Ideas I Am Going To Steal

Eirlys sent me this fantastic Etsy skirt, by deciduoussoul:

writers wrap skirt

I love this skirt, but I don't wear wrap skirts (that is, I haven't worn a wrap skirt since about 1977) so I have put this on my list of cool ideas to steal someday. Banding alphabet fabric (of which I have a gracious plenty) at the bottom of a plain A-line skirt? Genius.

Ktbb sent this link, in a comment a few days back:

rickrack sheath

I've done rickrack on skirt hems before, but not on midriff bands. I think I see a Duro Jr with this effect coming up …

And Lisa sent a link to this eBay auction for a terrific rocketship sundress … the dress itself is a bit banged up, but the fabric is so darned great I see another Spoonflower order in my future:

rickrack sheath

I don't feel bad about this at all — we get inspiration from everywhere, and there's a bright line between inspiration and slavish imitation. (I was going to throw in the Picasso quote "All art is theft" here, but I've looked that up in both the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (and the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations, just in case) and in the new Yale Book of Quotations, and can't find it. So I'll just have to steal without the glamour of Picasso having said it was okay.)

What good ideas have you wanted to steal lately?

Lead Me Not Into Temptation (I Already Have Temptation-Enabled GPS)

I knew this would happen. I asked y'all to make a list of your favorite fabric stores online — how could I think that I wouldn't do a little browsing? And that a little browsing wouldn't naturally lead to an "OMG! I MUST HAVE THAT!" moment?

Which is what happened to me with this, from Waechter's:

Fine Cotton Lycra Stretch Blend Ecru with Dark Green, Teal and Black Geometric Print

Isn't it FANTASTIC? It's a bit pricey, but I don't mind pricey when it's something that's this perfect (and it's cheaper than Liberty!). I'm not quite sure what I'll do with it yet, but I'm sure I'll figure out something. At the very least, it would make a brilliant circle skirt …

Deco Vibe: You Can Has?


This is the new HotPatterns Deco Vibe dress, and I'm really feeling it — can't you see the Duroesque nature of the short version that's front and center? That kind of louche, qiana-flavored 1970s attitude is becoming ever more attractive as we head into a sweater-wearing, oil-crisis-flavored 1970s deflationary malaise … and Jeremy from HotPatterns offered me a copy of this pattern, too!

The thing is — as much as I love the feel of this pattern, I'm just not up to it. I don't have a slinky bone in my body (forget the oxymoronicness of "slinky bone": you know what I mean). And you can't put pockets in this one, and I know I'd put that gorgeous grey clutch handbag (in my head it's suede, of course) down to pick up my cell phone or a Diet Coke and it would be gone forever, with my car keys in it.

So instead of hoarding the pattern to myself, and taking it out every once in a while to double-check that yeah, I'm still not slinky, I'm going to give the pattern (when it comes) to one of you. One you slinky goddesses out there, or one of you who can fake "slinky goddess" when this pattern hums a few bars. What do you have to do to get it?

You have to add a link to one of your favorite online fabric stores to the Vintage Pattern Wiki's new Favorite Fabric Stores page! I've put one link in there so far (just the first one I could type the URL of off the top of my head, which, frankly, is frightening) as a model. I'll look at the page history next Friday and choose one person who has added a link to get the pattern — so if you want to win, it helps to be logged in to the wiki, so I know who's who!

I would prefer that people add links ONLY to stores that sell fabric, notions, or trim online, not to stores that will mail-order if you email and ask. (We can sort those out later … or maybe this will be an incentive for them to get all the way online!) If it gets long, go ahead and add categories: knits, quilting, buttons, etc. Feel free to add a little note about the link, but please, just a few words — if we start seeing spammy or overly-marketing-y disquisitions, I WILL go in with my Avenging Editor hat on and clean it right up. (The Avenging Editor hat looks like something Rosalind Russell would wear: jaunty, with a little feather, tilted slightly to one side, and firmly pinned in place so that you can slug a reporter while wearing it and have it not come off. It SO hurts your dignity if your hat falls off when you're hitting someone.)

Anyway: back to the contest! If every tenth person who reads this blog adds just one link … let's just say there probably aren't that many online fabric stores in the world. Have fun!

Bewitched, Bepocketed, Bewildered

Advance 5247

Julie (of So-Retro Vintage Patterns) sent me this link to one of her babies. (Click on the image to visit the listing). Back me up on this, folks — the woman on the right could fit HER OWN HEAD into her pockets, right? I'm not hallucinating?

Actually, even if I AM hallucinating, I'm not sure I care. Really, if you compare these pockets to all the enormous, obscenely expensive handbags that seem to be causing every celebrity ever snapped by a tabloid to list slightly to the right, they seem restrained — sane, even.

(The dress on the right is actually very close to one of my favorite patterns, Butterick 7130, only with bonus giant buckled pockets.)

I do like how the woman in red has turned her face away from the spectacle, but is casting her eyes back … Can't look, can't look away!

I was going to put a poll in this post but it would involve a lot of messy upgrading of my template, so I'll just ask you to leave a comment instead with your answer. Are these pockets:
A) ludicrous
B) practical
C) ludicrous, but less ludicrous than those ridiculous handbags (and certainly less ludicrous than legwarmers, which I thought had died in the 1980s and I'm disappointed in ALL OF YOU responsible for bringing them back, actual ballerina/os excepted)
D) "I'm wearing them right now, AIFG!"
E) Other (please specify).

(I promise I'll do a proper poll someday …)

10,000 Hours. (What Are You Waiting For? Start Now.)

Charles James Butterfly dress

Has everyone heard about Malcolm Gladwell's new book? It's called Outliers: The Story of Success.

There's an excerpt in the Guardian which is fascinating; you should go read the whole thing (and check out his Pop!Tech talk, too) but here is the two-minute takeaway: when we look at people who are at the top of their game, it's not so much that they are fantastically talented — it's more that they put in the time. How much time? About ten thousand hours of time, if you want to be the best of the best. (If you want to be merely good, shoot for 8,000 hours, and if you're okay with being just north of mediocre, 4,000 hours.)

The dress above is something I would love, someday, to be able to make. (It's the Charles James Butterfly dress, from the Chicago History Museum.) Let's assume, whether it's true or not, that I don't have to be a staggering 10K-hour rocket scientist to make it, but could skate by on merely 8K hours of practice. How far am I from being able to make this dress?

I've probably sewn an average of 15 hours a month for the past twenty-five years, sometimes a little more, and sometimes a lot less. But let's take 15 hours a month as average. 15 x 12 x 25 is 4,500 hours, putting me just above mediocre … which, to be honest, is right where I would say my own sewing skillset is (and those of you who keep pointing out — rightly — that I should match my patterns better will agree!). But if I keep sewing at this rate, or, better yet, crank it up a bit more, I could be at Charles James Dress Level in another decade or so — which certainly worth trying for, right?

TEN THOUSAND HOURS may sound a bit frightening, but to me (since I'm almost halfway there!) it sounds fantastically encouraging. To hear that I don't have to have some ineffable pixie-dust sprinkle of magic called talent or genius or knack to make the kinds of dresses I dream of — all I have to do is KEEP AT IT? And that this notion is backed by Science? How great is that?

I'm also going to be more generous from now on in what I call "practice." Reading sewing blogs & magazines and seeing new techniques? Practice. Hanging out in the fabric store? Practice. Idly googling "Callot Soeurs"? Practice. These next 5,500 hours are going to FLY by, I tell you!

So … what do you want to be great at? How fast can you get to 10,000 hours? I'll wait while you do the math.

This –>

Butterick 7649

I wish someone hadn't snapped up this pattern (from Lanetz Living) before I got to it … it's one of those ones that I want just for the illustration. The ecstatic trance that Coat Woman is in … can I have what she's having, please?

And I like that the original owner of the pattern had to re-focus attention to the actual dress illustration with the scribbled "This" — you know, since all eyes are so obviously elsewhere.

Why don't we wear these coat/dress combos any more? I know it seems a bit overkillish (or inconvenient) to have a separate coat for every dress, but I really wish I did. And that they were weightless and massless, so that I could cram them all into my suitcase. Now that the weather's gotten colder my packing is always dependent on whatever coat I can take that will go with everything in my suitcase … and nothing ever does.

I am currently searching for a green leather coat, which I think (ha!) will go with everything I ever wear. I want a single-breasted green leather vintage coat with a slightly frock-coaty vibe, and as far as I can tell, this Does Not Exist. (If you've seen one, you know where to find me.) Green goes with black AND brown AND gray AND the darker reds and oranges that I like, and leather can be dressy or sporty (and doesn't show dirt as much). And if it's vintage, of course, it has that kind of beat-up, broken-in cool … oh, why can't I find you, Perfect Coat?

The square neckline with the kimono sleeves is also wonderful, isn't it? The little tucks really make it special. Too bad they're hidden under the coat …

My Son, the Fashion Designer

ebay item 8305987417

My son did this sketch for me a couple of months ago and I have been meaning to post it for ages. It came about because I was curled up on the couch reading Vogue while he was organizing Pokemon cards or some such fourth-grade activity, and some picture caught his eye. Embarrassed at being caught being INTERESTED in something, he shrugged off the picture as "that girly stuff" … until I told him that (whatever it was, I can't remember) cost $1200. (It was in Vogue, remember?)

After his incredulous "REALLY?" we had a little talk about fashion designers, and how a lot of them were men … at which point he sat down and drew the above picture. I think he has a lot of promise as a fashion designer. First of all, he totally caught the Goth-Loli zeitgeist thing that's going on; for another he's very self-critical (he wrote the "D+" on the picture himself when he was done). He even named the look ("Moon Heart").

I also think he has a great eye for merchandising and diffusion/bridge lines — sure, the dress is $800, but the stockings (which make the look, you have to admit) are only $20. Affordable luxury! Not to mention the well-thought-out hair and makeup, right down to the dramatic lipstick and the heart and moon patches on the face …

The last cool thing is that he drew penny loafers. Since I wear penny loafers ALL THE TIME, I loved that part best of all. When he actually is a famous fashion designer (unlikely, as he mostly wants to be either a scientist or a book illustrator, or, failing that, Indiana Jones) I will take full credit for being his muse and inspiration. (He designed the dress for someone my height, as you can see.)

Look for him on Project Runway in about … 2018.