Winter Dress: Embryonic Stage

I just got this Liberty Lantana fabric for a winter dress:

Looking forward to the long process of finding JUST THE RIGHT COLOR PIPING to use with this. (It’s probably going to be another dress like this one; I’m a sucker for a fabrics with a dark ground and bright designs!)

Lantana is the Liberty wool/cotton blend—I think it’s 80% cotton, 20% wool. It’s a dream to sew with and it’s very warm. Perfect winter fabric!

I need this for an event in February, so now this just has to arrive at warp speed from the UK (and my sewing machine has to make a speedy return from the repair shop)!

Do you have any winter dress plans?

New Year, New Blog

Hi! I changed my hosting! There’s a new theme! Other stuff!

For a month or so there older posts were missing images (uh, because they were still pointing to URLs from two hosts back …). But they should be back now!

Please let me know if you see weirdnesses or missing things. New posts to follow shortly!

2015 Plaidurday Dress

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

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

Piped pockets, of course:

Zipper and side-seam matching:

I really like the bold stripe down the shoulder:

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

And the back:

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

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

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?

Read the label and say it loud

I never thought I needed labels for the dresses I make, but showed me how cool they can be, so I made some:

(Yes, Nozlee’s are cooler.)

Anyway, if you need them too, is having a sale — it ends tonight, use code “firstwunder2015” to get 20% off.

& another stunt dress

So a couple weekends ago I made another stunt dress:

This fabric is called “Symbolic Elegance” and is “from the ‘Ampersand’ collection by Ampersand Design Studio for Windham Fabrics,” according to , where I bought it. The pattern is the only one I’ve been making lately: Simplicity 2389 with the modified skirt.

Why is this a stunt dress? Because I’m wearing it in the Kickstarter video for Wordnik (you folks know I run , right?) Here’s a — play the video and you can see me wearing this dress.

The goal of this Kickstarter is to find a million missing words of English — words not in traditional dictionaries — and add them to Wordnik.

Here’s the bodice, with piping:

 

And the pockets (with piping): 

And the back (no piping visible):

If you have a minute to , it would be much appreciated! We’re at >40% of our goal, but it’s a long way to the finish line!