Cleaning Out My Closet, Part 1

brown and gold wool dress

I spent a few hours yesterday moving the winter clothes OUT and the summer clothes IN. This involves a great deal of dusting, both mental and physical. (For instance, why did I let another year pass without wearing my turquoise shantung hostess coat?)

Every time I make this switch I *vow* that I will finally pare down my closet to essentials. Just a few well-chosen pieces, blah blah blah. The truth is that I am not a "few well-chosen pieces" kinda gal. I am the kind of gal that has fifty cotton summer dresses and wears a different one every day, if she can.

However, I *am* getting rid of a few things, such as this brown-and-gold wool crepe wiggle dress. I made it several years ago (maybe even five or six?) and wore it, I dunno, once. I was having a wiggle-dress moment, back then; I don't know why. (Perhaps it was the joy of no longer looking mildly pregnant?) Anyway, I spent a lot of time on it and figured I should now set it free to live a full life with someone who will love it the way it ought to be loved.

Here's a closer view of the bodice:

brown and gold wool dress

The points on the tabs are a little lumpy, I have to say. Luckily the buttons are so nice (vintage!) that it draws the eye away.

This dress measures B 36-38, W 32, H 46, and the skirt is 28 inches waistline to hem. From the front neckline to the waist is 13.5 inches; from the back neckline to the waist is 14 inches.

So here's the plan: I'm going to put it up on eBay, at a very very low starting bid. If it sells for that, fine. But if it sells for anything upwards of $25, anything over that will go to charity — I'm thinking . How does that sound?

Here's the link: .


Gathering My Thoughts

McCalls 6007

, a little while back, sent me THREE BOXES of patterns. Just because. (I know, am I lucky, or what?)

The boxes were FULL of treasures, but this one in particular caught my eye, even though I'm not a huge devotee of this era. But look at those gathers, and the sweet curve of the neckline!

So the plan is to go ahead and make the bodice, slap it onto a plain circle skirt, and see what happens. I'll have to change the waistline gathers to small darts (I don't like blousiness at my waist), and there will be some fiddling involved with the sizing (this is a B32; I … am not). However, I figure that the 1940s propensity for shoulderpads will work in my favor; by leaving them out I will get more room through the shoulder seam and the gathers should help with fullness over the bust. (And I have the "make the waist bigger" alteration down pat.)

I'm sure could tell me why I want to put a circle skirt on this one — I think this straight-skirt cut is probably fine for those shaped like Rulers and Vs, but I need more sweep in the skirt to balance out what I insist is an Hourglass (but may in fact be a Pear — or perhaps just an Hourglass that needs to be flipped over?)

The only thing I can't decide is what fabric to use. I was thinking "huge floral!" (because I always think "huge floral!") but this might also be adorable in, say, gingham. Or seersucker. Or even eyelet. Ideas?

Oh, if you want to see the back of the pattern, it's .

Fear of the Fear of Failure

The Liberty fabric above costs roughly $45/yard, slightly less if you're a lucky eBay bidder (click on the image if you feel lucky, punk). And though I often recommend that if you possibly can, you should sew with Liberty prints, many people tell me that they couldn't possibly cut into such expensive fabric — even people who have been sewing for many more years than I have, even people who have made tailored jackets, for pete's sake. They're too afraid they'll screw it up.

So I was wondering about this, and decided (very uncharacteristically for me) to do the math. So let's say you buy fabric for four Liberty-print dresses: that's ($45*4 yds)*4, which would be $720.00.

And let's say that you ruin, beyond hope of recovery, ALL FOUR of your Liberty-print projects. That's a lot of money wasted, right? That's a month's rent for some people. Two or three car payments, maybe. Months of groceries, depending on how many teenage boys are in your household.

It's also 5.76 $125 dresses bought at a department store. (I'm taking $125 NOT as the median department-store dress price, but because it's the absolute maximum price I think I could bring myself to pay for a new dress off the rack.) Have you bought more than 6 dresses in your life that you didn't like? That you wore once, maybe? That hung in your closet until you pushed them into the forgiving arms of the Salvation Army? (Replace "$125 dress" with "$45 sweater" and "6" with "more than I want to recall" and you have MY experience.) What did you learn from buying those dresses? A lot less than you would have learned from trying to sew them, I wager.

Here I'm assuming (highly unlikely) that you would be unable to salvage anything that you had sewn … but I'm also assuming (highly likely) that you would learn a GREAT DEAL from four sewing projects, even if they were all sobbing failures. So much so that with the *next* project, you would most likely make something wearable.

That's just what failure is, or what it ought to be: failure is just figuring stuff out the hard way.

Almost every Saturday morning my little boy and I go roller-skating together. And every Saturday I tell my son (who HATES to fall down) that if he doesn't fall down, he won't learn anything. If you don't fall, you won't ever know how fast is too fast, how tight is too tight to take a turn, how soon (after a mega-blast blue-raspberry Slurpee) is too soon to head back to the floor. And if you don't screw up something — anything — in your life, you won't ever know how good you could have been.

So I *hate* it when someone tells me they don't want to try something because they might screw it up. So what? Unless what you're trying to do involves tightrope walking 5000 feet up, you probably won't DIE. And short of death, almost everything is fixable. Don't ask me for advice if that's not what you want to hear, because I'm the person who is going to tell you to take the new job, to ask the guy (or girl) out already, to move to the new city, to wear orange. I'll tell you to stop focusing on what you might lose, and start thinking about what you might LEARN.

Sometimes when people say they're afraid of failure, what they really mean is that they are afraid of humiliation. Which is completely understandable. But, speaking as someone who has felt humiliated more times than she'd like to remember, humiliation passes. (It passes like a kidney stone passes, but that's another story.) Not to mention that humiliation passes differently for each person: you remember it for months; the witnesses remember it for seconds (they have their own humiliations to obsess over, and don't have time for yours). You wake up the next morning, same as always. You head back into work, you run into that guy again ("Uh, hi!"), you get a new haircut to fix the one that wasn't such a good idea, after all. But at least you tried, and now you know something you didn't know before.

Or … you try, and it works! It works beyond your wildest dreams. (Insert wildest dreams here.) Even if it works a little bit short of your wildest dreams, that's still further along than you were yesterday. And there's no rule that you can't try again.

So, that thing? That thing you've been scared to try, because you think there's NO POSSIBLE WAY you could do it? That everyone would point and laugh when you fell? Today looks like an EXCELLENT day to give it a shot. Take it from me. (Everyone's looking the other way, anyway.) Go for it!

And if you're going to do it, you might as well wear something orange while you do. (I'm just saying.)