Back Again

Vogue 8917

I'm back from Las Vegas, where I did not buy ANY fabric whatsoever. Not an inch, much less an ell. I was discouraged from attempting any explorations after my unsavory experience walking from the In-N-Out Burger back to the Strip … let's just say that I have a new appreciation for the wonders of zoning. (But an In-N-Out burger is worth any number of two-mile walks past assorted 'gentlemen's clubs'.)

Anyway, even though I didn't buy any fabric, I did manage to buy the pattern above, from eBay seller nateesh. Isn't it pretty? Square necklines with underbust gathers will get me every time.

In other clothing-related news: a TSA employee at O'Hare complimented my new camouflage-print skirt. Which totally made up for the "subcontractor" at the Las Vegas airport who not only ARGUED with people and made them beg for bins for the conveyor belt, but also DROPPED my laptop into a bin after deigning to give me one for it. (Yes, I complained. So I'm probably on a no-fly list now.)

I'm hoping to announce two fun Dress-A-Day-related projects this week. They're exciting! And geeky! Look out!

Book Review: Basic Black

Cathie Black Basic Black

I was asked if I wanted a copy of Basic Black for review, and I said "yes, of course." Cathie Black is the president of Hearst Magazines; I am a magazine junkie: why not?

Basic Black is not only very readable (unlike quite a few other how-to-succeed-books I've come across) it's also very enjoyable. Ms. Black has a practical, friendly tone that comes across well on the page, and her advice is of the "this worked for me, I think it will work for you" variety rather than a one-size-fits-all manifesto. The whole book leaves you feeling refreshed and optimistic about the world of work and your place in it.

Here's one of my favorite bits:

If you want to be an innovator, express yourself like an innovator. Dress in something with verve rather than a corporate uniform. Take your team offsite and do something wacky. Wear a costume to a sales meeting […] and recruit a few others to do the same. Pick a theme — have people dress like cartoon characters.

I really wish I'd recruited people to dress like cartoon characters more often. It's absolutely on the to-do list now!

One of the things I really appreciated about Ms. Black and her book was that she doesn't think that feminism and business are incompatible. She worked for Ms. and for USA TODAY — and you don't get more mainstream than USA TODAY! And when people grumbled that she hired "too many women" (whatever THAT means) she made her point in a very direct, concrete, and nonconfrontational way: at a holiday lunch for Hearst executives, she was supposed to make some brief remarks after the meal. She stood up and said: "Some people seem to think I hire too many women. I just want you to know I'm listening to their complaints. So I thought I'd do a little survey. Would the women executives please stand up?" A third of the room stands. Then she asks for the male executives to stand … and when dozens of men get to their feet, her point is made.

One of her best points, I think, is a slightly-kinder "Get over it," urging women not to dwell on their mistakes but to pick themselves up and move on. "If I needed three days to get over every day I was criticized, I'd never have gotten anything done in my career," she warns. It's more important to get things done than to get things done perfectly, and better to try and fail than never try at all.

If you're looking for a book for a recent college graduate, especially one interested in working in publishing or media (or sales, for that matter), this is an excellent choice, and it's not bad for people who have been in the work world for a while, either.

Everything's coming up roses

Roses dress

I'm trying to be better about posting more pictures of stuff I've sewn. This is a dress from several years ago (maybe three? I remember wearing it to see Simon Winchester reading from Krakatoa at the NYPL, so a while back). I had this crazy desire for a VERY ROSES dress and then I found some quilting cotton at eQuilter, and the rest is history.

It's from this pattern, only short sleeved.

Here's the bodice:

Roses dress

And, for all you covered-button fans, here are the buttons:

Roses dress

And speaking of roses-dresses, Pamela (Glamoursurf on eBay) sent me a link to this wonder. Roses AND black chiffon! I think there are several states where that combination is illegal, so be sure to read the terms and conditions before bidding.

AND, before I forget AGAIN, Miss Helene has put up a Squidoo lens about sewing patterns! What's a Squidoo lens? A list of helpful links on a particular topic, put together by a real person (in this case, the topic is sewing patterns, and the real person is Lisa at Miss Helene's). Check it out! You can't edit it yourself, but you can add suggestions in the comments …

Vegas, Baby!

fadedpictures flickr las vegas

I'm going to be in Las Vegas for about 36 hours early next week … and since I don't drink, don't gamble, and can only eat two or three pounds of shrimp cocktail before feeling like a beached gray whale, I was wondering if anyone had any leads on fabric stores convenient to the Strip?

I dimly remember being pointed to a fabric store in Vegas before, but of course neither my actual brain or the distributed brain I've cobbled together through OS X and Google have turned up anything …

Reader of the blog Kris would like to know, too, so if have suggestions, would you leave them in the comments?


Solve This Puzzle

red crossword puzzle dress

Hélose sent me a link to this eBay auction — the picture is not of the best, but really, do you need to know any more than "1950's crossword-themed dress?" before you start mousing around for the "Bid" button?

It's 36-26(ulp)-39, and the bidding right now is about $25.

As you know, I already am the proud possessor of a crossword-themed dress, but I'm keeping an eye out for more crossword fabric — the tournament does last three days, after all.

I can't tell if the buttons are little squares or not, but it looks as if they are. And it has pockets, to hold your pencils! What more could you ask?

Click on the image to visit the auction, as usual.

Button Up!

McCalls 9041

Julie at Damn Good Vintage sent me this link, to a pattern at MOMSpatterns. Isn't it cute? Wait, let me rephrase that. Isn't it CUUUUUUTE?

However, I can tell you from many tries at sewing necklines with a hard square edge that you are going to have to either add piping or interface the heck out of that sucker. Seriously. Ignore my weirding prophecy at your peril. Otherwise it WILL curl up, and you will either have to accept the curling as an aleatoric design element, or you will be sneaking off to the ladies' room to wet it down so that it lies flat. Either way, it requires a fair amount of dedication.

But if you have a dozen buttons and some interfacing (or piping), WHAT a cute dress! I love the green version with the red belt, which surprisingly doesn't look Christmassy at ALL. Perhaps because it's a sundress? I know I'd love to make a green version with flower-shaped buttons, and put the red buttons and belt on the mustardy-colored back view version. (And why is she pouting all by herself in the corner?) What combinations would you make? (Click on the image to visit the pattern listing, as usual.)

"Skirt with a Deep Band and Sleeves Cut In with the Bodice Popular for the Summer."

NYT article from 1910

Wendy has sent this link from the New York Times, a pdf of an article from 1910 about dresses for summer. (The picture is the image from the article.)

My favorite part was this:

Women are obstinate and persistent. If they like a fashion they have a tenacious way of hanging on to it, despite the fact that dressmakers and the shops insist upon telling them that the style is out.

I also liked the treatment of the "aeroplane skirt," which the author says the "majority of women" rebel against. It's not this airplane skirt, of course (which I also believe the majority of women rebel against); it seems to be an earlier term for a hobble skirt. Another NYT article says (about the aeroplane skirt):

If women want to run for Governor they ought to be able to run for a car. If they want to step into a President's chair they ought to be able to step into a motor. If they want to be legally free they shouldn't be sartorially shackled … they have chosen a trammeled figure and shackled ankles when they need most to have them free in the strenuous race for equality with the trousered sex.

Wendy reminds me that since the NYT has loosed its archive from the pay wall that there are many, many interesting fashion articles to be found therein … if you start looking around and find some good ones, feel free to send them to me! It's only pure force of will that keeps me from spending the next four hours looking for articles about Lily Daché and Ceil Chapman.