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!

Can't Fight It

ebay item 8305987417

There is absolutely no chance of me wearing this dress before, optimistically, April 1 (no foolin') but I saw it at Toinette's at Ruby Lane and could not stop myself from hitting the "BUY" button. Really. And you can see why, can't you? (And yes, I'm seriously considering the ruffly version hanging ghostlike there on the right. Wouldn't this be lovely in black, with white organza ruffles?)

This came a few days ago and it's been hovering on my desk ever since. I keep picking it up and sighing, while listening to the scrape of snow shovels on ice outside my window. If I hold this pattern up to my ear, I can hear — faintly, how faintly! — the song of the ice-cream truck and far-off illegal fireworks, instead. All summer in a few pieces of yellowing paper.

A commenter yesterday suggested that I goose the charity campaign along by posting some drabbles BEFORE we hit the goal, and I'm game. In fact, I will WRITE SOME TO ORDER. Here's how to play: send me a link (a LINK ONLY PLEASE, please do not attach the actual picture) to a vintage dress and I will choose three from all the ones that are sent to me by midnight Central time tonight, and write drabbles for those for tomorrow through Friday. Sound good?

I'll also try to set up that Paypal button later today.

In the meantime, if the widget below doesn't work for you, here's the link directly to the ChangingThePresent page …we're up to $1060! Thank you!

Certain People of Importance

The Beloved Woman

(image from The Beloved Woman)

Google Books (and Project Gutenberg, too) now has quite a few novels from one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Kathleen Norris. (Not the Kathleen Norris who is a poet and essayist, and who is still alive, but the Kathleen Norris who was the most popular women's novelist of the 1930s and 1940s (selling 10,000,000 books), peace activist, and early woman journalist.)

All her novels revolve around the same romantic linchpin: that marriage is sacred (she was a devout Catholic). I may snort at the plots that seem to tie up neatly with the convenient death of the bounder who is making the heroine unhappy (or, conversely, with the heroine's selfless realization that the bounder is her burden to bear and that her happiness will come, masochistically, from cooking that same burden hot dinners) but I really read them for her wonderful descriptions of the clothes and food of California society from the turn of the last century to the 1940s.

Ella thought her handsome, in a rather bold, savage way. Victoria was dark and rosy, with flashing eyes and [a] vivacious, almost nervous manner. She wore a dress of dark blue cloth trimmed about the high collar and wide cuffs and about the thick panniers of the skirt with scallops of gray silk, and a high straw turban turned back sharply from the face with two triangles of brim and massed with roses. This somewhat elaborate dress was snugly fitted into a narrow waist line; Victoria wore tan kid gloves, and high scalloped boots of tan kid. Her forehead, like her mother's, was covered with curled hair, and bangles jangled on her wrists, about her neck was a long gold chain that held the little watch that was thrust into her bosom. She was twenty-one.

from Certain People of Importance

"'Cucumbers, olives, salted nuts, currant jelly'", Mrs. Carew was
reading her list, "'ginger chutney, saltines, bar-le-duc, cream
cheese', those are for the salad, you know, 'dinner rolls, sandwich
bread, fancy cakes, Maraschino cherries, maple sugar,' that's to go
hot on the ice, I'm going to serve it in melons, and 'candy'–just
pink and green wafers, I think. All that before it comes to the
actual dinner at all, and it's all so fussy!"

from The Rich Mrs Burgoyne

Norris has a way of writing about dimity ruffles and oyster stew and silk "Chinese" pajamas that engender such a longing for you in those articles that it's hard not to book the first seat on the next train (not plane, mind you) to San Francisco, where, in her books, all these things are in such oversupply that it's the rare young woman who doesn't have at least two, if not all three, in her possession. If you have a little time (and don't mind reading on-screen) go ahead and click.

And, in fundraising news, a couple of folks have asked me to set up a Paypal button to donate; I don't mind doing so — are there other people interested? If the widget below doesn't work for you, here's the link directly to the ChangingThePresent page …we're up to $1000! Thank you!

Two Good Things

ebay item 8305987417

There are two things I really like about this pattern (from Michelle, at Patterns from the Past). The first is the implication that by making this dress you, too, will be first cloned, then admitted to the all-girl replicant-cyborg-robot pastel army (as an NCO).

The second is the scribbling all over the pattern. I really do love buying patterns that show evidence of use. Some folks might like factory folds, but I like tape, pencilled notes, and random newspaper cuttings in MY patterns (bonus if the newspaper cutting is a recipe for Jell-O "salad" or any kind of waist-reducing calisthenics).

The markings on this one seem to show that the original owner was DETERMINED to make six identical dresses, don't they? Maybe she was a chorine? Maybe she needed to make dresses for her synchronized-swimming team's awards banquet? Or maybe she was a sextuplet! I don't know, obviously, but I love to speculate (even more obviously).

What do you think these markings mean? Extra points for dragging in any of the following: The Knights Templar, the NBA, the gold standard, and colony collapse disorder. Have fun!

Here's today's widget … and just to encourage you further to donate, I have that Secret Lives all ready and waiting for us to hit $1500 ….

Did I Mention?

McCalls 8788

Did I mention that I picked up this pattern last week, from MOMSPatterns? No? Well, I did. I couldn't resist. (It was, in fact, chanting "Resistance is FUTILE" in a tinny voice through my laptop speakers; I actually had to mute the darn thing. But it was too late.)

I have absolutely, positively no idea what fabric I'm going to make this in, but it will come to me. I'm sure of it. Probably right around the time that it's still SLIGHTLY too cold to wear it. (It's majorly too-cold here in Chicago right now. Snow, you were pretty at first, but, bored now …)

The attitudes of the women in the illustration here are just precious. Obviously stripey-dress woman is a huge drama queen: "Why, oh why, will no one come on my picnic with me? Do I OFF-end? Am I so re-PUL-sive?" Green dress and taupe dress, who are twins, of course, are studiously ignoring her (and communicating silently in their secret twin-language, which no one else understands). They are looking into the distance, hoping the bus will come soon so they can escape. (Don't you think that's the most plausible scenario for this illustration? I do.)

Wait — I lied. I would really like to make this dress in two coordinating prints, a darker one for the "T" middle and a lighter one for the sides and collar. That would be awesome. Maybe even light-on-dark stripes for the middle, and dark-on-light stripes for the sides … like I'm going to be able to find that easily. Or at all.

(Talking about finding easily, or at all, this is traditionally the time of year where I look in vain for a reasonably-priced [under $50] vintage short wool coat. I'd love something in a crazy plaid and low-hip length … which doesn't seem to exist, other than some Pendleton stuff I'm not crazy about. Any suggestions?)

And … while I'm stretching this blog post to ridiculous lengths, here's today's charity drive widget:

I can't believe we're over halfway there already … I better get to writin' them drabbles! (Remember, I post a full-length Secret Lives of Dresses the day we hit the goal, and a drabble every day post goal-hit until Christmas!)

A couple people have asked if there was anything else they could do (because of limited funds, or because they can't pay with a credit card, or whatever), and if that's you, you could also do this: send books to soldiers