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!

Things I Don't Need But Want Anyway (one of an infinite series)

dressmaker pin

Thanks to Jonquil for the link, from the great site Pink Loves Brown!

This is a 2" x 2" pin — adorable, right? If I wore a jeans jacket covered in pins (or 'badges') then this would have pride of place. I often wish I wore a jeans jacket covered in pins. Or maybe an army jacket? Olive drab canvas bag? Same genre …

They also have a needle and thread and scissors.

By the way, more than you ever needed to know about me is up at Norman Geras's blog — he asked me to do one of his profiles, and I happily agreed (I love questionnaires).

Dresses = Art (I could have told you that)

Liz Tran

Several of you (Emily, Mel) have sent me links to this artist, Liz Tran, over the last few weeks — thank you very much! Of course I love her work.

There's a nice article about the artist and her work here. I especially liked this bit:

She's even painted dresses she wanted but couldn't afford, like a red strapless taffeta number with giant white polka dots. "After I sold the painting, I bought the dress," says a victorious Tran.

Now that's a woman after my own heart. And I love the idea of trading a representation of a thing for the thing itself … imagine going up to a hot dog cart and trading a sketch of a hot dog for something warm and covered in mustard. It's just so intellectually satisfying!

Tran's art isn't terribly expensive — the biggest ones seem to run only about $700 — so if you have an art jones this would be a good away to satisfy it!

Pebbly Duro

Bernat Pebblespun pattern

The Sewist sent me a link to this knitted Duroesque dress … it's on a eBay auction that is ending momentarily, from seller kate_e_didit, but that seller has so many other wonderful knitting patterns that I was, momentarily, tempted to take up knitting. (Or rather, to pick it back up again. I think I have two sleeves and the back of a sweater around here somewhere.)

This pattern, however, does not inspire me to knit. It does move me to sympathy for the woman with the tight smile in what looks like a very heavy and itchy dress, and for the poor guy in the odd tunic sweater, who is thinking "Man, that summer roofing job is sounding a lot better than this modeling gig right now."

Does anyone know when the models in these kinds of ads started to look so self-conscious? There are models from the 50s doing equally goony things, if not even more so (lots of those ads involved men holding pipes!), and they look completely unaware of their potential to be targets of ridicule. When was the moment when people realized that pretending to dance in front of a camera was inherently silly, and stopped making a good-faith effort?

Anyway, check out the seller's author pattern auctions, if you are of the knitting persuasion. There are some incredibly sweet cardigans there, that if I were going to knit, I would jump all over. Especially that short-sleeve pointelle one …

64 Days and Counting

Oscar De La Renta spring collection

By my count, there are at least 64 days left until spring, and I'm resenting every last chilly one of them. I've never liked January, February gives me a pain, and March is just one long muttering under my breath of "in like a lion, out like a lamb." By the time I've eaten all my Christmas chocolate (which can often happen before New Year's Day) I am already thinking about spring.

Yes, thinking about spring, and dresses like this one above, which is Oscar de la Renta, and adorable. I think the gray dress would be stronger without the floral embroidery, but you have to admit those motifs look great on this one here:

Oscar De La Renta spring collection

And look at all the pockets! If you click on either of the images, you can hie yourself through the whole slide show, and pretty much every dress has pockets. That Oscar, he knows what women want. Or at least what I want, which is to turn off my space heater and put on a floral dress, shove my hands in my pockets, and walk outside without a coat on (without that being an act of foolhardy bravado). (In fact, I want to not be able to remember where my coat IS.)

Forget Advent calendars; I want one for Spring, where behind every door is a crocus, daffodil, or just a brief glimpse of warm sunshine and the smell of thawing earth …