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Mar 28, 2011

The Opposite of Sewing

Readers, what is the opposite of sewing?  If you said, not sewing, you'd be wrong.  No, my friends, the opposite of sewing is unsewing.  I know, because I unsewed yesterday.  The rose-print gathered skirt of last week is but a memory, six yards of rose-print polished cotton now neatly folded and returned to my stash.

I don't recall who suggested it first, but thank you from the bottom of my seam ripper.  It took less than fifteen minutes and afterward I felt as light as thistle down.

OK, I checked: it was MPB reader "Birdmommy" who suggested I unsew (which she calls "ungather") the skirt.  She also suggested I donate the yardage... to her, I suppose.  Well I'm keeping it!

Seriously, though, thank you, Birdmommy!

Readers, you'll be happy to know that I have picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started all over again -- on something else.  As I may have mentioned, I'm now making Simplicity 4227, the early 50s cocktail dress with matching jacket and perhaps some soutache braid trim as suggested on the pattern envelope as soon as I figure out what that is.


If all goes well I will be done by the weekend and maybe I can corral Cathy into a photo shoot, weather permitting.  I've already ironed my pattern and you remember the fabric, which I'm now calling polyester shantung (sounds exotic..well, the last part anyway).

The fabric is bold, no doubt, but I think Cathy can pull it off; the dress itself is quite simple really. 

I think the problem with the rose-print dress, in retrospect, was that that skirt was too gathered.  The difference between Cathy's chest and waist is a mere six inches (five on a bad day); I don't think she can handle that volume even beneath a very tightly cinched belt.  How is she supposed to eat at parties?

Yesterday on Etsy I picked up this vintage Butterick pattern, similar to the Vogue but more sophisticated and without those raglan sleeves.  It had been listed only hours before but I found someone else selling the identical pattern in the same size at half the price.  It pays to do your homework.

As you can see, the skirt, while poofy, is much less voluminous than the dirndl-style skirt on the Vogue with its 18 yards (I exaggerate -- but just a little) of fabric.  Look how this skirt is designed: the front panel of the skirt and the bodice are one piece and it's not belted.  Interesting!

Anyway, we'll see what happens. If I do make Vogue 4018 again, I'll do it in a lightweight black lace, with the bodice (but not the sleeves) and skirt underlined.

In other news, Michael and I were walking the dogs yesterday afternoon when we happened upon this troubling tableau:

Honestly, readers, how does this happen?

I know Superman changed in phone booths but didn't he keep his underwear on?  I hope whatever the person in question changed into was better than the outfit she/he discarded.  Scenes like this are what give New York City a bad name.

Sometimes people leave donated bags of clothes in front of the Salvation Army on Sunday, when it's closed, and other people rifle through them on the street, or just grab the bags, take what they want, and toss the rest.  I'm hoping that's what happened here.

Friends, that's it.  I hope you're up to something fun this week and if you're not, well, check in regularly for a few giggles.

And speaking of giggles, I wanted to mention that the George W. Trippon videos I posted yesterday had been uploaded to YouTube by Pittsburgh-based quilter extraordinaire and filmmaker Shawn Quinlan, who has produced a documentary film about Trippon that he's currently entering in film festivals.  You can learn more about Shawn and his incredible free-motion quilts here.

Happy Monday, everybody!

In memoriam...


  1. Sad to see all that gathering for naught, but we will always remember the good times...right? I think a clean break was the best idea.

    And I am just about to finish my Negroni with buttons and buttonholes. I know I am sooo late, but better than never! I will post in Flickr when I am done.

  2. Better late than never indeed. There's really no rush -- unless you're doing the Jeans Sew-Along, that is!

  3. Superman was wearing his underwear on top of everything else,so it was meant to be put on last = easier to be forgotten!

  4. I am loving the term UNSEWING. awesome! There's a lace Target top in my sewing room that's 2 sizes too big which I have the notion that I should UNSEW down the side seams and re-sew in my size, but I've been dreading all that time with a seam ripper. ;)

    The bolero & dress pattern, though, looks very cool! Daytona or Pacific Trim can definitely show you soutache if you ask them- I'm fairly sure I've seen it at both places.

  5. Glad I could help!

    So you aren't going to donate the 6 yards to a good cause, eh? Fine, be that way. :)

    Now I have to figure out what to wear to a friend's (tasteful and casual) Vegas wedding at the end of April. Any suggestions for a girl built pretty much the opposite of Cathy? Anyone?

  6. Morning Peter,
    It is amazing how much fabric those style skirts employ. Whole cities could live under them, amongst other things!

    I have a whole dress with soutache. My sister is wearing it in this photo:

    and the vintage dress I am wearing here is very similar to Vogue 4018, although the layers taper down instead of poof out. I think your dress pattern is more figure flattering than my dress. I really like the new dress. It will look very 'smart' on Cathy.

    Thanks for all the tension info...

  7. I love the skirt on the a view of V4018.

  8. Silly girl! Hasn't Cathy figured out that full gathered skirts are a fine way to look like you have a waist that's not a mere suggestion?

    Soutache braid is a narrow flat braid, more matte than rattail and flat. The trick is that it has a ridge/dent in the center, which allows you to sew it down easily onto whatever, in whatever pattern. Maybe 1/8" wide? No more, or it doesn't bend well enough.

  9. If Cathy is really serious about her waistline, there are corset patterns around and they're fun to make and the sizing variations/possibilites are endless. I would think that a fuller skirt and broader shoulders (Think Joan Crawford) would give the illusion of a smaller waist, but maybe that's just my way of seeing things. Corset making supplies are readily available. Cathy should check it out!

  10. I like Cathy's figure the way it is-- a slender, straight girlish figure. I don't think that gathers would help at all. A full circle skirt would look good on her, though, no extra fabric at the waist, but lots of fullness around the ankle-- swirling around those pretty black strappy pumps.

  11. Frog stitching is also a term for unsewing, as in rip-it, rip-it. (groan)

    I can't hear/read the word "succotash" without thinking of Looney Tunes' Sylvester.

  12. Good thinking! I too have a problem with gathered skirt dresses. They look positively ridiculous on me. I'm terribly envious of those that can pull them off well. The new selection will be delightful!


  13. Soutache braid is almost a kind of cording, because it has two cords running through it. (I've had enough fall apart on me to know.) It's usually about 1/8 wide and comes in a variety of colors. Mostly, it's not readily available at most chain sewing/craft stores and thus has to be ordered on the internet. It's used mostly in decoration on drapery and clothing. Here is an example. And yes, I do believe has more colors. My advice is to cut and immediately fray check so that the darn stuff doesn't start unraveling! I use soutache braid instead of middy braid on baby sailor ourfits.

  14. Oh! I forgot to say. Stitching is easily hidded with soutache braid, because if you stitch right smack dab in the center, it's impossible to see where it was sewn on. And your cording/buttonhole foot is the best tool ever to do it!

  15. Thanks, Laura!

    Sunni, I think to look good in that skirt your waist needs to be no thicker than your neck.

  16. Testoserone sez...

    TO: Birdmommy - Palazzo pants and a sleeve-less shell top with a 3/4 sleeve lace overlay. A large wrap belt to widely cinch your waist, but with long drapey ends (one just above your knee, and other slightly below) in the same color as the pants, but possibly with more shine.

    Oh, and I see you in platinum ivory or palest gray.

    Peter: The Trippon videos are PRICELESS!!! That guy blurred Liberace and Wally Cox, all in a suit Lawrence Welk would have worn!

  17. A dress for Cathy??

  18. Discarded lingerie at a public phone booth?? Living in an "oh-la la" French neighbourhood, I immediately thought "passion"... See how we "see" things differently?? ;)
    Rhonda in Montreal (PR)

  19. I love your patterns that you purchased, they are so elegant. I think you will look lovely in them.

  20. I love the new dress pattern because it has pleats that will lie flat. But I'd love to see Cathy in a snug little sheath dress. More flattering, I think.

  21. They are some very sweet dresses.

  22. Thanks Testoserone! I love your suggestion!


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