Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Medium is the Message Dress

Here it finally is, my Mad Men Challenge Dress. I hope Julia accepts late submissions….Oh, well. As always, I was finished this puppy about a week ago, but the issue was finding some sucker willing to take my photo. Thanks, Laura! Laura is lovely. We got brunch this morning and I asked her if she would be willing to take a few photos of me. And then I made her take 70. I think the trick is just to keep shouting “take more photos!” because the more they take, the higher probability that there will be at least one or two you don’t abhor.

So why that title, you might ask? If comes from one of the final episodes of Season One when Peggy (who is crazy pregnant, but everyone just thinks she’s fat) gets promoted to a Junior Copywriter. She’s understandably excited and asks Joan, who seems none too pleased with this development, if Peggy ought to go thank the partners in person. Joan, without skipping a beat, says, “Well, you know what they say.” (gesturing to her glorious form) “The medium is the message”. CLASSIC Joan.

I did not show up to brunch looking like Joan Harris nee Holloway. That’s too much even for me, and it’s not warm here in Philadelphia today. Instead I changed in the bathroom, startling other diners with my sudden transformation. I tell myself that they couldn’t keep their eyes off my stunning form, but they probably thought, who the hell is this crazy lady pretending it’s 1963? In my defense, however, we met this morning in Silk City Dinner, which looks like it’s been ripped off of the set of Grease, so really, I was quite forward thinking…

As you may or may not recall, I was trying to duplicate this oh so iconic dress:

Hey, I figured, if you are going to go Joan, GO JOAN.

I am mostly quite happy with this reproduction. I think it’s quite close, don’t you?

Ignore the closed eyes, if you would be so kind.

I couldn’t quite figure out how to adapt the Pastille Bodice pattern to mimic Joan’s sleeves. Now that I look again at her dress I can, of course, see how to do it easily and perfectly. My 20:20 hindsight is just wonderful. Oh, well.

The fabric I used, viscose, has a lovely drape. It’s a synthetic fabric, but it breathes very well (I think, I honestly have only worn this for the photo shoot). I lined the dress with silk Sari remnants which I bought when I first started sewing. It’s a bit wrinkled in the photos, ah, well, what can you do, that’s what happens when you stuff your dress in your bag with the eight million other things you will obviously need on for a brunch with a friend. Like a book. And all your worldly possessions.

No, this shoot does not match the amazing nature of Julia’s shoots. (Julia, how do you get such amazing photos? Share with us your secrets! Deal with the Devil? Probably).

Now. I know that Joan wouldn’t really hang out in a diner. But maybe if she was slumming it?

I even tried to do a thing with my hair! Which is not really like me!

It’s kind of a Monet (if you don’t get that reference I really don’t want to deal with you. Hint: You’re a virgin who can’t drive!) but it’s looks good from the front!

Joan doesn’t really smile much in photos. So neither did I. But I’m a fairly exuberent person, in case you couldn’t tell, and I was emulating my favorite character from one of my favorite shows, so I couldn’t COMPLETELY control myself….

Ahhhhh I’m having Rodger Sterling’s BABY! Ahhh! That makes this the second unplanned secret pregnancy in the show! I’m just waiting for Susanne (the teacher) or someone to roll in like, Don Draper? Here’s your FOURTH child. Deal with THAT, Megan. Deal with that. A song wont save you now….

Ahem. Got a little carried away there. Final Joan-inspired shot:

Oh, for a pen necklace.

I have so loved seeing everyone’s Mad Men inspired outfits. It’s such a sad thing that they are moving towards the ugly portion of the 60’s. Sigh. The age of Joan is at an end, make way for polyester and prints. Kill me now. Oh, well, we’ll always have Sterling Cooper!

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OWOP 7: The Finale

Spoiler alert: This is not the outfit I wore all day today. I KNOW. TO my shame and dismay I completely forgot to beg a photo off a co-worker. In fact, as I speed off to a spin class (you know what I’m not wild about? Spinning.) having changed into my workout clothing at work (a neat trick to make damn sure I actually make it to the gym) and my co-worker Dani even said to me, Leah, don’t you need a photo for today? And I responded with, oh, hell. But what could I do, spin class awaited! So I ran off and spun and then forced my friend Victoria to snap one of me after a dinner of tacos and margaritas. But the pants, the pants remained the one constant!

And the winner for MVP is…..the Denim Clovers!  Yeah, we all saw that one coming. What can I say, guys, they are JEANS, basically, they go with everything! Also, they are comfortable and dark enough to look okay in a room full of hipsters and yuppies.

Wooooooo! I made it, guys! I MADE IT! (I’m doing that thing that gymnasts do when they land and they throw their hands in the air in all directions.) MADE. IT. Done. And you know what? I’m so glad I chose Clovers as my pattern. Not only do I love this pattern, but it made me realize that I really wear skirts all the time, and have been neglecting pants as an option. Am I eager to return to skirts? You bet your tights I am. But I’m happy to have spent a week in pants and remembered all the things I love about them!  Thank you eternally, Tilly, for organizing this, and to everyone else who is participating, well fricking done! I love what I’m seeing out there on the interwebs. God, when am I NOT?

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OWOP 6: The Rebel

Today I went to work, like I do, and then I biked over to West Philadelphia (I am not fond of West Philadelphia, and the blame for that rests solely on the shoulders of the University of Pennsylvania, or more precisely, its students. They are the worst. Yeah, Wharton kids, I’m talking to you.) Dodging girls in yoga pants that cost about as much as my rent (though in my defense, I went to a school where most of the populations COULD have worn those pants, but didn’t, because there is no point in trying in New Haven, CT, there is just no point), I met my friend Diana for dinner and a drink before a screening of Cecilia, a Cuban film playing for free (Free!) at the International House. The film is based on the novel Cecilia Valdes and it’s a fascinating if somewhat confusing movie whose “free adaptation” from the novel blend attitudes about race, politics, Cuba’s place in the Caribbean and a socialist examination of history. Well, I say socialist, but what I mean is a sort of Castroist sort of a thing. (Sidenote, we gots to find ways to talk about Cuban politics. Russia gets Soviets or Stalinist etc, and China gets Maoist, but we are really failing on the Cuba front. Can someone get on this? Thanks). Anyway, it’s a very interesting film, so if you come across it and have a couple of hours to burn, I would recommend it. And here is what I wore:

The sweater? Vintage. The Pants? Wrinkled. But divine.

I realize from these posts that my life this week seems a lot more exciting then it really is. I blame the Clovers.

One more day, people. What will the last day of OWOP bring? It’s anyone’s guess, really….

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OWOP 5: The Middle Child (New Finished Project: The Sewing Is Not Exact Science Pants)

We can all agree that I’ve made a bunch of clovers, right? Counting the muslin I made that never saw the light of day, I have made 5 pairs of these pants. It doesn’t match the number of muslins I’ve seen out there (Lauren, I’m talking to you, though the final fit was clearly worth it!) but still, I’ve made these pants. I’ve cut them out, I’ve flat felled their seams, I’ve inserted their invisible zippers. To be fair, I totally follow the instructions every time because I just like reading Sarai’s instructions, but still. I know how to make these pants.

And yet….the pair of clovers I most wanted to make, the pair I probably spent the most time one, well, they are a triffle snug in the, um, crotch. And I could not for the life of me tell you why. They have literally the same measurements as EVERY OTHER PAIR I MADE. I cut them from the SAME PATTERN PIECES. The fabric.com order said they have stretch! And yet….and yet. Maybe they have LESS stretch then the other fabrics in which I made these? I don’t even know. People, I just don’t know.

Still. I do actually like them, and I noticed over the course of the day that as they stretched a bit with wear they actually feel more and more comfortable. So, yeah. I’m going to wear them. Because dammit, this is One Week One Pattern and I made these pants so this is what we are doing. I will make the crotch work with SHEER. FORCE. OF. WILL. Same way I made things fat free just by thinking about them.

But hey, they look cute, right? Let’s go to the photos:

They are also SHORTER then all the other pants. It’s gotta be the fabric, right? I just don’t get it otherwise.

So what did I do today? Well, Brother Cadfael needed his shots. And I am not rich. So I took him to the clinic hours offered by the SPCA, which is way the hell up in North Philadelphia and has open hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I figured it would be less crowded on Wednesday, so I packed my meowing friend into a carrier and took him to the clinic. OH. MY. GOD. There were approximately 80 dogs and three other cats (…odd) waiting for their vaccines and microchips as well. Poor Cadfael was a champion, ignoring the mastiffs and pitbulls and not even uttering a whimper when jabbed with the CANON* they use to chip animal. Still, spending the morning in an endless line with my trembling cat was, you know, just the best. Still. At least I looked cute!

More photos? But of course!

You want to see the back? Of course you do. Who wouldn’t?

I did not angle this photo. This is how Dani, my photographer/co-worker, likes to take photos.

It should be noted that I never during this entire photo session released my coffee cup. Because coffee makes me feel like the above photo. And the below photo:

The pants may not fit me just exactly the way I might wish, but hey, they are slim black capris. They’ll do.

Oh, I don’t mean to get all girlie here, but guuuuyyyyys, check out my shoooooeeeeees!

They are little mice. They were made by Marc Jacobs.  I bought them at a second-hand shop for 35 dollars. They literally make my heels bleed. But I do not care. (Why don’t I care? Um, did you hear that thing about the MICE?)

So, that’s all my clovers. I’ve already repeated my denim ones. What will I wear next….

*Okay, yes, it was just a very large needle, but I swear, it looked like some sort of weapon.

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OWOP 4: The New Kid (Finished The Wildcard Pants!)

I made another pair of clovers. A pair of bright blue clovers. Yeah I did. YEAH I did. And this is how they make me feel:

BOOM. Love them. LOVE THEM.

I made these from the mystery fabric from Chicago, which is just unbelievably stretchy. That makes these my loosest fitting and most comfortable Clovers to date. I gotta say, they are a joy to wear, even on days that are a touch too cold for them, like today.

Yeah, I wore socks with it. What are you going to do about it? (It was seriously, cold, I’m shivering in these photos but you don’t know! Acting.) They have pandas on them. That’s how I do.

They are rather wrinkled, but hey, man, that’s life in the real world. Aren’t they bright? I love them. They put quite a “spring” in my step. GET IT? subtlety. It’s my best thing.

I have to say, I never would have been so bold as to turn these into pants had my friend Becca not convinced me I could do so. Burgundy? I might leave that to the hipsters. But these I think give off a nice “Summer in Monaco” look, which is a shame, because I’m totally not going to Monaco this summer. Unless you know a millionaire who wants to TAKE me?

Just look what he could have on his arm. And the back view, you say? Don’t mind if I do.

Weak showing, you say, because it’s not a close up? My lovely photographer Dani had no qualms about zooming in:

Darts. How does anything happen without them? I owe all I am to darts.

And this is what it looks like when I’m laughing because I made my friend and co-worker take a bunch of booty shots. A little sheepish, but mostly cool with it.

Fun fact? I also made the shirt! It’s the third Renfrew I have made, though not that last. I’m making all nine variations, mark my words. Number 2 went to my lovely mother, and this is the scoop neck mid length sleeves I made up with a fabric I got at Mood the first time I visited that mecca of knit and silk (and everything else, let’s be honest here).

I love me a Renfrew. I also really adore this print:

Nice, right? I likes it.

Four days down, three to go. How is everyone else doing with this One Week One Pattern business?

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OWOP 3: The Tourist

Circumstances conspired to send me to New York today, and as it happened I ended up doing a lot of walking. A LOT of walking. I even happened to wander about the fabric district, sneaking into Mood and Parons, but I walked out empty handed. I know, I know, my willpower, it’s astounding. Seriously, I actually went to Mood TWICE, and I still managed to resist a silky cotton voile and several delicious knits. Give this girl a prize.

It was actually rather brisk today in Manhatten, despite the sun, and I found myself bundling up against the cold and more then a little relieved to board my Bolt Bus home. But before I was able to dash back to Philadelphia, I had time to grab a quick coffee and a snack with my friend Victoria, who helpfully snapped this photo. We ended up at Tick Tock Diner, a hilariously touristy diner which we picked because it was just a stone’s through away from my Bolt Bus Stop. Location location location.

So here is me, taking a classic New York Tourist shot, in my Denim Clovers:

PS: I also made that shirt. It’s a much modified Sorbetto and I need to iron the ties but let’s get real here, I don’t iron things once they are finished. That’s just not how I roll.

Approximately ten million people walked by while Victoria was trying to take my photo. That may or may not be an exaggeration.

But I got my touristy New York shot! Ha! Take that, natives, I exercised my right to take smiling photos in front of innocuous locations. Bam. Now point me towards Times Square, I want to go see Cats and spend 100 dollars for a bad meal.

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OWOP 2: The Classic

Day Two. Here we go. Sundays are the days I usually get a chance to relax with my mom. We have breakfast, we take an exercise class, etc. This Sunday we traded our usual awesome Piloxing class (pilates plus boxing, lead by Gina, who is amazing) for a slightly less awesome but still fun Barre Sculpt Class. I liked the Barre workout, but the teacher was a touch tentative. Still, calories burned and all that jazz. Then I slipped on my Denim Clovers, my Never Have I Ever Pants, and walked with my mother over to the Kimmel Center to see a Kabuki Dance performance. Like you do.

It was….interesting. I studied Kabuki in college, (ah, theater major, you are the best) and I have seen taped dances and dance that was strongly influenced by Kabuki, but never actual Kabuki. In point of fact this wasn’t a true Kabuki troupe, they also do Noh theater and other Japanese and Chinese forms, but still, one mustn’t be picky. Kabuki plots are traditionally tragic, and these were no exception. The Last Journey of Two Butterflies, for example, is a lovely tale of two lovers who have committed suicide and come back as butterflies in the meadow. They journey through the world of the dead and eventually are engulfed in flames to pay them back for the sins of their feuding families. Lovely. Good fun had by all, eh? Fun times. Love suicides.

Anyway, here is what I looked like when I was watching all this go down:

Not my most exciting outfit ever, but it’s not terrible, right? I really need to start living up to the “styling” part of this challenge. Still, I love these pants because they really do go with everything, I mean, that’s denim for you! I do think they look better sans socks but it’s brisk today so you do what you must, right?

The waistband is rippling oddly in these photos, but trust me, these pants are cute.  Sometimes I hate photos, don’t you? I promise I’m cute in real life, people, regardless of all the evidence to the contrary.

Still. At least the building looks good.

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