The Skirt

Finally, the skirt that I promised to blog about. This skirt is near and dear to me because it combines so many things that I like: Vintage illustration, thrifting, handcrafting, fashion, recycling, and BALL FRINGE.

You see, this skirt started life as a vintage kiddie curtain-and-valance set. Wonderful old Mother Goose illustrations, and, if I haven’t mentioned, BALL FRINGE. Oh man, do I ever love ball fringe. (Some day I will have a skirt that is tier upon tier of ball fringe, hopefully with a matching box-cut sleeveless top, but this is not that day.)

I saw the curtains in a thrift store, and immediately knew that I would make it into a skirt. Because I am some sort of thrift store goddess, I got the set for $2.48 (plus tax). Step Two would be finding a pattern to match what I was seeing in my head. A simple, high-waist pencil skirt. I went to JoAnn. Butterick had nothing. Simplicity had nothing. New Look, Burda, Vogue, McCall’s… nobody had what I was looking for. And my own drafting skills… well, they get me by for Halloween costumes, but this was going to require better than that. So I sat on it for a while, but I knew that I wanted to make this skirt to wear to the Hooch n’ Smooch event at Viva, and time was ticking away.

Enter: Another trip to the thrift store.

Thrift stores always have sewing patterns, and more often than not, they are a disorganized mess of the worst that fashion had to offer… in the ’80s. And that’s saying something. I usually give the pile a cursory glance, to see if there are any promising yellowing envelopes sticking out, and then I continue on my way. But this one day, at this one thrift store, the stash of patterns was small enough to consider flipping through each and every one. I wasn’t even looking with the skirt in mind, but rather just to see if anything seemed workable for any project. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Without merit. Ugly. And then… skirt! Here’s a skirt pattern, in my size! Three options, one of which is JUST what I am looking for! There were no prices marked, but I took a risk. At the counter, the cashier informed be that all sewing patterns are 49¢. Was I okay with that?


Ahem, um, yes. That’s fine. Thank you.

I got it home, and cleaned off the dining room sewing table. I knew that the pattern would already be cut out, but hoped that if it was cut smaller than my size, I could at least estimate up to… holy chit. This pattern is untouched. Nobody has ever cut it, and as best as I can tell, nobody has ever even unfolded it. There’s still an advertisement in it for new, upcoming Spring (1987) patterns. LA LA LA LA LA!

I got busy with my seam ripper, opening up the curtain panel everywhere I had to, and nowhere that I didn’t. I laid out the pattern pieces so that I could salvage most of one of the original curtain seams, thus NOT having to cut the ball fringe in one place. I wound up using just about the entire curtain for the skirt, and a bit of the valance for the waistband. The waistband which turned out to be FAR easier than putting in the zipper, and shouldn’t have slowed me down to a procrastinating crawl. And then I was done! Well, except for the last hook-and eye… hook-and-eye… I have about 300 (okay, 48 and yes I did count) assorted hook-and-eye sets in my sewing basket, and none are the right size. Damn damn damn. A trip to JoAnn and back home, and now I have the hook-and-eye and WHERE the hell are my sewing needles? Oh, come ON. I am NOT going back to JoAnn AGAIN. And then I remembered the emergency sewing kit I kept in my desk at the office, and that my desk at the office was still packed into a box in the basement, and lo and behold, I have a needle.

The end result is a one-of-a-kind, semi-vintage skirt that cost me approximately $4 (curtain, zipper, hook-and-eye, thread) and is, like anything I sew for myself, only a little too big in the waist.

(They’re difficult to see, but the flowerpots full of smiling daisies are my favorite bits.)

ADDITION: Dur, I forgot to post the pattern!  It’s Butterick 4706, ca. 1986, and it looks like this:

Weekend Update

A blog post? On a weekend? No, Hell hath not frozen over. Although, by looking out the window on this April morning, you may not realize that. Yesterday was beautiful; sunny and warm, so today? Snow. Welcome to springtime along the Front Range.

If you follow me on Twitter (@ampersandwich) you know that I was sewing a skirt the other day, and even hinted at a blog post about it, but suddenly stopped talking about it. Here’s the deal: it’s coming out really well. Seriously. The first evening of sewing went off without a hitch. The initial fitting is just about perfect (as with anything I sew for myself, I could have cut it a little smaller). The only thing I have left to do is the waistband, which I’ve been putting off because I’ve never done a waistband before and I don’t want to screw up an otherwise excellent sewing project.

On the other hand; without the waistband, it’s unwearable. So there’s that.

Also, I desperately need to finish this skirt because not only will it be fodder for an interesting (I hope) blog post, but because it’s a planned outfit for Day One of my annual pilgrimmage to the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly weekender, and Day One is getting very, very close. So close, in fact, that while I certainly miss the income that comes from being employed, this is the last weekend before the big event and were I having to head to the office on Monday, I would be FREAKING OUT right now.

Which brings us to Viva Las Vegas. Vivaaaaaa Las Vegas. In past years, I have spent the month or so before the trip planning and plotting and packing with local friends. This year I’ve been on my own, although with the supportive buzz and hum of assorted online “friends” whom I expect to run into down there. I suppose I should be more assertive (eek!) about getting people’s phone numbers, so we can actually coordinate general times and locations. It can be difficult to find people in the sizable crowd even when you DO know what they look like in 3D. I was planning on spectating from the safety of The Boyfriend’s arm, but it turns out that he has a handful of friends who will be there, and he’ll want to spend some time with them. My last attempt to make friends with his friends didn’t go so well, so I think I’ll bypass this “opportunity” for now. (It wasn’t their fault. It’s just that, even when you explain social anxiety to folks, they think that once they say “hi” and the sky doesn’t fall down, that I’ll become a normal person. But it doesn’t work that way. This, apparently, leaves them feeling inadequate. Or something.) A couple of my own friends recently decided to go as well, but they’ve been keeping to themselves lately and I don’t want to interfere with whatever they’ve got going on. So I guess I’m back on my own again, for some events. As a result, if you’re down at The Orleans and see a ’billy girl hyperventilating quietly in the bathroom, that’s just me, freaking out about having to interact with other, live, human beings. Please move slowly, bring me something to drink, preferably liquor, and I’ll be okay. I have already put the schedule of bands I want to see into my iPhone, so if you can help me calm down enough to operate it, I’ll know where I need to be next.

As for now, I need to busy myself with finishing the skirt, creating three more hair flowers, researching spray tans so my pasty glow doesn’t blind people poolside, getting my hair color touched up (appt is on Wednesday; nothing like the last minute!), making a new necklace, and figuring out how to fit 8 dresses, 8 handbags, 8 pairs of shoes, plus all of my toiletries and whatnot, into ONE suitcase and ONE garment bag. If I have time left over, I’d like to sew my Standard Oil patch onto the back of my jacket (Suggested company motto: ‘Squishing a dwindling supply of dinosaurs for over 100 years’) and paint flames on the cuffs of a pair of jeans (although I’ve been saying I’m going to do that for a year).

Today’s agenda: Finish skirt. Glue flowers. Make trip to Walgreen’s to exchange the Almay Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover pads for the less drippy Almay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads. Seriously, I think Almay took all of the oil they WOULD have used in the oil-free pads, and added it to the oil in the moisturizing pads. Dipping a cotton ball into straight mineral oil would be less oily. I went through two tissues before switching to a washcloth just trying to get the excess oil OFF of my eyes. I’m all for moisturizing the delicate eye area, but come on. Oh, and the gal who will be doing my hair on Wednesday asked if I could stop by her shop today so she could take a look at what she’ll be dealing with. And, um, post this. So, step one begins… now.

Two Hours Dicking Around In Beaver

I made a whole mess of dice bracelets when I was getting amped up for VLV11. Drilled all the dice, strung them together, put them up on my etsy storefront

There was one color combo that I really, really liked. Red, with black spacer dice. I decided to take it out of the store and keep it for myself. But, since I had already posted it, I gave it a day. ONE day, and then I’d take it down.

It sold.

Well, okay, that is kind of the point of me, you know, selling them. Fine, I’ll go to my local supply store and buy more of those dice. The fancy, translucent ones. And I’ll make myself a new one, just for me. Red, with black spacers.

My supply store is sold out.

I go back every now and then to check, but they don’t know when (if) they’ll get those fancy dice back in. I make more of the “regular” white dice variety. Which are precisely not flying off the virtual shelves of my store.

I bring my store stock with me to Las Vegas, so my friends and I always have bracelets to coordinate with our outfits. I see a vendor there, selling nearly-identical bracelets for twice the price. Personally, I like mine a little better, because I use mini-dice in between the standard game-play dice, and his just have regular ol’ beads. But I don’t have a vendor booth at VLV, nor do I want to (and be trapped in a booth all day and night, instead of out playing), and I doubt I’d make much money selling $7 bracelets anyway. Coincidentally, a couple of my gals buy from me the bracelets they’d been borrowing. I feel a little funny taking money from friends, but the bracelets do cost me materials and time, so I guess I’d better get used to it.

Waiting for the hotel shuttle one evening, a woman in line asks Alison where she got her bracelet. She indicates me, I pass along my card, a conversation ensues. Eventually, nothing comes of it.

A few weeks later, I get an email. It’s the woman from the shuttle line. She’s still thinking about Alison’s bracelet, and wants to know if I have an online store or anything. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I invite her to have a look, and to ask me if there’s anything she has in mind but doesn’t see. She takes a good look around, even into my sold listings…

She wants the red one.

I checked my local store again: no go. I’ve looked around online before, but now I make a real effort: There are plenty of translucent red dice to be found, but the price point makes it impossible to string an affordable bracelet from them. Unless I buy a block of TWO HUNDRED. Which, with shipping, is a little more than I’d been paying at my local supplier, but still within the realm of a $7 bracelet. Except that these dice don’t have the rounded corners that I like to use. For some reason, I can only find those in blocks that cost twice the price. And so the search continues…

About the title: My pal Nick is driving out from California to visit, and while he was plotting out a route to take, I suggested that he spend the night in Beaver, Utah. Because, you know, that would be funny. To spend the night in Beaver. Ha ha. Anyway, he wound up choosing a different stop along the highway, but I asked him to think of me and laugh heartily when he eventually drives through Beaver. Maybe stop for a coffee or something. He replied with a hypothetical, “Sorry I’m late, but I spent two hours dicking around in Beaver.” … Okay, maybe you had to be there. And also, to have developed the tasteful sense of humor of a 15-year-old boy. But I thought it was hysterical.