Enormous Dress Art Post

Leigh Pennebaker

Nancy sent me the link to the artist above, Leigh Pennebaker (warning, Flash-heavy site; easier to read about her here) who makes wire form dresses. I think this one is called "Bridget."

Sandra (and others) sent me a link to this marvelous artist, Susan Stockwell(very sensible site) who makes dresses from maps, like so:

Susan Stockwell

Theresa sent this, but it was forwarded to her without a good attribution; if anyone knows anything about the artist will you tell me, so I can link it here?

wood artist

And George (link is to his wife's new book, Momfidence) sent me a reference to the Zenith Gallery in DC, where Donna M. McCullough is showing her dress-themed work. This piece is called "Dancing With the Moon":

Donna M. McCullough

Got any other dress artists you'd like to recommend? Leave links in the comments …

Secret Lives of Dresses #12

ebay item 260097663640

I don't drink the cocktails, of course, but I like them anyway. I like the sweaty short fat glasses that look so sure of themselves and smug, their little swords impaling the glossy maraschino cherries gleefully. I like the graceful martini glasses, too, with the smoky olives lurking in their depths, or the tiny onions. "Like eyeballs!" she said once, and I agreed with her. After that I was happy that she didn't drink the ones with the onions. Sometimes he makes her one of the short fat ones even before they leave for the party, when she's running around in stockings and no shoes, putting her earrings in while trying to find her favorite lipstick, which she was sure was in the pocket of her coat, but which usually turns out to have been left in the car.

On the way they don't usually listen to the radio, but when they get to the parties there's always music. I like that man with the sad voice the best, but I like the dancing songs, too. She's a good dancer, and she knows how to use me when she dances, how to make my skirt swirl just so. I especially like that moment when the dance has just stopped but she's still standing there in somebody's arms. Usually they're his arms, unless there's a card game starting up, and then it could be anyone. I like him the best, but there's another one, Bill — he's a very good dancer. Sometimes, when they're dancing, he whispers into her ear. I can't hear what he says but I can hear what she says back. "Oh, Bill, you're terrible!" is what she says, but she doesn't sound upset. She's usually laughing.

I like seeing the other dresses, too, although of course we don't really talk. It's more like a series of little nods; I might nod to Alice's black crepe, as if to say "nice seeing you again," (although of course you see her everywhere, she really deserves a rest). I might give a little acknowledging nod to a new dress; there's usually at least one new dress at every party, and the new ones always get the most scrutiny. Everyone wants to make sure the fashion hasn't changed so much that their wearers will think they've become dowdy. I'm not one of the oldest, but I'm not one of the newest, either. I hear from her other dresses that sometimes the ones that have been to too many parties here go to her sister in Baltimore. I'm not sure where Baltimore is, but I hope they have parties. They must, or why would she send her dresses there? I don't want to go anywhere that doesn't have parties.

Sometimes unexpected things happen at parties — there was the time that Gerry decided he didn't want to wear pants, for one. (I always wondered what the other suits thought about that, but of course we hardly ever talk to them, even when we share a closet. They're so uncommunicative.) Once she walked in on Phil and Amelia in the spare room. I thought they were dancing, but it seemed odd for them to be dancing so far from the music. Amelia's dress was all askew, too. It wasn't hanging right at all. And I'll never forget the time, at Harold and Pat's Christmas party, when Pat brought out that flaming dessert and the dangling ball fringe on her party apron went right up, just whoosh! Harold had to squirt her with the soda siphon. Luckily her dress was okay, it was a bright red polished cotton. I don't think cottons make very good party dresses, but maybe that's why Pat went all-out with such a fancy apron. After that party, on the way home, she laughed so hard I thought she was going to split my zipper.

On the way home from the parties he holds her hand, and they talk about everyone they just saw. "Can you believe he brought that woman from his office, and the divorce not final?" and "Jeff's not doing well, not doing well at all. Putting on a brave front, though, for Georgia." Sometimes they're quiet, and then I know they're tired, or that they had too many fat little glasses.

When we walk in the door her shoes come right off, and her coat goes over the nearest chair. Her earrings land next to her bag on the table in the hall, right by the mail. She whispers hello and goodbye and thank-you to the babysitter. Sometimes she and the babysitter yawn at the same time, and that makes them both laugh. The babysitter just lives two doors down, but he always walks her home. As soon as the door shuts again behind them, she rushes up the stairs to his room. First she stands in the doorway for a minute, making sure he's still asleep, that the noise of the door opening and closing didn't wake him.

I can see him in the dim light of the bunny nightlight, so I'm sure she can too, but she always goes closer. Sometimes I'm a bit afraid of the little boy; his hands are always so dirty! But I'm safe when he's asleep. She sits on the edge of the bed, and brushes his hair away from his forehead. Every time I see him, he needs a haircut. She always bends to kiss his cheek, something he usually doesn't allow before they leave for the party. His face is slack with sleep, and he doesn't turn away.

Then she just sits and watches him. I never thought watching someone sleep would be interesting (I think pajamas are really boring) but watching the little boy is, somehow. Maybe it's just feeling what she feels that's so interesting. Once, I remember, he laughed in his sleep. He must have been dreaming. I'll never forget that sound; it was so beautiful, like something made of crystal suddenly turning into bubbles and floating away.

She sits there until she hears the door open. Then she leans over him and whispers "I love you, darling boy," kisses him again, fusses with his covers, and heads downstairs. Sometimes he makes her one more drink, they sit on the sofa, talk a little, but usually she just helps him lock up and turn out the lights, before going to take me off. She always hangs me right up, which is nice. It's not comfortable to spend all night on the floor, especially after a party. I hope if I go to Baltimore her sister hangs up her dresses right away, too.

[Click on the image to go to the eBay listing for this dress.]
[Edited to change # — this is actually #12, #11 was here.

Back to the Source

Duro Olowu

Madelene (and several other folks, but I think Madelene was first) linked me to the Style.com coverage of Duro Olowu's recent London show. There were lots of gorgeous fabrics and some really lovely coats, but this was the only dress close to the iconic "Duro"-type.

I like the longer sleeves and the longer length — I think this is great as an evening gown, very easy and comfortable yet glamorous, too (and for a shortish person I'm unfortunately enamored of maxi-length dresses). I also like the double-banding (it looks like) on the sleeves and at the hem.

The whole show is worth checking out … I really wish I needed one of those coats. I mean, I *want* one of his coats; I just don't need it.

Taking a Lemonade Stand

lemonade dress

Mary Beth tipped me off to this dress, by NotAMermaid, which was featured on SewRetro (which I do read, but am behind on … I seem to have inadvertently invented a time machine, as I am always living about two days behind everyone else).

Isn't it lovely? I'm so glad to know that someone else is so desperate for summer that they're making lemonade-themed dresses. It makes me want to schedule a impatient-for-summer meetup; I'll wear my popsicle dress and she can wear her lemonade dress and then we'll have a picnic in the park. Wouldn't that be great? Unless, of course, it snows. (Sometimes it snows in April.)

I've never met NotAMermaid in person (as far as I know!), but I'm pretty sure we'd have a lot in common, based solely on this (midriff band!) dress. It's pretty much perfect, I think the only thing I would have done differently is pipe the midriff band in green (although I admit that could be read as being a bit over-the-top) …

What are some other summer-themed dresses we could throw out there, as a challenge for other summer-anticipators? Something with a bathing-suit print of course (SO much easier to wear a bathing-suit print than an actual bathing suit); mint juleps and/or iced tea (not literally; I'm thinking a light brown dress with green banding); that great picnic-tablecloth fabric with the little ants printed on it (I've always wanted to make a circle skirt out of that); a dress in wide tiered multicolored stripes (like a beach ball) … so many options, so many, many long and somewhat chilly weeks until summer.

Oh, I turned off moderation … too many people's comments were getting lost and those thrice-damnéd spammers (shhh! don't draw their attention!) seem to have found other blogs to bother. Unless the spammers come back in force I probably won't turn it back on.

The Long-Expected Maternity Dress

vogue 9800

First off: I am not pregnant. Just figured I should get that out there before the comments fill up with congratulations and my mom calls.

But, I have been pregnant (my son is now almost seven!), and many of you dear readers who are pregnant now or anticipate being pregnant at some not-so-far-off date have emailed me asking for a link to a good maternity dress pattern.

I only ended up making this one maternity dress (I got so big, so fast, that it seemed impractical to make something I'd burst out of, Hulk-like, before it was even hemmed). It's a great pattern (and I made it in an even better fabric: gorgeous Nicole Miller silk with lycra, a deep green with an abstract celery-green pattern of what looked like tangled webs).

And that, my friends, is what I consider the key to maternity sewing: love your fabric. While pregnant, you will be wearing so much of it, so often, for so long, that if you have even the slightest doubt about your love for a particular fabric, don't buy it.

Whereas in the normal course of events my wardrobe choices have a fairly close one-to-one correspondence with the days of the year, I think I had only about five maternity tops, all in bright colors. I'd rotate through the week masquerading as the Fruit of the Loom guys. First I'd be a giant red strawberry, then an obviously mutant raspberry, followed by a blueberry with a glandular problem, then an outsize yellow banana, until finishing up as The Great Pumpkin in my favorite, which was bright orange. (I had a ten-pound baby: you could see me coming from SPACE.)

If you feel guilty about buying nice fabric for something you will only wear a few months, remember that this dress takes SO much fabric that you can take it apart later and make it into something else. At least a blouse, if not a skirt. (Not that I've done that to mine, since I figure, in my superstitious way, that taking apart the only maternity dress I could stand is the #1 way with a bullet to become enceinte again.)

This pattern is $5.99 from Lanetz Living (and check in the upper right corner for your discount!). It's sized up to B38, but I remember it as being very generous — so much so, that because my fabric had a bit of stretch, I was able to eliminate the back zipper. It was very easy to sew.

And, by the way, if you are pregnant, congratulations!

Back in the Saddle

Simplicity 966

Okay. Whew. I'm back from my overwhelming conference (click here for a picture of the dress I spoke in) and ready to think about dresses again.

(Okay, to be fair, I never really STOP thinking about dresses — that's why it's called an 'obsession' — but now I can think coherently, or as coherently as I ever do, about them.)

Like this one, from eBay seller ElegantlyDelightful. Oh, how I wish it were in a larger size … this one is a B32. Surplice top, midriff band, full or slim skirt … what's not to love? And you could easily put nice pockets in those front skirt seams.

This would be gorgeous in a pale butter-yellow with gray grosgrain ribbon trim; very pretty in pale blue with white, and downright sophisticated in gray and white. (Of course it would be very nice in black, but no one ever really needs a push to imagine a dress in plain black, so I don't usually bring it up.)

Sorry about the spotty posting lately — I have some posts in the queue, so it should be a steady flow of dress-related content this week. (There might also be a new "Secret Lives" in the next day or two …)

I missed blogging against sexism!

Plan 59.com doors55

Luckily (?) sexism is not a one-day-a-year thing so I guess I'm safe to blog a day late. The rest of the carnival-whatever is here.

Of course, I've had an exceptionally lucky and privileged life when it comes to feeling the effects of overt sexism. (I think the only time I was knowingly denied a job for being female was when I had a short-lived desire to be an altar server in the fifth grade.) Nobody's ever told me to my face that I couldn't do something I really wanted to because of my gender. That's not because sexism doesn't exist — that's because I'm lucky (and quite possibly too obtuse to pick up on subtle hints).

But there's one thing that bugs me — more a peeve, really. Especially now that I've become such a dress advocate. What is it? It's when guys come up to me and say "I like it when women wear dresses."


Come again?

Now, you might think this is a quibble, because, hey, I like it when women wear dresses. Actually, no — I like it when a woman — one specific woman, one at a time — comes up to me and tells me she ENJOYS wearing dresses. That is, I like it when I meet someone who shares my love of wearing dresses. I like it that someone else is enjoying something I think is enjoyable, not that an ENTIRE GENDER is conforming to my aesthetic ideal.

You might also say, "Hey, Erin, aren't there things that guys wear that you like?" And sure, I'd say. I love Jack Purcells so I know if I meet a guy wearing those that I will probably admire his taste. I know if a guy has a kickass messenger bag we could probably have an incredibly geeky gadget-stowing conversation (one that will probably last much longer than necessary), and I also enjoy the occasional ironic t-shirt. (I also have a strange attraction to Adidas Sambas, but that's just a leftover from having gone to high school in the 1980s.) But all these things are about making a connection with an individual based on mutual appreciation for an object.

But there's something about "I like it when women wear dresses" that completely irks me. Who knows, maybe it's the hangover from thousands of years of patriarchy, or a reminder that wearing dresses used to be an obligation, not a choice, but it just gives me the sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, this is someone who might not see women as 100% belonging to the human race. Maybe it's because substituting almost anything else for the "wear dresses" part of the "I like it when women wear dresses" statement seems hinky. (Try it yourself. The only one I felt okay with was "I like it when women run for public office," and even that one felt weird.)

I am almost certainly overthinking this, I know. But just to be safe, if you're tempted to say something like this (for the ten guys who read this blog) how about substituting "I really like your dresses." Or "That's a great dress!" But not, under any circumstances "I wish my [wife/girlfriend/significant other/mother] wore dresses." (That one's really creepy.)

And this is certainly not a pressing ill that must be remedied before women can achieve full equality, but hey, this is a dress blog and I have to stay on topic!

This picture is from the marvelous Plan59. Go visit!