Fabric is Everywhere

UO birdcage fabric
Rodger sent me this fabric link … it's actually a $28 curtain panel at Urban Outfitters, and it measures 84" x 52" (there's also a bedspread that is 90" x 108", more than double the width, for $4 more). That's more than two yards of very wide fabric; buy one or two of these and you could have an enormous-skirted (and really adorable!) 50s dress very quickly.

Have we talked about how awesome curtain panels, tablecloths, and sheets can be for garment-making? We should … you can get a lot of interesting fabric for not so much money (especially when they go on sale). If you're willing to risk maybe someday walking into a party and matching the drapes (which, by the way, is worth it for the comedy gold alone), you should always be checking out the home-dec departments for funky prints and stripes or even just cheap plain fabric for muslins. It's all just fabric, after all!

Somebody (and I can't remember who, I've been to a LOT of conferences lately) told me about a site where someone takes funky store-bought throw.jpgllow covers and makes handbags out of them, but that somebody actually told me live and in person, and I stupidly didn't write it down. Does anyone know about this? Because it would make a nice thing to link right here …

Yet Another Tiny Beauty …

printed pattern 4975

And by "tiny," I mean a bust of 31 1/2. (Yeah, like that half-inch is going to make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.) Claire sent me this one — I'm sure she didn't mean to be cruel, but, oh, how I want this pattern! If this blog were a movie, right now there would be a montage of me sitting pensively in many picturesque places, thinking of this pattern.

I know, I know, with ten minutes' dedicated study I could size this one up to my measurements, right? But — that makes sewing feel so much like WORK. Or perhaps I'm just not dedicated enough. All I know is, a few inches either way, no problem; more than five and I'm just not enthused enough to try. Ask all the 32-inch patterns sitting forlornly in boxes in my sewing room right now!

I feel like offering a bounty on this. Find a copy for me to buy in anything between bust 35 and 39 and I will send you a signed copy of my new book … how's that for an enticing offer?

If you want the B31.5 version, hop to it … the auction could end at any second (it's a Buy It Now), and ends for certain late tonight.

the more things change, the more things I have to sew

Vogue 9690

The picture above is a link Summerset sent me, from SoVintage Patterns. Below is another link she sent me — this is a current Vogue pattern, 8182.

Vogue 8182

Isn't it interesting how the illustration style makes the patterns seem so different, when really they're nearly identical? Look at what's conveyed through the posture of the women in the illustrations; the 1960s illustration is swaybacked, with hips thrust forward, while the more modern woman is standing completely straight (so much for your mother's injunction to stand up straight, you'll look better …). The bust point on the 1960s illustration is also a bit higher, and the surplice cross point is, too.

It'd be really interesting to buy 'em both and see how different they are … too bad you can't get a grant from the National Institute of Fashion to do diachronic pattern comparisons …

Pure Sugar.

Advance 5475

Okay, another link from Julie, who has somehow internalized my taste. (Julie, you should really go to the doctor and get that checked out.)

If I had a little girl, I would absolutely make her this dress. Of course, whether little girls today want to dress like this is another question entirely — so many of the clothes I see for little girls seem predicated on their having to be available, at any moment, to jump in as backup dancers in a music video — but I would make it, absolutely. I'd make it (as the pattern suggests) in white-and-blue dotted swiss with a blue midriff and blue bows, or pink and white seersucker with a pink midriff and pink bows. Or really, in any combination she wanted.

I think when I was twelve I would have cheerfully dug a ten-foot ditch for a dress like this (in grass-green gingham, by choice). But then, I was an odd child …

Repent, Harlequin!

advance 9784

I am unrepentant. Julie sent me this link, I liked it, I bought it. How often do you find dresses like this (and in a size to which I will have to perform minimal alterations, if any)?

Julie would like to see it in clashing plaids, but I'm thinking I'll start small. Maybe two shades of blue, or red and gray together, or different scales of the same color gingham, or maybe gingham and stripes together … or maybe, if I am feeling VERY extravagant, the same Liberty print in two different colorways. Like maybe Liberty "Robin", which comes in a blue and also this pink:

liberty robin

And, tangentially, is anyone else as fond of Murder Must Advertise as I am? The scene where Wimsey is dressed as a harlequin at the costume ball? I might have to go re-read that tonight, while I wait for this pattern to come in the mail …

In my plan, we are NOT beltless.

vogue 4991

Many thanks to Robinson, who sent along this link from Vintage Martini. Isn't it marvelous? My favorite view is the one half-hidden in the back, with the black patent belt. Now, I understand intellectually that black patent is probably a bitch to sew, and that its launderability is, shall we say, questionable, and that it will require black patent accessories (the last time I had black patent shoes I was wearing them with ruffled anklets and contemplating my First Communion) and that the whole enterprise would be vastly simplified if I could just get an actual belt, and not one sewn on. But emotionally, I don't care. The heart wants what it wants, as someone once pityingly told me, and my heart wants an obscenely red dress with a shiny black patent belt. (Perhaps my heart is secretly Helmut Lang? Who knows.)

Although the yellow/blue/gray combo in front has its own not inconsiderable charms — I remember fondly a pair of earrings I had in eighth grade; little button ones with that exact color combination. I think the earrings were $1 at Woolworths, but they necessitated the purchase of an entire outfit to match. I won't tell you about the outfit, as it was a Horror of the Eighties (camp shirt; jazz oxfords; anklets) but I loved that color combination. (Now, of course, I have worn the same little hoops for nearly seven years. Pirates change their earrings more often than I do.)

Whichever color combination you make (and note I am not suggesting prints here, although a black dress with the belt made in two differently-scaled houndstooths would be, well, freaking AWESOME) the pattern is $14. Somebody go buy it before I break down and figure out how to sew patent, okay?

Thanks, Maureen!

ebay item 8305987417

Regular reader Maureen (also known as Vintage Grace) has a new book out, about that time of wandering in the wilderness known as "1970s fashions". And she gives us a shout-out in the blogliography, so thanks, Maureen!

I have to admit that, in paging through the book, there were occasions when I thought my eyeballs were going to melt away and drip down my brainstem. I mean, I love patterned fabrics, but there are patterns, and then there are seizure-triggers. Which was actually reassuring, in a way — it's nice to know that even I have limits.

The book's available here, of course, or click on the image above to check out the book's website.

A little something Julie hatched up for you.

hatch dress

Thanks to Julie, who sent this to me, overcoming her own natural modesty (it's her listing). She knew I wouldn't be able to resist a dress like this.

I know from the picture above you can't tell, exactly, why I like this so much, so here's a fabric closeup:

hatch dress

See it now? The little pink birds hatching from the eggs? So adorable. This is, in fact, the best bird-themed novelty fabric I've seen since the crows with megaphones.

In fact, I live in hope that as the Internet-era allows us spread out across the plain of available information, we'll make more and more links between things. Before I die I imagine that I'll be able to google up someone's lovingly-constructed webpage that is nothing but links to samples of bird-themed novelty print fabric. And each of those samples will be linked to some instant-fab that will produce yards and yards for you, on demand, in any colorway. Oh, can you tell that I am a firm believer in the coming culture of fab(rication) and the long, long, long, long tail?

Well. Until that day, this dress is your best chance for a hatching-bird novelty print, so go to it. It's B38/W28 and $75.95. (As always, click the picture up above to visit the vendor's site.)

do it with Flair

ebay item 8305987417
In my continuing reign as "Luckiest Woman in North America," last night I found THREE issues of Flair Magazine, for $1/each. Why am I so excited about some old magazines from the 1950s? Well, everyone (especially the magazine cognoscenti) agrees that Flair was something special. The die-cut covers! The offbeat contributors! The crazy layouts! I managed to find April, May, and August 1950, and I'm sure I'll be posting some stuff from these issues. The College Issue, for example, tells HOW MANY SWEATERS one of their co-eds has. (That would be eleven.)

I love old magazines (I also bought an issue of Life for some nefarious purpose that I will not yet reveal). I also got a SIGNED copy of Mitford Mathews' Dictionary of Americanisms, a book for my little boy, and something from 1891 that seemed hilarious, so I bought it.

Where did I find all this glory? Well, the Regenstein Library, of course. (It was book sale time!) I love the Regenstein. I don't know exactly why, but I think it has something to do with the idea that every time I go in there I learn, not just something I didn't already know, but something I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW I didn't know. That, to me, is what a library is. And the Chicago libraries, I think, are better than most [disclaimer: I am on a U of C library committee, which is kind of what being a football booster would be at any other school], in that they think beyond (as it was described to me) the "cathedral of books" model. A cathedral of books is very beautiful and inspiring, but if you are going to have a knowledge religion you probably also want to go out and minister to the information-downtrodden, the information-hungry, and the information-poor, and that's what they do. Every time I go there I come out refreshed, which, come to think of it, is exactly what going to church is supposed to make you feel, right?

One of those issues of Flair has a white, fake-fur, strapless evening gown in it. Too bad it's only an illustration … there was also a $250 HarperCollins/Rizzoli book of The Best of Flair a couple years back. It's still going for about $125!

People are Good.

Butterick 9826

Isn't this a lovely pattern? I love the stripes, obviously, and I love the weird football theme of this particular pattern line (I saw a couple others online, all with the 'four yard line' slogan.) Sarah sent this one to me, along with several other gorgeous and/or funny ones. Why? Just because. She had them, wasn't going to use them, thought I would like them, so she sent them along. Just like that.

I am continually surprised and gratified by the enormous generosity of Dress A Day readers. Not just in the comments, where you help me and each other with links and information; or in the links that you send me to share; but also in the packages you send me!

Anyway, a little something will wend its way in the mail back to Sarah (who foolishly included a return address, ha ha!) but — would all of you help me thank her? I figure the best way to thank someone for performing some random act of kindness is to encourage others to do the same. So, today, if you could, would you do something nice for some random person? Maybe hold a door or an elevator, or pay someone a compliment, or even just give a sincere "thank you" to someone who never gets one? Nothing huge or extravagant or elaborate, but just a little push-back against entropy? I'd appreciate it …