Happy Anniversary, Jen!

Simplicity 4249

Isn't this pattern adorable? It's so pretty … I wish it were a bit bigger, but it's such an old-fashioned, teen-at-first-boy/girl party kind of dress. I would have worn this to DEATH when I was fourteen. I would have been like a preschooler with a favorite pink shirt, demanding to wear it every day (thus making you wash it every night).

Anyway, this pattern is at MOMSPatterns, and it's Jen's (and MOMSPatterns) one-year anniversary today! And she's offering us a 20% discount to celebrate!

Jen says: "Use coupon code oneyear20 in your shopping cart when placing an order and your savings will be reflected when you check out. Sale starts NOW and will end at midnight, EST on Sunday, September 16. You'll be able to use that coupon again and again throughout the sale, so check back daily for new inventory to snag!"

There's also a new search on her site called Memory Lane which allows you to find patterns by copyright date! I love this …

So happy anniversary, Jen, and thanks!

Ranting about Handbags, Again

First of all, a great big welcome to all of you who are here because this blog was a Yahoo! Pick!

In the Yahoo! interview it was mentioned that occasionally I rant about the Handbag Industrial Complex (you know, the folks who bring us horrible things like this):

versace bag

That is ridiculous, isn't it? Just horrible. I can't imagine paying $10 for that, much less the TWO GRAND it actually costs.

And even if you aren't looking at the two-grand end of the scale, lower-end handbags aren't any better. Tiny little handles, so that you can't carry them; covered with nonfunctional locks and useless metal bits and dangling braids and whatnot; branded with logos so large that you look like a mobile billboard. I hate them all.

Which is why I bought an old-skool Coach bag on eBay:

oldskool coach bag

(Don't worry: I removed that stupid hangtag first thing.)

I needed a bag that *wouldn't* hold my laptop — to prevent me from carrying it everywhere. Something that would hold a hardcover book and a wallet and my treo, but not much else. I wanted good leather, but no huge logos. And I wanted a cross-body strap to keep my hands free, which is IMPOSSIBLE to find in a handbag these days, unless you head to the Magellan catalog and get the ones that scream "TOURIST IN EUROPE — COMING THROUGH!"

I really wanted green bag, but a weird green — so this olive is perfect! A green bag works with black or brown, so no switching back and forth — who has time to do that?

I pretty much hate the modern Coach bags, with their splashy ad campaigns, tacky logos everywhere and (I've heard) quality problems, but the old Coach bags are something else. They have clean lines, neat colors, and even the most beat-up ones have a certain careless chic. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that old Coach bags are going to be the next big thing. What with the continuing 80s revival, can't you see a bunch of skinny Brooklyn hipsters deciding that these bags have huge ironic potential? You heard it here first.

Looking For a New Obsession

Advance 5800

I'm not going to have a lot of time to sew this autumn, so I've been really thinking about doing some kind of SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) program so that I don't do as I normally do, which is make completely random items that coordinate only in the sense that they all fit me (more or less).

However, I want to base my planned sewing around a new dress template (don't worry, I still want to make a Duro or two) and I can't decide which one. This is very distressing, especially to someone as decisive (not to say impetuous) as I am. Seriously, I feel most things are Not That Complicated: the important thing is to pick something reasonable and DO IT.

That said, the something I'm going to Pick and Do will have something like this kind of bodice: a center seam with a faced collar. They're very easy to sew, they look nice with cardigans over them (a problem for the Duro), and they do well with prints. I need to make one up and see how it does with a little jacket over it, too. I'm just not OBSESSED with them yet!

Unfortunately, this one, from Turtle Bay Trading Company, is just *slightly* too big for me.

And — aren't the psychodynamics of this pattern envelope amazing? The woman on the left (who looks a bit like Téa Leoni, I think) is obviously being confronted with some entitled upstart (look at that nose in the air!) and is on the point of delivering a well-deserved set-down. Either that or the All-Beige Wonder has just said something so staggeringly inane that Ms. Leoni is looking at her and wondering just exactly how much brain activity is required for standing upright, and revising her previous estimate downward.

It's almost Labor Day, time to think about holiday parties

tuxedo dress

Since the fashion cycle has gotten so wonky, and since the advent of air-conditioning, and because of who-knows-how-many other reasons, quite a lot of dresses that no one in their right minds would wear in July are now sold then. Which means that by Labor Day, they are all on sale.

Take this one for instance, at Bloomingdale's, in a small range of sizes (although that range includes 24W!) going now for $69-79. It's all silk, and it's quite elegant. And yes, it also comes in black. (Click on the image to visit the catalog page.)

This is a perfect holiday-party dress for those of us who think bare arms and shoulders in December is a great way to catch a cold, and/or folks who hate managing a drippy shawl, or who just want to look a little more covered-up. It's so rare to find a holiday-party dress that's not bare and still looks witty and dashing and elegant — something that is the female equivalent of the tuxedo, in fact, which I suppose is why this one works!

I think I would wear this with huge cloisonne beads or very large cloisonne cuffs, and high heels — as high as I could manage. Maybe black patent heels with a very square heel and a round (or at least not very pointy) toe, so they would look like men's classic tuxedo pumps, and a black patent clutch. And red lipstick. Definitely red lipstick.

I would NOT wear it with a pin or brooch that featured any of the following: Christmas trees, Santa, candy canes, holly, blinking lights (especially not blinking lights that were intended to represent, say, a reindeer's NOSE), or the words "Ho Ho Ho." There's festive, and then there's festooned. There's a difference.

Ikea + Burda = Joy

Melissa Fehr Ikea Dress

Leslie at goodcrafternoon.com sent me this link to Melissa (at fehrtrade.com) and her awesome dress, made from an Ikea shower curtain.

Oh yes, a shower curtain. Which is only part of the awesome. The rest of the awesome consists of this being her first project using piping (which she made herself) and that it's lined! Obviously, Melissa is a goddess.

Here's a picture of the bodice, gloriously piped:

Melissa Fehr Ikea Dress

Where does Burda come in? Well, the pattern is the 124C pattern from the May issue of Burda World of Fashion (as reported by Ikeahacker.com).

You guys know I love using Ikea fabric *and* piping, so for me this project is (as the kids say) made of win. It also makes me want to duck into Ikea tomorrow when the boy and I do some back-to-school shopping out in that anteroom of Hell known as Schaumburg, Illinois. (I'm sure that he'll have patience for that after finding a new backpack and shoes, right?)

Click the image to visit Melissa's great blog and congratulate her on this dress!

Sexy and Complicated

Advance 113

That's what Rita at Chez Cemetarian called this dress, and I agree. Wholeheartedly.

The pattern's up on eBay right now; click on the image to visit her auction.

This dress has me completely bowled over. That's one … engrossing … project, right there! I've seen simpler skirts on wedding dresses. In fact, this would make a pretty kick-ass wedding dress. Or I'd love to see someone wearing it at the Oscars. Heck, I'd love to see someone wearing this in their living room. I just want it to be worn!

Also, I'd never seen an "Advance Import" pattern before, but you can be sure I'll be looking for them now. This one, as you can see (and is discussed more in the listing) is from Battilocchi of Rome.

Oh, and if you check the back of the pattern (helpfully provided by Cemetarian) you can see that the width of the Incredible Skirt at the hem edge? THIRTEEN YARDS. That's five or six packages of bias binding, to put it in perspective. Thirteen yards of hem … again: serious project.

I wish I could see just one version of this made up — actually, I wish I could hover unseen over the shoulder of someone making this up, back in the day. I've never really been into sewing shows, but I'd make an exception to watch someone putting this together … of course, if they were filming me they'd have to bleep a lot. Those godets! The in-seam folds! Matching all those seams!

I think I have to go lie down now, and I just got up. Thanks, Rita!

New Memo from the Department of the Obvious

Scaasi suit

So Lisa sent me a link to this dress/jacket combo on eBay, and I'm in love (click on the image to visit the auction) … but, of course, it's not my size. (Is there a Sturgeon's Law of internet vintage? Something like "90% of everything isn't your size"?)

However, I can't believe that this particular idea hasn't occurred to me with any force before: the print bodice with the solid skirt. What a great way to use teeny yardages of lovely prints (while placating the naysayers who don't want prints anywhere near their hips)! And you wouldn't necessarily have to line the jacket with the same (fancy expensive) print; you could use a solid coordinating color. In fact, since jackets get so much less wear than skirts (at least for me) you could do a jacket lined with a color that coordinated with TWO dresses …

I can see this is going to need serious thought (and fabric shopping). I want to drop what I'm doing now and run right out to find the right pattern and fabric … I'm thinking Simplicity 1510 would be a great option (although it doesn't have a jacket, I have plenty of appropriate jacket patterns in my stash):

Simplicity 1510

Of course, that one (on eBay, too, click on the image to visit the listing) isn't in my size *either*, but I'm sure I have something similar somewhere. Not that I'm going to go rummage around and look for it now … really, I'm not. Honest.

It's Alive!

A long time ago I posted about this pattern, McCalls 5147:

McCalls 5147

And now Toi has found it all made up, for sale on Etsy ($40, B36, click on the image to visit the listing):

ebay item 8305987417

I love it when I find handmade vintage for which I can identify the source pattern — it's like CSI: Sewing, isn't it (except with fewer splatter marks)? And it really helps when I'm trying to decide which of the embarrassingly large number of patterns in my sewing room should be worked up next — look how well this one worked out! I love the rick-rack, and the orange & plaid combo. How fancy would this look in plaid taffeta and velvet? (It'd also look about six years old, but I don't usually let that stop me.)

Has anyone else ever found a dress and known what pattern it was sewn from? (It doesn't count if you found it in your own closet …)

Mystery Dress!

So, for my birthday, my marvelous sister Kate sent me this:

mystery dress

Isn't it awesome? Just the thing to hang in my sewing room.

Of course, I am now consumed by curiosity: who drew this? Why? How did it end up in a junk shop in Park Slope, for Kate to find?

It's marked "DeZine Studio, 105 W 40 ST. NYC", and the style number is D-1725. The illustration is marked "Peau de Soie" (and it's spelled correctly!).

Here's a slightly closer view of the actual dress (sorry about the flash glare):

mystery dress

Anyone have a clue for me? I could just *invent* the story, a la "Secret Lives," but I'd like to take a stab at finding out actual facts, first.