Unclear on the concept


Esprit Embro dress

Esprit calls this a dress. It may possibly be a dress (albeit a suspiciously shiny dress with unfortunately placed embroidery), but it's being worn as a coat. That is not auspicious.

Either there has been a terrible translation accident or the dress looks so desperately fugly being worn as a no-kidding dress that the catalog stylists were driven to this extreme. "Yes, we know it's a wrench, but it doesn't actually work very well as a wrench, so could you show it being used as a hammer instead?"

Remember when Esprit designs had, well, esprit? ::sigh::

Clicking on the image will take you to the catalog page. If you must.

Dresses in Literature, Wodehouse Edition

There are times when one feels that other people's objections must give way. When a girl is pretty (I believe I am) and has nice frocks (I know I have), it is perfectly criminal not to let her go and show them in town.

It was a beautiful day on the Monday. I wore my pink sprigged muslin with a pink sash and the pink chiffon hat Aunt Edith sent from Paris. Fortunately, the sun was quite hot, so I was able to have my pink parasol up the whole time, and words can't express its tremendous duckiness.

both from "The Wire Pullers"

He isn't good at explaining his feelings, but I think I understand what he meant. I have felt it sometimes myself when, directly after I have had my best dress trodden on and torn at a dance, I have gone down to supper and found that all the meringues have been eaten. It is a sort of calm, divine despair. You know nothing else that can happen to you can be bad enough in comparison to be worth troubling about.

from "Petticoat Influence"

He thought of bed, but bed seemed a long way off — the deuce of a way. Acres of carpet to be crawled over, and then the dickens of a climb at the end of it. Besides, undressing! Nuisance — undressing. That was a nice dress the girl had worn on the fourth day out. Tailor-made. He liked tailor-mades. He liked all her dresses. He liked her. Had she liked him? So hard to tell if you don't get a chance of speaking!

from Intrusion of Jimmy

You've no conception, laddie, how indescribably ripping she looked, in a sort of blue dress with a bit of red in it and a hat with thingummies.

from Love Among the Chickens

Sewing Without a Net


Advance 6675

I finished the black eyelet dress (mentioned here), although I'm not entirely pleased with it. I needed to do some revisionist cutting in the midst of construction, which I don't like to do. It's like finishing a jigsaw puzzle with the help of an X-Acto knife. However, it's finished and it's wearable, but the pattern is not suitable (as I had hoped it would be) for this gorgeous car-print Liberty fabric that I have. Which means I need to find another candidate.

I'm thinking this one is it, even though I'm missing the instructions. It's really a very simple pattern. The only part of the construction I'm unclear on is whether the bust tuck is sewn before or after the center bust seam. My money's on before. And if I'm wrong, that's what seam rippers are for. (Well, that, and stabbing yourself in the thumb.)

Before I cut into the stunning (and very expensive) Liberty fabric, though, I'll make a test run in either a green and yellow ditsy print (ditsy in sewing contexts means tiny and busy) or a black and white geometric. I'm leaning toward the black and white geometric. Did I mention this is for a wedding this coming weekend?

The Saturday Morning Dress


Butterick 6510

For Saturday morning, the Saturday morning dress. Because when you're off to the market, what you really want to do is pop a dress over your head, button four buttons at the small of your back (how does that work again?), and go!

Or maybe not.

Click on the image to see it larger, in a new window, the better to check out the diagram in the lower right-hand corner and confirm that it is, in fact, flat.

[Pattern image courtesy of Lydia Ash, list mistress (listress?) of the Yahoo sewretro group. ]

WIP No. 1


McCalls 8858

I had an hour of unexpected free time last night so I headed down to the sewing room to make the most of it. The current work-in-progress (the pink-and-green camo print chiffon with the sweetheart neckline that will NOT, repeat NOT consent to having a zipper inserted may move from WIP to UFO status soon) is a version of this dress. (Click on the image to see the whole, very tattered, pattern envelope. Warning: very large image.)

I'm making it up in featherweight black eyelet, and, instead of the narrower skirt shown here, I substituted a circle skirt, in the hopes that a fuller skirt will hang better in such a lightweight fabric (although I may still end up weighting the hem). A circle skirt is also easier to attach–I find it difficult to get those center front skirt seams to line up at the optical center of the bodice. I finished the neckline with black piping, to fight the fold-over tendency that the neck points on this particular design have. 90% of the bodice, including finishing the neck, is done, which means there's only another hour or two of work before the dress is ready-to-wear.

I'll add the same piping to the waist, for extra stability in such a light fabric, in addition to reinforcing it on the inside with twill tape. I also (as always) added a side-seam pocket.

Cutting eyelet is interesting — it has a very bubble-wrap feel. The scissors will be gliding along through the fabric and then hit a spot of embroidered resistance: pop! pop! It's been so long since I've made anything eyelet that I'd forgotten. At first it feels unnervingly and sickeningly like cutting through a pin, only with less potential for eye injury, but after you've reassured yourself that you're not launching tiny bits of sharp metal through the air and ruining your scissors, it's strangely pleasant. Pop!

Sometimes, it's all about the accessories


Manchester Galleries

Sometimes the dress is accessorized, and sometimes the accessories are dressed.

Click on the image to go to the really interesting Manchester Gallery of Costume, which I did not know existed before I started idly googling to find fodder for Dress A Day. (Don't say that blogging never teaches you anything, kids!) It seems that "For the serious student of dress, the Gallery of Costume offers research facilities unrivalled in the north of England. Access to costumes and textiles in the reserve collection can be arranged by appointment, as can use of the library and archive, which holds some 18,000 books and much other material." I may now have to go to Manchester. The Gallery's website also helpfully notes that "Neighbouring Rusholme is the curry capital of the North West." So: TWO reasons to go to Manchester and environs.

For advanced students only


ebay item 8305987417
It's okay to have a mod fantasy. It's okay to have several mod fantasies. It's okay if they involve scooters, even, and high white boots, and the soundtrack to Absolute Beginners.

However, think long and hard before you turn your mod fantasy into reality. It just might be one of those things, like pie-eating contests or dating somebody who's really hot but really stupid, that are better when they stay in the idea stage. Mod dresses look so cute. They do. Especially on the model. In real life, however, they ride up, they have no pockets, and they make scooter-riding drafty. (Yes, even with tights.)

If you're determined to make mod happen, though, you couldn't do much better than this dress from Dadadie Brücke. Click on the image to go to her website.