Say, can you see? (Betcha can't.)

McCalls 5884

This is one of those patterns that I'd probably make five or six times, to play out all the variations on the theme, all the different combinations I could think to do of color-on-color, pattern-on-pattern, stripe-on-stripe, and random piping and embellishment.

I've often thought that my desire to actually instantiate all the various dresses that I can imagine is a sign of a mental lack. Shouldn't the conception of them be enough, without having to bring them all to term? Shouldn't I be able to just, say, write down that this dress would be amazing in inch-wide stripes, with the stripes in the insert set on the bias from left to right?

I know I have this particular mental lack (this inability to imagine something fully) with music, which why I love cover versions of songs so much. I know not everyone does; I used to know someone who, if he wanted to hear "Jenny from the Block" done by trombones, he could just imagine how it would sound, and that was enough for him. He could hear any song, just once, and then imagine all the different covers. What any song would sound like as a bossa nova, or mashed up with "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It was sad, actually, because it seemed as if he couldn't let himself be surprised. (It would be like knowing all the dumb jokes in the world, and never smiling at a punchline.) I'm constantly and ridiculously surprised by even the most elementary of musical transpositions; start whistling "Chopsticks" instead of playing it on a piano and I will be transfixed, I swear. (Which is why my iPod is about 35% covers, and growing.)

But even though, with dresses, I can imagine clearly what something would look like with different sleeves or a different collar or in wool instead of silk, I want to make it anyway. I want to leave open the possibility of being surprised. My excuse is that no matter how good your imagination is, the real thing is always just different enough from the way you imagined it to make it worth while. You can't imagine every detail; your brain doesn't render very well in all dimensions. So if you can imagine the colors and the pattern, can you also imagine the way the fabric will hang, or the feel of it? Can you imagine the way the light will hit it? Can you imagine the sound it will make when you walk (or better yet, roller-skate)? Can you imagine the smell of it?

If I wanted to make a sweeping generalization (and this is the part of the blog entry where I generally do), I would say that it's often more helpful than you think to do something "you already know". Re-read the book, or re-watch the movie; sure, you "know how it ends" but what did you miss along the way? Walk down the street you've gone down a hundred times before, instead of taking a new route. Talk to the person you think you'll be bored by, and try the food you think you'll hate. Your imagination — your theorizing about the future — is more fallible than you want to admit.

[This pattern is from The Pattern Fairy; click on the image to visit her eBay store.]

the day after the day after the day after Christmas = another sale

Vogue 9281

The Blue Gardenia is also having a pattern sale … 35% off any three or more patterns (and jewelry, although I don't buy jewelry because I'm pretty sure if once I started, I'd never stop). Buy as many as you want, no limit! The sale runs through 12:01 AM PST Monday, January 3, 2007, and payment must be received no later than January 7.

I'm sorely tempted by this number, above … it's B34. But considering that the main bulk of parties for the year are nearly over, and since my "to-sew" stack is rapidly approaching my own height, I'll pass. But don't let me stop you!

Of course, if I *were* going to buy and make this dress, it would be the shorter version, and in silver lurex. Don't you think?

dresses made of balloons and, um, "balloons"

balloon dress

Doris sent me links to both these dresses. The first links to a site in Cyrillic, which I don't read (and probably never will, as "read Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, etc." keeps dropping on my life to-do list, and is now set between "go back to Ecuador" and "learn to juggle flaming pins"). But it's very interesting, isn't it? And because so many of the other images on that page are child-oriented, I'm sure this dress has nothing to do with balloon fan-dancing or burlesque performance (no link to that art form because you can google it up for yourself, thank you).

balloon dress

This other dress is from an exhibit at the UCLA Fowler Museum, and is the work of artist Adriana Bertini [warning: site exceeds minimum RDA of Flash animation]. It's from an exhibit called "Dress Up Against AIDS: Condom Couture", and all the dresses are made from condoms. The thumbnails are staggeringly gorgeous; I'm going to be in LA in a week or so and I'm going to make it a point to go see this exhibit, as well as this one at MOCA (thanks to Miss Maya for that last link). Anything else I should do in LA while I'm there?

day after Christmas = shopping

ebay item 8305987417

As everyone knows, the way you relax from all the shopping you did before Christmas is … to go out and do more shopping. (Personally, I think this is insane, and I don't do it, except for a quick trip to Target to buy *next* year's wrapping paper and half-price Christmas chocolate.) But, of course, INTERNET shopping doesn't count … and Jen, at is having a big sale. How big? 30% off. Her sale is good on any size order and the secret code is … "saveme30". Her offer will expire at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. Don't forget she offers free shipping in North America if you order 5 or more patterns!

In fact, at 30% off, you can even buy patterns like this (tiny-sized 1960s hostess jumpsuits) just for the joy of owning them, without having to justify what is clearly a novelty-value purchase ("It would make a great Bond-girl costume for when I lose twenty pounds and three ribs!") … for $3.15, this pattern is so completely worth it.

Mr. Dress A Day, who is hiding from a holiday gathering with me, says that I should make today's post about gifts you SHOULD return. Which I think is a great idea. I think you should return any gift that came with strings attached, or that was given in the hope that merely unwrapping the box would magically turn you into a completely different person, or gifts that were given to the person the giver wishes you were. Mr. Dress a Day, joking: "Does that mean you're going to return the stripper heels I bought you? Wait, don't write that!" [Mr. Dress a Day actually gave me something AWESOME, but didn't want me to link to it here because it deserves a whole post, and I agree. So tune in tomorrow … ]

Whoops, time for cake! Gotta come out of hiding now …

Merry Christmas!

Simplicity 5060

Many, many thanks to Nora Needles, who tipped me off to this pattern … and which, thanks to the miracle that is eBay (It's from ebay seller Stella Blue … ), is now mine. Merry Christmas to me!

Soon I will have every midriff pattern ever made, and then I can begin to construct them all to outfit my midriff-banded robot army. They will fan out across the land and bring my rule of justice and pretty dresses to all. (Limited exceptions will be made for conscientious-dress objectors.)

And another big thank you to all who donated to Heifer International this year … I think I still owe you all one or two more drabbles, which I hope to have done by Wednesday or Thursday … after that, new Duro pictures! And sewing room pictures! I promise!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Drabble #17

drabble #17

You know, sometimes I just wish I could go to a movie. Or to the kind of restaurant where you could get a hamburger and a malted, or maybe a short stack of pancakes. See a ball game, take a walk in the park. Heck, take a walk in daylight, even! The only time I see daylight, outside of the closet, is when I’m going to the cleaners. I’m so tired of martinis and Sinatra and food on little sticks and other people’s husbands. I’d like to meet some children, or perhaps a big shaggy dog. No more parties, please!

Drabble #16

striped olive dress drabble

I waited a long time to get bought, you know. I saw the plain black dresses go first, and then the red ones; after that the simple prints and the narrow stripes. Soon I was the oldest dress on the rack, and my tag was scratched and scribbled with markdown after markdown. I didn’t care. I was willing to wait for someone who could really wear me. And when I saw her, in her cranberry-red shoes and olive hat, I knew she was the one. And she knew she wanted me too! She didn’t even bother to try me on.

Last-Minute Holiday Sewing

Marian Martin 9112

I'm not. Doing any last-minute sewing, I mean. (Especially not for my sister Kate, if she's reading this.) But if I did have to make a holiday dress (for myself) at the last minute, I would want a pattern like this one, from Vintage Martini. It looks SO EASY; and if you made it up in a nice bright cotton velvet with a little lace or satin bit at the front, it would be just perfect. Right? And those little bag pockets look just like presents, anyway.

Of course, the minute I put on a velvet and/or satin dress I immediately am handed 1) an unwrapped, briefly sucked-on piece of hard candy; 2) a cup of hot cocoa, upon the acceptance of which I am bumped into by either a wildly gesturing adult or a screaming and running small child; 3) a drippy canapé involving either grease or capers or both; 4) someone else's wet coat. It never fails. Which is why I have a lot of velvet and/or satin fabric which, Schroedinger's-cat-like, is neither dead nor alive as long as I don't sew it up.

Although I want to say that this should finally be the year I make myself a green velvet skirt. I could be drafted as a last-minute elf fill-in, right? And if I make it with pockets I can always chip the stuck-on hard candy out of them later.

Do you have a holiday dress? Where are you going to wear it?

Drabble #15

drabble blue-green peplum

She almost bought me. She grabbed me right away, a woman intent on wearing the wrong dress. I made her pleasant pear shape an outright gourd. My blue-green yellowed her olive skin. That witch of shop assistant said “You’re stunning!” Which was technically true, but not in the way she meant. Thank goodness for her husband. He took one look at me on her and laughed. “Celia, no,” he said. “Where’s a red one? Find a red one. You’re gorgeous in red.” He kissed her, and the assistant went scurrying. She took home a plunging red number. I’m still here.

Drabble #14

nurse uniform drabble

Everything about her is crisp. There’s me, the crisp white uniform, and her crisp white cap (both heavily starched). Crisp instructions, with crisp sharp consonants. Crisp movements, nothing wasted. A crisp nod to the doctor on his rounds. If you hugged her, she’d crackle like a piece of cellophane wrapping. At least, that’s what I always thought. But then that boy, just back from Korea, grabbed her hand and squeezed it. Grabbed it with his only hand, the one missing three fingers. She finished changing his dressings (gently, not crisply at all) and ran to the closet, where she cried.