(Before I begin this post I should acknowledge that this will be my first since I have reclaimed the term “Fabricker” for myself as my personal brand and not the business I once owned. The retail shop, now known as Austin Fabric Co-op, exists on its own plane, with my involvement, sure, but not entirely on my shoulders. For that, I am exceptionally grateful to those who made the transition possible. You definitely know who you are. ~AKM)
Michele was one of those best friends one has in junior high who awakens the fun of the teenage years– the secrecy, the stifled laughs, the swapped wardrobes, and oh the shopping. (So much shopping! At THE MALL, of course!) Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, we were reunited a handful of years ago and reconnected to find so much and yet so little had changed.
When she learned more about what we’re doing at the shop, making fashion about making again, she asked for help with a very unique gift that came with very fun and interesting challenges.
Her co-worker and dear friend was obsessed– OBSESSED!– with this image she saw on Pinterest of what was basically her dream dress. Observe:
Try it yourself! Try to find where that image originally came from. You will find yourself in an endless loop of Pinterest hell, going nowhere. Not even Google Image Search can help you. So if you want this dress, there’s really no way to find out where to get it.
Michele, being the amazingly sweet and generous friend she is, decided to commission us to make it for her friend, who has one of those birthdays that falls so close to Christmas that it would otherwise be ignored, except that, from what I gather about this lovely woman, she’s the type to somehow combine the two occasions into this giant event greater than the sum of the two. (She’s so incredible a person to warrant the commissioning of such a wonder of a dress, so this is what I imagined about her, which has subsequently been confirmed.)
The added challenge? We are in Austin, Texas. Michele and her friend both live in Colorado, states and states away. No fittings! No measurements! What were we to do? Well, Michele had this genius idea to collect measurements from all of the co-workers so they can track their progress through a series of races, because they all are way into fitness and marathon running in the Rocky Mountains and stuff like that. Are they certifiably crazy? No, just delightfully extreme! So intense!
We tried in vain to find a pre-bejeweled fabric, and found nothing. Lilia Beaman, the tailor partner of Austin Fabric Co-op, made it clear we’d have to make this fabric if we couldn’t find it, and that she wasn’t particularly interested in sewing all that detail work. It would take hours. I confessed that I was actually hoping I’d be trusted to make it myself. The challenge excited me. Lilia was surprised to hear it, but cautioned me how long it would take, and then, with a twinkle in her eye, offered to help me make it happen in any way she could.
We waited for the big Black Friday sales at all the craft stores to clean up on all their sew-in jewels and sequins. Lilia took the north Austin search, and I took the south stores. Here’s our collection, to get me started:
I carefully placed the big jewels first, gluing them each in place, to ensure that a) we had enough and b) they were spaced perfectly. That’s about the time I started to realize… I REALLY LOVE DOING THIS STUFF!
For weeks I spent entire shifts on sewing the beads and sequins, which became evenings in front of the television, blissfully sewing away with warm quilts on my lap and my husband in the easy chair next to me to cheer me on. (What am I, 80 years old?) Before long, the progress started to add up, and the pieces were complete and ready for Lilia’s mad sewing skills.
And then, it was time to ship. We asked Michele to send us photos of the happy recipient, all the way from Colorado. Here’s what she sent:
Doesn’t she just ROCK THAT THANG! Look at all that sparkle! The dress ain’t bad, either. 😉 From Michele: “You put a lot of LOVE into it and it shows.”
Moral of the story is, if the challenges excite you, and the prospect of trying something new entices you to say yes, do it, especially if it makes someone’s dreams come true– even if you don’t even know them! Your heart will grow exponentially.