I Wish This Were Endangered

Cavalli NM dress

Theresa sent this in as an example of a fauxlero, which it might be, but it's also an example of the kind of dress that makes me wince. It's Cavalli, of course, who is the King of Wince as far as I'm concerned, but I'm sure I would be just as flinchy if it were Calvin Klein.

I know a lot of people love them and that they're sometimes considered kicky and retro and cool, but I just Don't Get animal prints. I feel like they are altogether too much like work; either you have to BE the leopard-print-wearing sexpot implied by your dress, or you have to be constantly elbowing everyone in the metaphorical ribs, saying "Get it? Get it? I'm playing with notions of sexuality (or class, or whatever). Grrr."

Of course, there are scores of things that I don't especially like that many other people enjoy immensely: bananas, Larry David, and the "music" of Rush come immediately to mind. And the number of things that I like that other people can't stand are also legion: the color orange, smelling like a box of Good & Plentys, extremely vulgar and palindromic hip-hop, liverwurst. De gustibus, and all that.

So every time I feel the urge to issue some kind of sartorial fiat, declaring animal prints (or sweatpants with "Juicy" written across the butt, or that godawful David Yurman jewelry) non grata, I think — "Wait a minute, what if someone out there loves lycra tiger stripes as much — or more — than I love liverwurst? Who am I to begrudge them their happiness?" So I don't.

I still wish Cavalli would retire, though. Hasn't the man done enough? (Although, come to think of it, this isn't bad …)

Meet Our Advertisers #6: Anna at BootyVintage

McCalls 6649

Today we talk with Anna at BootyVintage …

How long have you been in business?

I started selling vintage sewing patterns, vintage clothing, and doing custom costuming in the 90's. I think I sold my first item on ebay (a silk turn of the century day dress) in 1997. I used a 60 Mb pink plastic Barbie digital camera to take the photos and a dial up modem connection to upload. Thankfully my equipment is a little more sophisticated now.

What motivated you to go into the vintage business?

There are only so many clothes I can wear at one time, and I wanted to share what I found but didn't fit. I'm less interested in collecting than in creating and wearing.

What did you do before this?

In addition to my vintage business, I have always had a day job in software engineering in the Silicon Valley. I also play French horn in a community orchestra.

Where are you based?

I live on the San Francisco Peninsula in California.

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

Several years ago I found 10 pair of Levi's big E jeans (super collectible, especially in Japan) at a $1.00/bag Rotary rummage sale. I felt like I was on Antiques Road Show! Another great find was a complete set of 1930's Shirley Temple doll clothes patterns I discovered hidden inside a manila envelope for another doll pattern. Once I found a real Hermés scarf at an Idaho thrift shop for $5.99. And then there are the other six thousand hours of digging through estate sales and flea markets to find nothing. C'est la vie!

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

I think this pattern rocks, including the artwork, but it hasn't found its destined owner yet.

What do you dream about finding?

Someday there will be a big bold Lanvin necklace just waiting for me in a junk jewelry pile….

What do you enjoy most about working with vintage patterns?

I am crazy about the artwork on the envelopes. (I even like the way the early envelopes feel!) I love scanning and making thumbnails for Etsy. And of course I love sewing up items too. I just finished a 50's floor length summer bathrobe with a full skirt and fitted bodice. I feel so glamorous now that I am out of my shapeless winter fleece.

What do you wish someone would ask you about your site?

I'm always interested to know what people are hungry for. Is it wrap skirts or more shirtdresses, or … ?

It's a good day at work when …

I get off early from my day job and have time to sew before dinner.

The blogs I read (other than ADAD) are …

The Sartorialist
A Year in Exile
My Favorite Intermissions
Belle Dia

You'd laugh if you knew this about me …

I have never gotten a zipper in correctly on the first try in my life. Not once.

Oh, and in other news, it was frequent-commenter Eirlys's birthday yesterday, and her husband gave her a PRESERVING PAN. Which is all well and good (and I would, in fact, like to own one myself, not that I do any canning or preserving, it just seems like a fun thing to have in reserve against the coming apocalypse) but it's not very birthdayish. So in order to cheer her up a bit (and if you're on Facebook) I highly recommend joining The International Sewing Conspiracy.

APB on 4743

Vogue 4743

I don't usually put out pattern calls (because otherwise that's all I'd do, and because putting out pattern calls often alerts folks that a particularly desirable pattern EXISTS, which usually leads to even more people looking for it, benefiting the original pattern-coveter not a whit) but I am making an exception in this case because 1) it's for a wedding, specifically Shannon's wedding, and 2) it is completely freaking gorgeous.

So, if you have a line on this pattern, will you let me know? Or if you know of a modern equivalent, or something that could be altered into a reasonable facsimile of this pattern …

Oh, and on a completely unrelated note, I don't know how many of y'all Twitter, but I have decided that it would be a Very Funny Idea if I were to twitter as Fake Diana Vreeland, sending out "Why Don't You …" tweets (both some of her original ones and new ones in her "style") at irregular intervals. If you are on Twitter and want to follow Fake Diana Vreeland, she is here. (I also tweet random words at this Twitter account.)

Also: to come later this week: the return of the Meet Our Advertisers feature!

The Penultimate Duro Jr

Amy Butler Lotus Duro

As promised, the penultimate Duro … this is Amy Butler Morning Glory Slate (yesterday I thought it was Lotus, but I think that's the name of the line, not the pattern). Anyway, as you can see, it marks a return to piping. I also piped the bottom of the midriff, which you really can't see here, but which lets me someday decide to wear the sash tied in the back (as if).

Here's the back, which has no piping:

Amy Butler Lotus Duro

As you can see, I made no effort whatsoever to match this pattern on the back.

Here's a slightly closer view of the bodice:

Amy Butler Lotus Duro

When I first saw this fabric I lurved it, couldn't wait for it to arrive, had all sorts of plans for it … and then I waited. I had ordered it through … well, I ordered it from some folks who were not very well organized, and so I waited. And I waited, and I sent some emails, and then I waited some more, until when it finally DID come, I was so over it that I didn't really want to look at it. I kept dragging it out and looking at it and then folding it up again and putting it back on the shelf. I'm glad I was so exasperated, though, because otherwise I would have used this up three times over and would not have had it available for the Duro Jr.

I made one more Duro Jr … it's sitting upstairs in my suitcase and I haven't taken a picture of it yet. I'll try to do that soonish-like. (I'll give you one hint: it's made from one of the fabrics I just bought in Japan.)

Duro Junior, Again

tropical Duro Jr

Whoa. That pic's a little out of focus, isn't it? Try this one:

tropical Duro Jr

Ah, well. This is another Duro Jr, made from Simplicity 3875.

This is fabric I bought ages ago, probably at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. I actually made a skirt out of it first, and then didn't like the skirt (and perhaps sent it to my sister? Kate, you there?), but surprisingly, there was enough left to make this dress with even a smidgen to spare. (I think I might have to go through my "leftover fabric" laundry basket and see what else might be ready for the Duro Jr treament …)

The fabric has a slight pucker to it, and is ridiculously comfortable. I think the print may be a bit too much of a good thing (if I'd had a red or a pink that matched, I think I would have made the bodice bands and midriff bands in a contrasting fabric) … but again, ridiculously comfortable, and that's what I was going for. I made this (and another one, which I'll show you tomorrow) for my trip to Japan, because I had been told that the humidity in Tokyo was slightly greater than that found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench (and they were right).

Here's the back:

tropical Duro Jr

And the back waistband:

tropical Duro Jr

I have cut out one more of these (and may finish it tonight, if a particular eight-year-old cooperates in the matter of BEDTIME), but I think that may be it for the Duro Jr this summer. I had big plans to make seven or eight of these … and then the September fashion magazines arrived, with all their wools and turtlenecks, and the thought of more summer sewing seemed a bit risible. It'll be October REALLY SOON, won't it? And this is not really something you can wear a sweater over. (Nor does it seem as if it would work in corduroy.)

But as summer dresses go, man, this one is nice. (Especially once I added good deep side-seam pockets.)

Tune in tomorrow for another Duro Jr … this time in Amy Butler fabric!

The Age of Empire

Linda sent me a great link to this dress:

stylelist empire

It's not that the dress is so great, really; it's more about the description:

stylelist empire

In which the writer posits that there is a part of the body called "the empire," which is right under the bust, above the natural waist.

It would be easy to write this off as an error (which I guess it technically is, at this point) but it's more interesting to look at it as an example of lexical change. (Perhaps this belongs on my other blog?) There are lots of different ways that words can change, but I think this is an example of a folk-etymological change.

If you had never made the connection that "empire" in this context refers to an actual empire, it would be completely logical to assume that "empire" is a more genteel way to say "high-waisted" or "under bust," right? Folk etymologies come up with explanations that seem logical and that fit the facts. Which is a simpler explanation: that a silhouette is named after some long-dead French people, or that the name is based on the part of the body it emphasizes?

I'm not trying to say that this interpretation is right; I'm just trying to say that it's interesting … but I also wouldn't argue that a word must slavishly adhere to its etymological origins. Words change, after all. That's just how things are. I don't know if this usage is going to catch on, but I'm going to keep watching for it. (If you hate it, never fear: Nobody's going to force you to start referring to your "empire.")

I also look forward to finding out that the part of my body where the knee meets the calf is called "the capri," and that a little further down I have a "clamdigger."

What? Is it Linktastic Friday Already?

It surely is, and probably way overdue. First off, Holly at LuciteBox would really, really, really like your help in finding her this:

Serbin dog-print dress

It was originally listed on eBay (by Red Buckaroo, but not in Holly's size. (You see the problem.) If you want to see a part of why Holly wants it so much, click through to her blog to see her adorable dog Oslo …

Theresa sent a link to this slide show of First Ladies fashions, which is interesting not only for the pictures, but also for the evidence of the complete absence of copyediting ("shoulder-bearing" and "arm-bearing" where they should have "baring", sheesh).

Wink sent this rickrackalicious skirt … with pockets! Nadia found us shoes to not-match, and Judy suggests these. And if that's not enough rickrack for you (and how could it be?) there's this rickrack fabric, sent by T.C.

Becca thinks the brown dress in this link may be a fauxlero. Opinions? [WARNING: link plays (bad) music]

Speaking of fauxleros, Wendy pointed out that the AMC Dress at BurdaStyle has a very nice one.

Robin sent a link (inspired by the discussion of one-yard patterns) to furoshiki, the cool Japanese practice of wrapping presents in fabric. I heartily endorse this idea.

Kathleen (at Little Hunting Creek) sent a link to this really interesting semi-Duro, up at Pattern Review. Check it out!

Leslie sent in this awesome typography poster. In a similar vein, Lorrwill sends us the link to the thesaurus t-shirt.

I can't believe it's the end of August already, but Jen at MOMsPatterns.com can and she's running a back-to-school sale on 1100-1300 new old stock children's patterns. You get a 15% discount with coupon code 'backtoschool' …

Sorry it's such a short linktastic Friday … but please keep those links coming!

Oh, Leola.

Advance 5159

You can't see it in this image, but if you click through to the eBay auction (where this is listed for a couple more days), the pattern envelope has "Leola" written on it in red ink.

I am consumed with curiosity about Leola. First of all, if this was her pattern, I know I would have liked her — this is one excellent pattern. I wonder why she never made the dress? (The seller says it's "factory folded", but maybe Leola was just very, very tidy?) Maybe she had a bunch of sisters (or roommates) and that's why she felt she had to write her name on her pattern?

Maybe Leola got distracted by a life of hijinks and adventure, or maybe she was planning to wear this dress on a hot date and he broke her heart, leaving her too despondent to sew, or maybe she joined the WAC and started wearing uniforms, instead.

I think (basely solely on my onomastics-are-destiny reaction to the name Leola) that she was attracted to this pattern by the green print version. (Also, that's the one I like.) According to Nametrends.net, the name Leola's last popularity surge was in the 1910s, meaning that when this dress came out it's likely that she would have been about my age.

I would love to make this in bright primary colors (big surprise) with a black midriff band and black piping between the tiers. Too bad it's not my size.

Oh, Leola, why didn't you ever make this dress? I need to know!

[Oh, and thank you, everybody, for the kind birthday wishes of yesterday! You all rock!]



"One absinthe drinker had a mania which made it impossible for him to see a blue silk dress without attempting to set it on fire. He was arrested on a national fête day for having put his lighted cigar to no fewer than thirty-seven dresses."

As some of you have winkled, it is indeed my birthday today, and I claim thirty-seven years on this fête day (although I do NOT countenance the torching of blue silk dresses today or any day, under the influence of absinthe or not). Hurrah!

Searching on "thirty-seven" got me (in addition to the marvelous excerpt above) some other real gems:

"There is nothing extraordinary in the existence of a beautiful, vivacious, attractive woman of thirty-seven, nothing strange in the fact that lovers should collect about her … still the situation is unusual, to say the least … thirty-seven is a very good age, a very good age indeed — if Lady Matilda would only think so, and would only show that she thinks so. Why there are plenty of ladies who are quite passé by thirty or thirty-five — they are full-grown women, they think sensibly and talk sensibly about their children and servants and domestic affairs — those are the things that ought to interest women of Lady Matilda's time of life." (found here)

She was a woman of thirty-seven, rather tall and plump, without being fat; she was not pretty, but her face was pleasing, chiefly, perhaps, on account of her kind brown eyes. Her skin was rather sallow. Her dark hair was elaborately dressed. She was the only woman of the three whose face was free of make-up, and by contrast with the others she seemed simple and unaffected. (from here)

September, 1856, when she was thirty-seven years old, marked the beginning of her effort to become a writer of fiction. She had always desired to write a novel, but she believed herself "deficient in dramatic power both of construction and dialogue," although feeling that she would be at ease "in the descriptive parts of a novel." (about George Eliot)

A Lady about thirty-seven years of age, having an oval face, represented in nearly a front view. She has on a white cap, and wears a very large full ruff, edged with lace, and a black silk dress, and is adorned with a cluster of gold chains, suspended round the neck, and reaching down to the bodice. Dated 1633. (from here)

Oh, and in other birthday news, Rita celebrates her birthday this month, and is offering 15% off at her site, Cemetarian … use the code "Birthday".

Hope you all have marvelous days today, whether it's your birthday or not. (But extra-marvelous if it's your birthday.)