Saturday, December 20, 2014

Preparations for the Midwinter Ball

From: The Trials of the Youngest Princess


As per appointment, I made another trip to town for my final fitting. It’s one thing to see a drawing and pick out the material; it’s quite another to see the finished product, or very nearly finished anyway.

Aimée helped me into the first layer. Made from the white satin, it was the undershirt that would show when the actual dress was added. It was long enough to reach down to my knees and had short sleeves. Its purpose was its white collar, which would lay over the blue of the dress. The collar was very wide, almost reaching my shoulders. In back it would stand up, holding my hair away from my neck. I watched in her mirror as she arranged the collar.

“There. Shows off your lovely neck. Don’t you think?” said Aimée with a smile.

I thought my neck looked rather skinny, but I suppose so. The line left open down the front was rather troubling though. The folded out collar left a V of skin down my chest bare. Not that I had anything to show off, but I’d never had so much bared skin in my life, not even for one of those paintings. I kept pushing it closed at the bottom, but it just fell open again.

Next Aimée helped me step into the dress, and then she laced it up the back. It took her a while, so when she was done, I turned to see the results and discovered a cascade all down my back of tiny white buttons, the line down my spine were what was holding my dress together, but in all, you’d never know.

Aimée spent some time with my front and that collar, but in the end decided to pin the bottom up another couple inches; she wanted the horizontal line of the blue to be undisturbed.

With me just standing there in front of the mirror, the dress looked rather plain.

“Move. Walk,” Aimée instructed with a hand on her chin.

The moment I took a step, the dress bloomed. It reminded me of some kind of lily. The dress had a wide pleat down in front of each leg, and behind too, and when I took a step, the white underneath flashed out. The sleeves from the elbow down were the same. I could lift my hand all the way to my chin and not lift the last of the material from my side. Laughing, I spun around and the pleats opened up. This dress was fantastic.

Aimée looked me up and down when I finished my spin. She of course was seeing her finished product, not some silly princess. “The picture you chose calls for the hem to be long and trailing on the floor in the back, but I think you are too young for that. I think it would be better if it merely brushed the floor all around. What do you think?”

I was a princess; she would do whatever I asked. I looked at the picture again; I’d forgotten about the flowing in back part. I looked at myself in the mirror again. The material was already there, and it was hard to get the quiet lines back after my spin. I liked those lines and the surprise they hid. “I like that idea too.”

Aimée had me kick off my shoes and stand on a pedestal. First she pinned the length of my sleeves so that only my fingers showed, and then she spent the next half hour trimming and pinning the hem. When she had come full circle, when I thought she was now done, she said, “Now for the last layer. I can’t figure out how to do the front.”

She brought out an armload of the sheer blue material; I’d forgotten all about it. This was made almost like a cape, only it was designed to go over this dress. It had very wide sleeves, but there were no pleats in this, just lots of see-through material. It was the same with what covered the skirt, though it didn’t cover the front panel. More of the white buttons trimmed the edges all around. The only unfinished part was the top in front.

“At first I was thinking about giving you a hood, but you wore your hair long last time I saw you. Will it be long again, do you think? If so, we can’t really do a hood.”

“I really don’t know what mother has planned for my hair,” I said. “Better not have a hood though, even if I don’t wear it up.”

She nodded and began tucking and folding, holding and pinning here and there, and quite by accident came up with something she liked. “Do you have a brooch? That’s a silly question. Pin it right here.” She poked her finger right between where my white collar came together and where the blue line of my dress was closest. She made a couple more tucks and flicks. “Yes. More pea buttons along the edge and curving down to your waist in the back. Perfect.”

It sure sounded good to me. I liked those little white buttons. I smiled and pulled her into a hug. I simply had to. If you ask me, she had worked magic. “Thank you so much.”

She blushed. “You really like it? It’ll be ready in a couple days. Would you like me to send it to the palace?”

“Yes, very very much, and yes again, if you would, please.”

She curtsied very low. No one had ever curtsied to me before. Now it was my turn to blush.