Sweetness and Light

So I finally, finally, found this pattern in my size:

Fear not, I will not be making View A OR View C, because puffed sleeves give me hives. Unless the puffed sleeves are little pockets of lighter-than-air gas that I can control as a flotation device/personal aircraft, and unfortunately the lab prototypes have not really panned out in full trials. (“Oh the humanity!”)

But *without* the puffed sleeves (or, as I like to call them, “arm excrescences”) this dress is gorgeous, isn’t it? I’ve been looking for it for a while, and I’m thinking about making it in this that I jumped on a while back. Too Dorothy? Actually, scratch that, I don’t care.

In this illustration, what’s up with Black Chiffon? Did she not get the “Dress Code: cotton” memo? Has she been embarrassingly interrupted on a walk of shame? Is she the “evil twin” of the woman in the blue dress? Is she an official-and-licensed Black Widow and thus compelled to wear fancy black dresses at all times, as a warning/enticement? Or, as I like to think, just someone who really likes that dress and thought “I don’t care that it’s Saturday morning and I’m on my way to the grocery store: black chiffon it is!”

 

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33 thoughts on “Sweetness and Light

  1. Black chiffon looks fierce! I lover her devil-may-care pose, I think we could be best friends!
    Also, there’s no such thing as too Dorothy! Any and all Dorothy is always good!

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  2. Ok. Make the dress, but this time, make it more fitted than you usually do. You have a beautiful figure, but you always make your dresses a little bit too big. Show off your figure! You are still young! I’m just saying, nip in that waist a bit more. Vintage styles were made for women’s curves, so show yours off.

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  3. I too thought that the puffy sleeves were awful. View B is is, then. And Floofy (from another comment? That’s a great word!

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  4. … You can do that?! I CAN DO THAT! I can wear glorious dresses to the grocery store!! I will look devastating! Especially next to the people in pajamas!

    Now… I will need glorious dresses… I have none, this site is my dress-fix. ONWARD!

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  5. I love that black shirt dress! It’s the perfect LBD for the gal who doesn’t want to expose her arms. The sheer part brings it over into the cocktail category very nicely (throw on pearls and you’re ready to go).

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  6. I feel Ms. Black is confronting Ms. Blue about the lack of memo, Ms. Blue is surreptitiously blaming Ms. Print while lamenting not getting the memo re: Puffy Sleeves and trying to grin through the shame, and Ms. Print is mocking both of them smarmily. Just look at the sassy-britches way she twitches her skirt at Black and Blue!

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  7. This pattern would be terrible on me on many levels, but I think it is super cute and look forward to see it made. I am curious how the sleeveless version will look in real life. Also, I agree that the black chiffon is very cool.

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  8. I think the sleeveless version will be great – I’m beginning to love cap sleeves, and I think this pattern will work very well. The yoke is probably made with a lining or double thickness of fabric; just press the seam allowance to the inside (between the layers) of the yoke and topstitch around. I think the design is sophisticated enough to over come the Dorothyness of the fabric, which I love because…gingham!

    I do think the black chiffon number is fierce – very cocktails by candle light.

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  9. Hi there,
    I’m a novice at sewing, really, but am really enjoying your blog and blogging community! I’d love to make myself a shirtdress out of some simple cotton pattern. Do you have a pattern you’d recommend to a beginner? These are a few I found…not sure what’d be simpler for me. I’d love any advice you can offer!
    Cheers 🙂
    Joanna







    (sorry for SO many links!)

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    • I think these two would be the simplest (especially the second one):


      have you sewn many dresses before? You might want to make a list of things you’ve done, like:

      collars
      buttons & buttonholes
      zippers
      set-in sleeves

      and see what practice you might need on each. Or just dive in with some inexpensive fabric!

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  10. Erin: do you still have a link to your stories from the point of view of the dresses? I want to know if I could download a short one and share with my students in a lesson about point of view, inspiring them to write one about an object. My other example is “Unprotected” in the New Yorker (July 30) from the condom’s pov. Thanks.

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    • Oh, I’ve been lazy about putting those links back up! I’ll do it tonight.

      I *loved* that NYer piece … so funny and oddly sweet.

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  11. Am I the only one ready and willing to stand up for puff sleeves here? I love them and put puffed sleeves, or at least puffed shoulders, on almost everything I make. I prefer high, structured 40’s puffs to this kind, admittedly, or even 40’s shoulder pads, but being a busty girl I love the way they balance my boobs and extend the hourglass shape to my shoulders. I wouldn’t mind trying the short, dropped puff sleeves of view C either, actually; hopefully it would turn out something like this.

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  12. This might possibly be some kind of breach of blog etiquette, but… I just finished reading “Lives of Dresses,” and I was so thrilled to realize that you had a blog so that I would have an opportunity to tell you just how much I enjoyed it! I got to the end, and I was literally in tears. It was beautiful. It was personal. My dad died when I was a baby, and my sense of having questions unanswered, unanswerable, has always been a piece of who I am. You captured that feeling with such grace, and without undue sentimentality, I might add. On a lighter note, I absolutely adored your line about graduate school as hitting the snooze button on what to do with one’s life.

    This is not something I typically do… seek out a writer and gush about how much I enjoyed their work. But, I think sometimes we all could do with a little unsolicited praise.

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  13. I only go to the grocery store if I’m wearing black chiffon. Then instead of buying food, I just walk around looking down my nose at all the poor saps who aren’t wearing black chiffon.

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  14. Here’s an incredibly similar pattern – same company and probably the same year. I’ve noticed that Butterick tended to re-use their design elements! Sadly not my size, or it would be mine.

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  15. I love the imagined lives you’ve created for Lady A. I think she’s going to a funeral for a woman she never liked, and is hoping to marry the widower. She’s keeping it sexy with the chiffon sleeves.

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