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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The Make It Work Dress

As surprising as it seems, I have never seen Project Runway. Yes, I know, its about sewing. Yes, I know I sew. No, I don’t care. I’ve never seen The Wire, either. I’ve also never seen The Real World or The Jersey Shore. We’ve all got our stuff, okay? Have you seen every episode of Pushing Daisies? Or been to China? No? I’ve done both of those things. So shut up. The point is, even though I’ve never seen the show, I’m aware of it, and of Tim Gunn’s famous phrase, “make it work”, which, given that I have no context for it, I assume is in reference to people making something work. In terms of clothing. That’s logical, right?

So recently I was in a situation where, in fact, I couldn’t make what I was making work. Now, normally, who cares, right? It’s a bummer but life, she goes on. But this particular dress was for my friend Becca’s wedding. Now, I understand realistically no one cares what I’m wearing to this wedding, because I am not the person in white, but nevertheless, I love Becca, I didn’t want to look terrible, and besides, I have a reputation to uphold! People expect things of me and my sewing machine! I had to make it work!

So, despite the late hour and an early morning of teaching 9 year olds how to sew the next day, I cut and stitched a new dress. Because being exhausted is a great way to deal with 8 small girls and their incessant and well-considered questions that I have no idea how to answer, despite knowing how to sew. (This is interesting, how is it that you can do something but have real trouble explaining how things work to a beginner? I will be honest, I have totally resorted to, it just works, okay? when getting a hard question about stitching.) But I simply had to make it work. The wedding demanded a new dress! (Literally no one demanded this. I did all of this to myself.) And you know what? For something that I threw together, I completely love this dress!

MIW 1Turned out nice, right? I grabbed my bodice block, gathered the skirt, lined the bodice in a blue silk taffeta I got for free from a dressmaker looking to unload her stock. (THANK YOU!). The fabric comes from India via Mr. Struggle, and it has a lovely sheen to it, which I thought might make this appropriate for this black-tie-optional affair. The fabric is actually quite quite lovely, and I got scores of compliments on this dress to prove it. Well done, Mr. Struggle!

MIW 2Yes, I had to admit that he did something well. Yes, it hurt.

MIW 4I joke, I joke, he’s wonderful. The neckline of the dress turned out to be an excellent frame for the truly gorgeous necklace my new in-laws gave me to celebrate our marriage. It was a very India-centric outfit, as it turns out, which was of course totally appropriate for a Brooklyn wedding. The ceremony was truly lovely, and the girl in the white dress looked insanely gorgeous, not to mention happy. Hmmm, I wonder why?

MIW 6I didn’t get any amazing back shots but that’s okay, life goes on.

MIW 5 Oh, those shoes. So cute. So painful at the end of the night. How do women wear stilettos? These are thick chunky 1940’s style pumps and they still made my feet bleed. Thank goodness I picked a profession when I spend most of my time in my pajamas writing barefoot on the couch.

MIW 7After the disaster that was the first attempt to make something for this wedding (slippery silk did not participate or play well with others) this was super fast and basic, I’ve made this pattern many times before and there are no surprises, just lots of darts. I altered the neckline a bit but otherwise, boom. Nothing crazy. The only crazy part was ME.

MIW 3Jenny, my friend who took these lovely photos after the ceremony (so I’m smiling really hard to hide the fact that I’ve just been sobbing, weddings are emotional!) taught me this pageant pose which makes your waist look tiny. Thank you, Jenny! I will forever be grateful.

It was just a lovely wedding, and I was so happy to be there, to celebrate with my friends, and, of course, have a new dress, the most important part. Sometimes, regardless of your desire for sleep, you just need to make it work. Becca likes Project Runway, so I knew she would approve. Congratulations to an amazing couple, and stay tuned for an upcoming post on the dress I made to ANOTHER wedding of another amazing pair! I promise I will stop making party dresses, guys, for real. After all, it’s fall soon, right? Back to wools and heavy knits and pants! But first, a little more icing, cool? Get excited.

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Filed under Friends, Life, Sewing

The Practice Makes Perfect Dress

For some of us, it takes a long time to find the right person. But for some of us, we know right away. For some of us, we live in doubt for years, wondering if we will ever find anyone we can tolerate, let alone love. For some of us, we wonder if we can tolerate the person we love forever. Sometimes these states even exist simultaneously, which is bizarre and might make you feel like you are in some kind of odd house of mirrors where your ideas of reality distort from room to room.

I personally came to the state of existing with another person rather late, and then, you know, I married him. This is a rather precipitous turn of affairs by any standards, though of course one that makes me very happy.  It is impossible not to compare and contrast yourself against other couples, other ways of life, at least, within my own experience, however dangerous that is. Because the truth is, at least in my limited experience, that ever couple creates its own community, its own rules and ways of thinking and language between the two parties involved, and trying to gauge yourself next to someone else’s union is like trying to compare two different countries to decide which is better. Not that people don’t do that, too. And yet I have often looked at the people around me, especially my friends who have been in long-term relationships, and compared myself and my life and, later, my time with Mr. Struggle, to them, as unfair and fruitless as that is.

And the person who always prevented me from doing this, the person who reminded me how foolish and unproductive this is, is my friend Becca, who recently tied the knot herself. Becca and Derek have always taught me that love, just like life, takes practice, and time, and patience. But whether that practice has been for a few years or a few months, it doesn’t matter. It’s just important that you know that’s what it’s going to take. So, having been with her own partner for 12 years, she and Derek got engaged last fall, which was of course signficant because of what I wore. Just like everything else, these life events are wonderful showcases for my sartorial choices. I was so thrilled to celebrate their engagement, just as I was overjoyed to watch them get married, and of course, I had to bring my A game with my sewing decisions. But as it turns out, A game is a hard thing to bring to the party when you’re moving/getting married yourself/dealing with your own existence. Oy with this summer. Still, looking good is worth a few late nights hunched over the sewing machine, right? Right? So focus on the dress, not the under-eye circles, deal?

Here we go, the first of two dress posts created exclusively for Becca and Derek’s wedding! Sewing dresses to post on my blog. It’s the greatest wedding gift of all, right, guys?

PMP 1For the rehearsal dinner, I whipped together (literally, I finished this thing three hours before the dinner, Mr. Struggle thinks I’m insane. Way to get the memo late, dude) a Cambie dress, my second one in a row! This pattern is so great. I love the sleeves and the way they get inserted, though the one thing I would change for next time would be to place them a little bit towards the armscye, as they cut a little oddly right now and reveal that little bit of plumpness around the upper chest. The bane of existence.

I cut a 10 for the bodice and graded down to an 8 for the waist and skirt, as I did before. I love the fit, and I love the fill skirt, but I think I should probably try the other for the fall, I love the sleek slimmer option. It’s great for that office job that I….don’t have.

PMP 3Still, I adore this dress! It’s a bit wrinkled in these photos as I actually had my friend Jenny who came in for the wedding take them the day after the rehearsal dinner. The dinner itself was such a blast and so busy I didn’t have time to awkwardly stand around getting photos of myself taken, and then we ended up stuck in the rain waiting for a cab in Chelsea. Aka in hell. So there are some wrinkles. What can you do.

PMP 4You gotta just laugh it off an enjoy the time with your friends. Jenny and her husband Marty got married two years ago, and I dutifully made dresses for those events in Chicago, so it was lovely to be able to host them as we watched Becca get married, and have Jenny act as my fashion photographer for the day. She’s so good at it, don’t you think?

PMP 5Oh, yes, it has pockets. Obviously. The fabric is a Nani Iro double gauze which is to die for, and Mr. Struggle bought it for me at Purl Soho under my supervision because he is nice and knows how to make me happy with Japanese fabric. He’s a keeper.

PMP 6Nice, right? I see a stray thread, sigh. That’s what speed sewing gets you!

PMP 2And there it is. The first of two dresses for Becca and Derek’s beautiful and fantastic wedding. This one only had to stand up to a meal. The other one? Had dancing to do. More on that later!

 

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The At Least It’s Before Labor Day Dress

I am all about the seasonal appropriateness of things. I really don’t drink red wine in the summer (although that recently was a rule that had to bend because someone gave us a bunch of red wine and in our move we’ve hemorrhaged money and….I like wine. So, red, anyone?) And I will be the first to admit that I’m a little bit weird about old-timey color rules. Black and navy? Nope. Wont do it. Brown and black? Kill me now. Absolutely not. I will hard-core judge the hell out of you, and myself, if such a thing happens. I like things in their places. I like things to be the way I think they are supposed to be. I mean, I use chopsticks when I make myself a stir fry, for goodness sakes. And yes, is this highly neurotic? Absolutely. You are welcome to talk to my therapist all about it. You two kids have fun. But I enjoy my exacting and strange nature, and luckily, I found someone else who likes it too. Obviously I’m talking about my cat. But also, Mr. Struggle has signed up to deal with all of my strange stuff plus the difficulty of living with such a divine being like Cadfael, and recently, we made it official down at City Hall.

And for the first of our three weddings, I was a little concerned about what to wear. How casual is City Hall? How formal? Well, as it turns out, a wonderful and strange combination of the two. Seriously, if you aren’t busy on a Friday, go down to New York’s City Hall with a drink and a snack and enjoy the people watching of the Marriage Bureau. It’s a wonderful place. It’s the happiest government building I’ve ever been to, because people actually want to be there when they come. Couples of all shapes and sizes, races, sexual orientations and levels of formal dress are there to tie the knot with not a lot of ceremony. (See what I did there?) Mr. Struggle and I, along with friends and family, enjoyed an hour or so wait on Friday morning before our lightening-quick ceremony and a day of delicious food, copious drinks and wonderful people. So what is the dress that can go from morning ceremony to afternoon gorging? The one that says “this is my first of three weddings”? The one that works for August in Manhattan? I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t be sure. I just had to take a gamble and hope the odds were in my favor. After all, I knew I could wear white, at least. We’re well before Labor Day. Right?

ALIALD6Oh, dear. Okay, so as you can imagine, photos were hard on this day. These are sort of torn out of my regular wedding photos, courtesy of my wonderful friend Becca, who is getting married herself in two weeks!!!! So obviously these are not the best of outfit pictures, but they do represent an amazing day in my life! So just go with it, okay? Oh, yeah, at New York City Hall you can pose in front of a fake backdrop of City Hall. Or….you can walk outside….and do it in real life…..but, hey, who am I to judge other people’s choices.

ALIALD7The pattern is Sewaholic’s Cambie dress, a wonderful and well-drafted pattern. The fabric I got at Mood Fabrics, because I really wanted a nice eyelet, and I knew they would have variety. Boy, did they. The prices left me disquieted, but I figured, it’s worth it. I love this dress very much. It’s got pockets and it’s comfortable and flattering and I love the sleeves. I might dye it, actually, because I don’t know when I’m going to need a white dress in this formality level again. In India I obviously have to wear a traditional outfit and our Philadelphia wedding will be more formal than this. Ah, well. Still, an eyelet dress is always welcome. Any color suggestions?

ALIALD5

I did not muslin this. I know. I KNOW. I didn’t make a muslin FOR MY WEDDING DRESS. PLAYING WITH FIRE. But guys, it’s been a little crazy. Mr. Struggle and I have had the worst move in the history of moves which is also known as “any time anyone moves in New York”. I don’t know how people survive here. I don’t know how I have survived here. I don’t know why anyone moves ever. I should have just had Mr. Struggle move into my three bedroom apartment and slowly murdered my other roommates with arsenic, rather than try to move. I love my old roommates deeply, but honestly, I’m pretty sure this sort of thing happens all the time. Because otherwise, I don’t know how people do this. Between the apartment we lost because it wasn’t done after two months of renovations, to the drunk mover who dropped box after box of my sewing stuff, to the dark seventh circle of hell that is Ikea, it’s just been some struggle. And then we got married. Like you do.

ALIBLD3It was still pretty wonderful, though, despite the move and the mess and the chaos.

ALIBLD2There were a lot of photos like this. So, sewing stuff, right. I cut an 10 in the bodice and graded down to an 8 in the waist and skirt. The lower-body stuff of Sewaholic Patterns always great for me, because I have such a Puerto Rican posterior, but the bodice part always needs a little extra room for my, uh, Jewish attributes in the bosom. I love love love this dress, I love the pattern, I can’t wait to make more. The sleeves are darling, the waist piece is awesome, it all comes together beautifully, and the pockets, well, come on. Everything needs pockets, even a wedding dress.

ALIBLD1Speaking of posterior, you may think the person you see on the right side of this photo a Kardashian, but it’s my husband’s cousin Rashi, who seriously looks that good all the time. It’s severely unfair, and the worst thing is, she’s awesome and wonderful as well. What a bitch.

I did the whole something old and borrowed (the pin, a piece that my grandmother brought from Iran and gave to my mother, who lent it to me), something blue (the fabulous shoes, duh, courtesy of Modcloth.com) and something new (le dress).

After our City Hall ceremony, Mr. Struggle and I celebrated with a fantastic lunch at one of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Franny’s. It was magnificent, and if you are in the area, seriously, check it out. And in honor of the occasion, I will give you your first and possibly last glimpse at Mr. Struggle, because he is shy, and besides, this is my damn blog, not his.

ALIALD4Yeah, he went super Indian for the event. That being said, he pretty much goes super Indian for life, so what can you do?

And that’s my first wedding dress. I know all white can be tricky, but at least it’s before Labor Day, right?

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The Elephants See Manhattan Dress

One night thing about sewing is that you can always make yourself a new outfit for an occasion. This is also a very dangerous thing about sewing, because you can just make new things all the time, so your wardrobe can become populated with dresses themed to specific events and therefore limited in their use, and also, if people know you sew, because you’re like me and you proudly declare it to every damn person that you meet who doesn’t really care about your weird hobby but is just trying to buy some coffee so great, thanks, bye, then people start asking you if what you are wearing is a new outfit and then you feel some kind of compulsion to make something new for every occasion and then even more stuff finds its way into your closet but your life in New York, a land where closets are an endangered species, so you end up getting rid of a lot of stuff all the time which is why you might someday see a homeless person wearing a dress I made. And thus, the cycle of life continues.

As discussed in posts from previous years, I really love my birthday. But this year, I suppose, my birthday and I hit a bit of a rough patch. We’re dealing with it, we’re talking it out, we’re getting to a good place, I have every hope for the future, but honestly, this year? My birthday was basically cancelled. I had big plans to make a new dress, have drinks with all my friends, enjoy the evening in the company of people I love and wine that loves me back, and yet, it was not to be. I caught an awful and debilitating summer cold, which arrived in my chest and spent several days there, before deciding it wanted to see more of the world and traveling up to my head. This cold, a sociable fellow, called it’s business associate, a fever, over for tea, and the two of them kept me company instead of all my friends. It’s always nice to meet new people, but this was outside of enough. When the two finally departed and I was back to feeling like my normal, unoccupied by illness self, I had already cancelled my birthday plans and honestly, it just seemed silly and after-the-fact to try to do anything else. So there you go. No birthday for me. I didn’t even get to finish my birthday dress! The biggest tragedy of all.

But, on the upside, I was lucky enough to have another event on the horizon that was dress-friendly and worth something special, and that was my friend Becca’s bachelorette extravaganza. So I figured, no one had to know that this was a birthday dress, right? Except…all of you. Who I am telling right now. Oh, well…

As the day included a variety of activities, from mimosas and wine-glass decorating to trivia games to dinner to 80’s tribute dance party, the dress had to include comfort, style, and pockets. And you know what? I think it does!

ESM 2.jpg

And, happy bonus, elephants. And of the many things Becca and I both love, elephants are very much among them. Elephants are amazing, the most precious and perfect of pachyderm. Sorry, rhinos and hippos! Rhinos, you are basically dinosaurs, and hippos, you look really cute but you are mean. Elephants are gorgeous creatures and so astounding. Their trunks have over 40,000 separate muscles, and that’s just the beginning of the amazingness of their trunks along. Find out more here. And their babies? Are the damn cutest. Look. Look at this. Come on:

and look at this:

They are wonderful animals and yet they are abused and slaughtered all over the world. There are many amazing charities to support elephants, and I like this one a lot, if you are interested.

At any rate, the elephants on my dress enjoyed adventures in Manhattan to celebrate the end of Becca’s non-married life. But before all that, I had a chance to force my friend Jenny, who was in town for the event, to snap some photos. The best part was that the last time I got to see Jenny was her OWN wedding, where she and Becca and our friend Lisa and I enjoyed the event and the chance to have a reunion. Seeing all these amazing women in the same room again for the first time in two years made me happier than an elephant in a mud pit.

Which is really very happy. I can assure you.

ESM 3.jpgThis fabric, while appearing Indian in nature, is actually faux-Indian, or Findian, which is a new word I’ve recently invented and feel I might be using a lot in my life. (Mr. Struggle is Indian, for those who hadn’t picked up on the clues.) I actually bought this fabric three years ago at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka one of my favorite places on earth. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I loved it, and I bought it, and I buried it in boxes and storage containers over several moves and cycles of warm weather, loving it, taking it out and touching it, thinking about it, and then putting it away again, unused. But this year, I was ready, and I think I used it well, if I do say so myself.

ESM 4.jpgI used my trusty bodice block. God, that thing. I cannot thank my friend Liz, who drafted it with me, enough for this. It had changed my life. I altered the bodice to be a square lower neckline and sheared a little off the back bodice pieces at the neck to make it almost a boatneck on the back.

ESM 5.jpgYou can’t really see that here. Sorry. But I loved this photo, Jenny kept making me cry with laughter as she directed me like a fashion photographer and told me to pop the leg. Vogue should hire her. It’s a shame she wants to be a doctor, sigh, she’s really missing her calling.

ESM 6.jpgThe skirt was just a gathered rectangle. Or rather, three gathered rectangles, as there had to be seams to accommodate the pockets. I used a vintage metal zipper I had in my stash, in a nice teal color. I hand-picked the zipper and hand-stitched the hem. Otherwise this was very simple to put together. Other than the 16 darts in the bodice, 8 in the elephant fabric, 8 in the lining, it all goes very fast. Or it would, if I hadn’t gotten that cold in the middle. Sigh. Clearly this dress wanted to be used for a higher purpose then my birthday.

ESM 7.jpgPockets like these are really good for holding your phone during 80’s night and having it handy for quick photo opportunities of the bride-to-be in all her drunk dancing glory.

ESM 8.jpgA little close up of the fabric for you. How cute are those elephants? Another friend there, Kira, wore elephant earrings. Clearly it was an elephant kind of day.

ESM 1.jpgI can assure you that this dress, of the many I’ve made, is guaranteed to be a frequent flyer in my wardrobe. The elephants would protest, otherwise. And they would be correct in doing so. They deserve to see the world, don’t they?

 

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The Poppies My Pretty Dress

The idea that there are people out there who have never seen The Wizard of Oz is a very strange idea for me. Since 1939 it’s been such a fundamental movie to public consciousness here in the United States, and also to popular culture, that the fact that people exist in the world who haven’t seen this movie seems like a sad odd fact. Obviously it isn’t, if you have no context for Kansas or the politics of the age, which many people think Baum was actually writing about, then why on earth would you be interested in this strange film, but still. Come on. It’s the first color film. It’s a great story. Who wouldn’t want to see this movie? Still. Out there, somewhere, I understand, it doesn’t make any sense. Still, I hope that anyone reading this will look it up, because I love The Wizard of Oz, and it’s just one of the best stories to tell your children that there ever could be. It’s about courage and adaptation and finding qualities within yourself you never knew you possessed and also, home, and what that means, and why it’s worth returning to. And why worlds beyond your own are worth discovering and exploring and finding and enjoying. And why everyone is worth something in their own way. And why what lives within us all is the most powerful of things, and should be valued and respected. And besides, the costumes are great, even if you don’t like the rest of it.

 

This Hanukkah, my amazing roommate Emily bought me a yard and a half of Liberty of London fabric. This was an astounding gift and I couldn’t have been more thrilled and happy to get it. I thought for a long time about what to do with such a special buttery length of amazing fabric, the lawn that puts green grass to shame. I thought long and hard about this wonderful piece of cloth, and then I finally made something I knew I could be proud of, a dress that I knew would appeal to my sense of whimsy and my everyday life. Such things are not easy to find, as you well might imagine. So here is this one:

LFA 3.jpgI used my bodice block which I developed with my friend Liz last year, and folded the skirt fabric into place in a new way, which I”m actually pretty happy about.

LFA 4.jpg

I initially thought I would gather or pleat this the way I normally would, but when I was making this skirt I started playing around with it and this is what I came up with. I think it’s rather cute, as it turned out!

LFA 7.jpgOtherwise the construction was very straightforward. I made this dress to take home to Philadelphia, and it turned out to be a lucky thing that I did, because my parents took Mr. Struggle and I out to dinner for my birthday, which was utterly lovely.

LFA 1.jpgAnd I had a dress all ready for the occasion! Which is a rare thing.

LFA 5.jpgI did not quite match up the print in the back. Ah, well, no one is perfect. I still think Dorothy could have gotten drugged in this dress, if she’d wanted to.

LFA 6.jpgWhat else can I say about this, it’s a figure hugging dress with a full skirt. So, my favorite thing there is.

LFA 2.jpgThis dress stood up to an evening of Italian food and a meal full of family bickering and several cocktails. So, basically, it’s up to the task of being a part of my life. And I’m glad to have it. It has yet to cause any soporific effects, but I don’t mind that. I’ll get to that field of poppies when they come.

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The Lots To Celebrate Dress

Ah, the 4th of July. What a holiday. Who would have known that when a bunch of slave-owning white man got together and said, you know what is the worst, paying taxes to other white men who speak our language on a tiny island far away, let’s deal with that in a long and elaborately worded “Dear John (or George, as the case may be) letter”, we would, some three centuries later, be celebrating that half-assed international mailing with fireworks, beer and awful displays of jean-short madness? Also, quick side-note, given that overseas mail took signficantly longer then, that must have been the most anti-climactic break-up ever. That’s like sending an “it’s over” text via carrier pigeon.

Look, I’m just kidding, I’m a huge fan of the founding Fathers of the United States, specifically Benjamin Franklin who gave us firehouses, public libraries, bifocals, and the best children’s book ever.  My father is probably Franklin’s biggest fan, and you can’t help but be a bit of a groupie if you grow up in Philadelphia, Franklin’s adopted city. He was actually from Boston, and was apprenticed to a candlemaker until he escaped and…you know what? You should read his autobiography. I did. At the age of 13. Because my father made me. And then you can come to Philadelphia and see his home and his grave and the University he founded and the museum named after him and you can cry to your dad that you don’t WANT to read more about Franklin and you like John Adams because Principle Feeney played him in this movie and besides he seemed like a cool guy who respected women and oh my god I need a moment a lot of my childhood just flashed back excuse me. Sob.

ANYWAY.  I even love celebrating July 4th.  Who doesn’t love freedom? Specifically a freedom only granted to landowning White males of a certain income and education level? It’s a great excuse to grill a bunch of things, drink a bunch of wine (I don’t CARE if it comes from Europe, it’s freedom juice to me!) and enjoy some time with my family. That’s worth celebrating, right? It’s certainly worth a new outfit….

And with no further ado, may I present to you the latest in a long line of Plantain and Plantain hacks, my Lots To Celebrate Dress? Don’t mind if I do!

LTC 2

Ah, I love this dress! And could it BE more patriotic? My cynical ramblings are totally negated by this dress, aren’t they?

So, yes, Plantain. To this. How,you say? Well, I took the top part of the top, that is, above the waist, and used that to cut the bodice. I then slimmed it on the front and back pieces by about two inches, and used the sleeves as they were, and the neck binding. Then I just cut and gathered the skirt. Gathering a knit is the damn worst. I don’t recommend it. It’s dumb. Still! I like this.

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The fabric I got at my beloved Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet for literally 1.98 a yard. Because, Philadelphia. I got two yards and I still have enough to make a tank top. Luckily it stretches in both directions because the vertical stripe and I are good friends.

LTC 5Although I do think that it is deeply hilarious that the stripes look bigger on the bodice because of my, um, front area. Sigh. Whatever. Franklin would have appreciated this. He loved himself some ladies.

LTC 3A little rear view for you. This dress was insanely easy to sew. I have made this pattern 10 times now and it only gets easier. And it wasn’t hard to begin with. Make this pattern. It’s awesome. That’s all I can say about it. It’s easy and fast and free. What else do you want on July 4th?

LTC 6Obviously these photos were not taken in Brooklyn, but rather at my parent’s house in Philadelphia where we had a lovely BBQ to celebrate the holiday. Not that we are so into it, but, honestly, any excuse to grill…

LTC 8Obviously I left Cadfael in Brooklyn but that’s okay, I wasn’t lonely:

LTC 7Cats gotta be a part of everything, am I right?

LTC 9We made some excellent slaw from this excellent blog. Try that today, too.

So, obviously, celebrating the United States and it’s weird and wonderfully awkward revolution is important. But it’s also important to celebrate personal things too, like this dress, or the slaw I made with my mom, or, you know, getting engaged. Which I also did. So there’s that.

LTC 11Yes. Sharp eyed readers will have noticed this new piece of jewelry making it’s first appearance on the blog. And in my life. As it turns out, what’s-his-face was not just hanging out with me for the sewing tips, and he proposed to me recently. So in honor of that event, and because my mom is unhappy with the moniker “what’s-his-face”, my gentleman caller is being upgraded to Mr. Struggle. I don’t know that you will ever see him on this blog, as he is shy, but I do know that I will be documenting all of my wedding-related makes here, so it seems only fair to tell you why all the white all of a sudden. And why I have a lot to celebrate. He took these photos of me. Maybe that’s why I look so happy? Hard to tell. It’s probably just dreaming about Ben Franklin….

LTC 1Yeah. That’s gotta be it.

I hope you had the best 4th of July possible if you live in the United States, and if not, I hope you had a lovely Friday that had no other meaning to you. I know I did. Thanks, dead white guys!

 

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