Monthly Archives: July 2012

Moving is the Worst

Where the hell have I been, you might be asking yourselves, and where were those promised giveaways? Readers, I have failed you. But in my defense, moving is the worst. Seriously. I moved on Saturday but I was so worried I wouldn’t pack everything up in time that the anxiety has plagued me all week. But I did it! And THANK YOU to my family and my brother’s lady friend who helped me. And THANK YOU to Brother Cadfael who survived the move with ablomb. And now I’m living with my parents, back home, with all my stuff in boxes in the basement, and it’s stressful in a different way, and I have to do it all AGAIN in about 20 days. Good times. Happy times.

ANYway, I promise I’ve been sewing. In fact, I’m taking a quilting class! I know, I know, quilting, it sends shivers up the spine, but I haven’t succumbed to the dark side, I just REALLY NEED to be able to do something with all my scraps. I actually have been working on a quilt on my own (more on that to come) but I fear I might have made a bit of a hash of it (to go all British on you) so I thought maybe a class would help. And I’m doing a bunch of embroidery (really hoping to catch me that 18th Century lord for a husband) and I even am making clothing, like I do, but that’s all going to have to wait for photo time. But I feel honestly dreadful that I missed a week of giveaways, so I’m going to post one now, one tomorrow and one on Wednesday and the deadlines for all of that will be next Friday. And then I will actually SEND the winners their stuff (I PROMISE!) and life will go on, like it does. But first,  the winners of giveaways 5 and 6!

Number 5 is Susie Homemaker, MD! And I’m so making that jam, Susie, just try to stop me.

Number 6 is Stardust Soul! Email me, ladies, and I will send your new patterns.

And now, a giveaway!

Aren’t they lovely? In their way?

What now? Yes. This is a real thing.

That’s actually rather nice. The pockets!

A sweatshirt! That’s such a practical pattern for many.

Comment to win, of course. And thank you all for your thoughts on my latest dress and on what to do with that damn navy linen. I still have made literally zero choices about this, but hey, at least I have some input on the subject. Sigh. Am I the only person who feels like they should apologize each time they wear shorts? I just can’t believe they are real pieces of clothing, and I don’t know why I keep making/wearing them…but I LIKE them! I’m sick, people, in the head. Thanks for being cool about it.

 

 

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Filed under Giveaway, Vintage

The Don’t Ask Me Why Dress

While I make every effort to know myself as well as possible, getting to know the me in me, as it were, there are times when I am inexplicable even to myself. I think most of what I do is ruled by logic, reason, hunger and the desire for a nice glass of wine, you know, the standard reasons people do what they do. But every once in a while I just make weird choices. Like when I moved to Madrid and used non-roller suitcases. This was a poor choice. Or when I recently threw a party and didn’t include potato salad. That was a questionable choice. Or when I fed my cat to the point of fatness. That was an interesting choice that has led to adorableness, but also poor health (I assume). I’m a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, with layers like an onion. I’m a metaphor spliced with a simile. What are you going to do.

So recently,  I went out of my way to buy a pattern that I knew, I just knew, wasn’t anything all that special. I don’t know why I did that. I first encountered this pattern, Simplicity 4977, in an Ebay lot, which I actually lost out on. I don’t know about you guys, but I hit a limit with Ebay sometimes, I just can’t justify going beyond a certain price point. Sigh. My ebay habits aside (I….need to get off Ebay. It’s a problem) I just really liked this pattern for some reason. I. DON’T. KNOW. WHY. Check it out:

This pattern is nothing special. It is a muu-muu. With a dart. COME on. Why did this pattern attract me so deeply that I  sought it out on Etsy and paid, like 7 dollars for it!?! What happened here? I just don’t know. Don’t ask me why. Still, I think I made something pretty damn cute, if I do say so myself, and it wasn’t hard, I just had to change everything about it….

Okay, so this thing looks MUCH better with a belt, but whenever I say that people are like, no, its fine, so I wanted to SHOW it to you without a belt, to PROVE to you that I’m RIGHT. I inserted elastic at the waistline, a big thick piece which I had gotten as part of a grab bag of lace and stuff for 2.99 at the PA Fabric Outlet. God I love it there. I will miss that….

See? Isn’t that better? Yes, it is, elastic or no the belt helps. I just need to resign myself to the fact that belts and I are BFFS.

The fabric is from Spool a quilters cotton that I just fell madly in love with and had to buy, despite the fact that I’m trying not to buy any fabric, let alone of the quilters cotton variety. That being said, Tilly just wrote a very interesting post about sewing with this controversial stuff. I sew with quilters cotton all the damn time, let’s be real about life.  She mentions that sleeves should be avoided with this fabric, but this pattern has kimono sleeves, so I think it’s pretty good.

What else did I change? I shorted it a few (8) inches and I inserted pockets. Like I do.

GOD I love pockets. Fun fact, these don’t even fit my whole hands. Yeah, there were some struggles with this project. Aren’t there always?

I also tried to lower the neckline. I did lower it slightly, but it really just made it a boatneck. Struggle. It’s everywhere.

Yeah, I photo edited this. Deal with it. But how cute is this fabric? The pheasants. They just got me.

A little back shot.

Honestly? I’m going to wear the heck out of this. I wore it last night at the dinner party I threw, it was a hit. (RIGHT, GUYS?) It’s cute, it’s easy, it’s comfortable, but I know it’s not the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s nice on the inside, french seams and bias binding, and I do like it, but I have NO idea why I felt so deeply compelled to make it. What can I say?

As I type this, all I can think about is that Billy Joel song. I don’t even like Billy Joel. Don’t ask me why.

By the by, I took these photos my own self, with my tripod! I even figured out how to do jumping shots! Of course, it took some tries:

But then I figured it out:

It’s not as much fun to jump for a timer, but I bet you I will get over that. Or will I? I don’t know, man, sometimes I don’t know myself at all…

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Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Night to Day: Giveaway #6 (And by the way, I need your help)

Rough winds have shaken the darling buds of July and it is rainy, wet and honestly a touch chilly here in Philadelphia, not that I’m complaining, given that I’m on a bike for much of my day, so biking in the cool air is preferable to biking in the heat. I do both, as it turns out, but still, it’s nice when there us a breeze. I’ve been working on several new projects, two for my mamala, whose birthday is this coming Wednesday, one with the small person I’ve been teaching to sew, and one for the dinner I’m throwing tomorrow. That one is all done, expect photos and a dedicated post soon, along with some delectable food shots….

But for now, you will have to content yourselves with another giveaway, and a shameless plea for aid.

First things first, the winner of giveaway #4! And that is….Cindy, of Cation Designs! I think I’ve made my adoration for Cindy abundantly clear, but might I just say right now, thank you all, everyone who has been commenting to win on these giveaways! I really adore reading your comments, and I’m so thrilled that these patterns are going to such amazing people! Keep on commenting, I’ve got lots more goodies in store….

And here they are! Patterns which are far too small for me, but which I can’t help but find unbearably charming…

A closer look? But of course!

This could even be a cute dress, minus all the lace crap…

I actually really want all their shoes…am I alone?

Very Victorian, no? Or even Edwardian, for all those Downton Abby Fantasies…

And now that I’ve dangled patterns in front of your face as a bribe, please help me. If you want to enter this giveaway, or even if you don’t, would you mind terribly weighing in on my current internal sewing debate? I have 1.5 yards of 60″ navy linen, and it is awesome. It looks like this:

In the right hand corner you can JUST see some Cadfael paw. It’s a nice linen, even darker than this photo might suggest.

So I’m not really sure what to do with this length of fabric. Part of me says, make a skirt! You love skirts! And part of me says, make shorts! Make THESE shorts:

I’ve made them before, in fact, and I honestly adore them. But given all the shorts I’ve been making lately, I feel a bit silly making another pair, and a high-waisted style at that…

Or I could make this:

Okay, the cover art isn’t awesome, but I’ve made this before, the skirt and the pants, and the skirt, in a navy wool, is something I wore all winter, check it out.

Or I could do this:

Which of course I’ve made rather recently. And I can’t lie to you, I wear this at least once a week.

Or I could make something that ISN’T one of these options. What would you suggest? What do you like best? Any thoughts? Of course, it could just remain a perch for Mister Fattie:

Somehow, that doesn’t seem like the best use of this fabric…

Okay, tell me what to do! Or just tell me what YOU would do….

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The Call It Compulsion Top

I could also call this the “better than before but still a struggle” top. Or the “why do you torture yourself” top. Or the “shapeless but useful” top. There are a lot of ways I could have gone with this one.

I don’t know what the hell my problem is but every once in a while when I come across a pattern which doesn’t work for me I feel compelled to MAKE. IT. WORK. It will not defeat me. I’m a human, it’s a small pile of paper. I will fight. I will strive. I’m going to make this style/shape/combo work or DIE. TRYING. And so I get all worked up and slave over something and then finally have to admit that A. it’s not great and B. I don’t have to look great in every pattern, it’s okay, life, somehow, goes on…

But despite these useful lessons of the past, I made this top. And I was, initially, really excited about this top! The pattern is actually Colette Patterns’ Taffy Blouse, which I didn’t adore in practice, but I loved the way the bias cut hung over my body, so smooth and comfortable! So I thought, okay, why not try it sleeveless, as the sleeves were my major sticking point in the past. And I had a bit of fabric left over from that luscious if more-shiny-then-I-typically-go-for charmuse from my Something Blue dress, so I thought, okay, let’s do this thing!

So I cut it out, piecing the back together, and I french seamed and bias tape made and generally did it all by the book (literally).

And, you know, when I first tried it on I loved it. But looking at these photos I have come to the charming realization that this thing is rather shapeless. Like, not flattering. At all.

The look on my face says it all. Meh. Just meh. Mehville, population me.

I shouldn’t say that, though, really. I mean, I think this is actually going to be a rather useful piece of clothing, as a very comfortable silk (silk!) shell. But on it’s on? Well, I don’t think it does much for me.

In other news, these are the first blog photos I have taken with my new tripod! WHAT? Yes! I got it for my birthday, thanks, Mamala! No more torturing other people, no more angry photo sessions, just me, my tripod and some limber running into place. I can do that, right?

I’m still working out how to use it well, but this photo shoot was FUN! I’m a bit off-center in most of these, but hey, I will figure it out. Thanks for suggesting this, commentors (specifically Lauren), I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!

But one mustn’t be all negative to this poor blouse. I tucked it in, and prefered the results infinitely:

See, that’s better, right?

See, that highlights my waist, instead of making me look, well, wide. And one does so prefer to look slim, now, doesn’t one?

The shorts, by the way, are Simplicity 7866, and you can win that pattern in this giveaway! Now, is that service or is that service.

Of course, being who I am, I couldn’t help but play with the tripod and the timer setting a bit. Want to see?

Yeah. Do you ever do this? Not play with your tripod, I mean, do you see a pattern as a nemesis who must be defeated, rather then what it REALLY IS, a style of clothing that may or may not suit you? I know empirically that not every style is my style and yet sometimes when it comes down too it I get oddly stubborn about patterns. I don’t regret making this blouse, really, I think it will be very useful and it’s lovely to wear, that silk, it’s expensive for a reason, I suppose, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most flattering thing I’ve even sewn. I think I’m throwing in the towel, Taffy, I really did try. I gave you my all. But you give love a bad name…

Yeah. Still sorting out the tripod. I’ll get there. I promose.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

For ME? You shouldn’t have! (And something for you too, plus winners!)

My package came! My package came from Stitch and Witter, aka Joanne, aka an awesome lady I have been paired with for the Summer Swap 2012! What a wonderous event! Oh, the joy that I feel, it is astounding. What did the lovely Joanne send me? Take a look, abre tus ojos y mira:

RIGHT? It’s AWESOME. There is a liberty of london covered belt buckle (swoon), vintage buttons, a yo-yo maker, an OWL PINCUSHION aka the best thing ever, a corsage making kit, and some FABRIC. WHAT? Yes. Thank you a thousand times, Joanne, I was so delighted when I received this today!

But it is better to give then to receive. No, it’s not, that’s lie we are told as children, that’s just nonsense, but it’s what people say, so let’s go with it. So if you would like to see what I myself gave Joanne as part of this extremely fun swap, see her post here. I hope this is an annual thing, and THANK YOU Kestral, for making this happen!

And for YOU people, another giveaway! But first, the winner of giveaway #3, and it is…..Cynthia of Dapper Duds! Cynthia, email me at leah.franqui@gmail.com and I will send your patterns along!

And for this week, a set I simply must say I totally adore:

You might actually recognize one or two of these puppies as one’s I’ve actually made. Yes, back in the days when I thought resizing would be a fun thing to learn, not an ardous chore of evil….Yes, indeed, Simplicity 7866, a pattern I have made 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times. WHAT? Yes. I will probably make more, too. I still have the re-sized pieces. But this, much smaller set, is yours for the winning!

This one I have not made, but I love it. And I love the slippers in version b. Adorable.

How lovely is this pattern? With the coat, and everything? Sure, it’s a little matchy-matchy, but you could make it WILD….

And I’ve made this one, too! I actually really love this pattern, I gotta make this again…so much to sew, so little time.

So yes, please comment to win, as always, And this time you could tell me about patterns you’ve made more than once, and why!

Also, a note: I love responding to comments, but I haven’t been responding to the giveaway comments because I didn’t want people to glance at the bottom and think, oh, wow, 50 comments, I will NEVER win this, might as well not try. But if you promise not to freak out, I will respond to comments. Because I love it so.

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So Close, and Yet, So Far Away: Giveaway #4! (And winners from #2!)

Another day, another giveaway…. I promise I’m actually sewing, people, not just giving stuff away. In fact, I’ve been teaching a small person to sew (small meaning young, not petite, just so you know), and it’s been a very interesting experience. It’s made me think a lot about how large a part of my life sewing has become, and the things that once seemed strange which are now completely automatic. For example, she’s been having trouble with the pedal and finding a comfortable speed, and as I watched her struggle with this, trying desperately not to pepper her with advice or jump in there myself (it’s rough for a control freak, people, it really is), I thought, wow, when was the last time I even THOUGHT about the pedal? I just put my foot down and go, man. Sometimes slower, if i’m topstitching, but generally it’s like wham, bam, thank you ma’am! It’s amazing how things become ingrained in your body so quickly that they feel second nature. Of course, there is still so much I want and need to learn about sewing, but as I watch a true beginner, it’s also nice to realize that I’m not there any more.

First of all, let me announce the winner of Giveaway #2, and it is, drumroll please……Oonnaballona! Use them in good health, my tiny friend who is able to fit into these patterns which I look at with longing and sad realization. Let me know how to get them to you!

And onto the next batch:

SO close to my size (a 36, if you must know) and yet far enough away that I’m too lazy to re-size them or deal with large seam allowances etc. I’m just really lazy, people, I would rather host a blog giveaway and pay for shipping then re-size a damn pattern. Yeah.

This could actually be a pretty gorgeous coat with the right fabric. I’m not going to comment on the trousers, I haven’t the strength.

Their expressions are just too precious.

This is actually my favorite among this lot. Especially version two, with the grommets or whatever they are. Very chic. Side buttons make my bosom look odd, but if you DON’T have that problem this could be an awesome dress.

You know the deal by now, comment to win it, and tell me of your weekend plans! Or tell me about your process of learning how to sew, I’m genuinely interested!

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I’m Just Not There Yet: Giveaway #3 (And Winners from #1!)

I just realized I never set expiration dates on these giveaways, as I am wont to do. So I’m going to tell you right now that I’m announcing the winners from the 1st giveaway today, and on Friday you will get to hear the winners from number 2! And a week from today, i.e. next Thursday, you will meet the winners from this here giveaway. And so on and so forth.

So here we go, giveaway #3! And where am I not, yet?

Yeah. So, on Monday I celebrated my 25th birthday, which was very nice, and thank you all for your lovely thoughts and words, you people are just too sweet. Much sweeter then I, that’s for certain. And while I’m very excited about my future, and I know that it holds many surprises, I’m just in no way ready for it to involve little people. Little cats are about all I can deal with right now. So here you go, for those of you with little people in your life, or little people on the way, some goodies!

A maternity pattern for those who want to look like Mad Men even in their “condition”.

A wee pair of overalls or a bloomer-top set, for the child in your life.

And a dirndl for the frualein you like best!

And the winner of the giveaway is…..Giggles In The Sun! Congratulations! Please email me to let me know where I can send your lovely gift, at leah.franqui@gmail.com!

Good luck, people! And there is so much more to come…

Do you like small people? Know someone with a small person? Contemplating a small person yourself? Enter away!

 

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Filed under Giveaway, Vintage