The Curse of the Impatient Seamstress
Justine smiled brightly as she surveyed her sewing room. It was immaculate. Not only was it immaculate, but it was filled with only the finest equipment and materials available. She shrugged the bag on her shoulder off and sat it down on her table next to her sewing machine. She pulled out the pattern she had just bought and sat it down on the table. She had promised herself that she would finish this dress before morning, and she wasn’t ready to break her promise to herself.
The yellow Cybunny pulled the pattern out of the package and spread it out over the free space of the table. She then reached into the bag to pull out the most beautiful blue satin material she could find at the shop. The shopkeeper had absolute bewilderment in his eye when he explained that satin was difficult to work with, but Justine just smirked and told him who her brother was.
Jason Mather was the premiere designer for almost all of the Neopian elite. The only elites he hadn’t had a chance to design for were the Faeries themselves. From Nabile to Prytariel, he had personally sewn something for almost every single notable woman in Neopia.
Some shopkeepers rolled their eyes at Justine. Some told her that the transitive property doesn’t work that way, while others balked. However, rarely, the shopkeeper would gasp and sell her the finest materials they had. They’d always beg her to ask Jason to come and visit their store, but Justine never followed through with their request. Luckily, the shopkeeper selling the satin was one of the few who were amazed at the fact that Justine was related to Jason.
Justine opened the package holding the pattern and pulled out the pattern. The thin, brown paper crinkled in her paws as she unfolded it and laid it down on the table. She paused as she heard a quiet ripping sound. She closed her eyes and told herself it was ok. She looked down at the pattern and saw that the guide for the sleeves had ripped in half. She sighed. She opened the drawer under her table and looked for the tape. While her room was immaculate, everything hidden away in drawers and cabinets was a confusing mess. She spent ten minutes searching for tape before deciding the dress would be sleeveless. It was summer, of course.
While she was searching through the drawer, she found her scissors and placed them on the top of the table. She began to cut out the pattern, ignoring the sleeves. She accidentally cut a few of the parts incorrectly, but she reassured herself it would be ok. She grabbed the fabric and moved to the other side of the table. She laid it out and started pinning the pattern on top of it. Things were finally going well for her! After pinning the fabric, she grabbed her scissors and started cutting. She hummed as she cut out the fabric until she froze. She realized that she had aligned the fabric incorrectly and was cutting against the bias. That was fine, she assured herself. She continued on. Once she finally finished cutting, she unpinned the pattern from the fabric. Her heart sank to her stomach as she realized what she had done. Not only were the edges frayed from cutting the fabric incorrectly, there were pulled threads destroying the surface of the fabric. She looked down at her scissors. She remembered her brother and how he would always buy a new set of scissors every few months to ensure that his scissors were never dull. Justine never saw a need to buy new scissors, so she often ended up with fabrics ruined by dull blades. She closed her eyes and let out a squeak of disappointment. But of course, she had to finish the dress. She sat the fabric to the side and looked at her sewing machine. This was the part she always dreaded. She had successfully done it a few times, but she usually gave up. Justine turned towards her bookshelf and searched for the manual for the sewing machine. She grabbed it and sat down in front of the machine. She needed to thread it. She opened the book and started following the instructions. However, each time she attempted a step she got it wrong. Sometimes she would realize she had messed up as it was happening, but sometimes it took the machine not working properly for her to realize she had to start over after going through almost every step. She closed her eyes and let out a muffled yelp of frustration. She pushed the machine further away from herself and decided to sew by hand. She stood and grabbed her chair before moving it to the side of the table with the fabric on it. She grabbed two pieces of fabric and realized that she hadn’t marked anything with chalk. She told herself that all she had to do was follow the holes the pins had left. She took the two pieces of the bodice and began to sew them by hand.
She was proud of herself as she finished the last stitches on the bodice until she held it up to inspect it. Her heart sank again as she remembered was the shopkeeper told her. To use the pattern for napped fabrics, she would have to adjust it to make it look correct. She hadn’t. She held the bodice up and frowned as she realized that with the light hitting the satin, each piece looked like it was a slightly different shade. She threw down the bodice and picked up the pieces for the skirt. She knew she was going to have the same exact problem. She began to sew with anger. Her stitches were too far apart and she was pulling thread with each plunge of the needle. Then, suddenly, she felt pain in the pad of her paw. She stopped and looked down at the red circle forming on the blue fabric. She finally shouted out and ran out of the sewing room to her bathroom. She turned on the hot water and put the fabric under the water to wash it out. After a minute, she remembered two important things. The first was that hot water can make satin shrink, and the second was that water stained satin. She pulled the fabric away from the water as quickly as she could and turned off the water. She looked down at the dress and frowned. The stain was just an accent, she rationalized. Maybe she would hurt herself again and it would be a pattern. She just wanted the dress to be finished.
She returned to her chair and began to carefully finish stitching the two parts of the skirt together. Once she was finished, she realized that the front half of the skirt was shorter than the back half by an inch. She closed her eyes and told herself that it was fashionable to wear things that were asymmetric. Finally, all she had to do was sew the bodice to the skirt. She was so anxious to finish that instead of perhaps turning the skirt inside out and aligning it with the bodice before sewing the edge, she would simply put her paw into the dress between the bodice and the skirt and sew that without pinning it. She could almost hear her mother sighing as she continued on with her plan. She was halfway through when she realized that the bodice and the skirt weren’t aligned at all. The skirt was a full inch shorter on one half of the dress. She let out a frustrated groan and began angrily sewing again. She felt herself be stuck by the needle several times. She didn’t care that there was a stain around half of the waistline. She wanted the dress finished!
She finally finished. She pulled her paw out of the dress. She stared at it. She could hem it, but what would be the point? If she had sewn the skirt and the bodice together correctly, she could have fixed the asymmetry on the skirt. But with the skirt so slanted, she didn’t see the point. She wiped her paw on the bottom of the dress. She didn’t care. All of the exposed edges were frayed, but she didn’t want to spend another second on it. She took a deep breath. She had made it for herself, so the last step was for her to wear it. She stood and pulled the dress over her head.
Except instead of the dress falling onto her body, the neck hole was too small. She couldn’t even pull it down past her ears. She grumbled and pulled it off before grabbing seam rippers and ripping out the stitches on the shoulders. She finally pulled it over her head and made her way to her full body mirror. Her jaw dropped as she stared at her work. The dress was too large in some areas and too small in others. The stains were turning a disgusting brown and all of the pulled threads were standing out in the light. She ripped the dress off, ripping some of her angrily stitched seams in the process.
She sat down on the floor and looked up at the pictures on the wall. It was covered in pictures and newspaper clippings. Her favorite was of her grandfather and Nigel the Stockbroker Chia. Nigel was smiling brightly and giving a thumbs up sign while her grandfather was making alterations to Nigel’s suits. She sighed and looked over to a picture of a blue Cybunny with Kep Bonnefie. Jason had a wig custom made and had brought in some of the most talented makeup artists in Neopia to help Kep prepare for her first Altador Cup gala. The normally ferocious Buzz looked like a fashion model standing beside Jason. Her long blonde wig cascaded down her golden dress as blue contact lenses allowed her to stare into the camera as if she were a professional model selling expensive makeup. Justine knew what she wanted. She wanted to make transformations like that. Next to that photo was a from another year’s cup. All of the women of Shenkuu, wearing Jason’s designs, were posing with Kep. When he gave Justine the picture, Jason laughed and told her that all of the Shenkuu girls were joking that Kep should replace one of their male members so that there would be a team that was mostly women.
Justine paused. Maybe she didn’t care about the transformations. Maybe she just wanted fame. She realized how awful it was to admit that to herself, but she didn’t fully care. She just knew that she had to figure out how to live up to the reputation of her brother.
She knew that she couldn’t do it on her own. She knew she needed someone to help her. She had taken lessons, but no one could get through to her. Her mother and brother both sat her down and tried to teach her, but she could never understand. She looked up at the ceiling. She felt tears building up in her eyes as she thought about how futile it felt. Growing up, her entire family sewed. That was all they did. She knew that to be a Mather, she needed to be a seamstress at the very least. She began to cry as her stomach flipped and turned. She glanced over at the bookshelf and noticed a large book. She remembered it from her grandfather’s house. She dried her eyes with the back of her arm and stood. She grabbed the book and sat it down on a clean spot. The name of the book was debossed on the front in an old script. “Faeriekind of Neopia.”
Justine opened the book to the foreword. The date at the end of the foreword was from before she was born. She knew that meant that the author had never heard of places like Shenkuu or Altador. However, she also knew that most faeries who exist in Neopia had existed for thousands of years. For that reason, she felt safe trusting the information in the extremely outdated book.
She flipped through the pages as she sniffed to hold back her last few tears. She stopped when she got to a page with large red letters spelling out ‘Warning’.
She mumbled the words as she read. “Most of Faeriekind would never harm a Neopian. However, there is a kind that will happily harm a Neopian. The insidious Dark Faerie will give gifts no other faerie could imagine bestowing.” She looked up at the pictures on the wall. She knew what the rest of the passage was, of course. The gifts were evil and had consequences, of course. But Justine wanted what she wanted, regardless of the price.
She checked the table of contents. Once she found the topic she wanted, she flipped to that page. On the top of the page, the heading was “Notable Dark Faeries”. The introduction was a diatribe about the evilness of Dark Faeries. That didn’t interest her as much as the beautifully illustrated picture of Jhudora staring back at Justine. She paused as her eyes slid over to the paragraph accompanying the illustration.
“Perhaps among the most powerful of all Faeriekind, Jhudora is one of the only accessible Dark Faeries,” Justine’s eyes widened as she read aloud. “Her accessibility has led many down a dark path in her service. She performs ‘favors’ for those who ask, yet the costs are so insidious that many never learn what they have paid.”
Justine closed the book and stood. She made her way to the door, not bothering to grab anything. She knew what she had to do.
She was going to Faerieland.
To be continued…