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Hello all,

Perhaps you’ve noticed a lack of posts recently. Perhaps you’ve been too enomoured of the changing seasons to even notice. Perhaps my ego’s puffed up enough to assume anyone actually notices anything about a particular website before immediately clicking on to the next series of animated GIFs (featuring kitties, of course). Of late time has become a more precious commodity, due to the slowly dwindling amount of daylight to burn, the toll of the daily grind, and what I’ll loosely refer to as ‘The Saturn Return’. Mark Twain said it best when he wrote, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” I’d hate to think of this site as work, and, for now at least, will limit Free Pattern Fridays to a vague schedule of every other week-ish, or whenever I find a genuinely exellent pattern to write about and share.

So much for the ‘bad news’; on to the good: this week’s patternsssssss(plural) include a most delightful removable Peter Pan collar, a dainty belt, wee rosebud jewelry, and a change purse. The change purse (or ‘compact cover’, to hide the shameful fact you powder your nose) I could live without, but who knows, perhaps someone on your holiday gift list has been dying for some way to keep their loose change just like the folks on ‘Mad Men’.

(Here’s what’s on the table this week.)

Fuzzy Wuzzy is an undignified name for a yarn.

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This week’s pattern, the stripey number on the left, is again from Holiday Handknits, the 60s wonder that keeps on giving. It isn’t just a quick-knit dress to greet the nicer weather with, it also teaches you how to project yourself into other people’s photos and hover several inches off the ground!

(The first tip-off was the hard-lined hair.)

Also the hoverfoot.

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This will be the last Free Pattern Friday for the next two weeks -I’m blowing this popsicle stand and heading to the Eternal City. That’s right, I’m going on spring break in ROME! SPRING BREAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAK,YEAH! I’ll either be getting very rowdy or face existential crises while looking my sharpest. Why Rome? It’s got the most history crammed into the smallest space for your euro, plus they have way better coffee than Paris.

For anyone else gearing up for a visit, do not do what I did and watch the following movies:

‘Mamma Roma’ (Pier Paolo Passolini) – a bleak tale of a mother willing to sacrifice everything for love of her son in poor, postwar Rome. It does not go so well.

‘The Bicycle Theif’ (Vittorio DeSica) – a bleak tale of one man’s quest to get back the bicycle on which his and his family’s livelihood depends. It does not go so well.

‘La Strada’ (Frederico Fellini) – a naîve young girl joins a man in a traveling roadshow, bearing his many cruelties. It does not go so well.

“La Dolce Vida’ (Frederico Fellini) – a jaded newspaper writer hangs out with a bunch of nihilistic rich hedonists as they try not to stare too hard at the void in their lives. It does not go so well.

Each film painted a more harrowing picture than the next. So instead of a long, dark journey into night, I recommend watching ‘Roman Holiday’, starring the always-charming Audrey Hepburn.

It highlights the beauty of Rome without using it as a backdrop for humanity’s cruelties, though it is sort of bittersweet. This week’s pattern is the sort of dress she might wear if she had another day free to wander. Well, she doesn’t because she’s a princess and they have responsibilities, dammit. But you can whip this up and trot about to your heart’s content!

Molto Bene!

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I’ve become particularly enamored of 1930s patterns for all the delightful reasons the fashion industry recently has: a winning combination of elegance and clean lines with feminine detailing. Of course, it really helps make the look if you’re a tall, slender, small-chested young lady who has nothing better to do all day but drink and drape herself over sofas.

If not, no worries: the styles are surprisingly practical in economy and design as they are fanciful in attention to detail, adding a bit of polish and charm while remaining versatile and comfortable to wear. This week’s pattern is an excellent example: a 3-piece suit for summer designed to keep the wearer cool and looking sharp.

The blouse’s open-back design is alluring without being trampy, cuts down on yarn use and prevents the wearer from overheating while wearing a jacket.

The pattern provided knits up the entire suit; unfortunately there’s not an available picture of the blouse front on its own, but I think you get the idea that it’s adorable.

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Here’s a trim, vaguely military number ready for warm weather. The chevron collar tabs are what sold me on this pattern from Sunglo no. 68, with the wee chevron pocket sealing the deal. What could you possibly fit in there? A pack of Listermints? Three cents? Ah, the frivolty and excess of fashion! Even the sleeves are a tad longer than truly necessary, and could be shortened without sacrificing the vintage look.

SunGlo 00

I recently watched a documentary on the Shakers, a religious group who believed amongst other things that work was a form of worship, and should be done simply and perfectly as God was in the details.

This didn’t mean work had to be hard; far from it, the Shakers invented numerous labor-saving devices to achieve a greater amount in less time, including the circular saw, round barns with ground-level hay loading, and the clothespin. In keeping with this belief, buildings, objects and clothes had no unnecessary ornamentation, but were absolutely practical and beautiful in their usefulness.

The Met has a Shaker room on display in its American wing- to look at it after rooms full of gaudy prints, rococo and baroque carved tables and chairs and yards of swag and drapery, is to see zen calm and peace radiating from smooth wood. It’s very austere, almost to the point of severity, but the care with which everything was put together shines warmly through.

A friend of mine is constantly on the lookout for the most basic of striped t-shirts: regular crew neck, stripes between 1/2-1 1/2 inches, preferably in non-neon colors. Somehow, they’re impossible to find. Either they have a v-neck, some weird patch sewn on, paint splatters with skulls and swirls screened over, the stripes have some fake distressed look, something. Every designer feels the need to add their little bit of flair to what is already a perfect design, ruining it from simple perfection. So it is with much of fashion, taking something that is clean and austere and slapping on a frill or tuck.

At the same time, those tiny details can occasionally enhance a basic outline, bringing out its shape more clearly, drawing attention to neat construction. So I hope it is with this pattern, that despite the inherent silliness of a useless pocket, overall the shirt is simple, yet pleasing.

Enough of the philosopy, make with the pattern already.

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