The Chicken Little Dress

First of all, enter here to win an advanced reader copy of my novel! Or not, it’s your life.

Isn’t it wonderful how far curiosity can take you?

This is the story of the time that I grabbed a swath of cloth with fabric shopping at Thakur (OBVIOUSLY. I literally don’t buy fabric anywhere else anymore) and then ended up grabbing a second piece of that fabric while shopping there again with my friend Ana (hi, Ana!). I just couldn’t resist it, because it was too cute for words, and I knew exactly what I would make from it and what I would call that garment. (Of course, knowing what you would make from something is probably the best and most efficient and least wasteful way to shop for fabric, but I don’t always do that, much to my shame. How do you guys feel about stashing? Pro or anti?)

At any rate, this does not always happen to me, that a fabric calls out to me, like a siren, tempting me as I sail, lashed to the prow of the ship, trying to get home to Ithaca, sort of, while I bang a bunch of other ladies on the way. Sidenote, have you seen this excellent thing? It is excellent.  

But this fabric did call me. Or rather, clucked.

It’s chickens! Yes, yes it is. What was that about trying to dress more like an adult? I don’t remember saying something like that on numerous occasions, do you?

Sidenote, once Whats-his-face told me, “you shouldn’t buy more animal printed fabric” and it was the closest we’ve come to divorce yet.

How amazing are these chickens! And given that I live in India, a place where I literally constantly see chickens everywhere around me, I feel like it’s very appropriate. Of course, this is sort of a cutesy version of my reality. It’s like this:

(OTHER SIDENOTE did everyone know that Jane Krakowski starred in the London production of Guys and Dolls in 2005 AND JUST FORGET TO TELL ME????)

But my reality is like THIS:

This is a real photo from my actual life.

At any rate, I loved the fabric, idealization of chickens in my life or no, and I knew it would make a nice version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7503. 

As you might recall from careful reading of this blog, I made a test version of this for a fancy project. That worked out well, if a bit loose, so I went down a size to a 16 and it’s perfect! I didn’t get a chance to document said fancy dress, sigh, ah well. It’s hard to get good photos at evening events, don’t you find? What do you guys do in that case?

So at least I can show you the fit with this, my Chicken Little dress!

Oh, and that leads me back to the point about research. Took me a while, but I always get there! I loved the story of Chicken Little when I was a child. You know it, I’m sure, a chicken gets hit in the head with a leaf or a feather or an acorn, what have you, and thinks the sky is falling. He gets a lot of other animals on board with this story, and they go off to warn the king of the incoming danger. Like so many folktales and fairy tales, it has a modern sanitized ending, in which they do indeed warn the king, but the original version has them all eaten up by a wily fox who knows, even if the credulous animals don’t, that you can’t believe everything you hear. In this era of “fake news”, isn’t that a good lesson for us all?

So when I looked up Chicken Little, just to get a link, really, to the folktale, I found out that the story, like most, is much older than I thought! And readers outside of the United States might know it better as Henny Penny, which is arguably far more adorable.

Check out these illustrations of the story from different eras!

This illustration from 1916 proves that everyone looked better when we all had to wear hats and obviously the fox is a villain because HE IS THE ONLY ONE NOT WEARING A HAT GET IT TOGETHER ANIMALS!

This one is from 1840!

Another version of the story calls the character Chicken Licken, which is delicious for obvious reasons, and the original Danish version of the tale called him Kylling Kluk which is….amazing. Just absolutely amazing.

But I know the character as Chicken Little, and that is the name I have given my dress.

To the dress!

With the busy print it’s a little hard to see the pattern, but it’s adorable, I promise.

Maybe you can see it a bit better here. I rounded out the neckline on this one for variety, but otherwise made no changes, except for using bias tape instead of a lining. It’s hot here!

Oh, I suppose I also omitted the horsehair at the hem this time for the simple reason that I didn’t have any. Although I will say, it’s a bit scratchy on my other version, so I might just throw a petticoat under this (I finally broke down and bought a petticoat and it’s waiting for me in Philadelphia and I’m so excited!) if I want more swish. I feel like horsehair should be reserved for dresses with a lining, maybe? What do others do about that scratchiness?

Although it does have a decent swish right now, when I move!

Love a good twirl shot.

 

I do like that v back. This is the first version I’ve made, actually, of the three I’ve made, that is sleeveless, just like the original, and I like the armscye depth and strap thickness.

You can almost sort of see the princess seams there, but not quite. Ah, well, I suppose that’s not the end of the world. I mean, who is sitting around looking at everyone’s seamlines? Other than….people like me?

And there you have it. A dress I can wear whether the the sky is falling or not. I’m seriously loving this pattern! I’m thinking of stitching it up for a friend’s wedding, which is a daytime event, so hopefully photos to follow!

In other news, I’m working hard on my #makingmaisel garments! How about you? And congratulations to Miriana and Esme for winning patterns from the giveaway! Speaking of stash busting, keep an eye out for a fabric one to follow soon…..

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The My Audition for Hair is Tomorrow Shirt

Some projects are long in the making. They require time and space and long hours of contemplation. They live in the imagination like phantoms, lying in wait for the right fabric, the right moment in time, the right feeling. 

This is not one of those projects.

This is more of a project that is like that song by the Shirelles. You know the one I mean….

If you don’t know or at least enjoy that song on first listening then you are dead inside. Please stop reading this blog, I don’t want no zombies here. Thanks! Bye.

Seriously, Walking Dead, get out of here. You are by FAR the least interesting thing AMC has ever produced to my mind. Yes, I know about Turn. Yes, that sounds cooler to me. Come on, now, you know you are into that period! What else has Lin-Manuel Miranda given us, if not that?

Side note, how are zombies cool now? They are legit the least sexy mythical creature. They are rotting, all the time. They are the sexual equivalent of a compost bin. COME on, people!

ANYway. The point is, this was a project that I was like, oh, yeah, I want that. I want to make that. And within three days, I sure had!

It also involves a pattern company I had never heard of before! Have you guys heard of Peppermint Magazine? It is straight up delightful, with a free pattern monthly and a lot of excellent sustainable things! But also, FREE PATTERN MONTHLY! I mean, how do you walk away from that?

This month’s pattern is a blouse with ruffled sleeves, totally on trend, totally adorable.

I saw it on a Thursday, I made in on a Saturday. I took photos of it on a Sunday. I cut out two more on a Monday.

Not convinced? Enjoy the photos!

Fun fact, it was literally 105 degrees fahrenheit when we shot these photos. BUT. This blouse looked better with jeans than with the shorts I’ve made in the past. It’s so billowy that it needs a slim leg below, right? So I wore jeans. For you guys, FOR THE READERS. I know, I know, send in my candidacy for sainthood. No matter that I’m Jewish. CALL THE VATICAN!

So first of all, I was trying to be conservative with my size by cutting a size G, but this is too big. Which is fine! I still like it. I cut a size G because it said the finished bust size was a 44, and my size D chest is 42 inches at the fullest point, so two inches of ease, sounds like a plan, right? Wrong. This is WAY more than 44 inches in width! I like the loose look, don’t get me wrong, but I’m going down a size for my next try. 

But also, look, I totally like this shirt. Obviously! I cut more!

But also, again, it does sort of remind me of something….

Yes. Hair. The musical Hair.

Good lord, why do we glorify hippies? These are hippies:

Disgusting. Weird, cult-oriented, weirdness. But mostly, disgusting. You can hate the Man with showers! Right?

This is one of my favorite things among a thousand things about Mad Men, the fact that they depict hippie cults clearly:

Just horrific. Margaret!

I don’t care how happy and free she is. SHE LOOKED BETTER REPRESSED:

 

Oh, god. I have betrayed everything my mother fought for. I am horrific. BUT I’M CLEAN, RIGHT?

Yep. Hair combed, body cleansed, blouse a little 70’s  but still fairly modern!

Side view!

 

And the back! This is a stupid easy make, and I LOVE the way that Peppermint Magazine has included a ton of detailed instructions to make the finishing of seams as clear and wonderful as possible. Well done! They have so many great patterns, I’m excited to make the others!

 

 

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The Oh Noble Sheep Outfit

 

In the photos you are about to see, I am wearing two self-knitted garments. One of them took me a week. One of them took me 5 months.

Guys. Knitting. It’s a whole damn thing.

I do actually really like knitting. But since we moved to Mumbai, my knitting game has taken a strong hit. This is 100% because it is so damn hot and humid here, and the idea of handling a ton of wool is just painful. I am not a fast knitter, one-week skirt aside, so I end up spending a long time with a knitting project, most of the time. The idea of covering my lap with wool is so so appealing in a crisp fall, cold winter, or damp spring. Not so much in this tedious land of constant summer.

But I do spend time in the States, in Philadelphia and New York, and they are cold in the winter! Which, I know that that is a bummer but honestly, I just can’t even with this monotonous weather, I had a total temper tantrum the other day with What’s-his-face about the sameness of the weather, I’m a mess. So I was really excited to finish this sweater, FINALLY, and wear it in America. And then I thought, let me get this party really started! On a two week trip to the States, I ordered wool and bought a pattern and decided to challenge myself to knit a wool skirt in 7 days. And I did!

Chunky knits, man. They just HAPPEN.

In other news, I’m going to attempt my first fingering weight sweater while on an upcoming writer’s residency in Italy. I might be knitting that for a year. Wish me well.

But first, a word from our sponsors:

 

 

To the outfit!

I do feel that all these knits make ME look a little chunky, but ah well. They also keep me warm! And it was cold, as I wanted it to be. And I was happy!

The sweater is the Purl Soho Folded Squares Cardigan.  I made one for my mother in Manos del Uruguay, so then I had to do the same for myself….

The shape is lovely, and drapes well, and the Manos yarn in Clasica is SO warm and cozy. I made one change to the pattern, lengthening the sleeves. This was the same alteration I made for my mom, and we both are big fans!

A bit windy up there….

The sweater is an easy knit, but  time consuming. I started it in July, and I finished it in February, just to give you a sense of how slow I am. Row after row after row, it’s a little monotonous, but it’s fun the way it all fits together!

The skirt, on the other hand, is super easy and and very fast. It’s the Bryn Mawr skirt, which, given my own origins in Philadelphia, is very appropriate! (Bryn Mawr is a suburb of Philadelphia, and a great college! Midge went there!)

I read a lot of Ravelry reviews of this pattern and all of them said it knitted up big, so I opted for a size 28 waist, figuring that would be comfortable, but it’s enormous! It was slipping off during these photos and literally slide off of my body about thirty minutes after we took these, which was about an hour after I wore the skirt for the first time. So I’m going to insert elastic, because otherwise I can’t wear this, and it’s so cosy and cute, I want to!

It’s SO warm. This yarn is from a company called Valley Yarns, and it’s the Berkshire Bulky, and it’s a dream.

Okay, so that’s about it. Busty photos of me in chunky knits on a rooftop. But let me tell you, I was WARM!

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The Peoples of the Ancient World Dress

First of all, just so everyone knows, you are WELCOME to enter my pattern giveaway regardless of joining the #makingmaisel sewalong! Check it out, here!

When I was a child of about 12, I was already a big fan of history. Especially ancient history. I know. Knock you over with a feather. Nothing I have ever said before on this blog has ever even shaded towards that for you. But I was a kid who used to sit around reading books on young Martha Washington and Greek battle secrets and learning how to mummify stuff. As you can imagine, this made me really popular, which is good, because that was 100% my goal.

But the question is of course, why did I become this sort of human? Well, it’s probably because of a variety of factors, if I’m being perfectly honest. If I had to give you a recipe for a historically minded nerd child, because you might like to bred one yourself, it might be as follows:

10 cups historic fiction reading materials (anything from the Horrible History series to Japanese myths will do. Bonus points if you give them access to questionable appropriate series like Steven Saylor’s Gordanius the Finder books which no ten year old should read and this ten year old 100% did)

2 cups historically minded parents

1 cup access to travel and historic spaces (an expensive ingredient, to be sure. Can be substituted with appreciation for said historic spaces, if access is not possible immediately/ever)

3 tablespoon obsession with Indiana Jones

2 teaspoons costume obsession

1 teaspoon love of old-timey fonts

1 pinch of vivid fantasy life

Stir to combine, serve. Warning, becomes more potent with age.

In addition to all this, I lived downtown in Philadelphia, while I attended a school in the suburbs, which meant that school vacations were a little, say, isolated. My parents would hand me a stack of museum memberships (an optional ingredient for the recipe above), and send me on my way, to fill the long days with something other than watching television and bothering them at work. And one of my favorite places to spend a long vacation day was The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. A lot of people don’t know about this museum, but it is splendid, and well worth a visit if you are in the area. I would take my mother’s high school textbook from the 1950’s, The Peoples of the Ancient World, hugely out of date and more than a little offensive by modern standards, and sit in the galleries supplementing the exhibition texts with choice self-taught Assyrian lessons.

I think you are probably seeing why I was….alone for these trips, unaccompanied by “friends”, or whatever.

Well, on a recent trip to the States, from which I am still jetlagged, having returned to Mumbai on Thursday, I got a chance to not only visit the museum, but do so with my friend Becca, AND get a tour of the conservation lab! It was beyond my wildest imaginings and I mostly clasped my hands to my chest so I wouldn’t knock anything over.

And at the end of the visit, I got Becca to take my photo! I named this dress after the textbook, which I love and treasure and still have.

This dress is actually SUPER simple, like, STUPID simple, but I wanted to show it off because the fabric is just a star. And I bought it with my friend Ana!

It’s this lovely scuba knit I got at Thakur in Mumbai, and I just adore the print. I had never sewn with this fabric before, so that was new! And pretty easy, honestly…

Scuba knit is HOT, though, guys. It really does not BREATH. Note to self: make the next scuba knit thing I made sleeveless, because….sweat.

But look at that! I love the ferns….

To make this dress I adapted my bodice block into a princess seam, and used the sleeves from the Deer and Doe Plantain shirt, combined with a half-circle skirt.

I wouldn’t say the fit is PERFECT but it is fine. There is some extra fabric around the armholes, which…I don’t know how to fix for next time. Any ideas? The bodice in general is a little roomy, but that’s not a bad thing, I guess. I suppose it makes it easier to wear because I didn’t want to put in a zipper.

It was, of course, quite easy to make. I didn’t hem the skirt or the sleeves to eliminate bulk. I am okay with this.

This is one part of the museum from the outside. Pretty, right?

Right?

RIGHT??????

A little side view for you!

And the other side! Becca had fun with the angles…

And the back! The skirt only has one seam, so I matched it to the back seam and called it a day.

And now, some of my favorite objects (from THIS trip, I have new ones each time….) and reasons you should check out the museum yourself! And Philadelphia, in general!

Right? Doesn’t it just make you want to throw some khaki on your body and jump into a tomb?

Just me? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Well, at least we can agree that the dress is fun!

What were you into when you were 12/still into now? What is your favorite historic period and region? Mine changes daily, but right now, I’m really into Tang China, Mughal India, and Gilded Age New York, probably because of The Alienist, if I’m being real….)

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#MakingMaisel Pattern Giveaway!

UPDATE! Ignore the date listed below, because this giveaway now closed on April 1st! Comment to win, and remember, even if you aren’t participating in the sew-along, you are welcome to enter!

 

Remember when I said I was giving stuff away? I 100% am! Make a comment below to in any single one of these patterns, two modern, five vintage, which I am happy to ship anywhere in the world! Please state your pattern of choice! The giveaway closes on March 20th, so get your comment in!

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#MakingMaisel Pattern Ideas

Happy Monday, all! My gift to you is some pattern inspiration to help you figure out how to make that Maisel costume into the outfit of your dreams. I still haven’t decided what I’M doing yet, although I do know that I’m going to make SOMETHING in a wool, potentially a raspberry or a grey, classic Midge power colors. Know what I mean?

Now, of course there is the option for this one to go vintage pattern, and I may well be taking it, honestly, but thank goodness we live in a world that also gives us the opportunity to buy vintage reproductions, in a multi-size pattern, that we don’t have to worry about scaling or changing or damaging throughout the sewing process, am I right?

So here are some of my thoughts, although I welcome your ideas too!

Obviously, the outerwear is amazing. I don’t know if I can justify this to myself because…when would I wear it, but gosh, I’m tempted, aren’t you? All those gorgeous coats, so impractical with no closures, so amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, there are some options for you if this is your deal.

 

 

 

The obvious contender, and it’s already in raspberry! IT’S A SIGN.

Also an option.

Sometimes these dress patterns sneak in a coat pattern. LUCKY FOR US!

The Colette Patterns Lady Grey would also work as a tribute piece!

I feel like if you made that up in a wool it would totally echo that tan coat Midge is sporting above, no?

This is technically not a coat but, I just, I die:

Separates:

The men of Maisel rock a separate, and Susie is all about a jeans and knit top combo, with her leather jacket, natch, but more often than not, Midge and Imogene are in dresses. Rose is all about a suit, very appropriate for her age in that period, and Rose is all ABOUT appropriate, as we know. This would totally be the time to make a suit, if anyone is itching to do that, but for now, I’m going to focus on the more unconventional separates the show gives us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Midge in pants, so beatnik chic! There are some great options for that flat-front 1950’s look that was so popular, apparently people felt that the zipper front on women was vulgar.

I have been searching for a cute 1950’s blouse pattern for YEARS, any leads? But for the turtleneck, look no further than Seamwork!

Shorten Neelah into a shirt and there you go!

This outfit is a popular one on the internets, maybe because it’s so contemporary looking? I like the color combo, though, so bold! For this one, you might like the combo of Colette patterns Selene with a knit tee in a merino wool. Oooohhh, that would be cute…

 

And of course, who doesn’t love Midge’s work out gear?

 

For the shorts, I think the Weston shorts are a solid option:

 

You could also lengthen these to make Susie’s high waisted pants!

And the Astoria sweater would be too cute for Midge OR Susie! Material is everything.

And for the leotard, I mean, look no further than the Closet Case Nettie…

 

 

Okay, okay, fine, let’s get to the dresses!

I love literally everything each of these women is currently wearing.

 

This simplicity number feels right on the money! Add a bow, it’s there!

 

The top is a little off, but I think you could alter this one to make it work, and I love that back detail! It also reminds me of this number:

And then we have this one:

This one is a little intense, but also excellent. And look at that, a near-perfect pattern match!

Oh, love it all. LOVE IT ALL! Nothing exact here, but some options for an approximation:

 

Colette Patterns Claudette Dress, a classic!

Love those design lines.

And then of course, the party wear:

Now, Gertie said she might be developing something similar in an instagram post, so, ya know, maybe? But this is also not terrible:

And of course, the dress that requires pearls:

Oh, hello, lover. I mean, look, I have no idea if anything will ever be this good in terms of FIT, but in terms of LOOK, I humbly offer a few options:

Siiiigh. I had nothing for the men, honestly, although I’m happy to source that if anything is going there….

What do you guys think? Any other ideas of great patterns to use? Any real vintage favorites?

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, seamwork, Sewalong, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Sewalong- Inspiration Images and a hashtag!

I know, I know, what even IS a sewalong without a hashtag? What is ANYTHING without a hashtag? Good lord, what lives we lead. Of course there are many options, here. #sewingsusie, #midgemakes, #rosesturn #joelsjumpers, I’m not making one for Abe because we all know he would find it RIDICULOUS, and so on. But I think we should go with #makingmaisel, and I’m running this thing, so what I say goes!#MAKINGMAISEL it is! Use away!

So this is a little bit of an inspiration post, with some of the vintage garments I found images of that I think would be right at home with the Maisel wardrobe. I’m planning on making at least two things for this sewalong, something that recreates a Maisel costume, and something that is inspired by the world of Maisel, and you should feel free to re-create, or be inspired by, both are great!

Oh, all that outwear Midge has, it’s to die for!

But of course, Midge’s casual wear is great.

This reminds me of Midge’s work attire.

Can’t you see Rose in this?

Or this?

Another Midge work ensemble idea.

Oh love it. Look at those details, the buttons, this is a wrap dress, can you believe it?

This reminds me of a print Midge wears in a summer flashback.

Midge loves a grey, and so do I!

Oh, god, all this outerwear forever.

That bodice reminds me of her dinner party dress.

For those trying to copy Susie, 1950’s Beatnik culture is a good place to go a lookin’ for information.

The original.

 

I’ll be out with another post soon with contemporary patterns with vintage twists that might be useful when trying to replicate or be inspired by the show. Until then, I would love to hear your ideas!

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