Packing Anxiety!

24 Jul

I hate packing.  I am always afraid I will forget some key, irreplaceable item.  I am working on lists now, but to be honest, I am still afraid I will forget to put the key item on my list or will check it off as packed, when in fact it isn’t, which I did  on our last trip.  If I pack too soon, I can’t remember what I have packed.  If I pack too late, I am rushed and even more freaked out.  Anyway, I am working on it and it is getting better, I think.  It is nice that I can afford to go and buy items I have forgotten, like the time I realized half way to a competition that I had forgotten mascara.  You don’t want to be at a ballroom comp without mascara!  So we stopped and got mascara, which made a nice addition to the mascara I already had in my makeup bag…. Oh well…

So some packing starts today, but not too much.  Let’s just get the gowns into their bags and that will be done.  And how exactly does one go about this? Because gowns, even for a short person like me are big!

It is worse than carrying a big load of laundry because of all the slippery fabrics. You get a handle on the crinolines and a second later are tripping on a chiffon float!

First step: a nice big clear space with room to hold your garment bag and gown.  They don’t have to be colour co-ordinated, but it is nice:-)  Don’t know what on earth the blue clip is doing in there.  Tsk!

The floor works, but I prefer the bed.  At least today, the covers are up and it looks tidy for a few minutes!  I have the gown, garment bag and two wire clips.  I can never remember where my dear mother-in-law gets them, but they are the best.  Thanks, Marg!  You can also use large safety pins, clothes pins, bulldog paper clips, etc.  I hate dress hanger loops sewn into gowns (or anything, for that matter) because they always find their way to the surface exactly when they are unwanted.  I have however, seen them sewn into the waist or the underarm of a gown, but I would be checking to make sure there was no way they could make themselves a nuisance if you decide to go that way.

Step 2: Attach your gown to the hanger.

Oh – a word on hangers.  In our vast experience we have found that sturdy wooden hangers are the best.  I love the thicker plastic ones with gripper to hold things on, but they are too thick to put up multiple hangers in the car.  The thin ones that are flocked and look lovely are fine for the tail suit (I think they are too flimsy, but the guy who carries and wears the suit says they are fine.) but are waaaaay to flimsy and floppy to hold a gown.  This one, using the ultra-accurate bathroom scale method, weighs about 6 lbs. (2.7 kg.) so it needs good support.  I put the clips very close to the hanger between the “shoulder” of the hanger and the bottom rail.  Quick, simple and secure.  When dressing, I just clip them onto the inside of the garment bag so they are easy to grab when I am changing.

Step 3: Hanger into bag.

Just get the hanger in place, then

Step4: Stuff that gown!

Just like a big down sleeping bag, you just keep smooshing and shoving the darn thing until it is in the bag enough to nearly zip up.

Next: added extras.

I have already attached my body suit into the gown and most gowns already have them built in, but if you have any other dedicated undergarments that you know you will wear in the comp but won’t want to be wearing the rest of the day/night, this is a good time to put them in the garment bag.  In this case, it is just the pantyhose, but I will also be making  a bag for the jewelry to go with the gown and I will tell you why.

Putting things in the shoe bag seems like it will work, but the shoe bag often gets left at the seat in the ballroom as a place-saver.  The makeup bag is also a “perfect” spot for nylons and jewelry except for the times you stay in the competition hotel and decide you can leave your bag upstairs as you have already done your makeup, hair, contacts, lashes etc. in the room.  Confession time – I have also left my bag containing important costume pieces in the car, thinking I had everything with me, and then let a friend who was competing later in the day drive away in my car.  Pink dress, black bra and VPL – not nice!  On the upside, I think Jane had a nice trip to IKEA;-)

And  you don’t need pretty pink organza bags for your stuff.  I just have more pink organza around my house than the Tooth Fairy so I figured I should use it up.  A bulldog clip and a ziplock work just fine.

Then zip the whole thing up, get a good grip on the hanger and give it all a serious shake. The crinolines will fall down toward the bottom of the bag and it will get a bit less lumpy.

Then you get the little loop at the bottom of your garment bag (which you have cleverly sewn in, right?) and loop it up over the hanger’s hook.  No loop?  A big, sturdy safety pin will work.  Or an “o” ring, a shower curtain hook, a grommet or…??? Use your imagination.  It may be one application unsuited for duct tape, though if you made it into a loop and sewed it in place, you could have a pretty special bag on your hands.

This does a couple of things.  It firstly makes the bag shorter and unless you are strictly a Latin dancer or carrying a gown for someone much shorter than you (thanks, Sweetie!) you need your full length gown to be less than full length while packing it around.  It also takes weight off the shoulders of the gown so that if you hang it up, it will not be stretching out.  And in my case it makes the whole package just the right size to nestle in with its partner in a corner of the room to await further packing instructions.

Yes, my gowns go in heaps on the floor.  Hanging them in the closet, even folded like this, squishes and compacts them too much and the come out looking flat and sad.  And who needs a sad ballgown?

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