You Too Can Enter The Exciting World of Airship Hostesses!

newspaper pattern

So Ashley has sent me this great story:

So I have this image of a 1950s airship hostess pattern [see above], and I don't know where I got it. I don't know if it's a Marian Martin or an Anne Adams or what, but it has held my interest since day one. I don't think it was ever featured on your blog; I searched your dirigible posts to try and find the name of the pattern company. No luck. Searches on Google, eBay, and Lanetz and friends have yielded nothing for months, so I decided to just improvise with patterns I already have, as usual. The bodice is a 1990s jumper pattern with straps extended, pointed, and separated for button-y goodness, and the skirt is a from a 1940s pattern. I added a [poorly done] side zipper. The fabric is simple, rust-orange cotton.

So, just in case you didn't get this at first reading: she saw just the picture, and managed to frankenstein together a pretty good approximation, like so:

Ashley's approximation

I love stories like this. (I also love that color orange.) Was Ashley going to let not having the actual pattern stand in her way? NO! She just jumped right in and DID it. This is what our country needs today. If I were hiring airship hostesses, Ashley would go right to the top of the list.

How would you prove your mettle as a possible airship-hostess trainee? Leave your stories of moxie in the comments.

Best. Readers. EVER.

Tetris fabric

So you know how every once in a while, I toss off some nonchalant comment, like "I wish I had Tetris fabric," or "someone should really make a shirtdress out of this"?

Those are actually SEEKRIT CODED MESSAGES. If you hear them and feel compelled to comply, DO NOT BE ALARMED. It is all PART OF THE PLAN.

Awesome Jenny at Chronically Uncool heard the first coded message, and commissioned a fantastic Tetris-style fabric design from MissBlackPepper on Etsy, to print at Spoonflower. What's better than that, you say? She's making it available to us to use, too! I'm hosting the file for her; you can download it here (ZIP). I can't *wait* to get mine, I'm ordering from Spoonflower today!

Jenny is releasing her Tetris-style fabric design file under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. If you get a copy of the file, you are free to use, share, and remix the design for your own non-commercial projects. If you make a new design derived from this design, please attribute the original design to Jenny. (When Jenny commissioned MissBlackPepper to create the custom design, she purchased the rights to the resulting design from her.) Your derivative work should be released under a similar Attribution – NonCommercial – ShareAlike license.

Next up in the Parade of Awesome is Nancy, who heard my not-all-that-subliminal instruction to make a ruler shirtdress out of this fabric. And here it is!

Ruler Dress

Isn't that great? You can read all about it on her blog. Nancy actually used *babysitting time* to get this done. Now THAT is devotion to the cause …

Now I just have to figure out which of my immediate and pressing desires I should issue a call for. Prepare yourselves to receive instructions!

Meet Our Advertisers #13: Cherie of Shrimpton Couture

Lame dress

how long have you been in business? has been on-line for about 2 years now! But I have been collecting for years and years before that!

what motivated you to go into the vintage business?
Honestly, I am a collector first and foremost so the business was always about being able to pare down my collection and at the same time justify buying MORE! I am really great at justifying purchases of vintage!

I have always been a clothes-crazy girl and I have always been a label and quality snob and quite frankly vintage enabled me to buy the quality I wanted to wear in clothes at a price I could afford it at, early on. I also quickly learned the appeal of being the girl who "had the only one of its kind." As the years progressed I relentlessly "upgraded" my collection. I would buy better vintage and distribute the old to my girlfriends. Eventually the prices I paid for what I had got a bit out of control and so I started selling off my collection. But only to be able to buy more. It was the concept of $1 in – and about $10 out.

I made friends with a few key "pickers" (these are people in the business who source vintage – they "pick" through to find the good stuff) and made deals with them to buy the cream of the crop for a little more than what dealers or store owners would pay them – they loved me for that. I also discovered online shopping but was often disappointed with what arrived. It seemed so hit and miss. As my personal income rose so did my budget for buying vintage and I was able to start shopping current labels as well. This just made me pickier and pickier. I started buying from more established sites online and at some point a light bulb went off and I thought — I can do this better. That's how the website was born.

what did you do before this?
I have been in sales & marketing at some capacity or another for my entire career. I am actually a Vice President and part owner of a company in the commodities industry! So I work a LOT – and I work every day!

where are you based?
Just outside of Toronto on a large property where we are slowly renovating a big, old house. This year we are adding a proper studio for my collection & archives, so clients will be able to come in and shop with me by appointment!

what's the most beautiful thing you've ever found?
I am so lucky to have come across some pretty amazing things but one of my favorites at the moment is a 1930s silk floral gown. The fabric is constructed so it has rows of "frayed" ruffles – but they are really the edges of the fabric. You might know how to describe this better then me actually, being the fabric queen of the internet! The whole gown is shot through with gold lame threading and it is awe inspiring to see in person. The seams are so well done you have to look from the back to see them! Its pricey but its worth every penny – it's the equivalent to a couture piece really – so not so expensive of you think of it that way. It looks like it should have a label in it crediting it as a Chanel piece doesn't it? Its just an truly incredible textile!

Lame dress

Lame dress

You do have to realize though that my favorite/most beautiful thing found changes almost every week …

what do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold?
Since I am biased and think every piece is amazing, I am always in awe that stuff does not get snatched up right away of course, but honestly, I think its the great little black dresses that run through the site. Every girl should have one (or more) in her closet but its so hard to get the look and feel of a garment on-line I guess and black is the toughest to portray. I am also a little sad sometime to see the terrific little day dresses sit. People tend to think of vintage as special occasion wear, but shouldn't every day you are healthy and happy be a special occasion? Don't wait for occasions to wear vintage girls, wear it because it makes you feel special THAT day!

what do you dream about finding?
So many things – the greats of course, a Vionnet gown or a Fortuny piece; a runway Dior piece from the 50s; a closet full of Thea Porters … sigh.

Honestly I just want to find a dozen mad collectors who have rooms and rooms of pristine, fabulous priceless vintage who all, for some unknown reason, decide I MUST be the girl to own it all! I told you I was clothes crazy!

I am am not completely greedy though – anything that did not fit or was the wrong color would promptly go onto Shrimpton Couture!

what do you enjoy most about working with vintage?
The quality, the wit, the workmanship, the fabrics, the strong emotion a great design can create from nothing, how it feels when you slide on a dress from 40 years ago and it whispers to you in the voices of its past owners. The privilege of meeting women who owned and wore the pieces originally, and having them share their memories with me of that dress and that time in their lives when they had nothing but hope.

what do you wish someone would ask you about your site?
"Where do you see your site going and do you offer additional services?"
To which I would reply, that I hope to make it better and better! That it continues to showcase some of the best vintage out there, in fabulous condition and wrapped up in great client service! We also do personal shopping for clients looking for special pieces, or designers, celebrities or stylists that need more privacy – this is all done through custom built password protected pages on the site! And there is a lightbox icon on the site you can use to catalogue and save your favorite pieces. And above and beyond all of that, soon, as I mentioned above, you will be able to shop by appointment directly with me!

it's a good day at work when …
I get an email from a girl who got her dress and she loves it! That is honestly the best part

the blogs I read (other than ADAD are …)
Wendy Brandes' Blog,, Bagsnob, Couture Snob, Vintage-A-Peel, Zuburbia, do we have room for the other 200 or so?

you'd laugh if you knew this about me:
That I was an absolute, total geek in high school. Thick glasses, skinny as a rail, nose in a book, bad style, geek. And that under certain circumstances, despite being able to put together a pretty damn good outfit these days, my inside me can still feel quite overwhelmed by it all and resort back to awkward, shy geekiness.

Cherie is also running a contest for a $300 shopping spree on her site … today is the last day to enter!

Finally, A New Dress

I am pretty sure I have had this "almost done!" since before Thanksgiving; I just haven't had a minute to finish it up. But last night I couldn't sleep, so I did the needful, which was really only putting in a zipper and hemming the skirt and sleeves. (I did have to hack seven inches off the skirt — this was made for Amazons, it seems.)

Here's the original pattern, Vogue 9670. I can't remember where I bought it—if you sold it to me, leave a note in the comments!

Vogue 9670

Here's my version:

Olive Liberty-facing dress

Ignore the little bit of iron shine in the picture, please. And that it needs pressing elsewhere. I really need a steamer. Or a better press cloth. Or hints from you guys.

I made the facing out of Liberty print, because the dress fabric is really thick, and because I knew I wouldn't be able to get the facing perfectly flat, no matter how much I trimmed and clipped the curves. This facing is now meant to show, making a virtue of necessity.

Olive Liberty-facing dress

Oh look! I finally got the zipper to match up nicely at the side seam! Which one of you wonderful people told me that marking trick? Thank you! It works! I was really pleased with how the zipper went in, especially since I was doing this at 11 at night.

Olive Liberty-facing dress

The above picture was taken with flash — it's the truest representation of the color. It's an olive-y color, not brown. It's a heavy brushed cotton with a good bit of Lycra in it. It doesn't really stretch, it just gives. Very comfortable.

And here's the back. Kind of boring. But at least the back seams match up okay.

Olive Liberty-facing dress

I really liked this pattern: it went together great, was easy to alter (I added more room at the waist as always, sigh), and except for being intended for women eight inches taller than I am (see the illustration? That skirt is right below the knee, amiright? On me it was almost to the ankle!) it fits well.

Next thing on my sewing list? Another crossword puzzle dress. The tournament is coming up!

A few small things

Advance 6360

Sandritocat is having a Valentine's Day sale, ending Sat. 2/14. Anyone who purchases from her shop will be entered into a a giveaway of a $25 Gift Card to use in her store. Each pattern you purchase will give you one entry. (She is going to have her 7 year old draw the name, which should ensure total randomness!) The pattern above is available on her shop … click on it to visit!

If you're Chicagoland-local, Mary Beth is teaching a hat-making class this Sunday, and then again on the 22nd! The first Sunday class is almost full, so hurry-scurry! (Sadly, I'm booked solid both of those days, or I would be there …)

Oh, and one of the reasons things have been a little quiet around here lately is because I'm filling in for Jan Freeman at the Boston Globe for a few weeks. You can read my columns on correcting people (don't) and Twitter, if you like.

Other quickies:

Amy sent a link to Little Dresses for Africa.

Carol P. sent a link to this fantastic Garden of Eden dress. It won top design prize at the annual meeting of the International Textile and Apparel Association. I wish I'd know about them before, their last meeting was in Schaumburg (very close to Chicago).

Just Because.

French brocade gown 1946

I am showing you this image (from Google's LIFE photo archive) simply because I can. Isn't it wonderful, that I can show you a photograph from a magazine printed more than sixty years ago, basically on a whim? This photo was taken by someone named Nina Leen, and I'm relieved I've never met her, because I felt compelled to say her name under my breath several times just for the sheer joy of it, and that would be awkward upon a first introduction. (Try it yourself: Nina Leen! Nina Leen! neenuhleeeeeeen! Isn't that fun?)

And this is one kickass dress, isn't it? I mean, not that anyone who was involved in either the making or the photographing of it would have probably described it that way, but it is. It is constructed of the most finely woven French kickass available, actually. I love the elegant square neckline and the fern detailing, and that the model is NOT an empty-eyed, twelve-year-old bobblehead. (You know I'm a sucker for models who look as if they had a pretty decent idea of how a dress should be worn in real life, instead of just on the runway. This woman is meeting her lover one last time before he heads to the front, obviously. At the end of their interlude she will cry just one perfect tear, so as not to distress him overmuch.)

This is just more proof that there are beautiful things everywhere, and more and more of them are available to our eyes every day. Go look for them, and when you find them, share them.

APB on a BDP (BDP = Bridal Dress Pattern)

Vogue 7009

Jen at MOMSPatterns is trying to help a customer find the dress on this pattern — not this actual pattern, which is for fabric roses — but the dress that Vogue used as a canvas in the picture on this pattern envelope for the flowers that this pattern makes. Is that clear?

We're assuming that the marketing whizzes at Vogue would use one of their own patterns ON one of their own patterns, but nobody's been able to find this yet. Can you help?

Speaking of brides, I'm going to be a bridesmatron again in May! I'm very excited. [Not-so-interesting Erin trivia: thus far I have only stood up in the weddings of people named "Vanessa".] This is the dress my bride-to-be has chosen for us — I really like it:

Watters 350

(NOTE: She is not getting it in BLACK. You guys know how I feel about that, and anyway, it's a May wedding. But you know what? If she asked me to wear black I would so totally do it. I even offered to wear purple if she wanted me to, and purple and I don't get along.)

This dress is from Watters — does anyone have any helpful tips for dealing with them? They're saying "ten weeks"; is that for real, or a nervous-bride-buffer?