Tuesday, March 12

tulle and glitter and chiffon and friends

In 3rd grade my family moved to a new school, to a new town and to a new church.  It was my good fortune to make friends that year at my new school who also lived in my new town and many of whom were involved at my new church.  We were a boisterous, bubbling, quirky group of girls who remained friends straight through middle school and high school.  For me, at the core of that group all along was Brenda.  
Brenda and I were a lot alike in personality and in our interests.  We both played a bunch of instruments (though her skill always exceeded mine) and we both had outgoing and goofy dispositions.  In elementary school we formed a friendship club that met exactly twice in the old barn behind my family's 2-story satellite dish.  The two of us were often at the center of those friend-love-triangles in which girls compete for 'best friend' status.  And I remember play-pretending to be prairie women riding trains and saving lives (à la Dr. Quinn Medicine woman).  In high school we played tuba in an all-girl's tuba section of the marching band, and we were both really active in our youth group.  You'll notice that I skipped right over middle school.  I'm sure we did plenty of memorable things even then, but like everyone else I tend to skip right over middle school memories as much as possible, so we'll just leave that stone un-turned. 
Clearly Brenda was a significant part of my childhood and youth.  Though, as it tends to go, after high school we both went away to different schools, moved around the country and around the world, and stayed in touch only as time and distance allowed.  It was through facebook that I discovered in 2008 that her husband of only a year and half had died of throat cancer.  It was shocking to see such tragedy strike in the life of one of my strongest and bravest friends.  But from afar I have seen her rediscover herself, her life and her passions while working through the strange and terrible process that is grieving.  

Today she is writing for a living and working on a memoir.  And in about a month she is marrying a wonderful man under some trees by a river on a treeless hill overlooking a river (:)I've been corrected).
She emailed me a few months ago, wondering whether I would be interested in making a flower girl's dress for her wedding.  Immediately I decided "no" on the basis that I've never made one before, and I'm terrified of making clothing for such a special event, and...ok, just because I'm a scaredy-cat.  Then I went and took a shower.  And I hope this is not too much information, but somewhere between shampooing and conditioning my hair I had the sudden and shocking epiphany that Brenda is entirely brave and vulnerable by writing these deeply personal, painful things.  And it's helping her to heal and to grow.  And right then I decided that I can be brave and vulnerable too, and put myself out there on a sewing challenge.

I used the Chloe pattern by Violette Fields with the cheery yellow-gold satin Brenda chose, and I'll be perfectly honest, it's adorable.  Wren is the same size as the flower girl, so I let her model the dress upon completion, but I was terrified she'd ruin it in a spinning tizzy, so sadly there are no sweet-girl-in-dress photos at this point.  But maybe I'll commandeer one from Brenda's wedding photos to share here later.
Pattern and sewing comments:
1.  A very beautiful and detailed pattern with a host of photos and instructions aimed at newbie sewers.
2.  I used a nylon chiffon for one of the skirt layers and found that it frayed profusely.  I ended up hemming the chiffon layer, though next time I would simply use a non-fraying chiffon instead.
3.  The biggest challenge while constructing this dress was sewing button holes into the polyester satin. I found that the holes felt fragile and like they might pull away from the satin very easily.  I went around with a hand-stitched button hole stitch to reinforce them and that seemed to have helped.  I am curious if anyone has any advice as to how I might make them feel more durable on future sewing projects?  Is it common to iron in some sort of stabilizer between the bodice and lining?  I'm open to any suggestions!
In the end I'm grateful for Brenda's faith in my burgeoning sewing skills, and glad that I decided to try this intimidating thing that wasn't actually so 'scary'.  
young, oh so young in 2001
 And obviously I'm in awe of the relationships- old and new- that change us and shape us and grow us all.


  1. Oh, oh my...look at those old pictures! Thank you for sharing. The throat cancer Kevin had was angiosarcoma and unfortunately, it's one that can effect any part of the body - sadly so. Also, we're getting married on a treeless hill overlooking the Susque. You asked for clarifications, so :)

    I'm glad you skipped over my horrible, moody, I was a meanie Middle School stage, and the bossy, too much control freak, section leader stage. Neither ones I am proud of, and unfortunately in adulthood, I see these parts of me threatening to seep out again. It's frustrating.

    I cherish the deep friendship we had, and am blessed that we have the technology to reminisce and enjoy our adult lives separately, but together (if that makes sense). It's really been beautiful to see how you've blossomed and the ways in which you have seemed to come into a complete comfortableness with yourself and your spirit. That is something I envy dearly. I think I need to spend some physical time with you my friend.

    Joyous, thanks for sharing this and for your reflections on our life together and apart. Love you.

    1. :) Thank you for the amendments and sweet words!