Category Archives: Colette Patterns

The Kill The Tailor Outfit

I recently attended two weddings in a row. Now, contrary to popular belief, not all weddings in India are approached via elephant. This is a sad reality of India, but I have learned to live with it. However, there are many weddings in India, at any given moment, because of course there are many weddings in the world, but now is the high season, and because there are so very many PEOPLE here, the odds that you might have a wedding to attend between the months of October and March are, shall we say, high. And so it came to pass that I had two weddings to attend and nothing to wear to them.

I mean, I had literal clothing, obviously, I don’t walk around naked all day, that would be frowned upon, and in some parts of the world rather chilly. I even had nice clothing, but the dress code to these weddings was Indian wear, and this presents a problem for me. You see, I don’t have a lot of Indian fancy clothing. I don’t have a lot of Indian clothing, period, but this specific region is hard because it is expensive, and rather exclusive to certain events, of which I don’t attend all that many. I have my wedding lengha, which is far too grand for someone else’s wedding, because then I’m like, trying to be the star, and I have two beautiful saris that I don’t know how to pleat, or as they say here, tie, despite the fact that there is almost no tying involved in getting a sari on your body. So short of begging for a neighbor’s help, which I have done, not a great look for me, I wasn’t really sure what to do. I wasn’t all that confident in my abilities to sew something in the fancy Indian space, and buying something of quality is extremely expensive, which just feels like, is this worth it for something I don’t use all that much?

So I decided to have something made, something people do all over the country. It seemed like the perfect solution, ideal, even, and fun! I usually do all the making, but having something made seemed like a fun way to copy something beyond my talents. I met with a tailor in Kolkata, gave him my fabric and my image of a dress to copy which is a flagrant violation of copyright and totally something people do every day, and waiting for my dress.

Except he DIDN’T copy it. He made something else entirely, something bizarre, which was delivered to me a mere 7 days before wedding number 1.

Oh dear.

I was, to put it mildly, displeased. My mother-in-law, who was with me, wisely chose not to translate all of my cursing into Hindi, but did communicate to the tailor that this was not, shall I say, what had been asked for. Apologetic, he assured us that he could fix it in time.

I have yet to receive it.

When people ask me why I make my own clothing, I am going to tell them it is because I don’t trust anyone else in this world. Seriously.

I sprang into action, and dashed (walked at a normal pace) to a fabric shop in Kolkata and threw together an idea. I hauled it all back to Mumbai and sewed like a maniac, grateful my office was closed after the 24th so I could have time to get this done. As my friend sped her way to my apartment, I was handstitching my hem and praying she hit traffic.

She did. It’s Mumbai. Everyone does.

And as she entered my home, I was arranging my dupatta, the sort of scarf you will see in a moment wrapped around my body. I did it, people. I made an Indian wedding outfit. In, like, two days. And that was the last time I went to a tailor, ever.

These photos are MEH but you get the gist.

From wedding number 2!

So what, exactly, did I do? Well, I was like, okay, a lengha is basically a big full skirt with a choli, or blouse, and a dupatta. And a choli is basically a fitted crop top, or a bodice. So, I can make each of those things, right?

Right.

The choli is actually a Colette Patterns Claudia bodice with snaps inserted on the left side, rather than a zipper down the back.

The skirt, I draped. The dupatta? I stitched a border on a piece of net and called it a DAY, people.

BUT IT WORKS! So WHATever, man, I did it.

I was lucky, of course, because really the fabric is aces, and that makes all the difference. The blouse is a cotton-silk blend which makes it super comfortable, and the skirt is a beautifully worked net over that cotton silk over cotton, to give it body and heft.

It’s very subtle with cream, peach, blue and mint. I adore it.

Rubens approved. He fought with the scraps for a bit, and then declared a stalemate to snooze.

So there you have it. Speed sewing, an Indian outfit, and a loathing for the tailor.

Which hopefully didn’t show in my “wedding appropriate” smile.

See? You can hardly see all the rage in there at all! I wore it all out making this outfit.

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Filed under Challenge, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Whale Tale Dress

I write, briefly, in praise of Seamwork. I am sure you know about Seamwork, but just in case you don’t, Seamwork is the digital magazine created by Colette Patterns which releases patterns monthly as part of the magazine. The original idea was that these patterns be ones a sewer could stitch up in less than three hours, although I think that is no longer the case, given the fact that they have released some outerwear and trouser patterns! But I digress. The point is, over the years in which Seamwork has been a thing, they have released scores and scores of patterns, along with fascinating articles and ideas for pattern hacks, for an excruciatingly reasonable price. Sometimes I like the patterns, and sometimes I don’t, but that’s sort of the point, right? Releasing patterns all the time means that people have endless options, and that I can wait for the item that fits my style.

Of course, a psychologist/Don Draper might critisize me for my constant hunger for the new. Seamwork is the Instagram of pattern sources, always offering me something new, eager to present me with options rather than forcing me to evaluate what I already have. But as someone who likes to try new things, but also feels she has to get her money’s worth, I tend to make patterns over and over again, partially because I like them, I’m not insane, but partially because I feel like they need to earn their keep, and that can make my sewing a little, well, boring. New patterns stimulate and challenge me, and I like that I don’t have to feel that I wasted money on something I only made once, or that I have to make something work in multiple iterations if it just doesn’t. Does anyone else out there have this dilemma, that when you spend 20 dollars on a pattern you have to make it over and over again or you will feel guilty? Ah, guilt, my constant companion, welcome home.

And while they might not all be three-hour speed racers, they are all pretty simple, in their way, and yet I do learn from them, which I love. I am constantly impressed by the team at Seamwork for their designs and ideas, and this month was one of those times when I saw the new releases and almost sprained my finger trying to download them as quickly as possible. And then I taped, cut, traced, cut, and went to sewing, throwing everything else to the side, because I was extremely eager to wear Rachel.

The Rachel shirt (and bonus tunic/dress hack), is your straightforward button down, but the thing is, I’ve been looking for one of those! Isn’t it delightful when things come to you right as you decide you need them?

Of course, I have made the Grainline Archer many a time, but while I love it, I don’t know, the fit has never been 100% right. And yet I never tried another button down! I shop around for zucchini, I try three shops for cat food, but I never tried to make a different button down pattern. Maybe I am insane….

So I went ahead and cut two out! Which I maybe shouldn’t have done until I tested the fit but OH well…..A long sleeve shirt version is still on my sewing table, paused because of a weekend in Kolkata from which I have only just returned, ready to complete it, but I knocked out a short-sleeve version of the tunic/dress last week, and harassed What’s-his-face until he took my picture. So here you go, my first iteration of Rachel (can’t quite shake that “make multiple” thing yet) in a fabric I can only describe as magnificent, one in which I am as happy as a clam, as playful as a dolphin, as optimistic as an octopus, because it is covered in whales:

You see, when you wear fabric printed with animals, you can never be truly lonely, because you are never alone!

I adore adore adore this fabric, and I like the way this turned out, eventually, but I gotta say, there were some bumps on the road.

I wanted this to be a dress, rather than a tunic, but I have to say, the (absolutely gorgeous) model they used must have legs for days because I lengthened this a few inches and it was on the way to a maxi, then I cut it back to the original hem length and it’s still at my knees! That’s fine, makes it India appropriate, but jeez, way to make a girl feel short!

 

That’s okay, I can’t stay mad at this dress, look at the whales!

Thinking about my bust measurements alone, I cut a 14,  because I figured the rest would be big but that was fine. But when I tried this on, I was SWIMMING in it. Instead of the slim skirt I admired from the photo, I had a tent. Okay, I thought, this is on me, I wanted a roomy bust and got a roomy everything! But the bust ease was also a lot more than I had planned for, and I ended up taking in the sides over and over again in little degrees, trying to make this less of a tent while maintaining the ability to get into it, because the buttons only go to the waist, so I worried that I would reduce it to the point that I couldn’t, ya know, get into it.

I think I ended up taking out like, 8 inches on each side. Oy. Next time I will just cut a size 10 or 8, and grade out at the bust if I’m nervous. It’s still quite loose fitting, which is of course the design, but while my whales are happy swimming, I don’t want to be!

I kind of like the fact that there is no yoke, although I also love a yoke. Variety, it’s the spice of life!

Of course, I can always belt it, but it’s nice to have it be loose and airy in the Mumbai heat. I love to wear things like this at home when I’m writing, because it is comfortable but I don’t look like I was raised by wolves. That’s the sweet spot, right there.

You can see the waist seam here. The collar is a little smaller than the Archer, which I like. For the sleeves, I used the original sleeve pattern and just shortened it.

I’m so happy with my whales. And my shoes!

Aren’t they cool?

That about wraps up my Rachel. Do you guys like Seamwork? What is your pattern use philosophy?

Oh, and one last thing, if you, like I do, love the ocean, the many animals and plants that live in it, and want to protect, conserve, and help oceans, consider a little year-end donation to Oceana!

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, seamwork, Sewing

The Blue in Brera Dress

Recently, I was at this very cool Durer show in Milan, because my life is REALLY THAT GLAMOROUS, with my friend Liz, because she is amazing and we like to meet in delightful places and talk about how delightful we are, and there was a line in the (very extensive, mayhap too extensive?) wall text which described Milan as “the undisputed design capital of Europe”. Which….I feel like there actually might be a few people who WOULD dispute that, I don’t know, Paris, maybe? But sure, why not, let’s give it to Milan, because it really is an unbelievably fabulous city jam packed with stylish people walking past stylish buildings, doors that open to elegant interior courtyards, food that makes me want to drop everything and work in one of these kitchens, and charm to spare.

It was so hard to leave the amazing residency I attended, which was tranquil and calm, tucked into the hillsides of Piemonte. It is a really amazing place, and one you might want to consider when thinking about artists residencies, for any of you artists out there! You can also visit for other purposes, and I would strongly advise you do so. But at any rate, while it was jarring to return to busy streets (to think, I am calling Milan busy, I live in Mumbai!) and the hubbub of human life, it was also delightful because Milan is simply great. Sophisticated but welcoming, sleek but homey, with grand avenues and cute tiny streets both in spades, I enjoyed myself immensely, and so did Liz, oh, and what’s-his-face, who was also there! In fact, I made him take these photos of me after we visited the Pinacoteca di Brera, a lovely museum in the Palazzo Brera, a palace in the heart of Milan’s Brera neighborhood. Once the artistic capital of Milan, now it is a chic area of tons of fancy designer shops and thronged with tourists, but I can’t complain, I was one of them.

As I so often do when I travel, I went to the art museum, not the modern one(s), (Milan is modern as hell), but the historic ones. The Pinacoteca di Brera is a lovely collection of some excellent pieces in a very digestible way, i.e. it’s not extremely overwhelming but it has some top tier stuff, and the building is really pretty. Ah, Italy, full of urban mansions and palazzi, why you gotta be so charming? This is why said tourists do said thronging….

If you are in Milan and into this sort of thing, you should totally check out this museum. It has this stunning Rubens:

And this excellent Caravaggio:

Man, Caravaggio, am I right? What a baller. Actually, it’s funny, the first time I ever saw one of his paintings was also in Italy which…makes sense, and it was this one:

Which is in the many many rooms of art you see on the way to the Sistine Chapel and my mother, to whom I owe so very much, pointed it out to my brother and I. We’ve both been pretty hooked ever since.

After enjoying all this, What’s-his-face and I went to La Latteria San Marco for some spaghetti con limone y peperoncino (spaghetti with lemon and chilies) which was life altering but NOT before I made him take these photos of my new Colette Patterns Claudette Dress!

This is the second version of this dress that I have made, and the first, while cute, had some bodice wonkiness. I mean, I’m still going to WEAR it, already have, at least twice, but it is not for le blog. But this one turned out well, partially because I was more careful making it and partially…nope, that’s it, that’s the only reason.

So without further ado, here you go!

I mean, sure, it’s no Caravaggio, but it’s still pretty cute!

I picked up this fabric at, you guessed it, Thakur, after someone I am teaching to sew snagged some for pillows. So I’m basically wearing her couch. I DON’T CARE! It’s lovely, a nice contemporary ikat-style fabric with a good weight so its sturdy and holds its shape in the sheath.

You can kind of see the lining in this photo, sigh, sorry, I didn’t have an iron with me! AH well, at least you know I lined it, now!

I love this dress. Seriously, I really do. I cut a 12, for the hips, and did a full bust adjustment and then took the waist in about an inch or so I would have some wiggle room (GET IT?) but still have it be fitted. In this iteration I made the version with two large bust darts, rather than the princess seams.

I feel like there is a SMIDGEN of breast-flattening happening here, still, but it’s pretty cute nonetheless.

I’m not NOT proud of my stripe matching, I think given the darts on this sucker this was the best I could do. AND THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH!

And I’ll murder anyone who says differently, got it? But I really am into this make, and I’m so glad it was a lovely day in Milan so I could get this one photographed. The weather turned chilly and rainy soon after, and anyone who has been following my instagram Me Made May stories can probably tell that I’ve been recycling a few outfits over and over and praying for a warmer day. Luckily it’s turned slightly warmer here in Parma, from which I write this post, and looks like it will be nice in Venice, were we end our Italian adventures, and lovely in New York and Philadelphia, to which I will be heading afterwards, so fear not, my Me Made May outfits are sure to improve!

I have no construction notes, this is easy to put together and I french seamed the skirt and the sleeves. I did not, as instructed, hand stitch them. That sounds….exhausting. I got places to be, people! In Milan! Or whatever!

I hope you are having a lovely May, me made or otherwise!

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

#MakingMaisel Pattern Ideas

Happy Monday, all! My gift to you is some pattern inspiration to help you figure out how to make that Maisel costume into the outfit of your dreams. I still haven’t decided what I’M doing yet, although I do know that I’m going to make SOMETHING in a wool, potentially a raspberry or a grey, classic Midge power colors. Know what I mean?

Now, of course there is the option for this one to go vintage pattern, and I may well be taking it, honestly, but thank goodness we live in a world that also gives us the opportunity to buy vintage reproductions, in a multi-size pattern, that we don’t have to worry about scaling or changing or damaging throughout the sewing process, am I right?

So here are some of my thoughts, although I welcome your ideas too!

Obviously, the outerwear is amazing. I don’t know if I can justify this to myself because…when would I wear it, but gosh, I’m tempted, aren’t you? All those gorgeous coats, so impractical with no closures, so amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, there are some options for you if this is your deal.

 

 

 

The obvious contender, and it’s already in raspberry! IT’S A SIGN.

Also an option.

Sometimes these dress patterns sneak in a coat pattern. LUCKY FOR US!

The Colette Patterns Lady Grey would also work as a tribute piece!

I feel like if you made that up in a wool it would totally echo that tan coat Midge is sporting above, no?

This is technically not a coat but, I just, I die:

Separates:

The men of Maisel rock a separate, and Susie is all about a jeans and knit top combo, with her leather jacket, natch, but more often than not, Midge and Imogene are in dresses. Rose is all about a suit, very appropriate for her age in that period, and Rose is all ABOUT appropriate, as we know. This would totally be the time to make a suit, if anyone is itching to do that, but for now, I’m going to focus on the more unconventional separates the show gives us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love Midge in pants, so beatnik chic! There are some great options for that flat-front 1950’s look that was so popular, apparently people felt that the zipper front on women was vulgar.

I have been searching for a cute 1950’s blouse pattern for YEARS, any leads? But for the turtleneck, look no further than Seamwork!

Shorten Neelah into a shirt and there you go!

This outfit is a popular one on the internets, maybe because it’s so contemporary looking? I like the color combo, though, so bold! For this one, you might like the combo of Colette patterns Selene with a knit tee in a merino wool. Oooohhh, that would be cute…

 

And of course, who doesn’t love Midge’s work out gear?

 

For the shorts, I think the Weston shorts are a solid option:

 

You could also lengthen these to make Susie’s high waisted pants!

And the Astoria sweater would be too cute for Midge OR Susie! Material is everything.

And for the leotard, I mean, look no further than the Closet Case Nettie…

 

 

Okay, okay, fine, let’s get to the dresses!

I love literally everything each of these women is currently wearing.

 

This simplicity number feels right on the money! Add a bow, it’s there!

 

The top is a little off, but I think you could alter this one to make it work, and I love that back detail! It also reminds me of this number:

And then we have this one:

This one is a little intense, but also excellent. And look at that, a near-perfect pattern match!

Oh, love it all. LOVE IT ALL! Nothing exact here, but some options for an approximation:

 

Colette Patterns Claudette Dress, a classic!

Love those design lines.

And then of course, the party wear:

Now, Gertie said she might be developing something similar in an instagram post, so, ya know, maybe? But this is also not terrible:

And of course, the dress that requires pearls:

Oh, hello, lover. I mean, look, I have no idea if anything will ever be this good in terms of FIT, but in terms of LOOK, I humbly offer a few options:

Siiiigh. I had nothing for the men, honestly, although I’m happy to source that if anything is going there….

What do you guys think? Any other ideas of great patterns to use? Any real vintage favorites?

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, seamwork, Sewalong, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Orientalist Dress

Thanks for the positive responses on the sew-along, people! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won TWO golden globes last night, so now you HAVE to see it, am I right? I will be posting in upcoming weeks with pattern ideas, and some giveaways, but for now, just comment on the original post if you are interested!

The thing about being interested in sewing and textile, once your friends know about it, is sometimes you become, like, that person, you know what I mean? You are someone’s sewing friend. This is often fantastic, because people give you fabric (thank you, friends!) and sewing supplies, and send you cool articles about textile and stuff. Sometimes this is not as fantastic, like when people think you are their new free tailor and bring you broken zippers to mend. And sometimes it can sort of, well, be a little ambivalent when you are moving out of New York and the Met has a huge textile show and everyone suggests it as a fun friend activity and you end up seeing China through the Looking Glass THREE fricking times even though, from a curatorial standpoint, it was worth one.

But, hey, I mean, I got to know this bowler hat really well, soooooooo, win some, lose some.

Whatever my issues with this exhibit, which, while interesting, did not achieve any of the depth or breadth of knowledge OR commentary that, say, Interwoven Globe or Global Fashion Capitals did (am I a museum exhibit snob? OBVIOUSLY. What, this your first time here?) I can’t say it didn’t stick to my consciousness, especially living here in India, the land of fabric, where the idea of clothing and textile exchange has been reflected and refracted and remade and reused and absorbed and rediscovered and rejected. The sari is a political garment, don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t, and the clothing that people, women, really, wear here in India has a moral and social consequence. One could, of course, argue that this is the case everywhere, but I have yet to visit a place where it is so visible, so much a part of daily life, and yet so rarely discussed. Indian women know what to wear in which location, what keeps them safe, of course, nothing really keeps anyone safe, in the end, but perhaps what gives the illusion of safety, of appropriateness, of invisibility, which is of course the only safety any of us can try and bank on, that if we are not seen we will not be hurt. Adding the layer of physical security on top of layers of history only makes textile and clothing here all the heavier, despite the lighter weaves.

There are a thousand and one opinions about appropriation in art, but I would argue that when it comes to clothing, the history of the world can be written in a garment, and often is. Global garments stretch far back into history, and perhaps there are those who see me, in my ikat fit and flair dresses, stitching up block printed fabrics into 1950’s patterns, as an appropriator of the worst kind, but I would say it’s homage, not theft. Of course, Picasso tells us, “Bad artists copy, good artists steal”, but maybe that’s the problem, there, maybe if we acknowledge that we are borrowers, and lenders, the accusation of theft and desecration wont hang so heavy over art and art making. Polonius gave a lot of bad advice as well as good, perhaps we should throw that one away, and make things that proudly say, I borrow from here, I’m using this, but I promise I’m not the only one, you can have it back when I’m done, or better yet, there is more than enough to share. Is culture a finite resource? I hope not. I might be using up too much.

When I saw Colette Pattern’s new pattern release, Prudence, I couldn’t help but think both of China Through the Looking Glass (I mean, see a think THREE TIMES it’s going to live in you, you know what I mean?) as well as much smaller but lovingly curated show at MOCA, Shanghai Glamour. I have always loved the way a qipao, or cheongsam, looks, but have never worn one, partially through a fear that I would be a little appropriative or costumey, and partially because I hadn’t found one that worked with my, er, frame. This show, Shanghai Glamour, in fact demonstrates part of my very point, which is, that the qipao as it exists today is an amalgamation of East and West, it is history in a garment, it represents a traditional shape that has been altered through Western-influenced tailoring to create a unique garment that evolved and changed over time. Take a look at Suzy Wong:

 

Chinese silk, traditional idea, with a bullet bra and darts for days. Nothing we do is new, is it?

Back to Colette. The dress reminded me both of the qipao, hey, we call it a MANDARIN collar for a reason, remember, and also 1940’s Western styles echoing Chinese influence in Western shapes:

 

 

And I knew I had to have it. And I love it, I do, because somehow the confluence of vintage glamour and Asian influence just, sort of, I don’t know, speaks to my life, I guess?

I mean, I also just think it looks great, let’s be real.

I cut a size 12 in Colette, tapering down to a 10 at the waist. The result is slightly loose at the waist, but still a nice amount of definition, for that sweet spot of, I look nice and I can eat. Both vitally important things!

The bust is generous in this pattern because of the shape, so I didn’t have make adjustments, which is always nice.

I made a few changes, most notably moving the zipper to the back, which has resulted in a slightly tighter neck, which puts a bit of a strain on that cute little button there, I must say. This is 100% my bad, I didn’t add any extra seam allowance so…that’s on me. It’s still really lovely and comfortable, but for next time, I’m thinking of going with a shorter flared skirt, I will totally add a little breathing room. I made a thread loop for the fastener, that’s always fun!

All in all, this puppy got a lot of hand sewing, part of my vow to try and take a bit more time with stuff. I stitched down all the facings by hand, as recommended, as well as hand picking the zipper and hand stitching the hem. Otherwise, it’s all french seamed, natch. It’s kind of nice to take the time to hand sew, I guess? I don’t know, I suppose it’s a little soothing. You can see I used a non-matching zipper in this photo, it usually is hidden, ah well.

The fabric, you might note, is also vaguely Chinese influenced, look at that butterfly!, but it’s a rayon I bought at Mangaldas Market. It has a nice drape, and didn’t break the bank, which is good because this dress eats up a nice amount of fabric.

It’s all the skirt, though, and why does the skirt need so many panels, I ask you? It has, like, 6, I did so many french seams, what’s that about? I feel like a straight piece of fabric could have gotten that done, just saying.

Well, I supposed that’s all I’ve got to say about this process. I am a big fan of this dress, and I will make another soon with a shorter skirt.

So I leave you with this photo, which I like:

And this quote from Rushdie, who I love, from the only book he’s written that I really disliked, but the quote is good, so I can let it go:

“Disorientation is loss of the East. Ask any navigator: the east is what you sail by. Lose the east and you lose your bearings, your certainties, your knowledge of what is and what may be, perhaps even your life. Where was that star you followed to the manger? That’s right. The east orients.

That’s the official version. The language says so, and you should never argue with the language.

But let’s just suppose. What if the whole deal – orientation, knowing where you are, and so on – what if it’s all a scam? What if all of it – home, kinship, the whole enchilada – is just the biggest, most truly global, and centuries-oldest piece of brainwashing? Suppose that it’s only when you dare to let go that your real life begins? When you’re whirling free of the mother ship, when you cut your ropes, slip your chain, step off the map, go absent without leave, scram, vamoose, whatever: suppose that it’s then, and only then, that you’re actually free to act! To lead the life nobody tells you how to live, or when, or why. In which nobody orders you to go forth or die for them, or for god, or comes to get you because you broke one of the rules, or because you’re one of those people who are, for reasons which unfortunately you can’t be given, simply not allowed. Suppose you’ve got to go through the feeling of being lost, into the chaos and beyond; you’ve got to accept the loneliness, the wild panic of losing your moorings, the vertiginous terror of the horizon spinning round and round like the edge of a coin tossed in the air.

You won’t do it. Most of you won’t do it. The world’s head laundry is pretty good at washing brains: Don’t jump off that cliff don’t walk through that door don’t step into that waterfall don’t take that chance don’t step across that line don’t ruffle my sensitivities I’m warning you now don’t make me mad you’re doing it you are making me mad. You won’t have a chance you haven’t got a prayer you’re finished you’re history you’re less than nothing, you’re dead to me, dead to your whole family your nation your race, everything you ought to love more than life and listen to like your master’s voice and follow blindly and bow down before and worship and obey; you’re dead, you hear me, forget about it, you stupid bastard, I don’t even know your name.

But just imagine you did it. You stepped off the edge of the earth, or through the fatal waterfall, and there it was: the magic valley at the end of the universe, the blessed kingdom of the air. Great music everywhere. You breathe the music, in and out, it’s your element now. It feels better than “belonging” in your lungs.”

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, history, Sewing, Vintage

The Mint Julep Dress

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I actually don’t really love a mint julep. I mean, it’s not bad, I am not going to spit it out, I like bourbon as much as the next girl, assuming the next girl REALLY likes bourbon, but I’m not one of those people who is all about the South. Also, I think I sort of refuse to be charmed by the ideal of southern gentility, because,  despite all the romance or whatever, well, history. I’m much more An Octoroon than Gone with the Wind, you know what I’m saying? Side note, if a theater near you is producing An Octoroon, you need to get yourself to An Octoroon. Trust me on this one.

Although of course, this is great. Seriously, please read The Toast (now defunct, sob!) and their list of every Southern Gothic Novel Ever. Highlights?

10. We Bury Our Feelings And Our Relatives Alive

14. Vines Cover The Mansion Much As The Inescapable Past Covers My Ruined Life

READ THEM ALL RIGHT NOW.

Also, between a mint julep and a mojito there is…no contest. A mojito is clearly superior, and it’s much more fun to say, am I right? Maybe I should have named this the mojito dress…but I feel like, despite my internal feelings about the drink and the concept of idealizing what is a complex and dark part of American history by focusing on hoop skirts and chivalry and repression and ignoring slavery and it’s social, cultural, economic and human ramifications, like Sofia Coppola recently did, I do think this dress is a little, ya know, extra in The Help. Which isn’t a bad thing! That costuming was dope. If only I had had time to make the petticoat I had planned, it would be straight up late 1950’s early 1960’s perfection. Sigh.

Should I just buy a petticoat? I swear I have put one in my shopping cart at modcloth.com half a dozen times, and then felt like I should just make one, because, how hard can it be? Ugh. It’s one of those things that feels 100% like a vanity purchase but like, I also want one? But would I feel too costumy in it? BUT DO I CARE? #firstworldproblems #sewingwoes

ANYway. To the dress!

This is my second version of the much maligned Colette Patterns Rue dress. My first was this, if you care to take a gander. I will admit, I do think the fit is a little off, and in order to fit it well in the bust, I found this one loose in the waist, and the fit is a little tight across the arms/shoulders in a weird way I can’t seem to improve, but I love the style, and I get CONSTANT compliments whenever I wear this, which makes me think that sometimes we stitchers are so much more aware of stuff like fit in a way other people just, don’t. I don’t know.

This time I went with a circle skit which looks weird in these photos, like it’s uneven, but I swear to all the mojitos that it is straight in real life. I love a circle skirt, don’t you? So swishy! But it would look SO GOOD over a petticoat, RIGHT? Ugh. I don’t even know.

I hand-stitched that hem. Sigh. Hand stitching a circle skirt hem is a whole thing. That represents, like, three episodes of Riverdale right there, all for a dress no one in Riverdale would be caught dead in. The irony is delicious.

So fun to swish around in! You can just see my slip here. I lined the bodice, because I had enough fabric, but lining the skirt was just too much, and I had my whole petticoat plan, remember? So I just wear a slip under this, also handmade, a lengthened Seamwork Savannah.

I only had a green zipper, but I’m down for that.

I just love this minty green gingham. I got it at Thakur, of course, and it was extremely inexpensive, which facilitated a circle skirt. Those things are total fabric hogs!

I asked my friend Rakhee to take these photos after we had lunch out a few Sundays ago, so these are 100% Mumbai street photographs that inspired a lot of staring among passing rickshaw drivers. Whatcha gonna do.

What is funny is that Rakhee took the photos of my OTHER Rue dress! I guess that is just her job, now. You’re welcome, Rakhee!

So yeah, that’s about all I’ve got to say about this! Southern gentility on the outside, social commentary and a heart for mojitos on the inside. Just another day in the life.

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The Pair of Parrots Dress

I’m sorry for the radio silence around here recently. My very beloved cat, the love of my life, Brother Cadfael, has passed away after a series of tough weeks immediately after I returned to India from the United States. Whats his face was a great caretaker and upon my return we worked hard to make his final days comfortable, and this past Saturday we had to say goodbye and put him out of his pain. He leaves behind two loving cat-carers who miss him dearly, and a host of admirers who will feel his absence in their hearts. A fan of supporting my sewing by sitting on any available project until the end, here he is just days before his passing, cozy and comfortable on a work-in-progress:

Restare en pacem, my love, my friend. It’s been really hard without him, and despite the fact that I’ve still been sewing (because, doing things is therapy. As is actual therapy. I’m a big advocate of both), it just has felt weird to be blogging, putting up photos of myself and focusing on “look at this seam” and “hey this pattern” when all I can think about and have been thinking about is my amazing cat, and how much I love him, and how much I will miss him, and how much I need him, the way he is the thing I brought with me from America when I started spending long periods of my year in India, and how he was my comfort, my piece of home, my piece of my life not just in New York but before, he is and was a piece of me. So yeah, posts about sewing have just been hard to come by around my parts these days.

But here is a dress I made. I find it a little weird to look at these photos because I took them when I thought Cadfael would be fine and now he’s gone, but there is nothing I can do about that.

This is another incarnation of M7351, which I made from a fabric my friend Rakhee gave me, a large-scale Rajasthani block print. I wanted it to be looser, which I like, but it doesn’t have the waist definition I find most flattering, ah, well. It’s super wearable!

The slip under it is a Seamwork patterns Savannah lengthened. That’s all I have to say about that.

 

I wore this tasting wine in Portland with my mom, which was fantastic. Also all I have to say about that.

I tried to cut carefully, but I could only get three meters of this (Rakhee asked me what I wanted before she bought it for me because she’s a true friend and the print is big, so I just had to do my best with placement. As long as I didn’t get full-on nipple-flowers, I figured this was a win.

It’s a win! Stems work! I’ll take it!

The cotton is lovely and cool, and I’ve worn it in many places with success all around. Do I drip stuff on it as soon as I don it? I SURE DO! But hey, man. I gotta be me.

And there it is. A dress I made. I could say that Cadfael loved it, but he was a cat, and he didn’t care about it, or anything I made or wore. But I like to think that he liked having so much fabric around, and that was a good thing. So anyway. Another shirtdress, another day.

Hope you guys are all doing okay. I’m participating on House of Pinheiro’s #sewphotohop  as a distraction from my sadness, so catch me on the gram, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

 

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Filed under Colette Patterns, McCalls Patterns, Sewing