Post-fundraising drabble #5

ebay item 8305987417

She'll pull us both out, and lay us next to each other, and we think "Is this it? Are we going to be made?" We try to look tractable, reasonable, pretty. We try to look as if we'll get along. It's harder on the poor fabric than it is on me—if I get made once and it turns out badly, there's always a chance she'll blame the fabric, or fiddle with the fit, and try again. But once a piece of fabric is cut, there's no second chance. They're hardly ever recut into something else, at least in this house.

[Thanks to Jen at MOMSPatterns for the image … and she's having a HUGE clearance sale to clear out some patterns before the end of the year! The sale is EXCLUSIVELY for her mailing list and people who read this blog and will last just one week, so hurry on over and grab yourself her best ones! Use coupon code 'merry25' and you'll save 25% off of any sized order! The sale will start the moment you read this and end at the stroke of midnight EST on New Year's DAY.]

Let's see, what else? Oh, THE WIKI IS OVER 3000! I won't give out the prizes until January, though, so keep on loading … you guys rock.

I'll dole out the red-dress prizes after New Year's, too …

And I had (completely unrelated to dresses) a piece in the Boston Globe yesterday, all about Christmas superstitions. I hope you and yours who celebrate have a lovely day (and that those who don't celebrate Christmas have a nice quiet day to do with as they please)!

If you have a sewing resolution for the next year, why not leave it in the comments? And then maybe next week sometime I will do a big roundup post about them. Mine is "Take the time to do things right the first time." We'll see how that works. See you all in 2008 …

Post-fundraising drabble #4

gray cotton 1950s dress

Sometimes I wish she wasn't so loud. Red lipstick, red nails, red handbag, and even (I hate to tell you) red underwear. Sometimes I can't hear myself think, with all that red around. I just want to be quiet; to sit down and read a book or listen to the radio, not to go play bridge with the girls or spend all day shopping. And it's not like she really likes me, either: I heard her say "This old thing?" more than once. Even when I was new! Maybe she'll give me to her sister. Her sister's lipstick is pink.

From Alley Cats Vintage.

More linkingness:

This dress from the spring 08 Anne Klein collection is just marvelous. I want it, and I can't remember the last time I wanted something that went down a runway. (It's the white shirtdress with the colorful digitalish border print, if the link doesn't work.)

Thanks for all the pattern-envelope suggestions! Maybe I'll give it a shot on Monday …

Post-fundraising drabble #3

ebay item 8305987417

Believe me, I've had a full life. I've been places, and I've done stuff. But there's been gaps. I've never seen a snake. I've never seen a peanut-butter sandwich. I've never seen an airplane. I've been told about them, but I haven't seen them. I've never seen snow. I have trouble even believing in it. As cold as ice cubes, but teeny-weeny and somehow fluffy? And it falls from the sky slowly, like feathers? And piles up like sand dunes, so high you have to shovel it away just so people can walk? I just don't buy it.

[dress, on ebay now — click it to go to the listing — from Jumbleaya]

Linkishness for today:

Elaine sent a nice link to a dress on London Daily Photo. What can I say to motivate you to click? How about "enormous polka dots"? That do it?

Advance warning: I'm going to take the days between Xmas and New Year's off from blogging — a combo of not having a lot of internet access and not having a lot of leftover energy. But I'm planning to do some Serious Sewing in that time … wish me luck.

Question: is it cheating to do a drabble from a pattern, and not from an actual dress? Or should it be in the voice of the pattern? Tell me in the comments, please, if you have an opinion either way.

Post-fundraising drabble #2

1970s dress

Look, I know I'm itchy, but is that my fault? Can't you deal with it, suck it up, wear a slip? You can do something, I'm sure. Wash me again? That might work. I don't mean to be itchy – I'm not trying to drive you nuts. You cut out my tag – that should have helped, right? And maybe if you lost a few pounds, my seams wouldn't be stretched so tight. I'm just saying, okay? Don't get huffy with me. It's not my fault you're so sensitive, princess. Wait! Wait! Where are you going? What do you mean, "cotton"?

{ETA: thanks to Kayleen for the link!}

Oh, and a few linkety things before I forget:

Mina has posted instructions on how to make what looks like a really pretty and comfortable skirt.

Bernina announced their Diamond Odyssey winners! If you like wearable art … you like wearable art, so you should check it out. The winners all got the kind of sewing machines that do everything but walk your dog … and I think one of the creations was optioned as the plot for a fantasy movie. (Not sure about that last part.)

Oh, and in the "free stuff for bloggers" category, NARS sent me some makeup. (I know, I know, I had to have someone pinch me.) I'm not a huge makeup fiend, but NARS is soooo nice. I got the new Multiple (in Orgasm) and a lipgloss/stain combo in Sayonara/Turkish Delight. If I may channel my inner Jean Godfrey-June for a moment: wow. I had avoided the whole NARS Orgasm bandwagon when it was just a powder blush, since (due to many, many extremely messy experiences with shattered powder compacts) I only wear cream blush. But this stuff, well, it does what they say it does. With a teeny-tiny amount of glitter — not so much that you really notice it, it's like a homeopathic dose of glitter — almost subliminal. It even made me look healthy in the doldrums of the cold I had last week, and that was saying something. (I had to wash it off or else my husband would have thought I was malingering.) The lipstuff is also nice — it goes on a bit thick (although that may be my inexpert application), but it wipes down well to a pretty color. I've kind of given up on real lipstick, and instead rely on the blind application of tinted lipbalm, but this may get trotted out for special occasions. They also sent me something called Mono Body Glow, which is a "lightweight, multi-purpose beauty oil for daily moisture." It smells really nice, but not in a nice-for-me way, so I think perhaps someone I know who collects perfume (Hi A!) is going to get this. Also, it solidifies under 72 degrees, which would make it a solid block of congealment in my ill-insulated Chicago house until oh, April. But thanks, NARS! Your blush has changed my life, or at least my attitude towards products with "Orgasm" in their names!

Post-fundraising drabble #1

onion dress

I didn't think the rutabaga dress would get bought before me. The tomato dress, yes, everyone knew she'd go first, in all her sizes, and that's exactly what happened. The eggplant dress went next (in the smaller sizes first). Some people like purple. Then it was the carrot dress (in the bigger sizes). And then it was just me and the rutagbaga dress. Nobody knows what a rutabaga is! One girl who tried her on called it a "dirty turnip"! We hung on, pretending we didn't see the coats creeping closer. She got bought, finally, at $3. I'm still here.

[This is an actual deadstock dress, click on the image to visit the eBay auction. Thanks to Julie W for the link!]

Other Business
Hey, does anyone know where to buy the Nancy Drew fabric? The web site of the original seller ( is down and their phone's out, and a couple of people have emailed me looking to buy some! Nothing on Etsy or eBay, either. Any help greatly appreciated …

You Did It!

The total raised for homeless women veterans (including some off-widget donations through Paypal) is now $1692. You rock!

So, as promised, I have a new Secret Lives for you. This one has a twist — there's no picture. Nope, nothing. Nada. Zilch. I "found" the story first and then couldn't find the dress — either dress, any dress — that's in the story. SO … if you have the dress that this story's about, send me the link, and if I find The Right One, I will send the sender a couple of the Dress A Day measuring tapes as a thank-you! You can email the links or leave them in the comments. (It's better not to send images by email if at all possible, thanks!)

So here goes …

I’ve never been one to step in, you know. I’m not a meddler, and I think it’s better when you leave folks to fight their own battles. Makes ‘em stronger. But there is one thing I won’t tolerate, never have, and that’s bullying. I just won’t have it in any closet I’m hanging in, and that’s a fact.

We’d been doing all right. Sure, the closet was crowded, and she didn’t use nice hangers, and we weren’t what you’d call organized, but that didn’t seem to matter. We all felt rescued, in a way. She was a collector, she didn’t really wear us very often, but we weren’t in a box or in some little girl’s dress-up chest, and that’s saying something. I personally didn’t mind not being carefully sectioned off — jackets and even pants can have real interesting opinions, you know. Once you get to know them you see they’re really just like you. I don’t hold with prejudice. And some of those evening gowns, well, they’re so fluffy and light, they’re just like kittens. You can’t be tired or mad with a kitten.

Well, as I said, she’s a collector, and she buys a lot. Every few days there’d be another bag on the floor of the closet, and then, unless it was something wool, she’d hang it right up. The wool stuff always went to the cleaners, in case they had the moth. We sure appreciated that. We didn’t really quiz the new ones as to where they came from; it was something we’d let them tell us themselves, in their own time. Some of them had been having difficulties, you know, and we’re not the prying kind.
Lots of the new ones had hems hanging down, or a seam that had come undone, or lost buttons. Sometimes she’d get them fixed up right away, but sometimes she didn’t. If she didn’t we tried to be careful, not jostle them too much. Those undone seams can be painful, and nobody’s happy without all their buttons. I myself had been missing a few when I came, so she pulled the rest and gave me a whole new set. They’re not quite like my old ones but I get by all right. And they’re a good deal whiter and shinier than the ones I used to have, that’s for sure.

Now, some of us say they knew immediately that the new one was going to be trouble, right when they first set eyes on that bag, but I think they’re just trying to make themselves more important. If they had really known, wouldn’t they have done something? If just one of them had slipped off the hanger and covered the bag, it would have been weeks until they were hung up again and she was let loose — we all know that.

Me, I didn’t know a thing. I was talking with a suit about how she went to vote once—which sure was interesting, I can tell you—and I didn’t even look up until we got shoved a little more to the side to make room.

And, Lordy, did the new one need room. I’ve never seen so many ruffles. And red? Redder than fire. That was a dress, all right, and didn’t she know it. Not a seam out of place, or a hitch in her zipper, either. Coulda been new, except that she came in a flimsy plastic bag just like the rest of us had. New dresses like that come on their own hangers.

She didn’t set out to be trouble, I’ll give her that. Or if she did, she hid it until she knew there was no one around who could give her any back. Sweet as pie she was, the first couple days. Talked real nice to the dresses on either side of her, asked questions, giggled a don’t-mind-me, I’m-just-silly after every answer. It wasn’t until she’d done all her reconnaissance, I guess it’s called, that she really dug in.
She’d been next to a good dress, been with us for years. Nothing red-ruffle fancy, just a solid, dependable office-y type shirt dress. Full skirt, all original buttons in good condition. Even her white collar hadn’t yellowed or frayed. So despite being unglamorous, she had a bit of her own glory, in that she got worn probably more often than any of the rest of us.

Well, ol’ Red started up whispering to her, from the first day. Playing her up, making her feel like it was her and Red that were special ones, and the rest of us little better’n rags. Once her head was well and turned, though, Red cooled it way off. Started talking more to the dress on the other side, paying that one special little attentions, until that poor shirtdress was about to go crazy, not knowing what had happened, or why.

And of course we saw what always happens, when folks set out to be deliberately cruel; the poor shirtdress, goaded too far, blew up, and there was an embarrassing scene. Red didn’t move a ruffle, just hung there patiently, with an air of waiting for a tantrum to be over. Then she was all “Are you done?” and when the shirtdress was “NO!” she just went on, cutting as a pair of shears. “Well, I am,” and turned back to the other dress.

Poor shirtdress, she was so miserable, she didn’t know what to do. She worked one of her own buttons loose and got herself off the hanger. I never saw a dress so crumpled on the floor. A couple days later she was borne away to the mending pile. Most of us tried to avoid the mending pile, as there was no guarantee we’d ever come back, but I could see her as she was carried away, and she didn’t look like she wanted to come back.

And of course this meant there was a new dress next to Red, again. Now this dress was fairly young, as dresses go. Cute, cute as a button, with her short skirt and big patch pockets, all covered in big flowers, big as plates. She was young, but she wasn’t dumb, and at first she didn’t want anything to do with Red. She and the shirtdress had been real good friends, at least until Red came. So she was smarting a bit at being ignored for Red, and mad at what Red had done to her friend.

I think Red took that as a challenge. And Red seemed to like a challenge. She started talking to that dress on her other side, the one she’d turned away from shirtdress for, a bit louder. Telling her stories of adventure, so that little miss miniskirt couldn’t but hear them. And we all know if there’s one thing young folks want, it’s adventure. Red got her pulled in deeper and deeper until of course she forgot she wasn’t speaking to Red, and squeaked out “What happened then? What did you do?” And Red just paused a tiny bit, hardly noticeable, just savoring having caught her fish, and finished the story.

Now that other dress — the one on Red’s other side, away from miss miniskirt — well, let’s just say she wasn’t well-liked, before Red came. She had a bit of chip on her shoulder (as well as a stain she always moaned about, wishing she had a brooch to hide it). She’d been a good solid dress, lots of faculty dinner cocktail parties and such; she’d always claimed to have met a Nobel Prize winner once, but since she couldn’t remember his name, that tended to diminish the tale. Not that we’d know the name, but it would have added something. Or added more than “he wore a c
orduroy jacket with leather elbow patches” did, which was all she could remember. But she had that way about her where you felt she was always counting up the breaths everyone was taking for fear they’d get more air than she did.

Faculty dress was a bit disdainful of flowered-miniskirt. She’d try to pull Red aside, to make a little quip or joke at her expense, to make some snide remark about miniskirt’s callow youth. But Red wouldn’t play; she was doing to faculty what she’d done to shirtdress, all over again. And faculty couldn’t see it. She just kept trying and trying, and that made Red happier and happier to ignore her.

Now, to give miniskirt credit, she didn’t like what Red was doing. She kept trying to bring faculty into the conversations, and asked her opinion about things and even listened to the answers. But she was young, and she was impressed by Red, and she couldn’t help but laugh when Red made poor stuffy faculty dress the butt of a joke or two. Or more.

You know that there’s nothing a stuffy person hates more than being laughed at, and nothing harder to fight against — fighting just makes you more ridiculous. So faculty tried to take it in good part, and pretend she wasn’t hurt by the jokes. She even made one or two herself. But Red couldn’t have that — she didn’t want to see faculty putting on a brave face. She wanted another breakdown, and she was scheming to get it.

At this point I made up my mind to do something. If shirtdress had her head turned, that was one thing, and you had to expect that in a crowded closet relationships were going to go wrong every once in a while. But from what I could see, Red was setting out to do it again, and that made it a different thing altogether.

Red and miniskirt were doing a lot of whispering and laughing, and I could see faculty was worried. It was obvious they were going to try some prank, at faculty’s expense. Maybe sticking her with a pin, if they could get one, to see her jump, or covering her with loose threads, or worse. Something hurtful to her dignity, which was really all she had left.

I know I look old and washed out and unfit for more than the rag bag myself, but I’ve been around a long time, since the closet was nigh empty, and I know things. I can do things I don’t brag about, which is how you manage to keep doing them. And one of the things I can do is get myself worn. It’s a knack, really, and I’d like to tell you I could teach you how, but I can’t. It’s like teaching someone how to wiggle their ears. You can either do it, or you can’t.

You can’t do it any old time, but I know how to pick my opportunities, and so it was the next Saturday that I got myself picked up off the hanger. All I really needed was to be tried on — I wasn’t angling to be worn all day. So once I was on I did just a little twist, and no matter what she did I wouldn’t hang straight. I can be quite uncomfortable when I try, for all that I’m washed and soft otherwise.

So she shoved me back on the hanger, and — just as I’d asked — back in the closet, the other dresses had shifted around some, and I was shoved right between faculty and Red.

As you can imagine, Red didn’t like that one little bit. But she tried not to let me see that; after all, I was just an old grandma dress. Making me upset wouldn’t be worth the trouble. She acted real pretty towards me, and I didn’t let on that I’d been watching her and knew her tricks.

I wasn’t sure if Red and miniskirt were still going to go through with their prank, with the shuffling around and me being their new neighbor and all, miniskirt seemed to have lost her taste for it. Planning a prank is all very well, but doing one needs a different level of interest, and miniskirt, being young, was a bit flighty. She had gotten into a game that came around every once in a while, where all the dresses had to talk about which shoes they’d like to be matched up with. That one was always good for quite a bit of laughing. If I ever need to get everyone in a good mood all I have to do is say “cowboy boots,” in a moony kind of way, and they’ll all be giggling for weeks. I don’t care — I do like myself a good cowboy boot. They make such a nice clomping sound, they do.

Red, though, wasn’t going to be thwarted. She kept signaling past me to faculty, little rustles and flutters that I pretended to be deaf to. I knew she was trying to bring faculty around again, starting with a pretty apology and building up to confidences, only to tear her down again first chance she got. Isn’t it a shame when folks who are so beautiful on the outside have their seams all unfinished and raveling inside?

I hadn’t been sure what I was going to do when I got close, but it was getting close that let me know what I should do. Red had been so loud about her adventures — the parties, and the people, and the dinners, and so on — but there wasn’t a mark on her. She didn’t have so much as a salad-dressing spot. She kept herself pretty well straight on the hanger, but you can always see what you need to if you try, and I saw what I needed to see.

Red was new.

I mean, she wasn’t new-new, in the sense of having just been sewn. No, she was deadstock, an old dress that had never sold, that had lived its whole life without ever taking off its tag. I could see the tag hanging down, right inside the armhole. She’d been expensive, but that didn’t matter. One word from me and all her celebrity would be over; her tales changed from anecdotes to flat-out lies. She’d be pitied, not envied.

I s’pose that’s why she was so mean — hanging in a store or a warehouse for years will do that to you, I’ve heard — but an explanation is not an excuse.

So I waited until late that night, and then I nudged Red. Woke her right up. She was mad, but she tried not to let me see.

“You can be mad,” I said. “You’re gonna be madder still when I’ve said what I’m going to say.”

“Oh, and what’s that, grandma?” Red could go from simper to sneer quick as a blink.

“I’ve been watching you. I don’t like what you’re doing. You’re going to stop.”

“And how are you going to make me?” Red fluttered her ruffles.

“Had any luck getting that tag off?”

She jumped a bit then. She knew that I knew, and she didn’t like it.

“What tag?” She was still trying to bluff her way out.

“$79.95. Before markdown. It’s a classy price but you’ve never been a classy dress, or you would have been worn, wouldn’t you?”

She was silent then, and I knew that she wouldn’t be messing about again. As I said, I don’t hold with bullies.

And of course hitting the goal also means drabbles every day from now until Christmas Eve! Thanks again!

So Wrong It's Right

Yeti skirt

Okay. Admit it. You would love to have one of these skirts, right? I'd wear mine to scare small children into behaving (and to make offhand vagina dentata jokes). Wouldn't you?

Even better, the eyes are POCKETS. Yep, you can put your hands in there and direct your skirt's monstrous gaze all about the room.

Of course, this skirt (designed by JC de Castelbajac, and boy, I'd love to hang out with him, he sounds like a fun guy) is £375. Yep, that's right, nearly $800 bucks. The site (click on the image to visit it) suggests that it should be worn right below the bust, so that the fullest part of the skirt is at your hips (although they didn't show it on the mannequin that way).

I don't think that they went far enough, though. Why not make this in shaggy fake fur? Preferably green or pink? And then if anyone ever asked you where you got it, you could say, "Well, first I had to shoot a Muppet …"

(Thanks so much to Robin for sending this …)

And, in today's shameless begging for money for homeless women veterans, I thought about writing a drabble around this skirt, but it would just be "NOM NOM NOM" a hundred times … and of course I STILL cannot figure out what happened with that darn Paypal button. Obviously, Paypal hates me and all my works, but if you still want to donate via Paypal, you can use the email address on this page … and because of some "off-widget" donations, we're really at $1382 (not $1220) right now! That's less than $125 to go!

and here's the link directly to the ChangingThePresent page … Thank you!

Oh, and for those of you asking if there's going to be a Secret Lives of Dresses *book*, not just the drabbles and the daybook, the plan right now is that it's going to be a real, live NOVEL. Srsly. I can't say anything more without jinxing it (and I probably have just by saying this much) but as soon as I can announce something, I will. In VERY LARGE TYPE. Promise.

Incentive Drabble #2

yellow plaid dress

It's not terrible not to be worn; it's disappointing, and it's boring, but it's not torture. It's not painful. It's just — dispiriting. I miss feeling alive by being next to something alive. And what I really miss, more than anything, is laps. You can't have a lap without a body to give you one. And I miss having a lap, a lap full of sticky little boy holding an even stickier lollipop, or a lap anchored by fifteen pounds of purring cat, or a lap full of mending. I'd even take a lap full of dishtowels to fold right now …

Thanks to Claire for the link … click on the image to visit the eBay auction for this dress.

I cannot figure out what happened with that darn Paypal button from yesterday. Obviously Paypal hates me, but if you still want to donate via Paypal, you can use the email address on this page … and because of an "off-widget" donation, we're really at $1320 (not $1220) right now! Less than $200 to go!

and here's the link directly to the ChangingThePresent page … Thank you!

That Other Thing: Announcing the 2008 Dress A Daybook

2008 Daybook

Remember a while back I was going to announce something (I thought was) cool? Well, after much not-working-on-it delay, I've finally finished it: a 2008 Dress A Day daybook.

By Erin McKean

Some caveats: I haven't gotten my copy yet, so I don't really know how it looks, but other Blurb books I've seen have been nice.

Today's the last day to order for Christmas, with hugely expensive next-day shipping. I highly recommend you don't do that, honestly.

There aren't a lot of pictures in the book. At all. It's just quotations I liked.

If you don't want to order from Blurb, but you still want one, here's a PDF file … it's under a CC license so go ahead and take it to Kinko's or wherever; you might have to do some messing around with the imposition to get it to print all nice, but have at it! If you make a fancy cover for it (the pdf is just the innards) please send me a picture, okay?

Incentive Drabble #1

pink dress incentive drabble

As promised, here's an "incentive drabble" to help push this year's donation campaign (for homeless women veterans) along … once we hit $1500 in donations (and due to donations outside the widget, we're at $1250 right now, so there's not that far to go) there will be a full-length Secret Lives posted *and* drabbles every day from the day we reach the target to Christmas.

I thought she wasn't going to be bold enough, when she chose me. She should have chosen my sister, in red, or even had me dyed black. And the bows … I've always been self-conscious about those bows. So when the time came, and they were at her door, I was surprised when she invited him in for "one more drink." And even more surprised when I was ditched for something "more comfortable." (I am comfortable!) So, no, I don't know what happened next, but, then again, even if I did, a lady never tells (and a gentleman never asks).

[Thanks to F.Baer for the image!]

In the meantime, if the widget below doesn't work for you, here's the Paypal button:

and here's the link directly to the ChangingThePresent page … Thank you!