Monthly Archives: July 2011

The San Cristobel Skirt

There are technically three forts that once defended San Juan from pirates and foreign (i.e. non-Spanish) invaders. Puerto Rico was, in it’s conquering from those pesky indigenous Tainos, one of the first colonies of the Spanish Empire, and it was conquered by Columbus on his second trip West. Originally the entire island was called San Juan for St. John the Baptist (fitting, I suppose, it is surrounded by water….) but as Puerto Rico was such a rich port (get it?) the moniker faded from all but the city itself.  San Juan actually faces the water on two sides, there is a harbor and there is the sea itself, which frequently rinses La Perla, the most picturesque slum in the world, according to many guidebooks, and hits the rocky cliffs on that side of the city in it’s salty spray. Now only two of the forts, El Castillo de San Felipe del Morro and  El Castillo de San Cristobel, still stand and you can visit them. I have been going to Puerto Rico literally since I was born, and I have never been inside either of them. The third, La Fortaleza, is just a heap of rocks, really, and not at all good for tourist photos. Sigh. You can’t have everything.

From our house in Viejo San Juan you feel like you can reach out and touch San Cristobel, named, of course, for the saint, but I secretly think it pleased Columbus’ vanity as well. But what do I know, I’m jewish. So when I decided to take photos of this skirt, a vintage pattern a-line business that I made, I wanted to include the fort. After all, I may have never been inside, but it’s nice on the outside, right?

Very fort-like, no? Enough about the architecture, let’s talk about the skirt!

Ignore the squinty face. The sun is hot and bright there. The pattern is a vintage McCall’s from the 1970’s, it’s number 8161. The actual pattern is a skirt, a vest, and a shirt. I like the skirt and the shirt, and it came as a grab bag from Kateandskippy, an etsy seller. I had to re-size it up one size, which was fine for the skirt, but I think will be a bitch for the shirt, so I don’t know if I will actually do it, or just break down and buy a peter-pan collar shirt pattern from someone else. Decisions, decisions.

I used a slightly heavy cotton I bought for 1.98 a yard and my beloved PA Fabric outlet. I wanted to cut it on the bias for the chevron effect. I must say, I don’t think it’s half bad!

It wasn’t as hard as I feared to match the stripes, and while it’s not perfect, I can live.

These little guard towers are very cute. I totally monopolized this one for my photo shoot. Sorry, tourists, stand next to a palm tree instead.

I crack myself up. You wanna see the whole thing? Okay, fine, whatever, 500 year old tower, no big deal.

Yes, it’s pretty. Matches the skirt, don’t you think?

I bought these espidrilles in San Juan, and I thought they went well with the skirt. They also pair nicely with the cobblestones of the city, which are blue, and ceramic, and horrible when wet. Bu people really love them….

Here it the view to the ocean at sunset. Pretty gorgeous, right?

And there the fort is at night. Beautiful, right? I really need to go in there one of these days….


Filed under McCalls Patterns, Sewing, Vintage

The Dear Betty Dress

I went back and forth and back and forth about what to name the dress I made to wear on my birthday to dinner. The Buddha Thai dress? (The delicious latinoasian restaurant at which we supped, in the ever so tourist Condado). The Green Roof Dress? (We have a green roof at our house in San Juan, one of only two in the city, courtesy of David Aponte, our excellent green roof guy, and his wife, Vivian). The Viejo San Juan In The Summer dress? Eh, too wordy. In the end, I had to give it to the fabric, the beautiful teal and pink and red floral 1950’s reproduction fabric I bought from Nauvoo Quilt Co. I love the fabric, I love the dress.

Ah, flash. So unflattering. But what can you do, it was nighttime! This dress is a mixture of two patterns, a cocktail, if you will. And in fact, I had several cocktails at dinner, so….yeah, it’s appropriate.

I used BurdaStyle Pattern 2/2011 #101 for the bodice, with a modified neckline. I re-drafted the pattern to make it slightly higher (it’s, um, a little low, guys, and I am not what you might call ungenerous in the curve department) and I gave it a slight sweetheart shape:

In this photo you can see both the neckline AND why I would want to raise it. That’s called multitasking.

So shiny. Hey, it’s HOT in Puerto Rico. Hell, it’s hot in Philadelphia, people, we hit 100 today.

The skirt pattern is from Angela Kane’s FREE PATTERN, the pinafore. It’s more fitted then my usual style, but that’s okay, I’ve really been trying to make different kinds of things, and as full skirts are so my thing, a fitted skirt seemed appropo. Nothing says 24th birthday like a fitted skirt, right? I actually made this dress over a period of two days, and really rushed at the end to get it done. Machine hem, some small mistakes at the back, whatever. It’s my birthday, I’ll screw up stitches if I want to!

Yeah, it’s a little pin up. But hey, the fabric is called “Betty Dear”, right? No use not dealing with the stereotype as it comes.

“Honey, what’s for dinner?”

“Oh, let me check”

“Ummmm, rum?”

“And ME.” (My mamala said, wow, that’s a cheesecake shot. She is such a vintage girl at heart, really.)

And, just for good measure, one without the belt, in the bright light of day:


Filed under Burda Style

The Parque De Palomas Blouse

Paloma is a beautiful word for what is in reality a very ugly thing, and that would be a pigeon. But for some reason Puerto Rico loves itself some pigeons. Not only are they fed with abandon, flying rats that they are, but they even give them love in the culinary culture. No, squab isn’t a big deal there, and frankly, that wouldn’t be love but hate, allow us to fest on the tiny stupid pigeon bodies….ahem, excuse me, I’ve gotten carried away. No, in Puerto Rico they use a word for beans that isn’t used anywhere else. In the world. See, for most of the Spanish speaking world beans are frijoles, but not in the struggle that is PR, no, they call beans habichuelas, or pigeon peas. See? See the love? It’s insane.

And of course there is a park, in San Juan, a little patio, really, called Parque de Palomas, where, on my actual real life birthday, I made my mother shoot photos of my second attempt at Butterick 7490, this time in a white shirting from my grandfather’s attic stash, and a re-drafting for a keyhole neckline:

What did I change? Well, the neckline, obviously, which I like a lot, the keyhole neckline just feels very vintage to me somehow. I also finished off all the hems with self-made bias tape, and I took the darts in the front in by an inch each, which I think gives it a move fitted shape:

Of course, this looks silly with this skirt, so I tuck it in, and that defeats the purpose of the fitted shirt. I’m a smart one, me.

It’s a cute skirt, though. It was on sale, many years ago, at Anthropologie, and I bought it, didn’t like the length, never wore it, then, just recently, chopped it up at the hem and look at me, making it work!

That thing I’m leaning against is one of the most famous monuments in San Juan. It’s actually a shrine, but a particularly picaresque one, and if you’ve ever been to San Juan you probably have a very touristy photo of you by this little chapel. It’s called the Capilla de Cristo and has an interesting and predictably wacky series of myths and stories surrounding it. Not at all the sort of thing a nice jewish girl should be posing against, right?

Of course, I love this arch anyway, because it’s beautiful, and because it’s right by the place where we go to get our nails done. It’s a rare treat for me because I always ruin them right away, and this was no exception. Sigh.

Sad Face.

But why call this blouse the Parque de Palomas blouse? Because the Capilla de Christo is RIGHT NEXT TO the Parque de Palomas! Islands are cool.

A place in which you will see cool trees:

And little lizards (largartos)

And strange young women posing:

And palomas. Lots of em. 

Oh, well, all you can do is smile.

And fantasize about murdering all the palomas you can find.


Filed under Butterick Patterns, Clothing, Sewing, Vintage

The Liar Liar Shorts On Fire Shorts with a scoop of Lemon Lime Sorbetto

I have to confess something, gentle readers. I lied to you. I didn’t know it was a lie at the time, but that’s no excuse, now, is it? I mean, I really didn’t mean to do it, but I still feel bad. And what did I lie about? It’s almost too shameful to tell, really, you see, I thought these shorts:

were from the 1950’s but then I actually LOOKED at the package and they are from, wait for it, 1968! What? I know, I’m shocked and confused and saddened. But…I made them anyway.

And you know what, I like them! And I wore them in San Juan! Yes, yes, I went to San Juan Puerto Rico this past weekend, and before you get all jealous and sneering about my princessy life, I should tell you that I go to San Juan quite a bit because my family lives in Bayamon, a suburb of San Juan, and my parents have a house in Viejo San Juan. And most of the year this is a wonderful thing. But in July, this is a horrible thing, because it’s hot and humid and miserable and I insist, yearly, that my parents suffer there with me, along with my brother, when he’s available, because….it’s my birthday! Yay! Or it was, on the 9th. So I make everyone unhappy and sweaty and disgusting as a gift to them. And myself. That’s just the kind of girl I am. But enough about me, onto the outfit!

So I made Simplicity 7688 in the shortest option in a black poplin from Joanns, which I proceeded to lengthen so that it’s now somewhere between soccer mom and spring break in Cancun. I really like to walk that line in all aspects of my existence:

And then I made Colette Patterns new and much made (seriously, this thing is all over the internet, check it out) Sorbetto Top. I used a sheet I dyed yellow and fabric from my grandfather’s attic. It was a small piece I only had a bit of, but love, so I though bias tape might be a judicious and appropriate use of its vintage precious goodness.

I look oddly smug here.

I modified the top, having been inspired by Jaimielee’s amazing plaid version. I simply didn’t seal the bottom of the pleat, and all of a sudden it goes from a little too snug no matter what I do or how many inches I add to the bustline to perfectly swingy and airy. Thank you, Jaimielee! You are my sewing hero this week.

These photos were taken in the Plaza De Las Armas, which is better known as a square where you can feed pigeons (though why you would want to is beyond me) and hang out with homeless people. Ah, tropical paradise.

It is pretty, though.

That lady is my mama.

And you can buy ice cream. Of course, you can do that anywhere in San Juan. Anywhere in Puerto Rico, really. We saw a cart outside of the Home Depot in Bayamon. True story.

If you ever do visit San Juan, try to go in the winter or the spring. When the weather is dreary and grey where you live I guarantee it will be lovely in Puerto Rico. And if you go, do stop and have coffee and a snack at Cafe Cultural, it’s the best. They draw sunsets in your cafe con leche.

And you can have juice, which most of the world calls jugo de naranja (orange juice) but in Puerto Rico they call it jugo de China (juice of china). Why? Who knows. It’s a total struggle. But one must just smile, nod, embrace the struggle, and move on. In awesome awesome new shorts.

And a blouse.

Of course, it helps to spike the juice with rum, too....


Filed under Colette Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Made Made June 28-30 and some thoughts

I finally got my camera back yesterday (more on that here) but far too late for the final days of Me Made June. So here are some recycled photos. Of course, I could just be lying and have dumped the challenge half way through, and you would never know, would you? Ah, the magic of the internet. But I didn’t do that, I wore my self-made treasures and travesties with joy. They are the following:


June 28th, 2011:

The First Time For Everything Blouse! I love this blouse. I just remade it in white with a keyhole neckline, and in peach dubroni silk, for my mamala. More on that to come!

June 29, 2011:

The Define Basics Blouse. I wear this blouse less then I thought I would. I do love it, but my natural propensity to stain white makes me afraid of it. I fear my clothing, people, it’s quite sad.

June 30, 2011:

The Happy Trails By Two Friends Shirt.  Man. I love this shirt. I wear it all the time. Something about the tiny cowboys just makes me happier.


And there you have it. A month of outfits scored and seasoned by my own two hands. And as hard as it was to keep it together and not forget in the cruel light of dawn (i.e. 8:30 in the morning) that it can’t just be a t-shirt and skirt day, I have to throw in something I actually constructed or risk losing face to the whole world. i.e. the three people actually paying attention. But honestly, I actually really enjoyed participating in this event, and I think it’s kind of amazing, when I survey the bloggosphere, how many other people I saw doing the same thing. Karen did an amazing job taking photos with strangers day after day, Tilly made everything look unaccountably awesome, Wendy couldn’t have been cuter, and that’s just the blogs I check regularly. I stumbled across all kinds of sewers and crafters and a huge amount of knitters (jesus, those ladies can throw DOWN with a sweater, I swear) who had amazing photos of amazing outfits they’ve created and now wear with pride.

I got to know more about how I’ve grown as a sewer, and learned, to my shock, that in the year I’ve been sewing, I have actually improved! I know, it’s crazy talk. I don’t know why I was so surprised, but when I look at things I made when I first started sewing versus things I made last month, the difference is astounding. I just didn’t know about things like “seam finishing” and “bias” and “pinking” and “bound buttonholes”  and a 100 other things I’ve learned through the help of other sewers out there. Given that I started sewing on the fly through a brief course and have been flying solo ever since, it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to learn so much purely through following instructions and judicious use of google. So thank you, Zo, for doing this amazing thing and inspiring people, month after month, to make good use of their home-sewn wardrobes and force all their friends to compliment them day after day on being so crafty. Oh, that wasn’t the intention? Too bad, it’s what I did.

I also learned about the holes in my sewing. For example, I seem to love making blouses and hate making bottoms. I’ve made a fair amount of dresses, mostly with full skirts, but I need to add more variety to my sewing table, more kinds of things and fewer of the same pattern over and over again. That being said, I will probably ignore that completely and just keep making one blouse pattern over and over again until my fingers bleed. I’m just that kind of a girl.

Did you learn anything this month? Did you participate? Did you have fun? Or did you tear your homemade waredrobe to shreds and move into H and M? All answers are welcome.

Now that my camera has returned to me I have five, count em, five new pieces of clothing I made in the interim that I will be photographing this weekend when I’m in Puerto Rico for my birthday (YAY!) and then sharing with you. If you would like to GET me something for my birthday you can kickstart my Philadelphia Fringe Show by giving money here. More on that later.

Happy nothing-I-made July!


Filed under Clothing, Sewing

Me Made June Days 17 through 27

Why the ten day post, you might ask yourself? Well, sad news, friends. My camera broke! My beautiful wonderful Cannon Rebel XS broke, the sensor for the shutter just up and was like, nope, sorry, struggle, no shots for YOU. I had to send it to the only camera repair shop in the area, out in Willow Grove, and am waiting with baited breath for my lovely camera to come back to me. I bemoan the lack of camera repair shops in the central Philadelphia area.

So I had some outfit photos snapped already, and, with a few exceptions which will have to wait until old Cammy my camera returns to me, you’ve already seen my me-made wardrobe, so you will simple have to forgive the recycled photos. That, or storm off in a huff. It’s up to you.

June 17, 2011

My Lips Your Lips Tulips Skirt

June 18, 2011

The So Close But So Far Away Pinafore

June 19, 2011

Please note, I'm in the only clean spot of my friend Bix's EXTREMELY dirty apartment in New York.

The Capagiro Sorbetto with the My Lips Your Lips Tulips skirt. I look all hunched and odd here. I blame the photographer.

June 20, 2011

The I Was Made For Sunny Days Skirt.

June 21, 2011

The Happy Trails By Two Friends Shirt, which I wear far too often.

June 22, 2011

My first ever JJ! This one also gets a ton of wear….

June 23, 2011

The First Time For Everything Blouse

June 24, 2011

The Dumb Luck Dress

June 25, 2011

June 26, 2011

Of course, without the hat....

The So Close But So Far Away Pinafore

June 27, 2011

The You’re Turning Violet, Violet blouse re-fashion. I remembered why I don’t wear this much, it screams wardrobe malfunction/ check out my bra! Oh, well, they can’t all be winners.

Camera, come back to me!

Happy me made June, people!


Filed under Clothing, Sewing