Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Return of the Lady Lumberjack Dress

I just want to state for the record that I would be a terrible lumberjack. When I was a junior in high school I spent a semester living on an organic farm in Maine, it’s actually a fantastic program with your normal junior year classes plus a crash course in community building, sustainable living, and salt marsh farming. I rarely do that last one anymore, but the first two, I’m all about, and I credit the Chewonki Foundation with much of my interest and abilities. It’s basically using Thoreau’s edict in Walden to “Live Deliberately” and teaching it to 17 year old kids, which works a lot better than you might think it would. Plus, you get to hang out with lambs fresh of out their maternal ovens, which is both cute and strange. All the things I’m into!

But back to the lumberjack thing, we did have to do a day or two on the forest rotation, where we observed how they grow wood for lumber and fuel and are careful to vary their cutting and rotate their gathering so that they don’t deplete too much of their woodlands at any one time. And we had to use a chainsaw. And it was terrifying. It sounded like a wild beast growling at me and it moved really fast and I was totally sure I was going to cut my own arm off, who knows how. So that was my first and last time with a chainsaw and I certainly wouldn’t trust myself with an axe, because I’m clumsy with a pillow, so what would I do with and axe? I would be the worst damn lumberjack. It’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dress like one, right?

So here it is, my second Lady Lumberjack incarnation, following last year’s Archer Shirt in a cozy flannel. This year, it’s a red plaid wool that was given to me by a costume designer who worked with me last year. Oh, how I miss the costume shop…..I miss you all! This pattern is the Grainline Studio Archer, lengthened to a dress and shaped with a belt because, you know, that’s how I do. Check it out!

RLL1I was sitting in this for a while before I took these photos so it’s a bit more wrinkled than I had anticipated. Sigh. I’m the worst. I never consider wrinkles when I take these photos, or when I bask in the sun.

RLL4A blurry photo because of the rapidly setting winter sun. These photos were taken at, like, 4pm. I hate winter for this reason, we spend our days mourning the death of light. I wanted to show the curve in the side of the hem, though, so there you go.

RLL5Here’s the back. I have nothing much to say about this, really, I think it looks nice!

This dress was very easy to make. I’ve made this pattern so many times that it’s sort of second nature to me now, it still takes time and effort and is complicated in its way, but I get it, I get how it works, and I kind of enjoy how labor intensive it is, not that it is so labor intensive, really, it’s not a coat, for goodness sakes. I now flatfell all the shoulder and arm seams, and I french seam the sleeve and side seams in one continuous motion. I like the collar and I like the collar stand, and this time I had enough fabric to make the outside yoke cut on the bias, so, that’s a win! I really have a hard time justifying buying more fabric even if it does allow me to have the details I want. It’s a constant internal struggle, I must say. Sigh. Between my dashed lumberjack dreams and these dilemmas my life is SO hard, isn’t it?

RLL6

That bias cut situation really makes the shoulders so deeply comfortable, does anyone else think this? I feel like it stretches over your shoulders so nicely.

RLL7That strange line of white is actually the markers mark on the selvage which I used to cut the button band. I really didn’t mean for it to be visible but I actually think it’s kind of nice! I never mind when that kind of thing is visible, I usually enjoy it.

RLL2So there you go, a new dress, and by the way, I know I know I know I’ve been on a dress roll and I’m not going to apologize for that. Dresses are easy and they are fun and I love them. It’s an instant outfit. Who can argue with that? I will stop making dresses when they stop being awesome which will be NEVER.

In other news, a recent stay in Philadelphia with my parents included a late Hanukkah gift exchange which had me leaving the table with an endangered species my mother adopted in my name, which Morse, one of their cats, really could not figure out at all.

RLL8

Are you a new friend?

RLL9OR A MORTAL ENEMY? We may never know. Meanwhile, I’ll be making a dress. Excuse me.

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Sewing

The Easy Being Green Dress

Ever since I started sewing, Black Friday has taken on a strange feeling for me. I’ve never been all that into Black Friday, honestly, my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because….Judaism, so I never needed to take advantage of the sales to make sure I have gifts for everyone. But since I started sewing, even though I got into it because it seemed fun, I think quite differently about consumption and buying and the impact of my buying choices. Of course, some might say that I’ve shifted my commerce from clothing to FABRIC but these are lies, lies I say! No, I am trying not to buy fabric unless it’s for a specific project, which is HARD, people, I swear. Anyway, regardless of my fabric consumption which depending on who you talk to is minimal (me) to out of control (Mr. Struggle, foolish silly man, he should know better than to get between me and my fabric…) I just don’t really buy clothing anymore. The rare sports bra or a piece of outerwear, perhaps, but nothing more. So when I see all of the sales and the flurry of activity on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s interesting to me but I see it from far away, like I’m watching a movie. Which is probably bad, because there are things I should buy, but I can’t bear to be a part of that experience, honestly, it just seems awful and exhausting and besides, the idea of undressing and trying on a bunch of clothing in dress-room lighting after a huge meal the day before sounds about as fun as a root canal. Without drugs.

I know there are people who love this holiday, Black Friday, that is, and you always hear about crowds lining up earlier and earlier outside of large stores waiting for their deals, but honestly, I can’t imagine that. And then you always hear about people who get injured in some way trying to fight someone for that amazing bargain and you have to figure, holiday gifts, expensive, a trip to the hospital over a pair of designer jeans? Priceless. That being said, if Mood Fabric had a Black Friday sale I would probably end up killing someone, straight up, so I shouldn’t judge, right?

So instead of doing any shopping, I spent the day hanging out with my family, writing, and of course, taking a Pilates class to try and deal with the meal situation of the day before. And instead of buying something, I wore a dress I made. Like I do. And I DID buy this fabric on sale almost six months ago in a sweater knit close-out from my beloved Girl Charlee, so, hey, look at that!

EBG1

This is another Sewaholic Renfrew. I’ve made so many of this pattern I can’t even count them. I probably should stop documenting them but OH well, you’re welcome.

The sweater knit was easy as pie to work with, and I even managed to match up stripes which is surprising as I really didn’t have a ton of this fabric with which to work! This is a deeply simple pattern. If you haven’t made it, you probably should. That’s just all I have to say about that. EBG3I’m not usually a stripe person, because of my propensity for eating large amounts of bread most of the time, but I think these kind of work, the thin stripes with the thick ones, it’s a little kinder, don’t you think?

EBG4Ohhhh, blurry. Sigh. Cold weather and early sunsets really don’t help my sewing photos, do they? Indoor photos, meh.

EBG6A little side view where you can admire my awesome stripe matching right there. That’s another thing about Black Friday, once you start sewing and you see what a mess of a lot of discount clothing is, you kind of just roll your eyes like the snob sewing makes you and sigh, impatiently, over mis-matched stripes and plaids and other such nonsense.

EBG2And there we go. Another lightweight sweater dress photographed by my lovely mother and a nice substitute for anything I could have possibly bought.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to money versus time. Right now, I have the time to make things for myself, and so I do, and I can, and that changes my relationship to consumerism. But if my life looked different and my time was differently allocated, maybe I would NEED those Black Friday sales, because I wouldn’t have the time to sew, buying clothing would be a necessity. So it’s easy for me not to participate in shopping culture because I have the time to find an alternative. If I didn’t, I just don’t know. But I hope I keep making this a priority, because I really don’t want to get stabbed at a Target someday….

 

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The Subtlety is Overrated Dress

Much as it pains me to admit it sometimes, life is not a play by Henrik Ibsen. If it was, I would be dressed a lot better and I would have much pithier dialogue on a daily basis that concerned secrets from my past and euphemisms for sexually transmitted diseases. I would be constantly fighting the subtle ways that injustice works in human relationships and I would probably have at least one suicide attempt under my belt, and I would be pale and interesting and troubled in some way, but not Tennessee Williams heroine kind of way, more in a European flavored way, with restraint and depth and unnamed manias. Sigh. Yes, it would be a grand way to live, surrounded by subtext and Scandinavian foods. But I don’t live that way, no one does, anymore, except maybe the cast of Downton Abbey, and so I must accept that mine is a more direct kind of life.

And perhaps that is a consequence of being a New Worlder. Ours is not a world of quiet revelations, but rather, of loud and clear confrontations. No one encounters a new continent a little at a time. From the very beginning, it was all about the obvious. So who can blame me for not being the most subtle person around? We are, on some small level at least, a product of our environments.

Perhaps this is why for this Thanksgiving, I made the most specific and least subtle garment possible. I could have done many things with my Thanksgiving outfit, many subtle shades of fall leaves, but instead, I decided to wear ALL of them. Because….why not?

SIOR1You will have to forgive the wrinkled nature of this dress, this happens when you take photos AFTER the meal, instead of before.

SIOR4This is another Elisalex dress from By Hand London. I did a full bust adjustment this time on the bodice, but I might have over-adjusted, as it’s a little big, which is fine, more room for turkey!

SIOR5I did a hand-picked zipper, and I realized I should not have put my hands in this position in all my photos, but ohhhhh welllllll. I also hand stitched the hem and lined the bodice, but not the skirt. The fabric is pretty stiff, so it holds the pleats neatly.

SIOR7My lovely mother took these photos, as exhausted as we both were from cooking (Although Mr. Struggle DID contribute an Indian dish, Butter Chicken, because there just WASN’T enough poultry on the table with that 13 pound turkey, you know?). She took the side view and made a face, like, why do you make so many pouffy dresses? Because I can, Mom. Because I can.

SIOR2Look, I love this dress. I also have no idea when I could or would ever wear it again. I mean, it’s hardly adaptable to other seasons…..but from September to November I guess it can be my loud and proud autumn loving go-to!

SIOR6See, I’m trying to look coy but the fabric JUST WONT LET ME. I bought this online over a year ago and didn’t know what do to with it. It was on sale, and I guess we all know why, because not everyone embraces their total lack of subtlety the way I do!

SIOR3At least it’s good fall forest camouflage, right?

I hope you all had wonderful happy and safe Thanksgivings, and welcome to unending Christmas carols that make me want to put my head through a plate glass windows, er, that is, holiday season!

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Filed under By Hand London, Clothing, Elisalex Dress, Sewing