Tag Archives: Cloud 9 Fabrics

The History Repeating Dress

This is a tale of facts and fabric, a story woven by the bard and a weaving company somewhere. Sing, oh muse, of the desire of Leah, whose need did not waver although the chasm of time and space, whose taste did not change despite the rotations of sun and moon, despite journeys to and fro, round and about. ‘Tis a tale of fabric revisited, plucked from the obscurity of the past and christened anew in the bright and punishing light of the present.

Basically I found a fabric I had loved and bought and used for something years before and I bought it again because that’s just how I roll. But before I get to that, let’s talk about ancient empires and how I would rate them in terms of competition. I had a recently moment with a close friend of mine, Emily, in which we realized that we are on very different sides of the whole ancient empire debate. You don’t debate about which ancient empire was best? You’re living a half-life! No, but seriously, this is actually something I think about a lot, and Emily does too, and she was shocked and, I must say, a little repulsed that I am pro-Roman. But what can I say? I admire people who can steal wholesale the innovations of others and introduce logistical security for such a large area of the world. Philosophy is great, but so are roads, am I right? Emily, though, is very into Egypt, which makes sense, as the book she wrote on the subject is currently available for pre-sale (buy one today!) and because the Egypt she likes is the Ptolemaic kind, she is, by default, into Greece. GREECE. I mean, sure, art, poetry, music, theater, democracy, philosophy, wine, pottery, sculpture, a million other things, but other than THAT, what did Ancient Greece really do? Am I right? I like the Romans with their aqueducts and their bread and circuses and their totalitarian government. That’s an ancient empire you can TRUST. All roads do lead to Rome, in my HEART. Emily was not amused….

But of course all this is to say, I like ancient history, in general. I’ve rarely met a river-valley civilization I didn’t like. Archeological museums are some of my favorite museums (in addition to…most other museums…) I appreciate modernity with it’s running water (which the Romans had) and modern heating (which the Romans also had) and rights for women (which the Romans, nope, no one ever has that) but sometimes I think I would have been better suited to another age. Or at least would like to visit on a field trip. Why does that technology not exist yet? Where is that funding stream? Am I right? But I digress.

So when I see a fabric that reminds me of something historical, it’s like crack. It’s really hard to get off crack, I hear, and it’s really hard for me not to buy this fabric. Four years ago, I encountered a fabric by Cloud 9 in Philadelphia that reminded me of Greece or Rome, or maybe Rome copying Greece, and I bought it, and I made a skirt and took it with me on a trip to Israel. You can read all about that here. I loved that fabric, but it came to me at a different point in my sewing life, a point at which my skills, while developing, where not what they are now. I still have that skirt, and I wear it, mostly for the fabric. So imagine my surprise and delight when I encountered that same fabric here in New York! Years later, different cities, the same fabric. I looked at it for a long time. I visited. I stopped by to say hello. I told myself I didn’t need more fabric, which is and was true. And then it went on sale. What’s a girl to do?

I bought it. And I made myself a shirt dress. And guys? I flipping love it.

HR 1I have wanted a shirt dress for a long time. I have wanted a good shirt dress PATTERN for a long time. After reading many reviews and admiring the many incarnations over at Dolly Clackett, I decided to break down and buy McCalls 6696, a classic shirt dress with two skirt options. This time, I opted for the full skirt, and boy, I do mean THIS time because I’m making this puppy again. What can I say? I love it.

HR 4As you can see, the fabric is amazing. It’s covered in little pots decorated in what at least to me looks like it’s the archaic style. The construction of the dress isn’t all that difficult, if a little finicky the way a collared shirt is finicky, lots of steps and little pieces. I’ve made enough collared shirts to get the construction, though, so that was easy enough. I love the way the pattern has a waistband piece, I think that’s very flattering.

HR 3Now, there is a slight amount of bust gaping, which, hey, my chest would make a pirate happy with its bounty, so I get that, but I would just adjust my button placement next time to account for that. Otherwise the bodice fits quite well.

HR 6UGH how cute is this fabric? LOOK AT IT! I want all my clothing to look like it’s a copy of a mural from Pompeii or something. Who doesn’t, am I right? (most people?).

The other thing that I find strange, not that the bust thing is strange, that’s pretty normal for me, is the pockets. They are strangely shallow. Who wants a shallow pocket? I would re-draft those for next time.

HR 5Annnnnnd the back. So. There is a lot of fabric in the back. Which is part of the design, but I don’t know, it might just be a smidge too much for me. I like it, in theory, but I think I would just like a little less of it. Thoughts?

HR 2But generally, this dress, I love it. I feel like I got a second chance with a fabric I can’t stop loving, and you know what? Nailed it. NAILED IT! I am happy to repeat history if it turns out this well. In a world of failure, victory is sweet. I learned that from the Romans. Thanks, guys! Watch out for those Huns. They’re a coming.


Filed under Clothing, McCalls Patterns, Sewing

The 2011 Summer Essentials Sewalong, or why on earth I joined another challenge related to sewing

So even though this may sound like an insane thing to do given that I’m already mired in Me Made June struggles and it’s only the middle of the month, but I also decided to participate in ANOTHER sew-along, the Summer Essentials Sew Along hosted by the lovely and talented Ali of The Wardrobe, Re-imagined. And as she describes it far better then I ever would, here it is:

The goal: Stock your closet with quality summer basics. The benefit: A group of sewers who will encourage and inspire you, not to mention talk you off the ledge when you need it! To me, there are six categories of summer wear. Feel free to add to this, but this is just to start us thinking of what you need/want.

Sounds fun, right? And at least, thank goodness, it’s open-ended. So I can just make the patterns and pieces that work for me, and not follow along some slavish dictates of another sewer. Sewing really is the new fascism, I swear. So I’m going to make a least six items this summer that fit into the categories listed below, and I’m going to only shop my stash, because I really need to not buy any more fabric until the heap of cloth sitting in my home shrinks to an acceptable level. Right now it’s just too much to bear. What with the huge amount my grandfather gifted to me and some pretty things I couldn’t resist, I can’t purchase anything new until at least August. Let’s see how it goes….So what are the 6 categories? They are the following:

Poolside Pretties: Anything that cools or dries you off when there’s lots of sun and water around. One and two-piece swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, surf shorts, sun hats, oh my! One versatile swimsuit cover-up I find lovely is a terry cloth dress. Double-duty, that’s what I’m talking about.

Growing up in the age of Juicy Couture sweatsuits has given me a strong aversion to anything terrycloth, so that’s off the list, and I don’t feel like I’m ready to make my own swimsuit, but I can go a cover up! I’m thinking fabric, left over from my Shibori project, with this pattern, lengthened from a tunic to a dress, will be the perfect couple:

Burda Style's Tara Pattern

Clam Diggers & Co.: Bifurcated bottoms of every style and length, from flowing linen pants to short-shorts and all the inbetweens—clam diggers, pedal pushers, Bermuda shorts, etc.

I just got two perfect patterns in the mail! This lovely 1950’s guy:

And with some black fabric left over from my My Lips Your Lips Tulips Skirt, I think it’s going to make all my Sandra Dee dreams come alive and dance! I have to resize the pattern, and I’m a touch concerned because it will be my first shot at shorts, but carpe diem, no?

And then this 1940’s stunner:

Sweet & Sassy Skirts: Prints and solids, short and long, low-slung and high-waisted. But most of all: Airy, flirty, flattering.

Sure, like I wasn’t going to do that ANYWAY. I have a few projects in mind, including a softly pleated affair from a tutorial by Pattern Scissors Cloth with this fabric:

I love this fabric. Doesn't it scream Ancient Roman Chic?

The Sundress: Need I say more? To me, the perfect sun dress strikes that cord between casual and elegant—arms and collarbones, looking good barefoot or high-heeled. It’s something you can wear to both a barbecue and a summer wedding.

Again, I’m on it. I’ve got too MANY of these in the works. I want to make a couple vintage dresses this summer, or at this least one, that’s my big challenge:

Tees, Tunics & Blouses: Yes, please! I’m finally understanding the worth of blouses as they also strike that balance between casual/formal, totally versatile. I’m also thinking mini-dresses that do triple duty as tunics, dresses and cover-ups.

Mini dress is not a term I ever want to use in life, so I will just do blouses, got it? I’m down for some more Sorbetto tops because I liked it that much, and definitely a few things in white. I need more basics.

Those Summer Nights: Pullovers, cardis and hoodies may be the last thing you’re thinking of with the mercury rising, but there’s those cool summer nights, not to mention every last establishment with the air con blasting. Or: for those of you where thunderstorms are a daily summer experience, a lightweight trench?

It’s hot as hell in Philadelphia. This one might get the ax. That way I can just make another dress….

Are you taking on any challenges this summer? Planning any changes? In any respect, not just sewing wise? I think I’m going to try to read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, that might be my large summer novel, you know, the one I am “reading” while I read lots of other trashy novels. Like you do.

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Filed under Burda Style, Butterick Patterns, Inspiration, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage