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.

1940s wedding dress (because I’m bitter about Liz Patterson)

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So, I follow For Better or for Worse, even though my husband says “If you don’t like it, why do you read it?” And I don’t know why. I don’t like Anthony. I don’t really like Liz all that much anymore. And when, in a piece of hamfisted foreshadowing, Dee found a boxed 1940s wedding dress found behind a rock in a crawlspace, I didn’t really like that either, especially because it was obvious it would clean up as good as new and that it would fit Liz perfectly. But what the heck, I can suspend emotion and reason to appreciate a good dress, and even if I, like srah, would just as soon see Liz run off at the altar, I can deal with seeing her married there if she is wearing a half-decent gown. And then we saw what that moldy old dress looked like.

I don’t like it. Just look at it, no way it’s a 1940s dress, not with the combination of the neckline and the transparent sleeves. That looks like 1970s to me. See, look at this 1975 pattern illustration. That middle dress looks just like it, with shorter sleeves. (And frankly, if her bridesmaids wore those middle dresses, that would redeem the WHOLE strip for me.) I don’t think it’s really flattering on her, either, I don’t like those sleeves or that huge bustle.

And as I was looking at 1940s and 1970s wedding dresses, I got even more disappointed that hers wasn’t a 1940s dress, and how much fun that would have been to draw, and so I thought, well, I’ll draw one anyways! I based it off of this pattern (and the crown off of this one) and actually, I chose it because I think it would have looked good on Liz — I think the neckline would have suited the way she wears her hair when it’s down, and I think its relative plainness and sleekness suit her better than the heavily beaded and gauzy dress she got. I don’t think she seems to be a very frou-frouy kind of person: she dresses pretty plainly, usually, and doesn’t seem to have a high-maintenance style, so I think that this design works as long as she has her hair down, to offset the straight lines of the dress. I actually did a sketch of her in this dress. I think it works on her pretty well, although if she was actually going out and buying a dress, it probably wouldn’t be this one. But then again, it wouldn’t be the one she got either.

And actually, some of those 1970s dresses are completely awesome, in a half-ironic half-awestruck way. I mean, even if they look dated and a little goofy, I still love the romantic style and ruffles more than I like everything being strapless and sleek these days. Just try and tell me this gal’s wedding wouldn’t have been an absolute delight.. And I rather like this one far on the right, with modified sleeves… and I totally feel like I shouldn’t love the middle one here but I do. I guess I could get behind Liz’s dress if it was her mom’s dress, but 1940s, yeah right.

Pink and Yellow Chiffon 1940s Evening Gown Via Damn Good Vintage

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Julie the Vintage Goddess linked to me recently and said some very kind things about my dolls. She also buys and sells vintage clothing from her site Damn Good Vintage, so I was looking through her site and her blog for some inspiration when I found this post, “You Can’t Save Them All”. It tells of her attempts to restore two dresses, one of which was too stained to save, and one of which was a yellow and pink chiffon 1940s evening gown that cleaned up nicely, but tore easily and couldn’t be saved either. Well, if there’s one thing paperdolls are good for, it’s to right the wrongs of damage and time. Or to put it simply, Paperdolls 1, Real Life 0.