Possibly A New Obsession

Flight back was fine; empty plane, plenty with me to read, and my only disappointment was that the in-flight movie, advertised as "Ocean's Thirteen" (I love a good — or even a bad — heist movie) was, in fact, "Hairspray" — which, fine, nice dresses. But. Whoa. I am sooooo jetlagged — woke up at 5 this morning, feeling as if it were noon. Ulp.

But I have managed, at least, to open my mail to find this pattern, which I ordered before I left (from eBay seller Treasure from Galilee Shore):

Vogue 5380

If you look at view D you can see those are FRENCH CUFFS. And on view A, yes, that is a bias placket. This is a serious dress, requiring much contemplation and selfless dedication. And serious interfacing, which I'm not much for using, but this needs it, the good stuff.

Needless to say, if I can master this pattern I might make this one over and over, forever. This dress never goes out of style (not that 'going out of style' is something I usually consider, but …) and it fits with my cardigan-and-penny-loafer lifestyle.

I'm pretty set on the full-skirted version (for better inclusion of pockets) but the perfectly coordinated woman in fuchsia is very, very tempting. She has fuchsia shoes; *I* have fuchsia shoes (and four yards of fuchsia shantung) … I don't have the hat, although I do have pink eyeglasses. Think that will do?

All's well that ends well

Liberty Splash

So I'm heading home from London today, but I had half an hour last night to go to Goldhawk Road — and all you Londoners who told me to go there? You were right. I owe you all a drink.

I went to Classic Textiles (44 Goldhawk Road) where they had Liberty (in a very, very snug basement) for £5/yard! (Or possibly £5/meter, not sure.) They also had some limited Varuna wool and some £10/y-or-m Liberty as well, upstairs. Mostly florals, to be sure, but plenty of the abstract and figural prints, as well.

Sadly, though, I was The Difficult Customer, because I saw a roll of the pattern above (Splash) which I've wanted FOR-ever …. behind every other roll of Liberty. And so the poor guy, at closing time, had to shift about twenty rolls of fabric to get and cut me my four meters-or-yards. But he was nice about it, possibly because an even More Difficult Customer was in the shop, trying to get swatches of about fifteen different shirting cottons. (Him: "Now, y'see, I need to you cut me bits of all these, and make me a list, so I can call you up and say "I need 11 meters of #2," right?" Shopman: Nodding uncomprehendingly. Him: "Now, y'see, I need you …")

The woman at the register also confirmed for me that Liberty wasn't making any more twill. "And their prices are silly," she said. I nodded sagely.

I did some brief poking around in some of the other shops (as they were vacuuming and rolling down grates) and saw this incredible flocked linen wallpapery print, but at £9 a yard-or-meter I couldn't justify it. I didn't have my camera with me so I took some not-so-great camera phone pictures … remind me and I'll post them when I get home.

Home. As much as I love London, I'm looking forward to being in THAT place again!

Dear Liberty

I finally got over to Liberty, and … well, it was disappointing, to say the least. They've reduced the space given over to dressmaking fabrics again, to about 3/4 of what it was the last time I was there, which was itself about 3/4 of what I saw on the visit before that!

Look at how anemic (or, as I'm over here, anaemic) the shelves are:

Liberty of London Nov 2007

Liberty of London Nov 2007

And when I asked about twill, the clerk (who I recognized from previous visits) told me that Liberty isn't making twill any longer — "no one was buying it," she said. Well!

So, being in the UK, I've decided to write a sternly-worded letter to Liberty, in the hopes that they will reconsider their decision to essentially abandon the home dressmaker …

Dear Mr Williams:

I visited the dressmaking fabrics department of Liberty in Regent Street this week. Liberty is usually the highlight of any trip I make to London, and the fabrics department is the highlight of any trip to Liberty.

However, I was tremendously disappointed. Not only did I walk away without having made a fabric purchase (which has never happened before!) I was also greeted with the dispiriting news that Liberty has decided to stop producing their designs in twill.

Although I have lately seen Liberty prints available through partnerships with other manufacturers (Lands' End, Converse) and I think that is a lovely development, I would hate to see Liberty abandon the home dressmaker, especially as interest in sewing and dressmaking has been surging recently, on both sides of the Atlantic.

I was told that people haven't been buying the twill, and that's the reason for stopping production. Might I suggest that people aren't buying it because it is so difficult to obtain? Liberty does not sell online, and I have been hearing from independent shops in the US and Australia that Liberty is also reducing the number of patterns available to them. If you want to sell your fabric, you ought to be making it more available, not less! I buy at least twenty yards of Liberty lawn, twill, and wool fabrics a year (and I buy at least sixty yards of fabric total in a year, and often more, mostly online), and I would buy more Liberty if more patterns and weights were available to me. If I could, I'd sew with nothing BUT Liberty!

Liberty is by far my favorite fabric. The prints are outstanding and the quality of the weave is unmatched. I, and many other home dressmakers, will be heartbroken if this downward trend in the number and availability of patterns continues.


etc., etc.

I'll print this out and mail it on real paper (more likely to be taken seriously) when I return to Chicago. So suggestions welcome in the meantime. I wanted to start it with the very British "Sirs:" but since the name of the head of customer service is available, it didn't make sense not to use it. If you'd like to write or email as well, details are here

Have yourself an Etsy little Christmas

Except for The Boy (who is getting a lot of Wiigames and Wiicessories, because the Wii is something we like to play as much as he does — unlike, say, Marvel X-Men Checkers, which even pictures of Wolverine can't redeem — and you can get a CROSSBOW for it), I'm trying to make this a books-and-Etsy-and-maybe-CafePress Christmas, present-wise.

And there is SO MUCH on Etsy, it's not even close to manageable. I had to narrow my jewelry search down to "jewelry necklace pendant red" to even get to FIFTY-TWO pages. That's a lot to choose from!

This one was one of my absolute favorites:

Orange Peel Enamel

Isn't that lovely?

I also went through SEVENTEEN pages of stuff tagged "dictionary", of which I liked this, especially:


This made me laugh out loud:

Rarrar Press

And then there's this handy tote bag from We Are BANG (they have other letters, if your name doesn't begin with E, but if your name doesn't begin with E I suggest changing it, as all the cool kids have chosen to come right after D in the alphabet):

We Are Bang bag

And this scarf, which is a bit pricey, but worth it — handmade and so beautiful:


In addition to some Etsy shopping, I'm also going to make some custom t-shirts for people — this one is for my little boy. He asked me to make him an "I like pie" t-shirt, so, voilà:

I like pie

(Don't worry, he doesn't read the blog, this won't ruin Santa for him.)

(I know, I know, we haven't done the Dress A Day t-shirts yet; I got caught up in researching alternate t-shirt suppliers and then got overwhelmed. But soon. And there might be a special Dress A Day holiday-type thingamajig this week, if I'm lucky. Or if you're lucky. Somebody's gonna be lucky. Just you wait.)

Any other suggestions for doing a smaller-and-indie-er Christmas (or great games for the Wii)? Please leave 'em in the comments … and remember, you can click on any of the images above to visit the sellers' pages.

London Fabric Shopping

Shaukat Fabrics

Through no actual planning on my part, my hotel here in London is an easy twenty minutes' walk from the amazing Shaukat Fabrics, so guess where I ended up fairly soon-like after arriving in London? That above is a picture of ONE of the Liberty Tana lawn walls; please to be clicking here and here for other views.

I bought half as much as I did on my last trip, but, considering that 1) the dollar has sunk quite a bit since then and 2) I haven't exactly sewn up all I bought last time, I don't feel as if I wasted my opportunities.

I bought a nice big chunk of this lovely Varuna wool:

Shaukat Fabrics

And three other pieces: two of the cricket-balls print (possibly called Schlesinger? Anyway, I want to make a BIG shirtdress in that) and one (about three meters) of the neuron print (that's not its actual Liberty name, but that's what I call it).

Shaukat Fabrics

I could have bought fabrics that I *didn't* already own in other colorways, fibers, and weights, but what would be the fun of that? In an ideal world, I'd only wear Liberty print everything … the same patterns in wool, babycord, cotton lawn, and cotton twill, over and over again.

Yesterday I went to the INCREDIBLE V&A "Golden Age of Couture" show — if you have any, any, any chance of going, GO. Go twice, if you can. I am not joking here, people. There was so much there — it just went on and on like a really good dream — and it was beautifully mounted, up to and including little line sketches on the information cards so that you could better understand the construction details. Cassie (from the V&A's web site) and Melissa kept me company (and indulged my geeking out over all the pockets), and it was just wonderful. (Disclosure — Cassie got us free tickets, but I would have definitely paid the special entry fee anyway …)

Yet to come: a trip to actual Liberty, and possibly Muji — anyone want to tell me which branch of Muji in London is the best?

A Confession

camouflage skirt

Every once in a while I meet someone who only knows me from this blog and if I'm wearing a skirt, they seem disappointed that it's not a dress.

Me, I consider dresses and skirts more or less equivalent, sartorially; they both belong to the 'not-pants' group, which, nutritionally-speaking, I need at least one serving of a day. I named this blog "A Dress A Day" because "A Dress (or Skirt) A Day" was a bit unwieldy.

That said, I'm headed to the UK for a week and I'm only packing skirts! The trauma! But … I'm doing some work that involves visiting primary schools, so I don't want to wear super-high heels, which are the only ones I have that work with the Duros, and I'm in the middle of switching from summer to winter sewing, so the new version of this dress that I wanted to bring/wear isn't ready and and and …

But I have to admit, I really, really love this particular skirt for traveling. (For those of you who have been playing along at home, this is the same pattern as this tutorial.

The pockets here are perfect for holding my boarding pass, ID, and phone, and it's easy to dress the skirt up (okay, maybe not the blue-and-orange camo version) by adding very nice flats, tights (or even knee socks!) and a nice sweater. Here's a closeup of the pocket, trimmed in orange twill tape:

camouflage skirt

The next best thing about this skirt is playing with the facings and the pocket linings. Here's the waistband facing of this one:

camouflage skirt

Of course, I've also been driving myself nuts trying to figure out what my Next Big Dress is going to be, after my obsession with the Duro. I might post on that later this week.

And, furthermore, while my self-induced pie coma is wearing off, I just wanted to say that one of the things I have been thankful for these past few years is the generous and openhearted community of folks who read this blog. You know who you are. I think you all deserve another piece of pie, wherever you are.

Too Much? Or Never Enough?

ebay item 8305987417

I can't believe I missed this wonder (it was at MOMSpatterns). What was I thinking? For that matter, what were THEY thinking? Because there is a LOT going on here. There's the placket and the buttons and the collar and the gathers, plus the pocket/belt-loop combo. No wonder she's wearing shades!

Of course, I totally want this pattern now, so that I can obsess about making it in some bright color and coordinating the topstitching on the pockets with the belt. And the buttons. And, quite possibly, some sunglasses of my own.

I'm purposely not looking at the green and black trompe l'oeil it's-a-blouse-and-skirt-No!-it's-a-dress combo. La, la, la, I'm ignoring that. Keep looking at the pretty lady in red with me. Also ignore that green-and-black is holding what could reasonably be a Marc Jacobs handbag.

Which leads me to my next thought: what if some magnificent prankster is designing NEW old vintage patterns, ones that only exist as these digital images, and planting them to drive me insane with covetousness? I am well and truly punk'd if that is the case … I give up. C'mon, where's the hidden camera? You got me.

I thought you should know

Advance 8129

I've decided that, from now on, I'm not going to pay any attention to any statements that begin with the following phrases:

"I thought you should know,"

"No offense, but,"

My highly unscientific study of these phrases has led me to believe that they are only used when the speaker wants to convey something unpleasant to the listener. And not something unpleasant and urgent, in the sense of "Your hair's on fire!" but something unpleasant in the sense of "I want to tell you something insulting, yet I do not wish you to feel directly insulted."

What I want to know is, has anyone, in the history of these conversational openers, ever replied like this?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know — that dress makes you look fat."
Speaker B: "Oh, how kind of you to tell me! I forgot that it was my sacred duty to look thin. I'll run right home and change. Can you come with me, just in case I pick the wrong thing again? Also, how's this color on me?"

Speaker A: "No offense, but you're too old for that style."
Speaker B: "I thought I hadn't slapped on enough Youth Instigator this morning — say, you wouldn't have a tube on you, would you?"

I've often wondered about the motives of people who say these things. Do they really, truly, believe they're doing their listeners a favor? And do they respond rationally when people do it to them?

Speaker A: "I thought you should know, that color makes you look sallow."
Speaker B: "Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you told me. But you should let me return the favor — those earrings are a touch gaudy. I'm sure you'd be happier and less … conspicuous in little studs."
Speaker A: "You are so right! I never thought of that before."

No? You don't think that happens? You think that the Speaker A's of this world only feel better when they are able to make other people feel worse? (Especially when they can do so, Anonymously, on the Internets?) Huh, what sad and lonely lives those Speaker A's must lead.

If for no other reason (say, basic human decency) you should be kind because unkindness doesn't work. In fact, it's often highly counterproductive, if your stated goal is to "improve" other people. It would be one thing if offhand "No offense, but you look fat," comments from strangers actually caused people to lose weight (if they wanted to), but, alas, they don't. Never have. Would you change your behavior, whatever it was, based on anonymous comments online? No? Why, then, do you think that YOUR anonymous comment is going to change the world?

If you really wanted to "do someone a favor," you'd do it under your own name, so that you could take the credit. Heck, you'd send me a private email and ask me to pass it along, so a conversation, a real discussion, could take place. That's what you do when you want to help. When you want to hurt, when you want to feel momentarily better about yourself at another's expense, you leave an anonymous comment.

I'm not going to make the comments on this blog real-name only. But I would like to remind people of a few things:

— You can comment, by name or anonymously, all you like to tell me that anything I've done is crap, pure crap, highly-crappy crap fashioned lovingly from raw crap, and that you don't know how I live with myself. I understand that running a blog is the equivalent of hanging a sign that says "Criticize here."

— BUT, I would like you to treat the guests of this blog with kindness. Remember the Golden Rule? Please follow it.

(And if you say "But I'd WANT someone to tell me if something made me look bad," you should think really hard about whether or not that's true. How did you feel the last time someone told you something was unflattering? Did you act on it? Or did you come up with a reason to ignore their "advice"? Do fee free to send me a picture of yourself so that I can find someone to perform this service for you, if you want it so badly.)

One last thing: aesthetics are highly variable. What you consider the dernier cri is probably not that of the person next to you. So why would you act as if your vision was the only true one?

[Today's pattern is from LanetzLiving, who is offering a SPECIAL EXTRA DISCOUNT to us … put "turkey20" in the discount box and get a 20% discount on all patterns from her site. They'll ship next Monday after the holiday. Oh, and the woman in the red jacket is telling the woman in the white jacket that busy florals don't suit her. The woman in the white jacket is pretending the woman in the red jacket doesn't exist.]

Marsha! Marsha! Marsha!

Hey, do y'all remember Andrea, who sent in the picture of the totally awesome eyelet dress a while back? Yes? I knew you would. Well, she's made a hysterically cute 1970s dress now, and here it is:


Isn't it adorable? It's from this pattern:

Simplicity 9964

Andrea says it's her "Marsha Brady" dress, which (as those of us who grew up in the 1970s will attest) is a good thing … sure, Jan was great, but it's nice to be Marsha every once in a while. Especially in a huge-collared wrap dress!

(Also: Andrea sure knows how to make the boots+dress work, doesn't she?)

And in unrelated news, I'm hoping to run a contest for the wiki, to help get us up to, say, 1000 patterns by the end of 2007. Any ideas? I was thinking about maybe writing Secret Lives for ten patterns chosen at random (or the ten highest-rated, or the ten with the most links) from all those uploaded, as soon as we get to 1000.