Monthly Archives: February 2011

Now is the winter of my discontent made glorious…springtime!


This is what Philadelphia looks like today. COME. ON.

I’m a planner. I can’t help it. I’ve tried to be spontaneous, really I have, but it always ends up masticating my posterior, so to speak. I think I’m just the sort of person who likes to think things through before I do them. I get a lot of pleasure out of anticipation, honestly, I enjoy planning.  It’s what I do. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to make next, even though I’m not done my Vogue Patterns dress (I think it’s going to look great, but as always, the instructions are giving me headaches. I know empirically that they are written in English, but it feels like some sort of ancient tongue to me. Maybe Aramaic?). And I’ve been thinking about spring, and using all the fabric in my stash until my fabric moratorium is over in April (Sweet, sweet April!). Colette Patterns is doing a Spring Palette challenge which I think is lovely, but maybe a bit intense for me right now. But I’ve been so inspired by what other people are making and creating, and the planner part of me (that is, all of me) loves the idea of making a little collection. Oh, well, maybe next spring…

That being said, I have been considering what garments I want to create once my sumptuous wool dress has finally come to a close (I have to figure out attaching the bodice lining to the skirt lining, hemming the circle skirt (tutorial courtesy of Gertie’s Blog For Better Sewing)  and giving the lining a lace trimmed hem and doing a hand picked zipper (tutorials courtesy of Sewaholic, thank GOD for the internet, I swear).  I know this sounds like a lot, but really the majority of the work has been done. ) So here are some of my thoughts and inspiration images. Let me know what you think!


I love all of these dresses. I would make the New Look 6724 with this fabric. I also have the BurdaStyle Anda dress pattern which I have made once, but wasn’t in love with. However, I think if I lowered the neckline and waist and put in a cute ruffle it would look more like this modcloth dress. But maybe in this fabric? It’s a little Urban Outfitters, no?

BurdaStyle's new dress with a-line skirt and shoulder sleeves. Sigh.

Colette Pattern's amazing Crepe Dress. I want to go to there.

New Look 6724 Made By BurdaStyle Member Froggylongleggs. SO ADORABLE. .

Some Skirts:

I realize that all of these skirts are completely different from each other. But I like them all! I like skirts…The Piped anthro mini shouldn’t be that hard to duplicate, it’s just a full skirt with ahigh waistband (my favorite) and then some embellishment.  I also have the Burda Style Michelle Pattern which I have made once for my mother, and I like it, just a sweet a-line skit with some pleats, maybe in a lovely fabric from my favorite bank account breaker Spool?

Anthropologie Mini. I love the bow!

Another Anthropologie Mini. Not wild about the color but look at that cute piping!

Pinwheel skirt by Leanne of Elle Apparel.

This treasure.

I also want to make this. And this in white. And this in a printed fabric with a tie neck. Oh dear. So that’s at least six garments to plan for, two dresses, a skirt, two shirts, cropped pants. What are you interested in making/buying/stealing this spring? What do you think are the essential spring garments? What are you excited to wear again if the weather ever improves?

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Quite The Investment Vest

I have this completely strange fear about buying too little fabric. I’m terrified of running out of the fabric I need and not being able to complete aproject. I know this is odd, but it’s real. I wonder if there is some kind of medical term for this…

So I end up overbuying fabric. Or rather, I overestimate how large I am and how much fabric will be needed to cover my body. I also blame this on patterns. For example, I’m working on this dress by Vogue patterns. The fabric recommendation for the variation I’m using was 3 and 5/8 yards. Just to be safe, I bought 4 yards. I have cut out my pieces and I have literally over a yard and a half left. I mean, COME ON, I don’t mind, the fabric is gorgeous, but it wasn’t cheap, and I could have saved myself over ten dollars, which would have been nice. I could have bought a drink! At a lot of bars in Philadelphia I could have bought TWO drinks! What is Vogue, my sponsor?

I can’t really blame anyone for this project I just completed, though, because it’s totally my own fault. I bought some purple and black tweed and purple lining fabric at my beloved if trashy Jomar. It was 100% wool (the tweed) at 3 dollars a yard. The lining is like 99 cents a yard. That place is magical. I wanted to draft my own pattern for a sweetheart waistline skirt. Which I did. Which I love, and wear all the time, mostly to plays, actually, it’s my playgoing skirt. You can see it here.  But of course I had a plethora of purple tweed and lining leftover, and of course it wasn’t enough to make a jacket or something substantial, but wasn’t small enough that I could relegate it to my rag bag or turn it into cat toys. What to do, what to do…

So I made a vest. Of course. To quote one of my favorite shows, The League: “Hey, the vest works. Have you seen Mark Harmon on NCIS lately? It works”. Classic. But despite this, I made a vest, because I really like vests, and because I had a FREE PATTERN! (Burda Style Franzi Vest!) and it seemed easy. It…wasn’t.


It's a little asymmetrical, but I like that sort of thing.

This is the first garment I’ve made that is fully lined. Additionally, my machine is a fairly old and simplistic and can’t do buttonholes. But I can make bound button holes, which are infinitely more difficult. I used no fewer then three tutorials and am not sure that I really did it correctly and ended up being like, screw it, this seems to work, let’s just make it happen. They look great, though! I mean, I’m happy with them. You never forget your first time….


Buttons from PA Fabric Outlet. Of course. Where else?

I found the instructions rather tricky but to be fair, I ALWAYS find instructions tricky. I have to read instructions somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 times before they start to make sense. Does anyone else have this issue? And with the lining it was pretty touch and go, but I’m very proud of this vest. It’s the ultimate hipster garment, A, it’s a vest, B. it’s made of supremely ironic purple tweed, C. I made it myself. If I get some clove cigarettes and stop washing my hair South Philadelphia will worship me as it’s Queen.

Don't worry. I'm not actually going to wear this outfit outside. It's just for picture purposes.


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Moses Supposes Shirt

I went to college in New Haven, Connecticut, which has excellent pizza, freezing winters, miserable springs, and terrible shopping. There is a college bookstore, which is great if your entire wardrobe consists of sweat pants. There is a J Press, which is great if you want to look like an enormous tool all the time. There is a Salvation Army, which is great for Halloween and thrifty costumers. And there is an Urban Outfitters and a J Crew. And an American Apparel, which moved in just after my graduation. Thank you, American Apparel, for your terrible timing and cotton basics.

So if you wanted to shop and if you didn’t want to hop on a bus to the mall in Hartford, you either went to J Crew or Urban. Or both. And if neither of these two options satisfied your needs, you sighed, and thought longingly of H and M.

Before college I never really shopped at J Crew. It’s rather too rich for my blood, and I’m not wild about the tailoring, it seems exclusively manufactured with Empire Waistlines. Plus a lot of it is poorly made and falls apart in your hands. But during college I rather developed a taste for it’s little thin t-shirts and headbands and wool blend sweaters. And I love all of the embellished tops it does (or did, I browsed the website to try to find photos to show you but now they have all magically disappeared. I swear they were there just a season ago!) with ribbon and ruffles and beads. But I hate the price tags.

So using a shirt I got from Gap Outlet for the princely price of 5 dollars, and some seam binding I got from the PA Fabric Outlet for 30 cents a yard (love!) I made myself this:

Seam binding roses!

This is actually fairly easy to do. I used a tutorial on Ruffles and Roses and just sort of adapted it for seam binding rather then strips of jersey. It’s fun and easy, and I think it looks fairly J Crewesque, which was rather the idea. If you are interested, there was a fascinating discussion about J Crew over at Colette Patterns, very interesting, calling into question the brand and it’s marketing.

Happy to be beating the corporation!

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Filed under Clothing, Embellish, Sewing

Be Mine: Not So Plain Jane Pajamas

I have never had a date on Valentine’s Day. I’ve had dates and hook ups and hang outs and whatever completely ambiguous word the kids are using these days (can we just say date, please, so I know that’s what’s actually happening? Because otherwise I’m completely in the dark), before Valentine’s Day, and after Valentines’s Day, but never right there on Valentine’s Day. Now,  I know it’s a terrifically lame holiday made up by card companies and chocolate manufacturers and we should show people we love them all the time and blah blah blah logic. I can rationalize it all I want. I can rationalize anything, it’s an essential part of human existence and survival. But rationality always gets a rough backhanded slap to the face around February 14th when every single person in the universe appears to be coupled up and you are sitting all alone telling yourself that it’s perfectly acceptable to eat your body weight in fries and/or drink your body weight in the fermented beverage of your choice.

But I’m trying not to be bitter about this, and instead take joy in all the love around me. Or some crap like that.  I guess this is my “I choose me” moment. And in the spirit of that, I made this lingerie/pajama set, in, drumroll please, SATIN! Oh, how luxurious indeed!

So shiny!


I had all this black lace leftover from an embellished sweater project, and I knew I had to do something interesting with it, because I love the lace, I just hadn’t loved it all over a sweater.


I think it's a little Boardwalk Empire, no?


I used Burda Style’s Jane Pattern . I got two yards of deep rich wine colored satin from Jomar Fabrics (huge sketchy warehouse full of appliances and imitation designer clothing and tons of fabric, worth it if you have time to unearth treasures, it’s like the Forever 21 of fabric stores but far dirtier) at 2 dollars a yard (score! I love Philadelphia).


I added three inches to the short legs on the pattern. I'm comfortable with that decision.


I love this. I feel so pretty and comfortable in it, and I think it turned out fairly well. Of course, it’s completely inappropriate for February on the East Coast, but beauty is pain, right?

Mr. Malevolent loves it. There, I got a date. Isn't he handsome?


I still have some lace left. Crap. Any ideas?


Filed under Clothing, Sewing

Admitting it is the first step

I have a problem. There, I said it. And I have to admit, it feels good to finally write that down. It feels, well, right. What a relief. And what is my problem, you might ask? It’s a bad one, guys, it’s a terrible one. Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I can’t. Stop. Buying. Fabric. Like, really, can’t seem to stop myself. Every time I tell myself it’s the last time, but then I see a sale chiffon, or a discounted denim, God help me, a clearance section cotton, and I just get sucked in all over again. To watch them cut that nice clean line, to hold yards and yards of cloth in my hands, what a rush! What a feeling! It’s addictive. Truly addictive.

I tell myself I can quit anytime. I promise myself that it’s over. But then I walk down fabric row, or peruse the project gallery at BurdaStyle, or log onto Etsy, and I’m pulling back in. Off the wagon, chasing that fabric dragon all over again. And please don’t get me started on trim. It’s a gateway supply.

So having made some significant purchases today, including the wool and lining for my Vogue Patterns dress!, I have decided, this is it. I have to put a moratorium on fabric buying, at least for a little while. I jump off the wagon come April, though. A girl can only be so strong for so long…

With this in mind, I would like to present to you some of the swaths of cloth currently littering my fabric stash, in the hopes that some of you will have advice as to what to do with these beautiful pieces that I drooled over, bought, and promptly realized I have no idea what to do with them. All suggestions would be useful. Seriously. Help an addict out, here.

2 yards of knit cotton from PA Fabric Outlet (2 dollars a yard!)

3 yards of silk from PA Fabric outlet, also 2 dollars a yard!

3 yards of cotton from the sadly defunct Aunt Bea's Fabric

3 yards of rather bizarre but kind of amazing silk from Jomar

3 yards of what I like to call Mayan Baroque, sort of what Bach would wear if he took a trip to Peru, from Jomar

2 yards of amazing cotton from Aunt Bea's Fabric

2 and 1/2 yards of adorable Beatrix Potter illustrated toile style cotton. I have no idea what to do with this. Anything I think of seems unbearably cutesy. PA Fabric Outlet.

This isn’t everything. But it’s a lot. And it’s all I have to work with for at least a few months. So help me out, and tell me what to do. Come on. You know you want to.


Filed under Fabric

Illness:1, Craftiness: 0

I’m sick. So sick. My throat hurts and my nose runs and the most distressing thing is my voice, which sounds like a frog or a troubling fairytale gatekeeper of some sort. I’m the reason goats really shouldn’t cross streams. I’m like a Dianne Wynne Jones villain. I’m a struggle.

So you would think that given my infirmity and the fact that I’m playing hooky from work I would have a lot of time to sew. But I don’t. I mean, I’ve got the time, but I have no energy, nor hand eye coordination, and it feels like those symptoms coupled with cough medicine mean I shouldn’t be operating any kind of machinery. And I could force my mother to take more photos of me in garments I have already crafted, but given just how cute I look right now (picture an all fleece wardrobe, fake ugg slippers I bought in China, my hair doing all kinds of things to defy the laws of gravity, and a tea cup nestled into my  hand. It’s hot, right? I know. I know. ) I didn’t think that would be a great idea.

So, instead, I have decided to update you on a few projects that are currently wasting away in my very messy sewing room. Other blogs I’ve read call these sorts of things UFOs, or unfinished objects, which is hopelessly cute, honestly. So here are some things I’m making or thinking about:



The Franzi Vest

I had a bunch of purple tweed left over from my Purple Tweed Sweetheart Skirt, as well as purple lining from the same project. So I’m making a vest. It’s actually the Franzi Vest, which is a FREE PATTERN! at I’m going to use bound buttonholes, which is fairly scary.



I bought this pattern online and am so excited to make it!

I’ve made the Muslin for it already, (first muslin! Wow.) and it fits me very well. I might bring down the neckline a bit, though, right now it’s very Big Love. Thoughts? Disagreements? Ideas? I think I’m going to make the shorter variation in wool. Color commentary?



Seam Binding Bonanza!

I got this shirt from Gap Outlet for 5 dollars. In this photo, 13 yards of seam binding is currently festooning it in an homage to Jackson Pollock… I’m just kidding. I hate Pollock! But I love seam binding, it’s thinner then ribbon and iridescent, and it’s about 30 cents a yard at PA Fabric outlet. So I’m going to combine these two elements sometime soon, and save myself the 50 dollars I could pay J. Crew for the same item. Ha. I love it when I beat J. Crew.

But I’m not going to do any of these things today. Today, I’m curling up with gallons of tea, oceans of soup, Cold Eeze, Netflix and my cats. I’m sure my sewing machine appreciates the rest.


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Embellish, Sewing, Vogue Patterns

Surrender Dorothy!: Refashioned Men’s Shirt

As an avid recycler (we even compost our food waste! In a city! For Reals!) and worrier about my carbon footprint, I’ve been inspired recently by all of the refashioning and upcyling happening over at Burda Style. There are some amazing things going down, folks, you should check out what some very talented people are doing with thrifted finds or the contents of their own closets. Grosgrain has this great series, Thrift Store Thursday, it’s fantastic. And don’t even get me started about her unreal Embellish Your Knits month. It was like Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365/365 but with SWEATERS. It boggles the mind.

So I wanted to refashion something, anything, really. And I’m lucky, because there are a lot of wonderful tutorials about remaking a men’s long sleeve button down shirt into a cute women’s summer top. And I’m REALLY lucky because my father is a snazzy dresser and has so very many shirts and therefore could agree to give me some of his cast offs.

Following a tutorial posted on Madebylex, I came out with this, my first effort in Men’s Shirt Refashioning:

It’s a little Wizard of Oz, isn’t it?


A close up

I didn’t have enough fabric left after making all the ruffles to make the belt, so I used a ribbon. It’s worth it. I love ruffles.



I love this project, because I love the idea of remaking things. I like this shirt, and I know I will wear it once summer comes around. The only issue is that it tends to be rather shapeless, the waist is only defined by the ribbon belt, so it’s a bit baggy, and very comfortable, but not the most flattering thing ever. For my next refashion I’m going to use waist tucks and darts and see if that gives it a more feminine shape.

This is me in Redding Terminal Market, which is better then Oz on so many levels.


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Filed under Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

Flirting with the Forties Blouse

May I just say that I for one am really in favor of the silhouettes of the last, say, five years. High waisted full and pencil skirts, belts, natural shapes, embracing the a-line, I love it. I’m so glad we are over the heroin chic thing and back to something that halfway resembles normality, or at least, good health. Isn’t it just as  interesting to watch someone like Crystal Renn as it is to see someone like Kate Moss?  And while there may still be things like jeggings and uggs with which to contend, at least it’s better than parachute pants, right? I mean, at least now it feels like you’ve got more than one option!

Of course, I’m totally biased, because I really love vintage clothing. In truth I love anything from the last century, and even beyond, at least to look at, but in practice I’m a 40’s and 50’s and early 60’s girl because it’s simply most flattering on me. If I could Clara Bow or Twiggy it up I would, but, alas, I’m more fifties housewife then flapper or factory girl (only in terms of clothing. Ideologically speaking I’m very 2011).  But I think that one of nice things about moving beyond your adolescence (one of a million) is learning how to dress in a way that flatters you and your body and color scheme, rather than blindly following a trend. What a relief to have moved beyond a world in which a Delia’s catalogue tells you what to think.

Over the summer I found a beautiful fabric on sale a Joann’s. Brillent red with large pink roses which look painted on. It sounds sort of, um, disgusting, when I describe it, but it’s actually quite lovely with this sort of impressionist painter allure, like this or this . Because the fabric was on sale, I bought it, without having any idea what I wanted to do with it. Then I saw Burda Style’s Alexander Blouse. It’s such a lovely 1940’s style pattern. But the fabric has such a big not at all 1940’s print. And I was like, could this work? And then I was like, this wont work.


Yeah, it totally worked.

If I do say so myself, this is pretty darn cute. And so 1940’s! With the peplum (that flare thing coming down from the waist, for those that don’t know), and the pearl buttons:

And the tucks:

And the fluttery sleeves:

It’s so cute! And really flattering. And complicated. It was fairly complicated. I have no idea WHAT the fabric was, but it felt possibly synthetic. My mother declared it rayon. It might be a poly-cotton blend. Honestly, if it doesn’t say anything on the spool there is no way of finding out, is there? Whatever it is, it’s terrifically soft but kind of a bitch with which to work. So I struggled a bit with this pattern, but it was completely worth it, and I would make it again. Maybe in a nice crisp poplin…

Can’t you just see me in an episode of Masterpiece Mystery: Poirot? Just one question, would I be the killer or the victim?

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Poor Trudy Pajamas

I love Mad Men. I love it so much, I think about it all the time. If I could, I would write it letters during wartime, I would cook it dinner every night and bring it a perfectly mixed martini with a smile. I especially love all the women on the show, even horrible horrible foolish Betty Francis (nee Draper nee Hofstadt, girlfriend likes to switch it up!). But the one I feel the worst for is Trudy. Because Trudy is awesome, and she is played by the fantastic Allison Brie, who is also terrific on Community. And whenever Pete Campbell does some dreadful bitchy thing all I can think is, oh, please let Trudy be okay. And then I get angry, because, with all the drinking happening on that show, can’t someone just get Trudy a nice strong drink?

So when I made myself a pair of Colette Patterns awesome (free pattern!) bloomers, I decided that in homage to Trudy Campbell I would make myself a top to match. In seasons three and four she was wearing some delightful (and crazy) sleep ensembles like this or this. And remember Sal’s wife (man, I hope Sal is okay. Has anyone heard from Sal? Wow, I’m way too into this show) when she wore this? Of course, Joan wears this, because she’s awesome and because she can.

Anyway, I decided to use Burda Style’s cute Tara Shirt pattern, a shirt I’ve made twice before and with which I feel reasonably comfortable. Put together with the bloomers, I think I could totally fit right into the competitive world of advertising and adultery, don’t you?

Doesn't this just scream "gender inequality"?

I love this material. Obviously. It’s currently my blog image, for goodness sakes. I saw it at PA Fabric Outlet (of course) and thought it adorable and vintage and rather original. I made the bloomers, and then I ran back for two more yards to make the shirt. The women there think I’m nuts. That’s not entirely inaccurate.

It's just so very degree from Bryn Mawr, isn't it?

I like the fluttery sleeves.

I like the Tara top. I’ve made it three times. It’s a bit beachy, and a touch revealing (even though I always put what is charmingly referred to as a Modesty Panel. So very Emily Post), but it has a swing comfortable feel and it works in all kinds of fabrics. Grosgrain did a great Frock by Friday with it if you are so inclined and perhaps not as, um, let’s say of the Joan variety, as I am.

It’s all well and good to pretend. But all I can say is, good things better happen for Trudy Campbell. She deserves only the best.


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

Turn Your Head and Cough Shirt

I made this shirt a month or so ago, but have only recently gotten around to photographing it. You see, I force my poor beleaguered mother to take my photographs, and she is a multi-talented and multifaceted woman, but she’s not a fashion photographer. And I’m not the worlds best model. Tyra Banks would be so mad at me, I don’t know my angles, I can’t smile with just my eyes, I never wear one-piece rompers

So I sort of had to just spring it on my mother that I wanted perfect beautiful flattering photos that highlight both the thing I’ve made and my face and figure. I’d also like perfect hair all the time and a coffee machine that brings me a man and a double shot with fat free half and half daily. Is that so much to ask?

This is Burda Style’s Ute shirt, which is a great pattern, really easy to follow. It also has a tie front variation, which I will be trying with this great fabric I got at the Pennsylvania Fabric outlet. That place is amazing, it’s a struggle (duh) to find the good stuff amid all the clutter, but I always find something amazing. Its great for buttons. Its a world of buttons.


I look so angry!

My mother thinks I look like a nurse in this shirt.


Cute little puffed capped sleeves

I was like, a cute nurse, right?


I love Peter Pan Collars. I love Peter Pan. I even liked that movie, Finding Neverland.

And she was like, yeah, sure, of course. A little too fast, if you ask me.


Now I'm happy again. Curious.

I still like it. A lot. But if people ask me for medical attention, my mother will never let me hear the end of it.

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