting rid of a lot of stuff all the time which is why you might someday see a homeless person wearing a dress I made. And thus, the cycle of life continues.

As discussed in posts from previous years, I really love my birthday. But this year, I suppose, my birthday and I hit a bit of a rough patch. We’re dealing with it, we’re talking it out, we’re getting to a good place, I have every hope for the future, but honestly, this year? My birthday was basically cancelled. I had big plans to make a new dress, have drinks with all my friends, enjoy the evening in the company of people I love and wine that loves me back, and yet, it was not to be. I caught an awful and debilitating summer cold, which arrived in my chest and spent several days there, before deciding it wanted to see more of the world and traveling up to my head. This cold, a sociable fellow, called it’s business associate, a fever, over for tea, and the two of them kept me company instead of all my friends. It’s always nice to meet new people, but this was outside of enough. When the two finally departed and I was back to feeling like my normal, unoccupied by illness self, I had already cancelled my birthday plans and honestly, it just seemed silly and after-the-fact to try to do anything else. So there you go. No birthday for me. I didn’t even get to finish my birthday dress! The biggest tragedy of all.

But, on the upside, I was lucky enough to have another event on the horizon that was dress-friendly and worth something special, and that was my friend Becca’s bachelorette extravaganza. So I figured, no one had to know that this was a birthday dress, right? Except…all of you. Who I am telling right now. Oh, well…

As the day included a variety of activities, from mimosas and wine-glass decorating to trivia games to dinner to 80’s tribute dance party, the dress had to include comfort, style, and pockets. And you know what? I think it does!

ESM 2.jpg

And, happy bonus, elephants. And of the many things Becca and I both love, elephants are very much among them. Elephants are amazing, the most precious and perfect of pachyderm. Sorry, rhinos and hippos! Rhinos, you are basically dinosaurs, and hippos, you look really cute but you are mean. Elephants are gorgeous creatures and so astounding. Their trunks have over 40,000 separate muscles, and that’s just the beginning of the amazingness of their trunks along. Find out more here. And their babies? Are the damn cutest. Look. Look at this. Come on:

and look at this:

They are wonderful animals and yet they are abused and slaughtered all over the world. There are many amazing charities to support elephants, and I like this one a lot, if you are interested.

At any rate, the elephants on my dress enjoyed adventures in Manhattan to celebrate the end of Becca’s non-married life. But before all that, I had a chance to force my friend Jenny, who was in town for the event, to snap some photos. The best part was that the last time I got to see Jenny was her OWN wedding, where she and Becca and our friend Lisa and I enjoyed the event and the chance to have a reunion. Seeing all these amazing women in the same room again for the first time in two years made me happier than an elephant in a mud pit.

Which is really very happy. I can assure you.

ESM 3.jpgThis fabric, while appearing Indian in nature, is actually faux-Indian, or Findian, which is a new word I’ve recently invented and feel I might be using a lot in my life. (Mr. Struggle is Indian, for those who hadn’t picked up on the clues.) I actually bought this fabric three years ago at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka one of my favorite places on earth. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I loved it, and I bought it, and I buried it in boxes and storage containers over several moves and cycles of warm weather, loving it, taking it out and touching it, thinking about it, and then putting it away again, unused. But this year, I was ready, and I think I used it well, if I do say so myself.

ESM 4.jpgI used my trusty bodice block. God, that thing. I cannot thank my friend Liz, who drafted it with me, enough for this. It had changed my life. I altered the bodice to be a square lower neckline and sheared a little off the back bodice pieces at the neck to make it almost a boatneck on the back.

ESM 5.jpgYou can’t really see that here. Sorry. But I loved this photo, Jenny kept making me cry with laughter as she directed me like a fashion photographer and told me to pop the leg. Vogue should hire her. It’s a shame she wants to be a doctor, sigh, she’s really missing her calling.

ESM 6.jpgThe skirt was just a gathered rectangle. Or rather, three gathered rectangles, as there had to be seams to accommodate the pockets. I used a vintage metal zipper I had in my stash, in a nice teal color. I hand-picked the zipper and hand-stitched the hem. Otherwise this was very simple to put together. Other than the 16 darts in the bodice, 8 in the elephant fabric, 8 in the lining, it all goes very fast. Or it would, if I hadn’t gotten that cold in the middle. Sigh. Clearly this dress wanted to be used for a higher purpose then my birthday.

ESM 7.jpgPockets like these are really good for holding your phone during 80’s night and having it handy for quick photo opportunities of the bride-to-be in all her drunk dancing glory.

ESM 8.jpgA little close up of the fabric for you. How cute are those elephants? Another friend there, Kira, wore elephant earrings. Clearly it was an elephant kind of day.

ESM 1.jpgI can assure you that this dress, of the many I’ve made, is guaranteed to be a frequent flyer in my wardrobe. The elephants would protest, otherwise. And they would be correct in doing so. They deserve to see the world, don’t they?

 

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10 Comments

Filed under Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

10 responses to “The Elephants See Manhattan Dress

  1. Judi

    I love the elephant fabric! That dress fits you perfectly. Sorry you missed your birthday this year, but you’ll have dozens more!!!!

  2. I couldn’t even see the elephants until I got up close! What a great fabric!

  3. This is absolutely smashing on you lady- yo look so happy wearing your fine new frock!

  4. Oh, this is so cute! But I totally hear you- right before my trip to Iceland, I found myself frantically trying to sew up a new swimsuit (YOU KNOW, FOR ICELAND…A SWIMSUIT… FOR ONE DAY AT A SPA) instead of packing. At midnight. The night before I left. Sewing is an illness!

    And now I own one piece of a two-piece swimsuit that probably won’t ever get finished. Le sigh. Moral of the story: it’s not a good idea to sew for every specific occasion, buuuuuuut there’s almost no way we’ll stop doing it.

  5. Elephants!! So cute! I always try to sew for occasions, sew alongs, whatever, and never finish on time either. And then, shiny objects, I find something new and get distracted and don’t finish. Anyway, enough rambling, love the dress!!

  6. Julia

    love the dress!! and the pattern! also – if you are getting rid of stuff i will happily take your creations for the sake of more closet space for you 🙂 😉 🙂

  7. Brunhilda

    Love the dress Leah ! So cute and feminine : )

  8. Brunhilda

    Especially the bodice, fits so well on you..now I think i’m going to start sewing too : )

  9. Pingback: The Annual Elephants Dress | Struggle Sews a Straight Seam

  10. Pingback: The Annual Elephant Dress Round Three! | Struggle Sews a Straight Seam

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