Day of the Dead Clothes (And Skeletons From My Closet)

I remember my first November in Austin, Texas as a student. I was out and about, minding my own business and suddenly the street was full of cheerfully macabre people with painted faces and flowers in their hair, marching in a rather large and disorganized parade.  It was wonderful.  A friend told me that Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday of blended Aztec and Catholic traditions, a day set aside to honor the dead and celebrate the lives they lived.  I like that, it’s a great reason for a holiday and a parade.

These days I’m in Brisbane- no parade but I thought in keeping with the “killing your darlings” theme and since today is November 1, I’d paint my face.   (I may poke my nose into the Day of the Dead celebration in the Valley later this month…any locals wanna meet up?)

So rather than mourn what I’ve purged from my life these past two weeks, I thought I’d dress up a bit and celebrate.  Any excuse for full-face makeup, amirite? (I hated washing this face off, it was so much fun to wear…)

I mentioned Megan’s Vendetta earlier on in Frosting Fortnight… She’s definitely frosting, definitely wearable, but I can’t stand her.  She makes my skin crawl.  It might have something to do with the construction process, the texture of the fabric, some puckering issues… I don’t know.  I plan to use the fabric in a cute dress for Lila.  This dress is dead to me.

Marching right along, here we have the Sisters of Edwardia blouse in silk twill and the Pinkie Pants in cotton no-wale cord.  I haven’t worn either for many months, but for completely different reasons.  Poor old Pinkie lost the bar the hook needs to keep my waistband fastened because I spent most of the winter overeating and under-exercising.  Skeleton from my Closet #1: I got too fat and the waistband on my stretchy pants burst.  I’m exercising more and eating wisely these days, so I replaced the bar and now we’re all happy.

The blouse is a little more problematic, she’s Skeleton #2.  I don’t wear her.  Why?  I can’t say.  She’s comfortable, she fits properly, the fabric feels amazing but for whatever reason this darling blouse doesn’t see much wear.  I’m sick of looking at her and feeling guilty.  It’s even worse (to me) because this is a pdf pattern I made last spring.  How can I not like my own pattern?  Perhaps the silk feels “too good” for regular wear?  Should I give this blouse a last-minute reprieve?

This shirt hails from the time I went to the Harry Potter 4 premiere and they handed out free t-shirts!  The Dark Mark glows- not a wuss glow, I think He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named himself would approve of its brilliant menacing color in the dark.  Most unfortunately, this shirt smells awful.  It’s smelled awful for years but I kept her around anyway.  Now she has gone to a better place.

Skeleton #3: My favorite garment of all time, living and dead, is a 100% polyester doubleknit rainbow skirt I found thrifting almost ten years ago.  I’ve mended her so many times, she might as well be a me-made.  I love this skirt- the cut, the color, the way she mixes with most of my other clothes.  I love her.  I’ve tried to take patterns from the skirt, but for some mysterious reason the copies never fit as well as the original- they lack some magic.  Polyester.  This is perhaps the only piece of polyester fabric I own.

I am keeping both of these pieces, and they’re a prime example of how easy it is to lose track of great clothes when they’re drowning in dead things.  I made the skirt last year when I was conducting secret research into simple shapes for woven fabrics.  I tore into the waistband a few months ago to play around with the stitching and left it open.   In the spirit of my Frosting Fortnight challenge, I mended her- just in time for summer.

My favorite thing is simple tone-on-tone embroidery of Picasso’s peace dove near the hem.  This skirt and the Pinkie Pants are made from the same type of no-wale stretch corduroy.  It’s wonderful fabric, the perfect casual bottom weight.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get good detail shots of this top. It’s another one of my simple shapes in wovens experiments, and she’s also made of high quality quilting cotton.  I’m a fan of the wing collar and the general simplicity of the top- in fact, I may need to make another…

I’m really, really happy I rediscovered these!  I couldn’t go through every single thing I saved and chucked and why- these are a sampling.  It’s been really great to sort through my wardrobe and get rid of things I don’t need/want/wear through recycling, cannibalizing and plain old throwing them out.

I’m also surprised how quickly I can stitch through a pile of mending once it’s all collected into one place.  The trick is to sit down and do it.  Once I did, it took very little time and suddenly I have all these clothes I can wear that were formerly unwearable.  Win!

While we were out taking photos, I saw my Red Stripe Tiramisu dress on the washing line.  Someone asked recently how this hat looks with this dress- so there we are!

While we’re on the topic of the Tiramisu Dress, I want to mention a slight hitch with the printing.  More accurately, we had a small production glitch in preparing the pattern for the printer.  It was out of my hands, I did everything I could.  The issue is sorted now, and Tiramisu should be finishing printing any time.  Once it is, I have the freight company ready to transfer the carton of patterns from the printer in Kansas to my front door in Brisbane.  I filled out the customs paperwork and I have cartons of shipping envelopes and address labels and postage waiting.  Waiting.  I’m dying to get this pattern out to you, and to show you what else is coming up for Cake…

I know you’re waiting, too, if you ordered a Tiramisu Dress pattern during the pre-sale.  Originally, I had aimed for an early November shipping date.  If all goes well, the patterns should ship in the first two weeks of this month- but the vagaries of printing and international shipping are out of my hands.  As soon as the pattern arrives, we’ll start stuffing envelopes and dropping them in the post to you.  In the meantime, I’ll keep you updated about Tiramisu’s progress.

Have you been clearing out your wardrobes along with me?  Did you find an unexpected gem?  Skeletons?  Dead things?  I’d love to hear about them…

And many, many many thanks to Mari for putting together an excellent lineup of food-as-clothes posts, a sartorially eccentric child, imaginative vintage Halloween costumes, and a marvelous roll of guest contributors.  She’s also written useful posts on laundering Frosting-type clothes, the importance of a lining, and many links to great basic patterns perfect for embellishment.  If you haven’t, go check out what’s been going on at Disparate Disciplines.  Thanks, Mari- you’ve done a fantastic job!


    • Thanks. :) Well, let me square away the work on the new website and I’ll see… It’s a really sensible little top, a bit smart. I’ve been really enjoying wearing it….

  1. Love the painted face! how fun! I really like that first dress on you ~ are you sure she’s really dead? And your Edwardia blouse – looks great! Actually, all the items you featured in this post look great – that rainbow skirt *swoon*

    I’ve been cleaning out my closet (I have two with my clothes in it and lots of drawers – eeek!) and wow – can’t believe I forgot what I had for cooler weather. I’m going through little by little and finding stuff. Thank goodness it all fits!

    It’s funny but I’m realizing that I really want more dresses (I guess that’s my frosting considering I only ever used to wear pants and jeans). I still have lots more to go through. I found that I have a lot of tops and sweaters with the cowl neck ~ love them! There are a few items I don’t care for anymore though and they are in really good shape. This would be a good time to set aside those items for those who lost everything during Hurricane Sandy. I’m getting that donation box ready!

    As for the Tiramisu – so excited! No worries if it comes a little later than expected ~ it’ll be like Christmas when it arrives :)

    • I really love the rainbow skirt. I’m even happy to overlook it’s lack of pockets….

      There’s definitely such things as winter dresses… Especially in FL, you’ll be fine making winter dresses for that winter… ;)

      Thanks! You’re so kind. It’s been a learning process, getting Tira made and printed… It’s almost almost almost a completed project and it’s making me antsy! I just want them sent! ;)

  2. I think of all the things you’ve created while I’ve been following your blog, the Sisters of Edwardia blouse is my absolute favorite by a mile. I don’t think I could bring myself to get rid of it.

    That said, the #1 favorite item of clothing I own is a jacket that I haven’t worn in a few years—not because it doesn’t fit right, not because I don’t love it, but just because it doesn’t really fit into my lifestyle, nor does it match any of my bottoms. The rest of my wardrobe is incredible lean, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I really should—or perhaps find bottoms I will wear it with and say “too good for normal wear be damned”

    So, perhaps not a complete reprieve, but a stay of execution for a few weeks while you try to overcome your feeling of too good? (If it is season appropriate, I guess).

    (Unrelated side note… have any of your other followers reported issues where WordPress hijacks the comment and tries to force you to logon because it finds a account with that email address, but then when you do, it still won’t let you comment? Because I keep running into that and have resorted to an alternate email address)

    • Really? How lovely, thanks. :)

      My husband had an embroidered silk dressing gown with a dragon down the back… His mom brought it home from a trip to Vietnam, and everyone solemnly decided it’s too nice for regular wear… So guess who stole her husband’s rad dressing gown? I figure clothes should be worn…

      I have no idea about the issue, sorry! I do hold all comments from new commentators until I can check it out and approve, but that’s about it… Hope someone can clear that up for you.

  3. What a great make-up! Your “Sisters”-Blouse is such a gem, I think you should give it a second chance and wear it!
    I certainly have to go through my closet as well and get rid of stuff I no longer want/like/need/fit in… Good thing here in Germany (and in Austria, too), there is a page called, where you can sell or exchange your unwanted clothing – perfect for giving unwanted items a new home!

    • Thanks… ;) I still have quite a lot of the silk twill, I’ll make a pretty something with it later on…

      Thanks for the tip, I know there’s several German readers here. :)

  4. I think all the Sisters of Edwardia blouse wants to make you wear it more often is a bottom that you deem “worthy” of wearing with it. I like it with the pink cords. You may find that a trumpet skirt suits the style as more in the period — also, trumpet skirts are everywhere in rtw these days, so you’ll be on trend. (Not that being on trend matters a hill of beans to me, mind you.) ((Is the expression “hill of beans” used much in Brisbane, lol?)

    • Maybe… I don’t mind the concept of a silk blouse for casual, silk is a pretty tough fiber… I have a few long sweeping skirts and a trumpety one, I always like the way it looks but I don’t like wearing it. It is nice with the pink cords.. Thanks… :)

      (no, I’m not much for trends… meh. And no, it isn’t but I’m not from Brisbane.)

  5. Beautiful make-up! My closet could use some ruthless culling… thanks for the inspiration. And do those of us who want to order the Tiramisu download have to wait for the printed version’s release date? I would love to say I’m patient, but I’m not!

    • Thanks! Was fun to do… Get in there! You can do it!

      Yes, you will have to wait… I thought about it when I knew there would be a delay (and mind you, I still don’t know precisely when it will be ready), and it doesn’t seem fair to release the digital before the paper has shipped… :) Soon! Soon! And I’ve nearly finished the work on the second pattern, so that will be following close on Tiramisu’s heels… ;)

  6. I started writing a long comment, and then just made it into a blog post.

    So now I have room to say, some of those finds are great! And good for you for getting rid of some of your clothes; I’m really bad at killing my darlings.
    Silk blouse too nice for everyday wear? Hm, maybe… I only have a silk camisole, which I wear under my clothes and have no trouble wearing everyday. I practically sleep in that thing. I have, literally, slept in it. Maybe you could try sleeping in the blouse? ;D

    • What a lovely post, Hana! :) I’ll head over and comment there too.

      You know what- I think that’s an idea. I’ll go try that and let you know how it works out… But just make it into a slinky, breezy cami-house thing… I think that’s an idea.. I will go sleep in it.

  7. My daughters went to an annual rummage sales recently and added to their wardrobes – to the point that they decided to host a clothing swap to reduce their bulging closets. I am joining in and on an unexpected day off this week, DD2 & I went through all the hanging clothes storage in our attic. Wow! Old prom dresses, clothes I sewed thirty years ago, some of my grandfathers shirts – all kinds of treasures! Some that no longer fit me now fit my daughter, and some are worth saving but many will go to new closets.
    It’s a great process and I think it is important to try to lighten our load of possessions on a regular basis. After living in the same house for 28 years, our attic is a treasure trove but surely has a lot of detritus, too!

    • Sounds like fun! :) Treasure, treasures… I used a favorite satin prom dress to line a coat a few years ago, it was heavier fabric than regular lining but it worked well. And meant I could hang onto my old dress without feel a bit silly… ;)

      Yes… I’d love to be one of those “100 posessions” people, but I doubt between my books and my clothes I could actually bring myself to whittle down to 100 things… Terrible… But I do try to keep things light as much as possible.

  8. Hi there,
    First of all your make up is amazing!
    I grew up in Italy, where Nov 1st is All Saints’ Day, when the whole family visits the cemetery and schools, offices and shops are closed. Anyone my age (late 30s) brought up over here merely thought of Oct 31st is “The Eve (of All Saints’ Day)”, which is what my Mum called it the other day. When I moved to the UK 10 years ago I realised how big a deal Halloween is, but I don’t like it as much as Guy Fawkes, or Bonfire Night, Nov 5th. My friends always have a joint Halloween / Guy Fawkes party – fireworks and toffee apples and scary masks and Parkin Cake.
    Having said all this – Day Of The Dead top-trumps all of the other November holidays that I know of!

    Now that we are done with the folklore: the green rainbow skirt is killing me with envy, Megan’s Vendetta looks Jetson-y and lovely to me, and the wing collar pink top looks very interesting for an experiment! There is something similar-ish in the latest Burda Young and Easy (AW 2012 that I bought the other day) but I cannot find a preview with a picture of it.
    I might queue it up for making when I get back to the UK next week and report back! :)

    As usual, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks!

      I like Guy Fawkes Day, too… Bonfires, fireworks, Restoration-era political plots… And it’s my birthday, so when I discovered a delightful holiday like that on my birthday I was quite pleased…. ;) Sadly, we’re not allowed to burn things or blow them up here, so I can’t celebrate properly…

      ;) No problem! Thanks for the comment, super interesting.

  9. You have such fun bits of frosting in your wardrobe, I am rather a little envious. I did sort through my clothing for frosting fortnight, but actually found very little that I have made that is not in regular rotation, aside from my SCA clothing. There was a lace top, and a basic black dress in a nice textured tencel, both of which can be added to my “wear to nice occasions” list.

    The only thing I have no idea what to do with is an odd directional patterned plush fabric top; I made it to wear to a wedding rehearsal party, and while it looks nice, the directional fabric has such a strong plush that it pushes down my arms any coat or sweater that I wear over it, and the top is too warm to wear in the summer. I guess it counts as a “fabric fail”.

    • Well done you! :) SCA clothing gets a pass….

      Fabric fails are ok. They happen. They happen less frequently the more you sew, but definitely still happen to me sometimes…

  10. Love this!! I just wanted to say thanks so much for giving me the push I needed to go through my closet and get rid of a bunch of stuff. I did kill a few of my early darlings but I mainly got rid of a bunch of poorly fitting store bought clothes! I did discover a lovely red velvet vest with shiny black buttons that I had forgotten I made.
    LOVE your Sisters’ red blouse! Just beautiful. The tone on tone embroidery and skirt is great as well!

    • Oh good! I’m so glad this has been helpful for you. :)

      Oooooh red velvet! Love it….

      Thanks! I have more of the red silk, I’ll do something wearable with that.. Maybe just a simple bias dress or something. :)

  11. Your Día de los Muertos make-up is awesome! I went through a closet purge of epic proportions just six months ago before I moved across the country, but even so I’m finding that I could do with another small purge because I’ve got a few dead things in there – purging is so liberating IMO.

    • Thanks, Andrea. :) It was really fun, and I hated to wash it off… I terrified my husband’s field-partner when he dropped by late in the afternoon… And gave my neighbors a bit of a turn.

      Yes, yes it is! And really, it’s much easier to do it every few months instead of every few years. Less to handle at one time…

  12. Steph PLEASE please please don’t cut Megan! I love her. If you let me give her a happy home I will buy Lila some more fabric. I will even help you stuff patterns into envelopes if you need a hand. I can also barter with brownies……

    • OH, Katie, if you feel that strongly about it I’ll hang onto her for you. You should know that I stopped caring about 3/4 of the way through construction so the hem on the lining is a bit shocking.

      Ooh! Thanks for the offer, I’ll take you up on that! I do need a few hands, I have the workflow planned out but I don’t know what day… Sometime soonish! It’s kind of galling me that it’s out of my hands, I’m such a secret control freak… ;) But thanks, and I’ll let you know? ;)

      • Your version and my version of shocking are miles apart. She’ll definitely require some work on reduction of the bust for me though :( Yes, do let me know when you are ready to stuff envelopes, happy to help.

        • Hahah! Ok. She’s your problem now… ;) I’ll email you about Tira stuffing, maybe get a few of us together for a Tiramisu eating/stuffing afternoon at mine maybe… ;) Booze, chocolate, coffee, and postal work?

  13. I love that blouse with the wing collar! Kudos to you for sharing your skeletons. Your day of the dead makeup is superb! It looks fabulous with your Tiramisu. I’m so excited (but very patient!!) about the pre-sales shipping later in the month. I’ve done nothing with knits so I’m hoping there are fall/winter appropriate knits for those of us Northern hemisphere cold climate folks so I don’t have to wait until Spring to wear one. Or I’ll just layer up with wool tights. ;)

  14. Pingback: From “Pinning” to “Doing” : The Egg White Face Mask « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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