The Heartbreak of Gaposis

Advance 8057

Melissa has a question:

I also love the shirtdresses, but being fuller-bosomed, I have basically given up on owning anything that buttons down the front. Any tips to prevent gapping and preserve modesty?

First — did you make sure that the pattern you're making is the right cup size? As La Belladonna has often reminded us, patterns are intended for a B cup. If you're not a B cup (and it sounds like you aren't), you have to do something called a Full Bust Alteration (check out the Pattern Review boards or Stitches and Seams or this link for information about this).

Since I am not far enough away from a B to justify doing an FBA, I usually just make sure that the middle button is centered right between the two bust points.

Anyone else have suggestions?

Duro Junior

Puzzle Dress

So this is my version of Simplicity 3875, henceforth known as Duro Junior.

I know I haven't been posting about the Duro lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been THINKING about the Duro. I was looking for a lighter, slimmer version to wear when it's really hot: the Original Duro can be a LOT of fabric.

This pattern didn't originally jump out at me as a good candidate, mostly because the jewel-neck version on the pattern envelope had these dumb little string ties which managed to obscure the lines of the bodice. But once I erased those (mentally) I decided to give it a shot.

Although not actually difficult, this pattern is still a massive PITA to put together. The back of the dress has no waist seam (just a lengthwise back seam), so, in order to finish the neck edge with the bias facing BEFORE the front panels are attached, you have to sew the front bodice pieces to the back bodice pieces at the shoulder WAY early in the process. Which means for the rest of the construction, you're shoving that long back piece out of the way. Arrgh.

I was able to add pockets, too, in the side seams, although lining them up when sewing that seam was a bit tricky. There's a single notch to match the front skirt to the back at the side seam, so I placed my pocket piece on the front skirt pattern where I thought it should go, then cut a corresponding notch on the pocket — that helped it match up pretty well.

The original pattern has the tie hanging down the back, but I prefer the way it looks brought around to the front.

Here's the back view:

Puzzle Dress

And here's a closeup of the front:

Puzzle Dress

I haven't hemmed the skirt, or the sleeves, BOTH of which were about three inches too long (PITA, pt. 3). I ended up cutting a 12 in the bodice and a 14 in the skirt, which was more or less the right size; if I had to do this again I'd maybe cut a 10 in the bodice (for narrower shoulders) and add some length to it, and a 16 in the skirt for a little bit more fullness. Although that would necessitate buying two copies of the pattern (PITA, pt. 4).

The fabric is Michael Miller, maybe? I bought it at City Quilter a gazillion years ago, I think … (I really should start labeling my fabric with where and when and from whom I bought it, shouldn't I?) I think it's a little too stiff for this pattern, but it was a good tradeoff between fabric I could bear to screw up and fabric I would want to wear if it actually turned out okay. I think next time I will make it in some stripey seersucker, or maybe even in this silk noil I have lying around …

Meet Our Advertisers #5: Holly at Lucite Box Vintage

Lipstick Kiss dress

Today's advertiser: Holly of Lucite Box Vintage!

How long have you been in business?

I've been on the internet since 2001. I began selling part-time on eBay. I left a job about a year later to work with vintage full-time and started my site, We just gave it a face-lift a couple of weeks ago and I'm really enjoying working on the new site. It's amazing what a new look can do for a gal!

What motivated you to go into the vintage business?

I had just quit a corporate sales management job. While sitting on my friend's porch one afternoon after a long season of temp jobs at area banks, I was bemoaning the boredom of working in the private sector. I cleared trades at the bank.

My friend (who I call The Determinator because her tenacity and determination usually gets big results) gave me a kick in the pants when she asked me,
"Holly, man…what are you doing?! What are you gonna do?"

I wasn't sure what she was getting at, so I told her that I had saved some money and was thinking of traveling for awhile before I figured out how to re-enter the work force. I said, "I think I'm going to travel to Morocco. Wanna come with me?" True to Determinator form, she said "No. I mean what are you going to do with your life now? You seem totally bored and I'm getting sick of hearing about your temp job at the bank."

I said, "Well…I suppose you're right. I might open a vintage store. I've been thinking about it for a long time, you know."

That conversation got the ball rolling for me. I started selling on eBay a few months later and just as expected, the Determinator was right there helping me brand my company and cheering me on all the way!

What did you do before this?
I was the national sales manager for a small-ish start-up company that grossed about 5 million the year I left. Then, I went into a tailspin with a series of seemingly dead-end temp jobs.

Where are you based?

More fun questions:

What's the weirdest/best/craziest/most beautiful thing you've ever

These things rank right-up there for me…
1) Howard Greer 50s Dress that's cut down to THERE!:

2) Irene Lentz 50s Evening Jacket
Irene Lentz
3) A trio of amazing 30s gowns
30s gowns

What do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold?

Well, I have racks of things that I haven't offered yet. There have been a few items I've listed on eBay didn't sell and they still mystify me. Why, oh why doesn't anyone understand this wacky novelty jacket?

If you ask me, this novelty print jacket and dress duo is a winner and it will surprise me if someone doesn't want to snap this up quickly. Check out the print–don't you just love the lady in the shopping cart?!

What do you dream about finding?

I deal a lot in what I'd call wearable, everyday fashions that are usually quite affordable. My vintage dreams (and they do actually wake me with a start) are about finding an estate where the woman was my size, had good taste in clothes, and maintained her wardrobe well. You can't imagine how many times I have found the ultimate 50s sun dress with a fabulous novelty print–in my size–only to wake and find I'm in bed and there's no sun dress!

My wildest daydreamy kinds of fantasies always involve something I'm almost certain I won't find. My holy grails are vintage Adrian, Yves St. Laurent's Mondrian dress, a heavily embellished Nudie suit, and maybe a Charles James or a Fortuny just because I figure that if you're gonna dream, you might as well dream big.

What do you enjoy most about working with vintage?

It's very pleasurable to research the history of fashion. It's most exciting to share my passion for history with someone else. When something that I sell lands in the hands of a person who'll treasure it (and probably even wear it), I'm always very pleased.

You know, you start to feel like you're somehow an ambassador for these old things. I've always been attracted to that idea of merely being a host or a steward of vintage…like things are just visiting me for a little while and then I get to send it someplace else where they will be appreciated.

It's sort of like being a connecting link in a big chain. I'd like to think that the things that leave lucitebox will eventually end up somewhere else in the distant future and that the chain just goes on and on. I have some of my grandmother's home-sewn clothes. I look forward to passing them on to the right person after I'm gone. When I look at one of the pieces, I almost feel her presence in the dress…as if she's right there sitting at her Singer in the sewing room working on it.

What do you wish someone would ask you about your site?
Would you be interested in being featured in Vogue magazine next month?

It's a good day at work when …
I can easily find one of my three or four tape measures! It's as if you put them down and they quickly end up wherever the one missing sock from the dryer goes!

If I ran the internet for a day I'd …

Ask for limited amounts of flash animation on any site. I'm sorry, I just don't have time to wait for your cool graphics to load. I would also put an end to the soundtracks that accompany sites. Please. Quiet sites, people. What you may not know is that even though I'm shopping and I really do want to read your blog or read about your merchandise, I already have my iTunes loaded and your music overlapping my music is creating a mind-bending mix that rivals any really, really bad acid trip. Hello, Advil Liquid Gels!

The blogs I read (other than ADAD) are …

I am seriously addicted to design and decorating blogs. I can't ever seem to get my fix and when I miss a day or two, I get cravings fro them. It's a joy to catching up with my bookmarks. Here are a few blogs that I like:
apartment therapy
design boner
making it lovely
ikea hac

it's (k)not wood

Oh, and somewhat unrelated to interior design, but seriously entertaining–I just found a blog called Yardsalebloodbath that I LOVE! There are the people I want to party with!

Oh, and of course, I do read a lot of blogs that my vintage colleagues write. My favorite at the moment is Random Acts of Vintage.

You'd laugh if you knew this about me …
My longest running dream in life is to own a goat farm and make artisanal cheeses. But, tomorrow, I'll probably have a new one to replace that dream. At the moment, it seems that it might involve auditioning for So You Think You Can Dance!

Holly is also offering a discount for Dress a Day readers.
Please take 15% off of any item on Use the coupon code "erinisawesome" [Editor's note: I did not ask for this code!] HURRY! The sale ends on July 26th!

You should also check out Holly's blog — she's got a great feature on collections

Also, Holly is looking for a Chicago part-time sewist to help her with some piece-work at lucitebox. She sometimes purchases vintage items that have modest but fixable damage (a hem needs to be replaced, a shoulder is blown out, there's a rip at the waist, etc.) and is looking for someone who isn't just technically "good" at sewing, but someone who can troubleshoot to find the best solution for fixing something while appropriately preserving the sensibility of the era. If you're interested, drop her a line …

What I Would Wear (If I Were A Guy)

For a long time I've toyed with a kind of "Dress A Day Guide To Style For Guys" but I've never done it, mostly because I hate any kind of fashion writing that says YOU SHOULD WEAR THIS, NO, REALLY, BECAUSE I SAID SO, C'MON NOW, ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE ME MAD? People should wear what they want to wear (as long we all agree that "want to wear" = "made a conscious, thoughtful decision to wear").

So yesterday I realized, hey, I could do a post about what *I* would wear if I were a guy. And yes, I know, unisex styles, androgyny, blah blah blah, but let's face it: nobody who calls her blog "A Dress A Day" spends a lot of time Dietriching around in a suit.

First off: if I were a guy I would totally do the kilt thing:

David Tennant IN A KILT.

Because, despite being named "Erin", I'm Scots (if you go back a couple hundred years or so) and secondly, girls love 'em. (I'm just assuming here that if I were a guy I'd be a straight guy.) Believe me, walk down the street in a kilt (even if you don't look like David Tennant) and you'll be beating them off with a stick. You might actually need a caber, come to think of it.

I also like the suit and sneakers look:

David Tennant as Doctor Who.

(What, did you think I was going to use someone other than Ten to illustrate this point?)

I think this works best when the sneakers are not of the highly-athletic sort. Saturday sneakers rather than performance sneakers, if you know what I mean. (Although this also mostly works.)

I also like the ironic and somewhat ratty t-shirt look:

Hugh Laurie as Dr House.

In fact, if I were a guy, I would INVENT pretend bands, photoshop up the tour t-shirts, and have one-offs printed up for me. Then, when asked if I liked the band whose shirt I was wearing, I would say "These guys? They sold out. They suck now."

If I were a guy, I would only wear Levi's jeans. Period. No fancy jeans. This would be non-negotiable. In a pinch, or if I were invited to a rodeo (AS A PARTICIPANT) I would consider Wranglers.

If I were a guy, I would wear these shoes with everything.

If I were a guy, I would always have a brushed-aluminum mechanical pencil on my person. (I usually do now, anyway.)

If I were a guy, I would totally copy Francis and wear the funky tie/shirt combo.

If I were a guy, I'd wear seersucker suits, only I'd wear them with a t-shirt & sneakers, not a dress shirt and tie:

Seersucker suit

If I were a guy, I'd wear paisley shirts.

Of course, lots of things would still be the same in my closet. I'd still wear heavy-framed glasses, bright colors, plastic watches, and Jack Purcells.

I even like the sport-coat-and-shorts combo. But never, under any circumstances (unless maybe I lost a serious bet) would I show up in this:

Really, really, really bad shorts.

I promise.

Crowdsourcing Color Choices

Remember this pattern?

newspaper 4829

Well, I had a couple spare hours last night (Sure, I was sorry that my husband and son were stuck in traffic, but I wasn't going to let that stop me from SEWING with that found time) and decided to give it a shot:

newspaper 4829 fan cotton

And this is as far as I got. Which is pretty far, except that I need to buy bias trim for the edging, and I'm undecided as to which color it should be.

Colors I have ruled out: red, black, brown, gray, green, and (gasp) orange.

Colors I'm still thinking about: mustardy yellow, turquoise, blue, pink.

I'm looking for a kind of Palm-Beach, Lilly Pulitzer vibe from this dress. What do y'all think?

Here's a better look at the belt part:

newspaper 4829 fan cotton

I haven't done the buttonholes or the buttons, obviously, because I want them to match the binding. I zigzagged a facing to the wrong side, to stiffen it a bit and keep the edges from fraying too much.

And the neck:

newspaper 4829 fan cotton

Anyway, as you can see, the dress is pretty "eh" without the bias edging. It did sew up really quickly, though, which was nice. The skirt will definitely flap as you walk, showing the wrong side (which on this fabric is nearly white) so I'm almost convinced that I should line the thing, which would then (bonus!) make it reversible. I might have enough turquoise cotton to do that, and then instead of bias binding I could do rick-rack in the seam …

I still have NO IDEA where the pockets will go. I think they will have to be patch pockets applied after the bias binding, so I can get the spacing right.

Ideas? Comments?

Don't Worry, These Stories Usually End In Weddings

ebay item 8305987417

So Marie sent in this pattern envelope (from Vintage Martini), with the note "just look at their expressions!"

To which I say, "and how!"

Obviously this is a still from one of those screwball movies that involve twins. This one's plot is that the mother of the twins can only afford to allow one girl a fancy debut, so she's pretending that the other twin doesn't exist. So, in this picture, spoiled Twin A (Billie) is off to the dance in her dress, while Twin B (Millie) sulks at home, in a housecoat. However, later, when Billie falls ill (food poisoning, milked for comedic effect), Mama has to beg Millie to fill in for Billie so that Rich Suitor won't be distracted by Billie's nemesis, the unscrupulous grass-widow Carlotta. Rich Suitor then falls for Millie, of course, and after many, many, MANY misunderstandings and some French-farce-type runnings in and out of rooms, they have a double wedding. The End.

Won't someone go back in time and film this for me? kthxbye!

Pattern Grading

Simplicity 3354

Okay, some of you may have seen a weird version of this post, which I published accidentally. Sorry for the retcon …

Anyway, Kate (who earlier had a question about Hawaiian dresses, which you all answered in record time), writes:

I recently acquired some AWESOME Vogue Special Designs dress patterns, but they are several sizes too small and about 10 inches too tiny for me in the bust/waist.

I am learning to redraft my own patterns, but in the meantime I would be happy to pay somebody for their expertise in resizing my small patterns into my size and tracing them onto pattern paper for use in my sewing room. Do you know of any companies or individuals who offer this type of service?

While I am in the mood to pay others to help with my sewing, are you aware of any companies that offer the service of cutting and marking patterns, then mailing the patters, fabric, and cut pieces back to the owner to complete the sewing?

I am so eager to sew that I am looking for shortcuts to speed up production time. Any advice is appreciated! Thank you.

I know nothing about grading but I found this nice post from Kathleen about grading machines. (I'm always in favor of more gadgets …)

And this, from the Threads site, too.

And the pattern above? Is just an example of the kind of thing I'd grade if I could …