Words of Fire Dress

This is a fabric design I created using the text from Neil Gaiman’s poem “I will write in words of fire.” I want to make a dress with it, printed on silk, super flowy, with a red underdress. I’ll add it to the project list of things I’ll probably never get around to….

He wrote it for a friend’s tattoo. You can read the story here.

This is the pattern I’m thinking about using for my Neil Gaiman “Words of Fire” print. (Vogue 8360) You can read my review of this dress pattern here: Vogue Dress V8360 ★★★

Which is now famous! In case no one but me noticed, NG himself recently reblogged my fabric design. This is amazing and wonderful to me in SO MANY WAYS. I’m also composing a post (which I may or may not actually release) about hero worship, being a crazy fan-girl, and the perks and dangers there-in.

Back to the dress – I’d probably shorten the hem line to right below the kness, to make it a little less formal, I don’t have many black-tie events in my social calendar these days. I still like the thought of doing an over-dress in Spoonflower’s silk crepe-de-chine, which is fairly see-through, and a more fitted underdress in something red and shiny. Maybe I’ll leave the underbust and the shoulder straps in the plain red, just for detail.

The printed fabric is on silk crepe de chine from Spoonflower. The under dress will be of the red charmeuse. This is my first experience with sewing 100% silk. And yes, its already a pain in the butt. But I think it will ALL BE WORTH IT.


It took me forever, because everything that makes silk beautiful, also makes it extremely difficult to sew with. And I wanted it to turn out perfectly. I got a lovely red silk charmeuse for the underdress, which has more of a shiny satiny appearance.

I used a pattern from Vogue, V8360. But I shortened the hem length to just longer than my knees, to make it a little less formal. I also ended up having to alter the skirt a little bit. I wanted the top layer to be a bit more floaty, so I added some triangle inserts at the side seams of the skirt. That seemed to balance the dress a bit, and added some twirl. I also changed the back from a band with clasps to long silk ties. I can’t decide if I like it better when tied in a bow, or in a simple knot.

The best part is, after finishing this dress, I actually have somewhere to wear it! Neil Gaiman will be coming to my city in North Carolina in September for a literary and story-telling event/tour called Unchained. Which sounds so wonderfully fantastic I don’t yet have the words to say how excited I am.

I love Neil Gaiman dearly, but obviously so does the rest of the world. And he does a lot of really super cool events, in super cool cities, that are almost always far far away from me. Its sad, but the south eastern side of the US doesn’t get a lot of attention from most tour groups. But this tour began in Georgia, and is making a point of hitting lots of places in SC and NC and FL too. They have such an incredible mission, it really touched me. Anyways, I’m rambling. Just go check out their website. I’ll try to put my thoughts into more organized words later, and maybe post it.

The point is, I’m super excited about this event. And I will have a literary themed dress to wear to it. (And I might wear it to the Amanda Palmer concert, because she too is coming to my corner of NC in September. Who knew how wonderfully filled with awesome this fall was going to be?!)

Vogue Dress V8360 ★★★

8lineartThis pattern is weirdly complicated, and not super flattering once I finished it. However, that said, I did change quite a few things about it. And its not perfect for my body type. And in the end, I did quite like what I ended up with, it was just more effort than I thought it would be, and didn’t quite work like I expected.

It claims to have different bodice pieces for different cup sizes, but you shouldn’t trust these. It also required sew in bra cups to really work for me. The skirt also has a lot less fabric and flow than you might expect from the line art.

You can see photos of this dress here: Words of Fire Dress

A Fine and Private Place ★★★★★

I absolutely loved Peter S. Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place. I was first introduced to Beagle as a child, in the form of the animated movie of The Last Unicorn. Ever since then, I can’t resist a book by him. Especially if its sitting on the shelf in a dusty old used book store; which is how I ran into this one.

A Fine and Private Place is the story of an anthrophobic older gentleman who has been living and hiding in a graveyard for the last eighteen years. Jonathan Rebeck has not once crossed the boundaries of the graveyard in nearly two decades. In so completely removing himself from society, Jonathan has found himself able to see and converse with the recently dead characters he finds in his graveyard. A misanthropic raven has befriended him, and brings him food and other survival items he is able to steal out of the nearby city.

The story is also about two recently dead people, Laura and Michael. Both were unhappy and unlucky in love in their lives, and are completely unsure about what to do with themselves in death. Michael is convinced that his wife murdered him. Laura got hit by a city bus, but seems not entirely convinced that she didn’t step out in front of it intentionally. Laura craves the silence and forgetfulness of true death, but can’t seem to reach that inner peace. While Michael is determined not to let go of a single emotion or memory of life, even though Jonathan warns him that all the ghosts forget everything and fade away eventually.

Jonathan reaches out to the outside world for the first time when he encounters a widow visiting the gravesite of her husband. He befriends her, and suddenly finds himself wondering about the normal things again. He worries about his appearance, and wants to impress her, but he still can’t force himself to step beyond the boundaries of his graveyard.

Eventually, Laura and Michael decide that though they couldn’t find love in life, they have found it after death, in each other. They pledge to love each other, for as long as they can remember what love is. But then it is revealed that Michael’s wife has successfully defended herself in court. She is not a murderer, Michael committed suicide. Since Michael was catholic, his body is going to be disinterred, and moved to a non-catholic graveyard. Michael the ghost is tied to his body, and will not be able to stay with Laura in this graveyard. Laura appeals to Jonathan, as the only living person she knows. She wants Jonathan to secretly dig her up, and transport her to the same graveyard Michael now resides in. But Jonathan still can’t leave the graveyard, he can’t find it in himself to even look beyond the gates. Eventually, Jonathan overcomes his fear, and asks his widow friend for help. With the assistance of a strange night guard at the graveyard (who can also see ghosts; Beagle implies it is because he is mentally ill) Jonathan and the widow dig up Laura’s coffin and take it across the city, to bury it in an unmarked grave within the boundaries of the other graveyard.

The moment the truck passes through the gate of the graveyard, Jonathan can no longer see or hear Laura. He knows she is there, but he also knows that he will never be able to go back to his graveyard. It was not the boundaries of the graveyard that gave him this ability, but his removal from living society. He was only half-alive before, and so walked the line between the living and the dead. But now that he has once again begun to care about the future, and interact with the world outside, he has lost that connection to the dead. He will not be able to sense the reunion between the dead lovers, his friends. But he will return with the widow, and begin a new life with her, and be alive again.

I think what really made this book work for me was the quiet and subdued style that Beagle wrote in. It was not full of drama and emotion, even though the actual events were fairly traumatic. But the dead don’t have strong emotions, and a graveyard is a quiet and private place.

I was also struck by the similarities between this graveyard, and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I know Gaiman has said he’s always been a fan of Peter S. Beagle, and I like to think he drew inspiration from this story. Both stories focus on the choices people can make after death, to forget and let go, or to desperately hold onto what made them who they thought they were. Both books show time continuing after death, but not change. The dead are not alive, even if they move and speak, they are frozen in who they were, they cannot change. Life comes through change. Both books also have the unusual perspective of viewing the living world from the outside, from the line between death and life, from inside the graveyard.

In the end, this was a lovely story about overcoming fear, and about living for as long as you can. Not being alive for as long as you can, but about reaching for experiences, and love, and life.

Wallpaper Dress

This is a dress I’m excited to have finished. Its not my usual style, but the pattern was cute, and very simple. Its really only four pieces (front, back, bottom and top) with a few pleats thrown in. The pattern is butterick 5672. And I’ll take any excuse to work with the spoonflower knit, since its so lovely and soft. My favorite part about this dress is the fabric design. Which is, of course, a spoonflower pattern designed by Holli Zollinger. Its also not my usual style, but there’s a specific reason why I chose it.

I reviewed this pattern here: Butterick Sheath Dress B5672 ★★★★

The chameleon circuit in my dress is broken, and now its stuck in that pattern forever!

So I rarely model my own dresses, mostly because I’m too lazy to find someone else to hold the camera. But this time I couldn’t resist.

The exciting secret I referred to in my last post is that soon Spoonflower will also be offering wallpaper! That’s right! Imagine being able to design your own wallpaper. We’re still in beta testing mode, and we haven’t made a big announcement yet. But since Wired already knows, I figured it was okay to tell the world and show off my awesome chameleon dress.

When wallpaper was still in its “alpha testing” stage, we put it up on this tiny bit of wall in the spoonflower offices. Ever since that happened I’ve wanted to make a matching dress, and then stand there and pretend no one can see me. Yes, I might be a dork, its been noted. I even have a tag for posts where exhibit this tendency.

Since there is no audio on this picture, you should know that I’m making that awkward sound that Kronk makes in The Emporer’s New Groove where he’s singing his own theme song and he freezes in front of a wall and pretends no one can see him and even “pauses” his song on a single note. Yeah. You know what I’m talking about.

Butterick Sheath Dress B5672 ★★★★

9lineartThis pattern is actually quite easy to put together. And, if you ignore the hideous fabric which they chose for the cover model, it ends up being quite sophisticated. Even though its not my usual style, I was quite satisfied with the results.

I made the mistake of using a 1-way stretch instead of a 2-way stretch fabric, and so it doesn’t give as much when pulling the dress on. However, it holds is structure quite well, and I would be worried about that with a softer knit. Choose your fabric wisely.

I used this pattern for making this dress: Wallpaper Dress