Sweetness and Light

So I finally, finally, found this pattern in my size:


Fear not, I will not be making View A OR View C, because puffed sleeves give me hives. Unless the puffed sleeves are little pockets of lighter-than-air gas that I can control as a flotation device/personal aircraft, and unfortunately the lab prototypes have not really panned out in full trials. (“Oh the humanity!”)

But *without* the puffed sleeves (or, as I like to call them, “arm excrescences”) this dress is gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve been looking for it for a while, and I’m thinking about making it in this blue gingham shirting that I jumped on a while back. Too Dorothy? Actually, scratch that, I don’t care.

In this illustration, what’s up with Black Chiffon? Did she not get the “Dress Code: cotton” memo? Has she been embarrassingly interrupted on a walk of shame? Is she the “evil twin” of the woman in the blue dress? Is she an official-and-licensed Black Widow and thus compelled to wear fancy black dresses at all times, as a warning/enticement? Or, as I like to think, just someone who really likes that dress and thought “I don’t care that it’s Saturday morning and I’m on my way to the grocery store: black chiffon it is!”


"Address of O. P. Riegel"

Who is O. P. Riegel, you ask? He was, in 1921, an executive of the McCall Pattern Company, and he gave an address that was covered by America’s Textile Reporter, which is probably now my new favorite magazine. Here’s part of his address to the Mid-Year meeting of Jobber’s Association of Dress Fabric Buyers (oh that is straight out of an O. Henry story!), held at the Waldorf Astoria; you can read the whole thing here.
America's Textile Reporter

This seems to cover the birth of the printed pattern. So cool.

Only Four Pieces

Only four pieces sounds like a bad deal when it's a box of See's, but when it's a pattern, it sounds pretty nice … (especially to me because I'm still wrestling with Simplicity 2180, and by "wrestling" I mean "sobbing over with a seam ripper that is glowing red from friction"). 

Like with this great pattern from Michelle at OldPatterns.com (which, by the way, has had a major update, including a shopping cart! Woot!)


Yep, this pattern supposedly only has four pieces: two bodice, and two skirt. I'm tempted to buy it just to open it up and marvel. Anyway, it's only $15 and it's B36, here.

I like how in this illustration you have Miss Burnt Orange, and Miss Purple, and then if you squint a little bit, you can see that Miss Print's print is burnt orange and purple. Which is not a combo I've tried, but by golly, I think it works. (Miss Burnt Orange and Miss Purple are both "why didn't I think of that?")

Coming up soon: more book reviews, a new shirtdress, and a Simplicity 1577 with *matched plaids*. Oh yeah. 

Why I Won’t Be Using Simplicity PrintSew Patterns Again

So I was faffing about on Pinterest, and there was this great link from SewWeekly's Make This Look (isn't this dress lovely?): 


I went to go check out the pattern (which is Simplicity 2180, not Butterick 2180, as it has in the image) and saw that Simplicity was now offering print-on-demand patterns. "Cool," I thought. (Insert ominous music here.)

I blithely entered my Paypal information and got a confirmation link to download my pattern. I should have read the FAQ first. 

So here are some of the ways the PrintSew process is borked:

— you can't download the pattern, and you can only print the pattern three times. This is stupid DRM-thinking: "Let's make it difficult to use the product we sold you, and that will stop piracy!" In three minutes I can figure out five ways to subvert this. (Hint: Photo. Copier.) All it really does is make it difficult for people who have bought the pattern to use it again. (And it seems as if their DRM doesn't even work — Firefox on the Mac downloaded the file without blinking, and Adobe Acrobat opened it right up again.)

— but before you can even print the pattern, you have to add an Adobe "FileOpen" plug-in. Oh, and did I mention you can't use the Chrome browser? And that the installation process is borked? If the installation fails with no error message (as mine did), here's what the ReadMe file says to do:

You can also place the plug-in manually into the Acrobat/Reader application. To do so, you must first find the appropriate plug-ins folder. You can find the Acrobat plug-ins folder in one of several ways:

  • Locate your copy of Acrobat or Adobe Reader and then find the Plug-ins folder. Typically this will be in locations like the following:

    /Applications/Adobe Reader 8/Adobe Reader.app

  • Acrobat/Reader 6 and later are packaged applications, so the Plug-Ins folder must be found by control-clicking the application icon and selecting Show Package Contents, then opening the folder Contents and within it the folder Plug-Ins. Paste the plug-in into this location. Note that the plug-in must not be placed in a sub-folder within Plug-Ins.
  • Search for another Acrobat plug-in, e.g. Acrofill or WebLink, and place the FileOpen plug-in into the same location. Note, however, that some Adobe plug-ins are installed into folders within the Plug-Ins folder; the FileOpen plug-in must not be placed into a sub-folder, it must be located in the root of the Plug-Ins folder.

How many people would even read the ReadMe? (I did because I compulsively read the ReadMes.) Oh, and it requires that Acrobat be your default PDF reader, too. This is flat-out dumb. It's ironic that Simplicity's tagline is "Creativity Made Simple!" because there is nothing simple about this. 

The PrintSew site does not inspire confidence, with icons out of the early 90s and messages like this:

Screen shot 2011-12-29 at 11.05.48 AM

Contrast this with BurdaStyle, which just lets you download a plain-vanilla PDF. That's how it should work. I recommend BurdaStyle downloads all the time, because they're great for people who are nervous or hesitant about working with tissue patterns. Screw it up? Print it out again! Heck, BurdaStyle should charge me a premium for their patterns, but they're some of the least-expensive ones out there (shh, don't tell them that). (And they also don't do the "list price is $20.99, but we'll do a 75% off sale every other week, okay?" rigamarole.)

Simplicity (and the other big pattern companies) need to figure this out pronto. I hardly ever go to their websites, and I hardly hardly ever go look at the books in the fabric store, either. If I'm looking for a new modern pattern to make I am much more likely to start with BurdaStyle or one of the other downloadable pattern sellers, because of the instant gratification factor. 

What do you think? Have you converted to printable patterns for your non-vintage sewing? Where do you find good downloadable printable patterns aside from BurdaStyle? Or do you prefer traditional tissue paper? (I also know lots of you draft your own patterns: I bow humbly in your direction.)

New. Obsession.


Just so we're clear: I freaking love this dress. So far I've made it twice, and if I am ever in my sewing room while the sun is up, I will take a picture or two of the ones that I've completed. (I also have two more cut out and half-sewn.)

Here is why this dress is near-perfect:

1. The collar is adorable. Right?

2. Pockets!

3. It is extremely simple to put together. 

4. And, best of all, this dress is GREAT for novelty quilting cottons. Seriously, those goofball patterns I buy all the time that just aren't right for fuller-skirted dresses work great in this pattern. The vertical skirt seams are enough to give the fabric weight and the patterns I choose don't need all that much matching. I also am making it in Liberty Lemonia:

The only downside is that the neckline is a leeeetle wide for regular jewel-neck cardigans. It goes better with a v-neck cardigan.

Things I did slightly different-like:

There's a facing, but I just used bias tape for the collar. (Facings: bulky.) I shortened the skirt by four inches, and deepened the pockets by two inches, but I think that's too deep. I'm tempted to carry things like ball-peen hammers and small electric motors and suchlike if my pockets are too deep. I am using silk organza for the collar interfacing. (I've also been using strips of silk organza to reinforce zipper seams in lightweight fabric, not sure if that's really working, but hey, I'm trying it.)

Click on the image to visit the Patternwiki — there are a couple folks who have copies for sale, it seems. Because YOU WILL LOVE THIS DRESS.

Oh Yeah.


I'm pretty sure I've posted about the original version of this Vogue pattern before, in a kind of wailing, "why oh why has the correct size forsaken me?" way. Well, Vogue heard my cries and put this in their Vintage Vogue line. 

Usually I'm not much of one for Vintage Vogue, but this one is great. Seriously great. I have one (mostly) made up and it went together like a dream. (Be sure to read the PatternReview.com reviews for helpful hints, including that you should cut the shoulders a bit smaller if you're not going to use the shoulder pads. And seriously: don't use the shoulder pads. My philosophy of shoulder pads is that you shouldn't ever wear something that would cause someone hugging you to think "what the heck is that?")

This is going to work REALLY well with Liberty Tana lawn, so expect to see it early and often. I added pockets (duh), and I underlined the midriff front with silk organza (I also reinforced the seam allowance where I'm adding the zipper with silk organza) to give it a little body. [Silk organza is wonderful, and you can buy it really cheaply in beige and black from Dharma Trading,here.]

It's working well so far … all that's left is putting in the zipper and hemming it, so expect finished pics soon. Even better, I managed to finally use a gorgeous piece of fabric that was too narrow and limp for anything else I've ever tried to make with it. I swear I've hauled out this fabric, ironed it, laid out pattern pieces on it, and wistfully folded it away every damn year since 1998.


At Long Last I've Found You


The funny thing is that I didn't know I desperately needed this pattern (McCall's 5433, for those of you playing at home) until I saw it. And then I was all "you must — must, I say! — be mine." (Luckily, when I saw the pattern it was on eBay, so that was easy.)

The only dark spot in my otherwise unmarred expanse of joy is that the cummerbund is a cummerbund, and not an actual midriff band. But that can be … dealt with. Also: the gored skirt is going to be pocketized. (That's a given.)

Anyway: I cannot WAIT to make this, let alone wear it. Question: in what fabric should this humdinger first take flight? No brocade, I want to wear this every day.

(I'm also thinking of using this skirt with the bodice of the BurdaStyle Heidi. Thoughts?)

Scary Chic


I almost didn't post this fantastic dress (pattern on Etsy from Sandritocat) because of how painfully thin the model in the photo is — she's not smiling, she just moved her lips aside so we could see her clenched teeth —  and she looks so cold! Thank goodness for those pockets, at least her hands are warm.

Luckily, the illustrated view is a bit less grim.

This isn't my size (neither is the model) but if you're on the more petite side (and under 11 feet tall, which this model also seems to be) you might want to snap this up. It's much chic-er than I remember the 1970s being (and much chic-er than I was in the 1970s, although, to be fair, nobody in elementary school was wearing stuff like this, either). I wish it were my size, because I know I personally have about twenty-five yards of various shirting cottons that would work for a dress like this … 

You Couldn't Handle Us, Little Boy


This is from Out of the Ashes, Sheila's store, and I don't think you can tell that this pattern is B40. Except, of course, from the Mrs. Robinson stare of Print Dress, and the downright predatory gaze of Gray Dress behind her.

I don't think all the "Women's" dress patterns from the 1960s are this … overt, but this one sure is.