Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I Love Dresses

Today was actually International Wear A Dress Day, as designated by the lovely Erin at Unfortunately, I was unable to observe it as I had planned; massive amounts of snow and wind meant that both Knowledge Bowl practice and Chorale were canceled, and I had no real reason to wear a dress around the house to show off to my mom, dad, and cats. So in lieu of actually wearing a dress, I wanted to write about why I love sewing and wearing them.

1. Dresses make me feel sexy. When I wore jeans, I had OMG I AM SO FAT! moments all. The. Damn. Time. It seemed like I could never get a pair that fit right- if they fit in the waist, they strained over my thighs, if they fit my thighs they bagged in the waist, they rubbed all over the wasn't pretty. I would look down and notice something squishing out or pushed in and spend the rest of the day wangsting about how "fat" I was. (I'm 5'5" and between 135 and 140 pounds. Not a supermodel, but I don't think I'm fat by any stretch of the imagination.) It's different when I wear dresses. I look down and see the skirt gracefully cascading over my legs, the dress emphasizing the parts I like, like my stomach and calves, and camouflaging those I don't, like my thighs, and I think "Damn, I look good!" I feel a lot more self-confident, and the better I feel about how I look, the better I look.

2. Dresses make ordinary activities feel like adventures. When I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt, I'm an ordinary person doing boring things. When I'm wearing a bat-print dress and striped tights, I'm the heroine of a Tim Burton film, finding the light side of dark things (or is it the dark side of light things?) in a twisted fairy-land. When I'm wearing a fifties vamp dress, I'm the femme fatale in a film noir, waiting for Phillip Marlowe to sweep me off my feet even as he discreetly checks my bag for my Lady Derringer. Maybe this only works if you have an overactive imagination and a penchant for making up a story to go with everything as I do, but it's another good reason to try wearing a dress; who knows what imaginative brain cells have been pushed into a stupor because jeans don't tell a story, and a dress does?

3. Dresses hold memories in a way that other clothes can't. I took a bunch of jeans on my England trip the summer after 9th grade, and I don't think I ever thought "Oh, this is the pair of jeans I wore in Glastonbury!" when I wore them again after that. I did take dresses to New York the summer after my sophomore year, and to Washington D.C. last year- and every time I pull on one of those dresses, I remember "This is what I saw The Lion King in" and "This is what I was wearing when I got to see the Capitol building in person." On my hoped-for backpacking trip around the British isles after I graduate from college, I am going to take nothing but dresses. When I'm a movie director, I plan to wear dresses all the time. I want to be 90 years old and telling my granddaughter "You take care of that alphabet-block print dress now, missy; I wore it when I was shooting my first picture!" The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants aside, you never hear about someone handing down a beloved pair of khakis. But you do have heirloom dresses, and heirloom dress memories. My eighteenth birthday is in a few days, and my mom was just telling me today about the three dresses she got for her eighteenth birthday. She still remembered the cut, pattern, color, and detail of every one. She's forty-nine. My great-aunt has often reminisced fondly over a skating dress she had when she was thirteen; she's 88, and still remembers every detail of that dress. You just don't get those kind of memories out of a pair of Levi's or a button-down shirt.

4. Dresses make me happy. When I'm wearing a dress, I feel like myself. I really don't think I need any other reason to wear them, actually.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Brief Update!

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven't updated, but I did warn you! Besides my sewing, I've had several major scholarship applications due and several papers for my college courses. But I've finished my LBD, my purple bat dress, and I'm putting the finishing bits on my doll show dress for the show tomorrow. Yay! Can't wait to show all of you pics!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Sewing Agenda

Hmm. I seem to have misplaced the first half of my October. If someone sees it, could they please mail it to me? There'll be cookies in it for you! Ahem. I actually have quite a bit of sewing to do in the remaining 16 days of October. Since I can't give you pictures right now (I need to call the repair shop and see how they're doing on my laptop), I'll give you a list. Everybody loves lists, right?
1) Finish my little black dress for the Pattern Review LBD contest. Thank goodness this one is going a lot better than the last one. I'm using a simple dull black crinkled rayon fabric from Wal-Mart, and I think it's going to be nice. I'm using this pattern, B5350:
image of B5350
I'm making view C, the crossover bust, and I've loved making this so much that I'm already dreaming up several different versions. It only takes 2 1/4 yards for the version with the contrast midriff, and the midriff itself only takes 1/2 yard, so it's great for using up remnants and small increments of really cool fabric. I like it a lot! I still have to attach the skirt to the bodice, put in the zipper, and hem it, but there's no more than 2 1/2 hours of work left on it. If I'm lucky, I should get this done tomorrow.
2. Finish making my two bat-print dresses. I actually finished the first one- I had a 1-yard remnant of a purple chiffon with black flocked bats, and I used it to make a Project Runway pattern, Simplicity 2965, with the purple bats as the top and a coordinating purple knit jersey as the skirt. The skirt looked seriously terrible when I was done, though- it bulged around the pockets, had awful VPLs, and generally made me look shlumpy and frumpy. So I took the skirt off and got some black fabric (because how much purple fabric do you have laying around the house?), pinned the skirt, and just haven't recut it and sewn it yet. It's actually pretty simple, I just need to do it. Again, maybe 2-3 hours of work for that one to be done. The other bat dress is going to use this bat satin knit I got from Joanne's (pic courtesy of Knit Bats Black/Silver Holographic
Isn't it cool? I'm going to be making it in another Project Runway pattern, 2588. I haven't used it before, but I've had the pieces cut for ages, which is actually usually the most time-consuming part of the process for me. (I'm left-handed, so most scissors and I don't get along well. I shall love my mother forever for getting me spring-loaded scissors that are a breeze to use.) It's a pretty simple pattern, so although it's my first time using it, it shouldn't be so hard. I'm hoping for five or six hours on this one.
3) Make my doll show dress. I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but I'm a doll collector and I have a huge collection. Every year for the past five years my mom and I have gone to the one big Colorado doll show up in Denver. Usually it's in June, but for whatever reason they moved it this year to late October. I've been wanting to make a "doll-ish" dress for years, and I'm determined this year to do it. I have this great pink patterned jersey that I desperately want to post a picture of because it is so incredibly adorable. I intend to use the 2588 pattern again, so that should speed it up, but pattern placement on the fabric might make it a bit tricky, so I'm allotting 6-7 hours for this one. It's on October 25, so I've got me some quick sewing to do.
This isn't even counting my Halloween costume, which also needs to be done by the 25th for Trick or Treat for Unicef. (The 25th is going to be...interesting, assuming I can get everything worked out). That deserves a full post all on its own!
So I'm going to be a very busy sewing bee for the next couple of weeks. If I don't post that much, it's because I'm too busy actually sewing to blog about sewing! But I will try and update whenever I get a spare minute, even if it's just a quick thing like "Finished the skirt on Bat Dress 1-yay!" The upside of this is, when I get my own laptop back, I will have scads and scads of actual sewn products to post about, rather than fabric and vague, possibly never-to-be-realized pattern ideas. (See also, the Fall Concert dress, which will still be made, but about a month too late to actually be worn in the concert; I ended up running out of time and using the brown Dress Rescue dress instead.) Won't that be cool?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

If I Were A Rich Girl...Deedle Deedle Didle Blah Blah Blah

*deep, heartfelt sigh* This is why I shouldn't randomly browse La Interwebz searching for fabric. Because I will find it. It will be adorable. And it will be so expensive that I will never be able to buy any of it. Theoretically, I should be better off just from having been exposed to adorable fabric with lots of frogs on it and fairy-tale patterns and just knowing that such things exist should make my life better, but I think in this case I'd have been better off not knowing, because wanting these fabrics is going to torture me for the next month at least. The website is if any of you have scads more money than I. And because I believe in sharing the love, I'm going to copypasta some of their adorable prints and let you suffer along with me, knowing that this 45-inch 100% cotton costs EIGHTEEN DOLLARS A YARD!!!!!!!!:
Sight. This has so, so very many things in it that I LOVE, starting with the frogs, followed quickly by the dots and the flowy flowers and lillypads. I could so picture this as the world's cutest cheongsam.
This is just so awww-inducing I don't know where to start. The color scheme is so cute, the drawings are reminiscent of Madeline, and I think the princess has the most adorable wistful expression EVER I would make this up in a short dress with a fluffy, full, skirt and a corset-styled top with fluttery cap sleeves to capitalize on the fairy-tale-ness of it all.
This one so appeals to my inner nerd. It would, of course, be a button-front librarian-esque shirtdress with a slim skirt.
The last one is actually on sale...for $10.80 a yard. Sorry, but my "I'll actually buy it" limit for cotton prints is $5 a yard, and my "I won't buy because I'm a cheapskate, but it is not unreasonable for the store/site to charge it is $9. I've seen duiponi silk for cheaper than $18 a yard, for heaven's sake. (Heck, I've seen it cheaper than $10.80 a yard; I think sells it for $9.50 a yard.) I will definitely occasionally (read: often) visit this website and drool over their designs, but I don't think I'll ever buy anything from here. Even if I was simply rolling in scads of dough, I don't think I would be constitutionally capable of paying more than $10 a yard for any fabric that isn't silk velvet embroidered with gold thread by blind Tibetan monks (or mute Chinese nuns)* and shipped by pureblood Lippanzian stallion across fifteen deserts. And even then, my Scots and Slavic blood would force me to at least make an attempt to haggle them down to $8 a yard.
*If you get this Angel reference, I love you. Have a cookie. If you don't, get thee to Netflix immediately and watch the show. I'll wait.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oooh, Ruffles: Pt. 1

It has been absolutely freezing here in CO for the past couple of days. We have two inches of half-melted snow on the ground, and I have to keep checking the calendar to reassure myself that it is indeed October and not December. So, of course, I've been obsessing over what is practically the most un-winter-y, impractical Summer fling skirt pattern ever.
image of M5888
This is the only skirt pattern I got in my recent 10-pattern purchase from BMV. I just love it; it's so light and fluffy and girly without being twee or ridiculously doll-like. I especially want to make the A version in black lace. I really want at least three of this skirt to start with: a solid black, a light caramel-y brown, and a soft pure white, all in chiffon. There is nothing in my wardrobe that wouldn't go really well with at least one of those colors, and I think the skirt could be dressed down with a tee and fun tights or dressed up with a really nice blouse. A very versatile piece! It takes less than two yards, so even with lining fabric for lace it still wouldn't be that expensive. The problem is, I'm already coming up with dozens of really impractical but super-adorable ways to make this skirt. Every one of my multiple style personalities wants their own version of this: The exuberant quasi-goth wants it in black, electric blue, and bright purple, the earthy nature-child wants it in forest green and chocolate brown, and the girly-girl wants it in four shades of pink, gradiated from shell pink on the waistband to shocking pink on the bottom layer. And I don't think you would necessarily be limited to making this with light cotton, georgette, etc. , as suggested on the pattern envelope. I think that in a weightier fabric, it would still be really pretty; the heft would give it a little more stability and make you less likely to have a Marylin-Monroe-on-the-subway-grate moment while retaining the unique layered look and the movement of the skirt. Maybe I'm just deluding myself so I can give this a go as a winter skirt, but I have some old velveteen laying around that I really want to try this out in. Seriously, the thought of this in black velveteen with white lace trim is totes bringing out my inner Elegant Gothic Lolita, to the point where she is stomping all over the other style people and insisting that it's her turn, dammit, so make the skirt! I think I just might have to listen to her.
BTW, if you're wondering why this is Pt. 1, it's because I got another awesome ruffletastic pattern that you'll have to tune in tomorrow to see!

Excuses, Excuses

Yikes! I know I've been gone a long time, but I really have had legit reasons, such as my personal laptop completely fritzing out (it's at the repair shop right now; I'm updating from my DSi!) and lots of busy-making work. Seriously, I can't tell you how much I would rather have been blogging about sewing last night at 11 o'clock than writing a very depressing paper about discrimination against blacks in South Africa for my University of Phoenix sociology course, but the paper needed to be turned in, so there I was. I have been sewing A LOT lately, though, so I have lots of goodies for you guys when I can do neat things like upload pictures again. I've completed two Dress Rescues. I'm working on my second LBD, this time for the LBD contest at Pattern Review, and it's coming together a lot better than my first one did. I have a boatload of new patterns and my third (and final for a long while, if my dad has anything to say about it) order of yummy fabricness from to show y'all. So stick with me, kids; you won't be disappointed!