Friday, December 9, 2011

i carry your heart with me Dress

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

This poem was my first introduction to the poetry of E.E. Cummings. Believe it or not, I managed to not discover him until college, when this poem suddenly clicked with me despite Elaine mentioning it all the time as her favorite throughout high school. I know some people aren't a huge fan of Cummings' poetry, citing it as nonsensical and immature and syntactically confusing, but I absolutely love the whimsical visuals and the sweet sentiment in this poem. I wanted to use it as one of our wedding readings, but a dear friend used the same poem earlier in the year for her own wedding, and it's not like there's any shortage of romantic poetry that I love. But I've been wanting to pay homage to this poem for a while, and this dress has been rolling around in my head (although not in this form) for quite some time.

Way back in the beginning of September (about the time that I abandoned my Le Petit Prince Quilt), Mena announced the Sew Weekly Challenge theme of "To Dye For." It was supposed to be about adding color with dyes, paints, or markers; somehow that theme turned into this more or less monochromatic dress. I knew I wanted to make a white dress and doodle all over it with fabric markers, but I also didn't want it to turn into "Hello! I let a little kid color all over me!" I already have a dress like that, thanks. So I decided to keep it as an understated, black and white piece.

The hem is above the knee in the front.

And it swoops down almost to my ankles in the back,

It took a while after that to determine what I even wanted this white dress to look like. If it was going to be a white and black dress, the cut of the dress would have to be more special. Then I saw this dress over at Project Run and Play, and I knew instantly that a fishtail skirt would be perfect in white with black trim. So then I made the dress, but with more dramatic sleeves and an invisible zip instead of buttons. It wasn't until after I finished the dress that Me Sew Crazy posted her tutorial for the making of the skirt; when I saw it I had a major head-banging moment. Somehow shifting the circle in the circle skirt hadn't occurred to me while drafting the pattern...instead I made the calf length skirt and then painstakingly, haphazardly eyeballed what a good "swoop" would be from front to back. And then I cut, tried on, took off, trimmed, and repeated ad nauseum until I was satisfied.

Right. So after I finished brainlessly making the dress, I drew a heart onto a piece of scrap fabric, realized that the marker I used bled just the tiniest bit. After finding a marker that didn't bleed, I redid the heart, embroidered it on, and then began writing the words of the poem along the hem of the skirt. Which led to the second major brainless moment: I repeated one of the lines of the poem while copying it. I frantically tried to wash it out, but they weren't kidding about laundry-safe. After throwing a tiny tantrum to my husband, who was very gracious about it, I realized that it was still salvageable. I had caught the mistake before getting too far, and furthermore, it was right at the center back seam. I sliced out the offending piece and replaced it with a godet. And in hindsight, it's a good thing I made that mistake and did a replacement with a much larger piece of fabric, because there's no way I would have fit the rest of the poem onto the skirt as it was. Moral of the story: have more brainless moments not every mistake is as horrible as it seems. 

This tree was the largest in our complex, but still a little bit small to be the tree called life.

Fabric: 100% cotton king-sized bedsheet from IKEA As-Is because of stains
Notions: 2 packages of black double-fold narrow bias tape, white 20" invisible zipper, Jacquard Tee-Juice Fine Point Fabric Art Marker, red embroidery thread
Hours: Let's not talk about that. Ummm...probably at least twenty. But there's an awful lot of hem, and I'd almost forgotten how to do invisible zips. Plus the whole godet thing.
Techniques used: Godet insertion, I suppose, but I'm pretty sure I did it wrong since I didn't even bother looking up how to do it.
Will you make this again? I do want to make something else with a fishtail hem, but that won't be anytime soon.
Total cost: $5 for the sheet, $6 for the bias tape, $2 for the zipper, $0.39 for the embroidery thread, $4 for the fabric marker (and I suppose $6 for the failed fabric markers); pretty expensive for me at $23.39.
Final thoughts: I'm so glad to have finally finished this dress. Since it's been living in my head (and on Cecily) for so long, I was getting royally sick of it by the end (don't look too closely at my petulant godet insertion). But now that it's done, I'm glad I stuck with it, despite its imperfections. I'm sad that the back hem doesn't quite line up, and that you can totally see the godet seams, but hey, I'm not wearing this to anything where that might matter, so I'll sigh and chalk it up to a lesson learned about hasty sewing. I do love the pop of the red on the heart, the idea of the fishtail hem, and the poem along the bottom. Plus it's delightfully twirly.

Art Dress Twirl by CationDesigns on WeGIF

I'm still not really sure what's an appropriate place to wear this -- the embroidered anatomically correct heart seems a little emo without the context of the poem, which is difficult to read in its entirety on the dress; the fishtail hem, while delightful for stalking around in, is a little too dramatic for the everyday; not to mention the fact that it's all white and I'm particularly clumsy -- I do have a knack for making impractical garments, don't I? One of these days I'll learn and make a wardrobe of black, gray, and beige knee-length A-line dresses. Until then, I'll just stalk around with my skirt flapping in the wind behind me like a cape.


  1. absolutely gorgeous dress! i love it!!! that hem is amazing

  2. Don't worry about it looking goofy. It looks beautiful! Add a red flower in your hair and the look is lovely. :)

  3. Cindy! This dress is so very beautiful! I absolutely love it! Your creativity is in full bloom! I can't wait to see it in person! You keep surprising me with your talent and skillz! Well done!!

  4. So romantic. So beautiful! Not goofy, romantic.

  5. Such a pretty shape and so sweet!

  6. Lovely dress. The swing hem, black and white details, the poem on the hem - that's so special! Hope you get to wear it to a special ocassion soon.

  7. It's beautiful and edgy. I really like hearing the stories behind your projects!

  8. Wow!! I'm speechless! What a beautiful dress!

  9. Absolutely gorgeous. Love the hem.

  10. Stunning!! Absolutely perfect. The idea is fantastic and you've executed it so well!

  11. Thank you everyone! I had fun making it and it's nice to know other people liked it too!

  12. How did I miss this post? I LOOOOOVVEEEE this dress! Such a fabulous idea!!

  13. this is really lovely, the poem written on the bottom of the dress is breathtaking. I love it. I love all of it. Well done!

  14. Seriously gorgeous dress! I really like Jessica's version but I don't think I could pull it off as a grown person. You've completely changed my mind.

  15. How gorgeous! You are so clever ... And patient! I love e e Cummings :-D

  16. I've been reading through your archives and this dress is making me de-lurk. It is just stunning! You are incredibly talented. Love, love, love!

  17. Love it. Made me laugh to read your mistakes, I mean, learning experiences. This would be good to wear for a afternoon date, or lunch at a nice place, of course church too.

  18. I love this - I'm with ginaweaver - I've been reading your archives and this skirt is so something I would make and love....brilliant.

    (I embroider LOTR stuff and make clothes out of sheets too).

  19. This dress is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the inspiration!


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.