Last Tuesday I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and I did feel pretty darned crappy. I’ve been on antibiotics, plus two different inhalers and a steroid, and today I’m feeling pretty good. It used to feel like my left lung was a garage for a small red-hot brick with sharp edges that cut me every time I breathed. Very uncomfortable. And my temperature fluctuated between 100.6 and 102.4. I’m much better today. A little tired, because I’ve been running around getting stuff ready for the Annual Reader & Author Get Together next weekend, but definitely on the mend.
My friend Jess and I have been getting goodies together for the raffle basket we’re donating. It will contain a handknit shawl, the 1st two After the Crash books in paperback, some chocolates, a nook simple touch ereader with a handsewn cover, a gift card to Barnes & Noble and the basket itself is a hand woven purse from South America.
Lots still to do, but we’re not leaving until Wednesday morning. Best thing? I’m on vacation now until Wed June 6!
I’m going to a Murder Mystery party in a few weeks, and the theme is Babes, Bootleg and Bodies. We’re all being asked to dress in the style of the 1920s. I don’t have a pattern, but the styles of the 1920s are based on a simple, straight sillouette. It’s the fantastic beading that makes a dress stand out. Well, I haven’t the money or time for fancy beading, but I can eyeball a dress and figure out the basic pattern. And since I’m not the only one to ever need a pattern for a dress like this I thought I’d share the quick and dirty directions that I came up with. I’m not a professional costume designer, and these directions are basic, so I’m not guaranteeing a perfect end product. But maybe these will help.
First, get some measurements.
A = widest part of your body + 3 inches divided by 4.
On me, that’s my bust. For you it might be your hips. So if your widest is 43 inches, add 3 (a total of 46) divide that by 4 and you have 11.5. Your “A” measurement is 11.5.
B = Distance from top of shoulder to where the hem will be (usually about the knee) + 3.
If your measurement from the top of your shoulder to your knee is 42 inches, add 3 for a total of 45. Your “B” is 45. This determines how much fabric you need. Multiply B by 2. You will need 90 inches, or 2.5 yards.
C = Distance around arm, divided by 2.
Measure from the top of your shoulder, through the armpit, and back to the shoulder, snugly. If this is 20 inches, divide by 2. Your “C” is 10.
D = Distance from the center back neck to end of shoulder.
Find the little bony bump at the base of the back of your neck and measure to where you want the outside of the shoulder of the dress to be. On mine, I wish I would have not gone so far out. I may trim that and re-sew it if I have time.
E = Top of Shoulder to Neckline
Measure from the top of your shoulder, down your chest to where you want neckline of your dress to hit. In the 1920s some necklines were very deep, some were very modest. Please yourself.
Cut the Dress Out
- Fold your fabric lengthwise, selvedge to selvedge (that’s the woven sides, not the cut ones) with the right side of the fabric inside.
- Fold again crosswise (in quarters) so the cut ends are together. It’s like folding paper to make paper dolls. If you haven’t done this before, it might be a good idea to get a piece of paper and practice the next few steps in miniature.
- The fabric should now equal measurement “A”. The top fold will be the shoulders of the dress. Use a pin or chalk to mark the shoulder fold. Open the fabric again so the selvedges are still together
Mark and Cut Out Neckline
- See the pin or chalk mark you just made? Let’s call that the shoulder. Measure 1 inch above the shoulder and use a pin or chalk to mark the back of the neck.
- Measure 6 inches away from the fold. Mark.
- Measure “E” from Shoulder. Mark.
Now you can decide if you want a V neck, a square neck or a round neck. Use chalk or pins to trace neck and cut. yay! You have a neck hole! Re-fold the fabric again in quarters so the cut edges are together.
Mark and Cut Out Dress Body
- From body fold, measure along shoulder fold the distance of “D”. Mark. (actually, since you’ve alread ycut out your neckline, you have to estimate where the body fold would be. Shouldn’t be too hard tho) From shoulder fold, measure down ”C”. Mark.
- Measure “A” from fold near the cut edges , mark. Continue to mark “A” at 6 inch intervals as you go up. When you get to “C”, curve inward until you meet “D”.
- Cut out dress.
- Use seam binding (purchased or self-made) to bind the neck edge.
- Make a narrow hem in arm opening.
- Fold the dress right sides together and sew the side seams.
- Turn up 1 inch hem and sew.
Note: I chose to do an asymmetrical hemline.
Embellish the Dress
Here’s the fun part. Let your imagination go. Make a sash. Add glitz. Fringe, beads, feathers, braids and trims were all used lavishly in the 1920s. Here are a few pics of actual dresses from the 1920s to give you some ideas.
Hello, all! As May goes on, I’m getting more and more excited about the Annual Reader & Author Get Together. I spent several hours today with my friend Jessica sewing her 1920s dancing dress for the murder mystery party at Duffy Brown’s. We’re nearly done with it. Next weekend I’ll make mine.
On the writing front, I’ve been working hard on Eddie’s Prize, the story of model Lisa Anton and Eddie Madison, the son of the mayor of Kearney. For some reason this book has more love scenes in it already than the others, and I’m only half done. I’m just about to write another love scene and I’m not sure how it’s going to go. Eddie had just read an old magazine article about Lisa’s love life in 2064 and he’s jealous. The next minute he sees Lisa crying on a bench with one of his friends close beside her, comforting her. Eddie sees red. He drags Lisa home and makes furious love to her, to show her who her husband is. Lisa loves it. She has to, otherwise it’s not really a romance, is it? But that’s the beginning of their marriage problems. Eddie doesn’t trust her. The scene I’m really looking forward to is when she decides she’s had enough and leaves him to go live with Taye’s Pack.
Also, Sherry’s Wolf is out all over now. (Except Barnes & Noble, grr.) It’s free everywhere except at Amazon. They don’t allow books to be priced at free unless it’s a publisher loading the book. So I had to price it at $0.99. I put a note at the bottom of the description saying the story was available elsewhere for free, but some people are paying for it anyway. There’s a link on the page at the bottom of the product details section where people can report a lower price and hopefully Amazon will match it. If any of you could take a few minutes to report the lower price at one of the sites below maybe Amazon would make Sherry’s Wolf free. Please don’t feel you must. Only if you want to. I meant this story to be a thank you gift to my readers, and it doesn’t seem very grateful to charge for a gift.
ETA: Never mind! Looks like Amazon has dropped the price to $0.00! Thanks, everyone. who went to report the lower price. IT WORKED!
Oh, and I wrote the first chapter of Ellie and Quill’s book. I hope you enjoy Wolfs-Prize in its raw state. I imagine I’ll do some significant editing to this. I might even scrap it all together, but I haven’t shared much lately, so here you go.
That’s all for now, folks! For you moms reading this, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day.
The Annual Reader & Author Get Together that is hosted each year by Lori Foster in the Cincinnati area is coming up in only 25 days! Each year there are fantastic raffle baskets for people to bid on. My friend Jessica and I are putting together a basket that will contain some goodies for a romance reader: a B&N nook with a hand sewn cover, paperbacks of my books Sleeping With the Wolf and Wolf’s Glory, a B&B gift card, and a hand knit shawlette. We’re not sure what else to put in it.
You readers, what else would make a raffle basket interesting enough for you to buy a ticket for it?
Before I started my second careeer as a writer, I sewed quite a lot of garb for myself and friends. I went to be part of a panel about the SCA at the sci-fy convention Core Con today, and had to wear something bling-y. That is, something eye-catching that showed off what we do in the SCA. I had a terrible time finding something to wear!
I couldn’t wear this blue/pink shot silk dress from 1530 Florence this because I gave it away.
I couldn’t wear this Indian dress because it isn’t really historically accurate. It’s the only one I didn’t sew myself.
This Viking Apron dress was out because the last time I wore it it got badly stained. Fine for camping, but not for a show-off opportunity.
I decided against this velvet dress from 1535 Florence Italy because it takes 2 people to get me into it, it’s an extremely tight fit and it’s hot to wear.
And this one was impossible because it isn’t finished yet. I’m stumped by it. I can’t fit the bodice no matter what and I’m too lazy to actually try to rip it out and start over.
So I wore this one. Purple and silver Byzantine silk/blend brocade.
You know what this means? I need to sew some more garb. Something that will wow the audience but is comfortable to wear, easy to put on and doesn’t weigh a ton.
Does this ever happen to you? The laundry pile has turned into Mount Washmore, the livingroom is in dire need of vaccuuming, last night’s supper dishes are still piled in the sink, there are errands that need to be run, but instead of doing all those chores you sit yourself down with a (virtual) stack of books and read to your little heart’s content. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that.
In the last few days I’ve read about half a dozen books and novellas. Sometimes I go on a reading spree and ignore everything else that I should be doing. Since I’m single and don’t have children to look after (I don’t count the cats, they take care of themselves pretty well), I can get away with that. But when I finally emerge from my reading orgy I find that the laundry still isn’t done, the dishes are still piled in the sink and the livingroom is still a disaster. Worse, I’ve made no progress on the story I’m writing. I guess that means I better get going on Eddie and Lisa’s story. To wet your appetites, here’s a snip from Chapter One, when Lisa and Carla are brought to Kearney.
The usual things apply. This is unedited, unpolished, and may change a little during editing.
Inside the wall the scenery went from urban disaster to country sprawl. It was pretty. This is what she had expected from the walled fortress she and Carla had found this morning. There was tall meadow grass growing on either side of the road, and a big white Victorian house with pillars guarding its veranda at the end of the gravel drive. Some smaller houses were there too, and a barn and some other buildings that looked well maintained. The wagon rumbled down the drive to the rear of the house. A couple men came out onto the wide covered porch. The wagon stopped about ten yards from the house. One of the men, big-bellied with brown hair and a grizzled graying beard came down to talk to their farmer escort. Mayor Madison? Yes, the farmer called him Mayor. Lisa thought he looked like a beer-bellied, aging hippy with a hangover. Carla stood up and swung herself over the side of the wagon, landing on the dirt driveway with easy grace. Lisa doubted she could do that even if her feet hadn’t been killing her.
The second man flowed down the steps with the lithe grace of a cat and when the sun hit him Lisa caught her breath. His hair was golden, flowing in smooth waves to his shoulders. His face was elegant, sun-kissed to a creamy golden tan, perfect in each clear-cut feature. As a model, Lisa had worked with many handsome men, but none of them could top this one. Such beautiful blue-green eyes with dark lush lashes shouldn’t belong to a man. Or that wide, gracefully curving kissable mouth. He could almost be called pretty, except that his jaw was hard, his chin square and his shoulders broad. He came and stood beside the wagon. For once she didn’t notice a single thing that could be enhanced in the appearance of someone she was meeting for the first time. He was a golden god. Lisa stared, besotted, into his beautiful, dark-lashed eyes until she heard Carla snort. Then she blinked and blushed, and saw him do the same.
“Can I help you down?” asked the golden god in a low, quiet voice.
“Oh,” Lisa began, but before she could say anything else he stepped up on the wheel axle, put his hands on her waist and lifted her without effort to the ground. She stifled her gasp of pain when he put her on her feet. “Thank you.”
“Are you hurt?” he asked with quick concern.
The concern warmed her, but Lisa hurried to brush it off. “No, just a little sore.” She could have stared at him all day, but she tried to act her age. She extended her hand. “Hi, I’m Lisa Anton. And this is Carla Zimmerman.”
He nodded politely at Carla and turned his eyes back to Lisa, taking her hand like it was breakable, spun glass. “Eddie Madison. Pleased to meet you.” He seemed to have to force himself to look back at Carla. “Pleased to meet you both.”
Carla nodded back distractedly, apparently more interested in the conversation between the bearded aging hippy and the farmers than this Greek god come to life. There was a line between her brows as she looked from their escort to Mayor Madison. The golden god was listening too, so Lisa tried to focus.
Skinny? The mayor was gesturing at her, saying something about her being skin and bones? And Carla too? Carla was by no means obese, but she was at least twenty pounds too heavy for her height. Lisa tried to follow the conversation, but all she could grasp was that the farmers were talking about her and Carla like they were used cars they were trying to sell to a skeptical buyer. And the buyer kept pointing out flaws like he was trying to get the price dropped down.
“Hey!” said Carla loudly. “We need help. The plane we were in crashed. People are hurt. They need to get to a hospital.”
All the men—and some more had drifted over from the houses—stared at her. The mayor pointed triumphantly at Carla. “And they’re crazy!” he shouted at the farmers, as if that were a clinching argument.
“They’re fertile,” the farmer countered, “and still young enough to have twenty years of child bearing ahead.”
Lisa blinked. The words floated over the top of her mind before sinking in. “What?” she gasped.
“The blonde is too skinny to be fertile,” the mayor argued.
The farmer responded but Lisa didn’t hear it because the golden god had put his hand on her arm and whispered, “I don’t mind that you’re skinny. I’ll see that you have plenty of food so you can fatten up.”
Lisa pulled her arm away, half-offended, and caught up with the conversation. “Eddie,” the mayor said, “why don’t ya take them gals up to the porch where they can set in the shade. Fetch them some water, too. They’re probably thirsty from the drive into town.”
“Sure, dad,” Eddie said, reaching for Lisa’s arm again.
The farmer grabbed Lisa before Eddie could, and jerked her away so violently that she stumbled on her aching feet and almost fell. “They can stay put until we finish our business.”
Eddie’s beautiful face was hard and angry. “You be careful with her. You wouldn’t want to damage the merchandise,” he added sarcastically.
Carla was looking like she couldn’t believe her ears. “Didn’t you hear me?” she yelled. “I said, there’s been a plane crash and people need medical help!”
Eddie’s dad looked over at her with a serious expression. “Don’t you worry, little lady, we’ll discuss that as soon as these gentlemen and I finish our talk. I promise, we’ll figure out what’s best to do.”
Lisa stood next to Carla beside the wagon, listening in disbelief as the farmers sold them to Eddie’s dad. The other men who had come out to see what was going on began filing back and forth, carrying bundles and boxes from one of the barns to the wagon. Carla was stiff with anger, her arms folded over her chest, her large handbag hanging from one elbow. “The going price for two fertile women?” she hissed sarcastically to Lisa. “Fifty pounds of coffee, a hundred pounds of sugar and a chunk of salt. Are you insulted? I am. I’m worth at least twice that.”
Lisa nodded numbly. She’d always thought religious people were trustworthy. But these guys really were some sort of weird cult. She and Carla were just lucky the cultists hadn’t done something worse than sell them to the mayor of the neighboring town. She watched the Odessa men turn the wagon and head away from the house.