Act 1: Grand Designs
Picture the scene. It’s early morning in a converted farmhouse in Northern Italy. After a rather tasty snooze, you decide it’s time to open the other eye and join the living again. There is enough noise coming from downstairs to tell you that it really is time to get up if you want a lift into town and don’t fancy making your own coffee.
You grab your Smartphone to check the time, and automatically press the email button. There is a message from Facebook.
You read it once, then you read it again and again, with a giant question mark over your head.
You are invited to a wedding reception.
But this is not just any reception.
Because it’s the wedding of someone very special. Because it’s at Manchester’s Comedy Store, where so much of your life has taken place in the past few years.
But most importantly because these people have already seen your party frock, at their Christmas party in December. The only formal dress you have left after the massive clearout from the house move. The silk one from Coast. The one that -incidentally- you wore in New York that morning in June.
You briefly ponder the advantages of regularly falling out with people – I could just wear the same dress all the time! Value for money!
This thought brings about even more marvel – they still want you around after your performance at the Christmas party? The heckling of Pass The Parcel, the very nonsensical conversations you had with fellow guests, and that argument you had with a picture on the wall?
My oh my, you think, I am surrounded by some wonderful people.
But wonderful as they are, they all have perfect eyesight, so you need a new outfit for this do. There is no time – it’s Tuesday and the reception is on Sunday, and there is certainly no cash – there is this plane ticket to pay for and another one coming up and Cambridge Folk Festival and servicing the sewing machine, as well as the mortgage and…
But wait, you think. Did you just say sewing machine? Maybe that’s where my next party frock is!
And another voice in your head says “Don’t be ridiculous, all you’ve made so far is curtains and a wonky skirt. And your sewing machine is up for sale on Ebay while your other one is in the shop!”.
So you drag Mum over to The Lodge (this is more a mansion than a converted farmhouse), where you discover that she’s got rid of all her vintage 1980s masterpieces apart from a couple of rather uninspiring pieces. Your disappointment might be linked to the fact that Mum is a lot shorter and thinner than you, but that’s what sewing machines are for.
In the meantime you fire off an email to a friend pondering whether to go at all, buy Rufus Wainwright tickets, take a nice stroll in Venice, have dinner with your oldest friend and return to the UK.
You drop your suitcase, get changed and head to the fabric shop to see if there is anything that matches Mum’s old clothes. There isn’t. The bronze is too bronzy and the voile isn’t voily enough. Maybe you need a plan B.
Act 2: When the dog bites, when the bee stings
You get home and take a long hard look at your stash. There is a lovely pair of curtains you bought at the charity shop a few weeks ago:
They are a little faded in places, but you are in love with the print and they are huge. You were saving them to make a wearable muslin for the wedding you are going to in July, but needs must.
Sister Maria did it. Scarlett O’Hara would approve. Both are ladies to be reckoned with, and characters you admired as a child.
The whole curtain / clothes love affair is even mentioned in a song by a Canadian singer-songwriter. If you were the sort of woman that believes in something, you’d call these signs.
You go back to work on Friday, decide on the footwear:
and write a list of things this outfit must have, and of previous sewing mistakes you don’t want to make again.
At home time, you politely reject all invites to end the week with a few drinks.
You change into your Lycra, run a rainy 5-miler whilst listening to The News Quiz and spend the rest of the evening in the company of a roll of polytunnel, square paper and Internet tutorials:
On Saturday you put on some very loud music and start tracing on the fabric.
You get your seam allowances confused with your hem allowances and decide to make some bias tape to finish off all openings:
You get burnt folding and folding again and ironing, but you go to bed with a finished top and a pattern for a circle skirt. “Pattern” means hammering a nail in the dining table and fashioning a compass out of garden wire and a washable felt tip, but if it ain’t broken, why fix it?
Act 3: The big day
It’s Sunday! When did that happen?
You drink a lot of tea in bed and still wonder whether you have something else you could wear. But you have declared 2012 “The Year I Finish Shizzle” and will not be left with a UFO.
When The Archers Omnibus starts you get downstairs and plug in the sewing machine. The one you sold on eBay a couple of days earlier. Thank Goodness for Dispatch Time.
You cut and attach the skirt and then realise this dress isn’t pink enough. Especially with the shoes you’ve picked. Cue in another dress, a sort of tunic-y number you used to love a couple of years ago, but that you haven’t worn for ages:
And a rather useful tutorial on bias tape.
At about 2PM you finish attaching the bias tape to the hem of the skirt, and promise yourself to never again make a skirt that big (do people really hem these by hand? No way!).
You indulge in a snooze, put on some more music and take your own sweet time getting ready.
You make it to the wedding of the century, you hang out with some pretty cool people and even get to say Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Which isn’t technically true, you do care a lot but prefer not to have an argument with a picture. Or a person.
After all, in the words of one gorgeous and sassy curtain-clad lady, tomorrow is another day.
*** THE END ***
End credits with Troy and Abed
The dress didn’t turn out too shabby either:
I can see everything that is wrong with it, but I love it and once again I have learnt so much from the process, I can’t wait to make another one!
The newspaper article is sweet, but it doesn’t do justice to the amazing night that was Sunday. I am in complete and utter awe of what Bron and John did.
They truly made the day their own and at the same time made everyone feel included. I am honoured to have been a part of an unforgettable day!