Monthly Archives: August 2012

Annnnnnnd we’re back

What’s sad is that, in the list of things I forgot to pack, I didn’t take Cadfael’s beloved scratch lounge! I’m the WORST.

Moving. Is. The. Literal. Worst. Though, honestly,I shouldn’t be complaining, my magnificent family made my move a delight (or at least a bearable experience), and now I’m mostly settled in in Brooklyn, Prospect Heights, for all those interested in stalking me, and trying to get myself back on track, you know, life wise. Cadfael is great, too, by the way, for those playing along at home, he seems to have taken to Brooklyn like, well, a hipster….

But the most important thing is, DID I BRING MY SEWING MACHINE? Is that some sort of sick joke? Of COURSE I did. Honestly that was the most important thing I brought, along with all my other sewing stuff. Did I bring all the fabric? Bahahaha, no. There isn’t enough room in this whole city for all that. And frankly, it’s quite a shock to the system to become aware of just how little storage space there is here on this ridiculous island. Or a I on a peninsula now? I honestly have no idea. Please don’t tell me. I don’t care.

At any rate, my soviet propaganda posters are all hung, my diploma is there looking smug as ever, my books sit calmly in their bookcase all literary and everything, so there you are. And I’ve even made an item! I can’t show it to you right now, but rest assured, I already impressed QUITE a few hipsters in Williamsberg (which was surprisingly devoid of colonial information) with my homemaid goodness. Take THAT, greasy people!

At any rate, I’m back in business, baby, and ready to sew. Anyone else a sewer in New York? Want to hang out? I promise I’m halfway decent!

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Fall 2012 Sewing Plans

I sorted through all my patterns recently. It was….scary. There are so many of them. SO. MANY. PATTERNS. I don’t even know what to do with all of them. I found about 30 to give away, so, look out for more giveaways, I guess….

And yet, somehow, in all of the many of them (I couldn’t even count, it was too many) there were gaps. For example, I don’t have all that many skirt patterns. Or suit patterns (though god knows when I will ever wear a suit in my chosen profession of playwright, so whatever on that score). There are very few knit patterns, or, for that matter, modern patterns. There are a lot of dresses, mostly of the summer variety. There are some blouses, mostly of the button-up variety. There are a handful of coats and a scant number of jackets, and one swimsuit, that is actually a burdastyle download so that doesn’t even really count (because I couldn’t bear to deal with my downloaded and carefully assembled patterns, they aren’t really a part of this discussion because I don’t want my brain to explode). And there were dresses. Lots of dresses. Did I mention there were dresses?

And yet, though all this mess of paper and wonderful daydreams (like, I’m going to make all these shift dresses! Tomorrow! It’s going to be great!), I have carved out a Fall 2012 Wardrobe/plan/back-to-school (oh my god, I’m going back to school!) wish-list. Inspired by the wonderful Cindy of Cation designs, I shall now share my plans with you.

1. Another Jiffy 4977 dress.

I know. I KNOW. I was so “whatever” about this one but now it’s one of my favorite dresses and every time I wear it people love it. So I’m going to make another one, with slightly longer sleeves, for fall. Maybe in this cheerful stripe?

2. Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers (one, or maybe even two pairs…)

I bought this pattern the day Tasia released it, even BEFORE she released it, because I’m on her mailing list. I’m not really a pear shape, it’s true, but I do have a sizable bottom half (which, hopefully, is balanced out by my not-unsizable bosom) so I thought these might be a good fit for me. I want to make one straight from the pattern in a blue denim, dark, of course, and then fiddle about with the legs to make a slim-fitting black pair, perhaps a thurlow-clover hybrid? We shall see…

3. A mock wrap dress, Simplicity 4074:

In this lovely knit fabric from GirlCharlee

4. A Cation Designs (FREE PATTERN!) Dolman Top:

I couldn’t tell you what fabric, though. I’ve got some rather plain navy in my stash, and I’m trying not to buy any new fabric, but it seems rather dull for such a lovely pattern…

5. A coat, specifically McCalls 2979 from the 1970’s:

This is going to be a doozy, in fact, I would say this is a fall/winter 2012 project. I’ve never made a coat before, but I pre-ordered Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing (and I can hardly contain myself waiting for it!) so I hope her padstitching and tailoring advice is helpful (like it would be anything BUT). I have no idea what fabric I’m going to use, I’m sure I will buy something, and, sorry, New York, but I’m equally sure I will be picking it up here in Philadelphia. When it comes to prices for wool, we can’t be beat…

6. A men’s shirt (for mi hermano!) Colette Patterns Negroni, of course:

Tailor-made for the 27 year old hipster in my life. I feel strongly that there will be many muslins because A. Fit is tricky and B. my brother is picky  discerning. He wants a long-sleeved version with both pockets intact, and I will be using the hell out of Peter’s Men’s Shirt Sewalong from all those moons ago, so look out for updates.

7. A Pencil Skirt! What pattern, do you ask? I. DON’T. KNOW. As mentioned above, I don’t have many skirt patterns, and I’ve never made a pencil skirt that I really loved. I’ve made a lot that were just okay, but nothing wonderful.  I would love for it to look just like this, please:

Can anyone find me something that would resemble that? I’ll send you a pattern, if you do!

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were. I also plan to make a Peony Dress, a 1970’s pattern with tie-neck (delicious) and all sorts of other things, as they come to my busy mind. I mean, this doesn’t even cover knitting or quilting, which I find myself liking more and more each day. But I like starting with a plan. What are your fall sewing plans? Any perfect pencil skirt patterns you swear by in your own lives?

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Filed under Colette Patterns, Inspiration, McCalls Patterns, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Light’s The Thing Dress (ReFashion)

First and foremost, the winners of the last two giveaways! Giveaway # 7 was won by Kristin of Quiet And Small, and Giveaway # 8 was won by Adri Makes a Thing or Two! Email me at leah.franqui@gmail.com and I will (eventually) send you your prizes!

Lauren of Lladybird in all her wisedom said it best when commenting on my excitement about getting a tripod. She said something along the lines of, now the challenge is to get good light. Sigh. Challenge? Not accepted. At least not with this round of photos….

I’ve had this robe for a long time, it was my grandmothers, probably of Israeli or Moroccan origin, a remnant from her childhood in Tehran or maybe one of her many trips. I don’t know, I found it after she had passed away in the labyrinth of stuff that is my grandfather’s attic. I loved the print and the colors, and I just knew I could do a quick and dirty refashion that would render this wearable. Or more wearable then this:

Not only is it long and shapeless, but it’s a bit, um, scandalous, in the bust area. So I thought to myself, I bet this would be a great summer dress if I chopped off a bunch and made a belt out of the excess and stitched up the placket a few inches. And I thought that to myself last summer, and never ever did it, even though I knew it would take approximately 45 minutes. And so, last night, I looked at the robe hanging in my closet and just said, screw it, and chopped and hemmed and stitched and here we are:

Now, wasn’t that easy? And worth it? Why didn’t I do this a year ago?

Honestly, I think part of me was reticent to cut into this robe, even though I knew shorting it would be the only way I would ever wear it. I was so reluctant to transform something “authentic” into something modern and western and “inauthentic”. And most of me knows that that’s indulging in the spectacle of authenticity, the very oil to the hipster engine, and a false simulacrum, an illusion. There is no “authentic” anything,  and it’s wasteful not to use the clothing that already exists, in fact, it’s the more historically accurate act to re-fashion, a process that’s as old as clothing itself, then to let something sit in perfect untouched archaic isolation. But still. Part of me cringed at the notion of sawing through this fabric, knowing it would never again adorn a wandering Middle Eastern person plodding through the desert.

Sigh. And then I got over that, and hacked off 12 inches or more.

I wont pepper you with photos, as this is a refashion that took very little time or effort, though I must say, I couldn’t help but be inspired by Tilly’s latest amazing (and also green!) creation.

I tried to do a jump shot, but, um, I’m still working out the self timer…

Hahaha, I’m so pleased with myself because I think I’ve caught a good jump shot. Foolish struggle.

How do you feel about refashioning, especially something that’s vintage or old or meaningful in some way? Does it feel sacrilegious or virtuous, are you killing the past or giving life to a new garment?

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

The Four Months Later Quilt

Oh. My. God. I FINALLY finished this quilt. AND this shirt I’ve been working on (i.e. not working on) for three weeks. And then I was able to bang out three wine bags for my mom, and cut out 15 more. WHAT? WHY? Moving is so disruptive! Sewing streaks, they are so weird! Life, why you gotta be that way sometimes? Sigh.

Anyway, more on the shirt later. First, to the quilt! I made a whole quilt!

I didn’t really know how to photograph this because I’ve never MADE a quilt before so I’ve never PHOTOGRAPHED a quilt before because I don’t just go around photographing quilts, I’m not some kind of sicko.

An honest to God (oh, thanks, buddy, for the help on this one, patience wise, I owe you  a fruit basket. I’m just kidding! I know you prefer roast lamb, but what’s a modern girl without a pre-A.D. temple to do?) quilt! Like, the real deal, squares and blocks and batting and everything. And it was, like so much of my life, a huge flipping struggle.

Okay, so it must be said, this whole thing was inspired by Dispatches from Whitcomb Street. I’d never even considered quilting as something I would be interested in doing but as I said back in Me Made May (hahahahahahaha, there was  a time I thought I would finish this by the end of May! God, I was so young and foolish then…) that I can’t stand scraps. Gotta use em. Can’t throw em out. I COMPOST. I RECYCLE. I NEEDED SOMETHING TO DO WITH FABRIC SCRAPS. IT WAS A REAL PROBLEM. So, I was like, well, I guess I could make a stupid quilt, I mean, it’s lame and stupid and not like a dress or whatever but I GUESS I could make it work….

That all being said, this was actually kind of fun. I mean, it took 4 months of my life and I would love that time back but really it was something I put aside quite a bit and kept coming back to, obsessed, as I am, with finishing tasks. I chose a string quilt, because A. that’s what Dispatches from Whitcomb Street made and B. it seemed like a simple enough way to go. Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHA. SIMPLE. SURE. WHY NOT. So I found a tutorial (there are dozens online so I’m not going to link to just one) and I cut stripes (none too exactly, let’s be real about the universe).

I made 80 blocks, pieced them together, stitched it all  up, grabbed a college dorm-room bed sheet for the backing (because for REAL when am I ever going to sleep in an extra-long twin bed ever again?)

Ignore my rather pitiful hand-quilting, thanks.

and slapped the whole thing together. Of course, I used an extra thick batting (…it was cheap? I don’t know why I did this, honestly) and so I had to quilt it all by hand (Screw. That. Process. is all I have to say) and then I forced it into submission, bias-tape wise (I bought that, though, COME on, a girl needs respite), stitching on by machine and then by hand the stretchy stuff to bind the quilt and wash my hands of the silly thing. I don’t know that you can tell in the photos but it’s about 80″ by 64″.

But now? I’m pretty into this quilt. In fact, I’m over the moon about it. Yes, it’s a bit of a messy, a bit strugglesome, but it’s also impressive and adorable and WARM and snuggly and FUN! And I like how it looks, all pieced together! Quilting, it’s even more of a puzzle than garment sewing, I think. Am I a convert? I don’t really know. I know I will make more quilts because A. I still have tons of scrap and B. it’s interesting, a ton of work, but interesting and C. they make EXCELLENT gifts. But will it be my main deal? No, it takes far too long and I really like wearing what I make.

Still, it’s an amazing record of past projects. Like:

That blue and teal strip is leftover from my San Cristobel Skirt and my Don’t Mind My Yacht Shorts! That floral in the right corner is from my Dear Betty Dress!

That maroon shot cotton at the top is from the first group of fat quarters I ever bought, as is the crazy blue floral underneath it! The plaid is from the hoarder stash.

There’s remnants of my Too Hot For Tzfat Skirt, and bits from my grandfather’s attic. It’s a plethora of projects all in one!

Of course, the people who love this quilt the most are in fact of the fuzzy variety. Cadfael actually isn’t that into it:

See, he refused to model. FALCO, on the other hand, is all over this:

Um, you made this for me, right?

RIGHT?

Sure, buddy, that four months was all about making you a hand-quilted cat bed. Isn’t that always what all the things I made really become?

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Filed under Quilting, Scrap, Sewing

Odd Behaviour

Much as it may surprise you, I have very little to say. I’m sleepy, work is busy, Cadfael is slowly but surely adjusting to his new space, and my quilting class was fun this evening. Quilting is…different. Have you ever tried it? It’s not like garment sewing, and it’s hard for me to picture the final product and the way all the colors are going to work together. Of course, that was hard for me with clothing at first, but at least you have a pattern photo….But the prospect of being able to effectively use my scraps is just way too wonderful to pass up on, so I must persevere. We go on, facing our trials as they come.

Yeah, that’s all I’ve got tonight. Sometimes I’m quiet. Tell my family, they’ll never believe it.

The giveaway!

I’ve actually made the pajamas before! Yeah, they were a bit snug for my rather generous bosom, but I think they are unbearably cute…

Right? Super cute.

I think this has the potential for greatness, in the right hands.

This would look excellent on someone with a body completely unlike my own.

There you have it, folks, short and sweet. So comment to win, and tell me, when was the last time you tried a new craft? How did it go?

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Filed under Giveaway, Vintage