I'd been sewing since I was about five years old, but until I was nearly 14, I had absolutely no interest in using patterns. To this day I still raise my eyes at following someone else's rules, especially when they seem so obviously impractical! But my mother and other seamstresses kept telling me that I needed to at least try using patterns, that it would give me a lot of training and information I needed to grow in my work. I wasn't impressed.
Then one day, I was in a fabric store with my mother and happened to get bored (HOW COULD I BE BORED IN A FABRIC STORE I DON'T KNOW) and started flipping through a book of patterns. Suddenly I saw a page with dresses from Tudor England. My jaw dropped. My eyes shone. I turned to my mother and pointed to the page. "Mom," I said. "I'll use a pattern if I can make that dress!"
God bless my parents. I owe so much to their support of my interests and talents. They agreed that if I used a pattern, they would cover the cost of the materials, but if I didn't finish the project I'd have to pay for half of it. I agreed.
I spent a little over a month. Mom helped me learn the basics of using a pattern, but I picked up everything pretty quickly. I've always been a good visualizer, so even though I don't like patterns, I'm quite capable of using them. And though I still prefer to create or adapt patterns to this day, those wise women were right, and I learned so much from my pattern experiences.
And yes, we took this picture recently and I still fit into the dress I made for 14-year-old me. It's not a perfect fit as the proportions have changed slightly, but it still totally works. Crazy, huh?
(Want a dress like this, or another custom made/designed costume? I do commissions! E-mail me at elenatintil [at] gmail [dot] come with your proposed project and I'll give you a quote!)
P.S. These beautiful pictures were taken by my good friend Anthony, and you can view his photo gallery here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visualdecibel/