Recently in Partnership Celebration Dress Category

I'm back!


Well hello, blogland!

Thank you so much to everyone who commented and wished us well. The Partnership Celebration was amazing; it surpassed my wildest expectations of how much love and connection could be gathered in one place. I am still a bit overwhelmed by the whole experience—I felt like it was over in a flash, and so packed with expressions of love, support, pride, and creativity that I will be mentally unpacking it for quite some time. I've been waiting to post about it until I'd "gotten some perspective," but I'm starting to think that might take years!

There were also some amazing family and fiber-arts connections in the form of gifts, which I will share with you internet lovelies when the time seems right. For now, if you're curious or just want to see how the dress turned out, check out our amazing photographer's blog post with her sneak-peek of our photo gallery.

To answer a few questions:

  • My shoes came from Imelda's. Portland people, take note: they are also available in black and YELLOW!

  • People were curious about the little water bottles. They were for a ritual where we had everyone collect water from a source that was meaningful, either to them personally or in terms of their relationship with us. People went above and BEYOND, by the way. Then we had each person come up and add their water to a decanter we were holding. We used the full decanter to water a series of little plants, and everyone got to take one home. We liked the symbolism of our entire community supporting us and each other. There is a picture in Heather's blog post of us holding the decanter.

  • We got up to about 600 cranes by the day of the Celebration, but I'm betting we only used about 300 of them. Moral of the story: it pays to think about how many of a thing you will actually WANT, before making as many as you CAN. :-) There's also a picture of the decorated room in Heather's post.

Knitting posts to come! I also apologize to all those whose emails are waiting unreturned in my inbox. I will be working on getting caught up over the next few days; I just really needed some time to unplug after the big event. Some exciting fiber developments are in the offing, however. Stay tuned.



The dress is done! And it's beautiful. I'm so pleased and satisfied. But I'm waiting until Heather's uber-talented photography can show you the final results. I know, I'm such a tease.


We're rushing madly about in an attempt to get all the last-minute logistics taken care of before our Partnership Celebration, but I've been making an effort to document the small, quiet moments of beauty and meaning in between the harried errands and frantic emails. Above, the earrings that inspired my dress color: watered jade teardrops, bought by my grandfather for my grandmother in Hawaii in the 60s.


Some of the craft time normally reserved for knitting around here has been usurped by paper crane-folding. David's mom and my own have both been pitching in by folding cranes. My godmother organized a crane-folding shower, and Anne even recruited her friends Etsuko and Yoshiko to help! How sweet are they? It's lovely to feel that these flocks are a gift from our community, and that that community is larger than we realized.


Pretty good find on the shoe-color, no?

We mailed everyone tiny bottles in which to collect a bit of water from a meaningful place; they will figure into our event, although it's a secret exactly how! It's been a blast to see them trickling back to us through our mail-box; we now have melted snow from Mount Charleston, rain-water from my grandmother's garden, tap water ranging from DC to Portland, and Pacific salt water from Cabrillo Bay. Back when I took this, the bottles were still waiting to journey out into the world:


And what does Mr. Bingley think about all this? He's not sure. NOT AT ALL SURE. (Note the beautiful cushion painted by David's dad!)


One week, people!

PS: Once the dust clears, I have a cool series in mind on (gasp!) actual knitting. I've been de-stressing with a new design I'm really enjoying; hopefully you will, too. :-)

A sigh of relief


It's taken me a couple of days to put a blog entry together, but oh man, did I have a busy sewing weekend. And let me just cut the suspense right here: SAINTS BE PRAISED, my alterations worked.


On Friday morning, the dress was still a bunch of flat pieces in a shopping bag. On Friday evening, it looked like the photos above and below.


I'm glad I took these because it's easy to understand from them just how unusual the construction of this pattern is. As you can see, there are no side seams, nor are there front and back seams in the top portion. The bodice consists of three main pieces: the center front, and two long, oddly-shaped pieces that angle down and backwards until they meet at the center of the lower back, creating a deep V with fold-back lapels. Each of these side/back pieces is attached to the center front with an edge-stitched diagonal seam, like so:


Actually, all of the lines joining the skirt to the inset to the bodice are diagonal edge-stitched seams. Which maybe gives an inkling of why I sweated blood over figuring out a way to alter the angles of certain diagonals (without messing up the angles of others) in order to take inches out of the center lower back (but not the upper back, or butt). Those two back pieces, the facings that match them, and the center back of the skirt where it joins to those four, were the parts I had to modify, and you can see in these photos that they passed the first test: once they're all finished and folded, they are the same length and the same angle. Good news indeed.

And now, here's what the dress looked like on Sunday morning!


That ripply-ness on the left isn't a nightmarishly-tensioned seam; it's only pinned in place, and the right-hand side wasn't sewn yet at all. However. You can see that the alterations pass the second and third tests: the bodice back pieces fit the angle of the prepared center back piece, and the whole shebang FITS. At this point, after hours of intense concentration, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and went to bed.

I usually stay pretty relaxed and don't worry about "ruining" good fabric and so on. I'm not a reluctant cutter - I usually whack into my fabric unreservedly, as soon as I've done a tissue-fitting. I'm not one to stash fabric for years and years because it's "too nice" to use. But I have to admit that knowing this silk color was sold out and I didn't have time to start over before the Partnership Celebration did ratchet up the suspense. I'm looking forward to returning to lower-key sewing projects in the future...but I'm also thrilled about how this is turning out. I've reached the fun part, where all the soul-searching-in-the-desert stuff pays off!


Here's what the front looked like on Sunday morning—you have to imagine a belt in the same fabric bisecting the diamond-shaped inset; and it also looks less blousy on my body than on Gert. But from this photo you can get a sense of the whole construction, and the way the inset plays into the design as a whole. Lots and lots of edge-stitched diagonal seams!


It's further along now, although I took the sewing slightly easy on Sunday after Saturday's breathless stitching marathon. You can see the tailor's tacks at the bottom of the photo above; those are the placement lines for adding the two drapes to the back of the skirt, after which I'll just have to add the shoulder decorations and back closures, and hem the skirt.

I may just make it after all.

Cutting out


So, I really did intend to document this whole dress-alteration process on the blog. "Photos!" I thought. "Meditations! Maybe even tutorials!" But as it turned out, altering this pattern was akin to one of those Carlos Castaneda-type spiritual journeys you can only undertake alone, wandering in the wilderness until your spirit-animal emerges from a tumbleweed and advises you on the proper angle to invoke in order to remove three inches from the center back.


At first I was bummed out about this, because I wasn't having much FUN during my desert-wandering period. But then Jennifer commented that it seems like an apt metaphor for making a relationship work, and that sort of brought me back to myself. Sewing and knitting are journeys, after all, and some parts of the journey are difficult; that's as it should be! It just means I'm learning and growing. This is stuff I always tell other people, but in the pre-Partnership-Celebration stress I'd forgotten. I took a few deep breaths, returned to the pattern with my hat in my hand, and she and I sat down and talked about our disagreements. Eventually, I think, we sorted it all out.

And then...


Well, another good relationship practice is knowing when to reward yourself for having worked something out. The pattern, David and I took a trip over to my folks' house, where my mom and I teamed up to cut it out in the fancy silk! This was a luxury, because my parents, unlike David and I, are possessed of a dining room table.


As you can imagine, keeping all that silk clean while cutting out on David and my floor and trying to keep Mr. Bingley entertained would have been a recipe for disaster. The table and the extra cutting help were amazing!

First we ironed:


Then we planned...


...and pinned...


...and pinned, and measured...


...and occasionally we stopped to regroup and consult the strategic plan...


...and then, after measuring twice, we cut!


No turning back now! During the process of cutting I remembered just how beautiful this fabric is, and I'm both psyched and, I must admit, slightly nervous to start working with it. Luckily, I have quite a bit left over to practice on, but I can't spend that long fiddling around: the Partnership Celebration is in under a month! I took the pieces home and marked them with tailor's tacks, and soon the actual garment will start coming together.

Nothing like a little adrenaline to keep a girl honest...


(Thanks to David for the lovely photos this time around.)



Life runs on cycles, doesn't it? With the seasonal flow, my energy waxes and wanes, my interest in this or that intensifies and declines. In addition to more predictable cycles, there are also just periods of life that are more or less taxing, and right now I am officially hitting a plate-juggling, headless-chicken peak of frenzied activity.


With the new year, Partnership Celebration preparations have really kicked into high gear. I won't bore you with the details - I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this has either planned a wedding/graduation/ordination/50th-anniversary-party, or looked on as someone else planned one, and this involves all of the same kind of nit-picky details to settle: catering, clothes, invitations, decorations, travel arrangements, and so on, not to mention the important part of planning the actual ritual. It's all exciting to us, if not to other people: a lot of it fun, a few things annoying, but the sheer bulk of it a little crazy. Add to that, at my day job we're in the midst of the month-long process of going public with our newest set of data, which means more work than usual and getting myself up-to-date on procedures I've never gone through before. In my knitting life, deadlines for some reason have not halted in their tracks just because of all the other stuff on my plate, so I'm doing my best to keep on top of them as well.


All of which is to say: I've been feeling really guilty about not joining Ravelry's Help for Haiti program. I think this is such a cool idea, and it's awesome that Casey has made it so easy for one to search for included patterns that are already in one's queue. I feel like a self-involved flake for not including my patterns, but to be completely honest the idea of taking responsibility for administering one more thing at the moment makes me want to cry. I have this awful fear that I would pledge to donate half my January pattern proceeds, and then the actual donating would somehow fall through the cracks between everything else I'm trying to do: an outcome that would be truly unforgivable. So, it sucks, but this just isn't something I can keep track of right now. But I strongly encourage everyone to check out all the fabulous patterns from designers who ARE participating, and purchase those patterns you've been meaning to get anyway, while they benefit this good cause.


In other news, yesterday and today are officially "Figure Out the Alterations for my Partnership Celebration Dress or Die Trying" Weekend (pictures above). The dress was gapping at the back, and although the pattern specified "no provision for above-waist adjustment," I figured that where there's a will, there's a way. I spent about five hours yesterday puzzling over the pattern pieces with pencil, ruler, and tape in hand, trying to work out how to take three inches out of the middle back of this strangely-constructed pattern (no side seams; interlocking bias-cut triangles and rectangles). In the end I think I've figured out something that will work (fingers crossed), but oh man, was it ever difficult. It was one of those experiences you feel your way through with a combination of math, trial-and-error, and blind intuition. Right now my fitting shell looks like the photo above, but hopefully this afternoon I can re-cut the five pieces involved and get a start on putting it back together. And now, back to the alteration station...


A Big Project


There's something that's been taking up a lot of David and my energy lately, but I've hesitated to blog about it. I like to keep a little buffer between my personal life and the internet, and this feels like a sort of gray zone that I wasn't sure about entering. But then I realized how bizarre it was going to feel NOT to blog about it, given that there is a huge, intimidating fiber arts project involved about which I will want to post updates. How could I not share that on the Family Trunk Project blog?


So here's the deal: David and I are planning an event we're calling a Partnership Celebration. It has certain things in common with a wedding: it's our declaration of our intention to spend the rest of our lives together, and will be an opportunity to honor our dearest friends and family for all their support. It will involve food and music, poetry, ritual elements, and lots of storytelling. It's happening on our tenth anniversary of coupledom (March 13), which is pretty cool. There are other things about it that are different than a wedding: no government involvement, no religious element, no transformative symbolism where a third party joins us together.* It's going to be all about honoring and committing to the slow evolution of growing relationships, in the past, present and future. We're excited!

And of course, for any big event like this, there are the aesthetic questions: what are we going to wear? Which is where the sewing project comes in. We've decided to go with a vintage feel (no surprise there): specifically, our clothes will be 1930s-inspired. David's having a custom suit made, and I am making myself this dress:


I have wanted an excuse to make this ever since I first clapped eyes on it lo these many years ago, and here's my chance. My final version will be in the luscious oceanic silk you see above; it's some of the most beautiful fabric I've ever touched, and moves like liquid. Let's have another look, shall we?


Pretty gorgeous stuff. This is also, though, one of the most ambitious sewing projects I've ever attempted, and I want it to look great for our special occasion. So I'm being diligent and doing a full dry-run with a less expensive polyester lining material that more or less imitates the behavior of the silk:


Primarily, what I'll need to practice is edge-stitching (ALL of those diagonal seams are edge-stitched!), and working with such a light, slippery fabric on the bias. I'm about halfway done with the cutting-out on my test fabric, so I'll keep you updated about how it's going. I've got a little over four months, and I figure if I work on it a little bit each day that should be plenty of time. Wish me luck!

Oh, and for a sampling of gorgeous, PRO photographs of the both of us, check out the lovely Heather Espana's blog entry. We had a blast working with her - I think it's especially fun and relaxing to work with a professional when you're used to being the one in charge of the shoot!

*For those who might be concerned about our legal rights, we've hired a lawyer and are safeguarding them through non-marital channels.