Living overseas and far away from your family is many things. One of those things is unsettling.
After living away for a number of years, you never quite feel that you belong anywhere. ‘Back home’ doesn’t feel like home anymore - except the figurative home of being with your people.
Society changes, you have no base, people age, friendships shift. But ‘home’ (where you actually live) is also, after 6 years, still a little alien. There are massive cultural differences and references that I will never be able to completely understand. My roots are not here and I find it discombobulating when I remember the support network, help with kids and ease of access to family and lifelong friendships that my friends have.
Plus my accent will always identify me as not from here - and often as a tourist - which is annoying, especially when I can give directions to other American Brooklyners!
Then there is the pressure of encapsulating a year’s worth of time spent frequently with family, into one intense week. The young children have grown and changed so much in that time and your relationship with them is not as you want it to be because you only see them once a year. And your closest family members have slight shifts in their lives that affect your relationships in positive and less positive ways. And most upsettingly seeing your parents age.
Our three-week trip to England this summer was emotional, but also beautiful. My accomplished, kind, big-hearted, fun-loving, immensely caring brother married his incredible girlfriend of 22 years. They live in Australia and we get to be together once every 12-18 months. They have two beautiful little girls and the wedding was the most relaxed, happy occasion, full of joy, and laughs, silliness and a sense of incredible love. I have been to many many weddings and it was by far the most relaxed and fun of any of them.
Put it this way, I couldn’t talk for three days afterwards, my brother fractured his knee through overzealous dancing and there was an incident with my dad’s much cherished and beautiful old Jaguar which the bride and groom were driving back to the reception breaking down, complete with steam out of the bonnet. They took it all in their stride and it bizarrely added to the fun of the day. The pictures of my uncle under the bonnet, sleeves rolled up, brandishing the destroyed fan-belt are some of the most fun!
Perhaps the distance and lack of time together made for an even more special day.
Sorry, that was a bit of an introspective introduction to The Dress. The dress I made for the wedding. A dress that I wanted to be special and reflective of the laid back people my brother and sister-in-law. A garden party dress, a fun dress, a dress I felt great in.
Backstory: On 4th July, I went to a party hosted by my friend Suzy. Suzy has quite the most incredible wardrobe. For the party she was wearing the most beautiful Mara Hoffman dress. I totally fell in love with it and asked her if I could borrow it to take a pattern from it.
The dress has a super high waist with long darts to create a beautiful fit around the waist. The bodice has a perfect scoop back with just the right width straps and comes down to a low front that is tied together and creates a keyhole above the skirt. It’s sexy but also not too revealing.
I’ve never really done a proper rub off before, but it was fun - and so much easier than drafting from scratch. Suzy wears roughly the same size as me so all I had to do was add a bit of width to the hips and make the bodice a bit fuller to provide a little more boob coverage.
As one would expect from a more high-end designer, the construction and little details of the dress were so beautiful and so cleverly considered how the dress would need to stand up to wear particularly given that the bodice doesn’t not attach to the full circumference of the skirt. It is sewn beautifully (the neatest understitching!), fully lined and has a waist stay incorporated into the lining at the front with a button hidden on the inside to provide extra security and a clean line at the high waist. I copied all of these elements.
The original dress is in a beautiful soft and lightweight cotton in blocks of pastels - soft taupes, the palest blues, creams and pinks. It is truly stunning. I couldn’t emulate that fabric at all and so went a completely different way. And I think it works. The fabric is a panel affair from Mood. Happily the breaks between the panels are not really obvious.
I spent some time with the placement of the fabric to get some consistency across the centre front and between bodice and skirt, and I think it works.
It actually wasn’t difficult at all to figure out the construction and it was a simple sew. I think my only regret is that I didn’t spend more time adjusting the bust darts to better suit my shape as they are a little off. I also notice now I see pictures that the front / back balance is a little off and is creating some drag lines on the skirt. Other than that and the VERY complicated bra requirements, I felt a million bucks and I’m totally in love with this dress.
Unlike so many dresses I have made for weddings, I see this as something I can wear to less formal occasions and enjoy more regularly.
The wedding was just a few days before my kids had to go back at school, so we left England soon after and went straight into all the organisational chaos that is back to school. It was a major comedown and reentry left me feeling bereft.
That said, I feel so happy to have had that time and to be able to enjoy those memories for years to come.
Like any family we have our challenges and dysfunctions but I’m so lucky to have such a loving relationship with my parents and siblings, despite the many thousands of miles that separate us. And to know that we will always have that.
See you soon x