The You Oughta Be Ottoman Shirt

I can’t think of much I hate more than arguing, so it always strikes me as strange that in many places shopping is tantamount to arguing, if you think about it. The culture of bargaining has long been abandoned by many parts of the West, and I can see why, as arguing with someone over the price of things makes me feel like I’m basically telling them their stuff is worth less than they think it is. Which, in a way, I suppose, is the point, that they price it too high and you come in too low and together you presumably reach a reasonable price but I don’t know why I have to be a part of that process, you know? I don’t feel like I’m qualified to be a part of the pricing process, I’m not a pricing professional, you know! There are people out there who say they like bargaining, and I’m sure that is true, but I am not among them.

This is why a family trip to Istanbul a few years ago, while delightful, was also exhausting. The Turks expect you to bargain, they seem to like it, God knows why, and there is this whole ceremony of buying things that confuses all but the most savvy world traveler. That’s another thing, I hate the idea that buying things has to be a whole THING, I want to feel like a ninja, or a tomb raider, I get in there, I get my stuff, I get out. I don’t want to have tea. I don’t want to see ALL of your carpets. I know you have a lot of carpets. Oh, you have another room of carpets back there? That’s fascinating but that’s infinitely more carpets than I want to see because I literally want zero carpets so…nope, yes, looking at the carpets. Sure, more tea, why not.

And then suddenly you’re paying all the Turkish lira in the world for a carpet you don’t want and can’t fit in your suitcase. And you KNOW you didn’t bargain well because they start throwing in free gifts. When they give you gifts, that’s it, you’ve lost, they are literally giving things away because they pity you, they pity how much they are charging you for what you are buying, and their pity translates to small Evil Eye icons and lamps that look like pomegranates (these are both real things we received with goods we were actually buying).

That being said, I never actually felt CHEATED by anyone in Istanbul, which is not the case with an Ebay purchase I bought several years ago which told me I was buying Liberty of London but instead sent me….not that. Only, I honestly wasn’t sure, because I bought it so early in my sewing adventures that I had never actually seen a Liberty of London print, and once I realized my mistake and that creepy jerk of an Ebay salesman had already made off with me money (not THAT much, it was priced at 20 a yard which really should have been an indicator, looking back….) the fabric languished in my stash, as the proof of my folly and terrible buying abilities. The thing is, I like the print, it actually really reminded me of Turkish Iznik tile, which I had adored on that same trip to Istanbul where I realized that bargaining is the worst. I took many photos of this tile, as you can see:

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Iznik tile and ceramic is very beautiful, at least, to my mind, and it has a long history as an art form and ceramic process. You can read more about that here, and here, if you want to do so.

So as I said, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this fabric for a long time. I liked it, but I also felt that it was evidence of my foolishness, my bad buying skills, and the fact that I had been taken in and sold a fake Liberty print, like a manufactured artifact in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, which I had skillfully avoided buying, only to be cheated now. But eventually I got over that, because you can only hate yourself for a fabric purchase for so long, I mean, how much time is there in a day, really. So finally I decided to embrace my faux-Liberty (which I now would NEVER mistake for a Liberty print) and enjoy my Ottoman Empire inspired cloth. And this is what I made:

OBO4Yay! Another Grainline Archer! I lengthened it a few inches, which no one else seems to have to do, but I feel like it has to be long to compensate for the journey the fabric takes over my chest region, and I like my shirts to hit below my hip if possible.

OBO7I am making a weird face here, like I’m not sure why this Turkish man is trying to get me to buy a carpet so badly, like, do I look like someone who NEEDS a carpet in their lives? I must do.

I also made the pants, which I never blogged, because if I wrote about every pair of Colette Patterns Clover Pants I made this blog would be called The Colette Patterns Clover Pants Blog. And no one would read that except weird internet guys. So there you go.

OBO8For some reason my machine was acting cruel and insane when I made the buttonholes on this, so they are AWFUL, and you can’t see them. I don’t get it, they made the ones for Mr. Struggle’s shirt JUST fine. Sidenote, I do make things for Mr. Struggle but he wont let me photograph him ever so you will never see those, take it up with him if you are mad.

The archer often pulls a little to the left on me, does anyone else have that experience? Nevertheless I adore it, I’ve made several and have no plans to stop, in fact, I recently cut an Archer dress so that’s on the menu coming up. I do want to try Deer and Doe’s new Bruyere shirt, soon, so that might hop the cue too.

This shirt was fine apart from the button-hole debacle, I like the construction a lot and don’t have any trouble with it anymore, honestly, I think it’s well drafted and I love how impressive it feels to make a collared shirt!

OBO11Here is a rather wrinkled shot of the back, but I thought it might make the bright print even clearer for you. Even though this fabric was an imposter, I have to say, I’ve kind of come to love it, having started associating it with Istanbul instead of with my being gullible. After all, even when you get cheated in Turkey, it comes with a little gift and a cup of tea, so really, how bad can it be?

OBO9There you go! Istanbul-inspired in more ways than one. I should go back there, I can blend in with the landscape now…

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Grainline Patterns, Life, Sewing, Travel

The Knit Wit Outfit

I love a good knit. This may or may not come from my mother. If Megan Trainor is all about that bass, my mother is all about the knits. And who can blame her? A knit is a godsend to all women. Say what you will about Coco Chanel, but that woman made other women more comfortable by her innovative use of knits. Look, I love wovens. Who doesn’t? I would never surrender my love for them. But knits are just so deeply comfortable. They make anything cozier and easier to wear. If the casting off of the corset after the First World War transformed the way women felt in their clothing, then knits have done that once again, embracing curves and angles without darts or fabric geometry, stretching with the human body, moving as they move. They are more forgiving than any Catholic priest ever could be. They don’t mind too much if you have a big lunch, and they also shrink to you when you’ve been good about your running routine. Knits are like a sweet non-judgemental friend you can watch dumb movies with and enjoy large bottles of wine and large bowls of ice cream. Wovens are like that friend that motivates you and makes you feel ambitious and high achieving and professional and adult, but wovens aren’t going to hang out with you on a Sunday night while you watch The John Oliver Show, because wovens are busy, wovens are important, wovens don’t approve of getting their news with a side of comedy, wovens have ALREADY read the New York Times article and seen the BBC report on that issue and have OPINIONS before you even have context. Knits kind of make fun of wovens, as soon as they are out the door, and you smile, and sigh, and say “I’m friends with both of you, okay? But yes. Wovens can be a little uptight.  Now. Back to John Oliver. More wine?”

See, I would watch that show. That show with those three characters. It would be great. I wish someone would pay me to make a show where it’s just me talking to my fabric. Wouldn’t you watch that?

NO? Fine. Whatever. I wouldn’t watch your dumb show either.

Ahem. Anyway. Knits also make everything a little less formal, which I generally don’t approve of, as I like to feel fancy like a grown up, but I do think that knits can get there, with a little bit of sophistication and style. Of course, with silk jersey and rayons you can have a drapey slinky 1970′s dream, but what about the in between of this? Isn’t there something between sweatpants and draped halter?

And that’s why I like some of the new knit patterns that have been released by independent companies in the last few years. They have flare and they have fun. They are comfortable but they don’t only look like they are comfortable. You know what I mean?

Take, for example, Tilly and the Buttons Coco. I did:

KW1Oh, and what’s that on the bottom, lurking underneath? Is that a Colette Patterns Mabel? I DO BELIEVE IT IS! How delightful.

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Yes yes! See, it’s all knit there, but I don’t look like I’m wearing a Juicy Couture Sweatsuit, I look like a person who has a job, and ambitions, and dreams.

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I made my friend Liz take these photos when we went to Philadelphia for the day to see the Patrick Kelly show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I knew nothing about this designer, and the show is excellent, as is his work. Really a fascinating and vivacious man, bursting with talent and innovation, whose appropriation of cultural and racial stigmas and stereotypes richly activated his work. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of him before, and saddened by the brevity of his amazing life. If you have the chance to see this show, please do, it’s really lovely and worth the trip if you aren’t in the area.

Liz sews too, in fact she works at the Museum at FIT, so she is always a wonderful person to see these shows with, to force to take my photograph, and to enjoy drinks and fries with afterwards. She’s a multi-talented human being.

What can I say about the construction of this. Knits are easy, man, especially the ponte de roma that makes up this top. It’s got structure for days, for a knit, but still moves with your body. Score.

KW9I used the three-quarter length sleeves and the funnel neck, which is as close to turtleneck as I can get without feeling horribly self-conscious about my chest.

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There is also  a little split action on the sides, which I like a lot. You can just see that in the photo above.

KW4Close up! I love the cuffs on this shirt, they are genius. I’ve made this once before, as a dress, actually.

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The skirt is the longest of the Mabels, because I’m not a micro-mini kind of girl. It’s seamed up the front, which is hard to see on this black.

KW6See? Even I can’t see it! This skirt is just the easiest thing I have made in months. It literally took me 40 minutes, from cutting to hemming. That’s the real length of a one hour drama minus the commercials. With breaks. To drink wine.

I got that scarf at a vintage store in Austin, by the way. It has ships all over it. I love it.

KW2See, that is the face of a comfortable YET decently dressed person. Simple, easy, cozy, yet with flare. What else can one ask for as the weather grows cold? Don’t worry that I have abandoned my wovens, I will always be more type A then type K (GET IT? K FOR KNITS? Seriously, this would be a great show), but it’s nice to have the option, isn’t it?

 

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The El Farolito Dress

Isn’t it an awfully strange feeling to show someone someplace you love? Maybe everyone doesn’t have the same sense of place as personal, but I do, and I think I probably always have. My mother trained as an architect, and she renovated the house I lived in from the age of three months on, so I can say with honesty that I lived in a house my mom built. Space and its meaning and memory therefore have always had resonance for me. When I meet people who say they don’t care about where they live, I find it difficult to comprehend the words coming out of their mouths. Whatever space I’m in has always affected me deeply. When I was 22 and just out of college I lived in Spain for three months I lived in a tiny room with no windows. That was like a prison, and while Spain might be fun for many people, on some level it was difficult for me to enjoy my time there because the space I inhabited was so unbearable. But when I moved to Brooklyn, I moved into an amazing apartment, a place that felt cozy and comfortable and fit me well, and every day felt like an adventure, with a safe spot to return to at night. It’s not just where I live, though, it’s also places, and what they mean. Despite that apartment, Madrid will always be a place I long to return, because it’s streets are so gorgeous, it’s museums so glorious and bursting with art, it’s buildings so charming and enticing. Philadelphia, my hometown, will always fit me like a soft pair of jeans. And Puerto Rico will always feel like a sigh of relief, coupled with the anticipation of seeing something insane. It’s a rare place, a mix of comfort and crazy. Sharing it with people is wonderful, but also worrisome. What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t get it? It’s another house my mom made. Will they enjoy her, her style, her touch, her details? Will they love it the way I do? Why do they have to? I can’t help but get worried when I bring people. Luckily, Mr. Struggle loved it. Problem, solved. The thing is, though, I am in every way a creature of habit. It’s a difficult thing, I think, because people who I meet who are NOT that way tend to find it a curious quality, rather than a way of life. Especially Mr. Struggle. He is not as into the habits, and so the explanation of “this is what I do and therefore we should do it” doesn’t always, how shall I say, fly? So when we went down together, he wanted to do new things, things I hadn’t done there. This filled me with something like dread. NEW THINGS? DIFFERENT THINGS? What am I supposed to do with that? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Mr. Struggle is a smart guy. So now when we travel, even to a place I’ve been, I try to remember that there is new stuff out there, and I can make a new memory in an old place. This time, when enjoying San Juan, Mr. Struggle found a new bar, which is very much his style, and I have to say, it was an excellent discovery. The bar is called El Farolito, or The Lamplight, like the lantern on a lamppost, and it’s AMAZING. If you ever go to San Juan, go the hell there. Bourbon and Coconut water is a surprisingly stellar combination, and that’s the least of what they do. So this dress is named in honor of that bar, which was a surprise for me, something I usually abhor, but am learning to hate a little less. And this dress was a combination of two familiar patterns grafted together in a new way. So that’s something new too! BH1So the bodice is my self-drafted bodice pattern, and the skirt is my all-time favorite, Simplicity 4529. Can’t stop, wont stop. This dress therefore between the bodice and the skirt has 26 darts. You read that correctly. 26. That’s a real thing. Enjoy that. God knows I didn’t when I made it…. EF2The fabric I actually got for free from a friend and co-worker of my friend Liz, a seamstress and costume historian who was giving away huge amounts of fabric to make space in her apartment. GOD. BLESS. NEW. YORK. These tiny places really work out when you need free fabric! EF3A little side view for you. Enjoy. EF5That’s our green roof! A big thing my mom wanted to include with this property. It’s very cool. I love it a lot. The perfect place for these photo shoots which I force Mr. Struggle to do. EF7Oh, I was out of matching zippers so I had to use a maroon one which you can JUST see in this photo. Enjoy that. EF6A little bodice close up. How lovely is this print? I can’t honestly believe it was free. And so MUCH of it! Liz told me to make something and then give her the remainder, I can’t wait to see what she does! EF8Ah, the view from our roof. See why I love it here? EF10Yes it’s a little non-pristine and maybe slightly odd, but it’s also glorious with the sun and the clouds. Don’t you think? EF11The “green” aspect of the green roof, complete with my father’s many solar lights. EF4So there you are. Something familiar, and something new. All that’s missing is an amazing cocktail. And for that? You’d need to go to El Farolito.

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Filed under Fabric, Friends, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Tutorial, Vintage

The Put The Lime In The Coconut Outfit

Why, when we are young, are we taught that it is wrong to be a copy cat? This is clearly nonsense. Isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Isn’t imitation in fact the basis of our early childhood development? We learn by watching and imitating others. We learn to speak by listening and repeating. We learn to walk by watching people do it. I personally as a child observed my older brother in all things and aimed to  be just like him. This has yet to actually happen, but it did help me jump from the bottle to a glass with no sippie-cup required, so, hey, come on, obviously some part of that was valid.

I understand that the deeply held need for individuality and uniqueness can often feel at war with a generally imposed sense of conformity, of social instruction and expectation. But imitating someone else doesn’t mean you are trying to be like everyone else. Hell, sometimes it just means you like a shade of lipstick or admire someone’s reading tastes. In an age where information is rapidly shared, we, or at least the people I know, still have the impetus to declare themselves as the first, the originator, the conquistador of a trend or article or idea. Well, here is the thing about conquistadors. The places they discovered already had occupants. Just because they all died of Spanish flu and smallpox doesn’t mean they weren’t real. And before the Aztecs there were the Olmecs, and before them, someone we don’t even know about because the Olmecs were total jerks and wanted to set the trend, not just follow it. GOD. The OLMECS. COME ON. With their giant heads and their lost civilization. What dweebs.

Anyway, putting ancient Mexican history aside (how many sewing blogs have you read that on lately?) I just think its a little silly that we idolize, and teach our children to idolize, an impossible standard that leaves us unable to appreciate the value of copying others as we get older. And honestly, copying other people has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that word, and replace it with something more positive, shall we? Let’s call copying inspiration. After all, no copy is equal to the original in every way, it holds it’s makers mark in some way, even if they don’t want it to. So let’s be inspired, that’s a good thing, right? After all, as Picasso once said, Bad Artists Copy, Good Artists Steal.

In sewing, we copy all the time. I do it especially when I’m making something for someone else, because most of what people ask me to make or want me to make is a duplicate of something they love and wish they had more of. So my mom has this little adorable linen top and pants set which she bought at a store in San Juan which no longer exists. I call this her little Papaya outfit.  It’s papaya colored (duh), loose, comfortable, kind of like a 20′s or 30′s style lounge suit, something she only wears in Puerto Rico. She likes it a lot, and I figured, it can’t be THAT hard to copy, er, be inspired by! So I made her another one. Boom. Only this time, it’s a little Lime outfit. And it’s awesome.

LIC4I used a lightweight finely woven linen I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, when I was still buying fabric. Sniff. I miss those days. Soon, soon! I said through October! I can do it!

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The top is a modified Tiny Pocket Tank, which a button front. I finished it with store-bought bias tape. It was easy as all hell.

LIC3The pants are a modified pajama pant pattern which I added a waistband and pleats to, to make them a little more formalish. The waistband has elastic, though, after all, it’s a lounge suit!

LIC6My mother wore this outfit reading on our green roof and sipping white wine, so she declared it an excellent duplicate of the original suit, which had been used for literally the selfsame purposes.

LIC1Isn’t my mom gorgeous? I’m actually quite proud of this simple outfit, it’s a great pleasure to be able to make something for someone you love and know that it’s exactly what they want. Not too bad for a copy-cat, eh?

Speaking of cats, my mom and I enjoy feeding the many stray cats of Old San Juan when we come down there. Here she is, in another one of my creations, a simple elastic waist skirt. Elastic waist goes really well with the Caribbean, guys, it accommodates a LOT of rice and beans and rum. Just sayin’.

LIC7See, these cats don’t mind copying each other! And neither do I.

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Vacation Sleep Pajamas

I’m a firm believer in the fact that there are many kinds of sleep. I’m not a light sleeper, a fact that makes Mr. Struggle green with envy, as he is, and can often describe the many things that happened during the night including horrific storms, police sirens, and my own verbal mumblings (because apparently I’m talkative even in my sleep, who would have thought?) but I do sleep differently in different places on earth. I always sleep well, for example, if I’ve gotten to spend any amount of time in the ocean. Something about the waves helps soothe me and I drop right off, dreaming of the water. I never sleep well before a flight, no matter what time of day or night it is. And I usually enjoy sleep somehow less when I’m on vacation, because I often wake up with the troubling feeling that I’m missing something. Why do I travel if I’m just going to sleep the whole time? I always feel that if I sleep deeply and for a long time somewhere else it was a waste of a trip. I am aware that this might be a little neurotic, but hey, neurotic and I are old friends from way back.

That being said, I’ve had a stressful fall so far with many a night of less sleep than I would like, (which, by the way, is a lot of sleep, sleeping is the best, people who can live on four or five hours of sleep amazing me, I feel like they are the waking dead) so on our recent trip to Austin I was determined to be less worried about seeing all the sights (which I have in fact seen before, I’ve been to Austin) and allow myself to enjoy the deep sleep that only meals made entirely of smoked meat can give you. Letting the scent of brisket and the comfort of the south soothe me, I slept deeply in our lovely Airbnb, and woke each day refreshed. Why can’t I have that at home? I think I finally achieved this elusive Vacation Sleep so many have described to me, and while I do credit Texas with some of that, some of that might have been my new pajamas.

So I have made, and never documented, something like 10 Grainline Patterns Tiny Pocket Tanks. I have never included the pocket. What can I say, I’m a rebel. I don’t know why I don’t blog about these, I guess because they seem so damn simple? Which I love, by the way, but somehow I feel weird talking about the stuff that is super duper easy for me to make, it’s like asking for a congratulations when I toast a piece of bread. Nevertheless, here we go, Tiny Pocket Tank. Love this pattern. Love it. But it IS awfully simple, so I decided to spice it up a bit for my vacation pajamas and used this tutorial to guide me. The result was perfect for warm nights in Austin, I’m not going to lie to you:

VS1See, from the front it’s all normal blah whatever. BUT FROM THE BACK?

VS4I’m kind of holding it in place here so my bra, which I wore just for these photos (I don’t sleep in a bra that’s weird) wouldn’t show. This split is VERY splity. I would make this less splity for daywear, real talk.

How do we feel, collectively, about the split-back top trend? I think I like it, but then sometimes I don’t. It’s like that friend you make in college who seems super fun and always finds the good booze at parties and makes you have ice cream for breakfast and wants to travel around Europe and be bohemian and challenge expectations but also will totally hook up with your ex-boyfriend and you forgive her a lot because she seems so cool and awesome with her bangles and her starfish tattoo which means regeneration or some crap but sometimes she leaves you feeling like there is something wrong with you for having feelings. You know that friend? This top might be that friend. I can’t tell.

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That being said, it’s great to sleep in! I used a vintage pajama pant pattern for the shorts, I can’t remember the number I’m sorry but it’s a Simplicity from the 1960′s which I have altered beyond recognition.

VS6The fabric I got on ebay a year ago, and as I’m trying to hold off buying anything new until November, I was happy to be able to use this.

VS3This split back thing is, I must admit, rather brilliant when you are sleeping in a warm place. It’s airy without being too bare for me. So maybe that college friend IS good for something….

VS5That’s how I feel after so much lovely sleep and, of course, excellent food! Plus, I dragged Mr. Struggle to an art museum, so, you know, perfect trip, really.

VS7Back at home, Cadfael was overjoyed to see us. Can’t you tell?

I have two more summery posts, which is insanely lame, as it’s October and I’m ready to document cold-weather clothing. Never fear! That’s coming too.

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage

The Texas Two Step Outfit

Guys, I did something that many people truly refuse to do. I went back to Texas. I know! Who does that? But honestly, I went back to AUSTIN, so does that even count? It’s like, the anti-Texas, it’s got all the wonder and beauty of Texas without any of the crazy or conservative. It’s got smoked briskets at ever corner, cool cocktail bars with dumpling trucks attached, lovely scenery and actually deeply nice people. Unlike the saccharine strangeness that can sometimes pervade the South East coast, the South West is just some nice people with a lot of sand and sun and meats to cook. And many other things, obviously. But this trip to Texas was as lovely as my last, with the one exception of my friend Lisa not being there, which was a bummer, sigh. I had to have SO many glasses of wine in her honor, it was SO hard but totally essential, duh. Mr. Struggle, having never been there before, was excited about the food and, well, mostly just the food, but I managed to drag him to an art museum in between BBQ joints and beer. (He drank the beer. I don’t do such things. Obviously.)

It was really a lovely trip, and I must say, Austin is just an awesome city. Mr. Struggle was rather enchanted and I got to feel that smug superiority of someone who has already discovered and enjoyed something and gets to be all “I told you so” to their significant other. I’m sure there is a word in German for that. German. A language of feelings and throat clearings. And despite the general craziness of my post-graduate school post-getting-married life, I managed to make a few things for the trip! Two of which I will show you in just a moment.

Side note, I totally use traveling as an excuse to sew. I think I have the mentality of one of these Victorian ladies who took Grand European tours, that is, that journeys in fact require new themed clothing so that the peoples of Italy, or in this case, Texas, would think me chic but also adaptable. I don’t know why I assume that when I travel people I have never met before will need to see something new, because, well, wouldn’t everything I ever wear be new to them? but I do. I really do. There is probably a word for that kind of insane in German as well!

So for this trip, I made a little bit of a casual outfit because Texas is a rather relaxed place, a place where cowboy boots and dresses are an appropriate combination, a place where all denim outfits are not mocked, a place where large buckles are more important than large watches and hats are still a thing. So I figured, when in Rome…

TTS1This is a little bit of a Colette Patterns binge here. The pants are Clovers, like I do. I love the Clover. You can pull that pattern out of my cold, dead hands. I have made so many damn versions of this pattern, I have almost nothing to say about it. You know the drill, flat felled seams, invisible zipper, blah blah blah. These are denim. Very 1950′s style ladies jeans. And the back view!

TTS6Annnnnd more photos of my posterior on the internets. Why do I do this, again?

And the shirt! Is ALSO a Colette Patterns selection, the ever popular Jasmine. I have some issues with this pattern. Mr. Struggle, for the record, loved it.

TTS2I don’t know. I really wanted to love this shirt. I thought a lot about it. I don’t know, it’s just always a little off no matter what I try. It’s too short, for one thing, and I don’t know if I over-compensated with the full-bust adjustment I did. I just don’t know. It’s a quandary.

TTS4I used a material I got on fabric.com for 1.99 a yard. So, you know, whatever, I will wear this and it wasn’t hard to make. But I’m not quite sure about this fit, honestly.

TTS5The back is okay, though!

TTS3Whatever, I felt cute enough, I guess that’s fine. I can only really say that I think it looks better in real life, honestly. It just fits better than it looks like it does in photos. The fabric is pretty cute, though!

TTS8And it went from a Pitch Perfect Sing along, like you do, to more barbeque in the Texas sun before we headed home. We got there at 10:30am to enjoy it before our flight, and I must say, that truly is the breakfast of champions.

This is a smoker that assures us that heaven considers Texas strongly:

TTS9And there is what you can order from this particular dining establishment:

TTS10And here is how this meal made me feel!

TTS7I wonder if there is a word in German for the bliss of a full stomach cradled under a completely homemade outfit? If not, there should be.

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The Least Laboreous Labor Day Dress

I’m not going to lie to you, gentle readers, as I write this I’m suffering from a really painful stomach ache so if some of that bile starts to seep into my writing Middle Ages Medicine style, I apologize, because this post is about an awesome dress (I truly believe it to be awesome) for a beyond awesome event so I’m hoping that all that positivity heals my stomach as I sip seltzer and wince. Hopefully the heat of my computer is relaxing my stomach muscles or something.

Ah, Labor Day, you sly minx of a holiday. As lovely as it is to get the Monday holiday, it also marks the unofficial end of summer, the return to school for many, but not me, sadly, sigh, sob! I miss school….aw, well, one must become an adult sometime. I have no idea when that will happen to me, but the point is, I graduated, so I can’t go back or its creepy. But luckily, so very kind and thoughtful friends like my friends Joe and Kira knew that I might feel a little ambivalent about my post-graduate school Fall, and they very thoughtfully planned their wedding around Labor Day weekend. I know, I know, aren’t they wonderful? I think so. Imagine, doing all that JUST for me! The coordination, the family stuff, the rabbi, the dress, they made it all come together just to cheer me up. Those people are the best.

I joke, of course, I had no part in any of their decisions, which does not mean that I didn’t love and enjoy the end result! Joe and Kira had a beautiful wedding and getting to celebrate with them literally on the heels of another wedding of close friends, featured here, was really amazing. Did I mention that this wedding was ALSO in Brooklyn? So I literally didn’t have to leave Brooklyn for days? I love when that happens. The happy event took place in an event space right next to Gowanus Canal, a less than ideal view that nevertheless has been featured in countless deeply hipster instagram accounts. My mother, in fact, to whom I sent a photo after the wedding, told me she liked the dress, but not the background. What can you do? I believe Brooklyn has plans for Gowanus but for now, it is what it is, and I have a good deal of affection for the area, even if I don’t go there often. So not only did I get to celebrate Joe and Kira’s gorgeous wedding and happy happy union, but I enjoyed the ugly if interesting views of the canal while I did so.

And, to the dress. I wanted to make something interesting and different this time, to combat my last fiasco, and also because why do I buy all these patterns if I’m only doing to use the same five over and over again? So I branched out, and I just adored it! It surprised me in every way, because I really didn’t think this would be my style, but you know what? It works. No labor required.

LLLDED1This is a By Hand London Anna Dress, which I cannot believe I am so late to the party on. I was not late to the wedding, but I was late to this awesome shindig because this dress is a marvelous pattern. I love this design, and I really had no idea that I would. The bodice is flattering and fits me well with literally no adjustment. The only thing I did was grade from a 10 in the bodice to an 8 in the skirt, and easy peasy lemon squeezie, this thing was a hit. I chose the v-neck option and against my better judgement adhered to the original instructions and used the facing. This actually was not the disaster I’d been fearing. It did not pop out as so many facing had on me in the past. I did not have to stop mid-dance to push a flapping facing out of my face. I did not hate this situation at all!

LLLDED4

Well done, By Hand London, well done. The pleats in the bodice are just lovely, and the kimono sleeves were comfortable and look great. I even enjoyed the maxi-option of this dress, which is not my normal thing, because I’m so damn short.

Maxi Dress

But between the slit and the wedges I had planned to wear (also a rare move, I am really not a heels person as I’m sure you’ve intimated from the history of this blog) I think I don’t look too “swimming in fabric” but more “swimming in the canal”. No, I’m kidding, that’s disgusting, it’s not nice in there.

LLLDED2My lovely husband Mr. Struggle took these photos. I knew there was a reason to marry him! Permanent photographer when all others fail. Lovely.

LLLDED5A little back view for you. I used a contrasting zipper. I would love to say that was a fashion statement but it was all I had. I pinked the hell out of everything, and I used a $1.99 a yard fabric I got from fabric.com. I know that french seams would be great on this if I had had more time, but I seem to have fallen into the nasty habit of last-minute stitching for these kinds of events. Bad Leah. That being said, the zipper is fine. I did try to press this but it literally melted the fabric the first time I tried and I had to sort of pinch the hole left behind and stitch it into a tiny unsuggested dart. Luckily it’s in the back. so NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. Except you. Because I just told you.

Still, I do love this fabric, it’s just really fun and different. I only managed to get a rather blurry photo of it but hopefully you can see it:

LLLDED7You see, this little man is going up and down the bannister of these stairs. I just love it! The stairs are much more orange in real life, just so you know.

LLLDED6A romantic gaze out onto the canal.

LLLDED3And there it is. My dress for the wedding that ended the summer and marked the first year of my new life as a writer on my own. Well, not quite on my own….

Congratulations Joe and Kira, and welcome to the Fall, people! I can’t wait to sew for it!

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