Stripes and Pockets Forever

40s striped dress with pockets

Frequent link-sender to the blog Robin is making a little room in her closet by listing some dresses on eBay, including this wonderful 1940s stripey dress. Robin thinks it may have been a candy-striper's uniform … but it could certainly have a new life at work or play, no sponge baths required. Think of it with little navy wedge shoes … It's B36/W26.5.

I love these 1940s striped outfits — they're so precise! And that center-front zipper is just perfect. This is a no-nonsense, get-it-done dress, but it can still have fun.

I think Robin has the right idea, too. If you're not wearing something, you should set it loose into the world to be free and be loved by someone who will wear it. (Which reminds me, I should REALLY do a purge of my own over the next month or so. Especially of shoes!)

YAS (yet another shirtdress)

Advance 8524

I just bought another shirtdress pattern. If this goes on I will soon have every button-front dress with a collar EVER MADE. This one came from Out of the Ashes; I guess that means I can stop my eBay search for it. Possibly not. I could try to corner the vintage-shirtdress-pattern market … [insert evil laugh here]

I bought this for the yellow version, but I have a sneaking suspicion the red might get made, too. Aren't those neckline pleats lovely? Not so sure about the one in the middle; it looks a bit fussy to me …

There's a back view, too, and I think — I'm not sure, but it's entirely possible — that the collar is constructed with a diagonal seam at the point. I love collars like that. Of course, I could be totally wrong — it has happened, oh, once or twice before — but even if I am it's a lovely, lovely dress. (Even if it is virtually indistinguishable from the last five shirtdress patterns I've bought.)

Of course, I still have to figure out where the pockets will go. I think that I will have to recut the skirt so that the front piece doesn't have a center front seam, but instead two offset front side seams, and put the pockets there. (This also has the advantage of not having to make sure that center front seam is both physically and optically in line with the bodice buttons!)

Linktastic Friday will be back next week, by the way. Possibly on Wednesday or maybe even on Monday. As all the psychologists know, intermittent reinforcement is the best way to keep people's interest up …

Secret Lives of Dresses #14

Secret Lives of Dresses #13

She was sitting on a gunmetal-gray velvet pouffe, feeling uncomfortable. It wasn't my fault; I'm very comfortable. I know every dress says she's comfortable, but I really am.

The waiter had already come by twice, but she hadn't touched her champagne. I think she only took it to keep them from asking her if she wanted any.

I knew something had happened when I felt myself tighten; she'd taken a deep breath. She didn't let it out for a long time. She stared into the bottom of the glass.

A shadow loomed over us, and a light voice said "Kathy! You, here?"

He wasn't very tall, and he wasn't very young, but he wasn't old, either. In brighter light I bet you'd see gray in his hair. His evening dress was immaculate, but it looked as if he wore it every day, like he put it on right after breakfast. It was tailored to hide a little bit of a belly, I thought.

He sank down beside her. A waiter immediately appeared, and he took a glass. I could feel him staring; it felt like being next to a hot radiator.

"You look perfectly elegant," he said.

"It'd be a nicer compliment if you didn't sound so surprised," she answered. She took her first sip from the glass.

"Well, I usually see you in dungarees and an old shirt. Or a boiler suit. Although I must admit the boiler suit can be pretty cute."

"That's what I paint in. This is what I — " she waved the glass around " — whatever this is — in."

"This is Elena's showoff party. Are you showing off?"

"I think I'm being shown off. Or I'm going to be. She bought something last month. The big canvas — you remember? And with a big canvas you get a personal appearance by the artist. Plus Green Stamps."

"Ah." He smiled. "That explains all. Even the dress. Did she send it?"

"Her secretary did. I even get to keep it."

"Elena likes to make sure of all the details, she does. It's endearing in her … and lovely on you."

She looked into her glass again. "Where's the Countess? I didn't see her."

"She's with the Count. Wherever he is."

I could feel her turn towards him, slightly. "Should I feel sorry for you? Or for her?"

"Do you feel sorry for the library book when it has to go back to the library?"

"Sometimes, sometimes I do. If I didn't get a chance to read it before it was due."

"Well, then, you shouldn't feel sorry for either of us on that account. We figured out how the story ended."

"And it's really ended? This time?"

"Big letters, saying "THE END" appeared on the screen. I believe there was a sunset involved. Probably a horse, too."

"You're mixing things up. We were talking about books, not movies."

"We were?"

Music started in the other room.

"C'mon," he said. A waiter was right there, again. He was the kind of man waiters liked. He took her glass away and put it on the waiting tray, next to his. "Let's dance."

When he put his hand on her waist I felt her gut clench, but I don't think he felt it.

"You dance like you paint," he said.

"Lots of blue?"

"Lots of air." He smiled down at her. Not very far down; their faces were close together. "Lightness. Lots of little surprises, surprises you only find after a very long time looking."

She didn't say anything, but I felt her relax, just a bit.

"The funny thing about you, Kathy, is that as a woman, you're very direct. More direct than most women. As an artist, though … you're oblique."

"That's an interesting interpretation," she said. "I have told you how much I hate being compared to 'most women', though, haven't I?"

"You see? Direct. Of course, most women want to think they're unique. The difference is, you actually are."

He sounded so dispassionate, as if he were talking about auto insurance or Korea; that alone should have tipped me off that he wasn't.

"And what about you? Are you unique?"

"Me, I'm right off the assembly line. They make ten thousand of me a year, and you can get me in any color you like, with an optional radio."

"I could give you a custom paint job." She grinned at him. It was the first time she'd smiled since she put me on.

"I bet you could. Good thing I like blue."

They had drifted to the edge of the dance floor as the music stopped. A large woman in an electric-green dress swooped down on them. There was a jeweled clip in the shape of a peacock feather in her hair, and her eyes were lined in the same peacock color. She spoke in a low voice but it carried like a shout.

"My two geniuses! Of course you know each other! How perfect! Clancy, doesn't she look deee-vine?"

"Absolutely," he said. "I was just telling her so."

"Liar," she said.

"I was getting around to it." He looked like a sulky boy, just for a moment.

Elena wasn't paying attention; she had her head turned towards the band. "Clancy," she said. "I know I said I wasn't going to make you do this, but the drummer got a hernia or indigestion or malaria or something, and the replacement won't be here for twenty minutes — would you play something?"

He looked doubtful. Elena didn't notice.

"Please, Clancy — it would mean so much to me. And everyone here loves you, you know that. Play something for me?"

"For you, Elena, anything," he said. He shrugged. "Although you're making me stand Kathy up for the next dance. I can't dance and play at the same time."

Elena laughed. "If anyone could, you could, Clancy." She was still looking towards the band. "Oh, and play something new, will you? Thanks, darling!" She hurried off.

"Play something new, will you, darling?" she said, imitating Elena.

He looked away, absent for a moment. He took a deep breath. "I think I will play something new," he said. "Be careful what you ask for." He headed up towards the piano.

Elena was already up there. I thought she would make an announcement, but she just said, "Everybody, Clancy!" There was a lot of applause.

She didn't clap. She just looked at him.

He sat down and did an elaborate jokey hand stretch. He dropped his hands on the keyboard in a dramatic chord. The room went quiet.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said. "This is a new piece. It's called "Kathy"."

I can't really tell you what it sounded like; I can only tell you that she shivered and got goosebumps. And that I got really mussed during the cab ride home, but I didn't care.

[NB: this is a first draft … wrote it all this morning very quickly! so it might change.]

[Note: Sarah pointed out that this is really #14, because #13 was the fundraising post back in December. I've updated the list on the sidebar, so everything should be properl
y numbered and ordered now …]

Invisible Mantelpiece!

Butterick 2146

Cookie sent this pattern — which is actually a lovely dress, from So Vintage patterns — for us all to make fun of the picture.

Oh, it's so easy, isn't it? What is her arm resting on? Is the other woman painted on the wall, and Foreground Woman is leaning against the wall? Does Background Woman have an unfortunate and conveniently placed bone spur coming out of her thigh? Or (my favorite hypothesis) was there an invisible mantelpiece, made by some ancient 1960s technology, now lost? Is Background Woman about to say something tactless, or reveal a secret (look at her, on the verge of speech) and Foreground Woman is elbowing her to shut up already? Were they pushing and shoving to see who, in fact, would get to be Foreground Woman?

Foreground Woman could also be a space alien: look at her head and tell me that's not a wig covering up her enlarged brain inside a transparent domed skull.

Too bad the envelope image is so WTF-y; I really like the dress! (But you know I'm a sucker for those single-button bodices. And for transparent domed skulls, when you come right down to it.)

[Cookie, by the way, is also looking for Butterick 2241, a 1960s shirtdress. If you know where one is, want to let me know, or post a link in the comments?]

Rainbow Warrior

multicolor pockets dress

Robin sent me this eBay listing this morning (click on the image to visit the auction page) and … well, I don't even have to tell you, do I? You could go out loaded for BEAR in this dress. Cell phone, iPod, paper and pencil, wallet, business cards, breath mints, five lipsticks … and that's just the red pocket in the front!

And, yes, I realize it's a bit extreme, but sometimes you need to be extreme to make a point. Or to carry all your stuff. And is it any more extreme than this?

OMG the GIANT BIRKIN! Save us!

I could fit my SON in that bag. And he's EIGHT. (And he doesn't go anywhere without his Nintendo DS, so the bag would also play tinny Japanese videogame music.) In fact, I almost expect a bunch of clowns to start extricating themselves from that handbag. (The last one out toots a little horn, and looks suspiciously like Tom Cruise.) Also, that bag costs more than many people's houses, while the dress is at only $26 right now!

Now, I know I carry too much stuff around with me (the four issues of New Scientist is not negotiable, though maybe I could clean out some receipts and lollipops) but the alternative is being bored out of my mind when the inevitable delays occur. Maybe I should take up meditation?

Books: Wife Dressing

Wife Dressing

I've been meaning to review Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife for ages; it's been sitting here on the little typing table I use as an auxiliary desk (which should have a big bin on it labeled "stuff you should get to today but probably won't").

Make no mistake, this is a book primarily about "dressing for HIM" (the sub-subtitle is "With Provocative Notes for the Patient Husband Who Pays the Bills") and, although Fogarty was a very successful designer, she downplays that quite a bit (she spends more time talking about her eighteen-inch waist!). You get the impression that perhaps her Mister (one or all of them; she married three times) wasn't entirely comfortable with a breadwinning wife and that this book, in part, was meant to reassure him that he, too, was important in her life … even if she was selling thousands of dollars of dresses every year.

But once you get past that, the book is full of gems, such as:

A travel wardrobe is personal. … It is a condensation of your regular wardrobe, not a separate entity. After all, you're still the same person whether you're at home or far away, and you'll want familiar garments with you. Never cut your gear so close to the bone that you leave your personality behind.

(italics Fogarty's)

or how about this?

As for flagrant bad taste, there aren't too many examples. Shorts on a city street is one of the worst. This shows a lack of self-respect and a contempt for the people who are properly dressed. …. Strapless dresses in town are as bad. If a dress is strapless, it's either a cocktail dress that should be worn after five or else it's a sundress and should stay in the sun.

And my favorite:

The art of courage and discretion is a clarion cry for individuality, a turning away from slavish adherence to every fashion or beauty trend. Courage and discretion go hand in hand: the courage to dare to be yourself, the discretion not to overdo; the courage to do something unusual, the discretion to temper it.

That's good advice for everyone, whether there's a husband in the picture or not. In fact, it's even good advice for husbands themselves.

Linktastic Friday No. 5

Ann's Shwe Shwe Duro

Wow, it's linktastic Friday again. Where does the week GO?

That Duro dress up there is Ann's — remember her Shwe Shwe blog?

It's snowing here in Chicago today, but Lisa sent me a link to a pink shirtwaist dress that I wish I were wearing today. Outside. On a picnic. Without snow.

This dress would be an excellent picnic dress, too. With those pockets, you wouldn't need a basket …

Nora sent me a link to this alphabet fabric, but I ended up buying this one. Although now I think maybe I should have chosen this one, instead. Ah, well.

Another tape measure bracelet from Lisa … sold out, but I bet if you emailed the Etsy seller she'd make you another one. Ask nicely, now …

Did everyone see this stunning (and stunningly expensive) Claire McCardell pattern on eBay? This one, while not as dramatic, certainly went for a lot less … and ooh! Check out this pattern, it's quite nice and looks very easy … thanks to Jeanette for the pointer to the second Claire pattern!

Completely Magnificent Dress from Sugardale.

Theresa sends a link to StyleShake, which I haven't had a chance to really play with yet. It's another one of those "choose your own adventure dress parts, and we'll sew it for you!" sites. Which generally I'm in favor of. As proof they'll make anything, though, I present to you this:

Styleshake dress

Whoa, that's it for this Friday, even though I have more links I really should post … maybe next week will have two doses of linktasticity. You never know.

Oh! One more thing: Jen at is having another 20%-off pattern sale, now through midnight Monday. (I don't know what time zone Jen is in …) Use coupon code 'slacker20', she says, because she's been slacking this month.

But, before I forget, this blog was given a very generous writeup in a new craft mag, Make It Mine! Thanks!