Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nurture or Nature?

One of my many deeply-held convictions is that my children get their perverse natures from their father.  It is totally reasonable, in my opinion, to blame him for most, if not all, of their personality flaws-- the largest being their sheer perversity of nature. 

Take TLo.  For six weeks straight she would eat nothing but cottage cheese and applesauce. By the sixth week, I’d decided that we would not be making any extra trips to the grocery store for cottage cheese that week and bought three large containers (at a pretty hefty price, I might add).  The next day TLo announced that she “hates cottage cheese” and outright refused to eat any.  I ate a lot of cottage cheese for the next two weeks.

If that doesn’t convince you, take The Big One instead.  She insisted for six months that she wanted a birthday party at the horse ranch.  Then last week when my mother suddenly remembered that she had purchased a party package from a horse-farm at a charity auction, The Big One suddenly decided that nothing would do but to go to the Princess Party place instead.

Now, it’s true that these little foibles are fleeting.  Being 5 and 6, the girls aren’t really of a mental temperament to hold out very long on these quirky changes in preference.  They don’t really have the attention span for it.  It is, however, highly annoying and I firmly blame their father for this fickleness of mind.

Until today.  Today, sadly, I think I will have to admit that maybe, just maybe, they get some of this from me.

Last week I wore a top made from an independent pattern company that I hadn’t worn for well over a year.  I decided that due to some initial fitting adjustment errors I would perhaps take the pattern out and try it again, because I really like it but it doesn’t fit quite right.  Once I started thinking about it, I remembered that the pattern required some internal construction that was not including in the instructions.  Since I figured if I made it again I would probably blog and/or review it, I thought I had better ask the pattern designer just what the intention was for that part of the design.

Happily, said pattern designer replied by making me a very generous offer.  “Hold off on making the pattern again and I’ll send you a newly released edition with revisions”.  Well, I’ve never been one to turn down a good bribe, especially one of such a kindly and generous nature.  So I replied that I would be happy to hold off, because of course what I say I’m going to sew and when I actually get around to doing it are two completely different things.

Except now I’m wandering around my studio aimlessly, avoiding all other possible projects…. because I want to sew that pattern.  I must sew it.  Must!  It calls my name temptingly,  “Seeeew meeee…..  seeeewwww meeeee…..”


Friday, February 26, 2010

Luv… Twu Luv

I am totally and completely in love with Anna Sui.

OK, not with Anna Sui.  With her clothes.


Here is the Fall 2010 collection.  It is perfect.  Perfect, I say.  In fact, I find it to be so perfect that now I'm a little worried that maybe Anna Sui has some sort of psychic powers, has been trolling my brain and has sucked out the subconscious images therein.

It could happen.

Anyway, whilst contemplating the nature of psychic vampire fashion designers, I realized that I love this collection because it feels so very much like something I would have drawn 15 years ago, if I was drawing it today.

Um.  That makes sense.  No really, it does.  What I mean is, 15 years ago I drew (as an example, in which I can’t spell) this:

tarot cards 1994 If I were to draw these cards today, I think it would look much like Anna Sui's vision regarding the use of patterns (i.e. richer and with significantly more depth).

Anna Sui - look 1Anna Sui - look 8 Anna Sui - look 17

It's like comfort food for my eyes.

Or I could be smokin' the crack myself this time.

Whatever.  I love Anna Sui.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poodle. Not just for dogs.

Once in Portland, Oregon I saw a sign that said, “Poodled Trees – Sale Today!”

go to European Boxwood and Topiary Society 

Apparently this season we are treated to the skirt equivalent.

go to diane von furstenberg - look 2

go to : MONIQUE LHUILLIER - look 12

go to Thakoon - look 29

go to Thakoon - look 24

Those are just the ones I’ve found so far.  I have yet to slog my way through all the shows online.  I’m thinking that this summer will be The Summer of Poodled Skirts for the kids.  I like to torture them like that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I See London, I See France

OK, so I just have to say that this whole next conversation (I like to call these little monologues "conversations") will be about underwear.  So if you're not interested in hearing about some stranger's underwear, probably you can just click over to Facebook now or something.

Actually, I don't really have that much to say about underwear.  It's just that I'm having a terrible time with finding a decent bra.  This is partly my fault for being a real cheap-ass when it comes to undergarments, partly because I hate visiting the bra-fitting ladies in the department store and partly because I wear a very awkward size.  I mean, apparently it's awkward for bra manufacturers.  I don't personally find it awkward but I guess I'm out of the Bra Size loop.  Seriously, I do not see why these places assume that someone who wears a 36 band is unlikely to wear a DD cup.  But apparently this is just beyond the realm.  It's not like I am unusually large either. People who see me don't generally shout, "Wow!  Big boobs!"  So what is up with that? 

Every six months or so I toy with the idea of starting to make my own bras (ex. see amazing bra-producing skills ala Heather).  But this seems like something that is really, really hard to do.  Or rather really, really hard to do well.  I fear that once I learn all the ins and outs of the actual construction process (which are mostly new to me and I suspect not really within my purview), spend money purchasing fabrics and fittings I don’t already own and generally wasting great volumes of time and effort, I will end up with a bra that fits no better or possibly even worse than poorly-fitting bras I could have purchased for $20 at Walmart.

Still, $90 for a single bra is a bit... prohibitive.  I have no money these days and spending $250 on two or three underthings is a bit of extravagance that I can't seem to justify (of course, many would say it's not an extravagance at all but rather an necessity, but I can't quite see it that way).

So here's my Grand Bra Plan: 

Step One - I am going to Dallas in the next month with the specific purpose of having a bra fitting at Nordstrom's (we don't have a Nordstrom's here so I will have to haul my sorry butt down to Dallas... whilst making a superhuman-effort to avoid Golden D'Or, which is tough since I normally only go to Dallas with the singular goal of doctor appointments for TLo, whose presence gives me the perfect excuse to not go fabric shopping).

Step Two - I will purchase at least one of the bras that the bra-fitting ladies recommend, provided I like the results and regardless of the cost (barring a $400 price ticket or something).

Step Three - I will wear said bra a few times to see if I really like it.

Step Four - I will see if I can copy said bra and reproduce it myself.

Step four made you laugh, didn't it?  Me too.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Which I Have An Epiphany. Yes. About Skirts.

So.  I may have mentioned that I was going to make a pencil skirt this past weekend.  But in thinking about it I'm not sure I really meant a pencil skirt, in that I had no intention of having said skirt stop at my knee.  I have fat knees and fat calves and they are not things I like to parade about in the open.  I have much better features that could be exposed and I'd prefer to parade those.  Well.  Maybe.  Whatever.  No knees.

To me, when someone says "pencil skirt" I immediately think of this:

B6329 @

or maybe this:

S2957 @

rather than this (which is, of course, what most people think of… what with it being a pencil skirt and all):

M5302 @

So while I did work on a skirt last weekend and it was straight, I'm not sure it totally qualifies as "pencil". Whatever.

go to HP Trouser Skirt - Glamour Girl Size 16 

Here's the really interesting (to me, and that's all that counts) part: I finally took the advice given by others for the past five years and managed to scrounge up a garment that fits me the way I want it to, so as to take a flat measurement.  Then I compared this to my (supposed) body measurements and then compared those to the pattern sizes on the envelope. 

Scatterin’ Skirts, Batman!  I had to cut two full sizes smaller.  And then add 1.75" back into the back panel (I need some loose for my caboose).  That still made the pattern quite a bit smaller than the size I supposedly “need”.   In any case, by virtue of these calculations I have created... the perfect skirt.  O. M. G.   Yes.  Oh.  Em.  To the flippin' Gee.  The only other alteration I made was to take off 4" from the length throughout the body of the skirt, which is a standard alteration I have to make on everything.   Because I am only 5 feet tall.   Which sucks.  But that's another story. 

Why didn't I ever listen?  This was the easiest alteration I have ever made to a pattern.  Seriously, this has been a revelation to me. It was like I was wandering around with my eyes shut and suddenly someone said, "Hey you.  The dummy with your eyes shut.  Yeah, you.  Did you know you can open those things?"  And Lo!  I can see!  You have no idea how much more rewarding sewing this skirt has been knowing that I didn't spend a million hours and/or thought-processes trying to work out how to make it fit.  Plus when it was done... it fit!

So I suppose you want to see this Miracle Skirt, right?  Hmmph.  Well, now I'm a little anxious about posting it, because of course it's miraculous to me but to everyone else it's just a boring old straight skirt.  Do I care?  NO!  Ha.  So here is the "wearable muslin" that I made, which I might actually just wear.  Gasp.  I know.  Unbelievable. 


OK, fine.  Maybe it doesn't fit perfectly.  I didn’t adjust the back to add an inch to the length (another standard adjustment that I obviously still need as you will see below).    I also have a wrinkle over my left hip (reversed in the mirror in the picture above) that I’m pretty sure is a sewing issue and not a fitting issue, but I’m not totally sure.  Still, it sure as heck fits better than anything else I've made to date and we won't even go there on comparing it to RTW.  At least I now have a good pattern to take measurements from and make comparisons for future garments.  That’s something of a personal coup.

HP-Trouser-Skirt-side  Please ignore:

a) the really bad lighting

b) that this isn’t hemmed yet and so is at least an inch longer than expected and

c) the fact that I have my very long shirt tucked into the waist, which I wouldn’t normally do.

It is for educational purposes only.

Probably it's a bad sign that this is one of the better-fitting and nicer things I own, right?  But next week: A Real Skirt Made With Real Fabric.   Amazing.

(edit: I should have mentioned that I made this muslin in what is rapidly becoming The Fabric Of Our Lives, that same free denim that I used for TLo’s Terrible Jeans.  It’s hard to see in pictures, but this fabric really is ugly. I purchased 12 yards of it to make comforter covers for the girls’ beds.  It perfectly matches their denim curtains from Walmart and it’s great fabric for comforter covers.  It is not, however, great fabric for clothing.  The reason I say it’s free is that while I purchased 12 yards, I somehow ended up with 24 and I could not get the salespeople to deal with taking it back.  I did try.  Really.  Extensively.  I do not believe in the Well-They-Made-The-Mistake-And-Gave-It-To-Me-So-If-I-Keep-It-Then-That’s-Not-Stealing theory of life.  But since they refused to take it back, I finally figured I could use it for muslins.  And that’s what I’m doing.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Forever In Blue Jeans. Not.

Ok, first off, if my tone is somewhat… short-tempered, that’s because I made a whole post about these stupid flippin’ jeans and then proceeded to lose it.  Somewhere.  Possibly because aliens took over my computer and stole it.  Possibly because put it in the Recycle Bin  and then cleared it.  Maybe.


Here then is my NEW POST about these STUPID FLIPPIN’ JEANS.


go to Ottobre Design 4/2009 #31

So several weeks ago TLo asked me to pleeeease make her some jeans.  Because she is a perverse little monster who enjoys tormenting her mother to the point of actual insanity.  See, five months ago TLo insisted (INSISTED) that she would not wear anything at all but skirts.  Not dresses.  Not pants.  Not anything unless it was a skirt.  Until two weeks ago when she suddenly decided that she would only wear jeans.




I’m still taking deep, cleansing breaths.


So jeans it is.  Except that jeans are awkward for TLo because of her shape (due to which she wears a minimum of a 7 in width but a 5 in length… which means that if I buy her jeans in a 7, the crotch rise is about three inches too long and really uncomfortable.  Considering she is in kindergarten and spends most of her day sitting on the floor, I decided this was probably a legitimate issue for her.  You try sitting on the floor all day with your waistband under your armpits.  Fun?  Exactly.)

Unfortunately, the jeans I started to make for her caused me so much agony that I finally gave up after a whole weekend of work, broke down and bought her a pair from Walmart (-shudder-).  I had to hem them up about five inches and the crotch rise was indeed three inches too long, but they were jeans.  Then last weekend I went back to the almost-finished jeans and of course they practically put themselves together, it went so smoothly.  This just proves that you should never sew when tired (which my needle-punched fingers can prove).

Here are her jeans.  They are hideous.  Just to prove the  point, I have included pictures of the REAL jeans I bought.

jeans_I_made_at_home my jeans

 LEI_jeans_from_Walmart LEI jeans

Now granted, I used gruesome fabric (which I got for free, so I guess you get what you pay for).  But still. 

These do have the advantage of being very low in the rise so they do fit comfortably when sitting.  In fact, they’re so low that I wasn’t totally sure TLo would be able to wear them.  I cut a size 116, then added 1” to the back leg width down the grainline and shortened by about two inches.  (This is eerily familiar to the amazing sizing discovery I made while working on my pencil skirt.  More on that next time.)

I did do my usual extension of the pocket so that it becomes the interfacing for the fly facing, which I think is a better solution than the RTW.  It keeps the pockets from pulling out, which is nice.

my_jeans_interior  my jeans interior pocket detail

LEI_jeans_interior  LEI jeans interior pocket detail

Here’s how you do that, if you’re interested:

Overlay the pocket piece over the pants leg piece that has the fly front (so it basically looks the way it will when it’s sewn up).  Then trace the fly facing part onto the pocket part and redraw it.  (These are from the disastrous BWOF skirt I did two weeks ago, but it’s the same process.)   Baste the pocket fabric to the fly facing after you’ve sewn the pockets and then treat it as a sewn-in interfacing when you construct the zipper.

pocket-extension-drafting pocket-extension-finished 

So that worked ok.  Of course, LEI remembered to make actual buttonholes for their buttonhole elastic, so they’re one up on me there.  I had to fix mine with a bit of elastic jury-rigged into the back of the waistband.

In any case, TLo now has two pairs of jeans.   The real pair and this pair.



I’m sure next week she will decide that she only wants to wear polar fleece vests and a pink tutu.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Information

1)  The kindly Cynth commented a while back on my fabric purchase from Hancock Fabrics.  She very graciously came back (after being subjected to craven pleading by yours truly), and posted a link to photos of her fabulous HP 24/7 A-Line Skirt version. 

go to Cynth's HP 24/7 Skirt

Check it out.  I'm thinking that this style might be a bit over-the-top on me (simply because making such a skirt for myself will require substantially more fabric than Cynth used and whoa baby that's quite a statement—and maybe not one I need to make).   But I really like her results and now the wheels are churning in my little hamster-cage of a head.

2)  Judy In N.Z., a.k.a. Judy-Does-She-Ever-Make-Anything-Ugly-No-She-Doesn't-I-Hate-Her, had asked about the line drawings I made of my imaginary garments

Have You Seen This Dress?

Fashion Week / Knock-off

and whether there is a tutorial for this.  Unfortunately, there is not.  In the spirit of full disclosure:  I am actually a bona fide, trained, professional illustrator.  Therefore I gots the skillz (and the software) to make said illustrations.  If there was a relatively easy way for me to provide the how-to I would, but I think that's probably beyond the scope of a tutorial.  Beyond the scope of one I can deal with, at any rate.  So I'm not much help there.  All I can recommend is... that you hire a bona fide trained professional illustrator. She takes checks, cash or Pay Pal.  Or barring that, just brush up on your drawing skills and be proud of your achievements as they are, because I don't think anyone expects perfect drawings… and doggonit, people like you.  There.  Daily Affirmation.  (I heart Al Franken… and whatever happened to Davis?  What the heck am I talking about?  Google it, baby.)

3)  KidMD (Katie) made a comment on that same Have-You-Seen-This-Dress post and provided us all with The Answer.... in the form of McCalls 5885, which is truly one of the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life. 


Until you get past the crazy-ass ruffles on that first shirt and take a look at the line-drawings. 

M5885 line drawingsThen you see the true brilliance of KidMD, who is - clearly - a genius.  Takes one to know one, I always say.  So now I have something to purchase when McCall patterns go back on sale.  Because I really need more patterns.   Stop laughing.

And thus ends today’s episode of “Random Information”.  That is all.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You’re Hot Then You’re Cold. Maybe. Maybe Not.

Today TLo asked me to pleeeeease get her a new song for her iPod. 

"Which song did you want?"

"You know, the one on Kids Bop?"  This is already a bad, bad sign.  Kids Bop is quite possibly the most horrifying thing I have ever heard.  Ever.   The afterschool van driver seems to have a penchant for it which seriously points to a question about her stability.

"Weeell," I start, trying to temporize.  "I don't really think it's--"

"But it's on Kids Bop, Mom.  You know?  Kids?"  She gives me the evil eye.  "I looooove that song."

"Well, which song is--"

"You know!  'You change your mind like a, um, bird takes a, um.... ‘You're hot in your nose, you're in and about, you're up then, uh, mumble mumble...'   That one?"


"You know?"

"'You're hot in your nose?' Seriously?"


We will not be acquiring that particular song.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Ok.  I am not much of a fashion follower.  Fashion Week is not, in fact, the core of my existence.  Yes, I know.  Shocker.  "Why in the world would a five-foot-tall woman who weighs roughly four times as much as the average fashion model (roughly) not be interested in runway fashion?"   Right.

However, I do like to meander through the runway slideshows now and again.  This year seems, as many others have noted, to be fraught with a dismalness that fairly takes the breath away.  Not only are the colors, or complete lack thereof, numbing but the shapes are... well, one can only say "Blah.  Unflattering.  Somewhat tedious."  Hmm.  I should be a fashion writer. I can so bring the world-weary seen-it-all-and-yours-sucks attitude.

In any case, although several of my favorite designers have yet to show and so I can't comment fully on the spectacle that is Spring Fashion, I will say that I have so far found only one item that I, the short fat non-fashion person as mentioned above, would be remotely interested in actually trying to wear.  And here it is. 


Some sort of drapey shrug/wrap thing from Loin Cloth and Ashes as seen at the ARISE MAGAZINE AFRICAN COLLECTIVE - PART III

Is intriguing, no?  Now, the fact that I see this as an item that I would consider putting on my body (as opposed to possibly framing on my wall) probably means that it's not really so interesting and perhaps even Bad Fashion.  I like it anyway.

Here's my interpretation of what it might look like based on the two images I've seen so far.  drapey-shrug-thing

I think this is totally possible to make.  Don't you?  Of course you do, you're drafting the pattern right now, right?

Please send it to me when you've finished.

(edit: yes I know, it’s FALL fashion.  I was looking at Easter dresses while I was typing this post.  Too confusing.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Have You Seen This Dress? Call 1-800-LOSTDRESS

I am still working on the muslin of my so-called pencil skirt.  I'm pretty super-excited about it actually, so I'm going to post it up as soon as I get it sewn into a more completed stage.  I may actually have created that rare and elusive creature, The Wearable Muslin.  I know, I know.  "It's just a myth!" you mock.  "A hazy fantasy dreamt up by an exhausted woman who just can't quite admit that she has wasted ten hours of her precious time."  But I say, "NO!  It's real, I tell you.  Real!"  Well.  Maybe.

In the meantime, I have become obsessed with something else.  "No, really?  Not you," some of you say sarcastically.  "Really," I reply, completely ignoring your snarky tone (you know who you are).  

If you would turn to your right, Gentle Readers, you will see the never-ending slideshow that is my Wardrobe Inspiration.  In it is this dress.   (I have no idea who made this dress because I picked it out from four months ago and they don’t seem to have it anymore.  And I can’t be bothered to investigate further.)

mystery dress from

I love this dress.  Yes, I do.  Love it. I have no idea why I love it so much, but I'm telling you now: it will be mine.

And can I find a pattern to make it?  No.  I can not.

Now, I know perfectly well that I can make this dress (or rather the top I intend to turn it into) from any number of other patterns.  I certainly own several that would work.  This one, for instance. 

go to B5388 at


And this one. 

go to V8508 at


Or even this one, remember this

go to V8460 at

But they're not EXACTLY the same, are they?  No.  They are not.  If it's got a pleated front, it has no neckline piece.  If it's got a gathered front that I could convert into pleats, the sleeves are also gathered which I don't want.  If I use my coat pattern, I have to alter the yoke and remove the placket.  Plus, I've then made a shirt out of... my coat.

Yes, I can alter and redraft all of these things.  But I don't want to.

So, anyone have any knowledge of a pattern that looks like this?  Exactly this?

Mystery Dress line drawing Huh?  Huh?  Do ya?


I am so totally going to have to draft something myself, right?  Hmmph.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Vanda, My Dahlink

Ah, Vanda.  How I love you.  Actually, that's V and A.  As in Victoria and Albert.  Not the monarchs.  The museum. 

Saying that, I have never actually been to London (unless you count a truly soul-destroying layover I had at Heathrow once) so I haven't been in the museum in person.  But I know that it is heaven on earth.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has an online image library and then they also have an online print shop, where you can order prints.  This source has some really nice images.  The online library does too, but it's a bit more of a slog to find something.  Sort of just depends on if you’re cruisn' for eye-candy or looking for something more in-depth.

And not only do they provide this embarrassment of riches, they also participate in by providing the lovely "Shoes, Bags and Tiaras" for free.  Awesomeness.

Speaking of which, some random samplings:

1735 shoessilk  shoes, 18th C.

MQuant boots 1967 Mary Quant boots, 1967minaiture with overlay 17thCminiature with dress-up overlay

Liberty dress Liberty Dress, c. 1930

liberty dress 1885 Liberty dress, c. 1885

silk dress 1870 silk dress, c.1870

And last but not least, something I actually personally owned (until my miserable children caused my feet to swell like sponges at the beach):

Docs 1982Docs, 1982

And from the fabulous Print Shop:

Georges Barbier Barbier illustration


Bernier Bernier illustration

long dress 1799 Heideloff and Ackermann illustration


And that’s just from the fashion illustration section. 

Vanda.  You hav to luv it, dahlink.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Which A Crabby Old Man Is Lucky

Lucky I don’t beat him to a pulp, that is. 

So.  In writing earlier this week about my grandmother, I was reminded of a photo of her that used to exist.  Note the use of italics.  Because, Gentle Readers, I have come to the sneaking suspicion that my miserable wretch of a grandfather has either lost or destroyed it.  Explaining why he might have done such a thing is too long and horrible a story to relate to such delicate ears as you Gentle Readers possess.  Let’s just agree that such a thing could and in all likelihood did occur.  Which explains why my rotten grandfather is lucky (yes, lucky!) he’s a feeble old man and even I am unlikely to pound on such a person.  Maybe.  He’s lucky my grandmother isn’t around to hear of it, because I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have such scruples.

I bring this all up because I’d had the fleeting thought of sharing said photo with you.  It was truly fabulous.  I mentioned before that my grandmother was stylish.  She sure was.  The missing photo was taken sometime during the war.  It defies description, but those interested in vintage fashion would have loved it because it resembled nothing so much as a fashion plate.  Alas, that wretched excuse for a person called “Grandpa” has made the point moot.

All I have is this photocopied (photocopied) picture that was taken around the same time.  The image is so degraded that I can’t even tell for sure what type of material that hat is made out of.  Velvet and lambswool?  Fur?  The mind boggles.  I think that dress is a wool jersey.  Hard to know for sure and of course I never thought to ask when she was around to tell me.  I have no doubt that she would have remembered, in great detail.


My recollection is that this was taken in 1939, which if true would  make my grandmother 16 years old and it’s roughly a year after the invasion of Austria.  If this is more recent then it’s from during the war or maybe even slightly after.   If I knew more about hats, I might be able to date the image better.  Either way, I find the fact that so many women managed to maintain their sense of style during a period of such intense uncertainty pretty mind-blowing.  Although if you knew my grandmother, it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that she managed to find a fur hat in the middle of an epic war.  Nor that she would insist on wearing it with such aplomb.  That is how she rolled.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Which I Can’t Think Of A Title

A certain selfish person recently inspired me to go through my back issues of BWOF.  Every month when my new issue arrives, I immediately photocopy the line drawing insert and file it in my Pattern Binder.  After I've perused the actual magazines, they dutifully go into the magazine file and I hardly ever look at them again. 

I do frequently peruse my pattern binder.  As you all know, what you see in the line drawings of BWOF look like a whole 'nuther animal in the photo shoots.  Whole 'nuther.  So I thought to myself, "Self, you might should take a 'nuther little look-see at those photo shoots."   Apparently my self is now from the hills of Kentucky.  Anyhoo, a little look-see I have taken.  And can I just say: WTF?

People wonder why patterns don't fit them?  I give you exhibit A.

BWOF E927-406 E927 fall/winter - 406 Top

What is up with that girl's sleeve?  I mean, we're just going to completely ignore the whole "this is a plus-sized model who has arms like twigs" thing.  But look at that armscye!  Yikes.  Who would that fit?  Even my really truly plus-sized sausage arms wouldn't make that sucker work.

And no, I'm not trying to single-handedly destroy Burda Fashion or anything (despite evidence to the contrary).  This is hardly a phenomenon unique to them.  It's just that they had the misfortune, or rather lack of insight, to shoot this particular transparent top in such a way as to be completely unable to hide the flaw.  That's their mistake, no doubt about it, but every other pattern company I've ever dealt with (with the exception of one, who seems to consistently have the opposite problem) has this type of armscye issue somewhere along the line.   Which does somewhat beg the question of how mere mortal home sewseamstressers are supposed to cope.

You know what would be cool?  Spray-on clothes.  You know, like in the movie "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" (which I have seen waaaay too many times).  Spray on shoes?  Like that.  Spray-on clothes.  Then we could all just walk around in big blobby coatings of rubber.  Like pod people.  Ooooooo.  Pod people.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Living Is Easy. Or Not. Whatever.

So when it's snowing (which it is here right now), your sewing mind naturally turns to... summer dresses. Naturally.  Well, mine did because yesterday I received the Spring 2010 Papo D'Anjo catalog. Ah, Papo D'Anjo.  I have a sort of love-hate relationship with them.  Liberty fabrics? Check.  Classic styles.  Check check.  $250 for a child's dress.  Che-- uh.  Wait.  What?  No.

However, this catalog is an inspiration for planning a little girl's spring and summer wardrobe if you are inclined towards the classical in clothing.  If you are in the habit of making traditional little girl's dresses, this catalog will no doubt alternately amuse, enthrall and irritate you because these dresses are basically what you already make at home.  If you charged $200 for them.  Which is about $200 more than most of you charge right now, right?

go to

go to 
Check out this new item, as shown below.  The “cross-back sunsuit”.  I have no less than three patterns for this outfit and when my kids were babies they wore these all summer long.  I didn't charge them $70.  I'm not saying I shouldn't have... but I didn't.   They do take up a massive amount of fabric, so at least that justifies the cost somewhat.

go to 

One of the Big4 always has some version of this pattern in stock.  Always.  Butterick has it right now:

B5439 at

Doesn’t this just shout “summer picnic”?  Every summer I try to make at least a few traditional sundresses for my kids.

go to

I still have some pieces of floral lawn that I got last summer from the fabulous Farmhouse Fabrics.  They have lovely fabrics at good rates-- not super-cheap to buy but high quality and worth the price.  (And I have no affiliation of course, I'm just a big fan.)

I still have this fabric, which is one of my all-time favorite prints:

cotton lawn at 

And here's a dress I made for TLo last summer.  I used the cotton lawn from Farmhouse (which they still have in several colorways), fine cotton pique for the collar and cotton batiste for the bodice lining.  It’s a little messy looking here because strangely enough it’s been hanging in the closet for four or five months.


My original plan was to do a lace insertion on the front bodice, but I had absolutely no luck with it and it kept pulling apart at the seams. I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the bodice, so I finally decided to do a fix with pique insertions instead, which didn't go so well because of the bulk.  I was also going to do some sort of piping or trim on the collar, but I decided it was a bit too heavy already and to just Let. It. Go.  So it’s not quite as nice as I was planning, but it’s ok.

front wtih pique insertion


back with buttons

I can't tell you what pattern I used, because I basically mashed this together myself by altering  a drop-waisted bodice from another dress into an empire waist, changing it from a front button placket to a back button placket, adding a lining and then creating the skirt out of a rectangle of fabric.  I drafted the collar to match the neckline of the bodice.  If I could remember what bodice I started with I would tell you but I can't and frankly at this point it probably doesn't matter anyway.

And that is today’s little walk through the sunshine.  Well, I guess I'm off to shovel some snow off the driveway.  Ahhhh... makes you think of halter tops, right? 

(Edit: And just so you don’t think I’m completely deranged, I do realize that this little dress isn’t anything like as nice as the catalog dresses above.  I’m not totally delusional.  It’s just that this is the only one I have that I could find and that I remotely remembered how I made.  You just wait, Doubting Susans, this summer I will have a plethora, plethora I tells ya, of nifty summer clothing to show off.  I will.  No, I am not being defensive.   I am not!  Quit saying that!)