Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Commencement Means Beginning Dress

Graduations are awfully strange affairs. After an intense education experience, a glorious glass bubble of learning and work and effort and delight (I…love school….) the bubble suddenly pops from a champagne cork right through the heart of the glass, covering you and people who apparently went to school with you although they are perfect strangers, with painful shards while relatives snap photos and you sweat in polyester robes. Or, more simply put, the experience of graduation never seems to have anything to do with the experience of education. They just don’t seem to relate in any way, normally. My undergraduate graduation was a three-day affair of strange traditions ripped from early Anglophilic American settlers who were too good for/not good enough for British universities. But, I got to meet this dog! 4711_572279200734_400281_n

So it was kind of the best day ever. God, I miss him. I MISS HIM SO MUCH! But honestly, as interesting as it all was, my graduation, it literally had nothing to do with my day-to-day college life. Which, maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe graduations are so different because they mark a new chapter of life. However, my most recent commencement, from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, was a disasterously disorganized affair. Which…actually is exactly reflective of my Art School experience. Wow! Look at that. Well, I mean, come on, do you really trust creative people to plan anything? Like an administration? Though you would think that given that this was basically a production, they would have figured it out more….but whatever. Martin Scorsese waved his little Italian hands at us and described his recent dreams. Undergraduates did a medley from Ragtime. I nearly strangled myself with my brown velvet masters hood. It was pretty special. No dogs, though….

But I made THIS dress, unlike last time! What a difference 5 years makes…

CMB4.jpgAnd obviously, I went on theme. NYU’s school color is a deep violet. I just HAPPENED to have this in my stash from my exchange with the lovely and talented Amity of Lolita Patterns, and I thought, well, let’s do this thing. What’s-his-face’s father asked me if I was still wearing my robes, so I like to think I succeeded!

CMB7.jpgThe pattern is By Hand London’s Elisalex pattern. After the last time I made it I was itching to try it again. I want to make more, but I think I need to adjust the bust and arms. It fits beautifully everywhere but in the bust, where I feel like I’m wearing a corset. And a breast binding. And armor. Breathing became a challenge. CMD2.jpgEh, what can you do. I still love this dress and will wear it again. And breathe lightly.

CMB5.jpgThe back is just so good. I love it.

CMB8.jpgFor the skirt, I just gathered two rectangles. I wanted it to be really full and I wasn’t disappointed. This pattern is really quite easy to put together, honestly, especially because I’ve done it before. I like princess seams, they are flattering and nice and I think they will be easy to adjust. 1500.jpg

The bodice came out a little short. It looked okay, and it looks fine here, but I would also lengthen the bodice pieces next time, because the empire look isn’t a good one on me.

CMB6.jpgThat lovely gold necklace was a gift. The pearl one came from pearls my friend Lisa got me in China. My neck was overflowing with love! I lined the bodice with white fabric but left the skirt unlined, which shocked my roommate Emily, who took the photos. I figured the gathering would take care of it, and hey, man, it totally did.

CMB9.jpgTake a look at the eyelet! Amity has splendid taste. So cute, right?

CMB10.jpgI used it for the skirt as well. Eyelet makes everything easier, I tell you, no hemming!

CMB1.jpgOne final full body shot. You can totally see the shadow of Emily haunting these photos. Thanks, Emily!

Massive massive congratulations to the NYU Class of 2014, and to all graduates! You guys better have themed your outfits, too. Come on, get into it! It’s fun!

Now that school is over, let’s see if my clothing production and blog output resumes its normal pace, shall we? Of course, I’m looking for a job in writing, so, you know, I might just be having daily nervous breakdowns instead. Who can say?

In other news, I’m selling vintage patterns in my Etsy shop! Check them out here:

StruggleSews

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Filed under By Hand London, Sewing

The In The Pink Dress

I wouldn’t consider myself a girlie-girl, per se, though my mother might disagree, because compared to her I’m Imelda Marcos meets Marilyn Monroe meets Shirley Temple. And that’s just because I enjoy a ruffle or two, while my mother once turned to me and said, stop sewing with ruffles. It’s too many ruffles. Take a break. And, as usual, she was correct. That woman knows her ruffles. I do like a floral, and a shimmery eyeshadow, on occasion, I enjoy le Pinterest, and I have been known to order the rare fluffy cocktail, although not as much as what’s-his-face, who never met a fruity cocktail he didn’t like. So maybe I’m somewhere between my mom and him on that scale. That’s a fun thought….

But generally I would like to think that I’m more womanly than girlie. Girlie is like Polly Pocket (which, sidenote, remember Polly Pocket? Why did anyone think that was good for small children? It has so many choke-worthy parts! Can you even buy that anymore? I had, like, 4.) Womanly is like Mae West. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself…but I honestly can’t remove, by surgery or otherwise, my enjoyment of pink. I like pink. Especially bright pink, the brighter the better. Maybe that’s the adult way to like pink, in fact, as a fierce bold color, not a pastel insipid one. Maybe liking pink is the daring choice, especially in New York, where black is the new black is the new black. Maybe pink can be a feminist statement, not a Stepford-Wife aspiration, saying that I’m comfortable enough enjoying such a pretty-pretty-princess color while still maintaining my adult (well….semi-adult, let’s be real, 26 years and a master’s degree does not a complete grown-up make) sense of self.

At any rate, anxieties about adulthood aside, I recently was puzzling over a pink fabric purchase from months ago, two yards of magenta jersey from, where else, GirlCharlee.com, and thinking what would be the best use of it. A wrap dress? I’ve made so many. A few tops? I’m kind of sick of overbuying jersey and having three shirts in the same color. And then it hit me, a maxi-dress. I’ve wanted another since my first attempt, and I knew I wanted to use the Mission Maxi for the bodice, while having a fuller skirt on the bottom. I also knew I wanted sleeves, albeit little kimono ones. These desires fresh in my mind, I went to work, using a highly unscientific method of making it up as I went. I cut, snipped, and hoped for the best. And you know what? It turned out pretty wonderfully!

ITP 2.jpgOh, dear, that expression looks really painful but I promise this was a really fun day! I wore this dress to my department graduation, where what’s-his-face and I both were lucky enough to hear the most amazing speech from the truly astounding playwright, Anne Washburn, and then we enjoyed lunch and a boat ride with what’s-his-face’s family. As it turns out, a maxi-dress transitions well from place to place, and boy does it work well in New York in warm weather and then out on the semi-open seas. And the color? I can only speak for myself, but I think it works.

ITP 1.jpgThere we go, that looks like a better face, right? Much more reflective of the day. Tour boats might seem touristy, but actually they are the most fun, especially when the weather is lovely. Manhattan looks lovely from afar, where you can’t smell the garbage so strongly, and New Jersey even looks attractive, woodsy and well groomed. I would heartily recommend it, for tourists and natives alike.

ITP 5.jpgI have to tell you, I’m deeply in love with this dress. I got more positive feedback on it from my classmates at our department graduation than I did on any of my work over the past two years. Which is….sad, now that I come to think about it. No, I’m just kidding. My classmates are amazing and I have been so lucky that they all support my writing AND my sewing.

ITP 4.jpgThe construction of this was extremely simple, just like knits always are. I gathered a large rectangle into the skirt, and stitched up the bodice with a neck binding and a simple turn and stitch hem at the sleeves. I actually left the skirt un-hemmed because it was the perfect length and I didn’t want to mess with that. I know, I know, sloppy, sloppy, but whatever, I can live with that.

Just to prove to you that these boat trips are fun, check out some views:

ITP 6.jpgNot too shabby, right? One more:

ITP 7.jpgIf only there weren’t so many PEOPLE in the way. Damn the world…

ITP 3.jpgOne final happy boat shot. This is totally going to be my go-to summer dress, I can tell right now. Pink and all, girlie or womanly, it’s me, and that’s what matters.

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Filed under Clothing, Jamie Christina Patterns, knit

The Indian Ink Tunic

Guys, I am so sorry to have dropped off the face of the earth for what I realize is a month and a half. Holy. Graduate. School. Struggle. And now it’s DONE! I am done! I had a reading of my thesis, a new play, I turned in my last paper, I evaluated my last professor, I angered my last security guard, I’m done. Finito. Fin. Termino. Caput. Capiche? Of course, I’m hugely sad and anxious about the future, graduate school has been a dream in terms of writing and creating and taking a vacation from adulthood for two years, but every vacation’s gotta end sometime, right? So I must move on, kicking and screaming. And well dressed! Because I finally have time to sew again!

Part of my lack of personal clothing productivity has been due to my job at the costume shop, which kicked into high gear about a month ago with the frenzied creation of seven metric tons of 1920’s style underwear. The show we just costumed is set in the vaudeville of the 1920’s among the flamboyant theatrical elite desperately clinging to their youth and past fame in the face of decadence and aging. So, a lot of glitter and a lot of paint and a lot of trim and a lot of pathetic need. And a chorus of dancing girls in peach silk and hours and hours of stitching. We wore our fingers to the bone for that thing, I swear, who knew that such small pieces of clothing could require so very much work!? But it happened, it’s over, we threw a babyshower for my boss complete with hand-sewn gifts:

II3.jpg II2.jpg II1.jpgPatterns for the dresses are here and the quilt here.

So it’s all good! Life, she goes on. And I finally had some time to sew for me! Bahahahahahah! Yes, yes, I may be unemployed with a master’s degree in dramatic writing which has as many solid job/life prospects as the incoming tide, but dammit, at least I can make stuff. Right? RIGHT?

II6.jpg

The fabric is from India, hence the title, and what’s-his-face got it for me this past winter. It’s a lovely silk with a gorgeous print, and it was great to sew with, very easy to use. A little slippery when being cut, but otherwise just fine. I used my favorite by virtue of being my only tunic pattern, Butterick 5548, which I’ve made twice before.II4.jpgThis time I didn’t include the side slits, but the fit is loose enough that it’s still super comfortable without them. I also stitched the facing to the wrong side instead of the right side, as the pattern dictates. I don’t know, I just like it a bit better. I made the sleeves three-quarter length, and added an inch to each side seam around the bust to do a cheater’s full-bust-adjustment. Because I’m sneaky like that.

II9.jpgI laugh and laugh at my own devious sewing nature! I love the neckline of this tunic, it’s the best. And the print, I have to say, does work with this ever-so-Eastern style.

II8.jpgThe first version I made of this fit tightly across the back so this is nice that it’s roomier with the extra inches. Ah my giant shoulders, the things you do!

II5.jpgYeah, it’s a cute one. Simple, easy, fast, though I did do french seams which took longer, but seriously, this is a quick make. But I love the style and I think it suits the fabric, and I’m sure I will make more of these. After all, I have all this time now. Which is a little scary but also it makes me feel like this:

II7.jpgOf course, I could jump higher if someone wanted to give me a JOB….

More posts soon, I promise! I have lots of clothing and lots of photos and lots to write about!

 

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Clothing