Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Texas Two Step Outfit

Guys, I did something that many people truly refuse to do. I went back to Texas. I know! Who does that? But honestly, I went back to AUSTIN, so does that even count? It’s like, the anti-Texas, it’s got all the wonder and beauty of Texas without any of the crazy or conservative. It’s got smoked briskets at ever corner, cool cocktail bars with dumpling trucks attached, lovely scenery and actually deeply nice people. Unlike the saccharine strangeness that can sometimes pervade the South East coast, the South West is just some nice people with a lot of sand and sun and meats to cook. And many other things, obviously. But this trip to Texas was as lovely as my last, with the one exception of my friend Lisa not being there, which was a bummer, sigh. I had to have SO many glasses of wine in her honor, it was SO hard but totally essential, duh. Mr. Struggle, having never been there before, was excited about the food and, well, mostly just the food, but I managed to drag him to an art museum in between BBQ joints and beer. (He drank the beer. I don’t do such things. Obviously.)

It was really a lovely trip, and I must say, Austin is just an awesome city. Mr. Struggle was rather enchanted and I got to feel that smug superiority of someone who has already discovered and enjoyed something and gets to be all “I told you so” to their significant other. I’m sure there is a word in German for that. German. A language of feelings and throat clearings. And despite the general craziness of my post-graduate school post-getting-married life, I managed to make a few things for the trip! Two of which I will show you in just a moment.

Side note, I totally use traveling as an excuse to sew. I think I have the mentality of one of these Victorian ladies who took Grand European tours, that is, that journeys in fact require new themed clothing so that the peoples of Italy, or in this case, Texas, would think me chic but also adaptable. I don’t know why I assume that when I travel people I have never met before will need to see something new, because, well, wouldn’t everything I ever wear be new to them? but I do. I really do. There is probably a word for that kind of insane in German as well!

So for this trip, I made a little bit of a casual outfit because Texas is a rather relaxed place, a place where cowboy boots and dresses are an appropriate combination, a place where all denim outfits are not mocked, a place where large buckles are more important than large watches and hats are still a thing. So I figured, when in Rome…

TTS1This is a little bit of a Colette Patterns binge here. The pants are Clovers, like I do. I love the Clover. You can pull that pattern out of my cold, dead hands. I have made so many damn versions of this pattern, I have almost nothing to say about it. You know the drill, flat felled seams, invisible zipper, blah blah blah. These are denim. Very 1950’s style ladies jeans. And the back view!

TTS6Annnnnd more photos of my posterior on the internets. Why do I do this, again?

And the shirt! Is ALSO a Colette Patterns selection, the ever popular Jasmine. I have some issues with this pattern. Mr. Struggle, for the record, loved it.

TTS2I don’t know. I really wanted to love this shirt. I thought a lot about it. I don’t know, it’s just always a little off no matter what I try. It’s too short, for one thing, and I don’t know if I over-compensated with the full-bust adjustment I did. I just don’t know. It’s a quandary.

TTS4I used a material I got on fabric.com for 1.99 a yard. So, you know, whatever, I will wear this and it wasn’t hard to make. But I’m not quite sure about this fit, honestly.

TTS5The back is okay, though!

TTS3Whatever, I felt cute enough, I guess that’s fine. I can only really say that I think it looks better in real life, honestly. It just fits better than it looks like it does in photos. The fabric is pretty cute, though!

TTS8And it went from a Pitch Perfect Sing along, like you do, to more barbeque in the Texas sun before we headed home. We got there at 10:30am to enjoy it before our flight, and I must say, that truly is the breakfast of champions.

This is a smoker that assures us that heaven considers Texas strongly:

TTS9And there is what you can order from this particular dining establishment:

TTS10And here is how this meal made me feel!

TTS7I wonder if there is a word in German for the bliss of a full stomach cradled under a completely homemade outfit? If not, there should be.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Travel

The Least Laboreous Labor Day Dress

I’m not going to lie to you, gentle readers, as I write this I’m suffering from a really painful stomach ache so if some of that bile starts to seep into my writing Middle Ages Medicine style, I apologize, because this post is about an awesome dress (I truly believe it to be awesome) for a beyond awesome event so I’m hoping that all that positivity heals my stomach as I sip seltzer and wince. Hopefully the heat of my computer is relaxing my stomach muscles or something.

Ah, Labor Day, you sly minx of a holiday. As lovely as it is to get the Monday holiday, it also marks the unofficial end of summer, the return to school for many, but not me, sadly, sigh, sob! I miss school….aw, well, one must become an adult sometime. I have no idea when that will happen to me, but the point is, I graduated, so I can’t go back or its creepy. But luckily, so very kind and thoughtful friends like my friends Joe and Kira knew that I might feel a little ambivalent about my post-graduate school Fall, and they very thoughtfully planned their wedding around Labor Day weekend. I know, I know, aren’t they wonderful? I think so. Imagine, doing all that JUST for me! The coordination, the family stuff, the rabbi, the dress, they made it all come together just to cheer me up. Those people are the best.

I joke, of course, I had no part in any of their decisions, which does not mean that I didn’t love and enjoy the end result! Joe and Kira had a beautiful wedding and getting to celebrate with them literally on the heels of another wedding of close friends, featured here, was really amazing. Did I mention that this wedding was ALSO in Brooklyn? So I literally didn’t have to leave Brooklyn for days? I love when that happens. The happy event took place in an event space right next to Gowanus Canal, a less than ideal view that nevertheless has been featured in countless deeply hipster instagram accounts. My mother, in fact, to whom I sent a photo after the wedding, told me she liked the dress, but not the background. What can you do? I believe Brooklyn has plans for Gowanus but for now, it is what it is, and I have a good deal of affection for the area, even if I don’t go there often. So not only did I get to celebrate Joe and Kira’s gorgeous wedding and happy happy union, but I enjoyed the ugly if interesting views of the canal while I did so.

And, to the dress. I wanted to make something interesting and different this time, to combat my last fiasco, and also because why do I buy all these patterns if I’m only doing to use the same five over and over again? So I branched out, and I just adored it! It surprised me in every way, because I really didn’t think this would be my style, but you know what? It works. No labor required.

LLLDED1This is a By Hand London Anna Dress, which I cannot believe I am so late to the party on. I was not late to the wedding, but I was late to this awesome shindig because this dress is a marvelous pattern. I love this design, and I really had no idea that I would. The bodice is flattering and fits me well with literally no adjustment. The only thing I did was grade from a 10 in the bodice to an 8 in the skirt, and easy peasy lemon squeezie, this thing was a hit. I chose the v-neck option and against my better judgement adhered to the original instructions and used the facing. This actually was not the disaster I’d been fearing. It did not pop out as so many facing had on me in the past. I did not have to stop mid-dance to push a flapping facing out of my face. I did not hate this situation at all!

LLLDED4

Well done, By Hand London, well done. The pleats in the bodice are just lovely, and the kimono sleeves were comfortable and look great. I even enjoyed the maxi-option of this dress, which is not my normal thing, because I’m so damn short.

Maxi Dress

But between the slit and the wedges I had planned to wear (also a rare move, I am really not a heels person as I’m sure you’ve intimated from the history of this blog) I think I don’t look too “swimming in fabric” but more “swimming in the canal”. No, I’m kidding, that’s disgusting, it’s not nice in there.

LLLDED2My lovely husband Mr. Struggle took these photos. I knew there was a reason to marry him! Permanent photographer when all others fail. Lovely.

LLLDED5A little back view for you. I used a contrasting zipper. I would love to say that was a fashion statement but it was all I had. I pinked the hell out of everything, and I used a $1.99 a yard fabric I got from fabric.com. I know that french seams would be great on this if I had had more time, but I seem to have fallen into the nasty habit of last-minute stitching for these kinds of events. Bad Leah. That being said, the zipper is fine. I did try to press this but it literally melted the fabric the first time I tried and I had to sort of pinch the hole left behind and stitch it into a tiny unsuggested dart. Luckily it’s in the back. so NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. Except you. Because I just told you.

Still, I do love this fabric, it’s just really fun and different. I only managed to get a rather blurry photo of it but hopefully you can see it:

LLLDED7You see, this little man is going up and down the bannister of these stairs. I just love it! The stairs are much more orange in real life, just so you know.

LLLDED6A romantic gaze out onto the canal.

LLLDED3And there it is. My dress for the wedding that ended the summer and marked the first year of my new life as a writer on my own. Well, not quite on my own….

Congratulations Joe and Kira, and welcome to the Fall, people! I can’t wait to sew for it!

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Filed under By Hand London, Clothing, Sewing

The Make It Work Dress

As surprising as it seems, I have never seen Project Runway. Yes, I know, its about sewing. Yes, I know I sew. No, I don’t care. I’ve never seen The Wire, either. I’ve also never seen The Real World or The Jersey Shore. We’ve all got our stuff, okay? Have you seen every episode of Pushing Daisies? Or been to China? No? I’ve done both of those things. So shut up. The point is, even though I’ve never seen the show, I’m aware of it, and of Tim Gunn’s famous phrase, “make it work”, which, given that I have no context for it, I assume is in reference to people making something work. In terms of clothing. That’s logical, right?

So recently I was in a situation where, in fact, I couldn’t make what I was making work. Now, normally, who cares, right? It’s a bummer but life, she goes on. But this particular dress was for my friend Becca’s wedding. Now, I understand realistically no one cares what I’m wearing to this wedding, because I am not the person in white, but nevertheless, I love Becca, I didn’t want to look terrible, and besides, I have a reputation to uphold! People expect things of me and my sewing machine! I had to make it work!

So, despite the late hour and an early morning of teaching 9 year olds how to sew the next day, I cut and stitched a new dress. Because being exhausted is a great way to deal with 8 small girls and their incessant and well-considered questions that I have no idea how to answer, despite knowing how to sew. (This is interesting, how is it that you can do something but have real trouble explaining how things work to a beginner? I will be honest, I have totally resorted to, it just works, okay? when getting a hard question about stitching.) But I simply had to make it work. The wedding demanded a new dress! (Literally no one demanded this. I did all of this to myself.) And you know what? For something that I threw together, I completely love this dress!

MIW 1Turned out nice, right? I grabbed my bodice block, gathered the skirt, lined the bodice in a blue silk taffeta I got for free from a dressmaker looking to unload her stock. (THANK YOU!). The fabric comes from India via Mr. Struggle, and it has a lovely sheen to it, which I thought might make this appropriate for this black-tie-optional affair. The fabric is actually quite quite lovely, and I got scores of compliments on this dress to prove it. Well done, Mr. Struggle!

MIW 2Yes, I had to admit that he did something well. Yes, it hurt.

MIW 4I joke, I joke, he’s wonderful. The neckline of the dress turned out to be an excellent frame for the truly gorgeous necklace my new in-laws gave me to celebrate our marriage. It was a very India-centric outfit, as it turns out, which was of course totally appropriate for a Brooklyn wedding. The ceremony was truly lovely, and the girl in the white dress looked insanely gorgeous, not to mention happy. Hmmm, I wonder why?

MIW 6I didn’t get any amazing back shots but that’s okay, life goes on.

MIW 5 Oh, those shoes. So cute. So painful at the end of the night. How do women wear stilettos? These are thick chunky 1940’s style pumps and they still made my feet bleed. Thank goodness I picked a profession when I spend most of my time in my pajamas writing barefoot on the couch.

MIW 7After the disaster that was the first attempt to make something for this wedding (slippery silk did not participate or play well with others) this was super fast and basic, I’ve made this pattern many times before and there are no surprises, just lots of darts. I altered the neckline a bit but otherwise, boom. Nothing crazy. The only crazy part was ME.

MIW 3Jenny, my friend who took these lovely photos after the ceremony (so I’m smiling really hard to hide the fact that I’ve just been sobbing, weddings are emotional!) taught me this pageant pose which makes your waist look tiny. Thank you, Jenny! I will forever be grateful.

It was just a lovely wedding, and I was so happy to be there, to celebrate with my friends, and, of course, have a new dress, the most important part. Sometimes, regardless of your desire for sleep, you just need to make it work. Becca likes Project Runway, so I knew she would approve. Congratulations to an amazing couple, and stay tuned for an upcoming post on the dress I made to ANOTHER wedding of another amazing pair! I promise I will stop making party dresses, guys, for real. After all, it’s fall soon, right? Back to wools and heavy knits and pants! But first, a little more icing, cool? Get excited.

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Filed under Friends, Life, Sewing