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Update on the idiot issue: eagle-eyed reader Tassadit pointed out that the idiot who’s trying to sell my sewing patterns on eBay, lorriange, actually has a website where she sells patterns- lots and lots of patterns!  That’s right, she’s actually trying to sell the Coffee Date Dress pattern, as well as my Breakfast at Tiffany’s-inspired pattern for £10! Yep- wander on over to her online store so you can buy what everyone else gets for free! I see she’s removed the images of me (perhaps after getting my nasty message) but not the patterns.

But even more fun, I’ve been browsing around her project pages, and this idiot, who has the ballz to call herself a “designer” (all she’s designed are some dumb polls in the sidebar of her very 2003-looking website), has stolen a bunch of other patterns from other people and put them up on her website for sale!

Made by Rae's Itty Bitty Baby Dress pattern - stolen!!

The only one I identified upon sight is the adorable Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Made by Rae (get the original FREE and properly credited here), but I know I’ve seen a bunch of the other designs on BurdaStyle and other places. The inconsistent and sometimes low-quality photos (as though one only had access to a thumbnail-sized photo and tried to blow it up) suggest to me that these images and patterns have been scavenged from a number of sources. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the ones with the consistent color illustrations are just from some pattern company CD.

Anyway, let’s play a game!  Poke around the website and tell us if you recognize any of the patterns! What other stolen goodies are on there, credited as one of her “custom designs”? Maybe you’ll even see one of your own!

I’ve given her a piece of my mind (no idle threats considering how many lawyer friends I have), but if she’s also selling something of yours (or you just think she’s an idiot who ought to be ashamed of herself and want to let her know), here’s her info (all publicly available on the website- I haven’t done any stalking or posting any private data):

Lorrie Holtom, “Designer” (I added those quotes in myself)
Tel: +44 (0) 1179396913, Mobile: +44 (0) 7765182366

Okay, so back to that game, so far we know that the Coffee Date Dress, the Audrey Hepburn dress, and the Itty Bitty Baby Dress are being sold on the site– anyone recognize any other pilfered work?

UPDATE: Yay!  My patterns have been removed, as have two of the patterns, and quite a few of the kids’ patterns. Great sleuthing, everyone.  And if your patterns have  been filched, make a stink- it seems to be working!! Thanks, everyone!

UPDATE #2: And as of 7:32PM EDT it appears the site is offline. Hoping it stays that way, thus restoring a tiny bit of confidence to those of us who wanted to share our patterns with the online sewing world for free without being exploited or profited off of. Thanks, everyone, for looking out for me and for each other.

After a couple of rather annoying discoveries, the Selfish Seamstress has come to a rather rash conclusion.  There are two kinds of people on the internet: 1) my dear, wonderful readers and 2) idiots.

Okay, I realize that my logic here is flawed and that there are probably a couple of non-idiot internet users besides you guys, but DAMN if there aren’t some serious idiots out there.

For example, dear reader Polly (NOT an idiot, instead rather awesome) alerted me to this:

That’s right- someone’s trying to sell my pattern for the Coffee Date Dress on eBay! For £7.50! Good job, eBay user lorriange, with your two negative feedbacks as a seller in the past 6 months, way to do your own work. I bet you tried to cheat off of other kids’ math tests when you were little because it was easier than learning how to add and subtract for yourself. Sorry to see that no one bid on your pathetic little auction. You know why?  Because people who sew know that it’s available for FREE ON THE INTERNET. If an idiot like you could find it, so can anyone else, duh. (Also, possibly because the pattern is not all that interesting.)

Here’s the description the seller provides with the auction:


Ugh. first of all, it’s SIZE 32-42, not BUST 32-42. Also, it’s not a shift dress, it’s a fitted bodice with an A-line skirt. And as for printing it or saving it to CD, I’m going to guess that lazyass lorriange probably just sends you a link to where you can download it from me because she can’t be bothered.

Now one idiot on the internet could be an isolated incident, but two idiots is certainly indicative of an epidemic. Awesome reader Hussain pointed out that a photo of me in my bubble wrap tutu was used to illustrate a Wikihow article on how to make a bubble wrap tutu!

For serious?  I mean, it’s a Wikihow article, for jeeb’s sake. Why would you even bother to put together a tutorial on doing something if you’re not actually going to do it and use your own photographs of it?? This is like inventing a cookie recipe, posting it on the web, and then showing a photo of a package of Chips Ahoy! next to it. IDIOTS.

Also, seriously, if you want to make a decent bubble wrap tutu, don’t use the Wikihow article. They actually tell you to use glue on the bubble wrap. Glue! I mean, use the tutorial if you want your tutu to fall apart within minutes. Or if you want it to look like this (the finished project they show at the end of the step-by-step instructions- look, it’s exactly like mine! No wonder they used my picture as the title image!):

Oh, and if you want, you can also make an accompanying “wand”:

Niiiiiiice. It’s sheer crafting genius, like those intricately painted Ukrainian Easter eggs, or rose point lacemaking. Nice to see a modern revival of the lost art of “putting a wad of garbage on top of a stick.”

In all seriousness though, sigh. Sometimes it makes me want to stop putting my stuff out there, knowing that other people who can’t be bothered to do their own work are just going to claim my creative efforts as their own ideas, their own property, their own stuff to sell, their own stuff to show off. I’m not talking about laws and legality and intellectual property – for those of you who have your mouse pointer poised on the “Leave a Comment” link, ready to point out that no laws have been broken- I know. And yes, I am fully aware of what one opens oneself up to by putting things on the internet.  It doesn’t make it less annoying to discover yourself front and center on some random eBay auction and see your precious hard work appropriated, diluted, and misrepresented.

So there you have it- proof that my readers (thank you, Polly and Hussain!) are smart and wonderful, and that everyone else on the internet is an idiot. Though I suppose if they’re downloading my patterns to sell and copying my pictures to illustrate their own sad little tutorials, they’d have to have been visiting my blog also… hrmmm. I’m going to need to come up with a new theory to explain this then. Until then, how about you?  Any uncreative asshats exploited your creativity lately?  Do tell!

No doubt we’ve seen some pretty weird fabric out there. And if you spend most of your waking hours trolling the internet for fabric, as the Selfish Seamstress does, pretty much no fabric subject matter surprises you anymore. If something exists, it’s been printed on fabric.

But yesterday I discovered what I believe is the weirdest fabric I’ve seen on the internet, not because of the print, goofy but not completely out there, but because of particular combination of print, fiber, and weave.  Are you ready for it?


Oh yeah. It’s 100% filmy, diaphanous silk chiffon, so it’s perfect for a lovely frock for a garden party, wedding, or a trip to the Oscars, but it’s also got a whimsical all-over South Park print, which makes it just right for a 14-year old boy in the year 1998. Let’s take a closer look, ok?

Awesome.  You can get it here, btw. How about you?  Seen any other super wacky fabrics or incongruous print/fabric combos lately?  Anyone keen on making a filmy little South Park number now?

Readers, in these busy times my sewing hours seem to be relegated to the block of time from  11:00PM until midnight (err, or sometimes a wee bit later at the expense of sleep), and you can imagine that this is just enough time for me to pull out my materials and equipment, do a tiny bit a of sewing, make some show-stopping screwup that I wouldn’t have made had I not been so tired, and then give up in disgust. Naturally this has made your typically-grumpy Selfish Seamstress even grumpier than typical. So although I have no new sewing worth showing here, I will engage you with a funny anecdote followed by a rant regarding some recent Etsy explorations.

First the anecdote.  It was brought to my attention that an Etsy seller was offering up dresses that look remarkably similar to the Coffee Date Dress, the pattern for which I make available for free download. Upon inspection, the similarity was indeed quite uncanny.  The Coffee Date Dress, being quite simple, is by no means an innovation of design, and plenty of other designs also have a neck ruffle without being similar enough to make me wonder. But this dress was really *really* similar in those details that you notice when you’ve made or designed something- similar in the not-quite-scooped-but-not-quite-jewel neckline which is fairly unique, in the particular amount of flair of the a-line skirt, in the exact placement, proportion, and folding of the ruffle. The dress was rendered in a knit with no back darts and no zipper, unlike the Coffee Date Dress, and topstitched around the arm openings, but otherwise looked in shape and line pretty much like my own design and quite different from the store’s other drapier, ruched offerings. Realizing this could have been a coincidence but finding the similarity of the design to my own really startling, I sent an neutrally worded message to the store inquiring whether they had perhaps used my design, and if so I did not mind and do not charge, but would they be so kind as to credit me for it?

Anyway, a couple of days later, I received an email back from the store that was, let’s say… humorously defensive :) I mean, I can completely understand if the similarity was a coincidence. Free pattern production and Etsy clothing shops aren’t exactly high stakes games anyway so it’s not like I was getting my lawyer on the phone. The store basically pointed out that their dress is made of a knit and that their ruffle is hemmed rather than cut on the fold so it they clearly didn’t use my pattern or design, but their own. I don’t know if I follow that logic, but if they say it’s their own pattern and design, I can take them at their word for that.  So what’s the funny part?  The funny part was the last line of their message:

“I also removed the dress from my shop as nobody liked it and nobody wanted to purchase it.”

I love it! The Selfish Seamstress is a huuuuuge fan of passive-aggression (if you can’t tell, check out THIS VERY POST), and feels it is a tremendously underrated behavioral pattern. It’s fun to listen to, and it’s fun to do! Anyway, too bad for the Etsy store that nobody liked their dress; more than 100,000 people have downloaded mine.  (Yes! I just totally out-passive-aggressived them!)

Okay, but after that little humorous incident, onto the actual rant. A couple of days ago I was poking around Etsy, and I found a listing for this blue taffeta dress on a different store:

Whoa.  Hold up there a sec. Does that look familiar? Surely none of you have ever run into this pattern before, or perhaps even made it up yourselves? UNCANNY. The dress is available in size medium, but the seller says she’ll also make it for you custom in the size and color of your choice.*

I realize that some people may not realize that manufacturing garments from copyrighted patterns for sale is illegal**, and I have no objections when someone who doesn’t sew pays someone who does to make a garment for them from a pattern, nor do I fail to realize that we take inspiration from other people’s work as part of the creative process. But this is ballsy. Here’s a snippet from the Etsy seller’s description of the garment:

“I gave it a beautiful cut with gathered bodice and gathered skirt. There is a hand gathered ruffle around the low scoop neckline that gradually grows bigger around the back of the neck. It frames the face perfectly.”

No.  NO. No. YOU did not give it a beautiful cut with a gathered bodice and gathered skirt.  A nice lady named CYNTHIA ROWLEY gave it a beautiful cut with a gathered bodice and gathered skirt, and then a nice little company called Simplicity made that cut available to you so you could make a dress for yourself, NOT so you could take credit for it and resell it as your own.

I’m not interested in policing Etsy or playing Big 4 anonymous tipster, and I realize that Simplicity probably isn’t losing any business from this person. But it peeves me as I see more and more Etsy stores hawking renditions of commercial patterns (and it happens A LOT) and claiming them as their own designs because I just don’t understand what they get out of it. Unless you’re the next Vivienne Westwood-type innovator who can command big bucks for gorgeous, unique pieces, or you’re selling basic tubes of stretchy fabric that can be whipped up in 10 minutes, there’s probably not much money to be made in one-person operations sewing dresses to sell on Etsy. We know how much time it takes to make a dress and how much money you’d have to charge for it to make it a decent source of income as an Etsy store. So why else would you do it unless you want to scratch that creative itch and share YOUR OWN ideas and creations? And if you just love sewing that much but don’t want to design your own stuff, then why wouldn’t you say it was “inspired by” or an “homage to” the design you’re knocking off? Why would you claim creative credit for Cynthia Rowley’s ideas and put yourself at risk for a lawsuit from a pattern giant for what probably ends up being pocket change after you factor in labor and materials costs? You’re not even making a quick buck off contraband design.

Maybe it’s just me who gets annoyed at such things. Maybe it’s because I’m a science professor at a research university and in my line of work we call that “plagiarism” and people lose their jobs and get kicked out of school for claiming credit for others’ work. Or maybe I just need to find more sewing time to calm my nerves, stop me from writing pointless, bitchtastic posts, and keep me from wanting to punch everyone I encounter. I guess I could lose my job for that last one too.

*Haha! I didn’t ask permission to use your image on my blog, nor did I give you credit for it! See how that feels?  You wanna sue me over it?  Do you??

** Ok, it seems that experts who know more than I are suggesting that this practice is not technically illegal (though I suspect there’d still be a lawsuit if a big clothing manufacturer started producing from copyrighted patterns en masse). I appreciate that informed people have taken time to share their expertise – thanks! And I apologize for putting potentially inaccurate information on the internet and acknowledge my potential misinterpretation of pattern copyright. But the whole issue of legal vs. illegal was not the point of this post, and people who feel the need to write incredibly rudely worded comments (now deleted) complaining that I dedicated a “whole post” to the illegality of someone else’s actions should read before they write “whole comments” making inaccurate accusations themselves. The point of this post was not law (though I appreciate the constructive comments on that topic), but creativity and claiming credit for the work of others. And for the record, I make no claims in this post about my own pattern having actually been used by Etsy sellers, being under copyright, or legally requiring credit or compensation. I put my work out there so others can use it and benefit from it, and I request acknowledgment as a matter of courtesy and ego, not law. 

Hey, kids!  Are you ready for some science? Of course you are!  So, on the topic of the Fabric Mart “silk” versus the Denver Fabrics “acetate,” it’s time for a little experiment. After getting lots of helpful tips from readers and reading a bunch of web pages about burn testing fibers (not terribly consistent, by the way), I went to my local pharmacy after work and picked up some nail polish remover with acetone to see whether the fabric would dissolve in it, thus indicating acetate.

After my initial burn test I was fairly convinced that whatever the fabrics are, they are the same.  Even so, I decided it would only be fair to test both of them. So I took a scrap of each and some glass yogurt jars, figuring that would be nice and non-reactive (I save them for when I make jam or pickles – useful and conveniently sized!) and here’s my experimental setup:

I then poured in a little bit of Cutex “Strengthening” Formula, enough to cover:

I kind of figured that if this fabric were acetate, there would be a rather immediate shriveling reaction, sort of like when you pour water on the Selfish Seamstress.  But nothing happened.  I swirled it around a bit.  About fifteen minutes later, both swatches were still intact:

So. It’s been about a half hour now, and there’s little change except that it seems like maybe some of the blue dye has run off into the nail polish remover. Other than that, the fabric is holding up.

On the basis of this test, as well as the fact that the burn behavior of the swatch (crispy nubbins of black char on the burning edge, no obvious melting, self-extinguishing) was similar to my known-to-be-silk dupioni scrap (the dupioni feels, crumples, and smells like silk), I’m going to call this one in favor of Fabric Mart and declare both fabrics to be silk. I’ve already ruled out rayon, and I assume polyester and nylon would melt. Yay for science and observable phenomena!

Now, a little bit of sleuthing, as I think we were all a little bit skeptical and perhaps still are.  How could Denver Fabrics possibly have listed a silk fabric as acetate, sold it at $3.75/yard, ad then put it on sale for $1.99/yard? Well, if you look at the fabric description, you’ll see there is another error:

The fabric is described as “jacquard,” which would suggest a pattern woven in different textures. This is incorrect- the fabric I received is definitely twill, with a consistent diagonal weave, and the design printed on.  So what happened? A little poking around on Denver Fabrics’s website turns up several other “100% acetate” linings that have this pattern rendered in a single color at a 49″ width, such as this navy one:

Close inspection of the image suggests that this one actually *is* a jacquard in a solid color, and that the clover pattern is woven in (satin weave clovers on a matte ground, reversed on the other side), rather than printed as it is on my fabric. This lining is also available in all green, all pink, all purple, and a couple of other colors. My best guess is that the solid color ones actually are acetate, and that the whole bunch of rolls came from the same manufacturer in the same shipment along with my silk one, and whoever at Denver put them into the database didn’t take note of the oddball, other than that it was 5″ narrower.

So that’s how I’m going to explain this mystery to myself until any contradictory evidence presents itself. For those of you who were hoping I might write a nasty email biting the heads off of the folks at Fabric Mart, aren’t you happy just knowing that Denver Fabrics might one day send you surprise silk?

It’s something of a sport to surf the various fabric discounters and look for identical fabrics priced very non-identically, for example this stretch cotton velveteen, available in a magenta colorway and an aqua one:

 which is currently available at Denver Fabrics for $11.00/yard, and a mere $5.99/yard at Fabric Mart. Add in Fabric Mart’s much faster and often free shipping, and this one’s a no brainer. (Especially not for me since I’m not planning on buying either.)

But obviously the Selfish Seamstress is a savvy shopper, no? No. As it turns out, the big online fabric discounters have duped your innocent, well-meaning Selfish Seamstress. On a routine hunt, I discovered a wonderful navy and cream geometric silk twill on Fabric Mart- the kind of pattern and fabric I have been seeking for many moons to make the wonderful modern shirtdress that exists only in my mind’s selfish little eye. Here’s the listing:

I hastily ordered 3.5 yards and patted myself on the back for having decided against a different geometric brown and white cotton print at a London fabric store the week prior, about whose weight and drape I felt a little bit iffy for my hypothetical shirtdress. The salesperson was just about to make the first cut into the roll when I was like, “NO! I DON’T WANT IT!” They love me there, I bet. Anyway, I felt smug that I had held out for perfection, and been rewarded with silk twill in just the right print for a very, very reasonable $9.99/yard.

So imagine my joy when I discovered a perfectly matching lining fabric a few days later on Denver Fabrics! 100% acetate, not my favorite, but certainly something I could work with for that lovely pattern on a lining. I imagined myself walking down the street in my modern silk shirt dress topped with a coordinating cream 3/4-length trench lined in matching print, navy slingbacks, with a tiny dog on a leash, who in turn was wearing a matching scarf cut from the remnants. (In my mind’s eye, my outfits are often accessorized with tiny, expensive dogs, even though I have no real desire to have one.) Anyway, here’s the listing from Denver’s page (now sold out, btw):

The following week, this lining went on sale for $1.99/yard but I already felt like I’d gotten a good price, so I wasn’t too bummed. I think you know what I’m going to tell you next, and before you tell me that I should have known, let me make the disclaimer that manufacturers often use the same prints on different fabrics within a collection, to make coordinating sheers and solids, to use the same print on a blouse and a coat, etc. So really, in my mind this made perfect sense- I reasoned that Fabric Mart had bought some surplus of the dress fabric from Ann Taylor or whatever, and the Denver Fabrics had bought up the surplus of the coordinating lining.

Okay, so now to the punchline, which you should all be able to guess by now. I received the fabrics today. They actually came in the same box because I had them shipped to my mom in the US and she repacked them together to ship to me. And I opened the box to discover that…  (say it with me now)…. they’re the SAME FABRIC. Yes. (This explains why my mom called to ask why I ordered two of the same fabric and why one was so much more expensive.  I was like, “Oh, silly sewing-ignorant mother, don’t you know the difference between acetate lining and SILK TWILL? How undiscerning you are in your fabric-ly ways!” As it turns out yet again, my mother is right. She is ALWAYS right.) Here’s pics:

These fabrics are really and truly THE SAME. They have the same drape, they are the same width.  The only way I can tell them apart is that the one from Fabric Mart has a sticker on one corner that proclaims “SILK TWILL GRID $9.99.” My intuition is that this is not silk, not just because I’m a cynical beeyatch who tends to assume that the world is out to screw her over, but because the fabric doesn’t feel luscious like silk to me. Those fibers coming off the cut edge have the resilient bounce of a synthetic, not the yielding limpness of silk. Then again, I rarely sew with pure silk, so I’m not really an expert on it. The fabric has no scent at all. If I crush it in my hand, it does not retain wrinkles. If I picked this up at a store, I would guess it was a polyester or nylon lining.

Anyway, feeling pretty grumbly and still harboring the hope that one was a silk and the other a synthetic and they just happened to look and feel exactly the same (why that would be a good thing, I don’t know), I decided it was time for a burn test.

I pulled a few threads from each, and did a burn test that revealed that I have no idea how to read a burn test. Seriously. I will say that the two samples did the same thing.  They sort of balled up where the flame hit them, leaving behind a little black knob that crumbled in a “crunchy” way when I smooshed it. I couldn’t tell whether any melting was happening. The smell is supposed to be very revealing, as silk is supposed to smell like burning hair, whereas acetate is supposed to smell like burning wood chips. Honestly, it all smelled like burning match.  Maybe ever so slightly like peanut shells. I subsequently cut little squares of each, as well as of some silk dupioni and rayon lining and proceeded to nearly set my house on fire repeatedly. The rayon lining definitely didn’t ball up so I think I can count that out, but the others did, and they all just smelled like smoke. Also, my lungs feel kind of fried now.

So, anyone have any advice about how to figure this one out? Or has anyone more knowledgeable purchased this fabric from Fabric Mart and feel pretty convinced that it is what it claims to be? Either I got an amazing deal from Denver Fabrics, or Fabric Mart has incorrectly identified this as silk and I’m going to have to write them some email. In any case, I now have a LOT of this stuff.



fzbhlkmcvlk!! dfg;jaoic.c. Crazy prints hippie skirt petticoat sloppy hat blanket??!! dfgkjnazerw dfoibhjrg:

kjnxzoisdr908t45 ;xclv monkey fur caveman vest bedsheet Hammer pants my eyes on fire WHATTA??! jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj:

dfiumxcds g9b Grammy’s blazer + lace cardigan love child scarf as skirt hiking socks and goats holy whatta flkjmzofpdi:

lfdkjgnoi Burda dfgjklnxcl every stash fabric from the 90s sdfkj kkkikikikkiiiik:


Okay. I think I got that out of my system. “Folklore Furor” indeed. The folklore of stashbusting, obviously.

Ahhh. Classic trenches. I feel better now.

Nice :) I’ll want to see the technical drawings to see if this is fitted the way I like my trenches to be, but doesn’t that look great?

I think this has huge potential on account of the interesting and elegant seaming. I think it takes a certain kind of chic that I do not possess to pull off the proto-sleeve thingies, so I’d probably opt out of those.

I do not love these, but after the Folklore debacle, I will not get upset with you if you do:

Note that the skirt in the latter photo appears to be the bottom half of the funky sleeve dress. I do like the skirt. I am GREATLY DISPLEASED about the reemergence of the dreaded WHITE TIGHTS. Whatta.

This worries me:

Why?  Because of this:

That’s the dreaded ruffle overload blouse from a 1981 issue of Burda, and it looks like 2010 Burda is treading some dangerous waters again.

I am feeling pretty good about this cute coat, though I am a little wary because we’re only seeing the back of it for now:

I’m not sure what those metal discs are along the side seam.  Anyone have any ideas?

Plus size wearers, once again you’re off the hook. You get lovely wearable classics with pretty details again.

Love the gathered neckline on that one, and the interesting-without-being-crazy sleeves. (What’s that kind of sleeve called again?  It’s sort of like the opposite of a leg-of-mutton sleeve, but I forget the name.)

And you get a classic trench as well:

And for better or for worse, crafts are back in the preview! Including some cracked-out foraged wood scrap trophies. I know that button eyes are all quaint and old-fashioned, but they scare the bejeezus out of me:

And this little leather bow thing in case you actually need the instructions to make this:

Anyway, I apologize for my earlier bout of incoherence and insanity. Burda just throws me for a loop sometimes.  A seriously crazy loop. Fingers crossed for some really awesome technical drawings. I need to go rest my eyes now.

… clowns!  Yep, we got a hint of them in this month’s issue of BurdaMag:

It turns out that this is no mere one-off clown sighting, but the beginnings of a full-blown clown fad!  Check it out. I just wandered over to check out the “New Arrivals” section at Fabric Mart, and discovered this cheerful polka dot cotton:

With this awesome description:

    This bright red with white polka dots is 100% cotton from Robert Kaufman. It is light to medium weight and has a smooth soft hand. Use it in quilting and decorating projects. Polka dots are perfect for the bow tie on all clown costumes.

That’s the main selling point they’re going with for this fabric. Perfect for clown costumes! ALL clown costumes, ladies.  ALL. No matter which clown costume(s) you’re planning for your autumn wardrobe, the bow tie must be perfectly polka dotted. Don’t want to look like you’re wearing last year’s clown attire, after all.

Stay tuned for more cutting edge fashion updates. Aren’t you glad the Selfish Seamstress is helping you stay on top the trends? She’s nothing if not totally in touch. Forget beige and draping and whatever else you’ve been seeing on the runways- the new buzz is CLOWN and I’m hopping on this super tiny yet surprisingly crowded and raucous bandwagon. Off to look for some big shoes now…

Slow progress is being made on the BurdaStyle book coat– I managed to cut out all of the outer pieces yesterday and get started on assembling it. But as I mentioned previously, the fact that this feels like S.W.A.G. sewing rather than selfish sewing means I’m not particularly driven and am dragging my feet. (This, incidentally, is through no fault of the BurdaStyle folks who have been great, or the project, which is a fantastic opportunity. Rather it is the direct result of the Selfish Seamstress having a particular tendency towards whining and self pity, even when they are not appropriate to the situation.)

As is often the case when I get tied up in any sort of S.W.A.G.-ish sewing, I start fantasizing about all the stuff I would make were I not S.W.A.G.-bound. And this dress from Burda 12.2006 is my latest obsession:

I’m sure the first time I saw this dress, I had a serious WTF moment. It’s so over the top, it’s so tacky, it’s so ridiculous. Dare I say… ugly? Oh, the black moiré (when was the last time you saw someone wearing moiré in real life?? I’ll tell you the last time I saw that- it was on the gown of one of the parents in the party scene when I was in a production of the Nutcracker at the age of 10. I’m pretty sure I thought to myself, “Man, I can’t wait until I’m a grownup and can wear moiré too!”). Also, the iridescent purple bow, the high ruffled collar, contrast bib, and sleeveless bodice. All together, it’s the female equivalent of a Chippendale dancer costume, or perhaps the uniform of a cocktail waitress at a seedy casino in the 1980s. Who on earth would wear such a dress? Well, as it turns out, I am strongly suspecting that I would, which is why I went to some lengths recently to acquire the 12.2006 issue of Burda from German eBay. Just not quite like this.

I think tux styling is a bit like animal print, ruffles, or metallic leather. A hint of it can be elegant and ladylike. Push it a little further and it can be edgy and daring. But push it a little bit further over that very thin line and suddenly you’re splat in the middle of Tackyland, which is where I believe the moiré dress above resides. TOO TUX-Y. (Side note, wouldn’t Tackyland be the greatest amusement park ever?)

But look what you get when you strip down some of the bells and whistles and craziness, and stop trying to force it to be a lady tux, and instead just a pretty dress with some tux-inspired details:

Lots and lots of cute potential! Imagine it all in one color- maybe a lightweight brown sateen (sooo Zara) or a pale yellow lawn. Or navy with tiny white pin dots and white accents. Or the whole top in ecru with the waistband and skirt in black. Or plum batiste on top with businesslike gray wool for the skirt?

Myself, I’m thinking the whole dress in white poplin with the tie at the neck, buttons, and waistband in black, minus the bow at the waist. After all, I’m not a 10-year old in the Nutcracker anymore. Or a Chippendale dancer.


Readers, as many of you have pointed out, the most boring and derivative character in the online sewing world is trying to get under my skin (well, and he looooves the massive traffic he gets when I link to him, and he is a total traffic whore). Not much a feat since just about everything gets under the Selfish Seamstress’s skin. But after this week, his public mockery of her lovely vintage cocktail dress, her taste in patterns, her sweet and gentle partner, and now her adoration of the beautiful monarch dress, a work of art by internationally renown and respected Seattle designer Luly Yang, quite frankly, she’s grown bored of him and has decided to turn her attention to her long-awaited Seattle fabric shopping. Yay!

But before she leaves, she has to drop a big big big huuuuuuuge bomb. Ooh, it’s so juicy and delicious and scandalous, she is squealing with delight, and you will too. Prepare to be shocked! Are you ready? Are you?

The BIG REVEAL: Male Pattern Boldness’s model and muse Cathy Lane….

Wait for it

Wait for it

Wait for it

is actually PETER!!!!! That’s right, she’s a DUDE! Peter IS Cathy!  Wearing garish makeup and thrift store wigs and questionable polyester dresses!

I know, I know this is a huge shock. He pulled the wool over my eyes for a while too. I myself was shocked when I figured it out. But think about it… the genetic probability of physically identical cousins is infinitesimally small, you never see them in the same place, and… well… duh?

That’s right- he’s been deceiving all of us all along. Ordinarily the Selfish Seamstress would have respect for people’s personal identity issues (eh, maybe not), but in light of all of the recent attacks, she felt she had to bring out the big guns and hit where it hurts. Peter had better watch his/her back because you never know what kind of dirt the Selfish Seamstress has on you.

You heard it here first! I’m off to shop. Byeeee!

See this gorgeous vintage McCall 3788 pattern that was listed on eBay until yesterday evening?  Designed by Givenchy, size 12, Hepburn-esque, miraculously uncut and unused, and one of the holy grail patterns of 1950s vintage pattern lovers?

Oh, I had my eye on it. I’ve loved this gown for years. I was ready to give it a good home. And I wasn’t about to give any of you any ideas. And then some jerk went and did this:

Which one of you metherfeckers was it?  $227.50?!  Well, I guess it takes at least two people to get a bid up that high, so the question is which oneS of you jerks did this?  Huh?  ‘Fess up, readers. I know the culprit is out there.  Who dares to get in the way of the Selfish Seamstress when she wants something????

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I went ahead and started the sleeves on my Camicia #9 from La Mia Boutique, and look at this travesty!

See the disapproving look I am giving you? I can only assume that this horrible sticky-uppy throwback to 1983 is also the fault of one of you out there. How else could this sleeve have gotten so ugly without some sort of sabotage involved? So what if that’s illogical?  I am angry at you today.  At ALL OF YOU! Obviously this, like everything else in the world, is NOT MY FAULT. So who did this? Was it Beangirl? She’s the first person who jumps to mind. Whoever it is, you’d better watch yourself, because you do NOT want the Selfish Seamstress for your enemy. (Also, you don’t want her for a friend either because she’s kind of attention hungry and has a number of other annoying habits like referring to herself in the third person and never taking responsibility for her mistakes.)

Anyway, someone had better claim responsibility for this mess, or I am going to come to all of your houses and set fire to all of your Burdas.

I stumbled upon this image of a Banana Republic polka dot skirt a couple of nights ago and was tickled at the navy dots with yellow combination. Fortunately for me, I had some fabric in a nearly identical print (though not a nearly identical weight) in my stash.

I downloaded BurdaStyle’s free Twinkle by Wenlan A-Plus A-Line skirt pattern, and was off! Oh, I wish I had a cute yellow cardigan now, but as I do not, I’ll model it with my lemony shoes:

The skirt has a front and back yoke, and a couple of pleats down the front.

The back of the skirt is plain:

I cut the yoke on the bias to mix the dots up a little so it wouldn’t be vertical stripes of dots the whole way up. The fabric is a heavy cotton (I believe the Banana Republic one is a lightweight cotton silk blend.), about the weight of cotton duck, and it’s cut a non-stretch ribbed weave:

I used a vintage white metal zipper on the side and some white rayon lining, leftover from the Guggenheim Coat.

My New Love

Best of all, I have no idea how I remembered this, but I found some navy lace hem tape in my sewing box. I don’t know how I ended up with this, but I’m guessing it was probably in a sack of random notions I found at a thrift shop ten years ago or something. Have you ever used this stuff?  I hadn’t until yesterday, and now I am IN LOVE! (That’s right, Dan was away for about 10 hours before I found a new object of devotion and affection.)

I handstitched  the lace to the edge of the skirt, and then I did an invisible hem along the edge of the lace, also by hand:

And not only does this make it pretty on the inside, it makes the hem sooooo invisible on the outside!

Look, ma, no hem! The zero-bulk of the lace means that the invisible stitches are really truly invisible and there’s no line where the edge of the fabric is attached. I’m going to be buying a LOT more of this stuff.

The Gripe (stop reading here if all you want is the warm, fuzzy side of the skirt story and don’t feel like hearing me complain yet again):

Because The Selfish Seamstress can always find something to grumble about, I do have a gripe with this pattern. I love the style and the fit was great (I made the size 0, and I didn’t edit a thing except to shorten it at the hem). But the pattern was FIFTY-ONE pages. It took more than a tenth of a ream of paper to print out a simple skirt pattern. (If I were to mention this on BurdaStyle, I would undoubtedly be assaulted with a firestorm of “Stop complaining, it’s free, and if you don’t like it, shut up and don’t download it!” type responses. I do love BurdaStyle, but a lot of people there sure seem to love picking fights.) But seriously, it’s not that I’m too lazy to do the work of taping it together or too cheap to buy paper. But I don’t care for the resulting resource waste:

Moreover, the pattern itself uses sooooo much more paper than it has to because the skirt front and back are not drafted on the fold! Instead of creating half of a skirt front and half of a skirt back and instructing the sewer to cut it on the fold, the pattern includes an entire skirt front and an entire skirt back meant to be cut on a single layer of the fabric, even though there’s no reason not to cut it on the fold. Also, the drafting is slightly off so the skirt pieces aren’t quite symmetrical down the center. If one were to use the pattern as drafted, one would actually end up with a less symmetrical end product than if one were to cut it on the fold. I folded them down the middle to figure out why my polka dots weren’t lining up quite right and found this with both pieces:

See how the sides aren’t drafted the same, and the hem isn’t quite symmetrical either?  I went back and shaved off the overhang so it was symmetrical and then my dots matched up after that.

I discovered this after also finding that the Sidonie skirt pattern used 26 pieces of paper because they included separate pattern pieces for the skirt and the skirt lining, even though they are exactly the same with the exception of a 1 5/8″ hem allowance on the skirt and a different grain marking.

Each of these patterns used nearly twice as much paper as they should have. I realize that they are patterns intended to appeal to the beginner sewer, and pattern companies assume less and less sewing knowledge as time goes on, and do more and more hand holding with patterns and instructions. But I think even a beginner can handle a very simple concept like cutting on the fold. Are the pattern producers worried that a beginner, confronted with only half of a skirt front pattern and asked to double it in a symmetrical fashion would misunderstand and put zippers on both side seams??

Anyway, this may seem like a petty gripe, but the truth is that task of assembling printed patterns doesn’t annoy me, even if it takes an hour an a half. What bugs me is that the assumption that even the most basic of sewing techniques, such as cutting on the fold, will be too challenging and discouraging for a beginner and the resulting repeated lowering of the bar (do we really have that little faith in people’s abilities and motivation?), combined with unnecessary environmental wastefulness which seems to run so very counter to the reasons why so many of the new generation of home sewers are attracted to making the idea of making their own clothes in the first place.

Oh well, I can’t say I didn’t get a fun skirt out of it :)

First of all, the technical drawings are now online for the 7.2010 BurdaMag.  And the issue is continuing to look very good.

Better still, they’ve got some new images for the finished garments, and that “Campus Style” feature just keeps getting better and better. By which I mean taller and taller. Remember the image from the early preview from last week in which we all had a good chuckle about the tall hot professor surrounded by her preppy elfin male students?  Why, Professor Burda, you’re beautiful!

Well, it would appear that in the final cut, Professor Burda has only grown more towering!

Those young men barely reach the big floppy bow of her pristine white blouse. She’s got to be about 7 feet tall here, right? As a professor herself, the Selfish Seamstress can say that this is not what she looks like when chatting with her students. Then again, she doesn’t teach Advanced Barbershop Quartet courses like Professor Burda apparently does.

I hope we see more of Professor Burda in the future though- maybe next time she’ll be doing something like this:

And with an unusual figure like that, you know she’s got to be sewing for herself.

Even during somber events, it’s inevitable that Dan and I find moments of levity. This was certainly the case today, when Dan so kindly modeled his sartorial masterpiece from his junior high home economics class, which has been buried in his parents’ house from the past decade and a half. Why it is he hasn’t been wearing it all along is a mystery to me. After all, isn’t early 1990s Long Island middle school fashion the epitome of chic?

There it is in all of its delightful buffalo plaid flannel sleeveless goodness! As I examined the garment in all of its crooked-seamed and minimally-finished glory, I did notice that it had a rather impressive button placket down the front with some slightly wonky but impressively capable buttonholes, a skill that I would have thought would be beyond the scope of an 8th grade home ec course. I complimented him on this achievement, and he said that “it came with that.” Turns out the shirt was some sort of kit from a company called Pineapple Appeal (still around today, but alas the plaid flannel sleeveless sack is no longer available!) Home ec for slackers! I guess the shirt came partially (or completely) cut and partly assembled and then it was up to the 13-year olds to polish it off into the badass fashion you see here:

Oh yeah, did I mention that it came with a sweatshirt hood? Sweet.

I’ve always rather envied Dan because he’s got the sort of build and coloring that allow him to look good in just about anything. As it turns out, there are exceptions. I suggested to Dan that the shirt could possibly be improved with the addition of some sort of saying painted across the back, perhaps “Young hearts run free” or “Live fast, die young” to which he responded, “Why not both?” Perhaps this is a project for another time.

In actuality, Dan’s a pretty able crafter these days, home ec fashion nightmares notwithstanding. He’s not an obsessive freak like his sewing-addicted fiancee, but he knows his way around a sewing machine, and has even been known to unselfishly knit up a pretty pair of felted slippers for the Selfish Seamstress’s perpetually chilly feet:

Or crochet a pillow for her perpetually scheming head:

As you can see, I not only milk him for all he’s worth, but get a little sharp-dressed arm candy in the deal. Now if only we can find his old Z. Cavaricci’s to go with that shirt…

Readers, pardon me if I am treating you like objects that I exploit for my own benefit, but right now you look like one giant collective sewing brain. And I want to pick you.

Remember this skirt? I don’t wear it often. But I put it on today (with a brown fitted v-neck sweater that hit at the high hip and disguised the high-waistedness, and those orange shoes) and it was looking pretty good and I was feeling pretty good.

Until I walked out the door, that is. I hadn’t been out of the house for more than two minutes when I felt the lining riding up. By the time I got to my stop, the whole lining was bunched up around my hips! Fortunately the wool is fairly thick so it wasn’t showing any lumps, and it’s not itchy either. But still, I felt pretty ridiculous.

So tell me, my vast font of sewing knowledge, is there a way to make a fitted lined skirt such that this doesn’t happen? (Corollary: how do you make a pencil skirt that doesn’t twist around your waist when you walk in such a way that when you look down after five minutes, you realize that the side seam is running straight down your middle?) This is a problem for me when a lot of RTW skirts as well, but it miffs me more when something I made myself acts annoying.  Is there a trick to getting the lining to just stay put and not bunch up?

Tell me, oh mighty collective sewing brain!

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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