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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The $100 uniform skirt

Yesterday was Annie's first day of high school. Unlike when she went off to kindergarten, she did not throw a fit about having to wear a plaid uniform. Instead, she was quite adamant that she would be wearing the plaid uniform skort on the first day of school.

Her exact words were "Mom, if I show up to school in khaki pants on the first day, everyone will think I'm a lesbian." Never mind the fact that she wore khaki pants every day to summer school and no one questioned her gender identity.

So, skort for school -- fine by me. Not so fine by the uniform store.

I think uniform stores and bridal salons are in cahoots to make girls and women feel totally crappy about their size. Although the skort Annie tried on at the uniform store was tagged as 2 sizes bigger than she actually wears, it was too small.

I asked about ordering something in a larger size. Seriously, Annie is not that big of a kid. No. This was all they had to offer me. However, if I wanted to, I could order the plaid fabric and have someone make a skort for her. Other students had done the same, the saleslady told me, and the school had the pattern.

Ok. Fine. Let's order the fabric.

Well, not so fast. See, the person on duty at the store while we were there didn't actually know how to order the fabric. Could someone call me the next day to place the order? Sure.

About a week passed before we actually connected and I authorized the $45 charge for the fabric. Once the order was placed, I called the school to see about getting the pattern. Except that school doesn't exactly have a pattern. As in they definitely do NOT have a pattern. But not to worry, the person I was speaking to (who happens to be a friend of mine) said she would figure out what was going on.

She asked around and found out that yes, some girls did have their skorts custom made last year -- by the uniform store. So I called back to the uniform store where I was promptly told that no, they didn't offer that service and never have.

Frustrated, but not yet defeated, I called the store's 1-800 customer service number. I was hopeful because when I went to the website, it says right there "Full Size Ranges -- We fit the whole school from preK to teachers." The nice but clueless woman on the other end of the customer service number had no idea what I was talking about and suggested that I just find my daughter's size on the size chart on their website and order accordingly.

Ugh! If it were only that easy!

So I called back to the local store, told them that I was coming to buy a skirt that I knew didn't fit. But I was going to take it to the fabric store and use it to find a similar pattern skort. Then I would buy the pattern, find a seamstress to make the skort, and return the store-bought skort for a full refund. Praise the Lord, they had no problem with that.

The (next) trouble came in trying to locate a skort pattern at the fabric store. Annie and I went straight from the uniform store to JoAnn Fabrics, where we spent more than an hour trying to locate ANY skort pattern, let alone one that would match the sample skort we were carrying around.

(As an aside -- why in the world haven' t Butterick's, McCall's, Simplicity and all their sewing cronies entered the 21st century? Seriously, we had to page through book after book after book, looking up indices, trying to find skort patterns. Where are the kiosks that allow people to go on a computer, type "skort" in the search terms and then be given near instantaneous feedback as to where such a pattern might exist? But I digress...)

Having run into another brick wall, I turned to the place everyone turns in times of desperation or desire for inspiration: Facebook. "Does anyone in the Indy area know of a seamstress who can make a skirt w/o a pattern, just by looking at a sample piece?"

Within a few minutes, I had a couple of names. 

I called Cele (short for Celadonia), an older Venezuelan woman who has done lots of sewing for family friends of Mike's family. She said sure, no problem. Come on over.

Cele looked at the sample skort and said she could make one in Annie's size. She took Annie's measurements, asked when we needed it and said she could do it. Before we left, I had to hug her. She was a long-awaited answer to an admittedly egocentric prayer.

The day before school, I called Cele to see when we might be able to pick up the skort.

"This evening."

A little close for comfort, but ok. About an hour later, she called and said that she needed a few extra measurements. A few hours after that, she wanted us to come over to try on the shorts part of the skort.

When we got there, the shorts, though unfinished, fit really well. Annie was excited. Cele looked tired. It turns out her son is getting married in Venezuela this weekend and she'd spent much of the past several days sewing dresses for her granddaughters. But, she would get the skort finished in time for Annie to wear to school the next day.

In the meantime, I started preparing Annie for the possibility of spending her first day of school in khaki pants. She reacted as most 14-year-old girls would -- with tears.

At 8:00pm, I called Cele to check in. 9:30, she said. The skort would be done then.

At 9:30pm, she called to say she needed about 20 more minutes. I could her the exhaustion in her voice. I told her if she wanted, we could get it another day. The world would not come to an end if Annie wore khaki pants to school on the first day.

"No, I promised and I don't want Annie to be disappointed."

We arrived at Cele's apartment at 10pm. So much for early bedtimes the night before school starts. She was finishing the hem of the skort. We chatted as she sewed. She wanted to press it. I said not to worry. One good thing about school uniform plaid is that it's industrial strength and rarely needs to be ironed.

Cele sewed in a "Made Especially for You by Celadonia" label, then Annie tried on the skort. It fit perfectly! Both Annie and I hugged Cele this time.

For all of her efforts, Cele only charged my $40. I knew how much time she'd put into it and I really appreciated her working late into the night to get it finished, so I gave her good tip as well.

And that's how Annie got a $100 uniform skort. I think it was worth it:

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10 comments:

B said...

All's well that end's well even if it did involve a headache :)

Lisa Thibault said...

I want Cele's contact information. :)

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

And...how many "lesbians" were at school yesterday?

Lori said...

well you are way nicer than me...$100, you have got to be kidding me. Making things yourself is supposed to be CHEAPER!

Michelle@GotchaBaby said...

Oh my word-- kudos to you and Cele for getting it done. I thought uniforms were supposed to make things easier on everyone?!?

But I have to say, I remember being 14 (and 15, 16, 17) and having such definite ideas- so glad it got done in time :)

Beth Zimmerman said...

Definitely worth it since you rescued Annie from 4 years of a reputation as a lesbian! LOL! Where in the world did that come from?

CWMartin said...

I know Laurie can certainly identify with being "hard to fit". Try going to wal-mart for women's clothes if you aint model-thin!

Lana said...

I shop online at Lands End, and I can find some pretty good sales plus free shipping. I think they carry that plaid in their uniforms. See Hannah's jumper on my blog or FB. It's not quite the same pattern, but again, I so think they use that one.

What a crazy but happy ending! Glad it turned out with a smiley face!

Amy said...

Okay, I'm taking the "I CAN'T BELIEVE THESE UNIFORM PLACES" stance. Seriously? There are two uniform stores on the north side and I find it incredulous that neither has what people need. A friend of mine ordered her kilt skirts in June and they didn't arrive until August 1. Really? Uniform peeps, parents buy uniforms during the summer. Double that frustration with inability to provide customer service and, well, let's say a Hail Mary or two, shall we?? Cele deserves not only the tip, but all the business you can send her way! What a blessing!!

orangehoosier said...

Ditto that, Amy! I'm in So.California and it's the same thing here ('tho I'm a Hoosier!) I was just searching online for fabric to buy & make my own skirts for my daughter as our Uniform Place doesn't sell fabric, won't help you get it, and can't seem to find or make any size that will fit my daughter! We bought one used one at school, but she's got to have more than one - it's going to wear out from the twice-weekly launderings!