An early Duro (paleo-Duro?)

John Bates 1972

Hana sent this great link from the Bath Fashion Museum. Doesn't this look like an early Duro? It's by a guy named John Bates, and was for Jean Varon for the Spring/Summer 1972 collection.

I love the fabric(s), but, of course, since this was the early 1970s, they're synthetic. I also love the length and the drama of this particular Duro. I wish we had a styled picture of it — what were the shoes like? The hair? The jewelry? Or, better yet, a video — how does it move? That bell shape is very appealing in theory, but how is it in Real Life, or as close to Real Life as fashion ever gets? Inquiring minds want to know.

Two other things — tonight is the 2nd Chicago Fabric Swap, at the Rogers Park Library at 6 p.m.! More details here.

Also, it's too heavy to bring to the swap, but I am selling a Rigby cloth stripping machine on ebay — I got this years ago and have never used it. (It actually looks as if nobody's ever used it; I have the original instructions and the box it was mailed in.) They're used, I believe, for making rag rugs, a craft that is on my "maybe someday, but not now" list. If making rugs is on your "yes now" list, go nuts.

This Week's Pattern Story (and sale)

DuBarry 952B


What notoriously snooty beauty and her identically-snooty twin, usually the bestest of friends, were seen giving each other the VERY cold shoulder this last week? Could it have anything to do with a certain Hollywood playboy who, when put to the (romantic) test, couldn't tell them apart? We heard that the playboy, when confronted, suggested that if you can't beat 'em, maybe you should join 'em … and our sources say one sister said YES and the other said NO!

[Pattern is from Sandritocat, who is having a one-day sale day sale tomorrow (Tuesday, June 30th). She's offering 20% off and she'll combine with her free shipping offers. Use the code "DressaDay20%off" — and you can either pay through PayPal and get a refund, or you can wait for a revised invoice. And even though the sale officially starts tomorrow, Sandra said you can go ahead and start shopping today, if you like.]

A few links for Friday

(Let's just say that when I *started* this post, it was called "A few links for Wednesday". This week just DISAPPEARED. If you see my Tuesday running around, will you tell it to come home NOW? It's grounded until further notice.)

very old weird sewing machine

Check out this fascinating interview with Harry Berzack, a sewing-machine collector. (That's one of his machines above.)

Mary Beth is having another Chicago Fabric Swap! I will definitely be there, with another laundry basket of fabric that needs a new home.

And Oh! The day we have been waiting for has arrived, because Gothic Charm School: An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them
is out! Hooray for Jilli (and her intrepid illustrator/husband Pete!) If you have not yet encountered the magic that is Our Lady of the Manners, you should check out this video.

I think that's all I have for Wednesday today. Well, except for this. What can I say? I'm a sucker for old gold. Although I think it would be cooler if they showed pictures of the raw materials as well as the finished dress. Preferably in a Pretty in Pink-style montage, except without ending up as that awful actual Pretty in Pink dress.

I promise a return to a more regular blogging schedule next week. I think. Wish me luck!

Bonus Pattern Story and Sale

McCalls 865

The story of the Fourth Street Kitchen Gang is one of the most lurid in our city's history. With their razor-sharp spoons and bloody aprons, this gang of female — and disturbingly feminine — delinquents terrorized entire neighborhoods throughout the 1940s. Whether they were chasing down defenseless citizens and forcing them to eat pickled okra, or pelting passersby with biscuits solid as hardtack, no one felt safe. Their cackling laughter and cries of "feed 'em, Sally!" were the signal for those who knew what was good for them to retreat inside their own houses, after leaving tributes of flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and chocolate chips on their doorsteps. Those who did not provide tribute might find their houses or automobiles "breaded," "riced," dusted with "powdered sugar," or worse. Junior members of the gang infiltrated elementary schools to steal potatoes to arm their spud guns, while older members extorted "protection money" from local gardeners, grocers, and bakeries.

It was only after the end of the war and rationing that the power of the Fourth Street Kitchen gang was broken. With plenty of ammo to go around, the Maple Avenue Greengrocers crew started a devastating gang war for control of the city which finally drew police attention (before, the attitude of the authorities was that the gang activities were merely "girlish high spirits"), and which resulted in both organizations disbanding to attend home ec courses at the local vocational college in the hopes of "going straight," with some success. It is rumored that Penny "Paring Knife" Morton, the Fourth Street Gang's leader, after graduating with honors, went on to invent cookie dough in a tube.

(Pattern from Wendy at Pattern Stash, who is having a Summer's Here! sale this weekend Friday (today), Saturday, and Sunday. For 15% off, just put "dressaday" in the note to seller, and the discount will be refunded through PayPal.)

This Week's Pattern Story

Simplicity 8483

Oh god. When is she going to stop talking? Do you think she'd stop if I fell down dead? What if I bit her? Just bit her, right on her hand. Do you think she'd stop then? Or would she just say, "Oh, that reminds me of the time Bob bit me, did I ever tell you that story?"

I wonder if she'd notice if I said something absurd. Like, if I said "Grommet the mushrooms, Pancake," in the same tone you'd say "Oh, absolutely, Delia."

I bet I could walk over and pull the fire alarm, and she'd still be talking. Blab, blab, blab, while slung over the fireman's shoulder.

I can't stand it. I'm going to pull that dumb flower off her belt, throw it at her and run. On the count of three. One. Two …

Where to Draw the Line

Sassy Stripes Dress

SewStylish is having a Spring Sewing Contest, and GertieT emailed me to let me know that her adorable dress has made the finals (it's there up above). Go check out the other two dresses, too, and vote! Voting closes TONIGHT (the 16th) at midnight.

She also wanted to let me know that several of the less-courteous commenters had said things like "Your tattoos are disqusting [sic]……I wouldn't vote for your dress even if I liked it…." and "too bad!!! [about the tattoos] coz the dress is lovely!!!"

C'mon, people. This is how it goes. You can certainly refuse to vote for a dress if you don't like GertieT's tattoos — it's your right to cast a vote based on any criteria you like. However (just so you know) you pretty much make yourself look like a blithering idiot by commenting to that effect. What will those comments accomplish? GertieT getting hers lasered off? (No.) Will they prevent some other person from getting a tattoo? (Unlikely.) All they do is make you look like narrow-minded ignoramuses.

Now, if this had been an actual moral issue — say, one of the contestants had been convicted of assault, or was an avowed racist, or something like that — I think you would be within your rights to announce WHY you weren't voting for a particular candidate. But because you don't like tattoos? Sheesh.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of tattoos. What does this mean? It means *I* don't have one. I've never found any image that I liked enough to want to make a permanent part of my skin. But that doesn't matter — what other people do with their skin is no concern of mine. And it's certainly not pertinent to the questions at hand, which is: "What's the nicest dress?"

The contest wasn't SewStylish's Spring Beauty Contest — it was a sewing contest! It takes a lot of gumption to pose for a contest picture, and if there are going to be these sorts of ad hominem comments, I bet there will be fewer contestants next round. What if next time one of the contestants is "overweight" (whatever that means) or is "too goth" (as if there was any such thing) or has an unusual hairstyle (whatever that is) or, heaven forbid, has something pierced other than her ears?

I don't want to be all "Oh noes! People are mean on the Internets!" but really, sewing people, I expect better from YOU. So if you're ever tempted to make this kind of comment, safe and protected behind your keyboard, think about how you would feel if a bunch of bozos decided to leave similar comments about you.

It's the Golden Rule, peoples. It's not difficult. Or if the "unto" in the Golden Rule trips you up, you can ask yourself two simple questions: "Is it truthful? Is it kind?"

"lovely, clever, labor-intensive"

Pat Premo sundress

"Lovely, clever, labor-intensive" was how Robin described the dress in this eBay auction, and I just love it. I am loving it from afar, though, because it's $160. I don't even think I'm going to attempt this myself, although I'm always tempted to be clever with striped fabric. There's clever, and then there's too clever by half, and every time I veer into "too clever by half," I wind up with something that never gets finished, much less worn.

(I actually just put a lot of "unfinished business" — i.e., projects that I finally accepted that I'm never coming back to — in the box for the Salvation Army today. There are still a few "somedays" left hanging in my sewing room, but they're precious few.)

I'm trying to let go of a lot of "somedays", or "just-in-cases", especially when it comes to books and fabric. If I am not head-over-heels in love with fabric, I think it's going to leave me in search of a more appreciative owner. And if I take a book off a shelf, open it, and don't feel like sitting down to read a few pages, it might wander off, too.

The Internet has obviated the need for hoarding, in my opinion. For instance, years ago I bought a copy of this book. It was a dollar, and it looked interesting, so I bought it, and read it. (I really liked it, although its author has the prejudices of his time and the vocabulary to match.) But now (as that link suggested), it's available online, and I don't have to hold on to my copy for fear that if I let it go, I wouldn't be able to find it again. Google can hold on to it for me — and I can download the PDF (it's well out of copyright) and have it on my hard drive in reserve against any Chicago-meatpacking-magnate's-advice-to-his-son emergencies.

Of course, you can't download fabric and keep it on your hard drive (although I'm sure my long-suffering husband wishes you could!) but I don't feel the need to hold on to "eh" or "just-in-case" fabric when a few clicks will take me to plenty of fabric that makes me say "ah" instead … and when I already have enough "ah" fabric to swathe my entire house, Christo-style, if I felt like it.

(Another thing the Internet is making it easy to let go of is petty resentments. If I want to feel angry and pissed off, there are plenty of places I can go online to read stuff that will make my blood boil. Why carry that around with me in the meantime?)

What is the Internet helping you let go of?

Happy Birthday, Lucite Box!

Lucite Box Sale

Lucite Box Vintage is one year old and is having a birthday sale! Holly says:

To mark the first birthday of Lucitebox, I'm having a major site wide sale that runs for the next ten days. Turning one is fun, so come and celebrate by checking out our vintage fashions–all of them are on sale now through June 19th.

New items will be added throughout the duration of the sale, so drop by frequently to see what's new. Thank you so much for your support and patronage. I really appreciate it!

And, just so you know — Holly helped me with my Closet Cleanout 2009 project, in which I am releasing a lot of vintage back into the wild, instead of letting the poor dresses languish in my closet (or worse, in rubbermaid bins) all lonely-like. So (full disclosure) a few of the dresses in her sale are consigned from me.

Oh, and while I have your attention, a big project I've been working on opened up on Monday — a project to find and describe all the words of English! You can check it out at (It's still in early beta, but we hope you get what we're working towards!)

This Week's Pattern Story

Simplicity 1472

Blue: My doctor gave me this brochure, girls, and guess what?

Plaid: What? What? You're killing me here.

Blue: It tells you HOW PEOPLE GET BABIES!

Red: No! Really? Really and truly?

Blue: You are SO not going to believe this.

Plaid: Look at me, I'd believe anything at this point. I'm beginning to give some credence to that "swallowed a watermelon seed" theory.

Blue: (whispers)

Red: You mean, that's it? No storks? No cabbages? I feel … disillusioned.

Plaid: Huh. Well, I'll be damned.

Blue: That's what the preacher said. But wait until I show him THIS! It's all just science!

Red: I wonder if Jimmy knows? Won't he be surprised when I tell him!

Loafer Update!

Long time readers of this blog will know that I am OBSESSED with penny loafers.

And since coming out as someone who is loafer-obsessed, I have met many other people who have a similar … enthusiasm. So I thought I'd share links to two styles I've found recently that, although not as nice as my favorite (and no-longer-made) Via Spigas, are pretty damn good.

First, Macy's has these, from Marc Fisher (which I think is one of their house brands, but I'm not sure):

marc fisher loreann women's penny loafers

Today they are $39! (They were >$70). Click on the image to visit the Macy's page. I bought a pair of these and they are comfortable, definitely.

Okay, these next ones are man-made materials (aka vegan). Many of you have asked if I knew of non-leather alternatives, and now I do! Plus, they're dirt-cheap: $29.99 at (click image to visit site)

journee women's penny loafers

What I really want are these, from Marc Jacobs:

marc jacobs penny loafers

The worst part is that I already HAVE them — I found a pair on eBay that weren't anywhere NEAR $260, and bought them. And found that they were the wrong size. (The seller translated a European 38 as "8.5" which it is NOT.) I relisted them on eBay, if you want them.

Of course, even though I wear penny loafers EVERY DAY, I don't really need any more pairs. Why don't I? Because THIS is my penny loafer collection:

whoa penny loafers

(And yes, that is a pair of Liberty Jack Purcells on the edge there.)

Does anyone else wear a slight variation of the same damn shoe every day? (Anyone else who presents as female, I mean, I know most guys basically wear the same shoe every day.) Represent in the comments!