Happy New Year/Dress

Happy 2017, people! Here’s a new dress that isn’t the same dress I’ve made the last dozen times:

Rushcutter denim dress

It’s the Rushcutter by In The Folds, sewn up in fairly heavy denim. I enjoyed sewing it quite a bit (once I got the pattern taped together), but I enjoy wearing it immensely.

Here’s the neck bit, isn’t it nice?
Rushcutter neck detail

Back zip, which I’m usually not a fan of, but this one is short so it’s okay:
Rushcutter back zip

I used some patterned bias tape from Daiso to finish the neckline:
floral bias tape neck finish

These pockets are HUGE. Really, really big:
Rushcutter giant pockets

Really:
Rushcutter giant pockets pt 2

They’re set a little low on the dress so occasionally I have to stoop to get things out of the bottom of them, which I find equal parts annoying and hilarious. (When I sew this again I’ll be putting a false bottom in the pocket somehow.)

This is a very, very comfortable dress, with a few caveats. First, the sleeves are a bit wide so they can get a bit jammed up in a coat. I sometimes have to do a quick ‘wrap’ of the sleeve around my arm before jamming my arm into the coat, to make sure that I don’t end up with bulgy elbows.

Also, this is a dress that’s much more comfortable standing than sitting, but that’s probably because I overload the pockets (because I can, because they are HUGE). So if you also load your pockets like Harpo Marx, you too might have to do a little adjustment and pull the sides of the dress forward when sitting so that your heavy pockets don’t fall weirdly down the sides of your chair. But it’s a small price to pay!

I like wearing this with footless tights and sneakers, or regular tights and ankle boots. I’ve worn this with bright yellow tights several times thinking that someone will say “hey, in those tights your legs look just like MUPPET FLESH,” but no one has yet. Which is probably because most of my friends and acquaintances are tactful, kind people, but it’s TRUE.

Oh, and the hem is faced, which is a treatment I always like, especially on heavy fabrics:

Rushcutter faced hem

I have a few other dresses I’ve made during this last blogging hiatus, and the goal/resolution is to post one a week until I’m caught up. Wish me luck!

An entertaining coincidence

About a month ago I managed to see the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the DeYoung Museum here in SF, and it was lovely. If you like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing you really like, etc.

As I exited through the gift shop I checked out the postcard rack, and was struck by this image of an Oscar de la Renta dress featured in Harper’s Bazaar in 1969:

OdelaR-postcard

I was struck not so much by the dress (which is lovely, of course), but by the fabric—it was the same as some Marc Jacobs fabric I’d bought a few years ago! (I blogged about a dress I made in a different colorway of this fabric back in 2015 here.) It’s silk/cotton, not organza:

Untitled

You can tell better in this color image:

image from rarevintage.blogspot.com
image from Rare Vintage

Or in this of another Oscar de la Renta piece in Vogue:

I think this is a jumpsuit?

It’s not uncommon for designers to revive print fabrics—most designers don’t create their own prints, but instead work with fabric houses to select fabrics for their collections. (Here’s an interesting article about the process.) Some French and Italian print houses have been around for hundreds of years, and have catalogs going back pretty much forever.

It looks like this fabric was used in the Marc by Marc Jacobs line sometime before 2009; you can see a dress made with it here:

image from FashionFuss.com
image from FashionFuss.com

Rashida Jones even wore something in this fabric in an episode of Parks and Rec! But I’ve only found one thing from the orange colorway—a strappy top.

I still haven’t made up this fabric, and probably the upshot of learning all this is that I will wait even longer to find the “perfect” pattern. (But I can tell you right now, it probably won’t have ruffles …)

I bet this looks familiar

Liberty Simplicity 2389

Same old Simplicity 2389 bodice with the Heidi skirt. Liberty print (although I can’t remember which one). Edit: It’s Rachel de Thames.

Liberty Simplicity 2389

And, of course, piping. (Nice fat piping on this one!)

Liberty Simplicity 2389

The zipper turned out nicely on this one—oh, this me burying the lede, I got a new sewing machine and the new invisible zipper foot is like buttah—post about the sewing machine to come soon.

Here’s a closer view of the bodice, although I think most Constant Readers of this blog could be woken from a sound sleep and draw this from memory:

Liberty Simplicity 2389

The pocket piping is barely visible, since the pattern is so busy: Liberty Simplicity 2389

And of course, the back view:

Liberty Simplicity 2389

I made about four more of these dresses over the last month, plus two more in a NEW! PATTERN! I’ll try to post those shortly.

2015 Plaidurday Dress

Plaidurday was more than a week ago, so I suppose I should post my Plaidurday dress (no spoilers!):

2015 Plaidurday dress

This fabric is a cotton/linen blend; I bought the last 2.75 yards from Fabric Mart Fabrics (sorry).

Plaid dress bodice

Piped pockets, of course:

piped pockets

Zipper and side-seam matching:

plaid dress side seam

I really like the bold stripe down the shoulder:

plaid dress shoulder

This picture really shows you the linen-y texture of the fabric:

plaid dress shoulder piping

And the back:

plaid dress back//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I’m really into plaid for autumn/winter, and especially dark plaids, so I was happy to find this fabric — dark in color, but light in weight, perfect for autumn-in-San-Francisco-that’s-really-summer. What fabrics or patterns are you dreaming about for autumn?

Cheap Chic: 40th Anniversary Edition

Cheap Chic, the fashion classic, has been reprinted in a special 40th anniversary edition, with a foreword by Tim Gunn.

Cheap Chic, original edition cover

I don’t remember where I first read this book; it must have been in the 1980s, and I’m pretty sure it was a public library copy, the cover reinforced with whatever the library grade of Con-Tact paper is.

By that time I was already dressing much like the authors of the book, or as much like them as a high-school student in North Carolina could dress, so I read the entire thing as an exercise in confirmation bias. Of course I had olive drab army pants (several pair, including one I’d chopped off into shorts). I had multi-button wool sailors’ pants (too warm for the climate), men’s white t-shirts and oxfords, penny loafers, and (a significant find) a pair of incredibly beat-up (and uncomfortable) pair of boy’s cowboy boots, bought at a thrift store in Hickory, NC. I’d swiped my dad’s Levi’s jean jacket AND his Eisenhower jacket. I had good leather bags and belts (bought as seconds at the Coach outlet in town). I was certainly cheap; this book told me I was chic.

Re-reading Cheap Chic is half nostalgia, half discomfort. It’s difficult to read this now without noticing what I didn’t notice back in the eighties: the constant underscoring of the idea that the base requirement for chic is a “lean body” (and the assumption that everyone reading the book could easily fit into boy’s-size clothing and would be comfortable going braless in leotards). The regular and slightly thoughtless appropriation of clothing from different cultures and classes (“ethnic” and “worker’s” clothing), including the advice that you should “Tune into Soul Train when you’re running low on ideas!” And of course, so much fur!

The best reason to re-read Cheap Chic is for the interviews with designers, including Betsey Johnson, Rudi Gernreich, and (best of all) Diana Vreeland:

It’s hard to read Cheap Chic without thinking about the assumptions behind what made things cheap or chic: things were cheap because they were either made cheaply (by people you didn’t think much about otherwise), were the surplus of the militarization of the twentieth century, or because you had the resources to invest up-front in something well-made and expensive that would last a long time (Saint Laurent boots are mentioned often). Things were chic because they made you look young, cosmopolitan, well-traveled, thin, and rich.

I’d recommend reading Cheap Chic just to experience this discomfort, and to try to bring it forward into our lives now. What assumptions are we making today that will make our grandchildren cringe?