Mollie Parnis pattern

I know, I know, I said "no more patterns" a while back, but frankly, I don't think any of you thought I meant it. I certainly didn't. And how could I hold to that resolution, when confronted by this pattern, from eBay seller stevijean?

Spadea N 1338

It's by Mollie Parnis, who I admit I knew nothing about before googling her. (And I still don't know that much, except I know I like this dress.)

I didn't think I was a big ruffle person (parsed either as "person who likes big ruffles" or "person who really likes ruffles") but for some reason this dress just seemed really FUN. Like, make it in blue gingham fun. Like, laugh a lot while wearing it fun. Just plain FUN fun.

And I think it would also be charming in a nice thin black batiste, very summery yet not too girlish (despite the ruffles) worn with a black grosgrain ribbon belt. And if I could find dark-gray-on-black seersucker? THAT would be perfect.

The only thing I don't like about this pattern is how deep the vee is in the back, but I'm pretty sure I can fix that in the cutting-out.

Sorry no dress yesterday; it was my first day teaching (a class on dictionaries at Northwestern) and I wanted to be overprepared. (I think I missed overprepared and skewed right into "brain dump" but we'll see.) I'm also going to be scarce here until at least next Tuesday; we're taking off tomorrow for a family visit and I'm toying with the idea of Not Bringing My Laptop Along. It's scary (well, not too scary, I can check email on my phone) but the point of vacation is to vacate, yes?

Offering a Bounty

DVF ginkgo dress

Check out this dress, from Diane von Furstenberg (click on the link to visit the sale page at Bloomingdale's, where it's $325).

I'm not a huge fan of this style of dress, but the fabric … I *REALLY* want this fabric. I really want about five yards of this fabric! I've been looking for ginkgo fabric forever.

So I'm offering a bounty. If you can tell me where the DVF sells her bolt-ends, and I am able to find this fabric off your clue, I will make you a circle skirt. Seriously. (And I *never* sew for other people, except very occasionally my sister.)

(Thanks also to everyone who commented on Saturday's puzzle dress! I had a great time at the tournament, but I fell short of my goal … I wanted to finish as contestant 666, but I only managed to come in at 609. So about 55 fewer people than planned can now say "I beat a dictionary editor at crosswords!" Of course, there's always next year … )

4 Across: Prepare for Roasting

puzzle dress

I am not a puzzle expert. People are sometimes disappointed to learn this, because, obviously, as a lexicographer, I should be good at everything to do with words, including crosswords, Scrabble, and handwriting. (Note: I am not good at any of the preceding.)

I enjoy crosswords, but I'm not competitive, and if it's a choice between spending two hours hurting myself with the Sunday puzzle, and making a new skirt, I usually go for "make a new skirt."

So why am I wearing this dress (RIGHT NOW, I'm wearing this dress) at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament?

Well, it's complicated, but it boils down to "I'm working for some folks making a words documentary and they got me to talk puzzle-guy-extraordinaire Francis into making a crossword with a bunch of underused words in it for me, and they're filming people solving it tonight."

Of course, once I knew I would be attending, the important question was "what will I wear?" Then I saw this fabric and, well, I *never* turn down a chance to make a stunt dress.

This is roughly the same pattern as this dress, which I made last year, but I couldn't find the skirt pattern pieces, which I think I had reassigned to another pattern last summer. So I Frankensteined it up with a different skirt pattern with has a scalloped bottom. (Which: never again! I had to HAND-SEW the edge binding on it! The skirt sure looks cute, though, so I'm sure I will eventually forget what a pain in the ass it was to do and try and make it again someday. Although you can't really see the scallops in the picture.)

Anyway, since I'm here, I thought I may as well compete, and thus give a whole lot of people the joy of beating a real, live dictionary editor in a crossword puzzle contest. Perhaps next year I will extend my altruism to the Scrabble tournament, where I would also be roundly shellacked.

Here's a closeup of the bodice (which is not exactly perfect, just like my puzzle-solving ability!):
puzzle dress

The piping's a bit uneven (again, like my puzzle … you get the idea).

I'm having a great time here so far, though! Although that's probably because the contest hasn't actually started. I expect to be tearing my hair out and groaning within the hour.

Pockets = Freedom

V&A pockets

(Above illustration from The Workwoman's Guide [and it's a downloadable PDF, thank you Google Book Search!])

Are you unsurprised, as I was, to learn that the V&A website has a whole section on pockets? It's a good one, too (also unsurprising) and traces the initial demise of the pocket and rise of the handbag to the radical change in women's fashion of the 1790s, when dresses became too narrow to admit of the wearing of separate pockets tied around the waist under the dress. Because of this, women began to carry little bags, called reticules, which accommodated much less than the capacious separate pockets.

Last night I walked about fifty blocks (intentionally, and with a glad heart). The weather was beautiful — it was a warm soft wet night (okay, I admit it, I like walking in a light rain), and I wasn't carrying a bag.

I had ditched my purse-cum-laptop-bag as it was just too big to dangle off me all night while I stood around clutching my club soda at a party (and I didn't bring a smaller bag with me on this trip). Besides, between the pocket in my skirt and the pockets of my coat, I could carry the essentials (ID, money, lipstick, treo, ipod).

Without a bag, I barely noticed those fifty blocks. It was amazing how freeing it was, to not have a bag to deal with, to shift, to move around to the front of your body and then to the back, to switch from arm to arm. Your arms swing unencumbered; you walk differently, faster. You can shove both hands in your pockets; you can put your hands on your hips while waiting impatiently for a light to change. I also noticed that some people gave me funny looks; whether it was "There's a woman without a bag!" or "Why the hell is she wearing a circle skirt in a grass-green camouflage print?" I couldn't tell.

On my way uptown, as an experiment, I counted women without bags. I saw one. I think she was eight years old, but she could have been nine. (Since this was about 11:45 p.m., I don't think this was a representative sample, and it's not like I stood around the busier intersections making sure I checked everyone, but hey.)

Now, I love bags, I obsess about bags (mostly about whether they have the right size and number of pockets …) and I carry a bag most of the time. But when you have enough pockets, or the right kind of pockets, you can escape the bag and just enjoy the freedom to stride along unencumbered. You should try it …

Buddha Dress

Buddha-print dress

Marie-Christine sent this, and, alas, it's sold. (But there's plenty more good stuff where she found this, at Kitty Girl Vintage!)

I was going to make a ton of dorky jokes about this dress ("it's the 'one with everything'" etc.) but really, I just wish I'd known the woman who designed this ("Dorothy O'Hara" is the label, and she seems to have been a costume designer for the movies) or any of the women who bought & wore it when it was new. I bet I would have really liked them.

Of course, the other thing this makes me want to see is other religion-themed dresses. I'm assuming the Prophet, Jehovah, and Jesus are unlikely candidates for fabrics, let alone dresses, but surely there must be more-or-less inappropriate fabrics with Hindu figures on them, or perhaps figures of Greek and Roman mythology, and of course the Flying Spaghetti Monster … I bet the FSM wouldn't mind being on a dress. If there were a religious-dress meetup, would the atheist dress be a pure black, or a pure white? The agnostic dress gray? Would the animists have trees and rocks and plants and things? Leave suggestions for other (irreverent, impious, I know) suitable prints for the various religions in the comments, if you like.

In One's Salad Days

Wish-Bone dress

Kate (of Hats by Katrinka) sent me this link to yet another company making dresses out of food (remember the Celestial Seasonings Dress?).

This one is from Wish-Bone, to promote their new sprayable salad dressings. I did almost bail out of watching the video when I realized it was hosted by Richard Simmons (my junior high school, in a move to encourage poor body image, eating disorders, and self-loathing among adolescent girls, had us do his "aerobics" LP in gym class. Many years later, in a fit of Stockholm Syndrome-induced thrifting, I bought a copy of that LP, which will really come in handy if I ever need to blast it from speakers to make teenagers or Noriega or whoever get offa my lawn).

Anyway, click on the picture to see the fashion show, where the models gamely wear cabbage leaves and spray salad dressing into the air. (If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like.)

I'm really not sold on the cherry-tomato jewelry. I hope they're plastic, because otherwise … just too much sticky and itchy to contemplate. And a waste of good tomatoes.

That's Liza with a 'Z' (and Marisa with one 'S')

Berenson Ferre dress

Robin sent me this link, from Doyle Galleries.

This is a dress of Marisa Berenson's, and was worn when she was matron of honor (!) along with Elizabeth Taylor (!) at Liza Minelli's wedding in 2002.

Me, I'm just happy that we live in a world where this is considered a BRIDESMAID'S DRESS. (Okay, okay, MATRON of HONOR.) Do you think Marisa sat down and said "Liza, I'm so happy for you, darling, but no butt-bow on the back of my dress, please" and Liza got a little vague and thought she heard "No back"?

Leaving aside my well-known prejudices about black dresses at weddings (although this falls under the Bridesmaid Exception, to be sure) I'm not sure I'd ever wear this (not that I'd ever get the chance, it's both $4K and a size 6) unless I was trying to costume a play in which all the characters were animated gothic furniture. Although maybe if I were in a wedding where the best men were Michael and Tito Jackson, I'd just say "what the hell!" and go for it. Luckily I've never been in that situation. Who among us knows what we'd choose at that point?

Click through to the news story, if you dare, just to see a picture of co-Matron-of-Honor Liz Taylor's hat. Liz Taylor, is, in my opinion, one of the most technologically advanced cyborgs among us today, and I love her for it.

Oh, Liza and David, those crazy kids! With all this fashion around them, why couldn't they make it work?