January Birthday Gown in Deep Garnet Red with Gold Trim and Snowdrop Corsage

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Here’s the 2011 January birthday dress! I had thought about not doing them this year, actually, but then I had an idea for a March one that seemed like it would turn out beautifully, and now I think I will take another shot at completing a set this year. Now that January is finished, all I will have to do is one for February and I’ll be all caught up for at least a whole week!

I’ve got a good feeling about this year. This year may bring a dress for every month, including poor neglected April, July and August (thanks Liz!). For those of you with January birthdays, I am sorry this one is late; speaking of which, I’m sorry that today’s dress is late in general. Well, Sunday isn’t too bad — and for those of you for whom it is already Monday, well, I throw myself on your mercy.

January’s birth flower is the snowdrop, and the birthstone is the garnet. Incidentally, this is the first January dress I’ve done that I really like. (Technically, I liked the previous year’s dress, but it scanned out really badly and you can hardly see the pattern…)

Celtic Gown in Green and Gold with Clovers for St. Patrick’s Day

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Hey, happy St. Patrick’s Day! (As if I need an excuse for a green dress.)

This is a vaguely Celtic-style gown with red and white clover flowers and four-leaf clovers. Unsurprisingly, I like this style of dress, but — not having much familiarity with Celtic or Irish anything — I have no idea if it’s actually based in any sort of Irish historical fact, or if it’s more of a modern creation mainly suited for Renaissance fairs. Things like that bother me more than they should, and I tried to figure it out, but after about 6:00 a sort of feeling of “Whatever, it’ll be pretty, stop fussing over details” comes over me and I just draw what I have… Still, I think I’ll file this one under “fantasy” and not “historical.”

Colored Elf Gown in Blues and Greys with Grey Lavender Edges and Silver Trim

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Emily won my last contest, for guessing that I had had visitors from 115 countries last week, and this was her request: “Can I choose a dress that has already been colored? Because if so I would like the Lord of the Rings elf gown from 10/5/09, but (kind of opposite of how it was colored before) in blues and grays, maybe a bit of very blueish lavender, and silver trim.” I really like how it turned out… hope you do too, Emily! (And don’t worry, trazy, I haven’t forgotten yours! I just want to do it justice, and I’ve messed up on the pattern too many times today…)

In my imagination, the elf who wears this dress and the one who wears today’s dress are good friends. The one who loves bright colors (we’ll call her Cathiel) has, over the years, influenced her friend’s color sense; you can thank her for the purple at the edges of this one, which seems quite muted to her but was a big leap forward for her sober-minded friend, who we’ll call Rhylar. It also means that she can thank her mother and aunt (who, unsurprisingly, disapprove of her style) quite sincerely for their optimistic gifts of pearl grey and clay rose robes: she assures them that she will put them to good use, and she does. They make wonderful gifts for the more conventional Rhylar. They like to find a picturesque spot and practice duets; Cathiel is a middling flutist, while Rhylar is decent on her harp, but a gifted singer. Often the former will lay aside her flute, close her eyes and just listen to her beloved friend sing a song or two, and if part of her attention wanders and she mentally changes Rhylar’s rust-colored gown to a snappy, sunshiny yellow, it only heightens her enjoyment of the scene.

1944 White Apron with Yellow Trim and Pink and Yellow Flower Pattern on Pink Striped Dress

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Janel pointed me to the Commercial Pattern Archive the other day, in the last days of a one-week free trial, and until the gates were closed I spent hours saving pattern images to my computer and posting excited tweets about the experience. Just like the name says, it’s an attempt to preserve patterns, but the exciting thing for me is just how nicely it’s organized. You see, I’m always listening to audiobooks, figuring out when the story is set and then looking frantically for clothes made not in that time period, not in that decade but in that year. This usually involves a few Google Image searches, a trip through my bookmarks (stored as regular bookmarks, on del.icio.us and in random drafts in my gmail account), and long, windy trails of clicking and then forgetting the location of this or that image I meant to save. This is all my fault, because I’m not organized, and so that’s what makes this site so nice. I say “My book is set in 1921,” click and feast my eyes. Now, is it nice enough that I’d pay $120 a year for it? No, I’m afraid not. Happily, Erin from A Dress A Day has set up a COPA co-op, and I’m in as soon as I know where to send the check.

In the meantime, I sure did save some pretty patterns. This apron is from 1944, and I just adore it, especially that entirely useless little ruffly bit at the hem. The dress underneath is just a basic dress, just the same look and shape as one of the ones on the pattern front, so it should be reasonably correct for the 1940s. Also of note is my late 1800s illustration collection – some day soon when I am alert and not busy and have good lighting I want to do a crazy, flowered, ruffly ballgown or two from that era.