Dust Ho!

Punch Dust Ho!

Whenever I need a good shot of righteous indignation, I like to search through Google Books on keywords like 'ridiculous dress' or 'ludicrous gown', because I'm never disappointed. I can always find some man who has decided that the only thing wrong with the world is women's dress, and that of course he, being far above the vagaries of fashion (and who is, of course, wearing that completely rational item of dress, the necktie) is ideally suited to pass criticism upon it.

This example is wonderful — it's not that the streets of London are filthy, or that men should perhaps not throw their cigar butts in the gutter — no, women's dresses are too long. (Why can't both things be true, I wonder?)

Q. WHAT is the dirtiest creature you know?
A. The English fine lady.
Q. What are your reasons for saying this ?
A. Her habits.
Q. Explain yourself more fully.
A. When she walks she drags behind her a receptacle for dust and dirt of every kind.
Q. What is this called?
A. A long dress, or train.
Q. What is its action?
A. It sweeps the ground, collects mud, dust, cigar-stumps, straws, leaves, and every other impurity.
Q. What happens next?
A. This accumulation rubs off to a certain extent upon other portions of her dress, or upon the legs of any person who may walk beside her, and when she gets into her carriage, the objectionable matter spoils the lining ; besides that, the dust is most offensive.
Q. Why does she wear such a ridiculous dress?
A. For one of two reasons. Either because she aims at a servile imitation of certain great folks, or because she owes money to her milliner, and dares not order any kind of dress except that which this tyrant sends home to her.
Q. Why does she not raise, or loop up her dress to keep it from the ground?
A. Because, being a lazy person, she has thick ancles [sic], or being a scraggy person, she has skinny ones, which her vanity forbids her to exhibit.
Q. Is there any other reason?
A. Yes; she has probably ugly feet, disfigured by corns or bunions caused by wearing tight boots.
Q. Is there any cure for such habits?
There is none, until her husband has been nearly ruined by her extravagance, when she is compelled by economical reasons to dress like a rational being, and at once becomes clean and charming as the British female was intended to be.
Q. What sensation is caused to man by the sight of these dresses ?
A. Contemptuous pity for the woman, and pity, without contempt, for her unfortunate husband.
Q. Does she know this ?
A. Yes, but as she dresses less to please men than to vex women, the knowledge has no effect upon her dirty habits.
Q. Where can the animal be seen?
A. At the Zoological Gardens on Sunday afternoons, in the Park and Kensington Gardens, and in most places where fine clothes can be successfully exhibited.
Q. What lesson should you deduce from this ?
A. That of thankfulness to Providence that, (if married at all) you are married to a sensible woman and not to a fine lady.
Q. What will you take to drink ?
A. Anything you like to put a name to.

Meet Our Advertisers #1 : Jen of MOMSPatterns

Simplicity 4228

Here is the first in the series of "Meet Our Advertisers": Jen from MOMSPatterns!

How long have you been in business?
I've been in business on eBay since 1998, and owned my own vintage sewing pattern website since September, 2006!

What motivated you to go into the vintage pattern business?
I used to sell costume patterns, until a dear friend of my mother's found a box of 1940s patterns in her aunt's attic. She asked if I'd be interested in selling them, and I originally, very snobbily said, "Oh, I'll TRY but I can't see that there's a market for USED OLD PATTERNS." Imagine my surprise and delight when they sold for more money than my NEW patterns! I adore the styles and fashions from the past, so started focusing on the vintage styles and couldn't be happier having a job dealing with what I LOVE.

What did you do before this?
I used to foreclose houses for a large, well-known bank!

Where are you based?
I'm in a town called Orange Park, which is right outside of Jacksonville in Florida. Hot, humid & sunny … all the time.

More fun questions:
What's the weirdest/best/most unusual/most beautiful thing you've ever

Dabbling in vintage clothing, I found nearly ninety (yes, 90!) vintage new old stock DeWeese bathing suits from the 1970s. My pals Michelle from Dollhouse Bettie and Ang from Dorothea's Closet Vintage are selling them on consignment for me and we are reveling in the whole Charlie's Angels feel of them!

What do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold?
Most of the 1930s and 1940s FABULOUS DuBarry patterns I recently added … They're just fantastic … really!

What do you dream about finding?
A box of 100 or more uncut 1920s McCall's vintage sewing patterns … An original Fortuny Delphos evening gown … and good homes for any of my beloved patterns for sale!

What do you enjoy most about working with vintage clothes and vintage sewing patterns?
I love the quality of vintage clothing. The attention to details … the shirring, the draping and the utter GLAMOUR of the days gone by.

What do you wish someone would ask you about your site?
May I Link To You / Blog About You / Advertise For You?

It's a good day at work when …
I wake up to emails from people telling me that they just found the MOMSPatterns site and they had SO much fun looking at styles that their mother or grandmother had made for them … when I can connect someone with a pattern they used to love SO much but lost … and when there's a nice stack of orders to get filled & shipped!

If I ran the internet for a day I'd …
Make sure I was number one on Google for ALL vintage sewing search keywords & combinations so I could make sure I was reaching anyone who was interested in vintage, sewing, and vintage sewing!

The blogs I read (other than ADAD) are …
Random Acts of Vintage (My friend Lisa's blog)

You'd laugh if you knew this about me …

Jen has also offered to run a month long sale for you! Coupon code 'nowiknowjen' 15% off. From today until the end of the month!

More coupon details … you can use the code over & over & over again all month long, so as you see more patterns added throughout the month, you can STILL use that code! Free s&h to USA & Canada with the purchase of 5 or more patterns, discounted shipping rates available for international orders.

Nice Day for a White Wedding (Dress)

white dragon dress

These GoodOrient folks sent me a very nice email this morning, and I went to their site to browse around. It's been ages since I've worn a qipao (mostly because they don't have POCKETS) but I've always loved how elegant they are …

This is in their clearance section. It is available in sizes 4 or 14, and looks to me like a wonderful no-budget wedding dress. It's long, it's silk, it doesn't feature the patented Shelf-o-Cleavage that seems to afflict so many wedding dresses today, and it is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS. (Yes, you read that right. $25.00.)

The non-sale price? $38.99.

I know for some people it's all about the acres of tulle, but this would be a wonderful dress for a quiet (or second) wedding or elopement. Bridal, but not Cinderellaish; elegant, but still funky. An small evening ceremony, with a reception at home? A city hall ceremony followed by a nice lunch in a restaurant? This dress would be wonderful … you could look like a bride and still get yourself into a cab without having to have a Designated Stuffer. And at this price, you could add some truly fabulous shoes and some serious undergarments. I'd wear sapphire (or lapis lazuli or at least sapphire-colored) drop earrings for the "something blue". (For the something borrowed I hereby lend you this idea.)

You could have a LOT of extra honeymoon if your dress was only $25. I'm just saying.

GoodOrient would like to advertise here — does anyone have any experience with them? I'm on the fence about whether to accept them, as I really prefer to accept advertising only from small businesses who do sewing- or vintage-related things. But a lot of people have been asking me where to get clothes made in Asia, and I have no answers. I'd love your feedback, folks.

Speaking of advertisers, I'm starting a new series of posts, a "meet-our-advertisers" series. I was a bit curious about all these folks — how did they start their businesseses? What do they like about patterns and vintage? These are not sponsored posts (other than that these folks all advertise) I was just nosy, I mean, interested, and I thought you all would be, too! I'll post the first one later on today. (These will be in addition to, not replacing, daily or semi-daily posts.)

The Hostess With the Mostess

Butterick 5666

This pattern (kindly sent by Lisa of Miss Helene's) is one of a set of (?) "College-Career Fashions created by student-designers of Stephens College, Columbia, MO". However, if anyone on that campus (or anywhere in Columbia, MO) EVER wore anything like this except for the inevitable fashion show (including their most illustrious alumna), I will construct an audacious little cocktail hat and eat it.

I can't imagine that this is a "College-Career fashion", by which I'm assuming they mean something you can wear at College, and then in your Career. (With capital letters because having either College or a Career ws so rare.)

Wearing this at College (unless you ditch the capelet) is patently ridiculous, but you know what Career they meant, of course: this is the dirigible-hostess uniform for the Greater Midwest Lighter-Than-Airlines! Or at least the one that won the contest that the GMLTA conducted among college student-designers.

The dirigible hostesses all loved this design since they could wear their capelet-belt-aprons on duty, then leave them hanging in the GMLTA locker room while they went out to enjoy the nightlife of Columbia MO, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Duluth. (The hubs of the GMLTA.)

The head hostesses would wear navy dresses and red capes, and the cadet hostesses would have red sheaths and navy capes. So chic.

They'd take their little GMLTA pins off the capes, though, and wear them on their sheath dresses, since they were good for a free drink and plate of crudités at any bar in the GMLTA hub cities.

Ah, I wish the GMLTA hadn't gone belly-up (literally, it was terrifying, thank goodness they had those five-point seat harnesses). Those were the days when travel was truly an elegant adventure.

Sew U: Home Stretch

Sew U: Home Stretch

Little, Brown sent me a copy of Sew U: Home Stretch to review (and two more to give away!) and I've just had a chance to sit down and take a look.

Although I think this book is not especially geared to my personal aesthetic (I lived through the 1980s the first time, thanks) the tips for sewing knits seem incredibly helpful. There's a real guerrilla, make-do tone; although a serger is suggested, you can make most of the knit projects in this book with your regular sewing machine. AND the book includes patterns!

I'm seriously tempted to start making my own t-shirts (or at least shorten the ones I buy online) now that I've read this book. Then they would finally all be the right length!

On to the giveaways: I'll give away the two copies to two people selected at random from those who've made recent changes at the Vintage Pattern Wiki by Friday night, CDT, June 20. (You don't have to join/log in to add to the wiki in general, but if you want to win a book you have to so that I can find you!) Not sure how to participate? here are the original instructions.

Also, Jenny added a Fauxlero category! Go forth and upload and tag, please.

If you're not into knits you might be interested in the first Sew U book, which I reviewed here.

The Only Danger: Being Hugged By Giant Pandas

Bamboo Applique dress

Naomi sent me this link, from Ramona West Vintage. I love that applique — so pretty and fresh.

The dress is $65, and measures B37/H43.

I wish it had pockets, because I think it would look great with these random shoes I bought on eBay over the weekend:

Joan & David Circa T-strap sandals

After I hit "Buy it Now" I realized that I didn't remember the last pair of shoes I'd purchased in a real store, which is pretty weird. (And I count discount chains like DSW and Loehmann's when I say "real stores".) I don't have particularly hard-to-fit feet (8.5, you are my friend) and I'm willing to pass along failures pretty speedily (or turn around and relist them if they don't fit). Has anyone else decided they can do all their shoe-shopping on Zappos and eBay?

HOWTO: Packing

Whoa. Hi there! Nice to see you again. Sorry I missed a couple days … I've been traveling a LOT, like, three-cities-in-three-days-lot, which accounts for my recent absence. (And for this post, a packing how-to.)

First off, a disclaimer. There is, of course, more than one way to pack for a trip, and more than one kind of trip. These instructions will be of no use to you if you are planning a six-month scientific expedition to the Arctic or the Amazon, have to attend four black-tie balls in five days, or have a lady's maid or valet. (if you have a lady's maid and are packing your own suitcase/valise/trunk … why do you have a lady's maid?). These instructions are really only good for fairly boring businessy-type trips, or short vacationy-type trips. But, that said:

1. The first rule of packing is to know your own strength. If you are planning to carry on a bag and cannot lift it above your head, you should not be carrying on that particular bag. (Obviously, if you are disabled and know you will have help in any case, this doesn't apply to you.) But packing more than you can lift is a recipe for disaster and will cause irritation to all your fellow travelers. In a similar vein, if you cannot drag your suitcase without it toppling over, you might want to rethink that eighth pair of shoes. Not only will your transit to the check-in line be wobbly and fairly ridiculous, the airline WILL charge you for the overweight.

2. The second rule of packing is to know your own style. This, of course, is something you should know for your whole life, not just for traveling, but you should especially know it for traveling. I hate and despise those traveling clothes that strip every last ounce of your personality from you in the service of being "easy to pack". (That dress in the link doesn't even have pockets! How is that travel-friendly?) When you travel, you should look like a concentrated version of yourself, in that your clothes are the ones in which you feel most like you. You'll be out of your natural element, so you can't rely on environmental clues to give folks an idea of what you're like.

For me, this means I usually pack a lot of dresses (duh), bright cardigans to wear over them, and, for the airport, A-line skirts with pockets.

Wearing the same thing every day (and/or washing things in hotel bathrooms) is not worth it. If you wash something, it never dries (and who wants to spend their time doing laundry on a trip?), and if you plan to wear something every day someone spills something sticky or stinky on you. Better to just pack an extra dress.

3. In my opinion, jeans are overrated. Unless this conflicts with Rule 2 for you (in that jeans are the clothing in which you feel most like yourself), ditch the jeans. First off, jeans are boring. I don't care how designery they are, or what unique combo of leg width-wash-waist level you've chosen, they are, in the end (and on your end), just a pair of jeans. My other beef with jeans is that they often act as an (overused) safety net. How often do people pack a week's worth of clothes but then end up wearing jeans every day? Travel should be broadening! (And, I hate to say this, but if you're going to a major metropolitan area, wearing something OTHER than jeans and sneakers will help you not look like a tourist, if that is a goal for you.)

4. Check the weather. Seriously. You'd be surprised how many people just assume the weather where they are going is just like the weather where they are. (You can't assume, for instance, that San Francisco in June is going to be warm.) There's this thing called the Internet, and a large part of it is just weather forecasts. I also understand there is an entire cable television channel devoted to the weather. Don't just check the forecast — check the average highs and average lows, too. And, on top of that, bring a sweater. Just in case.

5. Make a list. In fact, make several lists. I like to print out a calendar page (you can do this from Google Calendar pretty easily) and write down, for each day, what I'm planning to do, which then guides what I'm going to wear. A day spent in meetings will have a different wardrobe than a day spent traveling, sightseeing, or working in a hotel room. Pack the list! If you're traveling for more than a few days it's easy to forget what you were planning to wear when. Make the list very detailed, right down to your underwear. If the dress needs a slip, write "slip" on the list.

Make another list of things that you need that aren't clothes. I like to bring my vitamins (in an old-lady case), Emergen-C, a stretchy exercise band (to help me counteract bad office chairs), a little sewing kit, etc. If you travel a lot save your "extras" list and print out a new copy for every trip. Why remember more than you have to?

Do the same thing for toiletries — there's no percentage in taking up mental space remembering whether you packed a toothbrush or not. Make a list and check "toothbrush" off it. If you travel more than once a month, keep a toiletry set all packed and ready to go. (When you come home from a trip, replenish it right away.) I like to keep two sets packed: one in a quart ziplock bag for carry-ons, and a larger one for when I check baggage.

If it's a work trip, you should also have a work checklist: laptop power supply, charger for phone, ethernet cable, etc., etc.

6. Use packing cubes. I know they seem gimmicky, but they are so useful. First of all, they make life easier for the TSA, and you really don't want to piss them off. Which would you rather have a stranger do: pick up your nicely-packed cube and peer under it, or rummage through a suitcase full of loose clothes, possibly dumping them on the floor? I've seen that happen, and it's ugly.

7. Shoes. Here's my rule for shoes: For any trip longer than three days, you need two pairs of shoes, but no more than three. (Four, maybe, if you have to bring a pair of fancy shoes for a party.) Two pairs is so that if your shoes get wet, or cause a blister (which they shouldn't because you have also packed an anti-blister stick to use on your feet), you have a pair to switch off to.

Also, if you bring the bare minimum of shoes and develop a sudden need for another pair, you now have an excuse to go shoe-shopping.

I don't have to say again that you shouldn't be wearing flip-flops in the airport, right?

You should not be bringing more handbags than you bring pairs of shoes, unless you are Judith Leiber.

8. Miscellaneous suggestions:

— if you haven't worn the thing you are going to pack in more than a month, try it on before it goes in the suitcase.

— always bring one more pair of underwear and socks than you think you will need.

— don't stress about wrinkles. Most hotels have fairly decent irons and ironing boards, and it takes less time to press something than it does to worry about what's going to wrinkle and what's not. I can usually iron everything I've packed in less than half an hour, while watching the hotel television (and there's always an episode of Law and Order playing in every hotel room, everywhere, at every hour of the day or night).

— shoe bags are nice. I'm just saying.

— special travel pillows, special travel alarm clocks, special travel hair dryers — all overrated. Unless you have a serious princess-and-the-pea sensitivity, you'll get along just fine with whatever's at your destination. (I don't get travel candles at all. Raise your hand if you think it's a good idea to light small smelly fires in a hotel room.)

— think: what would be the most inconvenient and irritating thing to have find in the city where you're going, on the trip you're planning? ("sanitary" supplies? A spare power supply for your laptop? Your special moisturizer? ) Bring extra of that.

— if there's any chance that you will be getting in late, make sure your toothbrush, face wash, and pajamas are the easiest things to find in your suitcase.

My suitcase from trip before last:

erin suitcase

I know I haven't said anything about rolling vs. folding, or how to cram your socks into your shoes to save space, compression bags, etc. I find I rarely need to do any of that stuff. I put the clothes in the cubes, put the cubes in the bag, take one last look at my lists, and go to sleep early enough that I can wake up in time to make my flight in the morning.

Have a good trip! Send me a postcard.

My First Fabric!

Y'all have heard about Spoonflower, right? The web site of my (fabric) dreams, which lets you upload your own design for printing? (It's in beta right now, but you can sign up for an invite at that link.)

I just got my first swatch of my very first fabric, and here it is!

spoonflower fabric

I think it turned out well. I need to work on my "scatter" fill — this is still pretty stripey. I don't mind stripey, but I'd like to know how to do it right. (I've been looking at a book called Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design, but I haven't been looking at it very MUCH — my own fault.)

Here's some more pics, the first for scale:

spoonflower fabric

And this for a view of the selvage:

spoonflower fabric

And Spoonflower's pretty logo:

spoonflower fabric

The fabric has a slick hand, which I think will go away when I wash it (I haven't yet). I bought a swatch first, since 5 yards of 42" (which is of course what I would want) is about $90.

I asked Spoonflower if they were going to do some kind of split-commission sales model (like CafePress does) and they said they were looking into it. I am really only interested in making fabric for myself at this point, but if it becomes easy to sell it (that is, I don't have to doing anything more than click a little box that says "Make this available in the Spoonflower store") I probably would.

I found making the actual file for upload pretty easy and/or fun, but then I have a teeeeeny bit of experience with Photoshop already — and enough google-fu to find help pages online for the stuff I didn't know how to do. (If you want your own speech balloons, check out this Ask Metafilter page.)

Quick update on the gray dress — I loved getting so many suggestions! Lots of stuff I hadn't thought of … I think, for immediate gratification, I'm going to narrow the sleeves a bit to make them more "cap" and less "kimono", and then add an orange obi-style belt (I kinda want to wear it Saturday — yeah, I know). Then I'm going to order MORE of that fabric and make it again with a v-neck. (The fabric was only $1.99 at Fashion Fabrics Club, so I feel justified spending another $15 (including shipping).

Work In Progress: Gray Ruffle Dress

gray ruffle dress

So this is what I worked on this weekend. I'm not *thrilled* with it, and so I figured I'd put it up for your comments.

What's wrong:

— the skirt was originally about 3" longer, which was WAY TOO LONG, Texas-compound long, but I'd already sewn on the ruffle, which meant I had to take it up from the waist. Which meant resewing the seams on either side of the center front and back piece (had already put in the pockets, too, so I didn't want to resew those seams).

— I wanted to match the darts with the center front seams so I had to ease the front into the skirt and so it wrinkled. I think if I stay it with some twill tape it will stay stretched, but I haven't done that yet.

— I thought I was ready for an elegant gray dress, monochrome and understated and all that, but now that I have one I think it needs some color. Where? I could sew middy braid around the neck and hem … or, you know, I could just wear a yellow cardigan over it (which is what I'll probably end up doing anyway).

The weirdness on the right-hand side of the picture (left-hand side of the dress) is from pinning it — I haven't put in the zipper yet. Nor have I sewn down the sleeve self-facings.

This dress came about because I (shock, horror!) managed to LOSE the pieces for this pattern:

Mollie Parnis pattern 1338

I don't know where they went; all I know is that I can't find them. Arrgh.

So I took a six-gore skirt from a pattern I had NOT lost the pieces from (McCalls 3036, which I don't have a link to right now), did some rudimentary math and some pattern.jpgece surgery, and put together the skirt. Then I just slapped on the bodice from McCalls 8858 again.

Here's a few more pics:

gray ruffle dress

gray ruffle dress

Anyway, am I not thrilled about this dress because it's inherently not a thriller, or am I not thrilled about this dress because I had to do too much fussing with it? (Actually, the more I look at it the more fun I think it will be to wear, if I try not to overthink it too much. And if I finally wear a solid-colored dress, perhaps I could finally wear some of the colorful jewelry I've collected …)