The El Farolito Dress

Isn’t it an awfully strange feeling to show someone someplace you love? Maybe everyone doesn’t have the same sense of place as personal, but I do, and I think I probably always have. My mother trained as an architect, and she renovated the house I lived in from the age of three months on, so I can say with honesty that I lived in a house my mom built. Space and its meaning and memory therefore have always had resonance for me. When I meet people who say they don’t care about where they live, I find it difficult to comprehend the words coming out of their mouths. Whatever space I’m in has always affected me deeply. When I was 22 and just out of college I lived in Spain for three months I lived in a tiny room with no windows. That was like a prison, and while Spain might be fun for many people, on some level it was difficult for me to enjoy my time there because the space I inhabited was so unbearable. But when I moved to Brooklyn, I moved into an amazing apartment, a place that felt cozy and comfortable and fit me well, and every day felt like an adventure, with a safe spot to return to at night. It’s not just where I live, though, it’s also places, and what they mean. Despite that apartment, Madrid will always be a place I long to return, because it’s streets are so gorgeous, it’s museums so glorious and bursting with art, it’s buildings so charming and enticing. Philadelphia, my hometown, will always fit me like a soft pair of jeans. And Puerto Rico will always feel like a sigh of relief, coupled with the anticipation of seeing something insane. It’s a rare place, a mix of comfort and crazy. Sharing it with people is wonderful, but also worrisome. What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t get it? It’s another house my mom made. Will they enjoy her, her style, her touch, her details? Will they love it the way I do? Why do they have to? I can’t help but get worried when I bring people. Luckily, Mr. Struggle loved it. Problem, solved. The thing is, though, I am in every way a creature of habit. It’s a difficult thing, I think, because people who I meet who are NOT that way tend to find it a curious quality, rather than a way of life. Especially Mr. Struggle. He is not as into the habits, and so the explanation of “this is what I do and therefore we should do it” doesn’t always, how shall I say, fly? So when we went down together, he wanted to do new things, things I hadn’t done there. This filled me with something like dread. NEW THINGS? DIFFERENT THINGS? What am I supposed to do with that? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Mr. Struggle is a smart guy. So now when we travel, even to a place I’ve been, I try to remember that there is new stuff out there, and I can make a new memory in an old place. This time, when enjoying San Juan, Mr. Struggle found a new bar, which is very much his style, and I have to say, it was an excellent discovery. The bar is called El Farolito, or The Lamplight, like the lantern on a lamppost, and it’s AMAZING. If you ever go to San Juan, go the hell there. Bourbon and Coconut water is a surprisingly stellar combination, and that’s the least of what they do. So this dress is named in honor of that bar, which was a surprise for me, something I usually abhor, but am learning to hate a little less. And this dress was a combination of two familiar patterns grafted together in a new way. So that’s something new too! BH1So the bodice is my self-drafted bodice pattern, and the skirt is my all-time favorite, Simplicity 4529. Can’t stop, wont stop. This dress therefore between the bodice and the skirt has 26 darts. You read that correctly. 26. That’s a real thing. Enjoy that. God knows I didn’t when I made it…. EF2The fabric I actually got for free from a friend and co-worker of my friend Liz, a seamstress and costume historian who was giving away huge amounts of fabric to make space in her apartment. GOD. BLESS. NEW. YORK. These tiny places really work out when you need free fabric! EF3A little side view for you. Enjoy. EF5That’s our green roof! A big thing my mom wanted to include with this property. It’s very cool. I love it a lot. The perfect place for these photo shoots which I force Mr. Struggle to do. EF7Oh, I was out of matching zippers so I had to use a maroon one which you can JUST see in this photo. Enjoy that. EF6A little bodice close up. How lovely is this print? I can’t honestly believe it was free. And so MUCH of it! Liz told me to make something and then give her the remainder, I can’t wait to see what she does! EF8Ah, the view from our roof. See why I love it here? EF10Yes it’s a little non-pristine and maybe slightly odd, but it’s also glorious with the sun and the clouds. Don’t you think? EF11The “green” aspect of the green roof, complete with my father’s many solar lights. EF4So there you are. Something familiar, and something new. All that’s missing is an amazing cocktail. And for that? You’d need to go to El Farolito.

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7 Comments

Filed under Fabric, Friends, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Tutorial, Vintage

7 responses to “The El Farolito Dress

  1. Perfect combination of print and pattern. And the green roof, it’s extraordinary, it might just be the very definition of lush!

  2. Susan Lippitt

    Look how beautifully it fits you!! Those 26 darts are doing their job.
    My great great grandfather was a lamplighter on the Isle of Jersey off the coast of France. Logically, therefore, I must go to El Farolito, don’t you think?

  3. Lovely dress, I have laughed along with your blog for a long time but don’t think I’ve ever commented. It fits you so well and the simple design really lets the fabric stand out. I hope you feel very proud of making something that fits perfectly!

  4. barbara

    great dress. enough about the dress. do your parents live in puerto rico all year long? lucky, lucky you. a crash pad in san juan!

  5. Oh to be able to afford to travel…. *sigh* Ruts are very hard to get out of, but sometimes it’s awesome to get out of your comfort zone and roll with it.

    The dress is very pretty–love the colors! 🙂

  6. I really like this dress. It fits you so well. It would want to with all those darts!
    Great fabric and awesome photo location.

  7. beautiful dress.. and i really enjoyed reading your post (but, then again, i always do, you have a wonderful way with words)

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