Category Archives: Simplicity Patterns

The Trying It Out Outfit

The internet is a strange and scary place sometimes, with its anonimity serving as a kind of cloak for bad behavior, for hatred to pour out unchecked, for bigotry and disgust to make its way out there, and for humanity to be ignored in the face of that all-powerful deity, The Opinion. The fact that it’s easy, it’s impersonal, you don’t have to see the target of said Opinion makes it easy for people to forget that their words, sprayed out into the digital universe, have a real-life effect. And opinions become insults so quickly, because you can’t see someone’s face, you can’t try to meet them halfway, you can’t really interact with them as a human, so “I think you are wrong because…” quickly quickly becomes “You are a fat stupid loser….” or much worse. We all know this, and I’m sure we also all know the way women specifically are targeted, insulted, demeaned sexually and physically and trolled, for want of a better word. I think it’s a shame that trolls get such a bad rap but that’s what they get, hiding under bridges and stealing goats, I suppose. The Guardian evaluates it’s comments before posting them, and honestly, reading this article, it’s not hard to see why. Leslie Jones recently quit Twitter because of the massive outpouring of hate following the release of the new Ghostbusters film, although thank the powers that be she did return to help us all appreciate the Olympics.

Sometimes I think about the internet, this amazing tool we all have at our disposal, and I shake my head. Maybe we don’t deserve this kind of communication, this instant feedback loop, if we are just going to use it to be awful. Of course, who am I to say what we do or don’t deserve, but when I contemplate the swirling mass of humanity or glance at a YouTube comments section or read articles like this, I feel, on the fluttering edges of my otherwise upbeat nature, a rare shadow of despair.

That being said, I can also say that sewing, making things, writing, as also uncovered what for me personally is the best part of the internet, the community that can be formed around mutual passion, respect and interest, that can create educational loops of information, that can answer questions, that can make us feel close to and aware of people and events and things so far away from us. We can learn about people in need, people in conflict, people like us, people not like us at all. It can expand us and remind us of our humanity. I don’t know that I need to go on. You know how the internet works, after all. You’re reading a blog.

I find this comfort in small ways, with the writing I put out there and the responses I get back. In the way I learn about people’s relationships to their bodies, to their sense of self, to the empowerment within learning something and enjoying it, connecting to it, connecting to others through it. Clothing, fashion, fabric, the politics behind these, the way they impact gender, identity, economics, labor, the way the knowledge of these things has changed my own sense of my body, the world, and what I make, I appreciate it. In a recent instagram conversation, because we live in a world where such things can exist, I talked with a fellow blogger about how I would try things through sewing that I would never ever buy, never even consider buying. Sewing is a space of experimentation, as evidenced by my growing love of maxi-length, my recent attempts at a romper (more on that in another post), my unblogged search for the perfect pair of loose-fitting cotton pants (I believe the pants I’m about to show you are as close as I’ve currently gotten) my explorations of tighter shapes, looser shapes, new shapes. Sewing feels like a space where I can try things out, where I want to try new things and the labor involved makes it worth it, even if I don’t end up loving the result. I like the process.

If nothing else, sewing is teaching me that, the value of the process. And that’s a hard thing to communicate digitally, in our content and product driven age. But I’m hoping you, who read this, get it.

So, without further pontificating, I give you my latest outfit, an attempt to try some new things, in shapes I find woefully unflattering, but with a comfort that I cannot help but adore:

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I feel like I look like a genie who doesn’t try very hard. NO MATTER!

So yes, a lot of things being tried out over here, hence the name of the post. Number one, is, of course, the elephant in the room, other than Cadfael, who is my very own baby elephant:

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But other than him, we know what I’m talking about, right?

The crop top. CROP. TOP. What is this, Saved by the Bell?

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Sidenote, 90’s fashion is so in here in India, to a troubling trouble extent. At dinner the other day I counted 4 chokers. Sigh.

BUT. regardless of my feelings that I might be just simply having a Bayside High moment, I decided, after length and extensive conversations with my friend Liz, who is ALL about the loose-fitting woven crop top with a high-waisted bottom, to try it out. I had a little bit of fabric from our fabric trip that I had split with Liz. She got most of it, and I took a meter, thinking I could just get a top out of it, and get I did! Of the crop variety!

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The fabric is super cool, with multiple colors woven together to make a not-quite-pattern weave. Lightweight and airy, I decided I could alter my ever-faithful Grainline Scout Tee to make a crop top by shortening it and extending it to a tent shape. I made the sleeves a little tent-like too, so the whole thing has a kind of cow-bell shape.

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So on the body it sort of has a very subtle hi-low thing. The hem is a little wrinkled in this photo, so it’s making a weird shape. The fabric is a little crisp, but as it wears and is washed it will soften, I know from experience with Indian hand-looms that this is the case.

You can just see a sliver of skin there, right? Well, I’m not usually a big fan of that sort of thing, but I think exposure to Indian fashion, which is fairly crop-top focused, maybe because a crop top is a hop skip and a jump away from the traditional choli blouse?

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Whatever it is, I thought I would try it out. The verdict? Honestly, I’m just not sure. Every time I wear it, I feel sort of silly and self-conscious, but thus far I’ve yet to get any judgmental looks or been stopped on the street and yelled at for how bad I look. I think it would potentially be cute with a pencil skirt, or high-waisted shorts, anything, really, that sits at the waist. Thoughts?

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Now, to the pants! Wrinkles abound.

This is, believe it or not, a much altered Simplicity 1887, the third I’ve made but the first that is blog-worthy. Oh, this pattern, what wasted dreams have lived and died on its behalf! I loved the idea of a half-elastic waist, of the pleats, of a loose pant, of pockets. But the reality of that half-elastic waistband was just not working, neither in construction or in appearance. Then, revelation! What if I just made it a regular pair of pants with a zipper? On the side? Of course, I had to take it in a bit at the waist, but that’s okay, a dart here, a trim here, and boom! In earlier incarnations I cut out a 16, but I found it a little snug in the posterior, which looked cute, but wasn’t in accordance with my vision, so I added about two and a half inches in the hips, because I really wanted a baggy loose comfortable pant here. Attractiveness be damned!

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The fabric is a cotton I got at my new favorite Mumbai fabric destination, Thakur, which is quite close to where I live. This is…dangerous.

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Ah, the slight pouf of the pleats. Speaking of feeling good about myself…it’s a real uphill battle sometimes, I tell you. But you know, I like these pants, I do. I have made and will make more flattering garments, but I am willing myself to like this style, to try something new.

I don’t know if more crop tops are in my future, but they might be. Let’s see if this one grows on me. I do like it, I do, but new things take time to adjust to and enjoy. Nevertheless, making one, putting it out there, trying it out, that gives me joy.

Now, troll away, internet. I will be focusing on the good. And also, this, which has made everything a thousand times better. Read it. Right now. A stranger on the internet told you to.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Grainline Patterns, Life, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns

The Wakes With The Fishes Shirt

When you have a pattern stash, of any size, and you are trying to limit that pattern stash, or you’ve been FORCED to limit that pattern stash, because of moves to India, or a place like that (I don’t know what else is like that, Bangladesh I guess?) you might find yourself cycling through patterns, creating trends within your own collection. For example, there might be a time when you are making a handful of patterns over and over again and then for no real reason you stop, and move on to something else. But then you come back to the pattern you loved, after a while.  Has anyone else had this experience?

Of course this pre-supposes that you, like myself, make patterns over and over again. It’s a rare pattern I don’t make multiple times, because I’m cheap, and it just seems like a waste not to, especially when a pattern is expensive. It’s actually why I love Colette Patterns Seamwork, because I can try stuff and feel okay only making one of them, because they are reasonable and release regularly. At any rate, I’m not talking about making 10 pleather body suits here, but classics like a woven t-shirt, well-fitting pants, a full skirt, that’s stuff I just keep on making.

It’s kind of like food. When I was a kid my father was the one who got us up in the morning and got us ready for school while my mother slept. We had to wake up stupid early, like 5:30am early every day for the school bus, don’t ask me why, probably because we lived in the city and our school was in the suburbs, like a punishment for living in a better place. WORTH IT. ANYway, to make things simple my father would figure out a meal we liked, for example, eggo waffles, and buy like twenty boxes of them and we would eat them for years. And then we would revolt, we would rise up and say NO to the oppression of eggo waffles! And then he would give us cheerios, which we loved because they weren’t fricking eggo waffles so they tasted like the literal best thing ever and then he would return home from the grocery school with twenty boxes of THOSE and the cycle, she would repeat itself all over again.

And my clothing production…may or may not sometimes work a little like that. Sometimes I get in a groove and then I realize I’ve made five of the same things in a row, and I feel so bored, and then I try something else and do it all over again! Damn you, Papi, and the things you’ve unconsciously taught me! Sigh. Ah, well. I do like a bit of a uniform, so maybe it’s for the best.

Now the rains have come to Mumbai, but just before the monsoon arrived the heat was laden with humidity and as oppressive as a fascist regime. So on days when I knew I wouldn’t have to run an errand, given that I work from home, my uniform became shorts, which I don’t tend to wear out in India, and lightweight shirts. And that’s when I realized, I had just made my third Archer in as many months, in my new favorite shape, selfless, with a back ruffle, and a little long. Boom.

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These shorts are also me made, from FOREVER ago, a vintage pattern from the 1950’s which I no longer have because it was fine but not AMAZING and again, trying to keep that pattern stash in check.

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The fabric comes from Mangaldas Market, and it’s a night lightweight cotton. I can’t get over how much I love these fish. When you have animals on your clothing you can never be lonely, because you always have friends! I DON’T CARE HOW PATHETIC THAT SOUNDS IT’S HOW I FEEL.

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Apart from lengthening the pattern, which has become my standard adjustment for the Archer, I didn’t change anything about the pattern. I used french seams throughout, like I do, and bias tape for the armholes. Otherwise, pretty standard. I mean, when you make a pattern over and over and over and over again you kind of…get the hang of it. 

WWTF3I could probably go a size or two down on this pattern, or bring it in at the side seams, but it’s been so nice in the heat of Mumbai to have stuff that just drifts off my body.

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Man, I love that back ruffle. I never thought I would, but I’m so damn into it!

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What’s-his-face really wanted me to take photos eating a peach. I don’t…really understand why, but hey, what is marriage but doing weird things your partner insists on and being photographed?

And that’s about it! Oh, the name is obviously a joke on mob movies, because I don’t sleep with the fishes, this is a day-time kind of shirt. Although, I wouldn’t mind fish pajamas….new mission? Accepted!

 

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Filed under Grainline Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

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

The Put The Lime In The Coconut Outfit

Why, when we are young, are we taught that it is wrong to be a copy cat? This is clearly nonsense. Isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Isn’t imitation in fact the basis of our early childhood development? We learn by watching and imitating others. We learn to speak by listening and repeating. We learn to walk by watching people do it. I personally as a child observed my older brother in all things and aimed to  be just like him. This has yet to actually happen, but it did help me jump from the bottle to a glass with no sippie-cup required, so, hey, come on, obviously some part of that was valid.

I understand that the deeply held need for individuality and uniqueness can often feel at war with a generally imposed sense of conformity, of social instruction and expectation. But imitating someone else doesn’t mean you are trying to be like everyone else. Hell, sometimes it just means you like a shade of lipstick or admire someone’s reading tastes. In an age where information is rapidly shared, we, or at least the people I know, still have the impetus to declare themselves as the first, the originator, the conquistador of a trend or article or idea. Well, here is the thing about conquistadors. The places they discovered already had occupants. Just because they all died of Spanish flu and smallpox doesn’t mean they weren’t real. And before the Aztecs there were the Olmecs, and before them, someone we don’t even know about because the Olmecs were total jerks and wanted to set the trend, not just follow it. GOD. The OLMECS. COME ON. With their giant heads and their lost civilization. What dweebs.

Anyway, putting ancient Mexican history aside (how many sewing blogs have you read that on lately?) I just think its a little silly that we idolize, and teach our children to idolize, an impossible standard that leaves us unable to appreciate the value of copying others as we get older. And honestly, copying other people has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that word, and replace it with something more positive, shall we? Let’s call copying inspiration. After all, no copy is equal to the original in every way, it holds it’s makers mark in some way, even if they don’t want it to. So let’s be inspired, that’s a good thing, right? After all, as Picasso once said, Bad Artists Copy, Good Artists Steal.

In sewing, we copy all the time. I do it especially when I’m making something for someone else, because most of what people ask me to make or want me to make is a duplicate of something they love and wish they had more of. So my mom has this little adorable linen top and pants set which she bought at a store in San Juan which no longer exists. I call this her little Papaya outfit.  It’s papaya colored (duh), loose, comfortable, kind of like a 20’s or 30’s style lounge suit, something she only wears in Puerto Rico. She likes it a lot, and I figured, it can’t be THAT hard to copy, er, be inspired by! So I made her another one. Boom. Only this time, it’s a little Lime outfit. And it’s awesome.

LIC4I used a lightweight finely woven linen I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, when I was still buying fabric. Sniff. I miss those days. Soon, soon! I said through October! I can do it!

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The top is a modified Tiny Pocket Tank, which a button front. I finished it with store-bought bias tape. It was easy as all hell.

LIC3The pants are a modified pajama pant pattern which I added a waistband and pleats to, to make them a little more formalish. The waistband has elastic, though, after all, it’s a lounge suit!

LIC6My mother wore this outfit reading on our green roof and sipping white wine, so she declared it an excellent duplicate of the original suit, which had been used for literally the selfsame purposes.

LIC1Isn’t my mom gorgeous? I’m actually quite proud of this simple outfit, it’s a great pleasure to be able to make something for someone you love and know that it’s exactly what they want. Not too bad for a copy-cat, eh?

Speaking of cats, my mom and I enjoy feeding the many stray cats of Old San Juan when we come down there. Here she is, in another one of my creations, a simple elastic waist skirt. Elastic waist goes really well with the Caribbean, guys, it accommodates a LOT of rice and beans and rum. Just sayin’.

LIC7See, these cats don’t mind copying each other! And neither do I.

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Vacation Sleep Pajamas

I’m a firm believer in the fact that there are many kinds of sleep. I’m not a light sleeper, a fact that makes Mr. Struggle green with envy, as he is, and can often describe the many things that happened during the night including horrific storms, police sirens, and my own verbal mumblings (because apparently I’m talkative even in my sleep, who would have thought?) but I do sleep differently in different places on earth. I always sleep well, for example, if I’ve gotten to spend any amount of time in the ocean. Something about the waves helps soothe me and I drop right off, dreaming of the water. I never sleep well before a flight, no matter what time of day or night it is. And I usually enjoy sleep somehow less when I’m on vacation, because I often wake up with the troubling feeling that I’m missing something. Why do I travel if I’m just going to sleep the whole time? I always feel that if I sleep deeply and for a long time somewhere else it was a waste of a trip. I am aware that this might be a little neurotic, but hey, neurotic and I are old friends from way back.

That being said, I’ve had a stressful fall so far with many a night of less sleep than I would like, (which, by the way, is a lot of sleep, sleeping is the best, people who can live on four or five hours of sleep amazing me, I feel like they are the waking dead) so on our recent trip to Austin I was determined to be less worried about seeing all the sights (which I have in fact seen before, I’ve been to Austin) and allow myself to enjoy the deep sleep that only meals made entirely of smoked meat can give you. Letting the scent of brisket and the comfort of the south soothe me, I slept deeply in our lovely Airbnb, and woke each day refreshed. Why can’t I have that at home? I think I finally achieved this elusive Vacation Sleep so many have described to me, and while I do credit Texas with some of that, some of that might have been my new pajamas.

So I have made, and never documented, something like 10 Grainline Patterns Tiny Pocket Tanks. I have never included the pocket. What can I say, I’m a rebel. I don’t know why I don’t blog about these, I guess because they seem so damn simple? Which I love, by the way, but somehow I feel weird talking about the stuff that is super duper easy for me to make, it’s like asking for a congratulations when I toast a piece of bread. Nevertheless, here we go, Tiny Pocket Tank. Love this pattern. Love it. But it IS awfully simple, so I decided to spice it up a bit for my vacation pajamas and used this tutorial to guide me. The result was perfect for warm nights in Austin, I’m not going to lie to you:

VS1See, from the front it’s all normal blah whatever. BUT FROM THE BACK?

VS4I’m kind of holding it in place here so my bra, which I wore just for these photos (I don’t sleep in a bra that’s weird) wouldn’t show. This split is VERY splity. I would make this less splity for daywear, real talk.

How do we feel, collectively, about the split-back top trend? I think I like it, but then sometimes I don’t. It’s like that friend you make in college who seems super fun and always finds the good booze at parties and makes you have ice cream for breakfast and wants to travel around Europe and be bohemian and challenge expectations but also will totally hook up with your ex-boyfriend and you forgive her a lot because she seems so cool and awesome with her bangles and her starfish tattoo which means regeneration or some crap but sometimes she leaves you feeling like there is something wrong with you for having feelings. You know that friend? This top might be that friend. I can’t tell.

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That being said, it’s great to sleep in! I used a vintage pajama pant pattern for the shorts, I can’t remember the number I’m sorry but it’s a Simplicity from the 1960’s which I have altered beyond recognition.

VS6The fabric I got on ebay a year ago, and as I’m trying to hold off buying anything new until November, I was happy to be able to use this.

VS3This split back thing is, I must admit, rather brilliant when you are sleeping in a warm place. It’s airy without being too bare for me. So maybe that college friend IS good for something….

VS5That’s how I feel after so much lovely sleep and, of course, excellent food! Plus, I dragged Mr. Struggle to an art museum, so, you know, perfect trip, really.

VS7Back at home, Cadfael was overjoyed to see us. Can’t you tell?

I have two more summery posts, which is insanely lame, as it’s October and I’m ready to document cold-weather clothing. Never fear! That’s coming too.

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage

The Brighton Beach Bunny Skirt

Call me crazy, but I love Russia. I love it. It’s a weird place and it’s super strange and scarred and currently a human rights disaster, and I’m not a political fan, but culturally, I just love it. This is not, I understand, something many other people feel. After all, Russia has a reputation for being a cold and bitter place filled with pain and sorrow. But that’s what makes it so much fun! It’s dramatic! It feels things deeply! It lives on vodka and emotions! What’s not to love?

Real talk, I’m predisposed to love Russia, honestly. My mother’s family is Russian, I grew up hearing Russian (though I can say maybe four things myself), eating Russian food, reading Pushkin fairy tales and thinking about how I could get a duel going. When I was in college I studied abroad in Moscow. I want to work in theater, for goodness sakes, and after Greece and England Russia really has the market on that one cornered. (Don’t talk to me about France, okay? Just don’t. Bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys who don’t use half of the letters they could be pronouncing because, what, that’s too much effort? Writing plays about Greek myths and corrupt clergymen and defecating kings? Whatever.  Call me when Godot comes. Jeez.) And after my time living in Russia, well, there was no going back. I was a whole-hearted convert, a lover of the Russian doucha (that’s soul, come on, be cool) and bitter sad grimness on each crumbled little Slavic face. It’s adorable!

But I no longer have family in Russia, and plane tickets don’t come cheap to the land of eternal winter (See, Game of Thrones should shoot the North of the Wall stuff THERE), so the next best thing for this current New Yorker is Brighton Beach. Oh, Brighton Beach, my love, my life, my youth, my orchard!

Ahem. Just a casual Cherry Orchard reference. Like you do. For those who do not know, Brighton Beach is a Russian neighborhood in Brooklyn, right near Coney Island. For just under a century it’s been an enclave of Russian life in New York. In the 1860’s the area was developed as a resort town with its own racetrack. The area wasn’t technically a part of Brooklyn until 1894, after which it became a residential area with its own amusement park. With the Depression and the Second World War, floods of Jewish immigrants, primarily from Odessa, but also from other Eastern European nations, poured into the area, making it a Russian neighborhood.

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In the last few decades, increased immigration from former Soviet states, including those with stronger Asian influences, have added more kinds of food and more accents of Russian to the area. Getting out of the train you might not hear a word of English spoken in any direction for blocks and blocks.

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Bright plentiful produce spills out from every store, women in heels and sparkles chatter and bicker, every sign points the way to Russian pastries, watches, oil, pelmeni and perfume.

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Headscarves mix with peroxided blonde locks, and everyone finds themselves scattered over the boardwalk, especially in the summer.

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I love going there, and I don’t go nearly enough. In fact, I hadn’t been once since I moved to New York almost two years ago. Given that I live in Southern Brooklyn, this is a crime I plan to rectify with frequent trips in the future. For for now, I went with what’s-his-face this past Sunday and could hardly contain my excitement.

We had read about this place last summer and always wanted to go there for lunch, so we finally did it. Totally worth the trip, even if I wasn’t wild about Brighton Beach. I heartily recommend it to anyone.

And obviously I had to wear something new. I mean, what am I, a savage? Luckily in my post-graduate school free time between working and my frequent existential crises, I’ve made a lot of new things. Some of them were for my roommate Emily’s trip, which she leaves on today for a month. Photos for those will be delayed for obvious reasons, but hopefully feature exotic locals! And some things are for my own trip with my parents to San Juan which I am taking tomorrow. Again, stay tuned. But this seemed like a good occasion to bust out something special, and so I present to you my Brighton Beach Bunny Skirt!

BBB 2.jpgThe pattern ought to be a familiar one to anyone who reads this, because it’s Simplicity 4529 and I’ve made it so many times and I have no plans to stop any time soon. Look, I’m all for making new patterns and trying new things. But honestly, I’ve been sewing long enough at this point, and also DRESSING myself long enough, to know is something is just not going to work for me, and to appreciate the things that really make me look and feel good. It’s a grown-up uniform, sure, but what’s wrong with that? I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if it ain’t broke…

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Actually, this is pretty funny, I was worried that it WAS broke, I had this strange anxiety that this time it wouldn’t fit. I was so worried and convinced that somehow my Puerto Rican caboose wouldn’t be able to squeeze into this that I added fabric in the back, two strips adding up to about 3 inches.

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Real talk? This totally would have fit. It’s my loosest make of this skirt to date. But it’s also supremely comfortable and I don’t mind at all. So either I miscalculated or my tush got smaller over night. Could it be the second one, please?

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This skirt is unbearably simple for me at this point. I made so many over the winter and one last summer, I’ve got this. But I love how it looks, and this fabric was just too perfect. I love it, I can’t deal with how much I love it. I kept pointing out images to what’s-his-face.

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I can hardly decide which is my favorite. The Elephant reading the newspaper? The monkeys in the band? The juggling guy? The frogs? It’s a party! Just the sort of thing to wear in Brighton Beach. This way I’m something to look at, too!
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Of course, if you are in Brighton Beach already, you might as well stop by Coney Island.

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Though I can’t decide which is more thrilling, amusement park rides or sullen Russians who continuously reference the Gulags? I’m just kidding. It’s obviously the Russians. Sorry, Coney! Better luck next time.

BBB 3.jpgHappy Summer, people! I’m off to San Juan, more posts with Tropical outfits to follow!

 

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns

The Ikat Lover Dress

As my friend and former co-worker (oh, I’m done at the costume shop! So sad, I will miss it so much) Martin once said to me, you’re, like, a cat lady but not, like, a sad one. Like, you just have one cat. And you love it, but not in a creepy way….little does he know! IL8.jpgMy love for my cat is deeply creepy. Deeply. This animal contributes nothing to my finances or my professional life and yet I prioritize him above most things. I wake up early to feed him because he screams at me. I order special food for him because he’s enormous and therefore on a grain-free diet (which is the closest either of us will ever get to Paleo). He has never read any of my writing, or been supportive of my internal struggles, and yet I assume he knows me deeply. Don’t you think that’s just a little creepy? In fact, don’t you think that animals, all of the ones we keep in our homes, have the better end of the deal on this domestication business? I personally think they all get together and have meetings and toast with catnip and dog treats and whatever it is that rabbits enjoy, to their long con deceiving and manipulating their human slaves. And whenever we start catching on they just become cuddly and loving and lure us in with their stupid wonderfulness! Damn them!

IL7.jpgSo I’m sorry, Martin, but clearly I AM that creepy person you assumed I wasn’t. Sigh. What can I do? I love my cat. I also love Ikat! (I know, I know, its that smooth transition you’ve come to expect from this here writer). I a m a big Ikat fan. Maybe because it has the word cat in it, sort of. Maybe because it’s just a beautiful fabric printing technique and it’s literally everywhere right now. Maybe because it makes me feel like I’m in a Bedouin tent but without the scorpions and lack of water. I don’t know. But I’m into it.

And so when what’s-his-face brought me fabric from India this winter, and one of the pieces was a sort of batik-Ikat hybid, I was understandably excited. I am not, by nature, all that into batik on me, though I admire the process and love it on other people, but this was a kind of tribute to both techniques, or looked that way to me,without the color gradiation of traditional batik. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces of fabric that I’ve been given, and usually that would me that I stare at it for years and lovingly stroke it and never actually do anything with it. (That is a true story, I have lots of fabric I bought years ago that I just take out and look at and then return to the box, unsure what to do with something I love so much.) But this time I decided to be brave, and jump, or cut, right in. And I have to say, I’m very pleased with the results, though I don’t think these photos make it look as nice as I think it is. Oh, well, what can you do? So check it out:

IL5.jpgSee what I mean about the fabric? Pretty gorgeous, right? A friend recently said it reminded her of the sea. And I do so adore the ocean…

IL4.jpgFor the pattern, I used a very altered vintage Simplicity 5355. The original pattern calls for gathers instead of darts at the waist, but I wanted darts, so I converted them to darts, and re-drafted the neckline to be a square. I also skipped the pencil skirt and made it a full pleated skirt. As you can see, I cut the skirt cross-grain, which I really love the look of, even if it’s unconventional. I used the sleeve pattern from the original pattern and pleated the shoulders very slightly to make them fit without gathering. This was a very anti-gathering process, I realize.

IL1.jpgI’m a big fan of the square neckline, I realize. The bodice looks more form-fitting in person, but in general it’s a comfortable and not-over-tailored bodice. I lined just the bodice,but let the skirt go unlined, because summer in New York isn’t a good time for linings.

IK6.jpgI hand-picked the zipper, and I didn’t hem the sleeves or skirt, because both were cut on the selvage! Sneaky sneaky seamstress…

IL3.jpgOh, my camera caught a little swish there! I took this by myself in my living room with my tripod, so there was a lot of setting the timer and running for the shot.

IL2.jpgSo there we go, a summer dress in a fabric I adore, an Ikat overlaid with a sort of batiking thing (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical textile term). I know I’m going to get a lot of wear out of this one, it’s comfortable, flattering (well, I think so! And Cadfael, my cat….is sleeping. He doesn’t care. Sob.) and easy to wear. I love summer and summer dresses but I hate anything that I have to adjust all the time. This fits the bill! So maybe I’m creepy, but at least I’m well dressed.

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Filed under Fabric, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage