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.

Pants at Boots

Reader Susan emailed me to ask how to choose the right boots to go with your dresses, and I had to admit to her that I am (as the Brits say) pants at choosing boots. I have boots, certainly, but I don't have any boots that I consider successful, where "successful" means that I wear them constantly (and am always looking for more excuses to wear them).

In fact, I think the last pair of boots I bought that I felt that way about were some brown Knapp farm boots that I saw in a spread in Jane magazine back in the grungey 90s. They looked great with vintage dresses, especially if you were nineteen.

(Of course, in my opinion, that was the last time a fashion magazine was helpful about boots: what is up with the current craze for deranged-elf ankle boots worn with jersey mini-dresses and all the jewelry you own, plus a knit scarf? Yes, Lucky, I'm looking at you.)

Anyway, not only am I pants at boots, I have realized that I'm pitiably one-track with other shoes, as well — check out what I found when I tidied up my closet:

Erin's shoes

Yep, that's roughly a dozen pairs of round-toe ankle-strap heels. And I'm not even showing you the picture that's all flat black penny loafers!

It might just be that there aren't any boots that look "right" with 1950s styles, other than those plastic rain boots they used to advertise in the back of Parade, the kind that come with a matching bonnet to protect your hairstyle. So I throw the question open to you. What are the best boots to wear with vintage dresses?

More from the closet

dotted swiss dress

Here's another example of mid-90s Erin sewing. I can't remember where I got this fabric, although Unique Thrift is a good bet. And I can't remember what pattern it was, but I'm pretty sure it was a New Look that was chosen specifically because the yardage I had was so narrow and short.

This was also from a period where I was trying to serge EVERYTHING, so the seam allowances are not what you would call generous. I gave that up pretty soon.

I wish I'd been patient with this fabric and not jumped so fast to sew it into something, anything. I really love it (and the buttons, which I'll probably salvage for something else — they're opaque blue glass and really lovely). I can think of all sorts of things I'd rather have done with it than this dress!

Also, while I'm being all Complainy McDisgruntledpants, the sleeves are too long and I didn't even get it to hang straight on the mannequin.

Here's a closeup of the bodice:

dotted swiss dress

And the fabric:

dotted swiss dress

See what I mean about the fabric? Sigh.

And, can I just say — you guys have been AWESOME about the new wiki. The number of articles has tripled in just one day, and several other sellers have thrown their images into the ring! (I'll update the list of sellers and links later today, I hope.)

The best part about the wiki — the one I forgot to emphasize yesterday — is the ability to assign categories to the patterns. Even if you don't feel you can upload images or create pages, please feel free to EDIT the pages to include new categories (way down at the bottom). That way we'll get pages like this one! Won't that be cool?

I am so tempted to spend the rest of the morning uploading images from my hard drive, but, sadly, actual work is calling. Once you start making new pattern wiki pages, it's totally addictive … give it a shot!

And … we have achieved wiki.

VSP wiki

Thanks to sannse (and Jimbo) at Wikia, we now have a brand-new shiny vintage sewing patterns wiki!

I really wanted one place where people could collect information about vintage patterns, and the wiki is, I hope, going to be that place.

What's a wiki? A wiki is a communally-owned, communally-edited website, made up of many smaller articles. (The most famous wiki is Wikipedia.)

Each "article" in our wiki will be about one pattern, and will include, I hope:

— an image of the front of the pattern envelope
— links to places where the pattern is discussed
— links to places where the pattern is for sale
— a wishlist where you can put your name down as someone interested in buying/trading a particular pattern in a particular size
— your comments
— tags or categories that describe the pattern, like "midriff band" or "collar"

The wiki is VERY rough right now, with only a few articles up, but I wanted to throw it open to everyone as soon as possible so that we can grow!

So right now you might be asking yourself, "What can I do to help create this resource?" That's easy! You can start new articles.

1. Go to the wiki.
2. Choose a username and log in!
3. Look at the articles that are there. Have a favorite vintage OUT OF PRINT pattern that's not listed?
4. Create a new article for that pattern. Article titles should be the pattern manufacturer and number, e.g., "Butterick 6015"
5. Upload an image of the pattern. NOTE: a few vintage sellers have agreed to let their pattern images be used: Jen at MOMSPatterns, Rita at Cemetarian, Michelle at, Janet at LanetzLiving, and Julie at … please download the images to your own desktop and then upload them to the wiki. (You have to be logged in at the wiki to upload.)
Otherwise, please only use pattern images you have scanned or photographed yourself, or of patterns you have purchased. Please respect the wishes of other sellers who do not want their images used this way!
6. Include some information about the pattern, especially links to reviews, blog posts, Flickr photos, etc.
7. Have fun!

If you want more information about how to edit, try this link:
how to start editing.

Here's a new model article: Butterick 6015 — you can click "edit" on this article, copy the text, and paste it into your article as a guideline for your edits. (I'm hoping to make a template that will help with this soon.)

Don't worry about making mistakes! It's a wiki! Whatever gets broken, we can fix! Right now we don't have a lot of rules or "right" ways to do things … if we need 'em, we'll work 'em up, but I think the Golden Rule works for a lot of situations, including wikis.

One last thing: I don't OWN this wiki. It's not mine, I don't get any money from it nor will I. It's something for the community of people who love vintage patterns to build, share, and have fun with. Everyone should feel encouraged to participate!

And for those of you keeping track, this is the first of the two geeky projects to be announced …