Today's Pattern Story: Blasphemy Edition

McCalls 4568

Black Dress: Betcha five bucks I can take down the one on the left before he finishes his drink.
Green Dress: Decent or indecent proposal?
Black Dress: Indecent. You get better jewelry from the indecent ones.
Green Dress: You're on! Didn't you notice the dog collar? He's a priest.
Black Dress: Honey, that's what makes this fun.

Thanks to Jen at for today's pattern … AND she's running a sale: 15% off! Use the code 'vavoom'. (Free shipping to US & Canada with 5 patterns purchased. Jen has 1000s to choose from …)

Liberty Heidi Update

Liberty Heidi

So I just could not let go of the Liberty Heidi idea, so I grabbed a couple of hours late Friday night and early Saturday and threw this together.

This is not one of my favorite Liberty prints — I thought it was called "Bourton," but googling "Liberty Bourton" showed me something different, so who knows which one this is. It was, however, a perfect choice for a muslin, being 1) exactly the right weight, 2) something I would wear if the experiment worked, yet 3) not something I would be very sad to lose if I ended up throwing it away. I'm pretty sure I bought this on eBay from someone who was de-stashing, so it was also cheap.

I ended up adding about 4.5 inches to the center pieces of the front skirt and to the back — they're both cut on the fold, so it wasn't hard.

I ended up not lining it at all — I finished the bodice with bias binding cut from the same fabric, using the Dread Pirate Rodgers' excellent instructions. (The only difficulty was that the Liberty lawn is very slippery, so it's hard to mark with a pencil — the pencil drags the fabric along. I ended up using chalk, which tends to brush off. Suboptimal, all around.)

Liberty Heidi

I'm not sure why I'm showing you the side view, as this is such a busy print you probably can't even see the waist seam!

Liberty Heidi

Somehow I managed to get the gathers off-center on the back; I'll wear it once and decide whether I like the way the dress works with the gathers before I rip it out and re-do it:

Liberty Heidi

Problems: aside from getting the gathers off-center in the back, I also didn't gather the entire center front piece of the skirt — I only gathered between the pleat markings. I think it would look better with the entire section gathered.

I'm going to try to wear this dress this week, weather permitting (ah, who am I kidding, I live in California now, it's the most permissive weather on the planet), and we'll see how it works. If it works, this is going to be great — it takes SO LITTLE fabric, comparatively, that it opens up a lot of Liberty and novelty-print possibilities …

Liberty in Literature

From an odd story about cheating at cards in the presence of a Duchess, in an issue of Good Housekeeping of 1911.

Her gown was rather less imposing than anyone else's. I don't mean that it wasn't a credit to her hostess, but it seemed to do less striving for effect than our own. It was of a soft, clinging satin, in tones of palest gray. Except that the top was creamy with lace, it seemed not to have been "composed" at all. But for a dog collar of magnificent yellow topazes set in silver, she wore no gems. It was whispered about that the Duchess was patriotic in her wardrobe, and that this gown came from Liberty's in London; whereupon my smart neighbor concluded, "Well, if that is Liberty, give me Death." But I liked it— the gown, I mean. It was willing to be forgotten. It was perhaps the strongest impression that she made upon me, that one forgot her gown and her title in the charm of the lady herself.

The same issue has this illustration in it, which I find very, very humorous:


Karen's Heidi and a few related questions

Karen's Heidi

This is Karen's Heidi — isn't it fabulous? I really, really love that fabric. You can read her review, here, on PatternReview. (You may need to log in, but a basic PatternReview membership is free, and if you haven't signed up already you really should — it's fantastic for research!)

I ran across Karen's version while I was doing a quick check to see what kinds of variations on the BurdaStyle Heidi have been showing up. There's Burda's own Prom Variation, of course, but I haven't seen very many other ones. Possibly because the Heidi is VERY CLOSE to perfect as is, but I've been thinking that I'd like to make it in more lightweight fabrics, as summer comes on (here in the Northern Hemisphere, at least).

The Heidi I linked to before is made in Liberty Tana lawn … but I'm wondering how the fairly narrow Heidi skirt works in a lightweight fabric. I'm worried it would ride up. So I was thinking I might double the width of the center front skirt panel and add a couple inches to the middle of the back of the skirt, which could then be gathered to make a slightly more summery and playful skirt.

I suppose the right answer is "line it, you dummy," but I haven't had much luck with lined skirts. Your thoughts?

Toys! Wonderful toys!

The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook

On Anna's recommendation, I bought a copy of The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook, which turns out to have been the book I've been looking for all my sewing life. Did your sewing machine come with a box of tiny, weirdly-shaped feet? Then you need this book. There are clear instructions for guides, hemmers, rufflers, binding and cording feet, sequin feet, walking feet … and on and on. If you can screw, bolt, strap or clip it to your sewing machine, I think this book covers it.

My favorite guideline for judging sewing books is by whether or not they make you want to sew — and this book makes me really, really want to sew. I think the hemming foot instructions alone are going to make my sewing life better.

It's also kindled in me a deep and painful longing for something called a "bias cutting guide" — a doodad that clips to the end of your scissors so that you can cut bias tape without all that painful marking. I wants one, I do. Couldn't turn one up on eBay, though; does anyone have any leads?

(Also, if you buy it from the link above, the author, Charlene Phillips, will sign your copy. That's always nice!)

Liberty at Target

Liberty stationery

Am I excited about the Liberty for Target line? Insert all questions you've ever heard about Popes and bears here. Yes, I am excited.

I'm a bit more excited about the accessories and some of the housewares than I am about the clothes, because many years of trial and error have shown me that stuff from Target simply Does Not Fit Me, but I have purchased several little things (e.g., the girls' dresses, in size XL, have a surprising amount of fabric) with big plans for remaking them into something else.

I'm a little disappointed that most of the prints are florals, even though I know that's what people associate with Liberty. I was hoping for more of my favorite abstracts (although there are some things in the Cars and the Mark prints, both of which I love).

The women's clothing was the most disappointing — not the best prints, and almost all made in that scruffy poly-chiffon. Good thing the accessories are all so cute (and cotton).

(Speaking of Liberty, I also bought the bright bright bright pink "Petals and Peacocks" lipstick from the MAC Liberty collaboration, and I think I will actually wear it. It's really fun, and the packaging is spectacular, natch.)

Did you rush your local Target last Sunday? What did you buy, if anything?

Acid Yellow Glamour

40s glamorous yellow and black dress

Wow, this dress (at Lucite Box Vintage) is over-the-top, in the best possible way. I love the two-tone, the glass buttons, and the belt, which has either a moustache or lips on it. For reals:

40s glamorous yellow and black dress

I am a huge fan of the different-colored sleeves poking out of a dark top. This looks fantastic.

I don't want to hear that you can't wear this color. Anyone can wear any color if they want to badly enough. All you have to do is care more about your own pleasure in the color than about other people's pleasure in looking at you. This is one arena where I say you should be absolutely selfish. You think that yellow washes you out and makes you look funny? If yellow makes you happy, wear it! Happiness is more important. (And you can always add some lipstick, right?)

A Few Procrastinatory Monday Links

Norman Pattern

Jessica found this incredibly steampunk Norman pattern and wonders if anyone has information they can share about Mrs. N.R. Norman, inventress. This is Centennial Pattern No. 8, for those keeping score at home, and is from the 1890s. It may be a St. Louis company — it's marked St. Louis. Any information? Please leave a comment! (Here's a bigger image.)

Speaking of comments, Becky O. left one on Friday pointing us to this WONDERFUL writeup by TrueUp about the different on-demand fabric printers. Exhaustive and well-researched, definitely worth checking out.

Kate found the button-top (not dress) I was thinking of. Great for Rolling Stones fans!

Kristen sent this link to dresses knitted from trash. So cool. (Although probably itchy.)

Anna sent me a link to The Sewing Machine Attachment book. (It's a book about different attachments FOR your machine, not about fostering your attachment TO your machine.) I have purchased mine, will review when I get it!

Lucy (who is the person behind Home Movie Day London) sent this link to a digitised (British spelling, in Lucy's honour) film of 1930s fashions. Lovely!

A few self-promoty links:

If you like words, and are on Facebook, might you not consider being a fan of Wordnik on Facebook? Our fan page is here. If you're not a Facebooker but still want Wordnik words of the day, that link is here. But the only place you can see the Wordnik LIST of the day (a collection of related words) is on Twitter:@wordnik. [If you're looking for me on Twitter, I'm @emckean for word-type stuff, @FakeErinMcKean for "what-I-had-for-lunch" type stuff.] (Whew! That's a lot of social media in one place …)

Crossword Fabric

As promised, here's the crossword fabric available at Spoonflower:

crossword fabric

A few notes:

— the blacks (and other dark colors) tend to wash out & fade really quickly on digitally printed fabric. I don't know how to fix this — anyone have hints for keeping them dark?

— this design is optimized for the upholstery-weight fabric. I haven't tested it on other weights. (That fabric is slightly off-white, too.)

— this fabric was designed for me by Beth Keller. She's awesome. You can check out her Etsy site, KellerDesigning. I don't know if she's taking commissions now, but you could always ask …