You’ve Made Your Alterations

From the top of a double decker bus you can see the street below in its full width but you don’t have a true picture of the bus’s relationship to the cars and people around it. You have the feeling of omniscience but also of impotence. Sometimes it seems like the bus is crashing into people or things and you are powerless to stop it. But the bus isn’t usually crashing into people. The driver can see things in the narrow view that you can’t perceive in that top seat.

I have this feeling a lot, that I am seeing more and more of situations over which I have less and less control, but that actually, more and more, the bus is crashing into things.

That’s cheery. Let’s talk about my birthday, which was nice.

On my birthday I went to Mudchute City Farm in East London with many of my most trusted acquaintances, including llamas, alpacas, and Nubian goats.

my friends, some alpacas

I guess my friends were there, too, and they showered me with tea, the best macarons, and home-made Swedish princess cake and Japanese cheesecake made by master patissipowersuit Pear.

You may have noticed I am wearing a very good dress.

This dress was in my ASOS saved list for ages and sold out pretty quickly, but someone returned theirs and I pounced on the opportunity. It’s a size UK 18/US 14, which is something I can squeeze into if the dress is made out of a stretchy fabric. I’m typically a UK 20/US 16 depending on the cut of the dress.

This dress is not made of a stretchy fabric. It is made out of a very thick, almost curtain-like fabric and has a sticky zipper because of the weight of the fabric it has to support. I got stuck while I tried it on and was afraid I’d die alone in the bathroom of my house and my housemates would find me with this dress constricting my boobs and with my face all red and sweaty from the effort of attempting to get it off and they’d have to roll me in a rug and throw me in the Thames, or at the very least the Ravensbourne creek that comes from the Thames.

Despite this harrowing experience, I decided I wasn’t going to send it back. This is the sort of dress that would come into the consignment shop I used to work at every so often, the type of dress that might come from Traci Reese or Moulinette Soeurs or another fancy Anthropologie brand. The type of dress meant for a trip to the Riviera or a villa in Italy. I’d enviously watch my coworkers and the fancy Bryn Mawr ladies make off with these pieces that only ever came in sizes 10 or below. I’d be happy for them, but happy in the way that an ex-boyfriend is happy for his ex-girlfriend who ends up getting married to someone who looks like he probably showers every day and doesn’t have an obsessive sexual interest in stockings. I would stalk these dresses on facebook and feel little tinges of schadenfreude when one of their seams split a little or they got into a fight with a dress they’d known since high school. Is that true happiness?

So when this dress came along I knew I wouldn’t give up so quickly, and I looked up a tailor nearby. I found The Workshop and decided to make an attempt at getting it altered. I went in knowing that it’s much harder to make a dress bigger than it is to make it smaller and that it was totally possible I’d be out of luck. When I went in, Donna greeted me kindly and asked what my ideas for the dress might be. She gently told me that there wouldn’t be enough seam allowance to let the seams out and that a shirred panel in the back wouldn’t work, but I appreciated that she did listen to my amateur musings. Instead, she thought she might be able to add some panels on the side to give me some room in the bust. She had me try on the dress and pinned it to figure out how much extra fabric I’d need. 6 days later, she had added two denim panels under the arms where no one would notice them, and the dress fit perfectly with no extra alteration needed.

I want to recommend the process of getting alterations to everyone, but I know there are so many barriers: this dress only came up to a size 18 in the first place. There aren’t any dresses in this style, or this kind of cute Anthropologie-esque style in general, that go past a size 18 and even finding any that come up to that size is rare. Another is that alteration isn’t cheap. It’s certainly worthwhile, but absolutely not accessible to everyone. It’s not something I’ll be able do all the time, but going to the Workshop for this very special dress for a very special occasion was really worth it to me and they did a spectacular job. They turned what could have been an extremely disappointing moment into a super joyous occasion. I hope by showing off how fucking cute I look in this dress that vendors are moved to start extending their sizes!

I also asked Donna to lop the sleeves off of two of my vintage dresses because crimplene and other vintage fabrics are so hot and do not breathe at all, and my arms are often the main barrier to things fitting me:

I am tempted to have the sleeves lopped off of everything I own now. If you do have something you love that doesn’t fit the way you want it to, consider getting it tailored! People come in such a wonderful variety of shapes that ready-to-wear and fast fashion do not accommodate. And if you’re in London, go to The Workshop! They’re quick, professional, and absolute miracle workers.

After my birthday I took two ridiculously difficult 3 hour exams on Management of Communication Disorders, Linguistics, and Psychology. I wrote some probable absolute nonsense about Piaget and Vygotsky’s conceptions of play and about attachment, and about Behaviourism. Invite me to be on your extremely niche pub quiz team!

To give me some respite from exam heartache, the lovely Liz brought me to the Bust Craftacular. I’m not used to actually wanting things from craft fairs but this was dangerous territory, filled with genuinely talented artisans. Within three minutes of being there I bought my friend a birthday gift from Ella Goodwin, who makes beautiful prints and jewelry like this:

Capybara cushion!

One of my favorite vendors was Bryony Moss Illustration, who has a particular mardy cat design that really spoke to me:

I also got some really wonderful-smelling candles from Join, because I am what people 2-3 years ago would non-stop refer to as “basic”.

Here are a bunch of other things that caught my eye but which I didn’t buy because I guess I should save money for things like “rent” and “getting to school”:

Stag necklace from SSTUTTER

Twin Peaks badge from Wren & Wilson

Screenprinted patch from Ink & Wilderness

Melted mug from Kinska Shop

Cat pin from Ted & Kip

I really enjoyed the Craftacular but I wish they would exclude vendors like Brighton Lace, who make things in a vast range of sizes from 0 to 0. How feminist. I think it’d be nice for the Craftacular to either have a no apparel policy or that apparel companies should have to make things that fit more than 1 size if they want to vend there.

Now that I’ve wanked at length about things of a frivolous nature, I have to point out that the past week was devastating and that tomorrow is so important for those of us in the UK. As an immigrant who wants to work for the NHS and who has now had the privilege of working with some of the most vulnerable people in this country, I want to ask that any of you in the UK who can vote, please vote. I would really like if you voted Labour as I think that’s the best chance to preserve the NHS and for selfish reasons, I’ll point out that it’s probably the best chance for (sort of) skilled immigrants to be kept on after finishing school.

I love it here! I’ve come to consider it my home and I’m so anxious to see what happens tomorrow.

Here is a topical song I wrote about alterations a few years back:

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