Is there such a thing as a too-big pocket?

Simplicity 3968

Michelle sent me this link (from Janet at Lanetz Living) and asked me what I would assume must be a rhetorical question: "Is there such a thing as a too-big pocket?"

Okay, okay … maybe there is such a thing as a too-big pocket. And perhaps, just perhaps, this jumper is in possession of it. But I can certainly think of extenuating circumstances that would justify needing a pocket this large: what if you had freakishly long arms? You'd have to have a deep pocket to hide the extra foot of forearm, right? Or what if you needed to transport yardsticks, or sawed-off shotguns, or small table lamps? You'd be glad of this pocket then!

I like the look of resignation on the face of the woman in the be-pocketed jumper. It's that same look I get when I know someone is about to play a practical joke on me and the only thing I can do is to endure it and get it over with. I think she knows that there's something yucky at the bottom of that pocket (poorly wrapped PB&J sandwich? slobbered-on post-dog tennis ball? open safety pin?) and that it's only a matter of time before she finds it, the hard way.

I am officially a bad influence

India bought a vintage pattern on Sunday, in honor of my birthday (I'm now 36, woot!).

Lo, here it is (from FuzzieLizzie) and it is made of great:

Simplicity 2959

Those pleats around the neckline … marvelous. (I also eBayed a copy up for myself: who's the bad influence NOW, India?) I'm thinking about adding piping to that neckline … everything is more fun with piping.

I would like to point out that if you need excuses to buy vintage patterns, you really can't beat "I have to buy one; it's the traditional observance of Erin's Birthday"; like making a flag cake for the 4th of July (or, I don't know, are there Guy Fawkes-themed cakes?), it's just Something People Do.

And, speaking of not-so-bad influences, you should check out this wrap dress, modified for a member of our Dress A Day junior auxiliary! I'm glad to know there's a whole generation of little girls wearing cool dresses and not mini-J.Lo ensembles.

Electron Deprivation

My DSL went down at about 11 last night. "No worries," I thought, Pollyannaishly. "I'm sure it will be up in the morning."

Of course, this morning I awoke with a start just at seven, filled with foreboding …. something was wrong! Something terrible!

Whether my body just recognized the lack of a wifi signal permeating my bones, or whether I just sensed the sad lack of blinkitude of the DSL light on the modem, I don't know, but there was no connectivity again this morning. A good night's sleep, it seems, is not what cures an ailing internet connection.

However the good folks at Speakeasy (LOVE them) got me back up and running in just about four hours, so I was able to see that I'd won this:

Advance 6327

How tempted am I to do the striped version of the skirt? Extremely tempted.

I bought this pattern from eBay seller sewingwithdogs. She's got other stuff up, mostly vintage girl clothes …

And now for something completely different

It being August, of course, and 95 degrees everywhere I look, I'm starting to be obsessed with autumn clothes again. Even though I'm making at least two, and possibly three more dresses before September, if I can swing it (wedding this weekend — not mine — and trip in early September), I am starting to think about wool in dark colors, specifically for this skirt (I prefer the view with gathers):

McCalls 5473

And this one:

Vogue 8425

(NOT the one with the drape, isn't that just a tragic subway-car-door accident waiting to happen?)

I believe I asked McCalls for the skirt above and it actually is a Vogue pattern (click on either image to go to a pattern-buying page), but I'm not picky about which brand delivers to me the skirt I want. Not *exactly* sure how to go about putting pockets in the Vogue skirt above, but I'm sure it's doable. (It must be, because I really want this skirt to have pockets, and if the political events of the past five or so years have taught me anything, it's that wishing makes it so.)

Of course, I mostly want narrow skirts because I'm completely enamored of the new heeled oxford I have seen in ALL the September fashion magazines (so far). I love that shoe and have worn it faithfully every time it's come back since 1981. So faithfully, in fact, that I wear them *out*, and have to purchase new pairs … this time I want oxblood or cordovan (like that will happen). Like these, in fact, only not: four inches; patent; over $100.

Anyway, even though I bought these patterns at the JoAnn sale this past weekend, I've resolved not to make any fall clothes until I figure out fall shoes, because I've finally realized (after 36 years on the planet) that it is easier for me to make clothes that match the shoes, rather than vice-versa. Of course, what will probably happen is that I will just keep wearing the perfectly-fine ankle-strap shoes I already have, and wait for the oxfords to come down in both price and heel height, and go ahead and make some skirts anyway … I have this giant fuzzy houndstooth check wool, you see, that would go with any color …

You'll Need Fourteen Bakelite Buttons

Vogue 6979

At *least* fourteen. If you want to make view A, of course, and who wouldn't?

Marie Christopher just sent this to me, completely bumping what I was going to post today (don't worry, it'll keep), commenting "Totally Katherine Hepburn — buttons! Hat!", which sentiments I echo.

As much as I love 1930s clothes, though, it's always accompanied by the tristesse that comes with knowing that I am totally unsuited to them. Totally. And not in the good way — the way where you KNOW something doesn't suit you, but it makes you so happy that the wearing of it casts a glow, a glamour of happiness over you that cancels out the unsuitedness — but in the way where I look like somebody's least-liked bridesmaid.

If I could only go a couple minutes in Willy Wonka's taffy-pulling machine, like Mike Teevee, then I could "do" 1930s. A few more inches, spreading my body mass across a slightly longer frame, and voilĂ ! A Hepburn's life for me.

Until that technology is perfected and marketed on late-night cable (as the Wonkamatizer?), though, I'm afraid I just have to look. But some of you, I know, can rock this look backwards and forwards, so go ahead and click on the image to visit VicVelvet's auction. And start looking for those buttons …

Oh, I Forgot!

Do you remember that bird fabric I was moaning about missing? And how y'all helped me find some (I bought five yards from CraftyPlanet, which, if you remember, was the place that featured the sock monkey dress in their windows).

Anyway, before I went traipsing about the globe, I actually made it up into a dress, to wit:

bird dress

Here's the full-length view:

bird dress

Annnnnnd the close-up:

bird dress

I can't remember (or find, in my messy sewing room) the patterns I used — it was another bodice-from-one, skirt-from-another Erin Special Combo, though. When I dig them up I'll post them.

At first I was a bit dismayed by exactly how much it looked like the waitress uniform at a diner called "Birdland" or "Nettie's Nest", but the more I thought about it, the more pissed off I was by my own first reaction. How sad and telling is it that clothes that remind us of honest labor (and let's be honest: low-paid, female honest labor) are somehow less beautiful? Why is is denigrating to say that a garment looks like the uniform of a waitress, or a nurse, or any other female service job? Why is the ideal to look as if you've never done a lick of work in your life? Why are clothes that actually facilitate Getting Stuff Done less worthy than clothes that actively Get In The Way (stiletto heels, I'm looking at you)?

Anyway, after getting myself comfortably indignant (it's good for the liver) I resolved to wear this happily, and if anyone points out the entirely-fortuitous resemblance between this and the traditional uniform of the great American waitress, I will pull a little pad out of my (convenient) pocket, take the pencil stub from behind my ear, and write them a thank-you note. After which I will continue on my merry way, working.

What Day Is It?

Can anyone tell me? Preferably someone in the Central or Eastern time zones? I am most impressively jetlagged, the kind of jetlagged that I most associate with people who are abducted in spy movies. I was mildly surprised to wake up this morning in a hotel room, and not, in fact, duct-taped to an aluminum chair.

However, I am aware enough of my surroundings to find and admire this pattern:

Advance 2755

I'm intrigued by the hem ruffle lately, especially the half-hem ruffle. Just enough, you know, and no more. An admirable sufficiency. I think I'd leave the bows off this one … unless I could make them out of wired ribbon so that I'd have a handy lockpick/garotte in the unlikely eventuality that I ever DID wake up duct-taped to an aluminum chair.

Click on the image to visit the auction listing (from Dama Fortuna Vintage). It's a BuyItNow, though, so don't be surprised if it's already gone when you get to it. (I'm not buying it — in my jetlagged state I shouldn't be trusted with the purchase of so much as a pair of socks.)

A couple of folks have emailed me about their tape measures: some went out before I went to Tokyo/Taipei … the rest will be mailed on Thursday, when I am finally home. If you don't have yours by now, you're probably in the Thursday cohort, unless you are Not in the U.S. (although I tried to mail the international ones first as they are probably going to take the longest in transit).

Thursday … that's tomorrow, right? I hope so. I'd hate to misplace a Wednesday, they're so hard to come by …

January: Nice Day for a White Wedding

Vogue 2979

Do you know what has always been one of my pet peeves? Brides who get married in the dead of winter in strapless or spaghetti-strap gowns. I know, I know, it's YOUR DAY, and you can do whatever you want, but is "whatever you want" to go around with goosebumps in all your pictures and a honeymoon with a brand-new head cold? (And no, a shawl doesn't really work.) I always think "Oh, she looks so beautiful … and she'd look even better if she wasn't shivering …"

Enter a dress like this, which is so gorgeous I almost want Mr. Dress A Day and I to renew our vows so I could get away with making (and wearing) it. (Although it's a BIT ostentatious for a vow-renewal …)

I'd make it in peau de soie, maybe with little white velvet buttons (or, ooh, ooh, white velvet *piping* and midriff band).

If you're getting married in early 2008, you probably have plenty of time to make this or have this made (I'd wait until the weather cools off a bit before tackling velvet, but that's just me, still in Taipei, where it's 90F and even thinking about velvet leads to heatstroke).

The special bonus you January brides will get for picking a dress like this, and not something strap- or sleeveless? You won't have to spend every minute of the next five months doing (or thinking you should be doing) triceps dips.

ComicCon dress

ComicCon Dress

Allyson sent me a link to this dress that was wandering around the Comic-Con in San Diego. Well, it was being worn by this person above, not wandering around on its own (hey, it's Comic-Con, you never know …) The WB gave out enormous Smallville promo bags, and this enterprising person made a dress out of one (possibly two)! (Here's another Smallville-themed bag-dress.)

I've never gone to a Comic-Con (not for lack of interest, mind you) and now I think I really need to wrangle an excuse to go. Doesn't anyone need a dress-themed on-the-ground report from Comic-Con?

Allyson sending me this dress allows me to do something I've been meaning to do for a while, which is rave over her book, Will The Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? (And not just because I'm mentioned in it.) Seriously, when Allyson told me she was working on a book, I think my first reaction was a pumped fist in the air, because, not only does Allyson have the best stories, Allyson is also one of the Best People. Allyson is why God made the internet, so you could meet people like Allyson. Allyson's book is "about" Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom, but what it's *really* about is how the internet makes it possible to meet the long-lost friends you never knew before. About how communities arise around the strangest interests, like Buffy, or, you know, dresses.

If you like this blog, you should probably thank Allyson (by buying her book, see link above), because without her and the people like her (and the people who like her) I wouldn't have started hanging out online, and I wouldn't have started blogging, and I'd spend my time doing whatever it was I did before I blogged. (I can't even remember what that was … nothing special, I'm sure.)

So thanks Allyson, for the link. And for you!

Okay, finally, fabric shopping in Japan

tomato in Japan

Thanks to multiple recommendations and quite explicit directions, I made it to the legendary Tomato fabric store in Nippori Textile Town. That's the cotton floor, above.

I had a great time in Tokyo. There's something exhilarating about being completely on your own in a strange city where you don't speak a word, not one single word, of the language. All it needed was for me to be pursued by shadowy underworld figures out to kill me for it to be a major motion picture. (Although having the plot be "shadowy underworld figures try to stop Erin from buying fabric" probably wouldn't make it past the first script meeting.)

Anyway, despite having to take the slow train back to Narita late Monday night (I missed the last express), I managed to go everywhere I wanted *and* get back to the airport in time to make my flight to Taipei.

Here's what I bought:

tomato in Japan

And some more:

tomato in Japan

Whoops, almost forgot one piece:

tomato in Japan

(Boy, am I glad I packed the spare duffel bag!)

So, from the top down — probably the most "Japanese" of the fabric I bought, the little birds and trees on heavy cotton. Heavier than quilting cotton, anyway. I deliberately didn't buy anything self-consciously Japanese: no kanji prints, no geishas, no "Engrish" writing. I wanted cute, but not "kawaii!", if that makes any sense. Also, as hard as it was to resist, I didn't buy anything Hello Kitty.

The gray dot is probably has a good bit of polyester in it, and it has a small flaw, but it was 100 yen/yard and the dots are really nice, not the bad printing I usually see in the US.

The autumn-leaf print is very heavy, almost upholstery weight, so I think that will be a skirt. It think it would be cute with an orange corduroy jacket and green tights in the fall … although in 90+ degree Taipei, it is *very* difficult to think about fall!

The black and gray leaf print just *spoke* to me, which black fabric hardly ever does. And who am I not to listen when Japanese fabric wants to emigrate? I had to buy it.

The browny-greige wallpaper print has a really interesting texture, almost matelassĂ©. And since I'm never afraid to look like a combination wallpaper/bedspread, I figured I had to have it. I thought it would make a nice structured dress — something with stiff tailored details. We'll see …

The stripe is a shirting stripe and it's green/gray on one half and yellow-gray on the other. I thought I was hallucinating when I pulled it out; I pulled out the green side and, then, clutching the bolt, only saw the yellow; I enjoyed a brief moment of panic while I wondered where the green fabric went! Do I have any idea how to sew this? No, I do not. But for 100 yen/yard, I figured it would come to me. Someday. I'll wait.

The last bit is the orange/yellow sunburst cotton. I'm betting I'll make that up first; If I work it right it'll be a perfect Indian-summer dress, the yellow changing to orange towards the fall, just like the falling leaves …

Despite the notorious expensiveness of everything in Japan, I think I spent less than $125. Although I probably spent at least half that on train tickets ….

Here's a street-scene photo, just to help you get your bearings the next time you're in Tokyo:

tomato in Japan

Thanks again to all the folks who sent me recommendations and directions for my all-too-brief time in Tokyo … I can't wait to go back!