Oh, Oh, Oh … Merry Christmas!

Birgit at Stitches and Loops sent me these, and only my sense of bloggish responsibility kept me from buying all of these myself and not posting them:

Butterick 6707

Vogue 8915

McCalls 6044

Christine at Alley Cats has these for some lucky Jazz Age babe:

PPP 6125

PRP 4560

pattern 2951

Hotpatterns is doing a sale: buy any two of their three bestselling dresses and get the bag pattern of your choice free! (You have to email in your choice of bag pattern to sales@hotpatterns.com and they will add it to the order — Offer ends Dec 31st! One of their three bestsellers is this one, which I love and plan to make Real Soon Now:

Cosmopolitan dress

Are you ready for more?

Of course you are. Karen at Mystique Vintage is offering these three charmers:

A great sheath dress pattern:

Vogue 6178

Some really nice floral 1940s fabric:

1940s rayon

And, for the girl who has (nearly) everything: a faux-fur and satin hanky-holder. You know, for the vanity table:


Karen has also added a gift certificate feature to her site through Paypal – good on all items for sale at Mystique Vintage (with no expiration date!) and in denominations of $5.

Amy at Viva Vintage has this heartbreakingly wonderful vintage coin charm bracelet:

coin bracelet

And this mother-of-pearl bracelet:

mother of pearl bracelet

And this wool cape and muff set, which is so vintage it looks like it's from the future!

cape and muff set

Oh, and Deborah sent me this link to an Etsy necklace supposedly inspired by this blog! I am very, very flattered.

And Even More Holiday Shopping

Marge at Born Too Late has the perfect suit for your Mad Men-obsessed friend:

Mad Men suit

She's also got this sparkly green cocktail dress, this really cute Anne Adams newspaper pattern and this Vogue pattern (ahem, Santa, I've been really good this year …) And Marge is giving 10% of the purchase price of all items (not including shipping) to the Salvation Army through the end of December!

Carol [not Caroline, as I had it earlier! ooops!] at Dandelion Vintage has a great selection of vintage purses (including this mock-croc doctor's bag):

Mad Men suit

And if you're giving a bag, why not put a vintage hanky in it? Carol also has lovely vintage aprons, which make great gifts whether the recipient cooks or not (if she does, it's useful; if she doesn't it's funny).

Holiday Shopping CONTINUES …

Jill (Old & Beautiful Vintage [not the Purse Diva, sorry Jill & Holly!] at the Main Street Mall online) sent me three links that tell a little story … there's this gorgeous Winter Wonderland dress:

ebay item 8305987417

And this mink-collared coat:

cream and mink coat

And this alligator purse:

alligator purse

At first I thought they were all worn by the same woman, but the dress is much smaller (and doesn't really go with the purse). But eventually I figured out that the coat and purse are worn by the mother of the girl in the dress! (Am I right? She's a debutante, her mom's a society lady? Together, they fight crime?) There is a whole movie in this collection of items … and a couple of really, really fancy presents!

More Holiday Shopping!

More holiday shopping …

Rita at Cemetarian suggests these wonderful things …

I love this old dress ad — an inexpensive frame from the craft store and you have a fun present:

Party Time Ad

This vintage knitting book would make a great gift for, well, knitters. If you're feeling flush, included the recommended amount of yarn …

New Look 6034

I *really* want the guy's sweater in this booklet, shown here (but not enough to learn how to knit, sadly):

New Look 6034

And if you still need a dramatic holiday dress, I bet you could get this in time … I would make it in tartan, myself. (Because, yes, I *enjoy* looking like a sofa …)

New Look 6034

Rita is offering 10% off with the code adad

AND: Kathleen at Little Hunting Creek is offering a free handmade baggage tag (and they are CUTE) with every purchase over $25. And if you buy three or more patterns, you still get free shipping! (Put "Dressaday" in the comments.)

Holiday Shopping

So, here's the deal. I haven't even come close to finishing my holiday shopping yet — I celebrate Christmas, so I'm gonna call it Christmas shopping, please feel free to substitute the name of any holiday you like — and I haven't even had time to even look, for the most part. And I figure, with the way things are in the world, a lot of you might not have finished yours, either. And time's a-wastin'!

One of the things that's been holding me back, shopping-wise, is that I didn't really feel like buying mass-produced, cookie-cutter things for people who are (to me) one-in-a-million. I'm planning to do a little shopping on Etsy, and at craft fairs, but I've been looking for cool vintage stuff for folks, too.

So I asked all the lovely folks who advertise with me what they would suggest as presents for vintage-loving or sewing-loving folks, and send me some links, and I'll be posting them all week (sometimes several times a day, if I can manage it … I got sent a lot of links!) so check back early and often!

I know a lot of folks hesitate to give vintage, since it usually can't be returned, and because you really have to know the recipient for it to work. But really, this year — if you gave something from Linens-N-Things, well, that can't be returned now either! And a really great vintage dress is so much better made than almost anything modern — if you're not entirely sure of someone's size, give it and an offer to get it tailored to fit them. (Personally, I'd rather get one fantastic vintage dress, even if it didn't quite fit, than ten "eh" presents …)

First up is Holly from LuciteBox, who sends three fantastic dresses …

I would send this one to a best friend who is looking for a cool but still possibly office-y dress:

CrissCross Dress

This one is definitely a teen-ager's dream …

Pink Shelf-Bust dress

This one I think folks might be tempted to get for themselves … New Year's Eve is coming up … or maybe you should forward this to your significant other?

Sequins and Sass dress

But wait! There's more! Holly is offering NOT ONLY 15% off any purchase on her site (with the coupon code: pleasegive), she will ALSO donate 10% of the order total (less shipping) to Book Through Bars, our charity this year!

Here's the sweet part. Every customer who shops using the pleasegive coupon code also gets to be entered into the pool of names to be chosen for a character in the upcoming "Secret Lives of Dresses" book. If you've already been entered, you'll have increased your chances of getting chosen when part of the proceeds of your purchase are given to Books Through Bars. (Holly promises to send me your name right away.) This offer expires on December 27th, 2008.

How can you resist that? The dresses, plus the discount, plus the donation?

Ten Things I'm Going to Make Just As Soon As I Get Around To It

TO DO picture by Amit Gupta

[great pic by Amit Gupta]

Does everyone have a list of 'to-sew' ideas? Here are the ones that are topmost in my mind right now:

1. A black cotton circle skirt (with pockets, and a contour waistband), with a wide band at the hem. I want to cover the band with either little studs, in a kind of paisley pattern (with a transfer? I don't know) or with a pattern of grommets. I think the studs or grommets would weight the skirt nicely …

2. An orange cotton shirtdress. And by "orange," I mean ORANGE. I have the fabric, I just need the time.

3. A khaki camouflage shirtdress. Again, have fabric but no time. And it's hard to be motivated to sew lightweight things in Chicago in December.

4. A dark teal dress with a pleated skirt. I have a pattern for this and the fabric, but I need to find the right fabric to face the neck with, because the facing shows. (I'm thinking Liberty, but, then again, when am I not thinking Liberty?)

5. A Duro Jr. made in five different colors of jewel-tone silk shantung.

6. A camouflage twill circle skirt with a deep camo ruffle at the hem. I know, I know, I wear more camo than the First Armored Division, but what can I say? I like it. It makes me happy.

7. Something with the crazy big print fabric I bought from Waechter's.

8. A gray corduroy dress. Wide-wale. Have fabric, but no pattern. "NOT a jumper, patch pockets" is as far as I've gotten in finding the pattern.

9. A skirt with a faux-argyle pattern done in applique, embroidery stitch, and applied ribbon. (Do I know how to do this? No.)

10. Something with that brown roses fabric I bought a million years ago. It just sits in my sewing room and TAUNTS me.

Well. That's roughly three years of sewing. What's on your list?

Free Tickets! (If you are in/can get to London …)

Caroline (of Frillseekers Vintage) is offering ten free tickets to the Vintage Fashion, Textiles and Accessories Fair this coming Saturday, the 14th, at the Hammersmith Town Hall (King Street, London W6). (I know. ANOTHER fantastic vintage sale in London … sigh. I may just make a raft and start paddling. Which, from Chicago, would get me to … Michigan? Actually, more likely Gary, Indiana. Need new plan.)

Anyway, if you are in/can get to London, email her (at caroline AT frillseekersvintage DOT com) with 'dressaday offer' in the subject line and she'll pick 10 names at random. The tickets usually cost £5 or £10, so this is a nice deal!

I haven't gone to very many of these vintage shows, so I don't have any advice (other than the advice I always give for every situation, which is "wear comfortable shoes and carry something to eat") so if you have any Vintage Show Tips and Tricks, would you leave them in the comments? It would be a service to humanity.

So What?

I got a really interesting comment from Xan this morning on the McCardell Update I posted a while back:

First, it has been with great difficulty that I have found time to finally comment on this post.

A real travesty indeed-silk charmeuse sprayed with sizing for this Claire McCardell dress? Not only does it give me the willies, I bet the fine designer of the pattern is rolling over in her grave.

I have had the gut-wrenching experience time and again seeing sewing projects online over the last couple of years borne from people sewing something just to sew something rather than do it in a respectable if not correct manner.

Yours here is obviously such a project. I understand wanting to sew from one’s stash of fabric, but first to mutilate charmeuse with spray sizing and then to do so in order to ‘shoehorn’ it into a Claire McCardell dress pattern for which limp, draping fabrics were never meant, what’s the point? What happened to taste? Do you go anyplace wearing this dress? Is it usable as a garment?

Never mind the fact that the print was not matched along the centerline of the front as San Antonio Sue pointed out on Nov.13-it is simply awful.

As always, I totally support anyone's right to be appalled by what I wear, and to be vocal in their disapproval. De gustibus, and all that, but I did want to respond to this comment, and not just in the comment thread.

(First, I wanted to clarify one thing — the silk was not sprayed with sizing, it was treated with Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer Spray, which is washed out before wearing. The Sullivan's makes the fabric easier to cut and sew, but doesn't affect the fabric's "hand" after washing.)

This is the part I really wanted to respond to:

I have had the gut-wrenching experience time and again seeing sewing projects online over the last couple of years borne from people sewing something just to sew something rather than do it in a respectable if not correct manner.

It is the fear of encountering this snobby attitude that I think keeps so many people from sewing, and I think that's such a shame. Yeah, that dress was not the best I ever made, but — so what? I did wear the dress (to a wedding) and I got some nice compliments on it (from people who didn't know I made it, btw).

More importantly, I learned something from making that dress. It was an experiment. It was an exploration. You learn a lot more from trying something new than from doing everything in the "respectable if not correct" way.

I'm not saying "throw all the rules out the window!" (I wouldn't have made that dress out of plastic grocery bags or polyester double-knit) but I'd rather live my life trying new things (which are not always guaranteed to work) than making sure I only did exactly what's been done before, what's "respectable and correct," and nothing else. If you're only going to follow a recipe, why not invest in a few paint-by-number kits? (This is why I always ignore those "Copy Ready-To-Wear!" articles in sewing magazines. If I wanted "ready-to-wear", I'd BUY "ready-to-wear," people.)

It's the garments I make from weird fabrics, in fact, that have made me the happiest. Camouflage and stripey skirts, and curtain-fabric dresses, and on and on.

But, really — "gut-wrenching"? If seeing other people's not-quite-right (by your standards) efforts gives you actual intestinal pain, you might want to take some deep breaths and repeat "This isn't my problem" until it goes away.

The designer of the pattern, Claire McCardell, was herself an innovator. She pioneered ballet slippers as shoes, which would have been neither respectable nor correct in some people's eyes when she first did it — but she didn't let that stop her.

If you're just starting to learn to sew, and you're worried about attitudes like Xan's, think for a minute about what you want more: Making something that's "perfect" by someone else's standards? Or the experience and pleasure of planning, sewing, and ultimately wearing something that's a reflection of you, and not the equivalent of packaged cake mix? I know what my answer is.