Monthly Archives: June 2013

The It’s A Jungle Out Here Dress

Ah, well, so much for my resolution to dress more like a grown up….

This dress can be subtitled, “The Puerto Rican Hipster Dress”. Because let me tell you something. Hipster has come to Puerto Rico with a vengeance. And, well, look, I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way, because Lord knows I love Puerto Rico deeply, but, well, the island isn’t exactly hip to modern trends. Which is kind of what is great about it, about Latin America and about islands, their isolation, their traditions, their ways. But it’s also really nice that San Juan has started, oh, I don’t know, recycling. Making salads. Brewing local coffee. And lo and behold, now they ARE! It’s pretty awesome. Recently, at a crafts fair, there was a stall serving artisanal empanadas, complete with a Thai curry coconut chicken. I mean, if that’s not hip, what IS?

So this dress, well, it couldn’t BE more hipster. I mean, I bought the fabric at the Brooklyn Flea, so….

IAJOH 1I know. I KNOW. It’s covered in animals. It’s gathered at the waist. It’s just, it’s so damn hipster I can’t even deal with it. BUT ALSO I LOVE IT AHHHHHHHH!

IAJOH 2Okay, so I did not have a lot of this fabric, and I had to be a bit creative with the cutting of it, so the skirt goes one way and the bodice the other. I like it, personally, but then, I’m a rebel, Dottie, a loner.

IAJOT 3The pattern? Ah, there we go. Okay, so, my amazing AMAZING friend Liz (hi, Liz!) was a pattern maker for a while, and we met working at the costume shop. She offered, out of the blue, to help me make a bodice and skirt block, if I wanted. IF I WANTED? Oh, yeah, no, that sounds horrible, I super didn’t want anyone to ever help me make a bodice and skirt block to my exact measurements ever even one time. But, you know, she twisted my arm, so…….


Anyway, a lot of thanking and groveling later, plus some wine and Mexican food, I got myself some blocks, and Liz got a website of Beyonce Lyrics to Art History Images. You can decide who go the better end of that deal….


And so I made this dress! I did actually muslin the pattern, I’m not that dumb, and it had to be the best fitting thing I’ve ever put on, except that the bodice was a touch short. So I added two inches to the length of it, and called it a day. Expect to see a lot more of this block in the future, I may or may not be in love….

IAJOH 5I love the way the back fits, it’s the first time in forever in which I haven’t seen back wrinkling in the back bodice….

So I just gathered and went with the skirt, and added pockets, DUH, because they are the best.

IAJOH 7Seriously, how well does this bodice fit? I need to press the neckline, and I would alter it again (and WILL) next time), but seriously, I don’t think I’ve every made anything that worked with my body this well. I adore you, Liz!

IAJOH 8Look at that! That’s some nice fit there. Hand picked zipper, like I do.

IAJOH 9Annnnnnnnnnnd this is the fabric. Whatever, whatever, whatever, for adulthood because I love this. I LOVE THIS. Shut up!

IAJOH 10As Becca, who took these photos, turned out, the upside-down tigers are particularly awkwardly placed….screw it. I love this dress. It’s going to be a hit in New York this summer, I can just tell. But that’s nothing compared to how hip I felt in Puerto Rico….


Filed under Clothing, Sewing

The Take My Own Advice Skirt

Remember what I was literally JUST SAYING about vacation clothing? Well, yeah, I actually recently made something that caused me a bit of concern in that respect. But luckily I was vacationing with a close and wonderful friend, who I can count on to tell me if something is just not okay for the mainland. Becca has an excellent eyes for such things, and honestly, judging other people and their outfits is one of the things that makes us such good friends (seriously, we should have a t.v. show. I’m not kidding.) And it’s important in life to have friends who you can trust to take you aside and say, sweetie, I adore and care about you, and as your friend, I need to tell you, you look like a 4 dollar hooker from Reno. Becca is one such friend. Thank the Lord.

So I found a tutorial on the Pintrest from Cotton and Curls, an amazing blog, that seemed like a good idea, and I had some fabric from the hoarder stash that I had never known quite what to do with, but I had this idea that it might be cute as a skirt. I was going to just pleat or gather and go, but then I thought, screw that, you’ve been trying to branch out, BRANCH OUT, you pavlovian dog. Only, well, I didn’t have a TON of that fabric, so…..yeah. I had some concerns about this thing, because it’s sort of a high-low style wrap skirt, and while I was just fine with the length of the low, I was a little concerned about the, um, high. BUT. I figured if I could rock it anywhere, I could rock it in Puerto Rico (this is a terrible philosophy and one I’m very against unless I decide to do it, in which case it’s totally fine and awesome). So. Here we are, bring on the judgement:

TMOA 1Real talk? I kind of love this skirt a lot. But I was concerned about the, um, modesty quotient. Also, as I look at these photos, I realize that even though the tutorial didn’t say to interface the waistband, I SHOULD HAVE FLIPPING INTERFACED THE WAISTBAND I KNOW BETTER. Ah, well.

TMOA 2I laugh at myself and my own foolishness.

TMOA 3So it’s just a little short in the front. On the side. Sometimes. And when there is a strong breeze, well, hello world! But also, very much, screw it. Because I love this. I think it’s adorable. I think it’s a little hipster, and I could wear it to a concert in Brooklyn and sip drinks made with locally grown fruit and locally distilled booze and just feel right at home. And besides. Becca approved.

TMOA 7The construction was awfully easy, it’s a great tutorial and I would recommend it. In fact, I would like to try it again, with more than a yard of fabric to play around with, because I love the flowyness of this, and I would love for it to be EVEN FLOWY. Go with the flow, people.

I would interface the waistband, as I said, but otherwise I love this style, love the buttons, love the shape. I machine stitched the hem, because I’m a busy lady and whatever sometimes and also shut up.

TMOA 4Because of the feathers on the fabric, which is some sort of synthetic blend (I think?) with a decent drape, I thought it would be nice to take these photos at Plaza de las Armas, which is famous in San Juan because you can feed pigeons. THOUGH WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO THEY ARE FLYING RATS!?!?

TMOA 6And yet children do. The hell?

TMOA 8Oh, and then this guy, who I have seen many times, I think he lives in the square, tried to get me to feed the pigeons. NO. NO THANK YOU. I said this, in Spanish, very clearly, and yet….struggle. I think my face here says it all.

TMOA 5Still. It’s a cute skirt, I think! And I brought it back to New York with me, so let’s hope it stands up to city living as well as it did to San Juan…

But seriously, do try this tutorial if you are so inclined, I feel like this might just be the perfect summer skirt! Once I lengthen it….




Filed under Clothing, Sewing

The Father’s Day Blouse

I didn’t even THINK about this, because I’m a terrible and ungrateful child, but I made this shirt from one of my father’s shirts and then it was Father’s Day! What the WHAT? But I suppose it’s a fitting tribute that I would make this blouse and wear it in San Juan, on of my father’s favorite places in the world. Because I just got back from PUERTO RICO, people. Yeah. What can I say? In between Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons and chat sessions with my cat, I lead a glamorous life.

No, I kid. But I did go down to San Juan this past Thursday for a long weekend vacation/reward for finishing my first year of graduate school/reward for my friend Becca (hi, Becca!) getting INTO graduate school. And I did wear this blouse, though not on Father’s Day, and I did call my father on the day itself, so we’re all good. And Puerto Rico was lovely and relaxing and we did absolutely nothing at all. Paradise. I NEVER do nothing. It was quite a revelation, I can tell you. Do you know what I’ve found out? Booze really helps….

And so does vacation clothing! I don’t know if this qualifies, though the two other things I made Becca photograph (sidebar, Becca was SUCH a good sport about taking photos of me. I told her she would need to do it and she looked at me like I was insane and said, of course! Becca is good people.) are a lot more like the kinds of things people wear in the Caribbean. Additional sidenote, why do people wear things on vacation that they wouldn’t wear at home? Go brighter if you are a subdued dresser but for reals, people, your hemline doesn’t NEED to shift in proportion to your distance to the equator….or does it? Did a memo go out about this that I missed?

Enough of my 75 year old lady judgement. The garment!

FDB 7I made those shorts, too, never documented, don’t even worry about it.

FDB 2This thing, I kind of just winged it. I really did. I know I have said that in the past, but I am not kidding or exaggerating or anything of the sort in this go around. I just grabbed another cast off from my Papi (gracias, Papi, te adoro!), cut off the sleeves and collar, flipped it around (I had this idea of a button back blouse) and went to town.

FDB 1It gaps just a bit in the back at the waist, sigh. A swayback adjustment would be nice, I sometimes think but never do it…

I added two inch tucks on the front and back pieces, and darts at the bust. I lowered the neckline and finished the neck and sleeves with bias tape. The result? I love it! And Becca loved it too, she even wanted one for herself! The HIGHEST POSSIBLE COMPLIMENT, don’t you know.

FDB 6I love it! I do. I think it looks a little Grecian, a little vintagey, a little classic. A little of everything! Which is fitting, because in my family they call me little Leah, my father included.

Becca and I had the best time in San Juan. More posts about this will follow, but I did have a chance, even in the first day we spent in Puerto Rico, to demonstrate how I feel about being there:

FDB 5And also:

FDB 4And also, very much:

FDB 3See what happens when you improvise? It can work! For someone who fears a life without planning, that can be nice to remember. But not that nice….point is, vacation is all well and good, but I still love sculpting order out of chaos. Much like my dad!

FDB 8It’s okay to be jealous. A lot of people are.


Filed under Refashion, Sewing, Travel

Me Made May 31, The Shirt Into Dress

I fully appreciate that it is far too late for a Me Made May post, but in my defense, my computer broke, and it’s hard to blog when all your photos are saved on your broken computer that the nice Apple people have taken away like a lunatic into Bedlam, all soothing and sad and shaking their heads and gently swaddling it in a soft foam case. And you were so mean to the Apple people, because you were stressed and sad and worried and angry, and they are just doing their jobs, and then you think, I’m going to be nicer to those nice Apple people, they are humans who want to help me when I am in a difficult situation, I am being a brat, I’m going to buy them some wine and really get to know them, they deserve it, but THEN they keep you waiting forever for your computer and it costs the world for something you don’t even understand and you are late for work and they want you to sign things on their iphones and it looks nothing LIKE your signature, and you worry about that, and you think, screw it, just give me my damn computer so I can post about my May outfits and be DONE. And all your charitable improving thoughts just fly out the window. Like they do.

SO. Here we are. FINALLY the last day of this godforsaken month of this documentation nonsense which I am terrible at, which is sad, because I love making stuff! I just hate photographing it. I always compare myself to other people and think, oh, struggle, there it is….

BUT. I appreciate that nice people in my life take these photos for me, and in this case it was Lee (hi, Lee!) who took these for me because he is an excellent human and all around rockstar. And talented. And attractive AND AVAILABLE. Ladies, ask me how!

Okay, so this is technically a refashion, but I did so much work on it that I honestly am going to take the win. My father, who is a very snappy dresser, had bought two of the same shirt, and when I went home for a weekend I snagged them both as he had put them in the discard pile. Given the two large men’s shirts I had to work with, I thought, maybe a dress?


It turned out cute! Given that I kind of just cut and slashed my way through it, that is….

SID 5I don’t know why I felt the need to hold onto that thing behind me, it’s not like I was in danger of falling. I’m the weirdest. I used the bodice from Simplicity 5355 for darts and what not, and just sort of made tucks instead of gathers and tucks in the skirt (made from the second shirt) and fiddled and stitched and added some buttonholes because there was some super-not-cute gaping going down, and there I was. Oh, I also used the sleeves from the same pattern and shortened them. Then I just sheared into the neckline, just really went to town on that thing, because it is nothing if not high-necked, and sometimes you gotta show a little collarbone, AM I RIGHT?

SID 1Some back view for you, and me looking rather contemplative, or like I’ve been hit in the face, I can’t tell. Annnnnd I see some hem wrinkling here, lovely. Cotton, the fabric of our lives and enemy of our hearts.

The end result works, I think! I like it, at least. It’s cute and perfect for daytime, a little blousy but utterly comfortable and hey, I can always belt it, right? The solution to all things.

SID 3I love this photo. Lee and I saw this guy with pigeons on his shoulders and just couldn’t get over it, because we are like that, and then he was like, look, another guy with pigeons on his shoulders! And I made that face. And he took a photo of it. BECAUSE WE MAKE THE BEST LIFE CHOICES.

SID 2It’s really hard to take photos in a public place in New York. As you can see.

SID 6Also, the tree stump thing was awesome. Don’t you think?

And there we (flipping FINALLY) go. Me Made May 2013 put to bed. And the lessons I learned? Hmmm.

1. I hate taking photos of myself every day.

2. I wear a lot of blue.

3. It was in no way a challenge for me to wear stuff I made and never repeat an outfit. Which is great! But probably means I should stop making things for myself and start making them for other people, right? RIGHT? Yeaaaaaah. Let’s see how that one goes.

Franqui out!


Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

Me Made May 30, The East is East Dress

East is East is one of my favorite movies. AND my screenwriting teacher from the past semester, the incomparable Sabrina Dhawan, informed me that this is actually a play as well, which just blows my mind. But beyond that, I titled this dress with that name because this derives from the fabric my friend brought me from India. Really, he’s only my friend BECAUSE he bought me fabric. Yes, I’m a fabric prostitute, but with friendship. Fun fact, if you want me to like you as a human, just bring me some fabric. It’s really that easy. Oh, and be awesome. That helps too. But honestly, I can forgo the being awesome for the fabric, and will, nine times out of ten. So, you know, one or the other. Whatever works for you. OH. Or have a great dog, like, a really wonderful dog. No poodles. All bulldogs. Okay, so there are lots of ways to be friends with me. Honestly, if you show up with whiskey I’ll probably give you the time of day. I know, classy dame.

ANYway. The thing I made. It is a dress! And I adore it…

EIE 7The pattern is Simplicity 5355, a vintage pattern from 1964. It has gathers at the waist on the back and front bodice pieces which is a bit odd, but I’m okay with it. Initially I was a bit concerned about this fit, because I very much did not muslin it, because I am a degenerate, but it somehow worked out! It’s a little billowy, especially in the back, but it’s comfortable and I just belt it and go.

I actually made this for my Mad Men Challenge dress, and, like a fool, didn’t get around to photographing it until THREE DAYS AGO. Fail. Just, fail. It’s inspired by Megan’s outfits of the previous season, which I think were sort of Indian influenced:


b07bab9533f266f9d37ece000ca6e488Especially the second one. I’m not one to imitate Megan, because, um, I don’t exactly share her attributes, but I figured a sheath dress can work for both of us. Thoughts?

EIE 1I do so love this fabric, it’s an ikat and a bit darker then it seems in these yellowy indoor photos. I took these at work at the costume shop, because I really wanted to prove that I work in a costume shop, I was a bit worried that you might think it was all an elaborate ruse…I am so prone to ruses.

EIE 3I went for the sleeveless version. Obviously.

EIE 4A little semi-back view for you, or as my boss Sam, (hi, Sam!) says, the 3/4 view. THEATER. It’s the best. It’s got a word for everything. How nice is it that my boss took these? She is the best. Friday was my last day at the shop until August (and oh! In the Fall they are doing Ragtime and I made the majority of a corset last week, so I’m feeling like a boss, or at least an account manager of some time), and so I’ve got the summer off from the shop and then come August it’s chemises and bloomers and 1910’s stuff galore!

EIE 2The back view. I have nothing to say about this, except that I like it, and that I hope internet creepsters don’t find it.

EIE 5It wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t share the moments in which I look like I’m having a seizure. And here is one of them…

I’m trying to think of any construction details that are worth mentioning. Really this was a very simple dress to make. I ommitted facings and lined the bodice in white cotton, and hand picked the back zipper like I always do, and there is a tiny kick pleat. Should I make this again, I would extend the kickpleat up the back of the skirt, because given that I am short and even the “short” version of the pattern which I shortened on the pattern piece seems to have been made for a gazelle, I kind of ate up the kickpleat shortening the skirt once I had assembled it. Sigh, it is my cross to bear…Other then that I think this one was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

EIE 6I’m doing the pigeon toe thing here. I always see it on fashion blogs and they look so elegant and guileless. I think I look like I’m about to fall. Oh, well…

And there you go! I have one more Me Made May post to go, a new outfit that deserves its own induvidual post, and then we are DONE. Thank goodness. I’m exhausted.


Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Uncategorized, Vintage