Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Double Booked Dress

I tell you, it’s all feast or famine when it comes to my weekend plans. Either I have a zillion things to do and I’m completely overwhelmed and end up crying in a corner clutching some wine, or I have nothing to do and I’m sad and lonely and end up crying in a corner clutching some wine. So it’s pretty great either way, honestly. Do you ever look around and wonder if your friends have some kind of conspiracy going, like, “we’re all going to have birthdays in May this year, that’ll work!”? I do….yes, I know birthdays aren’t a choice. They are, however, a scam invented by Hallmark to sell birthday cards. God, what I’m going to do when that show ends? This must be how people felt about Breaking Bad. But not me, because I just couldn’t get into Breaking Bad. For a show about drug running I felt that thing moved awfully slowly. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I’m going to laugh about that one for a while. See, it’s humor like this that helps me out when I’m all alone crying in that corner.

ANYway, this past Friday I had not one, but TWO parties to attend! I know, I know, cue the sad violins because you just feel so damn sorry for me. But it’s a lot of pressure! One was a pub crawl in the East Village for my friend Josh, and one was a BBQ Birthday Bash in Astoria for my friend Victoria. Two parties, two friends, two worlds, one Leah. So what could I wear that would work for both of these events, and also look decent at work during the day before either of these parties, AND keep me warm and comfortable dashing around New York in the October chill, because it is chilly, and god knows I don’t suffer for fashion? In the Struggleverse, fashion suffers for YOU. What could fulfill all of these requirements? Nothing already hanging in my closet, obviously, because that’s all be SEEN and besides, I wanted to make something new, duh. And then I thought, what have I been craving most as the leaves change and the apples are harvested. Something cozy, something plaid, something cute, something plaid, something flannel, SOMETHING PLAID. And so here we go:

DB 1So I made myself something plaid. Are you mad? Don’t be mad. Of if you are, just be mad for plaid. Hehehehehehehe, see, no wonder I’m alone in that corner…whatever, more wine for me!

DB 2I used the Amy Butler Liverpool pattern, something I’ve had for at least two years now and never got around to trying. It’s a nice pattern and her instructions are pretty great, especially the diagrams, really helpful. The collar and collar stand threw me a bit at first, but I just went slow and breathed my way through it, and I think it turned out beautifully, honestly, I’m unabashedly proud of this collar:

DB 7To see my true pride, check out this facial expression:

DB 6I am feeling like a pimp, yes, and I will indeed be brushing my shoulders off, thank you very much. Having not tried Amy Butler patterns before, I cut the pattern to my size, a 6, and for the most part it fits, but clearly the bust was drafted smaller than the independent companies I’ve gotten used to, because it’s a touch snug. It’s not bad or uncomfortable, I can just see a little pulling at the bust buttons, sigh. Next time I would do a full bust adjustment. Oh, how I’ve become so spoiled!

DB 4Otherwise the fit is pretty good, I like the slimmer fit and the sleeves are great. I omitted the cuff buttons and went with the 3/4 length sleeve, because I tend to roll things up anyway. The back is especially cute:

DB 5You insert these ties into the sides and tie it in the back, which gives you nice waist definition in a sneaky way. I like sneaky clothing. Who wouldn’t?

You can’t really tell in these photos but this fabric is actually navy and red, not black and red. I got the fabric on Ebay, it’s an extremely cozy flannel, which I also don’t know if you can tell here. The lighting at my job sometimes leaves something to be desired. But my lovely co-worked Michelle, a costume design student and stand-up human being, agreed to snap these of me on a break, so I can’t really complain. My costume shop co-workers are so great, they coo and clap over my stuff even though they are sewing bosses and I am in so many ways a lowly layman. Thanks, costume shop friends!

DB 3

Oh! I don’t really know how this happened because I didn’t really try and didn’t have enough yardage to really make an effort, but somehow, by some strange magic, my sides and sleeves totally match on this thing! The same cannot be said for my collar/stand/back, but I have long hair whatever whatever just look at the nice plaid matching, please!

DB 8Thank you, magically matching plaid! You are a sewer’s best friend!

So the most important question, did my dress make it through the night? It did, with flying colors, staying as comfortable and cute as it was when I put it on from Pub Crawl to smoked brisket to the ride home, looking good even as my Guatemalan cab driver shared with me about his recent messy divorce. People, man. You want to see it in action? Well, by the time I got to Astoria enough wine had been consumed that photos weren’t going to happen, but I did get a shot in the East Village:

DB 9Here with my friend Liz! I know my face is totally blurred, but trust me, that’s me, how many other people would show up wearing a plaid shirtdress? Well, I mean, hipster is king, so maybe a lot…

The only problem is, I think I’ve caught plaid fever. There is no existing cure….

How is your fall going?








Filed under Amy Butler, Clothing, Sewing

The Beach Blanket Bingo Bikini

Real talk? I much prefer Gidget to the Beach Blanket movies, but I will really do anything for alliteration, so…. besides, I don’t know that Gidget ever even wears a bikini in the movie, even if that’s what Moon Doggie would have liked to see, because Gidget is a GOOD GIRL and a SERIOUS SURFER and that’s what’s most important and, more than that, what gets pinned! The ultimate goal of all things!

You don’t know what I’m talking about? What’s Gidget, you say? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? It’s only one of the best movies (worst movies) ever made, all about surfing and attracting men and being yourself and attracting men and the dangers of parties and did I mention it’s actually 100% about attracting men? Through surfing? And being yourself? But mostly changing yourself completely to attract some guy you barely know. Which, you know, feels like the right thing, doesn’t it? Basically the plot goes a little something like this, Gidget, aka Francie, a young lady on the verge of womanhood, has no interest in boys, or doing her hair, or anything the girls around her are into. Instead, she gets into surfing, and boy, does she have a fun time of it! But most of it is about attracting this young surfer who only has eyes for more conventional girls, which, as soon as Gidget (that’s girl plus midget, duh, because she’s like 5’5″, practically Thumbelina, and making fun of midgets was socially acceptable then, I suppose) imitates, he can appreciate. But she almost gets sexually assaulted because it’s the 50’s and it’s a party and I guess that was less threatening than, and then, silver lining, she gets Moon Doggie’s pin. So, you know, it’s pretty much the surfing version of Citizen Kane.

What does this have to do with sewing? Very little, honestly, but I’m pretty into this franchise because of how weird I think it is and also I secretly deeply love it and it’s 1950’s purity and bizareness and the costumes are fun and the music is awesome and her name is FRANCIS, who can turn away from that? and the fact that I have watched Gidget every March since I was 15, so, you know, it had to all be said. But also, this swimsuit I recently made put me in mind of Gidget, so there you go.

Of course, this might be a bit too daring for Sandra Dee. After all, a faint amount of midriff is showing!

BBBB 3Ahhhhh more photos of my body in a swimsuit on the internets ahhhhhh! Ah, well, I do this to myself.

This was actually supposed to be a one-piece suit, but I think I put it together incorrectly because when I tried on my creation it was adorable, and far too short, like, it only came up to the edge of my bosom. So I’m pretty sure I might have over-gathered the sides because I lined it all up with the length of the back, but really I shouldn’t have done that, because the back of this amazing pattern (The Bombshell, duh!) is shorter than the front, it’s supposed to hit right at the waist, so if you gather the front to that length….well, you get the idea, sort of only works on a topless beach. And I really didn’t think Gidget would approve of that sort of thing, so I had to figure something else out.

BBBB 2I was a little panicked initially, because I wanted to finish this and another suit for my mom (which went fine, don’t worry, everyone just CALM DOWN OKAY!) before coming to San Juan, because I’m not going to use a swimsuit in New York any time soon, so I was rushing and it was late at night on Tuesday and I had to leave Thursday night and I was like, ahhhhhh what do I do! So I decided to go to bed and figure it out in the morning, and then I tossed and turned, because sewing anxiety keeps me up at night, and finally thought, what if I make a top? So I did!

BBBB 5I used the Bombshell pattern top and just sort of cut it off below the bust line, and then I stitched it to the lining, put in bra cups, put a double line of elastic at the bottom band for support because those things don’t just hold themselves up in the air, added side ties, gathered the front down, and called it a day! Ninja-stitching. Like a boss.

BBBB 4There is the bottom. I like it a lot, I really like the high-waisted thing. It feels fun like a bikini, but gives a lot of coverage, which honestly, is nice! I’m just not a teeny-bikini person, and now that I can make my own I don’t have to suffer under the oppressive yoke of small spandex ever again! Bahahahaha! Freedom!

BBBB 7A little back view for you. You can’t really see the back ruching but trust me, it is insanely flattering.


I didn’t get any photos of this on the beach but I did swim in it and it survived, which is important, for a swimsuit, don’t you think? I bought the fabric online at Girl Charlee and I have to say, mistakes and all, it kind of worked out that it’s a bikini because I think its just so cute!

So there you go, my second suit! I did manage to make one for my mother, too, and I left it in San Juan for her, and spoiler alert, she loves it! How could she not, this pattern is the best! I am filled to the brim with gratitude to Heather who made this pattern, because honestly, it’s just the damn best. Heather is so nice to us, don’t you think? Of course, she has to be, she lives in Canada. Man, you could hate Canada if it wasn’t so nice!

BBBB 6But I wont hate Canada, because I’m too busy loving this suit!

The irony is, I honestly feel more covered up in this suit then I did in my last one, and this is a two piece! What a world.

Okay, I promise, no more summery stuff for a while. Let the fall festivity begin! Flannel ahead, I promise you.






Filed under Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, knit, Sewing, Travel

The By The Sea Outfit

My father always says he bought our house in San Juan for the view. From the roof of our house, a green roof, just so you know, because my mom is amazing and she insisted, you can see San Juan Harbor, and you can sit and watch the giant cruise ships, floating cities of Disney tours and sunburnt tourists, slip in and out of the bay. At least, he can see that, and tall people can see that, but I am 5’2″ and I kind of have to peak over the wall if I want to see anything. Still, I love having a house by the sea. I love the ocean, I love the water, I always want to near it.

BTS 3Well, can you blame me? Especially when it looks like this?


Of course, wouldn’t you know it, I went to San Juan with someone who could care less about the ocean, so I spent some time on the beach alone, reading and floating and watching the October currents sweep in and out. The waters are really rough in Puerto Rico this time of year, it’s hurricane season, of course, and it rained every day I was there, but I am sort of an idiot about the water and I stayed in it anyway, letting it push and pull me around.

And if I can’t be in the ocean, I at least want to be around it. And of course, I’ve got to dress the part, now, don’t I?

BTS 2Of course, this is trying to be around in the 1940’s, I suppose. The top is a renfrew, to which I added a tie. I really just elongated the neckline binding and stitched it on, leaving the ends loose to be able to tie a bow. Spiffy, no?

BTS 5The shorts are a pattern from the 1940’s, Simplicity 2017. I’ve made these once before, in a tan linen, which I took to Israel. These I did in a linen cotton blend, which I like a bit better, it’s lighter weight, which is whatever, but it wrinkles slightly less, which I adore. Because let’s be real, I’m never ever going to iron a pair of shorts. Who the hell am I?

I made no changes to the pattern except to use a zipper instead of the snaps recommended because zippers are awesome and snaps are dumb. There. I said it.


The fabrics come from two places, the knit is an organic cotton from which I got forever ago and have made so many things out of (I got four yards and boy does that stretch. Get it? Knit? Stretch? I crack myself up.) And the linen-cotton blend is from a wedding gift I made for a friend this summer and had a bit of left over yardage for me!

There isn’t much more to say about this sewing process, except that I originally made these to take to Cape Cod and what with one thing and another didn’t get photographs up there, and the the weather turned cooler and I figured, ah, well, wait for Puerto Rico. But both items were perfect for San Juan in October, and I have to say, I’m a huge fan of the high-waisted 40’s style shorts. Hipster as hell they might be, but I love them. It’s like wearing a skirt but you don’t worry about wind issues as much. Which, by the sea, is a good thing.

BTS 8A little back view for you. Isn’t the light lovely? It kind of back-lights me, which meant I had to light-correct the photos, but I kind of adore the effect. It gives me a halo, who can hate that?

BTS 6So there you go, a little sea-side ensemble for a house by the sea. The shorts I left in San Juan, they seemed quite happy there.

I know, I know, summer stitching in October? What is the world coming to? I promise, just one more tropically themed post and then I’m back to wools and flannels in a jiffy. Just bear with me, we’ll get there. Oh, we’ll get there. I’ve got big plans for cool weather, guys, stay tuned.


Filed under Clothing, knit, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Hijacked Hemlock Top

I am on a ROLL with these knits! Which I shouldn’t have bought. Because I’m not supposed to buy fabric. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that I DID buy some fabric sometime, from my favorite online fabric store for knits (and then that opened the floodgates and I bought more from other sites and collapsed into a pile of pain and shame and beautiful beautiful yardage and cried and cried and drank and cried and lulled myself to sleep with episodes of Archer. But hey, you know, we all have lost weekends, right? Also, I’m seriously late to the game on Archer. And I love it. Which everyone told me I would. So way to be right, EVERYONE. I hope you feel SOOOOOO good. Because I do. Splooge.)

Speaking of rolls, I recently went to a woman’s roller derby game, for class. FOR CLASS. I love clown college so very much.  Basically it’s a class where you go out and experience audience cultures and experiences that blur the line between audience as spectator and audience and participant. So I got to go to the roller derby. Like you do. And circumstances conspired that I ended up going alone, which was actually pretty fantastic, because I had an adventure and met this guy named Abner who insisted I sit with him and his friends, former roller girls, and a current player on the Bronx Gridlock (the names, the names, they are so amazing! Brooklyn Bombshells, Queens of Pain, Manhattan Mayhem, get it? Subtle they aren’t, but that doesn’t mean there is no cleverness involved…) Cherry Napalm. Which isn’t even the best name, because they are all so amazing, but I think my vote goes to Angela Slamsbury and/or Puss and Glutes. Roller derby. I have no idea how it works (maybe even less now, if that’s possible) but it’s awfully col and really girl-power centric, which I can’t help but adore. And the fans, man, bleed for their teams. Which is good. Because that game is violent, and the teams bleed for the fans enough, someone should be returning the favor.

And of course I’m enough of a vain person to wonder, when going to attend a new experience, um, what am I going to wear? I wanted to look cool, and be comfortable, and not seem like I was totally out of place at the game (which I was, but it was still awesome). I didn’t have anything in my wardrobe that I thought would work….. But I had a sewing machine and a yard of knit and a free pattern, Jen from Grainline’s Hemlock Pattern. So I was good to go. Have you seen this pattern? It’s a must make, it really is, Grainline is awesome, I’ve drooled over their patterns for months without daring to buy any because they seemed fit for ladies with, well, shall we say, more demure frontal regions? But this one seemed appropriate for my form, and besides, what did I have to lose? It’s free!

One problem? I didn’t have enough fabric to make it. The pattern is loose and meant to be large and I only had a yard of 60″ stripey cotton stuff. But I figured, this is a pretty boxy blousey t-shirt, I bet I could put it on a diet and make it work. So I did:

HH 1And you know what? It fit like a dream!

HH 2 I wave to my own shadow. Hey, buddy! Glad I didn’t lose you like that irresponsible jerk, Peter Pan. What a rube…

HH 4Because sometimes I fail at all things, I cut the front piece on the wrong fold, that is, I ended up having to chop it into two pieces, which kind of sucks under any circumstances, but in this case, this is a striped fabric. WHAT. THE. WHAT. BUT I think I made it work, stripe matching wise, and while I can see the seam, I can’t see any mismatching, and that’s all that matters, right?

HH 5Other then take about 2 inches off of each pattern piece width-wise, including the sleeves, resulting in a slightly more fitting but still quite lose top. I also lengthened the sleeves to full length and lengthened the hem, which makes it fun and tunicy. Which is a word I just made up. Enjoy.

The back is a little off but I can totally live with that, as long as the sides and front line up well. And they do! Even the shoulders form nice little chevrons. And I did all this with a yard. Throw. Me. A. Parade.

HH 6I like this pattern a lot, I’ve actually made it twice now, and the first is often worn but a little boring so not blog-worthy. But this one I thought could represent them both, and show you what it looks like when it’s reduced in size and covered in black stripes.HH 7The neckline, for all to see. You choose your own thickness  in the pattern pieces. Seriously, this is such an easy shirt to make, I don’t know why everyone isn’t doing it!

HH 3This free pattern is a pretty wonderful one, I must say, and someday maybe I will make it the way it’s meant to be made, but for now, I like my skinny Hemlocks, and no one at the roller derby seemed to mind, so….and trust me, you don’t want to make those ladies angry. They will mess you up.



Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, knit

The Color Me Shocked Dress

Hello hello! Graduate school seems to have swallowed up my life lately, like a boa constrictor who, having enjoyed a tasty snack of live goat, now sits in the sun allowing it’s stomach acids to break the animal down. So in this analogy, New York University would be the boa constrictor, and I would be the live goat, or any of these other animals. (Seriously, that link is not for the faint of heart, and yet I could not look away. Also, side note, who is letting their goats get so damn near boa constrictors? I mean, come on, that’s a fallacy of logic right there, boa constrictors are going to eat goats, it’s just how it goes. And to that end, how did that even happen, what is the evolutionary impulse for snakes to eat the largest animals possible? Can’t they just content themselves with a light bite? Small meals through the day! Limited protein! One giant meal every other month? That can’t be healthy. No dietitian would recommend this.)

At any rate, when the stomach acid of NYU ISN’T corroding my body and destroying my emotional well-being (we were joking today in my TV class about how you don’t just pay tuition at school, you also pay in mental health. Apparently you get it back with you diploma but I’ll believe that when I see it.) I have had a chance to make something things, but if I didn’t have time to take photos BEFORE, holy hell do I not now. Between working at the costume shop (oh my god we’ve been doing Ragtime and it’s amazing and the actors are adorable and stupid talented and wildly great and it’s been fun and EXHAUSTING!) and all the work for school and Cadfael and trying, with limited success, to maintain a social life, plus, you know, fall TV, I mean, it’s a lot, guys! So many pilots! So little time! But I promised myself that this year I would be better about making and posting things, so I’m trying, people! I’m heading to San Juan next week with a couple of things to photograph, so let’s see how that goes, shall we?

But in the meantime, here is a thing I made recently:

CD 1This was unbearably simple to make. I really just used the Renfrew pattern, one I use almost monthly at this point, and lengthened it into a dress. A very SHORT dress. I really did not think it would be so short….

CD 2But it is. Really, a basic rational thought process calculating the amount of fabric I had (a yard) and the amount of fabric needed to cover my body (more than a yard) could have saved me from the surprise of finding myself in a dress shorter than some shirts I own, but who needs RATIONALITY or LOGIC, I go to clown college.

Of course, part of why this feels short to me is that I don’t really go in for short hemlines on a regular basis (…or at all), but I think I can get away with this with black tights or leggings. I was a bit self-conscious wearing this, but my friend Becca went on hemline patrol and let me know any time I was moving from “cute dress” to “Miley Cyrus downward spiral”. It’s good to have good friends.

CD 5See, pretty short….sigh. Well, if it shrinks I can always use it as a top.

Speaking of Becca, she also took these photos on her terrace! And she gave this dress its name, albeit unintentionally. You see, Becca got engaged, and told me about an hour before these photos were taken! I went over to her house to make her and some other people dinner (a braised beef tagliatelle, if you must know), and when I walked in the door Becca, who I hadn’t seen for a week, declared that she was engaged! Actually, point of fact, I think she said something like, Derek proposed! And irreverent jerk that I am, I’m pretty sure my response was, wow, what did you say? See, the joke there is that Becca and Derek have been together for 11 years now, and approximately zero percent of people who know them DIDN’T think that that thing was going down with a large cake and a lot of flowers. So of course Derek asked and of course Becca said yes, because when you like it you throw a ring on it, right?

CD 3And then, because she is a rockstar, after I got dinner started and cooed at the ring, and we put a dvd on to soothe the boys who were both amazed and vaguely concerned by all the screaming, Becca valiantly took photos of my new dress. I can’t even hide how happy I am for them, I’m trying to look normal in these photos and failing so horribly.

Becca has also been swallowed up by graduate school boa constrictors, and her reptile is the Art Conservation program at NYU, so she wont get to the actually wedding part of this story for a little while, but it’s just wonderful and given that I was ALREADY there to cook them dinner, it worked out pretty damn well if I do say so myself.

CD 7Their view is so lovely, especially in the evening. This photo is in Greenpoint looking out onto Manhattan, which is just how I like Manhattan, far away from me, seen from Brooklyn.

CD 8Construction details? Dude, it’s a knit dress, it took me about an hour cutting to hemming. I lengthened the bottom and omitted the sleeve bands. Done. The print is pretty wonderful, though, and perfect for an evening in Greenpoint, perched as it is above Williamsburg:

CD 6I got it at Girl Charlee, duh, obviously, where else does anyone buy knits?

And that’s about it, folks. I made a simple rather leggy dress, and my amazing and lovely friends Becca and Derek got engaged. Saturday night. Not big deal.

CD 9Why anyone would want to see the view without my astounding form is a mystery to me, but I suppose SOMEONE might want such a thing, so there you go.

I shall endeavor to free myself from the strangling grasp of the graduate school snake in the future with more regularity. It’s hard, guys. Does anyone have a machete?


Filed under knit, Life, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing