Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Passover Dress

So, just to warn you, I know that this is a sewing blog, but this post is going to get historical and personal, and if that’s not your thing, I just wanted to warn you straight away, and you can feel free not the read this, really, I wont mind. Of course, I’m never all about the stitching and the snipping, but still, just so you are aware before you dive in, you’ve been cautioned.

So, I decided to participate in the wonderful and talented Lucille‘s Sew for Victory challenge, and honestly, I really didn’t think too much about this before I did it. After all, there are a lot of sewing challenges and sew-a-longs and dares out here on the interwebs and really I’ve participated in (and continue to participate in) many of them. And I do love this period of dressing and pattern making, I do, the lines, the designs, the fabric efficiency, it’s wonderful! It is. And it’s a great challenge, I’ve been thrilled to see what other people have been making.

But recently I was watching an episode of Foyle’s War with my roommate (a  fantastic series, everyone should watch it) and all I could think was, thank god I wasn’t born in this period. Because if I had been the age I am now, or any age, really, in the 1940’s, well, I would probably not have survived. After all, I’m Jewish.

This week is Passover, in fact, it started on Monday night, at sundown, as all Jewish Holidays do, start at sundown, that is. Passover is a celebration of the exodus from Egypt, a celebration of freedom from oppression and a recognition of the cost of freedom and the Jewish struggle for liberty in every age and generation. We celebrate our escape from the bondage of Egypt year after year with a seven-day festival and a retelling of the biblical story, accompanied with a flat tasteless cracker, Matzoh, which is called “the bread of affliction” for a reason. Because it’s the worst.

At any rate, when I think about the 1940’s, I can’t help but think about the major event that dominated that decade. And, honestly, can any of us really ignore that? The war effected everything, and it CERTAINLY effected fashion on a fundamental level. It effected fabric production and hemlines and cuts and refashioning and everything. 40’s fashion is specific because of the specific events that shaped it’s existence. But I’m I suppose I’m loathe to idolize or at least glorify that decade because of what it would have meant for me to have existed within it. I could not be more glad not to have lived through the 40’s. It’s only through the grace of history and fate that my family, for the most part, happened to have survived the war via avoiding alternative homicide (ask me about Russia in the 20’s!). But we were the unbearably lucky ones. And for the most part, we were the exception to the rule.

So when we Sew for Victory, as fun as it has been for me, and really, it has been fun, I love this period, I love these patterns; I can’t help but think about the realities of this period, and the implications that it had for the real people who lived and died in this time. So I decided to wear my 40’s dress to my Passover Seder, and as I did, I celebrated the holiday. and reminded myself of how lucky I am, how lucky my family is, and how unlucky so many of us have been. This holiday, this Passover, is the time that we remember, that we spend with the people we love, that we tell each other, Next year in Jerusalem. And what does that mean? It means, next year, we will all be together. Next year, we will all be free.

There is a poem that I have recently read, and love:

When I die
Give what’s left of me away
To children
And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
Around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.

I want to leave you something,
Something better
Than words
Or sounds.

Look for me
In the people I’ve known
Or loved,
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not on your mind.

You can love me most
By letting
Hands touch hands,
By letting
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
Of children
That need to be free.

Love doesn’t die,
People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Is love,

Give me away.

Obviously nothing else I can say will matter as much as that. So here is my sewing:

This is the dress I made:

PD 2PD 3

The pattern is Simplicity 1720. It’s an easy enough pattern, though the skirt has a ton of gores, though I can’t complain about how it hangs, because I love it!.

PD 4

The fabric is a rayon from an Ebay sale almost a year ago. I was concerned this would look too 1990’s, but, I actually think it works well.

PD 5I did french seams throughout, and though the front has facings, I just did bias tape for the neck and sleeve hems.

PD 7I love the way this hangs, I think it’s surprisingly modern.

PD 8Check out the details!

PD 9I love the back yoke, fussy as it is.

PD 10These buttons where unbearably expensive, they cost me more than the fabric. That is a real story. I got them at M and J trimmings, and I was so intimidated that I didn’t bother to ask the price until I was ringing it up. And it was HIGH.

PD 11Real Talk? These shoes probably ARE from the 40’s. They were my grandmother’s.

PD 6

I can honestly say that I love this dress, I do. It needs that belt (for REAL the bodice is too damn high) but I do love it. And I wore it to Passover, despite the chill. You gotta pretend it’s spring, right? Fake it till you make it…


Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The My Kind of Staple Skirt

First of all, thank you people all so damn much for your kind comments about my last very form fitting dress! I really appreciate all the love, you people are amazing. I get really weird and nervous about putting those photos on the internets, so thank you. Seriously. You are all way too kind and way too amazing, and thank you for your advice about knit hems and junk in the trunk. Saving all my future makes is what you people do best!

So, you know how Vogue and Marie Claire and Glamour have an article every five minutes about “The Five Staples You Need Right Now” or, “The Ten Pieces You Need For Spring” or “The Only Things You’ll Ever Need To Wear”, like no one is every going to shop again, like fashion as an industry is just going to stop and throw up it’s hands, all, okay, we’re all done. These things do not happen. And yet, the magazines keep selling! I myself buy them! What the hell? So we’ve all heard this mishagas about “staples”, like, THE black pant, THE white shirt, THE floral trench for 5000 dollars (which everyone totally needs, SAID NO ONE EVER). But of course, for convenience and simplicity and just normal day-to-day needs, most people DO have staples, they do have a sort of uniform. And mine is typically woven skirt, knit top, tights, go, especially in this long cold Spring we are having up here in the mid-Atlantic. So it’s obviously in my best interests to make things that correspond with that pattern. Hence this lovely thing I made recently:

RS 1I have, of course, made this before, and pretty damn recently, too. It’s Simplicity 4529, which I have learned from experience needs a non-stretch woven to work. But I think when it works, IT REALLY WORKS. Am I right? Even though the expression on my face above looks like I’m eating glass. I really need to work on my face…

RS 2

Ignore the line of my shirt which you can totally see here, and isn’t this nice? Yes, it’s a bit wrinkled, whatever, I live a life of wrinkles, one must accept such things. The one seam of this 10 dart skirt (10 DARTS! My mind balks each time I consider it, but clearly darts are the key to happiness!) is finished with navy bias tape, which you can see peeking out here at the back vent.

RS 5

More wrinkles, sigh. But I love this skirt! And the three times I’ve worn it thus far, everyone around me has told me they like it, including my bosses at the costume shop , who, like, sew for a living and are the real deal. So I feel pretty darn good about this. How good?

RS 4This good! To be fair, I’m more laughing because my friend Ben, who took these photos, made me crack up. Also, it was so damn cold when we took these. Also, it’s the end of March. Also, it snowed today. SO that’s why I’m making wool flipping pencil skirts at the end of March.

To the sewing! I made no changes except that this one has an invisible zipper not a visible one, which, I mean, I hate invisible zippers, but it’s what I had. I also shortened it by 3 inches or so, which is my standard for this pattern now. This buttery spongy wool I bought last winter at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet and I got the last remnant on the spool, and I pet it for a full year before I actually made this. But I’m so glad I did! I love this skirt, and, weather being what it is, I will probably get a lot of use out of it before it gets too warm.

RS 3I’m trying to dance to stay warm here because it was seriously cold. But I’m so thrilled Ben took these photos of me, after a bagel brunch celebrating our last leavened product for a while, it’s Passover now, goodbye breadybye!

So how to I feel to have a well-fitting red pencil skirt that I love and is my version of a staple?

RS 6I think you can figure it out.



Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Oh Boy Dress

Oh boy. Ohhhhhh boy. I do not usually make dresses like this. I did not intend for THIS dress to be so much, um, like this. But a combination of rash pattern alteration and a tight-fitting jersey seems to have left me with something that is rather out of character.

I am, I will say, a fairly modest dresser. I don’t know why, really, I have no moral or religious stipulations on my dressing, I don’t feel negative about showing parts of my body, I just, I don’t know, seem to have adopted that way of being. But recently I felt the need for something a little, I don’t know, more close fitting? More curve hugging? More contemporary? More something. Less FABRIC, but more something. And thus this pattern hack was born:

OBD 2I’m showing a touch of bra in this photo, so just be cool, okay? This is a Renfrew, sized down and lengthened. And I will say, I do like this dress, but boy oh boy did it turn out to be close-fitting…

OBD 6Like, I have to be careful what UNDERWEAR I wear close-fitting. And I also, you know, lowered the neckline. As you can see.

OBD 3Not too much, though.

OBD 4I’m not the kind of woman who thinks that tight automatically means sexy. But I will say, damn, it kind of helps! This dress puts a lot of sway in my step, and no, my hips don’t lie. In this thing, they couldn’t possibly.

I really like the back seam, both for fabric efficiency purposes, and because I kind of like how it looks. Is that super weird?

OBD 5I love that you can see a cat that seems to emerge from my posterior in this photo.

My only issue with homemade close-fitting knits is that it does that kind of weird flip thing at the hem. What is that? Does anyone know what that is?

OBD 7My mom took these photos for me because I have a grand total of FIVE items I still need to document and I haven’t been able to and I’m home this weekend for Passover and I though, well, if I’m home I might as well be documenting clothing…like you do. She likes this dress, my mom, but she thinks it needs more color. Therefore the cat.

I actually finished this two weeks ago and wore it to an event. My lovely roommate Jenny took some photos of me, but I kind of look like I want to commit murder in them:

OBD 1RIGHT? There is a real killing people turn there. Still, at least you can see it in action!

Okay, that’s one down, I’ve still got four to go…stay tuned!


Filed under Clothing, Sewaholic Patterns

The Weirdly Sexy Shirt

Nota bene, I was not the person who thought this shirt was weirdly sexy. In fact, I didn’t think of it as sexy at all. I wore this to the costume shop at which I work about two weeks ago (I MADE THIS OVER A MONTH AGO WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Finding time to SEW isn’t my problem, it’s taking flipping pictures of my flipping work! That’s why there’s been radio silence for a while, not because I am not sewing, but because I am no documenting what I sew. And I even have a tripod! What is my deal? That’s a question for therapy. Onwards!) and a girl with whom I work said, Leah, I like that shirt, it’s really weirdly sexy. And I said, thank you! I think?

WS 1The pattern is Cindy‘s amazing Dolman Sleeve shirt. I’ve been meaning to make this wonderful free think for ages, months! But for whatever reason I just didn’t get around to it. Then, finally, about a month ago, I took myself in hand and I said, self, make the damn shirt! And thus this creation was born.

This bizarre wonderful fabric is totally a velour, which makes me feel like a retiree in Florida off to shuffleboard, but what can you do. It’s from the Hoarder Stash, and I’m keeping with my stashbusting, so I think that’s all to the good!

WS 2I love this pattern. I want to make 10 more. I lengthened the sleeves on Cindy’s lovely design (and I would lengthen more next time, my wrists get chilly!) but otherwise I made no changes to the original design. I love the length, I love the fit, I love the mobility of the sleeves, and for whatever reason, whenever I wear this people compliment me!

WS 4Today at a play reading someone said I looked like a Modrian painting. Which I guess is only a nice thing if you like Modrian, but I’m going with it.

WS 3My lovely roommate Emily took these photos. We both loved this one, because I mean, look at my hair! It’s its own animal!

Speaking of animals:

WS 9I’ve been cutting out a lot of projects lately, from my Sewing for Victory patterns (I got so excited about the 1940’s that I’m making three, maybe four things! I haven’t decided whether or not to make number four, but I’ve finished one and two and am on three, so get excited. See, I told you SEWING isn’t the issue…). And of course, as he so often does, Cadfael is unbearably helpful in this process.

WS 8You want to cut? But, this is a bed…

WS 10It’s ALL beds. All the things are beds. Don’t you know that by now?

Seriously, though, if you haven’t tried Cindy’s amazing Dolman sleeve top, grab yourself a knit material and do it. I want to make longer sleeved ones and shorter sleeved ones and live in this daily.

Why, you ask? Well, if you can’t SEE for yourself, at least know this.  I can dance in it. And that’s always my gauge for all things. How much can I dance?

I can dance so much:

WS 6

WS 5WS 7So. Much. If you can’t dance in something, what’s the point of wearing it?


Filed under Cation Designs, Clothing, knit, Sewing