Monthly Archives: January 2013

The I Have A Problem Shirt

There are times when, having vocalized a desire, I find myself filled with the need to do that which is exactly the opposite. For example, having recently decided that I should be making new patterns, or at least ones I’m less familiar with, I then go ahead and make this nonsensical little shirt, which is the fourth iteration of a Dixie DIY pattern. Why am I like this? Could it be because I deeply fear change? (Yes, it could be that)


Or it could be that for whatever reason, I really like this swingy sweet style. It’s so not my normal thing and yet I really like it! It’s comfortable, it’s breezy, I like the way it swings around…

IHAP 5After all, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

IHAP 4Well, come on, I had to make that joke, I’m a human, aren’t I?

I couldn’t tell you why I keep making this pattern over and over again. It’s not the most flattering shape for me, and yet I like it. What is that about, some odd self-destructive tendency? But then, more than one person thought this was cute, unsolicited, so I guess it’s better than I ever thought…

I made very few changes to the pattern, I only lengthened the sleeves slightly. I would have lengthened them more but couldn’t due to a lack of fabric. This shirt only took a yard and a half, so yay for fabric efficiency!

IHAP 6And it does feel wonderful when I swing around… but god, the look on my face here is like I”m being tortured, isn’t it?

The colors actually match Puerto Rico neatly. Don’t you think?

IHAP 3IHAP 2Right? Don’t I fit right into the scenery?


There is very little else to say about this shirt. Except that I really have to stop making the same thing over an over again. And yet last night I made ANOTHER repeat pattern. What. Is. My. Problem.


I think maybe it’s comforting to make the same thing over and over again for me, I feel like by the second or third time through I have the pattern down pat and I really know how to make it, and while the bloom is off the rose, so to speak, my final version is usually better then my first (though, not always…isn’t THAT troubling?). But I also think it’s a bit of a laziness/fear thing, like, I know I like this pattern well enough, I don’t worry about the fitting, there are no surprises. But then when I have the finished object, I also have no surprises, and I think that’s starting to get to me. So note to self, after this dress I worked on last night (a cute little number but yet ANOTHER pattern I’ve made to death) I really have to get on the new-pattern thing.

How do you feel about tried and true versus new patterns? Do you get into a re-making rut like I do? Or are you all about new horizons?

In other news, I had vowed as a Sewalution for this year to for real for real get into my stash. And who should swoop in to help me but Cindy! (Side note, if ANY sewing blogger would be a superhero, wouldn’t it be her? I think so, with Walnut has her trusty sidekick…) So I’ve joined in her Stash Busting Sewalong, which is gloriously structured and filled with challenges and monthly themes. Here is my vow:

I, Leah, commit to using 15 pieces of stash fabric in 2013. Additional option: I also commit to not buying any new fabric/patterns/ notions except for needles and thread and zippers until July (my birthday month!).

This month is chock full of Itty Bits, so I will get into my scraps as soon as possible, as the month is almost over! Quick, to the scrap pile….


Filed under Clothing, Dixie DIY, Planning, Sewing

The Matchy Matchy Dress

Okay, so I was clearly not able to post twice last week, which was an almost instantaneous fail. But to be fair, I was without internet access, for the most part, in Puerto Rico, from whence I have only just returned.

I have been going to Puerto Rico my entire life. I have a lot of family still living on the island, and my parents ended up buying and renovating a house in Viejo San Juan several years ago, so, you know, I’m acquainted with the island. I’ve seen its many absurdities over the years, I’ve walked down city streets only to find myself competing with chickens for sidewalk space. I’ve accepted the insanity of day-to-day living, the fact that sometimes basic things are just not available in the one and only grocery store (though there is always rum. Never fear). But I tell you, I was just on the island for the San Sebastian Festival, and boy oh boy, was that something else. It is best described as Puerto Rican Mardi Gras, though that’s too tame a term to deem this four-day drunken bonanza that pollutes the city of San Juan with drunken Puerto Ricans begging for one more beer and screaming in the streets and playing music at all hours of the night and in general making my life more painful than I had thought possible.

Really, the truth is, I’m glad I went. I mean, I wouldn’t go again in a hurry, and next January you can find me far away from San Juan around this time, but it was fascinating, and it’s worth experiencing, if you are into Puerto Rico at all. However, my love for the island couldn’t possibly compete with my hatred of people. It fought a good fight, but in the end, loathing always beats love in my book. Still I got some good photos out of it:


So when we got a chance, my mother and I snuck off to the beach. And my wonderful mamala wore something I had made for her which I had not previously photographed, namely, this dress:


It’s Simplicity 8955, a vintage pattern I’ve made before. My mom liked the one I made, and asked for one for Puerto Rico. I was more than happy to make her this cover up/lounge wear, and I thought, why not make it match out house? So I did…

BDD 2Looks good, no? Now, picture a plethora of drunk teenagers wandering in front of that. Not so nice, now, is it…

BDD 8My mother tried doing the soulful “look to the side” thing.

BDD 7Nice, right? I love this material, and I think it matches our house perfectly.

We had a lovely day at the beach that day, it was probably the only quiet spot in all of San Juan!

This is an extremely simple pattern, by the way, and I love it. I cut the back in two pieces but otherwise I made no changes, and I really cut the back that way for fabric efficiency, which is my kind of thing… Other then that, it’s just the pattern as written. Cute, no?

See, it all looks nice right now, does it not? Little do you know…


Filed under Clothing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage

The Thrice as Nice Shirt

Sometimes titles completely elude me. For example, every play I’ve ever written has had its title tacked on at the end as a complete after thought. As a result, the titles are not very good. For the screenplay I wrote this semester, it got to the point where my teacher just looked at me and said, really, Leah? Untitled Screenplay? I tried to pass it off like a Duchamp “Fountain” thing but I don’t think he was buying it…

So sometimes I have a hard time finding names for the pieces I make, and nevertheless I like having names for the pieces I make because I like thinking of my wardrobe as something filled with chatty vibrant personalities to rival my own, so when I get dressed in the morning I can say, hello, such-and-such-blouse, hello, such-and-such-pants, who wants to hang out with who today? Am I anthropomorphizing my closet? Mayhap. You should see the chats I have with my cat. Seriously, you should, my roommates could use more people with whom to watch and judge.

B 1

So this blouse is New Look 6808, my third version of this all-too-cute pattern. This time I did the collar, but without the little bow in the middle because I’ve really been working on this “dressing like a grown up” thing. And I did long sleeves, because it’s cold out here for a pimp. And I did stretch poplin because it’s seriously comfortable and I had some in my stash from over a year ago when I got a bunch of stretchy fabric for clover muslins. Ancient history.

B 2I adore this color. One has to admit, though, this poplin is a tad wrinkly…

B 3Eh, what are you gonna do….I also made the pants! My first clovers, in fact, which makes this outfit weirdly perfect and fated, come to think of it…

B 4Side view! I had to add two pleats to force the sleeve to fit into the shoulder. I’ve had to do that every time with this pattern, but instead of altering it I just go with it because I kind of love the pleat!

I also noticed that the sleeve cuff detail is flipped up in all of these photos, sigh…

B 5A little back view for you. You can’t see it in these photos, nor can you really see it much in real life, but there is a seam down the back which I have because I pieced together the back. If I was a super-villan, that would be my trademark, back seams. I just some fabric efficiency!

B 6A little wink, terrifyingly caught on camera. You can see the cuff here, sort of, it’s cute.

B 7Annnnnnnnnd there I am talking to my cat again. Of course. Duh.

We are actually having a tearful goodbye moment. Sniff. I love vacations but I loathe leaving him. It’s a constant dilemma for me, travel or Cadfael? Wow, my twenties are just WILD.

I know this is some rapid fire posting over here, but I wanted to throw this up online before I leave tomorrow morning for San Juan. My internet access is sort of limited there, and I can only use my computer in one of the two Starbucks in town. So my blogging shall be curtailed for a while whilst I swan about the island with my friends and then alone, and then with my family. Of course, that alone time is reserved for writing, writing, and then more writing. Because that’s why people go to tropical paradises, to sit inside and write…

I hope everyone’s New Year is treating them gorgeously! And before you call me out on it, I’m aware this blouse doesn’t fulfill my plans to make new patterns. I’ll get there, okay? At least I tried a variation. Counts, right?


Filed under Clothing, New Look Patterns, Sewing

The Fabulous Fifties in Holland

When we went to Holland, every single art museum we attended, with the exception of the Franz Hals house, was under renovation. For. Reals. This seems like terrifically bad planning to me, but hey, I’m not the Dutch government, now, am I? But if I were, I probably would have sped up the TEN YEAR LONG renovation of the Rijksmuseum, and then waited until that was DONE to do the Van Gogh Museum, and THEN dealt with the Mauritshuis in The Hague. I’m just throwing that out there.

That being said, the fact that the majority of the Mauritshuis’ unbearably amazing collection was moved from its home in the center of the city to the Gemeentemuseum outside of the hustle and bustle and U.N. dealings actually ended up being kind of  blessing in disguise. Not only is the museum building a gorgeous one, designed by H.P. Berlage, a member of the Amsterdam School, which pleased my mother, but  it also currently houses an awesome if vaguely confusing exhibit called Mondriaan and De Stijl, which is fantastic, and they have most of the marvels of the Mauritshuis (except the damn girl with the damn pearl earring which is in JAPAN, are you kidding me? Not cool, Holland, NOT COOL.)

But they also have an exhibit that might actually be relevant on this here sewing blog, and that was one entitled Fabulous Fifties, Fabulous Fashion! It was a pretty cool exhibit, not all that revelatory and trying to paint Holland as the center of fashion development, which, well….

But still, it has some just simply gorgeous pieces, Vintage Dior and Givenchy and even some modern things. And they let you take photos, so, um….

FF 1

PROM DRESSES! I didn’t know they had prom in Holland. FF 2

I love this jacket.FF 3

This grey dress looks almost modern, don’t you think? It’s Dior, of course. FF 4

Gorgeous details. FF 5

I love the bow, and this color is just….FF 6

I think that deep purple could have been torn right off of Joan from Mad Men. FF 7

Love this draping. FF 8

How modern does this jumpsuit look? FF 9

Too cute. FF 10

How odd are these wigs?FF 11

These two cocktail dresses would be right at home in 2013. FF 12

Another Dior. Just lovely, don’t you think?

And now some modern takes on vintage looks:

Prada’s 2011 Show:

FF 13

FF 14

Alexander McQueen ( I think)FF 16

Vivienne Westwood:FF 17I love their poses!

It’s always so wonderful to get this close to some beautifully made pieces of clothing. I couldn’t help but share them with you! It almost makes up for this Vermeer nonsense….


Filed under Clothing, Inspiration, Travel, Vintage

The Home Sweet Home Skirt and some thoughts for 2013

Ah, Brooklyn, sweet Brooklyn. I have, indeed, missed you. Old Amsterdam was amazing, though, it really was, and we had the best possible trip, all stuffed with Vermeer and Rembrandt and pancakes and frites and Indonesian food and 17th century architecture and The Amsterdam School of Building and canals and Spinoza and Van Gogh and things like this:

HSH 10

And as a result we all felt like this:

HSH 11

And it was lovely. And yes, my hair did seem quite Dutch, I fit right in, it was excellent.

So it was a lovely way to spend the New Year, with the three people I adore the most, in a gorgeous place. No wild ragers, no embarrassing morning-afters, just fireworks and Surinamese food and cognac and my favorite people. And so I didn’t really think about sewing resolutions or life resolutions or anything but delicious apple tarts and avoiding getting run over by bicyclists. But now that I’m back in the States, and back in Brooklyn (for, about, ten seconds before I go to Puerto Rico for ten days…) and enjoying a more solitary existence (well, I live with two roommates, plus my cat, plus all my friends, plus all the bartenders I tend to get super friendly with, so, yes, solitude is a relative term), I’m considering my New Years sewalutions. Oh, and I made a skirt:

HSH 6It’s a Colette Patterns meringue. I had to take about 4 inches off at the waist, which I did on the non-zippered side, of course, using a makeshift 2 AM dart. It’s still a little loose, but I like it.

Sewalution #1. Re-measure myself. Clearly my shape has changed and a lot of the stuff I’ve made and have been making recently has been rather loose on me, so I need to re-evaluate my sizing and act accordingly, instead of this late night slapdash alteration nonsense.

HSH 1I got this fabric from the hoarder stash. Truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Sewalution #2. For SERIOUS, for REALS this time, SEW FROM MY STASH. I can’t even deal with myself in this respect, I need to be so much stricter about this.


These photos are awfully grainy. I tried to color correct them, sigh.


Let’s see, did I do anything else special with this? Not really, I added a lining because this wool is rather scratchy, but other then that, nothing, really. The lining is a cotton from my grandfather’s attic which I dyed blue.

HSH 9Matches the plaid, no?

HSH 4A little back view for you. A bit wrinkled, sigh.

I cut the waistband on the bias to make it as comfortable as possible.


HSH 5I wouldn’t say it’s the most special thing I’ve ever made, but it’s cute and serviceable  and warm and perfect for wearing day-to-day. And I got brunch with my friend Becca today, and she said, immediately, cute skirt! So I feel pretty good about it.

Sewalution #3. Make things you know you will wear and that actually fit your lifestyle.

Sewalution #4. Try new patterns! This skirt does no fulfill that rule, I’ve made it a few times. Bad Leah.

Sewalution #5. Post twice a week. This is going to be hard one for me, but I love this blog, and all the people who read it, and I want to make sure I’m active and sharing my sewing journey with the rest of the world. So I’m going to do it. Come hell or high water.

That’s five things to do this year. That’s doable, right? Well, we shall see..

And it’s nice to be home. And thank goodness that Puerto Rico is also my home, so going there is a home as well.

I hope that your holiday season and subsequent aftermath has been pleasant and bearable. Tell me all about it,if you want…


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Put A Bird On It Dress

I’ve never seen Portlandia. Let’s just start there. I’m sure I would love it, I’m not neglecting it through spite, I just, I have a really full T.V. watching schedule, okay? Okay, okay, I’m going right now to see it! But I do know about this whole “put a bird on it” thing and I must say, it’s as hilarious as it is true. How many birds have I seen on things in Brooklyn? Or even in the very hipster Philadelphia? So many birds. Fly, bird pillows and tote-bags, fly free!

That being said, I really like this dress I made….

PABOI 1See? My mom was right about the messy hair thing…

So I made this with Simplicity 4704, and fabric from my favorite knit fabric source, Girl Charlee. Seriously, that place is the best. This fabric came from the very first fabric order I ever placed with this store, and I have been waiting and waiting to use it and then finally I just decided, you know what I need? A mock-wrap dress.

And I’m mostly happy with the results! It’s a bit big on me, so I think I’m going to go down a size (sidenote- how do you muslin with a knit fabric pattern? Discuss.) I shorted this by about 5 inches and took our 6 inches in the back/waist, creating large darts out of thin air, but it’s still a bit loose, and given that it’s jersey it stretched during the day I wore it to the point that at the end of the day the good people of Harlem had no doubts about the nature of my bra. So I’m going to tack that business together now that I’m back home…

PABOI 6Still, it’s cute, right? It stood me well through the Rijksmuseum:


Where I enjoyed the Dutch Masters:


And thought deep thoughts about art:



PABOI 4I guess  I was concerned that this goose was going to pick a fight with my dress’ canaries.

And onto the train to Haarlem:


PABOI 7Where I posed in a Church, the one and only one we went to this whole trip! I tell you, Holland has a lot of nice things but it’s Churches are just okay. Unless of course you actually are Christian, then I’m sure they are very nice! But as a tourist and a Jew, well, you know…

So I love this dress, and I think I will duplicate it, at least one size down…

Oh, and by the by, Holland was fantastic, we had the best time! Just in case you were wondering…


Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns

If you are going to knit things knit them for those you love

This is my philosophy on knitting. Because it takes so damn long and it’s so labor intensive and there are times when I’ve looked down at what I’ve made and been like, screw this, knitting is bogus, I can’t do this anymore! But then I keep doing it. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment. And I do enjoy the act of knitting, it’s soothing, it’s repetitive  it keeps the food out of my hands, it’s good all around, and when it’s cold, having something warm in your hands is really nice. Though of course now I can’t watch a movie or whatever when I’m NOT knitting and I seriously pulled out projects during all of the last movies I saw in theaters, including Lincoln. Which….meh. I have many feelings. But I’m not going to put them on my sewing blog, that’s not a place for feelings. Really, the internets is no place for feelings at all, though I wish someone would tell that to every youtube commentor…

ANYway, clearly I’m still a bit jetlagged, having gotten in from Holland last night. (It was great, by the way!) And I did take quite a few me made items with me, one of which is new and you shall see it in a post or so. But this is about the knitted items which I made for others (and one for myself, I couldn’t resist!) which we brought to combat the harsh Dutch winter. Of course, it was warmer there in Amsterdam then it is here in Struggledelphia, but hey, you can’t have it all ways. Damn those canals and their balmy breezes….

So this is something I made for my mother LAST year, combined with something I made for her THIS year! I gave her this scarf last year, which was from this free pattern via my favorite Philadelphia yarn store.

Amsterdam! 031

I love this pattern, it’s really easy and the texture is just really nice!

Amsterdam! 038

I also made my mom her ear warmer, with yarn I got from Purl Soho (ah, I finally went to Purl Soho and it was beautiful and expensive and cute and perfect and so very Manhattan and I wanted to throw up at the prices and touch all the Liberty of London, it was at once very exciting and upsetting. So pretty par for the course for a yarn store.) I made up the pattern! Look at me, going rouge…

Amsterdam! 037It’s just seed stitch with a knitted border, It ended up a bit wide, so my mother tends to fold it over. It goes with her coat, don’t you think?

Amsterdam! 585Here it is in full. My mom says it’s very warm!

And then I also made this for Alex, my brother

Amsterdam! 584

Same pattern, slightly wider and in a yarn I got from Brooklyn General, which is honestly equally as precious as Purl Soho, but in a much more Brooklyn hipster paying-for-cool rather then paying-for-labels way.

Amsterdam! 034Nice, right? It’s awfully warm, Alex even had to admit that he liked it…

Amsterdam! 033Don’t they look nice in their knitted gifts? Alex and Deborah are both Autumns, color-wise, so they got earthy greens. Now me, I’m a winter, so I had to  make myself a little something…

Amsterdam! 582I just HAD to. The cowl I made too, last winter, but this little beauty I whipped up the night before I left for Amsterdam (though to be fair, Lincoln helped).

Amsterdam! 580I made up the pattern for the one, too, it’s just a rectangle in seed stitch and then another little rectangle in seed stitch and I sewed the thing up and there you go. I should note that I have been knitting these earwarmers flat and then seaming them up the back, that’ s just how I roll. I mentioned to my mom that all the women in Holland had really messy hair (they really do) and she said, oh, you must feel right at home! She wasn’t wrong…

Amsterdam! 578So there you go, a couple of knitted goodies in the land of cheese and wooden shoes. Do you knit for others? If you knit? What’s your handmade gift philosophy?







Filed under Knitting