Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Miscellany (and stashoholism confessional)

My neighbor/best friend is out of the country for two months, and asked me to drive her car every two weeks. I gave up my car last July and have a fantastic car-sharing arrangement with another neighbor. He parks in my parking space (we had to buy them separately and there were only five for seven units) and I drive his car once a month, to Fashion Sewing Club on the second Saturday. Once a month is really enough for me to run errands (I can walk to several grocery stores and take a quick metro trip to Target), but Joann seems to have a pretty fixed schedule for when pattern brands are on sale. Simplicities are always on sale the second Saturday of the month. I haven't caught any other sales in almost a year!

So when I saw that Vogue was on sale this week, along with McCall, I decided to head to the suburbs (braving cherry blossom traffic to do so).

My Joann is somewhere between Lindsay T's Pit of Despair and Cidell's Shiny Shiny one. It's clean and the employees are friendly, if not knowledgeable. The pattern drawers work. But they are never fully stocked and they are slow to put out the new books. And the fabric selection is abysmal--rows and rows of shiny polyester with one or two knits (literally one or two) and one or two cottons. So the new Vogue book wasn't out, nor were the new patterns stocked. That's ok, as I had almost a year of Vogue to catch up on.

Patterns, 4/4/09

So I like dresses, maybe? I didn't even realize until I got home that it was all dresses, other than the Alice + Olivia pant. Now, I am still not convinced I will ever make pants, ever. The fly front fills me fear and trembling, and I hate wearing pants (partly because RTW don't fit me and look pretty bad), but I've seen so many great pants from these patterns I figured I should pick one up while I could.

I was thinking about the dress obsession and I recovered a suppressed memory: When I didn't have time to sew, I didn't wear dresses. Because I am a pear I am three different sizes, at least (small on top, medium in the middle, large on the bottom). If we can reach far enough into our memories to remember "back in the day," there was a time when dresses were fitted rather than billowy and empire-y. So I simply couldn't buy RTW dresses that fit. If it fit at the hip, it was grotesque at the bust. If it fit at the bust, I couldn't even pull it all the way down past my booty. Apparently, I am now making up for lost time! According to my stats from last year, dresses are a little over half of what I make.

The Vintage Vogue 2401 will be interesting to sew. It's a little bit like the Butterick 4790 Walkaway Dress, but I love the collar and that it ties rather than buttons. They really don't make sewing patterns like this anymore. The pattern pieces are seemingly random shapes and the sewing is non-intuitive, based on my somewhat confused reading of the directions. But the result is cool. Nowadays, other than a few Vogue patterns, the companies don't want to make it so challenging for the sewist.

I didn't find a single McCall I wanted. When I used to sew exclusively with the Big Four I think I sewed more McCall than anything. But other than McCall 5752, which I bought ages ago at regular (40% off) price and made up for Miami I wasn't interested in anything. Partly because I have half the patterns in the book already, ahem, but I'm ignoring that part of it.

I bought Butterick 5318 at regular (40% off) price, because they never seem to go on sale and I never have enough knit dress patterns. It looks a little bit fussy to make with all the tiny pleats, but the result looks really cute.

And speaking of Butterick--the Joann I go to (Seven Corners in Virginia) is right next to a Dress Barn, where they had Butterick 5130 in the window. I am serious. It was identical. I hope that Butterick has sued them for copyright infringement. I hope Buttericks go on sale while I still have access to a car, because there were a bunch more I wanted to get.


So despite the abysmal fabric selection, I gave it a once over. I found this cotton print misfiled with the knits.

4/4/09, Joann

I hemmed and hawed over for quite a while. I love the colors and the print but it is perhaps a tad juvenile for me. I am trying to look slightly (and I mean very slightly) more grown up at work and this print doesn't really fit in with the plan. But in the end, I was won over. On sale it was $4.79/yd and I am always thinking I don't have enough cotton prints.

It's going to immediate use as the Vogue 1086 Tracy Reese dress. I know I recently said I wasn't wowed by this dress, which I'm not. But if you put aside the fact that it's Tracy Reese and what a bummer it is that she chose this rather simple and conventional look to share with the sewing world rather than, say, this fabulous blouse and high waist sailor pants, this Roaring 20s throwback, or this very similar dress but with flirty frilly sleeves, all from her Spring 2008 collection, it's a perfectly cute little dress.

I can't even find Vogue 1086 in her show; is it a toned down version of this? The Vogue 1092 suit, on the other hand, is directly off the runway.


I've had a few comments lately asking me about the shoes I'm wearing.

The green sandals I wore in Miami are Dansko Mirabelle, which Dansko doesn't seem to be making anymore (boo!) but a few places seem to still have it in limited size and color range. I have flat feet, bad ankles, and a very bad lower back--not to mention I walk at least three miles a day for my commute--and I absolutely have to wear comfortable shoes. Finding Dansko several years ago literally changed my life. I cannot say enough good things about them.

I need the staple clog style bottom and I bought Mirabelle in black, brown, green, lilac, and red. The only color I don't have is blue, but by the time I realized Dansko had stopped producing the Mirabelle I couldn't find them anywhere. If anyone ever runs across Mirabelle in blue in a Size 37 PLEASE let me know!

I'd recommend trying them in the store first before buying, if you can, to determine your size. I wear a 37 in staple clogs and a 36 in the other styles. Zappos carries the full line of Dansko, and they have free shipping and returns. And don't forget to check their closeout site,, to see if they happen to have your shoe in your size at a discount. I also periodically pop by the Dansko Outlet; these are "seconds" but I've never managed to find the flaw in any of the pairs I've purchased, and they are discounted by about 1/3. You have to keep checking, because they don't have much of a selection

Danskos are not cheap (but not so very expensive either, compared to department store shoe prices), but are absolutely worth every penny and more.

I also got a question about the crazy beaded cowboy boots I wore with my tulip skirt. Those I cannot help with, unfortunately. I got them at Ross several years for $15. Ross is not a pleasant shopping experience, but you can find great stuff there. When I used to buy clothes that was my main source. There is one next to the G Street at 7 Corners and I sometimes stop by to check out their shoe collection. It's mostly crap and I am really working on not buying crap shoes, but they do have a fair amount of Aerosoles and Easy Spirits and sometimes Born (I got Born boots for $15 a couple years ago) and even Dansko. To me, the shoe prices at TJ Maxx are not really worth the effort of shopping there; I'll just go to DSW instead for a slightly easier and nicer experience. But the prices at Ross are significantly lower than either of those two places.


I have a favor to ask. I mentioned a while back that my twin nephews, Cash and Fox, had been born. Lots of pictures on my SiL's flickr! My SiL loves twin outfits for them and she and my brother both love kitschy things and I thought it would be so fun to have little garage mechanic style name patches for them. I could embroider them by hand but it won't look the same. I don't own or have any desire or use for an embroidery machine, but it would be handy for this project. Is anyone willing to make me name patches like this? Just let me know and we can work out a price!


It's cherry blossom time and I finally made it over there on Saturday. It was very windy starting on Friday and I was afraid all the blossoms would be gone by the time I got there. There were HORDES of people (good for the DC tourist economy) and it was windy and a little chilly, but there were plenty of blossoms and I was satisfied for another year.

Here's my parting shot. The rest of the photos are here.

Monument Postcard Shot


Jill B said...

Butterick's were (still are??) on sale at Hancock when I stopped in Saturday to get a zipper (and walked out with 6 patterns and fabric/notions for one). 99c

Anonymous said...

I was about to say the same thing about Hancock fabrics. If you like, I can sign you up at mine the next time I go so you can get flyers, and scan the card when I go so you keep getting them because they won't send me one (unusual name in a small town woe), because JoAnns will honor their sales prices.

I can get my mom to do the name tags for you on her embroidery machine as well.

senaSews said...

Nice choice! I see you are already sewing for summer. I love V8446. I think it will be a beautiful dress. And the fabric is super cute!

Rachel said...

I just love reading your posts. Those are some great Vogue patterns.

Beth Conky said...

My daughter could make your patches for you. I'll put her website in the URL so you can see her work. She has an Etsy shop that is linked to her blog.

BeeBee said...

But what did you buy from G Street while you were in 7Corners????? Eh? I agree,that JA's is OK, much better than the one in Woodbridge (must have the mgr as LindseyT's). I was actually IN DC on Saturday, fighting crowds, waiting on traffic and getting buffeted by the winds. I think your choice was better.

Christina said...

I went to my Joann this weekend hoping to find the brand new Vogues, I had no luck either.

Sewfast said...

I could whip you out some patches and my price is really good...I would do it for free for you. I have a home based embroidery business that helps keep my stash healthy. It would take no time at all and I would be happy to do it. Email me at with the details if you are interested. Mary

Little Hunting Creek said...

Hancock Fabrics on Rte 1 in Alexandria (Not far from you if it is your car day) has Butterick's on sale once a month. Check out their website for their sale flier. When I get the next one I'll look for you. I have a date with Simplicity myself. Vogue and I aren't speaking after the published their new hideous summer patterns, they are On Notice :)

Lindsay T said...

I rely on the embroidery kiosk at the local mall to get little jobs like this done. Any option like that in your area? Glad to hear your Jo-Ann's is better than mine.

Nancy K said...

We managed to be in DC once during cherry blossom time and it was really enchanting. Thanks for sharing this year's blooming.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the Dansko info (off to Zappos now), and for the cherry blossom photos. I just realized that those little colorful objects in the background are the masses of tourists...

gatorgirl4325 said...

I saw a Butterick 5130 dress in BELK of all places - exactly the same! Kinda took me by surprise.

Thanks for sharing your photos of the cherry trees - they are gorgeous!

Debbie Cook said...

I was married in DC during Cherry Blossom time ... 04/04/87. Except that it snowed in the morning and rained most of the day so any blossoms were on the ground at that point. LOL! But the wedding/reception were still great (and the marriage is still intact). I love your "name dropping" of places, it brings back good memories. Although I do not miss the traffic even one bit. :-)

Capital Sew and Sew said...

As a long long long time DCite I still soooooo love the blossoms! Great photos! Shouldn't we organize a cherry blossom fabric post card or quilt event/swap? The color and texture opportunities would be amazing!

We would love to see you at one of the DC Threads sewing lounges - in the off chance that the G-Street sewing club is canceled one of these months!
Stay well!

Anonymous said...

G'day from an Australian. Thank you so much for the cherry blossoms - I remember them so well from my time in the US - 1974-1978 - almost ancient history now but the memories live on.

spottedroo said...

Oh man I swore I wasn't going to get any more patterns but I do like V8413. Another thing I'll have no reason to wear, ever. What fabric are you going to make it in?

Faye Lewis said...

I love your pattern choices. You make some pretty dresses!

Vicki said...

Like you I can't buy RTW dresses. My hips are bigger than my bust and shoulders. And I have the added problem of being very short from shoulder to waist. So even if a dress fits due to a wide skirt it will not fit in the bodice area...sigh! It happens with jackets too - can't do up the bottom buttons and have a horizontal fold of fabric in the back.

The cherry blossoms look lovely. Our new place is in Cherry Grove, but I don't think there are any Cherry trees...

Cole's Corner said...

BConky is my Mom... and yes I'd be glad to make the name tags for you. I will just do them for free if you will put a link to my blog on your site.
I also love matching outfits for kids!
My email address is


Anonymous said...

I love the cherry blossoms! And...I have each one of the patterns that you showed! I love dresses and need to start making more.

gwensews said...

Great patterns. Once in a while, I stumble upon fabric at Jo's that is quite nice. Last week, in fact. You have to know your fabrics though. Looks like you found a winner. It will make a fab dress.

Anonymous said...

Oh! The cherry blossoms are so luscious! I am so envious of you being surrounded by stuff that's growing! The ground here still has a lot of dirty gross snow on it, and what's increasingly showing underneath is still just brown and dead-looking. As you put it: Boo.

I have to say that I like the Tracy Reese suit much better on the runway than in the Vogue pattern photo. Maybe the Vogue model just doesn't have any hips whatsoever or something. I saw it when it came out and thought: meh, shapeless. But on the runway model it looks fabulous! Go figure.

Katharine in Brussels said...

Gorgeous cherry blossoms! Thanks for the pic. That cheery print is irresistible, no wonder why you picked it up. It can translate into an adorable weekend blouse with puffed sleeves, an apron... I made a juvenile retro print into the KS A-line skirt and got compliments at work, but I'm a prof at uni and not a lawyer so there's a difference!

Brooke said...

I could do the name patches for you, but it looks like you have plenty of options. But if you ever have a hankering to play with an embroidery machine, you are welcome to visit mine. I am not too far from the Springfield metro. :-)

aurelia said...

Dansko staple clog style is also my preferred shoe. I've been wearing the heck out of my Marcelle Mary Janes since last summer--not that they really wear out.

I have a 10 year old pair of Professionals that look ooky but feel great and are what I wear everyday around the house.

bride said...

I'm very curious about V2401, I purchased it a few Joann/Vogue sales ago after falling in love with the collar and fascination with J.Peterman's dresses ( I'm giving much thought to altering the dress to accommodate a side zipper and complete skirt - that was the biggest complaint from PR reviews - gaping skirt pieces that fall open when you sit. If you have time when it hits your queue, a thorough review of how you assemble it would be greatly appreciated! Dansko's rock!

badmomgoodmom said...

Cherry Blossom season. Sigh. You are so lucky.

Dansko closeouts can also be found at Sierra Trading Post.
Alas, no Mirabelle.