One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

February 21, 2010

Silk Pictures

So here is the silk. I might actually have had too much light when I tried to photograph it, but you can at least see that it’s a nice off-white. The colour is actually what I would call a warm taupe. It’s like what most people call champagne, but darker and with a tiny hint of red in it.

Because I tried to dye 5 yards at once and clearly didn’t have a big enough vessel for that endeavour, the colour is mottled and significantly lighter on some pieces. Some time when I have more time I will educate myself more thoroughly on silk-dying techniques so I will be able to get the mottled and crinkled look when I choose and not do so when I don’t choose. But for now, I’m satisfied with the results for this project.

Here is a swatch with some copper and red beads (colours I intend to use when I embellish it). This picture is slightly closer to representing the colour… maybe…? But once it’s on your monitor, who even knows? WhatEVER. Warm taupe. Slightly gold in some lights. Very pretty (trust me).

I have done most of piecing and basting the bodice. I even tried it on once, and have now re-basted to let out the side seams by an inch or so. But now I’m scared to move it or try it on ever again because the threads that fray off the edges of pieces are so ridiculously fine that it’s like stepping into a giant spider web and then trying to get out without wrecking it. And afterward, these fine strands stretch out for like 3 or 4 feet and hover, improbably, in mid-air due only to their ridiculous fineness and a tiny bit of static electricity.

I pause after every little step and sit back to second-guess everything. Hm. Will I wish that I had planned for french seams to prevent fraying and so the seams in the back won’t show through the thin fabric? Or would I rather use a bit of a zigzag to keep the stretch in the angled seams? But those would be bulky seams. But I will probably need that stretch. Am I really planning on dancing in this dress? What if I sweat? Should I line it with something? Oh, but then I’ll for sure sweat.

Here’s something my aunt said in the comments:

Remember Naomi Wolf in (I think) Promiscuities talking about her wedding dress? How she bought it off a discount rack (or something) and it was a bit tattered or yellowed or something, but how those very qualities reflected best her relationship (or something). (Now I shall have to go find that passage so I can remember it properly.) Seems to me that is what you are doing here too.

I was puzzling over this, trying to figure out in what way this dress might represent the marriage I’m building. There is that it’s handmade, and Ian and I are do-it-yourselfers – but that’s hardly deep. That just makes this another project in a line of projects. There is no parallel, really, in how we approach the relationship. In fact, we are a little distressingly typical in the building and maintenance of the relationship.

But during my sixteenth bout of sitting back and staring critically at the dress today, I had a realization that by the time I wear this dress I will know it literally inside and out. I will have examined every minute detail, critically and unforgivingly. I wondered if, after four months of staring at its faults, I would even want to look at it, let alone wear it when it’s ready. And I knew that absolutely I would. And it will be because I know all its faults. Because that makes it more mine, I have its story and that makes my love of it more honest.

And then, of course, I thought, “Oh well that is where my approach to this dress exactly mirrors my approach to this relationship. By the time I actually get married, I will have picked apart everything about Ian, about how he and I interact, about relationships in general, marriages in general, risks, rewards, constraining factors, oh my god.

This metaphor works on many levels. Ian is the first relationship I’ve had where I didn’t feel like, “Oh if we could get past this issue then I’d know we could make it.” I’m intimately acquainted with his flaws and shortcomings, but they are all those kind of flaws that you can at least smile at, even if you are totally irritated with how he totally interrupts you in this pedantic tone all the time, gawd.

On a marriage level in general, too, I talk a lot about the things that don’t sit right with me about marriage. But I feel like when I can name all the things that are wrong with marriage in general, then at least I know what I’m trading away and what I gain. And I can go into it with an honest acknowledgment of what my issues are. Which is way better than trying to pretend they’re negligible issues. (And cognitive dissonance makes me physically ill, these days.)

Anyhow, after I came down from my indulgence of nit-picking and over-thinking everything, I also reminded myself, “hey, the whole reason for a handmade dress wasn’t to make yourself miserable, it was to set a relaxed tone.” The point was that if I’m getting married in a hand-made belly-dance-styled wedding dress, I can’t possibly take myself too seriously. The point is to be dressed in a way that is authentic to who I am (creative, unorthodox, slightly obsessive) so that I will remember to not waste time and energy on my wedding day in trying to play a part. And that, also, is pretty representative of the attitudes in my relationship.

So I will close with pretty much the best sympathetic wisdom that I got through this whole week. It was Thursday, when I first got and dyed this silk, that I had my crisis of self-assurance. That night I went to my belly dance class and was repeating to my BDFF (belly dance friend forever) how I had been all “OHMAHGAHD. Only 4.5 months! What did I get myself into?” And she said, “Well…You’ve lived together for four years? you have a house and a kid together?… this isn’t going to change your life.”

Then she paused and looked back at me and said, “Oh! What am I saying?! Of course it’s going to change your life. You’re going to have a beautiful dress that you can wear for belly dance performances ever after!”

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  1. Alison

     /  2010-02-21

    I’ve always thought that if I ever had a wedding dress, it would be champagne-coloured. Sigh. It looks lovely.

    I found that Naomi Wolf piece. It is even better than I remembered. I remembered the raggle-taggle gypsies part, but I couldn’t remember how it fit in. That’s one of my favorite songs. I don’t think I’ll get into why this NW piece appeals to me so much. I wonder if such a long piece will post here. I’ll give it a go.

    But the centerpiece of what I began, half ruefully, to think of as “Brideland,” this new country of gratified material desire, was of course the dress. I became preoccupied with my need to re-create an image that had lodged in my head long ago, when I was seven or eight and sitting beside my grandmother on the hard black wood of the piano bench in Stockton, as she played melodies. The song she was singing was “The Raggle-taggle Gypsies,” an English ballad about a young aristocratic woman who leaves her proper sexual niche – her house, her lands, her “new-wedded lord”- for a life of wanderlust and subversive desire: “to go with the raggle-taggle gypsies, O.” The sterility of her sexual life with her designated mate was implicit: “Last night you slept in a goose-feather bed / With the sheets turned down so bravely, O. / Tonight you’ll sleep in a cold, open field / Along with the raggle-taggle gypsies, O.” And her raw, defiant reply evoked an erotic passion that would compensate for any material privation: “Oh, what care I for my goose-feather bed? . . .Tonight,” she gloated, “I’ll sleep in a cold, open field, / Along with the raggle-taggle gypsies, O.” The illustration showed a dark man, ragged, handsome, smiling.
    As I struggled through racks of tulle, I found at last a marked-down, beat-up, yellowing gown with a vast skirt of netting that I immediately gathered around my waist in both fists. The dress now looked as if it had stepped out of the eighteenth century and had been worn by someone who’d been sleeping in a forest.
    I realized that I wanted to be married as that renegade bride who would sleep in a different place every night, but with the same man. I wanted the dress I wore to say the opposite of what married love too often says: I wanted it to say that we would keep traveling; that desire would still drive me out of doors; that I would not be domesticated by matrimony.

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  2. I love that. Don’t remember it at all. But it’s wonderful.

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