Don't Wear Green Tarletan Dresses

From the (1883) Annual Report of the Massachusetts State Board of Health, Lunacy, and Charity:

Attention has very frequently been called to the presence of large amounts of arsenic in green tarlatan, which has given rise so many times to dangerous symptoms of poisoning when made into dresses and worn, so that it is very rare now to see a green tarlatan dress. This fabric is still used, however, to a very dangerous extent, chiefly for the purposes of ornamentation, and may often be seen embellishing the walls and tables at church and society fairs, and in confectionery, toy and dry-goods stores. The writer has repeatedly seen this poisonous fabric used at church fairs and picnics as a covering for confectionery and food, to protect the latter from flies. As is well known, the arsenical pigment is so loosely applied to the cloth that a portion of it easily separates upon the slightest motion. Prof. Hoffmann after examining 11 large number of specimens estimated that twenty or thirty grains of the pigment would separate from a dress per hour, when worn in a ball-room.

But green tarlatan is not the only fabric which contains arsenic. We find arsenic sometimes in other substances used in making articles of wearing apparel, usually in the form of arsenical pigments. The writer detected a large amount of arsenic in a specimen of cloth known as "Foulard cambric," which had been made into a dress; after wearing the dress a short time severe conjunctivitis was produced, together with nasal catarrh, pharyngitis, and symptoms of gastric irritation. The pattern of the dress consisted of alternate stripes of light-blue and navy-blue, and contained 0.291 grm. per square meter. Conjunctivitis has also been recorded from wearing of "tulle" dresses. A pustular eruption upon the neck and arms was caused by "a splendid dark-green dress, trimmed with light-green leaves," obtained "from a well-known Parisian atelier;" the dress was found to contain "a large percentage of arsenic."

Excessive irritation of the skin has frequently been caused by wearing stockings colored with an arsenical pigment. The writer has detected arsenic most frequently in light-red, magenta-colored and brown stockings; in one case, that of a child, which came to the writer's knowledge, great inflammation of that portion of the skin which came in contact with the stocking took place first, then occurred symptoms of general poisoning, which resulted in a short time in death.

Dr. Jabez Hogg reports also among other articles of wearing apparel fatal cases of poisoning from the green flannel lining of boots, and poisoning by maroon flannel shirts, by calico shirts, gloves, coat sleeves, hat linings, and paper collars.

Sub Ubi Semper Ubi

Oasis Rosalind Trompe L'Oeil dress

Holly of Lucite Box Vintage sent me the link to this dress (for sale at Oasis). I kind of love it, but more as a witty swimsuit coverup than as an actual dress, and it's definitely on the pricey side for something like that ($60, plus $10 shipping to the US). Plus, you know, no pockets.

The rest of the Oasis site terrifies me, especially this dress, which I am certain to have nightmares about for quite some time. (Although it would be pretty awesome as part of a Joker's-henchwoman costume for Halloween … )

Happy New Year!

fabric closet

Since I don't drink alcohol, don't care at all about college football (sorry Sis), and eat black-eyed peas about once a week anyway, New Year's is ALL about the resolutions for me. And this blog (and my related sewing habit) will not escape unscathed from the resolution juggernaut, oh, no no no.

First of all, if you scroll allllll the way down and look at the right-hand column, you'll see that I started this blog in May of 2005. 2005, people! That's like two decades in blog years. This current blog layout is the internet equivalent of a 1998 Toyota Tercel. Sure, it'll get you where you need to go, but very slowly, and you can't plug your iPod into the radio. So I'm hoping to do a refresh of this blog's "look" before the fifth anniversary. (I'd also like to be better about responding to blog comments/email, even if I only manage to do so once a week …)

Sewing-wise, I have two resolutions: to set aside a specific time every week to sew (right now, early Sunday morning is looking good) and to sew three things from my fabric/pattern stash for every item that requires new fabric or a new pattern. (See that pic up above? That's about 80% of my current fabric hoard.)

I've resolved, too, to be a better sewing planner — no more using up precious sewing time running out to JoAnn's because I don't have the right zipper. I'm going to make regular online orders of zippers and thread and other necessary notions, and if I don't have the right color of whatever, well, that project will just have to wait until I do.

I want to be more diligent about adding my project pictures to the Vintage Pattern Wiki and writing things up on Pattern Review — I hope that's a resolution you all share, too!

It would be great if I could say that I'm going to turn overnight into a more careful sewist — that all my patterns are going to match at the seams, that I'm never again going to press something into submission instead of unpicking it and doing it over, and that I'll always take my time and make a muslin first. But if I did, I'd be setting myself up for failure … that's just not gonna happen in 2010.

What are your sewing resolutions? And more to the point, how are you going to keep yourself on track with them? (I need hints!) Leave them in the comments.