This week at work I have been dealing with mail orders. I’ve never done this before, so I had some surprises.

There were perhaps two orders that were clear and legible. The others? They had the wrong numbers. They used the number for one item and the description for another. They put down the wrong price, causing me to wonder whether they had actually meant a different item. They gave color choices for items with no color choices. They scrawled the whole thing in stylish and illegible handwriting. They used outdated catalogs. They made up their own descriptions of things. They sent copies with the last column of numbers cut off the edge.

As I searched through the print catalogs and databases for what they could possibly have had in mind by “Teacher renewal kit” or determined that they meant EU87675 rather than “ev-947675,” I marveled that anyone ever gets the stuff they order.

I’ve done some mail order recently for #2 daughter’s birthday. I got some fabric for her SWAP from, recommended by Lydia. I think this completes the fabrics for her SWAP, unless she finds a ginger-and-blue print she loves. In the tradition of my rotten photos of fabrics, here you can not-quite-see hers: an Italian silk suiting in a taupe and gray houndstooth check with a bit of blue and plum in the weave, a saffron-colored wool gabardine, a saffron-and-ginger peachskin abstract print, dark blue microfiber, blue peachskin, gray microfiber, and a Tanzanian print cotton in mostly ginger. Some of these we’ve already used, and some are still waiting to be made up. If all goes according to plan, she should have a serviceable wardrobe in good quality fabrics for just about $150. That gives an average of $10 per garment, a figure she couldn’t match at consignment shops or discount stores. Obviously, the SWAP is a thrifty choice as well as a creative endeavor.

I won’t tell you about the other things, as we are not having her birthday party till next weekend, when she will be coming down to visit.

The fabrics for her SWAP came from two online shoppings, our Memorial Day sale shopping trip to the local Hancock’s, and a purchase from the One Book Society (the Tanzanian cotton).

Both online purchases were from, and on both occasions I have been very pleased. The quality of their fabrics is excellent, their prices are amazing, and their service is quick and accurate. Both orders from them arrived in about a week from my placing the order.

They sent me swatches and a coupon, and I mostly chose fabrics from the swatches. The trouble with buying fibers online is always that the colors on the screen aren’t going to match the colors in real life, and you cannot touch the fabrics or yarns. So swatches and color cards are worthwhile.

Since my local choices for fabric and yarn buying are very limited, I will no doubt continue to buy fibers online. The price difference is also noticeable. I can buy good wool fabrics online for four to nine dollars a yard, compared with fifteen to thirty at the local Hancock’s (and there, also, I will have only two or three to choose from), so I can afford some misses. It is the same with yarn, though I suffer over it a bit more, since my LYS is really a local business, not a chain.

Of course, the chains also employ local people and provide sales tax revenues to the local community, so I suppose it is a question of how flat the world ought to be.

My SWAP report doesn’t include any new sewing. That purple blob is still a blob, and wasn’t part of the SWAP anyway. I have learned that “burgundy” is an extremely variable term, having ended up in my search for a good burgundy skirt fabric and sweater yarn with several different shades of terrific bargains. They will not all work together, and I find myself holding them up to the paisley and to the jacket fabrics and staring, trying to determine which is the correct burgundy for my SWAP. I may be over-thinking this.

Here are my SWAP fabrics. A gray and burgundy wool houndstooth check, blue microfiber, gray microfiber, burgundy wool gabardine, charcoal gray sweater knit, rayon and wool print, and a Glen plaid whose fiber content I have forgotten and which, on my monitor, is strobing so that it looks like an odd stripe.

I’ve done the easy things already, and must gather up some courage to make the rest of the things. It is difficult to cut beautiful fabrics without confidence in one’s sewing ability. It is years since I have made a jacket or a pair of pants, and I am not sure I remember how. Maybe I should take a class.

However, I would like to report that even with only five pieces completed, I already find that I have a different experience of getting dressed in the mornings. I have lots of choices, and none are based on whether people will notice the hole in this garment more than the frayed edge of that one. It is rather fun.

I also have been wearing the seaweed-colored slides #2 daughter persuaded me to buy with a number of different color combinations, rather than automatically putting on black or brown unless I was actually wearing seaweed-colored clothing. Again, this is rather fun.

If sewing strikes you as fun, you might think about dresses for the fall. The big pattern companies are offering some really pretty new dress patterns. Clicking on these pictures will embiggen them to a useful degree.

These two are both from McCall’s, and ought to be in your local fabric shop soon, or you can get them at 50% off at right now.

I am one of those who waits for the 99 cent pattern sale. You know there will be one soon, somewhere. I don’t know why pattern companies price their patterns at $16 and up to begin with, then discount them to nothing. Perhaps it is to reward those of us who can handle delayed gratification. Yeah, that’s it. A big government propaganda effort aimed at solving the problem of increasing impatience in Hamburger-a-go-go-land.

The Wall Street Journal tells us that fitted silhouettes will continue to be the fashion news in the foreseeable future, and that is good for dresses. The “semi-fitted” styles of the dresses above are typical of the offerings for fall.

If you are young and lithe, consider Vogue 8280.

This is one glamorous dress.

#2 son is up at an unreasonably early hour so that he can accompany me to the grocery store and ensure that I buy plenty of food, as we have been down to chicken and vegetables halfway through the last couple of weeks. We will also get to the farmer’s market and the bakery, do a bit of gardening and housework, and then I am hoping for a PSD.