Episode 24: My Mentality

When I first started the project: Knitting your own wedding dress is a lot like building your own computer. Not very many people can do it, but with the right expertise, it can be more rewarding than buying it pre-made.

After failing the first attempt: Knitting a wedding dress is like building a computer before the Internet. Nobody really knows what you’re doing, including you.

While assembling the sewing pattern I bought: Knitting a wedding dress is like building a functioning jet engine. Not an advisable DIY project.

That's a king-sized mattress.

After assembling the sewing pattern: Knitting a wedding dress is like knitting a functional jet engine. Fucking impossible.

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Episode 23: A Breakthrough, And the Nazis Love Me!

First of all, guys, we have to talk about something. A while ago I mentioned briefly that one of my (many) side projects is an afghan using Barbara Walker’s mosaic knitting technique, and that her book of mosaic knitting patterns is about 50% normal, pretty designs like stars and circles and stuff and 50% swastikas. I thought it was pretty random and funny enough to mention offhandedly, and I didn’t think much of it until I saw that four people yesterday alone found my blog by searching for swastika knitting patterns.

In fact, these are the top five search terms that bring people here:

What the hell, people?! Why has my blog become a haven for Nazi knitters? Why is this happening to me? I just wanted to knit a wedding dress…

On that front, commenter Sarah suggested that I try using a pattern to fill in some of those enormous question mark-shaped holes in my dress-making plan. I don’t know why the hell this never occurred to me before, but it took about 5 minutes of Googling to find this gorgeous, perfect pattern:

I’m so excited about this, I spent the entire day biting my nails, giggling quietly, and waiting for the minute I would get to go home and start knitting.

However.

I don’t sew. I wish I did; friends and family keep encouraging me to. I picked up knitting/crocheting as a way to keep my hands busy while watching TV, which meant it was a pretty social (well, for me) thing to do. Sewing, at least machine sewing, requires time in isolation with a loud machine, so I never picked it up. That means I’ve never learned to read a sewing pattern. And holy shit, you guys, they are INSANE.

This one is 82 pages long. EIGHTY TWO PAGES of strange, foreign symbols and lines. I bought it as a printable pattern, which was apparently kind of dumb because when you buy them as a book the pattern comes as this huge transparent sheet that you’re supposed to put on top of your fabric before you cut it. By contrast, a knitting pattern for an article of clothing is usually 2-4 pages long and comes with a nice little line drawing to show you what the dimensions are supposed to be. I guess I was just expecting a line drawing, maybe with some arrows or something, and helpful brackets explaining how long each piece should be. That, it turns out, is totally not what sewing patterns are.

This is not at all what my sewing pattern looks like.

So stay tuned for next time, when I hijack a room of my house and tape 82 pages together on the floor, then attempt to decipher it! Exciting! Fun! Not at all intimidating!

Episode 22: Halp

Everything I know about wedding dress construction I’ve learned from watching Say Yes to the Dress, which is remarkably non-technical in its treatment of the subject, or from poring over pages and pages of Google Image results for lace wedding dresses. I get really close to my monitor, squint really hard, and try to find the seams.

Here’s the thing about professional wedding dress designers: I think they’ve evolved past the point of visible seams. Every damn dress I find looks as though it was assembled by making a model stand very still while the designer hand-weaves the lace around her.

That leaves me squinting really hard at pictures like this, muttering “Hmm…well, I guess they might have…no…huh…HOW THE HELL DID THEY DO THIS?”

BY MAGIC??

I’ve been knitting this large rectangle, which was hypothetically going to be the back/sweep train part of the dress. A few days ago it occurred to me that when I made my ridiculous hobo toga dress (and turned myself into a human pincushion), pleating the fabric of this rectangle and fitting it inside the other skirt piece where they met at the butt area didn’t look completely awful. However, bedsheets are not the same as knit cotton lace in so many ways, including thickness. Following this theory, I tried folding the piece I’m working on like I’d done with the sheet and wound up with a bundle of fabric the size of my Cairn terrier.

Nobody tell Pnina about this.

As you can tell by the expression on Kaylee’s face, that’s not a great look. So, to counteract the terrier-butt-bunching syndrome, I started gradually decreasing my rectangle.

AND THEN I FREAKED RIGHT THE FUCK OUT.

There’s something about changing from a nice comforting shape like a rectangle to a new, scary shape like a freestyle rhombotenuse (or, as I’ve been informed, an “isosceles trapezoid” for those of you who passed middle-school geometry) that induces full-blown panic in me. It happened before, when I started to decrease the original skirt; suddenly it hit me that I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and those pants might have a small dog attached to them.

So here I go, back to peering at 200 x 500 pixel blurry waterstamped images, saying “Well now, I think I know how to make a dress do that, but I don’t think I can quite pull it off.”

This picture was snapped moments before the model unhinged her jaw and devoured an entire craft services table.

That one’s kind of drastic, but almost all modern lace wedding dresses are done in the mermaid or fit-and-flare style, which hugs the hips and then juts out mid-thigh. Maybe that’s a sexy look if you want to emphasize your hips — if you’re not, say, ridiculously Italian, a genetic trait that allows every outfit from a burlap sack to a sandwich board to emphasize your hips. It’s a shape I think I could figure out how to make using strategic decreases and increases, but I would have to eat nothing but pencil shavings and red pepper flakes for the next 16 months in order to avoid looking like an amateur’s first attempt at artisanal sausage-making.

(I’ll have you know I just spent 20 minutes attempting to use the clone tool in Gimp to put Strong Mad in a lace gown to illustrate my fear of what I’d look like in mermaid lace. I have been defeated — in more ways than one.)

Once again, I feel stuck; I honestly don’t know what to do to my rectangle to transform it into a Magic Natural-Waist Dress With Sweep Train, Sausage on the Side Please. I guess I’d better keep watching trashy TV and squinting at Google until I get my Bridal Fashion degree in the mail.