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.

Wanted: Airship Hostesses

So, for a little while now, India and I have been trading links to patterns for airship-hostess dresses. (You know, what the flight attendant on the dirigible wears?)

Like this:

Advance 5220

Or this:

Vogue 1362

Or this:

Advance 5368

[Thanks to Beth B. for the last link]

I mean, I've found SPACE dirigible-crew dresses before, but for some reason these above are more suited to atmospheric travel.

What makes an airship-hostess dress, you ask? I think it's a combination of asymmetry, buttons, and a longish A-line skirt. Interesting collars and pockets are good, too. If the dress would look good with a tiny pillbox hat with a cockade, that's another plus.

I don't know why I'm so tickled by these dresses. Maybe it's the allure of steampunk (I like the idea of an art-deco kind of steampunk), or maybe it's that I've been flying a lot lately and am wistful for the idea of quiet, elegant airship travel (now! with fewer Hindenburgs!). Who knows why … all I know is that I want to see more of them! Suggestions welcome.

(Oh, and btw, India, I'll have you know, is so deeply saturated with win that she made this Flickr set: A Daily Hint From Paris. Take a look … there are only a baker's dozen or so right now so it won't kill your WHOLE morning.)

Airship Hostess Recruiting Campaign


If I were recruiting for a new elite corps of airline hostesses (and who's to say I'm not?) I would definitely make this the uniform. See how cleverly the sergeant's stripes are incorporated into the bodice?

Thanks to Tammy O. for sending the link — the eBay auction ends, like, nowish, so jump if you want it.

Oh, and I think the model in gray is holding a swagger stick, yes? 

The Hundred Dresses: Day 1

So as y’all might already know, I have a new book coming out next week. It’s called The Hundred Dresses, and it’s all about dress archetypes. (It’s illustrated by the amazing Donna Mehalko.)

The book was inspired by the Eleanor Estes classic, also called The Hundred Dresses — and probably the #1 question I’ve gotten about my “Hundred” is whether it’s about dresses I’ve sewn myself. “Oh, no,” I said, “It’s about classic dresses, like the Flapper and the Airship Hostess! Anyway, I’m sure I don’t have a hundred dresses …”

And then I went and counted.

So it turns out that yes, I do have a hundred dresses that I’ve made myself, if I dig deep into the archives and also include some poor neglected “someday I’ll fix this” things that have never seen the light of day. So for the next hundred days, I’ll be back to posting a literal dress a day.

Ready? On to day 1!

stripe McCalls 3528 front view

This is McCalls 3528, and yes, it is very, very moire, isn’t it? Don’t look at it too long. It’s also extremely bulky, because it features GATHERED BOX PLEATS. Yep, there is a LOT of fabric there. (The fabric is a nice heavy shirting, not sure where I got it from.)

stripe McCalls 3528 front view

It looks like I might have not gotten the nap right on this one either, because the light hits it differently, depending on which side you look at. Oh well. The stripes match okay — that’s the important part, right?

I haven’t worn this very often because it’s a teeeeeensy bit big in the waist and the thought of taking all those pleats out, re-balancing them, re-GATHERING them, and then putting the dress back together just makes me want to lie down and take a nap.  It would be less work (or at least, FEEL like less work) to make it all over again from scratch, especially since the fabric (or a facsimile thereof) isn’t that hard to find.

So that’s Day 1, Dress 1! Stay tuned for more!