A Useful Tool



This weird-looking thing is a FootFitter Boot Stretcher. And if your feet are AT ALL wider than “medium,” you want one. (In fact, you want two, but you can get away with one.)

I finally broke down and bought one late last year and have now managed to rescue several pairs of shoes that were previously too painfully narrow to wear. Using it couldn’t be simpler: fill a spray bottle with 50% water/50% rubbing alcohol, spritz the inside of the shoe or boot you want to stretch, and insert device. Turn handle to stretch. (The black bobbles in the picture are inserted into the holes in the fitter to add extra stretchy to accommodate corresponding bumps on your own feet.)

Although this particular model is spendy ($50!) it’s still way cheaper and faster than taking shoes to the cobbler to be stretched. The only downside is that having this is enabling my “buy vintage roper boots on Etsy” habit something awful. There’s also a cheaper model that’s shoes-only, and another model that will stretch both length- and width-wise.

Sorry, people with narrow feet … there’s no corresponding shoe-shrinker. You’ll just have to be satisfied with being able to find vintage super-narrow Delman and Bally shoes everywhere you look …

[If you are all “ew, used shoes!” that’s totally fine by me, leaves more for me to buy.]

Today's Pattern Story



Marlene: Darlene, do you see that?

Darlene: What?

Marlene: That poor woman over there. No, not now. Now. Look.

Darlene: Oh, my goodness. I can’t believe it.

Marlene: So you’re seeing it too? I thought I was hallucinating.

Darlene: No — she’s actually wearing a dress without any pockets.

Marlene: I didn’t know they still made those!

Darlene: It must have been grandmothered in. It’s certainly from before the Handbag Revolt.

Marlene: Where does she put her keys? Or her lipstick? Or … her hands?

Darlene: We shouldn’t stare. It’s not kind. I’ve got two handkerchiefs and some safety pins in my pockets, maybe we can offer to make her some pockets? Just until she can get home.

Marlene: You’ve got a good heart, Darlene. Let’s go.

Kicking the tires

Hey, a new dress:
Altered Simplicity 5238

This is Simplicity 5238, with a few little changes. Mainly, pockets:

added pockets Simplicity 5238

I tried plain side-seam pockets first, but they hung badly, and lately I’ve been really into this style of pockets (inset? not actually sure what to call them). They can be a bit of a pain to add, especially if the skirt has pleats or gathers, but they’re worth the munging and hacking.

Here’s the pattern pieces (the dress above has v1):
pocket pieces

Oh I suppose you want to see the (badly pressed) back, huh? I don’t usually do a center back zipper, but:
back zip Simplicity 5238

I also had some fun with the neck and sleeve facings:
inner facings 2 Simplicity 5238

This is an incredibly comfortable dress — really easy to wear (especially with the deeper pockets). I have also made it in dark denim and am thinking about another color of denim, or maybe even liberating some of my stash of Liberty twill.

I’m also looking for a dress with similar lines to this one to make in softer fabrics, like silk — something with scoop pockets but gathers, I think, and a soft kimono-sleeved bodice. Anything come to mind? (Remember, I’m awfully lazy and hate drafting things …)

(Also! This is the first post at my  new blog host, the very very nice WPEngine.com. Highly recommended. With any luck this should solve some of the “stuck” posts issues and commenting problems … please let me know if not!)