Hacks Everywhere.


ebay item 6218783881

Okay, this has "quota" written all over it, right? Somebody ran out of ideas for interesting necklines, saw her pinking shears, and, in desperation, hacked this one out.

Which is a shame, because once you get past "OMG WHAT BIT YOUR NECK??" the yoke on the skirt is really cute, and actually almost modern.

Anyway, it's from Lanetz Living (again) and you still have a few days to bid. You can certainly alter it to remove the sawtooth effect without too much trouble.

The other thing I love about this illustration is that it TOTALLY looks as if the woman in the red dress was originally a brunette, and that they drew a blonde wig on her. "Hey, there's no blonde on this envelope — blondes sell patterns!" "Just draw it on top. Nobody will notice." "It kinda makes her head look freakish." "I said, NOBODY WILL NOTICE!"

Lois Lane's Wardrobe


ebay item 6218706677

You have at least a couple days left to bid on this — plenty of time to make yourself into the kind of hard-nosed girl reporter (with a secret soft spot for the Son of Krypton) who would wear this asymmetrical dress. Think about how great it will look as you dangle from the scaffolding of the newest skyscraper in Metropolis, your screams bringing (yet again) the Man of Steel …

BTW, Lois is the one on the right, in the gray. The woman on the left (in the print, doing the parade wave) is the wife of Mayor Berkowitz of Metropolis, before the tragedy. (And yes, I had to Google that, so sue me if I have the wrong era of Superman.)

The auction also includes one of those day dresses/shortalls from the 1930s that requires you be the same height and diameter as your average telephone pole. I swear, I tried to make one of those one time — it had rickrack, I was weak — and I couldn't even get my head through the neck opening. In fact, it is still hanging downstairs, mocking me. It's so cute! I made it in mattress ticking! I keep meaning to DO something with it, but I can't wear it (I get less and less telephonic every year) and who wants a half-finished dress?

Anyway. I digress (like that's something new). Lois. Dress. Superman. Although, contrarian that I am, I kinda prefer Clark Kent. He can hold a conversation, and isn't always flying off somewhere to divert the flow of lava from a volcano or talk Bizarro down. (Although, come to think of it, he also has an annoying tendency to disappear, as well. Hey, wait a minute …) Superheroes in general make bad boyfriends — the Flash? Canonically a bad boyfriend. Aquaman? Well, he's married, so I guess at one point he was a semi-decent boyfriend, but then again he's royalty, so perhaps it was arranged? Bats? Ha. Two words: "young ward." And I'm not even going to mention Booster Gold … wait, that was a digression too, wasn't it? Dammit.

Two collars are better than one. Obviously.


Simplicity 5962

From our friends at Lanetz Living (and sent in by Ursula — thank you!) this lovely dress.

It is (as you can see) adorable; it is also (as you can see) a B32. For some reason (and this seems silly to us today, where tweens and their moms wear the same candy-colored velour sweatsuits) the girlier fashions of yesteryear are confined to the smaller sizes. I may be an actual matron, and I may be, in fact, matronly, but damn, I reserve my right to wear Peter Pan collars until death separates me from them.

Another thing I love about this pattern is the notes on the envelope. I have a couple of dozen high-Mod 1960s suit patterns I bought at an estate sale a few years ago. It was right after my son was born and it was one of my very early solo outings, which filled me with both exhilaration ("I am OUT IN THE WORLD AGAIN!") and terror ("IS MY PRECIOUS CHILD OKAY?"). In a rush to get home and nurse, and in a spirit of pure greed, I offered the salerunners $25 for the entire box of patterns, without even going through them, and they said "SOLD." It was pure chance that there was anything in there at all that I liked, but it turned out to be a treasure trove. (It was full of Vogue Designers!) The woman had been a professional seamstress, and all her pattern envelopes were annotated. "Take 1/2 in. from side seams." "For Mrs. Kotalski." "Narrow shoulders — taper 1/4 to seam." All done in what I assume was golf pencil, from the crabbedness of the handwriting.

I write little sewing notes to myself, too, but I write directly on the tissue paper, because by the time I get the pieces out of the envelope and pinned, I will have forgotten what I wrote on the envelope. "ADD 1/2 in. WAIST/SHORTEN BODICE 1 in." are my most frequent annotations, sadly. "SHORTEN SKIRT 2 in." is another — most vintage skirts are longer than I like mine to hit. "Don't forget waist stay!" also shows up from time to time. I have one favorite pocket pattern piece that I add to those poor dresses that are congenitally pocketless, and since it lives on my bulletin board, I also mark skirt pieces "ADD USU POCKET" and that reminds me I need to retrieve the pocket and cut it out with the rest of the garment.

Occasionally I find a vintage pattern that has been altered exactly as I would alter it, right down to shortening the skirt, and I have a flash of fondness for the original owner. How much I would have liked her! I think, conflating, just a for a moment, physiogonomy and taste with personality.

It would be perfect if …


dvf taffeta dress

Often, (deluded) people say, "Oh Erin, you'd be SO fun to shop with!" and then we actually GO shopping and I drive them to desperate tears. Because I am the queen of "This would be perfect if …" in which I utter the above crazymaking phrase and proceed to (metaphorically) rip whatever it is that is being presented for consideration to (again metaphorical) shreds. Because the buttons are wrong. Or the shoulders are too puffy. Or the collar doesn't lie right, or any of ten thousand things that would not, in fact, ruin anyone's enjoyment but mine, and I'm not the one shopping.

After four or five hours of this most folks are like "please, please, just let me hand over a credit card for something! Anything! I don't care!"

(This doesn't hold true for vintage shopping, by the way. I have goaded many a strong woman into buying things that will never, ever be worn, simply by repeating "it's so beautiful and you will never find anything else like it!" until I overcome all resistance.)

So. ::rummaging around for a point, not finding one, dumping out handbag, ah! there it is:: Madelene (who is now pretty much an official member of the Dress A Day Street Team) sent this DVF dress from Neiman's and … it would be perfect if: 1) it weren't polyester taffeta (jeebus, for $425, it should be rayon taffeta at least!) and 2) didn't have breast pocket flaps. And possibly (2.5) if it had slightly more tailored sleeves. I love the idea of the taffeta evening shirtdress, I just want it a little less … shirty. Right now the rolled-up sleeves seem to say "Hey! I'm ready to party! Or perhaps to fund-raise! Let's go! Feed those orphans! Whoot!"

Also, I think any party dress that's good in black would be even BETTER in deep bottle green.

Other than that, it's perfect! Thanks, Madelene!

But let's not talk about the shoes. They look really painful. I think she's standing in that funny hip-cocked stance not because she's a model, but because she cannot put any weight on her feet.

For a better seamstress …


ebay item 6218265211

Okay, this is up on Ebay for the next four days or so, so get on the stick, people. I mean, look at this dress!

I love the collar, that soft roll. I love the pockets, and the sleeves, and the curved seam over the bust and below the waist. It's just a stunner, and still (esp. the narrow-skirted version) very wearable.

I may not bid, though, if I can summon up some self-control, because I know the points on that curved seam above the bust will break me, send me to my knees, and make the air in my sewing den blue with the impotent curses of someone wielding a seam ripper. I've tried that particular seam, and not ever had any real success with it. At best, I've done brute-force topstitching, and, at worst, ripped through two bodice pieces, which then needed to be re-cut. And in neither case (or in any of the intermediate cases) did I end up with something I felt compelled to wear to rags.

If you can bang out those points all day long, more power to you! Go bid this dress up quickly so I'm not tempted to. I'd really appreciate it …

Put to Better Use


Milly Rose Print

This dress is perfectly fine, really — I love Milly stuff and someday will find something from that line 1) in my size, 2) at Loehmann's and 3) not stained with the makeup of the careless person who tried it on before me. But the fabric is insanely great, and I just feel it could have been put to much better use than this perfectly serviceable and somewhat boring slipdress.

If *I* had oh, four or five yards of this, I would make a wiggle dress with a coat matching the yellow of the roses in the pattern, lined with the same fabric. And, as long as I'm indulging my dress megalomania (and my inner Doris Day), matching yellow shoes. And bag.

What would you make with this fabric?

Am I Blue?


ebay item 8344045440

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. When you start your day at 7:30 a.m. in Manhattan and end it at 12:30 a.m. in Madison, Wisconsin, some things tend to fall by the wayside, like eating and blogging.

I think the lack of sleep has made me cranky, because even though there were some really pretty dresses listed over the last 24 hours on eBay, this homemade horror is what caught my eye. No offense to the (very game) model in the picture, but this is my worst nightmare, and it's not made any less horrific just because it happens to me fairly often.

This is what I mean: you spend a lot of time sewing something, and in your head, while you're pinning, cutting, seaming, and pressing, it looks FANTASTIC. Gorgeous. The fabric is your one true love. You can feel how nicely the dress will fit, like you'd feel a phantom limb.

And then you put in the zipper, climb into it, and it looks like this. Arrrrgghhh!

It's the triumph of hope over experience. You think "oh, THIS TIME the [empire waist|sash belt|jewel neck|whatever went wrong before] will look GOOOOOOD." Even if you make the same dress over and over, and never try anything new, occasionally the fabric and pattern will conspire and fight each other instead of reaching sartorial harmony.

I may print this out and put it up in my sewing "atelier" as an object lesson, but I don't think it will do any good. Hope always trumps experience. And anyway, I have this idea for a new dress …

Comfort Dress

Butterick Square Neck Dress
For a rainy Friday, a comfort dress. I scanned this ages ago for the Sewretro group on Yahoo, and just remembered the scan existed today. I love this so, although I've only made it once. The fabric wasn't right — not heavy enough to drape right in the slim-skirt view I made — so I didn't wear it often.

There's something about a low, square neckline that calls to me. Maybe I am a collarbone exhibitionist? Who knows? But show me a square-necked dress and I am yours.

I've always wanted to make this in two colors, with the center bodice and skirt panels (front only) a different color from the rest of the dress (black and white? gray and red?) but something tells me that would look like a particularly crazy silver-age superhero costume. Obviously, in this dress, my superpower would be making especially delicious canap├ęs.

Rollkunstlaufkleid


ebay item  7189304684

"Rollkunstlaufkleid" seems to be the German for "roller skating dress." (I just thought you might like to know.) I've been thinking a lot lately about making a dress to wear rollerskating. I mean, NOT LIKE THIS ONE, please, no, are you crazy? (Although if you want one, click on the link to go to Ebay Canada. I am not making any comments as to why only Ebay Canada seems to sell any appreciable numbers of skating dresses.) And if you want one with a matching hair scrunchie (and, hey, why wouldn't you?) you can click here.

Anyway. When I'm in NYC on a Wednesday, which is fairly often, I like to go rollerskating at the Roxy. Okay, "like" is a faint word. I am OBSESSED with rollerskating at the Roxy. I just love everything about it: the people, the music, the fact that everyone is set to maximum dork while on roller skates — everything.

One of the things I really love about the Roxy is that, really, almost anything goes, clothes-wise. It is nearly impossible to transgress the sartorial norms of the Roxy. Sure, most people wear jeans and t-shirts (or jeans and camisoles), but, at the Roxy, I have seen men in ballooning patchwork genie pants. I have seen men in hot pants and men in running tights. I have seen women dressed in what I can only describe as "Mad Max Beyond the Rollerdome." (There was chain mail involved.) I have seen bondage pants (I bet if you fall on those zippers, it really hurts.) I have seen tube tops. I have seen people in full "Ziggy Stardust" makeup. I have even seen skating dresses like this one — worn over cutoff camouflage cargo shorts. (That last seemed very close to violating the Roxy's dress code.)

I usually skate in a circle skirt and cardigan sweater, so that I can go straight from work and have a pocket for ID and phone, but the unparalleled opportunity to wear something gloriously stupid keeps calling to me. It should be a dress, of course, and it should be something easy to skate in, so probably knit, full-skirted, or both. Not too short, but not so long that it brushes the tops of my skates and gets caught in the laces hooks. (Yes, I have my own skates.)

So I'm really thinking this one from a couple weeks back, done in pink camouflage jersey knit. But somehow that doesn't seem to take full advantage of the latitude given at the Roxy. Any suggestions?

Remember, one of my favorite circle skirts is white with fist-sized multicolor polka dots, and I WEAR IT TO WORK (and I'm not an instructor at a clown college) so I need to kick it up a notch for the Roxy.

Where's my whalebone?


ebay item  8341430152

Jilli sent me this link (thank you!) and all I can say it, Holy Mother of God! (You know I'm gobsmacked when I start breaking out the Irish-Catholic imprecations.) This dress is on eBay for the next four days, but there's no way I could get myself to a 25 inch waist (which is what this dress has) by then. I am seriously contemplating corsetry. (Where's my whalebone?) This dress is totally worth random fainting spells.

I know that this dress was probably originally worn with a waist cincher, which could, maybe, possibly, take, what? two-three inches off your waist? Which leaves me with mumble-mumble to go. By Saturday. (Repeat after me: I won't buy clothes that don't fit, I won't buy clothes that don't fit, I won't buy clothes that don't fit.)

But. Jeeeeee-sus. Look at this thing! Who knows, maybe it's just me and Jilli who want to look like slutbomb girl-shaped vintage upholstered sofas, but hey, if that's wrong, I don't want to be right. I want to be W25!