Task: Vogue 9996

I bought Vogue 9996 in, I believe, 2008, the day that my friend Megan and I picked through a small basket of vintage patterns at an antiques mall about halfway to Wyoming.

Last month, I finally bought the fabric and notions necessary to make it. A plaid? Why did I choose a notoriously-difficult-to-line-up plaid? Oh, well. Today, I hauled out my machine (I have a PILE of stuff that needs mending before Viva; I may as well start with the most difficult project) and opened the envelope. 18 pieces in all. 18 pieces in the envelope.

But 6 of them are from a different pattern! That means that I’m missing 6 pieces! Although I’m not planning to sew the overblouse option… those pieces, I have. No, I’m missing every single piece of the bathing suit top, and the lower back facing for the shorts.

I am doing my best to recreate the missing pieces from a scan of the instruction sheet, scaled up to life size. I’ll keep you posted as to my progress. Keep your fingers crossed!

Drill Down to the Heart of the Matter

Dice bracelets. I originally made them just for my own use, but someone said I should sell them, and so I started adding them to my Etsy shop in early ’08. I wound up bringing a pound or two of them with me to VLV10 for my gal-pals and I to mix and match with our wardrobes. They’re fun, and handy for covering up those vinyl wristbands which can mar an otherwise cool outfit.

My bracelets are made with real, new, game-play dice. Not casino dice, which are not only expensive but also bigger, heavier, and have very sharp edges. Those edges aren’t something you pay attention to until you want to wear them for a few hours. I specifically buy dice with rounded edges because of their contact with delicate wrists. And I drill each and every single die myself with a corded drill. One. At. A. Time. It’s a tedious process, and being “off” with my pressure can break or, more commonly, chip the dice. But the most frequent issue that I run into, as shown above, is that my drill bits heat up enough to melt the acrylic content of the dice, and seize within the confines. There is no way to get a seized drill bit out, save for application of a hammer. It wastes a heckuva lot of time, not to mention the dice that are murdered for the cause.

I’ve conferred with The Guys At The Hardware Store about ways around this unique problem. I’ve tried bits made from different compounds, I’ve tried dipping the bit in cold water between each pass, I’ve tried drilling slower and faster and upside-down and sideways (no, not really). Drill: seize. Drill: seize. Drill: seize. After a few years of this, I am, as the kids say, Over It. I do not make enough money on these bracelets to outweigh the loss of materials, let alone the manual labor.

I’ll leave any existing listings in the shop until they sell, but they will not be replaced. I’m keeping my supplies on hand for special requests or for other projects that may come up, such as Chop’s occasional solicitations for “danglies” for his custom bikes. However if you’ve been thinking about getting one or two but can’t decide on colors, now would be the time to act. I’ve already started letting some listings expire, so if there’s a color combo you want but don’t see, don’t hesitate to ask. I may very well still have it available.

Feb 1: Two Months to Viva!


Whew. Okay. As many of you know, my Biggest Event of the Year is the annual Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender. I first attended VLV10 in 2007 at the urging of (and spending all of my time with) my friends at Peek Photo and a mutual friend of ours. They were absolutely sure that VLV was my bag, Baby, and boy were they ever right. I live a relatively sheltered life, and I did not know that there were people out there, hundreds of no thousands no TENS OF THOUSANDS of people out there who listen to really great music and dress the way I wanted to dress. I was hooked!

VLV10 was a pivotal event in my life. For one thing, I met my now-boyfriend, although I didn’t run into him again (and learn his name) for another 6 months. For another thing, spending an entire weekend with my friends brought us that much closer, and they are just about the only ex-coworkers with whom I still hang out (I am historically bad at keeping in touch with people). And finally, I felt free to dress in my beloved mid-century silhouettes without worrying about what people might think, because I knew that scattered around the globe were more people like me who supported my style. To be truthful, I did get some funny looks. I worked at that time within very close proximity to a semi-upscale shopping mall, where I would frequently head for lunch. I was occasionally aware of someone staring, but for the most part I went surprisingly unnoticed. The only time anyone ever approached me directly was to tell me how nice I looked. This was unexpected!

I bought my first vintage dress during my freshman year of college (boy do I ever wish I still had that dress, let alone the 22″ waist that once fit into it) and I’ve been casually collecting ever since. Those of you who know my age know that references a long time. Now it was my goal to make sure that I had enough vintage and repro clothing in my closet to support another year at VLV! I began to collect more aggressively, spending hours lurking around eBay and diving deeper during thrift store excursions with my similarly-afflicted Bestest Friend In The Whole Wide World. As my collection grew, I also had more to wear on a daily basis. And wear it I did. A different-yet-similar group of friends got together for VLV11, and as we prepared we would hunt in packs for dark-rinse high-waisted jeans and era-appropriate shoes. We studied the events schedule and planned our outfits weeks (months) in advance so that we could pack as efficiently as possible. I managed, after months-months-months of looking, to buy for myself a coveted deadstock-with-tags 1960/61 gold lamé DeWeese swimsuit, lightly embroidered and studded with rhinestones. A swimsuit so stellar that I dared to wear it two years in a row. Of course, I can’t get away with wearing it three years running, so the hunt is on for this year’s swimsuit.

Oh yeah, did I mention the swimsuits?

The weekender is held in early April, but it’s held in April in Las Vegas. 100-degree days are not uncommon. And so the weekend winds down on Sunday with a pool party. While this pool party is the first time that us revelers have a chance to slow down, it is also a veritable gallery of vintage swimwear. People are there to see, and to be seen. In swimsuits. In April. Pasty-white April. Only-three-short-months-from-holiday-excess April. So, when VLV attendees say that they’re starting their diet on January 1, this is no empty New Year’s resolution. This is an Emergency Situation.

Nick’s diet plan included being a complete glutton over the holidays, eating himself sick so that by January 1st, he wanted nothing but juice and salad. And of course, the extra pounds that he had packed on melted right off, because his body never adjusted to that artificially high caloric level in the first place. But from a mental standpoint, those pounds dropping encouraged him to keep going and he has been eating an almost-entirely-raw diet (exceptions made for coffee and Monday night dinner with friends) and he feels fantastic and looks better than I’ve seen him in months.

My own diet is less extreme and less effective, but more realistic for a foodie. On a recommendation from Erin,  I downloaded an iPhone app called LoseIt. It’s helped to keep me on track, and as of this morning I am 2/3 of the way to my goal weight (and halfway to the weight I was when I had that 22″ waist). Jeans that fit a year ago once again fit properly. I very much look forward to them being a little too big. I’ve started my flickr album of outfit planning, which for the first time is overloaded with options. I have an increasing pile of “needs sewing for Viva.”

I have two months to get everything done. Let the countdown begin!