Latest Sewing Project, and an Observation on Dress

I bought the fabric in the photo over a year ago when I went to Mary Jo’s Cloth Shop in Gastonia, NC with my sister-in-law.  I’ve been saving it, waiting for just the right project.  The fabric is a knit, with a loopy texture, and the reverse is a smooth knit in charcoal with a little stripe (look very carefully to see a snipet of the stripe).  I’d originally thought I’d made a dress, but then thought I’d wear a jacket more… back and forth for over a year.

When my friend Mary Ann came up with a new batch of vintage patterns, I took a long look at the one above.  It is absolutely not the type of thing I usually make, not being a caftan type of girl at all.  But I loved how the short dress looked with the flaring sleeves and the insets.  So, finally, I cut it out, and in a very short amount of time, had the finished article.

I did make a few changes.  My arms are very short, and so I shortened the sleeves.  Because the fabric is quite bulky, I left a bit of the tweed  on the ends of the sleeves, rather than finishing with the band of stripe.  Also because of the bulk, I cut the front inset in one piece.

I made the sash, but liked it better with a belt.  I actually wore it a few nights ago, when we went to see Elton John in Asheville.

And that leads me to an observation we made at the concert.  Casualness in dress has descended into pure old sloppiness.  I’m not talking about jeans; there were some people wearing jeans who looked fabulous.  But there seemed to be an unofficial uniform of droopy hoodie, over faded tee shirt, topping ill-fitting jeans, anchored by white athletic shoes.  I’d estimate that almost half the people there were wearing this uniform.
Have our lives gotten to the place where nothing is special enough to take the time to consider how we look?  It seems to be a sort of blasé arrogance!
I went to my first rock concert in 1971, when I was 16, and you can bet I spent a lot of thought on my get-up!  Part of the fun in going was seeing everyone in their best hippie duds.  We all wanted to look the part of rock fans, and we did fit the bill.  We were not  “dressed up” – we were dressed to fit the occasion.
What is really interesting is that thinking back over the past 39 years I can actually remember some of the outfits I have worn to concerts from Elvis to Merle Haggard to Ray Charles. For each I can place myself in that time, feel the excitement, enjoy the experience as if I were there again. I was not wearing an old tee and a stretched out hoodie.
So I guess the real question is, if Americans spend $82 billion a year on clothing, then why do we not look like it?

For those of you who love such things, here are close-ups of the details:


Posted by Mary Van Note:

AMEN, Sister! I totally agree. I love the point you made about remembering exactly what you wore on certain occasions. That is totally what I try to think of when I try to remember a day in my past. For instance, I know the first date with my boyfriend I wore a red knit dress and I remember exactly how I felt as I was wearing it that day!

You did an amazing job on your dress. It looks awesome.. YOU look awesome!

Friday, November 19th 2010 @ 6:57 PM

Posted by KeLLy Ann:

The Hubs and I went to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Saeger in New Orleans, an evening showing. There were people there in PAJAMA! bottoms and sloppy t shirts! I was speechless.
I dress up every chance I get. And actually get stared at because I am dressed up. Sheez people, get some Self respect.
And that dress is just awesome. You have some mad sewing skills! 

Friday, November 19th 2010 @ 7:42 PM

Posted by Debi:

I LOVE this outfit! the fabric suits the pattern perfectly! And I couldn’t agree more–I almost always dress up–I feel so much better when I do!

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 2:35 AM

Posted by Rebecca Fishman:

Your dress is really cute! It looks great on you.

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 8:50 AM

Posted by jana:

So classy!

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 11:58 AM

Posted by Vireya:

You look great in that dress! And Hooray for dressing up – I agree that casual has become a little too casual these days.

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 2:57 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

I appreciate all the nice words! I can sew because I had the very best teacher – my grandmother.

I think it is really ironic that people who do take the time to look their best end up getting stared at. Well, Mae West said it best: “It’s better to be looked over than to be over-looked!”

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 4:41 PM

Posted by Lizzie:

And it really is true that our clothes play a big part in our memories. When I was in the 6th grade, my class got to take a field trip to the Biltmore House. This was in the days when little girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school, but that was not good enough. We all dressed in our best. I wore my little green Jackie Kennedy-inspired suit with a green and white striped short sleeved sweater. We looked special, and we acted special!

People wearing pajamas in public always reminds me of when I was a kid. My parents would make us wear our pjs to the drive-in movie so they wouldn’t have to get us undressed when we were all falling asleep! Maybe the pajama wearers are out past their bedtime!

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 4:53 PM

Posted by Ali:

This is a great outfit. It doesn’t really look like a caftan. I love the Russian Peasant feel of it. Great job!

Saturday, November 20th 2010 @ 9:18 PM

Posted by Em:

Love all the details on the dress!

Sunday, November 21st 2010 @ 9:58 AM

Posted by Gina Americana:

What’s interesting is that during the Great Depression, a middle class person’s wardrobe consisted of less than 15 items, while today it numbers 88 pieces of clothing. Why is it that when you have so much, you do so little with it, while the opposite seemed to be true in the past?
BTW, I’m sure you were one of the best-dressed at Elton’s gig that night! 

Monday, November 22nd 2010 @ 12:29 PM

Posted by Sarah:

What a fabulous job you’ve made of that dress! I agree with Ali, it has a Russian flavour to it.

And it is disappointing that so many people are so slack in their dress these days. But on the other hand, that makes it so much easier to stand out from the crowd! Let ’em stare!

Sunday, December 5th 2010 @ 4:51 AM


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Filed under Proper Clothing, Sewing, Viewpoint

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