Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book (and fabric!) giveaway

Gertie has a new book! It’s called Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Bookand it’s pretty wow.

cover of Gertie's Ultimate Dress Book

I really liked that this book is self-contained: I think you could basically hand this book to someone who knows little or nothing about sewing and they should be to get through it fairly well. And it has good instructions for my most-used alteration (expanding the waist, sigh)!

The dresses are really, really, really cute—mostly in that new-retro style that Gertie rocks so well. If you have ever watched a dumb 1950s movie allllll the way through just to see the clothes, this is a book for you. The dresses lean a bit towards the “party dress!” vibe, but there are definitely ways to tone them down a bit for work or just a random Saturday.

My favorite dress is probably the “Plaid Secretary”:

plaid secretary dress

Gertie gives tons of instruction on how to prepare, cut, and match plaids, so if you’ve never sewn with plaid before, this would be a good way to start!

Here’s another view of that collar:

And thanks to Gertie’s publisher, I have a copy (and some fabric from Gertie’s line for JoAnn’s!) to give away!

If you don’t win the Gertie fabric, FabricMart has some very Gertiesque fabrics right now that would be perfect for some of the dresses in this book … check out this pin-up-girl print, this flamingo print, and these pique lighthouses!

I was trying to think of some heroic task you’d have to do to qualify to win but even trying to think of a task made me tired, so just … leave a comment? (Make sure your comment profile has a linked email address so I can contact you if you are the lucky winner!)

I’ve turned off comments because we have a lucky winner! Thanks for entering, Yael, I’ll be sending you an email about how to get your winnings!

(If you’re looking for a review of Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, you can find it here.)

Gertie’s book is on a blog tour—you can find the other stops here:

March 8 Brewer Sewing
March 9
March 14 By Gum By Golly
March 18 Lish Dorset



Been forever since I posted a new dress, huh? I’ve done a teeny bit of sewing since October, but only got around to taking some pictures last weekend, or maybe weekend before last?


This dress is all sorts of mashup. The bodice is McCall’s 6727, only with the neckline taken up an inch or so. And I didn’t do a facing — instead, it’s a mitred bias binding (first time I’ve ever tried this):


The fabric is wool, maybe with a little cotton in it — bought it so long ago I’m not sure. I believe it was an Anna Sui bolt end from Fabric Mart Fabrics. (It gets a little linty, as you can see here.) Pockets got piped in the same binding — it’s a really nice twill binding I bought at Britex.


I could have done a better job matching the plaid, especially along the back center. I kind of just said “eh, I’ll hardly ever see it, whatever”:


The skirt is a heavily modded Simplicity 5238. Honestly, I’ve traced and altered that skirt pattern so many times now that I’m not sure I can call it Simplicity 5238 now. I think I would have to call it “from the school of Simplicity 5238” at best.


This dress is *warm*, and very comfortable, and the longer skirt length is nice with boots.

Lots of things have been keeping me away from blogging, but I did write a little thing here at The Pastry Box you might enjoy.

(Oh and the titles are from here.)

The Hundred Dresses: Day 66

This one is definitely dug out from the time capsule. It’s been hanging in my “active duty” closet, but I’m not sure if I’ve worn it in the past year. It’s (mostly) Butterick 2344 — I know I used a different (circle) skirt pattern:

yellow broken plaid Butterick 2344 front

I originally made this dress in early 2006, to give one of the first “big-conference” talks I ever did.

yellow broken plaid Butterick 2344 bodice

It’s funny to look at these older dresses now — I see all sorts of things I’d do differently today. It looks like perhaps I didn’t pre-wash this piping …

yellow broken plaid Butterick 2344 midriff

Boy, I wish I had more of this fabric. I remember I bought it at Paron’s, and it wasn’t even in the sale section. I loved it that much. Such a sucker for broken plaids, I am. Looking at it now, though, I’m wondering if maybe it was upholstery fabric? It’s almost that weight. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

And this is probably the ONLY back-zip dress I currently own (that’s not vintage):

yellow broken plaid Butterick 2344 back

I know some folks have been asking in the comments “what’s with all the side zips?” and I thought I’d show this dress so I can explain … except there really isn’t a good explanation for why I vastly prefer side zippers; I only have justifications. Which mostly are:

  • I have some lingering shoulder issues from ill-advised and uncoordinated college sports days, which make doing the “reach to the middle of my back” contortion uncomfortable, and I travel alone quite a bit and don’t always have someone handy to help with the zipping/unzipping
  • Back zips are too public, I like my zippers hidden under my arm
  • Back zips are usually much longer than side zips, which means more leeway for things to go wrong
  • Harder to match prints across back zips (for me, at least)
  • I don’t like the extra step to finish the facing nicely at the top of zip (laziness)

That’s pretty much it! No really good reasons, except maybe the first one.

The Hundred Dresses: Day 60

Another Vogue 8728 — you’ve seen this one before, too. I do so love a broken plaid:

broken plaid Vogue 8728

I only wish I had this fabric with the dark/light sections reversed. That would be even better.

broken plaid Vogue 8728 bodice

I’m particularly fond of this stony gray.

broken plaid Vogue 8728 side zip

The placement of the blank bits on the back was accidental but I like how they balance each other out …

broken plaid Vogue 8728 back

I vaguely remember that I made this dress for a traveling occasion (not sure which one) and ended up hemming it in a hotel room (maybe?). In any case, I’m going to use that dim recollection as an excuse to post my traveling sewing kit:

Sewing Kit #5 (complete kit)

This is the one I toss in my suitcase when I’m traveling. I was going to tell you how big it is but you can see the seam gauge ruler right there. Here it is outside the bag:

Sewing Kit #1

The Sharpie is for, well, Sharpie-ing, and the dental floss is really handy for sewing on coat buttons that inconveniently pop off. I used to carry buttonhole twist but I hated carrying a whole spool and I usually had the wrong color, anyway. (The Sharpie comes in handy for coloring the dental floss that’s visible once you’ve sewn on the button.) Here are the little Altoid tins opened: safety pins, random button assortment for close-enough matches, and a little bit of fusible tape … just in case.

Sewing Kit #3 (the tins)

And of course the pins and needles:

Sewing Kit #4 (the pins)

Do you have a portable sewing kit? What’s in it?

The Hundred Dresses: Day 19

Today’s dress is one of my favorites:

brick pink Simplicity 5723

I blogged about it last  year (there’s a picture of me in it at that post, with bonus surprise lexicographers!) It’s from this pattern, whichI really like:
Simplicity 5723

Even though the finished skirt is nowhere near as full as the pattern envelope would suggest. And anyway, I put pockets in it (copying those of Simplicity 1577, natch):

brick pink Simplicity 5723

I’m very happy with how the print matched at the waistline:
brick pink Simplicity 5723

The zipper here is about a C+. I have come up with an invisible zipper grading scale, would you like to hear it? After the picture:
brick pink Simplicity 5723

Zipper Grading System:

A zipper: can’t see it, truly invisible except for the pull, waist seam perfectly matched;

B zipper: puckering or  indication that zipper exists (besides the pull); no zipper tape visible;

C zipper: zipper tape visible;

D zipper: unwearable, must be ripped out and redone;

F zipper: makes entire dress unfixable, might as well cut the thing up for quilt squares.

Here’s the sleeve, finished with bias binding:
brick pink Simplicity 5723

And the back. I’m just going to believe that I don’t look from the back what my dresses look like from the back — my dress form is very persnickety and always catches the material across the back:
brick pink Simplicity 5723

Here’s a picture of the fabric scale, just because I found it in my Flickr set:
rose/brick hash print


I really like this dress because: it fits well (dress form back view notwithstanding); it’s formal enough to give a talk in but comfortable enough to enjoy myself in; and also, I like that brick.jpgnk AND broken plaids. A twofer! I usually wear it with a black cardigan and penny loafers.

And in The-Hundred-Dresses-The-Book news — if you’ve already read it, would you consider leaving a review somewhere? (Maybe Amazon?) It’s definitely one of the things that people use to decide whether they will choose The Hundred Dresses over, say, this one.

Another 1577

I still can't seem to stop with Simplicity 1577. I made this one a while back:

It's from some of the fabric I bought on my last trip to Japan. It's a very, very fine-wale plaid corduroy, almost a velveteen.

Sorry for the dark photos — dark dress, dark room:


Simplicity 1577

Matched plaids on the front skirt! (This was easier than I thought, I used instructions from the Colette Sewing Handbook.)

Simplicity 1577

Not so much matching on the back — I ran out of fabric! But then again, if you're spending enough time looking at my rear to notice that the plaid isn't precisely matched, there's another discussion we should be having.


Simplicity 1577

The fabric was heavy enough that I lined the collar with a lightweight black fabric, instead of self-lining it: 


Simplicity 1577

And a slightly brighter view of the bodice: 


Simplicity 1577

This fabric is so soft and comfortable to wear — it's lighter-weight than it looks, so the skirt doesn't quite hang as nicely as in the denim and seersucker versions. But it's not a huge difference. It does pick up quite a bit of lint (especially in the wash). 

I think it may be time for another one … I have some heavy corded cotton that might be just the ticket!

8728, Again

gray ghost plaid dress

Another Vogue 8728. This fabric was from FabricMart, and I bought it because broken plaids don't need to be matched.It's a lovely lightweight silk/cotton mix (silk/cotton: I am helpless before it).


gray ghost plaid bodice closeup

Not as great a job on the side zipper here. Or on the pressing.

gray ghost dress side view

And the back: 


gray ghost plaid dress back

Tune in tomorrow for another exciting installment of "How many copies of Vogue 8728 can Erin make?"

Mad, Plaid, and Dangerous to Know

Lands End Canvas plaid dress

I am verrry tempted by this Lands' End Canvas plaid shirtdress. I've been looking for plaid fabric to make some shirtdresses, but I haven't seen anything I like that isn't an authentic tartan (at a kajillion dollars a yard). This dress is only $80 (and there are many, many LE promo codes for $15 or $20 off purchases of $75 or more).

Lands' End Canvas is LE's new younger line — basically, it's J.Crew-like styles, with LE-type sizing. (Win-win, in other words.) I've bought a cardigan sweater and a short-sleeved sweatshirt from LEC, and been happy with both — okay, I'm only happy with the sweatshirt on a philosophical level, because there's never been a short-sleeved sweatshirt in the history of of either sleeves or sweatshirts that's been flattering on anyone over an A-cup (can you say 'blocky fleece torso"?), but I'm wearing it now and it's very comfy on a rainy California day in front of the computer. 

Back to the dress. It's cute, it has pockets, and if I buy it, it will satisfy my current plaid hankering without requiring me to figure out which branch of my ancestry qualifies me to wear which design. Sounds like a plan to me — what do you think?