The (Fashion Book) Motherlode!

fashion plate

Reason #5,898 why I love Google Book Search: I just found an amazing book. It's Fashion and Costume in American Popular Culture, and it's described as:

Providing a convenient and unique look at fashion and costume literature and how it has developed historically, this volume discusses monographic and reference literature and provides information on periodicals, research centers, and costume museums and collections. It also provides a new way of looking at the literature through a database of 58 Library of Congress subject headings. It covers topics from jeans to wedding dresses and features "popular" examples of how clothing is used and reflected in our culture through the literature discussed. Of interest to scholars, students, and anyone curious about the unique power clothing holds in our lives. Various types of reference sources are discussed including other guides to the literature, encyclopedia, dictionaries, biographical dictionaries, specialized bibliographies, and indexing and abstracting services. Electronic CD-ROM and online databases equivalents are included in the presentation of indexing and abstracting services with major networks such as OCLC, RLIN, Lexis/Nexis, and Dialog mentioned as well. In addition a list of 123 research centers, mainly libraries, is provided and arranged geographically by state, some 176 costume museums and collections of costumes located at colleges and universities are listed alphabetically, and a list of 278 periodicals on fashion, costume, clothing and related topics is provided. A database of some 58 clothing and accessory subject headings is analyzed in the Worldcat database with the literature of the top ten specific clothing and accessory subject terms limited to media publication format are covered. Additionally, histories of costume and fashion in the U.S. and works which concentrate on psychological, sociological or cultural aspects are outlined. An appendix, including the clothing and accessory database, and author and subject indexes conclude the volume.

Holy moly, right? I love annotated bibliographies; and this one seems great — especially the overview of clothing and accessory subject headings (</library geek>). The only downside is the book is not illustrated (so the picture above, from, is only for eye-candy).

I found a copy for only $20, including shipping, and there were plenty more where that came from!

Waiting For Summer

popsicle dress

Do any of y'all remember the popsicle fabric I bought off eBay, way back in December 2005? Well, I hardly remembered it either, until I was in the sewing room this past weekend looking for something else, and then I remembered that last fall I had started to make a dress out of it.

I say "started", because, in a true triumph of hope over experience, I put it together in September. This happens to me a lot. It's early September, it's still in the high seventies, degree-wise, and I think, "Oh, sure, I'll make one last summer dress and wear it for a few weeks before I break out the sweaters." No. I usually get it right to this stage (the dress above is missing the side zipper and the hem isn't finished) and then, BOOM! The temperature drops to 50, I have absolutely no interest in popsicles, either to eat or to wear, and the poor dress has to live in purgatory all winter long.

I figure round about March I'll feel like finishing this up. Here's a close-up of the bodice:

popsicle dress

I'm very pleased, though, that this dress has all the colors I said I was going to concentrate on this summer: yellow, blue, green, and orange. If I really stick to that plan, maybe I can even justify buying these shoes, in blue …

More from my closet

from erin's closet

Okay, here's another one. This is my version of the Claire McCardell (McCalls 4292) that a couple of you had asked about. It's in silk charmeuse that I bought at Vogue Fabrics, and I guess it is also blue and brown, although the brown is really a lovely old-gold color.

Here's a closeup of the bodice:

from erin's closet

The dark lines you see in the bodice are the gaps in my adjustable dress form, underneath the fabric. I forgot to dress her in her white undershirt today!

I thought this pattern went together very easily; it even has two side pockets, although I ended up just doing one because the instructions for putting together the pocket on the zipper side confounded me completely (and I was in a rush to get it finished to wear to my friend A's lovely wedding). I think I've worn it once or twice since then; I have a cardigan that matches it, which dresses it down a bit.

If I made it again I would take in the upper back center seam about 1/2 inch; for some reason I have the opposite of a dowager's hump (dowager's sinkhole?) and dresses seem to gape on me there. Or maybe it's narrow-shoulderedness? I don't really know. Speculation welcome.

I almost forgot — here's the bow in the back (sorry for the fuzzy picture):

from erin's closet

The charmeuse is very soft, so it doesn't have the loft of the bow in the original pattern.

It's a very comfortable dress — easy to wear, and the wrapped sash is very forgiving. I think next time I might make it in black, even though I have a couple LBDs already that I don't wear …

5ives (with apologies to Merlin Mann)

Five Things I Never Seem to Have Enough Of:

1. Sharpie markers (where do they all go?)
2. quarters for parking meters
3. hours of sleep
4. milk chocolate Hobnobs
5. wrap dresses with midriff detail (see below)

simplicity 3967

So cute! I love the yellow backed with gray; not just because I love that color combination, but also because it looks like the flannel backing you find underneath ceramics. Like she has a right and a wrong side, and the wrong side is padded to reduce scratches.

The pattern's up on eBay now (click the image to visit the auction). B34. I'd bid myself but I'm Not Buying Patterns right now; at least not until I get mine all organized (now there's a topic for Mr. Mann) and figure out what I actually have. I did the first batch last night and it feels very odd to divorce the pattern envelopes from the innards … even though I know it's for their own good. And mine.

But, seriously, if anyone can tell me where all my Sharpie markers go, I'd really appreciate it. I swear, I feel like I buy a couple every month! The green ones seem to hang around the longest, but black ones disappear in a heartbeat.

(And if you're not reading Merlin Mann's 5ives, well, why not?)

I-let, you-let, we all let for eyelet

la redoute eyelet dress

Okay, perhaps that subject line was better left untyped, but this eyelet dress from La Redoute (kindly sent in by Angela) is pretty sweet. (Ignore that that model seems to be sizing you up for edibility.) It reminds me of this one that Helen was looking for a pattern for last year.

When I was in LA I almost bought $100 of broderie anglaise, but I restrained myself with difficulty, remembering that I already *have* an eyelet dress (I'll add it to the picture queue) and that there's something fishy about a wardrobe with more than a couple eyelet items. I don't know why, but eyelet, like lamé and lurex, is more of a condiment fabric than a main course. But it's lovely for summer!

Speaking of summer sewing, although I don't think I can do the full-on SWAP (sewing with a plan) lifestyle (as it involves the using only minimal prints, and you all know we can't have that here at Dress A Day Headquarters) but I am considering, this year, limiting myself to maybe only four colors — bright yellow, grass green, baby blue, and orange. That way I could maybe reduce my packing tsuris … and of course, even restricting colors still means I can wear stuff like this:
green stretch paisley twill

Or this:

green stretch paisley twill


Okay, okay, finally.

I know, I know, I've been promising pictures of stuff I've sewn, especially Duros, for ages now, haven't I? Well, here's one …

Liberty dot Duro

This is made up of some of the Liberty I bought in London, along with some solid quilting cotton for the banding (which my friend Brad helped me choose — he has a remarkable eye for color, unsurprisingly). It was very difficult to get the right warm brown to match the brown lozenges in the print!

I really like the brown-and-blue combo (I like brown with most other colors, actually). It's fairly lightweight, which means for autumn and winter I've been wearing it over a ecru long-sleeved scoopneck shirt and tights. That makes it mostly warm enough.

Here's a closeup of the bodice (I made only an impressionistic ironing attempt, so excuse the remaining creases):

Liberty dot Duro

I think the only alteration I made from the original pattern was to lengthen the waist ties so that I could bring them around and tie them in the front, which I prefer. It's easier to tie, for one, and it looks a little more grown-up than the ties in the back.

All right. There you go. I made two other Duros round about the same time as I made this one, and I don't think I've posted pictures of either of them, so I'll try to take them tomorrow or over the weekend. Wish me luck!

Take heart! It's possible!

Vogue 2756

Sometimes I look at a pattern like this one (it's a vintage Vogue Couturier from Jean Muir, # 2756.) and quail. Do I really have the chops for all those curved seams? Do I really want to sew on all those tiny buttons? Wouldn't my time be better spent making yet another circle skirt (number eleventy-billion in a series)? What if I mess up the fabric?

Well, sometimes all you need is the news that someone else has freed the pattern from its paper-envelope prison and made it into a real dress. In fact, Carmen did that for this pattern, and even better, sent me a picture! Yep, it looks complicated, but it's doable:

Vogue 2756

The goat's name, by the way, is Billie Holiday. Just thought you'd like to know. (Look at the shoes too, they're gorgeous!)

I'm glad to get this reminder, because even if I'm not going to sew this particular dress, there are plenty of other complicated ones in my stash begging to be set free. I'm going to get some cheap cotton and really WORK on one of them. Really do a muslin, and take my time with fitting. And if I ruin some cheap fabric, it still won't be a waste of time, as I'll be learning.

Monday night I went roller-skating (don't worry, this isn't as alarming of a segue as you think). I started working on backwards crossovers, and of course went immediately ass-over-teakettle to the floor. One of the instructors skated over to make sure I was all right, and I said "don't worry — if you don't fall down every once in a while, you aren't learning anything, right?" I think I need to extend that philosophy to sewing. If you don't ruin four yards of cheap cotton every once in a while, you aren't learning anything!

Tuck into this one …

Vogue 8353

Lulu (no website link, she called herself "your classic lazy lurker") was nevertheless energetic enough to send me this … time will only tell if I'm energetic enough to sew it!

It's proportioned for 1" gingham, so that the tucks and pleats make solid bands, as you see here. I would definitely get rid of that tacky black lace on the skirt, but, hey, YTMV (your tacky may vary).

I love it in black, but I would ADORE it in pink, or brown, or grass green … even red, if you didn't mind looking like a picnic. (And who really minds looking like a picnic?) You could even make it in blue, and then next Halloween you could be Dorothy, with minimal effort.

The pattern also says you can use 1" stripes; I'm having trouble visualizing that, so I may have to make it just to see if my imagination is working. Call it a diagnostic test!

I tag you all!


Summerset tagged me, so, here goes:

If you are tagged, you
1) Post 5 things about yourself that you have never posted
2) Tag 5 people whom you'd like to know more about

I have no idea what I've posted or not posted … feel free to Google and call foul on me in the comments.

1) I was the first, last, and only (as far as I know) National Junior Classical League Ambassador. This was way back in the late '80s. My "job" was to encourage the study of Latin (and Greek, too, I guess), but there was some kind of power-play between the outgoing student JCL president, who had thought up the position, and the main adult sponsor, who didn't think it was such a good idea, so I didn't end up doing much of anything. I did get a snazzy pin, though, and it looked great on my college applications.

2) Speaking of college, I ran a coffee shop when I was in school. This means that every person who was at the University of Chicago when I was there thinks they know me — I look so familiar! That's because I served them coffee every day. My favorite part was running the express line, with the ritual call of "Express Line: No soup, no pizza, no twenties, no waiting!"

3) Speaking of coffee, I don't actually drink it. I mean, I like coffee-flavor, and I love coffee candy (especially Pearson's Coffee Nips, which will break your teeth as sure as shooting), coffee ice cream, the smell of coffee (if people at the coffee shop asked me if the coffee was good, I would say "it smells great!") … and I will drink the occasional mocha frappuccino (aka the coffee milkshake) but I don't actually like the taste of hot regular liquid coffee. I always assumed that one day I'd be grown up and would drink coffee, but I guess I never grew up enough.

4) Another thing my childish self figured I would do when I was grown-up "enough" was smoke. My folks both smoked; that was just what grown-ups did, right? I even figured I'd smoke gold Benson & Hedges, just like my mom. Needless to say, if I never managed to grow up enough to drink coffee, I also never managed to grow up enough to smoke cigarettes. By the time I figured out that I wasn't smoking, there I was, a non-smoker. And thankfully, both my parents have also been non-smokers now for more than ten years!

5) And speaking of my forebears (well, the ones going back a-ways), I am supposedly a collateral descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas McKean. (Collateral here means "descended from the same stock but by a different line", that is, I'm descended from the signer's brother, not the signer. What I really like about ol' Tom, though, is that he managed to hold multiple public offices at the same time. "One can scarcely believe the number of concurrent offices and duties this man performed during the course of his long career." So whenever I think I can't do everything I've signed up to do, I remember my illustrious forebear, who did so much — in several different states, simultaneously, and without indoor plumbing!

Now for the tagging part. I want to know more about all of you! I know a lot of you don't have blogs, so why don't each of you (who want to, of course, this is not compulsory) post something about yourself in the comments? If you do have a blog and want to do your five there, post a link in the comments. I promise to visit them all!

Get "That Know-How Look Boys Like"

ebay item 8305987417

Oh, oh, oh, you MUST go watch this sewing video right now (click on the still to visit the page). Seriously. Not only does it give pretty good instructions for setting in a sleeve, it also has these perfectly delicious cringe-worthy bits:

— Betty, the star of the piece, asks her boyfriend what color her dress should be, and then has to think fast when he tells her a color she doesn't like (blue)! "Let's see what my book says," and then she uses SCIENCE to talk him into the color she wants … which is red.

— Her boyfriend suggests they have a fashion show! Great idea! What will they raise money for? New sewing machines for the home ec class? A trip to an art museum in the city for the girls? No! The boys' basketball team!

— Betty bastes her entire dress together before stitching it up on the machine! The ENTIRE DRESS! I never even considered such a thing. I barely baste in anything … I don't even mark darts anymore, I clip the legs and pin the point and have done with it. I should probably do more basting, but a WHOLE DRESS? I'm impatient enough as it is!

Thanks so much to Julie W. and to Lisa for the link!