Tag Archives: Ballet Dress

The Gun Control Dress

I’m not the most political dresser there is, in fact, I’m not even sure I know what that would mean. I guess if I was more anxious about it I wouldn’t sew from vintage patterns, because that’s totally buying into a gendered way of dressing reviving a system of the past and embracing with nostalgia the notion of “vintage” without investigating its deeper historical and social connotations. More on that here.¬† But as it is, I don’t really care so much if other people don’t think about this stuff, or think about it a lot, or if they have a political view I don’t, although I will say, I admire sewing bloggers the world over, but I tend to read regularly the writers who aren’t all that far from me, as far as I can tell, in terms of social politics. I mean, I don’t know how comfortable I would be regularly reading people who make amazing things but consider homosexuality to be degenerate. And I’m sure there are people out there who like my makes but are offended by my words. It happens. I want to dress sometimes like a 1950’s housewife, but I sure as hell have no interest in ever acting like one.

Of course, all of this gets into clothing and what you wear and what it says about you and how much you want it to say about you. When I was young I went to a Quaker School from 3rd grade to senior year of high school (please don’t make an oatmeal joke, don’t be that guy, everyone hates that guy) , and some of the Quaker doctrine of non-violence had to have stuck with me, because we couldn’t wear any cameo (…not that I wanted to.) or anything with curse words on it (which is good, I think, school isn’t a Limp Bizket concert, unless your school was wildly different then mine…), or anything with any symbol of violence on it. And I’m not a big fan of guns, in general, like, I wouldn’t want to personally own one, or live in a house with one, or be near one on any kind of regular basis. I know not everyone feels that way, and I understand that completely, but that’s just me. So recently when I was home in Philadelphia over my winter break, I picked up a few yards of this ultra-cheap (1.99 a yard, whaaaaaat?) jersey from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka my Mecca, mostly because I really really love the color. But the thing is, it’s a Betsey Johnson print, and I’m not wild about her prints in general, and this one, well, it’s covered with guns.

UCG 8.jpgAnd hearts, to be fair. but, I don’t know, I just couldn’t really get around it. I thought I would be fine with it, but the more I considered it, the more the influence of those damn Quakers pervaded me, and I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable covered in guns. So, I did something a little radical. Can you figure out what it is?

UCG 1.jpgI used the wrong side of the fabric! WHAT? I know. I KNOW. Such things are not DONE. Such boundaries are not CROSSED. Well, just call me Lenin because I am a revolutionary! Waaa waaaaaaaa.

UCG 3.jpgAh the smug look of a history joke. These indoor photos are a little yellow, by no fault of my amazing photographer, my boss, Sam, who balanced a camera and a womb filled with a child, because she is amazing. The color is a little more cool than these photos would indicate, but I think you can see how nice and orchid purple it is.

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The pattern is Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress, with three inches added to the length of the bodice, and cut to a trimmed small, with full length sleeves and a half circle skirt. I have made it many times with many alterations and adjustments, and it was a piece of cake, and remains one of my top favorite patterns ever.

UCG 6.jpgKnit dresses. They are the best. They are comfortable and they look nice and they don’t wrinkle. What more can you ask for?

UCG 5.jpgI topstitched the neck binding and did the hems in black. This took me no time at all to make. It took me way more time to deliberate about my whole “using the wrong side” decision then to actually construct this. Sewing. It’s 90% agonizing, 10% doing.

UCG 7.jpgBut I think it works, and honestly, if I had used the right side, I don’t think I would have ever worn it. As it is, I can see myself wearing this thing often during what is clearly an everlasting winter. This is what Winterfell must feel like ALL THE TIME. Death must come as a relief to the Starks… too soon?

UCG 9.jpgHAHAHA JUST KIDDING EVERYONE SURVIVES GAME OF THRONES OBVIOUSLY IT’S MORE LIKE YOU WIN OR GET COOL PRIZES FOR TRYING!

No. No it’s not. But that being said, this leaves Robb Stark time to CALL ME. I already have a dress for our date/engagement/lifelong love. I think he’ll like the guns inside. Don’t you? If you don’t get any of this, don’t worry, neither would I have just over a year ago.

The point is, sometimes the wrong side is the right side for you! Too cheesy? Whatever. I like this dress a lot, and I’m glad it worked out. The rest of the fabric I gave to my boss for baby clothing. That baby’s going to be way more bad-ass than I am. Fact.

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The Orange Is The New Black Dress

So, recently I haven’t been posting much because A. the backlog of things I need to shoot is epic and B. I had big summer plans! Namely, some people I love very much who simply had to be visited this summer. I mean, come on, if you have people who live in amazing places isn’t it simply your obligation to go see them, regardless of their own desires? I’m just kidding, I would never visit anyone who didn’t want me to be there, that being said, I have been known to SUGGEST that a friend might want me to be there….and that’s what I recently did with my friend Lisa. Lisa is a damn saint (this works, she grew up Catholic!) and she has put up with me not just here in the continental United States but also in CHINA! I keep forcing Lisa to let me visit and she keeps being stupid graceful about it, like, come on, man, if you don’t want me to just intrude on your life maybe stop having such an interesting one, AM I RIGHT?

So now Lisa lives in Austin, which is an awesome place. How do I know such a thing? Because recently I imposed myself on my almost-a-decade-old friend and made her give me a place to sleep in Austin, plus food, PLUS BOOZE. See where the saint term comes from? She’s a wonder among women…

AND. She took photos of me. In the outfits I made to visit her in Austin. Because she is, like, the best damn person that exists. And I made her do it after our run around the Lady Bird Lake Trail (okay, this is important, Lyndon B Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson had the same initials, how is that not the weirdest thing anyone has ever heard of and also, THAT IS SO STRANGE, and also, Austin is so into these people, COME on, no one wanted that guy to be president, we can all agree on this, right? RIGHT?) on her damn BIRTHDAY, because Lisa is, like, the best person. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN TRY. AND HER HAIR DRIES WONDERFULLY. AND SHE LIKES DOGS. I can’t even. If I hadn’t pledged my life to hers years ago I would seriously hate this girl, but as it is, uprising comes? I’m Team Lisa, FOR THE WIN.

So recently Lisa and her boyfriend got into Orange is the New Black. Which. Have you seen it? You need to go see it. A friend got me into it and for the love of GOD, it is too good for words. If you haven’t seen it, please, stop reading this, seriously, nothing I have to say is as interesting as that series, go, watch it, it’s 13 hours long, I can wait. Don’t worry about it. Go. NOW.

Are you done? Did you see it? ISN’T IT AMAZING? Okay, cool, we can go on now. Yes, I’m sad too that it’s over, but it’s been picked up for a second season so…

Also I made a dress. If you want to go watch it again instead of looking at it that is so okay with me, seriously.

OITNB 9This is yet another Ballet Dress from Dixie DIY. I promise the hem is straight despite these photos…

OITNB 6Lisa took these in her apartment complex because she is magnificent as a human being.

OITNB 7What can I say? I got the fabric from Girl Charlee and it has oranges all over it, so….

OITNB 8This is me with my new garden owl boyfriend. We’re pretty happy together…

OITNB 4This is me sitting in the most demure Texan Belle way I can think of.

OITNB 5The swirl potential on this dress is pretty baller. I used the Dixie DIY bodice and added a half circle skirt and I’m fairly thrilled with the results. SO, by the by, are the residents of Austin, who were INSANELY nice to me when I wore this dress (and in general, AUSTIN IS AWESOME). I got so many compliments from strangers, homeless and otherwise, that, as I told a friend, I felt like I was in the Truman Show. I am not that good at making stuff. Austin is just a nice place.

Seriously, I was trying to take a self-photo and a homeless person was like, do you want ME to take that? And I did!

OITNB 1Along with a local popsicle! Which was DELICIOUS, by the by, and who doesn’t love the sheen of Texas-sun sweat you can detect in this shot?

OITNB 10Apart from being amazing and talented and wonderful, Lisa also is great at directing photography, don’t you think?

OITNB 3Some close-ups of the print:

OITNB 12Hence the orange name…

OITNB 14Oh, maybe you want SEE me and my gorgeous photographer/life coach?

OITNB 2Well of course you do. HOW PRETTY IS SHE? Also, a wonderful person. LIKE THAT MATTERS…

And there you go! And if you didn’t read this because you were busy watching the show, you know what? WORTH IT.

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The American Apparel Knock Off Dress

I have to admit, I am completely a dress person. I’m a formal person in general, as it turns out. My grandmother was a formal woman, and my mother inherited her sense of what is and isn’t appropriate, and now I kind of have that too. Like, for example, jeans. As a kid my mom wouldn’t let us wear jeans on European vacations. Or any vacations. At all. And now I do sort of thing jeans are a bit, I don’t know, casual, when you travel, and I don’t wear them. Of course, these days everyone wears jeans and it’s no longer the thing that marks you as an ugly American, but still. Some things infuse your identity and never let go. Like, when I was going to Hebrew school my mom put me in skirts and dresses every week. That sticks with you. So I like skirts and dresses. But I also like being warm. And comfortable. Which is not something my grandmother thought of as a concern, but what are you going to do.

So I’m always looking out for dresses that fulfill my sense of wanting to dress nicely and my sense of comfort and warmth and ease of wearing, because let’s be real, not all dresses, gorgeous as they are, are easy to wear and live in all day/night. The obvious solution to this is a knit dress, no? And I have a good knit dress pattern, my beloved Dixie DIY Ballet dress, which I’ve been tweaking over a series of versions, and here is what I have finally come out with:

AAKO 2I have to say, I’m pretty into this dress. It’s unbearably comfortable, probably because of the hellishly soft stretchy lycra cotton blend fabric I got from PA Fabric Outlet the last time I was home in Philadelphia and had time to fabric shop. I still have quite a bit of this left yardage-wise, and my brother has requested pillowcases, but even with that I might be able to scrape together a shirt or something, which is great, because it’s warm and cozy and lovely.

AAKO 4

Here is a full body shot, complete with my tights/socks combo,which I have found makes every day a bit better as your feet are a touch warmer.

AAKO 9

What did I do to the pattern, you ask? Well, I extended the bodice by two inches to have it hit at my natural waist. I lowered the neckline by about two inches at the lowest point, and I slimmed down and extended the sleeves. Were I to make this again, which I probably will, despite my resolution to sew different things, I would slim the sleeves even more and extend them to the wrist. And I changed out the skirt Dixie provides us with with a half-circle skirt. Love the swish. Oh, and I cut the back bodice and back skirt piece in two pieces each and seamed them up. I really like doing this for fabric efficiency purposes, but also I don’t think you can really see it, can you?

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I’m sorry about these photos being indoor ones and not the best light, I forced my wonderful parents to snap these when I went home for a benefit for Pig Iron Theatre Company. I wore this dress to work at the costume shop before I took the bus home (which was HORRIFIC, never take Megabus, seriously, every time it’s late and every time I think, why is this happening? and this time it was COLD and it picks you up at 12th and 34th which basically feels like you are about to fall off the edge of Manhattan, just don’t do it. Take the Bolt. Learn from my mistakes) and one of my lovely co-workers gave me the ultimate compliment. He said, that looks like you just stole it from an American Apparel! Hence the name.

Being home is a great opportunity to squeeze multiple cats:

AAKO 6AAKO 5AAKO 3

Squeeze ALL the cats! Don’t tell Cadfael I was cheating on him…

And then we went to the benefit! Which is and always is awesome.

AAKO 8That’s Miss Martha Graham Cracker. She’s a rockstar.

AAKO 11

I paired my dress with a cream wrap sweater from Buffalo Exchange, and of course, wine.

I’m quite happy with this dress, I really am.

AAKO 14

But I couldn’t match the majesty that is Martha Graham Cracker:

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AAKO 13Not everyone can pull that look off, now, can they? I love her. Dito van Reigersberg, aka Martha in daily life, is just so insanely talented. Check out this version of Life on Mars. Magnificent.

AAKO 12But I tried. I really tried.

So this month’s Stashbusting challenge is to sew for other people! I need to get on that…any requests?

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The Lost In The Woods Dress

Before I show you my latest creation, or rather, my latest creation that I’ve been able to get photos of (SERIOUSLY, photographer/boyfriend, where ARE you? Call me! Thanks.), I thought I would let you know about some of my works in progress. So here we go:

1. I got some excellent advice about my Pastille dress, thank you, kind people! I’m going to go ahead and make a for real for real version in aqua stretch poplin, with a full-bust-adjustment and a sway-back adjustment, adding 1/2 an inch at the sides of the two back pieces. That’s the plan.

2. I worked all weekend on my Simplicity 4494 jacket. I’m really trying to take my time on this one and not rush it, so I’m not trying to put pressure on myself to speed up and finish it in an evening. I even made a bound buttonhole. Yeah. I’m that good. Tomorrow night? The sleeves go in. The breath, she is bated.

3. Obviously I’ve fallen deeply in love with the Renfrew. And obviously my poor mother deserves something for all her hard work and aid. So she’s getting a long-sleeved v-necked Renfrew, which will be number 2 of the 9 options outlined in the pattern. You thought I was kidding about making ever version? I never kid with knits. NEVER.

Okay, that’s enough of that. Now, onto the dress I made!

This is not a great photo. I look like I’ve just seen my family slaughtered in front of me. It’s adorable, no?

I made this dress for my company’s latest opening. The show takes place in a rural environment in a time that is ambiguous, but not the present. So I thought this dress would be a very fitting one to correspond with the themes of the show. And I have to say, I completely adore it! It’s my second version of Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress pattern. I’m going to make 10 of these, I swear. SO. COMFORTABLE.

I used a fabric from the hoarder’s stash, this fabric, to be precise:

I made one change to the pattern, slimming the sleeves to make them more fitted. Other then that, this is just the best and I wouldn’t alter a thing. Thank you, Dixie!

This time I made a matching belt. Which is cute, but, I don’t know, man, it makes this look like an empire waist shape which is so not a good look on me.

I abused my power completely and had our company intern, Brian (thank you, Brian!) take photos of me on the set. I cleared it with the director, don’t worry! But it’s a pretty amazing set created by a wonderful design team, and I was happy to get lost on it for a little while.

Pretty cool, right?

This photo is kind of a joke, honestly, because I’m pretending to be like my friend Emilie, who is in the play and makes a gesture similar to this. It’s in no way funny if you haven’t seen the play. So, yeah, good times.

So this is how I looked when I wore it to the opening. But I changed it up a little when I wore it out last night¬† to a birthday party in a BYO bowling alley. Which is, by the way, as trashy and delightful as it sounds. Seriously, it was amazing, I can’t wait to go back. And I am a TERRIBLE bowler.

And because this event couldn’t have been more hipster, I thought I would give you a super indie shot:

Yeah, doesn’t that just scream “I listen to bands that don’t exist yet”?

So what do you think? Belt or sash? Rural world or bowling alley? Hipster hangout or….hipster hangout?

Glamour shot!

What’s on your sewing table? What are you up to? Any sewing cues going on? Cue in the sense of line, not in the sense of forgetting a line. (I know, I’m so clever!)

 

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