As every woman knows, however, the important part of the Marine Ball is getting dressed up which means of course getting a dress.
When I was a child my mother hated taking me dress shopping. She was (and is) always conscious about money, but by the end of our tortuous experience she would throw her hands up in complete frustration, exclaiming "I don't care how much it costs, just find a dress that you like!!"
When I got older, I felt guilty and sorry for subjecting my mother to so much trouble over a dress. But I've now realized that she only had to deal with me for eighteen years, and her sweet revenge is that I now have to deal with me - forever.
I started looking early for a dress, trying to find the absolute most beautiful and stylish dress in the whole world. After weeks of looking through every single website that might have a dress on it on the entire internet, I just wanted a dress that had sleeves, was long, would make it to me in time, came in my size, and cost less than $300. It's surprising how few dresses there are that meet those requirements.
After another frustrating week or so, I dropped the first requirement. "I can sew," I thought to myself one day, "how about I just add sleeves. And because I'm clever, I'll get one in black so that I don't have to worry about matching fabric colors." So I ordered this dress:
Easy peasy, I though. Just cut off the bows, order some chiffon-stuff, and make an overlay. No problem!
A few weeks later, the dress came. A week after that, the fabric came, and I realized the beginning of my troubles. The fabric wasn't at all what I had anticipated, and there wasn't enough time to order some more. I had already conferenced with my friend, The Amazing Sewing Lady, and she had agreed to help out on my crazy project. "I love projects!" she enthusiastically told me. Thank heaven for friends with talents.
After pinning the dress for hemming (four different layers), we conferenced about the bodice fabric problem. Neither of us liked the fabric, and being OCD (me) and fashionable (her), we decided to go shopping for fabric that was similar to the bodice fabric. That night, in a wave of inspiration, I decided that I would use the fabric to create the same pleated fabric from the original, and make the top the way I liked it. I went to sleep feeling very pleased with myself.
Our shopping trip went off perfectly and I came home with two yards of black net almost identical to the fabric used for the dress. Brandon and I were taking the family out of town later that week, so Angie and I decided to get together the next week to plan out the bodice.
The next week was busy and we didn't get together until Saturday - the third of November, one week before the Marine Ball. Brandon looked at me askance when I assured him that I would be fine, but I ignored him because, well, he usually looks askance at me when I discuss about half of my life with him.
So, to recap: strapless dress made into dress with sleeves, using fabric made from 1-cm pleats, one week to do it in.
Monday morning I started out with high expectations. We had school, I fed the children lunch, took a nap, and started sewing. By dinner time I was in high dudgeon and Brandon was going to be home late, so I told Kathleen to feed her siblings cold cereal and eggs. Tuesday I started sewing around eight, and when Naila showed up, I told her to take everyone for a walk, give them lunch, and put the boys down for their naps. Oh, and could she make some borsch for dinner? My conscience, although failing, couldn't handle making everyone eat cereal for dinner again. Brandon might rebel.
Wednesday I didn't even get a nap, and sewed from 8:30 until 10 with a few hours' break to take the children for a walk and feed them borsch again for dinner. Naila gave them lunch. again. Thursday Naila took pity on me and made dinner in between playing with the children, feeding them lunch, and cleaning the house. We had run out of normal bread, so the children and PB&J on tandir bread. Evidently it's not so bad. Friday I sewed until we had to leave to go to the grocery store, followed by the embassy fall festival.
Saturday morning I sewed, took a break to get my hair styled and buy some jewelry (at the local bazaar, complete with coiffed hair), came home, and finished my dress around four o'clock. I had enough time to iron Brandon's clothes and put on my makeup before the babysitter showed up at five.
When we got into the car, him in his nice black suit and me with my grandmother's fur wrapped around me, he looked at me. "You look nice," he told me, "I doubted, but you managed to pull it off again. Was it worth it?" I considered for a minute. "No," I told him, "next time I'm just going to buy something, anything, even if it's a flower-print mumu. Just as long as I don't have to alter it!" He laughed and replied, "No you won't. You'll do the same thing again next year. Just you watch."
He's probably right.