Thursday, January 31, 2008

Loopy dispatch

I'm sitting in my downtown Chicago office, watching it snow like a sonofagun outside. In a couple of hours I have my first class meeting for the semester--it's a class called "Gender and the Artist in American Fiction," one I've taught every few years since 1996 (eek! All of a sudden that seems like a long time). I haven't been able to get pictures to load from my home laptop, so I am happy to have an excuse to take a break from work to get some pictures and ideas tapped out.

I've finally got a picture--not a full-length one, though--of one of the dresses I made for Astrid over the winter break. How's this for twisted: the pattern (McCall's M5510) is very obviously for a nightgown and/or pajamas. The envelope back and instructions, however, include this legalistic jewel: "NOTE: The garments in this pack are not intended for Sleep Apparel." I understand, I think, why they say this--these are loose-fitting designs, and if they weren't made in flame-retardant fabrics (which I wouldn't use....sorry), they might be dangerous if there was a fire during the night. But come on! Are they trying to convince purchasers that these clothes are pajama costumes--in other words, outfits that kids might dress up in before they go to bed, but then change into "real" PJs before they get into bed?

Happily for me, I had no intention of sewing this design for nighttime wear (ooops....I mean "Sleep Apparel"). I was looking for a dress without buttons, snaps, or facings, and I wanted something with a nice ruffle at the sleeves. So far I've made it in the peachy Japanese-inspired tree print shown in the photo, a pair of coordinating chocolate-and-blue prints, and some cool "rainbowy" home dec fabric I found at IKEA. (If you're looking at the IKEA page, the two fabrics I used are the second from the left [big rainbows] and the one on the far right [the small multicolored emblems])The IKEA dresses are sleeveless; Astrid has one, as does her neighbor-friend Lily (or, as Astrid calls her, "Lily the Lion"--she had a lion costume for Halloween when they were both 3, I think). The dresses are good for twirling (*so* important!) and it's easy to make the bodice in a different fabric (like I did with the brown/blue and IKEA versions). What I can't show here, but what I'm most happy about, is the closure for all of the dresses: after cutting a small ponytail elastic (the kind Goody makes in a zillion different colors) in half, I turned each half into a loop and sewed it about two inches to the left of the center back (close to the neck and right above the skirt/bodice seamline). Then, two inches to the right of the center back, I sewed big vintage buttons. This arrangement gathers the fullness of the back of the dress so that it doesn't slip off Astrid's shoulders (as it appears to be doing in the McCalls envelope picture).

Gee, Astrid looks happy--no, ecstatic --in her dress, doesn't she? (Actually, maybe she's just receiving instructions from her mothership. Do I look like someone who knows what's going on in her daughter's mind? Perish the thought.)

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