4 Across: Prepare for Roasting

by Erin on March 24, 2007

puzzle dress

I am not a puzzle expert. People are sometimes disappointed to learn this, because, obviously, as a lexicographer, I should be good at everything to do with words, including crosswords, Scrabble, and handwriting. (Note: I am not good at any of the preceding.)

I enjoy crosswords, but I'm not competitive, and if it's a choice between spending two hours hurting myself with the Sunday puzzle, and making a new skirt, I usually go for "make a new skirt."

So why am I wearing this dress (RIGHT NOW, I'm wearing this dress) at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament?

Well, it's complicated, but it boils down to "I'm working for some folks making a words documentary and they got me to talk puzzle-guy-extraordinaire Francis into making a crossword with a bunch of underused words in it for me, and they're filming people solving it tonight."

Of course, once I knew I would be attending, the important question was "what will I wear?" Then I saw this fabric and, well, I *never* turn down a chance to make a stunt dress.

This is roughly the same pattern as this dress, which I made last year, but I couldn't find the skirt pattern pieces, which I think I had reassigned to another pattern last summer. So I Frankensteined it up with a different skirt pattern with has a scalloped bottom. (Which: never again! I had to HAND-SEW the edge binding on it! The skirt sure looks cute, though, so I'm sure I will eventually forget what a pain in the ass it was to do and try and make it again someday. Although you can't really see the scallops in the picture.)

Anyway, since I'm here, I thought I may as well compete, and thus give a whole lot of people the joy of beating a real, live dictionary editor in a crossword puzzle contest. Perhaps next year I will extend my altruism to the Scrabble tournament, where I would also be roundly shellacked.

Here's a closeup of the bodice (which is not exactly perfect, just like my puzzle-solving ability!):
puzzle dress

The piping's a bit uneven (again, like my puzzle … you get the idea).

I'm having a great time here so far, though! Although that's probably because the contest hasn't actually started. I expect to be tearing my hair out and groaning within the hour.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonquil March 24, 2007 at 10:19 am

You are not only made of awesome, you are steeped in awesome and finished off with an awesome ruffle. Wow.Give Will Shortz a hug for me.


Anonymous March 24, 2007 at 10:22 am

The pattern of the puzzle makes it almost impossible to see that the piping is a little uneven. I am willing when you are wearing it that it is impossible to tell. I call the dress a success. And what a wonderful dress it is. I wonder if years from now people will be looking at it in a vintage shop, wondering who made it and why.


sdn March 24, 2007 at 10:23 am

what a great dress. say hi to francis for me. i really wanted to go this year, but alas. maybe next year.


Anonymous March 24, 2007 at 11:40 am

Erin, when I was in high school during the original retro era, I made a hot pink A-line dress that had a scalloped hem. How was I going to manage that? So, I placed interfacing over the pattern and held it up to the window and traced the scallops. Then I used the interfacing as a stitching guide to apply the hem facing. Whew! It turned out just fine. My friend’s mother said, “How did you DO those SCALLOPS?”. It was then that I thought I must have done a good thing. However, hand-sewing binding like that is truly a daunting task. Love, Linda


Theresa March 24, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Being a fan of stunt dresses (I made the Butterick Retro wrap in a dog print to judge a dog show next Sunday) I think it’s wonderful. Good luck!


missmaya March 24, 2007 at 3:05 pm

1. if more people wore stunt dresses (and stunt outfits) the world would be way more entertaining2. loved this pattern in the aerial city print, love it in this one3. Good Luck!!!


enc March 24, 2007 at 3:12 pm

I pipe in with the smart@ss question: But where’s the clue-laden coat that goes with it?LOVE it.


Shana March 24, 2007 at 4:44 pm

You are, as Jonquil said, made of awesome. And having seen the Wordplay documentary, even though I don’t do crossword puzzles, I am oddly jealous of you. SO COOL!


Mandy March 24, 2007 at 4:44 pm

How wonderful. I hope you have a great time. :)


floribunda... aka Julie March 24, 2007 at 5:18 pm

oh, I’m so jealous! I only do Merl Reagle crosswords, but I do them religiously! And I watched the movie about the crossword tournament that came out a year or so ago. (I have some monopoly fabric, if you end up at a monopoly tournament one day…)


Claire Wain March 24, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Wow. I love it!The temptation to write random words on this dress with a Sharpie would be too strong for me to resist…


Jocelyn March 24, 2007 at 7:27 pm

That is so amazing. I am in awe.


Lisette March 24, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Erin, I can’t believe you’re in Stamford and of course the weather stinks this weekend! Tell Rose (Francis’ girlfriend) Hi from Lisette! If you come up to New Haven for the pizza Email please!!!!


Kate in England March 25, 2007 at 8:55 am

I love the stunt dress, but even more than that, I love the idea of a stunt dress. I keep thinking about buying these stunt shoes (I’m a trainee tailor), but I can’t quite find a good enough reason. It’s very altruistic of you to give people the joy of beating a dictionary editor at a crossword!


Mary Tess March 25, 2007 at 10:25 am

Ms. Frizzel had better watch her back. I’m looking forward to hearing about how the crossword puzzle wizards reacted. I love the above comments about the clue laden coat and the urge to fill in the squares with a sharpie–beware of junior high aged boys on the subway.


Marcia in New York City March 25, 2007 at 11:13 am

OK Erin, 4 across, 4 spacesPrepare for roasting: Sear.


Erin March 25, 2007 at 12:04 pm

It’s four across, five spaces, so not ‘sear’. (ADThink turkeys.)


Mary Tess March 25, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Erin there’s a wonderful photo of you wearing this dress (scallops evident) in today’s Los Angeles Times. I tried to find the photo online in order to provide a link but could only find the text of the story, which doesn’t mention you by name. However, your name is in the caption to the photo. For fans of ADAD who have the paper, the photo is on page A25.


enc March 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Kate in England, you can’t NOT buy those shoes! They’re only 60 quid, and they’re far too perfect not to buy!Love, iopine


Zmrzlina March 25, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Prepare for roasting… truss.I love the idea of stunt dresses, too. If ever I find a job I will be looking for all sorts of Gandhi inspired material to make my own stunt dresses, or more likely, skirts.


Ellen March 25, 2007 at 8:33 pm

I should have a dress like that! Great to meet you!


Susan March 25, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Way to go for being such a good sport, and competing, even though you knew that you wouldn’t win.


Anonymous March 26, 2007 at 5:01 am

Aha, Ok, Then Think Turkey: STUFFmb in nyc.


Caity March 26, 2007 at 5:47 am

BEST DRESS EVER!! How perfect! You clever thing, you!


poppy March 26, 2007 at 6:21 am

That is an amazingly cool dress!


Anonymous March 26, 2007 at 9:23 am

Oh, Erin! This dress is gorgeous! I love it. I would never have made that neckline, but having seen it made up in real life (not just a pattern envelope drawing), I have to say it looks charming. –Lydia


Notamermaid March 26, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Its DRESS, I thinkYou dress in preparation for roasting :)


Erin March 26, 2007 at 1:35 pm

Yes! Mermaid got it. She should definitely come to the tournament next year. :-)


samsara March 26, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Erin, you totally rock! Viva la Stunt Dress!


Valerie March 26, 2007 at 11:43 pm

I totally want to make a stunt dress now. Should I look for the event first, and find fabric to match, or pick out some nifty theme fabric, and then find someplace appropriate to wear it?


Sarah from Oz April 4, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Re: crossword clue in title…Where do the clothing/dressmaking and turkey crossovers come from? My first idea was “baste”, arguably also a relevent term for the blog. :)


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