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 …

the necessary infrastructure


vintage slip

Lately I have been dissatisfied with my underwear. Well, actually, just with the slips. They have been uncooperative, to say the least, and occasionally downright recalcitrant. Not the gorgeous vintage full slips (like this one, click on the pic to visit the eBay auction), the ones I found a whole mint new-with-tags lot of a couple years ago — those are fine, content to be used as nightgowns and to occasionally have a day out under a dress. It's the half slips that are giving me trouble. Well, the half slips and the tights, who together are having a little static electricity festival that Must Be Stopped. Not to mention that the half slips are deciding, en masse, either to revolt against the tyranny of elastic or to join the low-rise movement, and so their waistbands are getting saggier and saggier.

I keep hunting around online for nice heavy nylon slips, but they seem to have gone the way of the dodo — there are only a few specimens left, and they're all very expensive, or fugly, or both. (I should have paid more attention when The Sewist did her poll on slips.)

So I think I'm going to make some half slips. Heavy silk (from Thai Silks and Dharma Trading Company) are surprisingly cheap, especially in the quantities you'd need for a slip. I can find some nice lace trim, too, that will help weight down the bottom of the slip, and, not incidentally, look nice.

In fact, I think (since I have more than a month before I have to travel again) that I will spend this next little bit of sewing time making a few slips, and also sorting through the Large Plastic Bin of Tights to separate the holey goats from the whole sheep, and also arranging them by color, so that I don't spend the night before my next departure turning things upside down looking for the one pair of thick lycra tights that I *know* I had in teal …

Anyone have any slip-sewing tips, or sources for really nice lingerie elastic? I will make a followup sources and tips from the comments … and, with any luck, a picture of the slips I've made!