It was Day 4 of my first week at Chateau Dumas, woad-dyeing day, so a Wednesday. I woke up early that morning and decided to finish hand-stitching my Alabama Chanin/School of Making Long Skirt before breakfast. I had finished sewing the pieces together a few weeks earlier, but hadn't yet found the time to attach the waistband. I reviewed my instructions for herringbone stitch, threaded my needle, and more quickly than I expected, I was done. Having stitched waistbands like this one before, I knew that to get satisfying results, I needed to baste it on first. I actually worked slowly and methodically, but because I didn't rush, I didn't have to spend much time untangling thread or reworking uneven stitches.
I began this project back in the summer of 2015 when I started learning a computer graphics program in order to design a stencil to be spray-painted onto the cotton-jersey fabric (and then serve as my guide for the reverse-applique embellishment). Last October and January I wrote about my progress on this blog, about the patience and vulnerability learning something new required. And today I am writing about how good I felt when I finished. I was lucky to be in France at the time. I was taking two workshops at the chateau and feeling so happy. Immediately upon tying my last knot and snipping the thread, I pulled on the skirt and went down to breakfast.
I am not usually eager to have my picture taken and, like so many women, I am always very critical when I see myself in photos, but after breakfast on this day, I was relaxed and comfortable. And I was excited to be wearing a skirt that held so much meaning to me. I managed a selfie of the skirt over my legs and then asked Lizzie, Chateau Dumas' kind host and proprietor, to help with a more complete shot. We started near the garden steps, then made our way to the courtyard and then the front entryway. It was fun and funny to play photo shoot and it reminded me of the joy of playing dress-up as a child.
When I look at the photos from our short session now—three of which I share below—I see how flattering happiness can be. I was happy because I had completed a project I really cared about and that required learning something new, because I was in a beautiful place with other women learning something else new, and because I had made time in my life for all of it.