Stress Reduction

Some people drink when they are stressed. Others, eat chocolate. When I am stressed, I make clothes. (Well, I also eat, but not chocolate)

A couple of summers ago, as my mother-in -law was going into what we later realized was her final decline, I was lucky enough to discover  Kabballa Man and his trove of wonderful fabrics at less than $5/yard.

I remember the difficult day where we got my mother-in law out of the horrible hospital where they were doing their level best to kill her, and into a better facility. We started that day early in the morning, and I finally got home at midnight . The next day I went downtown to Kabblla Man's and went wild.. After a frantic bout of retail therapy, my wallet was about $80 lighter and I had lots of fabric to play with.

As my mother-in-lawgot sicker and sicker, and the decisions we had to make got harder and harder, I produced more and more garments.Everything I made during that period had a 1970's vibe to it. I realize in retrospect, that the 70's was the period I associate most with my mother -in -law's clothing. I called that series of garments "The Stress Collection".

During her Shiva, I wore only garments from "The Stress Collection".

Nine months after my mother-in-law died, my father became ill, and began what I just read, is called by nurses, "dwindling".  I made more clothes.The clothes that I made during that period were really bright. Some were made in Marimekko fabrics. Others were just in loud prints. Most of the garments were in shades of magenta.They reminded me of Cambridge in the late 1960's. I wore those clothes as I went back and forth to Boston on the bus in those months before my father's death. Not long after my father died, I gave most of them away to charity. I just couldn't stand looking at them.

The completed dress
Sunday was my mother's birthday. She sounded disoriented when I spoke to her.  When my daughter called later in the day, my mother seemed unsure about what day it was.  My sisters were concerned. My mother is at risk of a stroke. One of my sisters took her to the hospital.  There were lots of phone calls going back and forth between the three sisters. Once again, I was stressed. I pulled out a length of cotton Lycra that I had purchased while my father was ill and had never sewn up. as I was on the phone I completed the dress .

Luckily, my mother didn't have a stroke, but rather an infection in her foot..

Today, I wore the dress. I realize that the print is the same as the bathroom wallpaper from when I was little ( but with the light and dark reversed).

I constructed the dress with a separate bodice and skirt. The  front bodice has side bust darts ( a first for me, I guesstimated and cut the darts before sewing up the bodice), and vertical waist darts in the back bodice. I cut long darts in the skirt front and back and also added a box pleat in the center both in the front and back. I am now liking serging all of the raw edges before I turn them for hemming.The serger threads give the edge a bit more body and makes it easier to turn the hem twice and simply stitch once. The bodice fits nicely. The skirt is wearable but can use some tweaking, that I may do down the line.

The fabric, if I remember correctly, cost 2.99/yard. I used about a yard and a half. So for about the cost of a fancy coffee at Starbucks, I have a new dress, and feel a bit less crazed.
Look! a dart!! and it fits!!!!


  1. Karen Minturn BrownJune 29, 2010 at 2:17 PM

    Hope your mother recovers quickly. Nice dress!

  2. Thanks for both wishes. My mother is improving. I do like the dress. Glad that you do too. I'm glad that I can keep learning new approaches to garment designing/making

  3. Ineresting Post, Sarah. The year that my father was suffering from alzheimers and eventually died of cancer, I made over 50 garments. This year, hardly anything. The dress looks great by the way.

  4. 50 Garments!!! wow!! a really stressful year!

    glad you like the dress. I just washed it , it came out looking good.


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