This, I thought, was definitely something I would love to do, to ease a suffering family's burden in just some tiny way. I began a correspondence with Dawn and requested the patterns.
Simultaneously, seemingly unconnected, there was a handsome desk out on one of our neighbors' lawns, with a "free" sign on it. Well, surely I could have used another desk, but I was surprised to find that it was, instead, a sewing table with a 1950 Singer machine inside, with drawers full of accessories and attachments. Does it work? I asked the neighbor. She had no idea.
Enter Pete, a local retired sewing machine mechanic and shop teacher that one of my friends knew about. He took the machine for a few days, oiled her up, replaced the cord, tuned everything up, and even gave me a tutorial - all for under fifty bucks! He pronounced that it sewed beautifully, and said that if I wanted to buy an all-metal machine like it at today's prices, it would cost me over a thousand dollars.
Today I am down to three kids. The house is like a ghost town. Two are at work, two are with friends, two are at the grandparents'. The remaining three are watching television. A perfect opportunity to finally try out the new/old machine and the angel gown pattern all at once.
I am not a very careful seamstress. Most of the time, good enough is good enough. I hate pinning. I don't press. But I usually just make pajamas or dress-up clothes, so it usually wouldn't matter. Until now.
These have to be perfect. I am in for a long haul here, fighting against my own haphazard, slipshod manner. The finished product will be worth it, though.
Pete was right; it does sew beautifully.
The prototype, made from an old sheet. I love the shape of the angel wing sleeves.
I had some trouble with the lace, and I don't like the way the neck turned out. I think it should be a little bit lower.
Lace is surprisingly hard to come by in our area. All the fabric shops are closing up. This piece was a leftover scrap given to me by a friend. Now I wish that after my grandmother died, I hadn't given away the bags of sewing notions that we found in her attic. At the time, it just looked like a bunch of clutter that I had no space for.
The pattern said the gown should be open all the way down the back, but I sewed it up partway so my daughter could dress her baby doll in it.
It looked better flat on the table. :-/
Oh well, you know what they say - How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, practice, practice!