Tag Archives: cotton

The Give Me The Gingham Dress

First of all, I just want to let all of you know that hey, my novel, America for Beginners, is 100% out there in the world! You can buy it in the US! You can buy it in the United Kingdom! You can buy it in India! You can buy it all over the place! Please do! And then tell me what you think!

This dress that I am going to show you actually looks excellent with my novel, which is great because this is what I wore to my book launch party at Powerhouse Arena, which is a wonderful bookstore and a fantastic space, a place that frequently hosts authors in conversation. New York friends or people in the area, check it out!

Now, to the sewing. Those of you who read my blog regularly, aka my mom, will know that I am not a person who wears a ton of green. It’s not that I don’t like green, I do! I really do. I just don’t gravitate towards it the way I do some other colors. But every once in a while, you see something that just breaks you patterns, you know? I bought this fabric in Kolkata, which is great because one of the characters in my novel, Pival, is from Kolkata, so that all worked out rather nicely, didn’t it? I saw it in New Market, a market I never go to, and I wanted it immediately, despite the fact that it’s a color I never wear, yet despite all that, something about this reached out and grabbed me, and I’m thinking, well, I think it might have been the fact that it is gingham. People, I love a gingham. Love it.

Lots of people love it! I mean, Brigette Bardot wore it as her wedding dress!

There is a rumor that this actually created such demand for the fabric that it caused a fabric shortage in France! But that could totally be a myth. Still, it’s pretty fun to think about french girls rioting over gingham.

At any rate, I love a gingham like a french girl in the 1960’s. And so, despite all the things around this fabric, it had to be mine. When it comes down to it, I’m pretty much always going to be like, GIVE ME THE GINGHAM!

And so! Another iteration of McCalls 7351, which I have adjusted with two 1.5 inch bust darts, slimming the waist and giving the bodice a little more shaping. In a large-scale green gingham that I absolutely adore.

In celebration of my super green dress, I made my friend Victoria take these photos in a super green place! So while visiting her up at the Berkshires we snagged this lovely spot in picturesque Stockbridge, and went nuts. I think I blend right in…

It’s a super cute place. This adorable building has become…a Yankee Candle. SIGH.

Still, everything was brilliantly in bloom, which was magnificent!

And I went to a store that had knitted dinners!

Instead of using one of the skirts from the pattern, I wanted to capitalize on the gingham and figured box pleats would do the trick.

I cut the yoke on the bias, which I always love with a checked or plaid print. It’s just fun!

And I suppose that’s about it. I’ve made a lot of shirt dresses at this point and I could make something else, but…I love a shirtdress! So I’m probably going to keep on keeping on in that direction. Although I do want to try some new patterns in the coming months. Ah, conflicting desires!

A little close up of the bodice for you. Why did I use white buttons? Because that is what I had in my stash! Sometimes you just do what you need to do. I don’t think it’s clear in any of the photos, but the sleeve cuffs are also cut on the bias. Just a little detail only I know about, I guess!

I also put in pockets. Obviously. As one does.

Well, there it is. An unusual choice for me, but still, very much on brand. The point is, gingham is great, try colors you don’t usually wear sometimes, and buy America for Beginners!  Then you, too, can match my dress.

 

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The If You’re Gonna Go, Go Goa Dress

As you may have gleaned from my previous blog post, I was recently traveling once again, as I seem to do so very often.

Actually, wait, you know what, before any of that stuff, so sorry but my publishing company, well, the publishing company publishing my book, its not MINE per se in terms of ownership, has finalized my US cover and I just have to share it with all of you amazing people because…come on!

Oh, and the UK cover ain’t half bad either, AKA it’s equally gorgeous!

And it’s available for pre-order! So go ahead, buy it today! Or tomorrow! I don’t know how your day is laid out.

ANYway. Back to the reason you come here, handmade clothing, quirky commentary.

So as I’ve mentioned, my friend Ben and I, (hi, Ben!) made a sojourn to Goa, Hampi, and then Goa again! Goa is actually a state in India, but it’s quite small, by Indian standards. Nevertheless, we realized we had to split up the trip to visit the multiple things we wanted to see. If you want to soak up sun and enjoy pristine beaches, South Goa is the place to be. If you want to revel in Portuguese-Indian fusion and enjoy the colonial hangover along with a nice glass or five of feni, cashew liquor, you go to Old Goa. If you want to party with Russian oligarchs and risk a staff infection, check out the beaches of North Goa! We only wanted to do two out of these three things, so….we went to Old Goa as the final stop on our trip. And on our day exploring Velha, or Old, Goa, the remains of the once great Portuguese empire in India, I wore this dress I had recently made:

You know when you sew something for a trip and you save it and save it for the perfect day that fits your outfit? No? That’s…not a thing other people do? Yeah, no, me neither. Except of course YES that is a thing I do and this dress fit THIS day of exploration with its 1950’s flare and literal flare, because circle skirt, baby!

So this dress is pretty basic in construction etc, I made it from my bodice block which, I need to buy my friend Liz like, a case of wine or something for this, because I use that ALL THE TIME and it has changed my life. Thank you Liz! She helped me draft it, because she is a boss.

And then I just added a circle skirt. It has pockets!

It’s unlined and the neckline is finished with bias tape. I used french seams throughout, etc. I don’t know what else to tell you. Machine hem! I know, I know, the worst, but like…also sometimes you just can’t. Hand picked zipper, sooooooo, cancels out?

A little twisty twirl!

This was a nice spot for photos because we avoided a large group of European tourists, but it was a little dark, so I don’t know if you see the true color of the fabric.

The fabric is from my beloved Thakur, and those circles have little hearts in them! It’s sort of pseudo Japanese, and it’s so cute I can’t stand it.

This is a bit blurry, sorry!

This is a bit truer to color! Here I am, posing in the ruins of the church of St. Augustine, which fell to pieces some 100 years ago or so, and now sits as an archeological site, perfect for picturesque photos. Please note, there are signs everywhere saying no video cameras, so you know that at multiple points people have tried to stage their own romantic Bollywood video tributes there. Ben and I did not choose to try to do this. What can we say, we were too busy pretending to be 15th century missionaries. To each their own!

So there you go! In Goa! But I would say, for all the stereotypes around visiting Goa, which has long been the destination of choice for Russian millionaires, drugged out hippies, Israeli backpackers and Indian honeymooners, it does kind of live up to the hype. I mean, if you plan on visiting India, and you are self-aware enough to build in a break from all the…India of it all, if that is indeed something you might need, I would say, throw a day or two in Goa on the itinerary. I mean, it’s calm, it’s stunning, it’s fairly clean, relatively, and the laid back attitude is the best version of a mix between Southern European and South Indian culture. I say, if you’re going to go, go Goa. 

And that’s about it for me on this dress. It’s totally one of those projects I easily could have not shared because I’ve made many like it, but then it turned out so well and it’s so cute and I just, I wanted to feel pretty, YOU KNOW? You know. You get it.

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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

The Pre-Wine Tunic

I’m working with a serious backlog here, so despite the fact that I’ve already moved to Mumbai, you’re going to see some US posts for a bit, sorry, guys. In the mean time, feel free to check out my new “living in India” blog here!

So you know what I love? Wine. Super a lot. A whole bunch of it. I know, you’re shocked, you’re amazed, you feel betrayed and horrified. I’m sorry. But the person who taught me how to love wine was my mom, who is the best. And we love wine together. So this summer, in anticipation of both of our birthdays, which fall in July, and my upcoming move, my glorious wine-goddess mother and my wine snob brother and I went west, to Napa, in a long anticipated wine tasting trip. I, of course, am an indiscriminate wine lover, so I will drink most things as long as they are on the dry side and not the last harvest sugar rush that some people call Riesling. But this was magnificent wine, in a magnificent setting, and I was so happy to be there. And so I figured I should make something cool to wear, to celebrate.

Now, here is the thing about Northern California, right, you just never know how the weather is going to be. You can go from warm to cold to warm again within hours, so packing for a weekend trip includes more clothing than you might bring for a weeks journey somewhere else. So in trying to make something that worked, I had to figure into account the weather, as one does. I also had to figure in the wine, and how when you start tasting wine you are like la la yes notes of sage and melon and concrete, but by the end you are like, this wine tastes red and I like red do you have more wine that is red or more wine that exists? So in the end, I decided this tunic would be best for a jaunt to Berkeley for a splendid meal at the illustrious and magnificent Chez Panisse during which the wine would be white and the sloppiness factor mitigated by decorum. And I will say, I planned this perfectly. This was a great shirt for pre-wine times. See why?

PW 4

Ugh, that face. It’s saying, why am I standing in this corpse of trees like I didn’t ASK FOR THIS MY OWN DAMN SELF. But that shirt though, right?

So it’s the Everyday Elegance Top from Patterns for Pirates, which I raved about the last time I went to the West Coast. I guess I feel like this is a really West Coast look, I don’t know, things are horribly causal out there, what can I say?

PW 3

The fabric was something I bought at Parons Fabrics years ago, some of which I made into a dress for my friend Betsy’s wedding, and some of which became this tunic. And extra scraps became a baby dress for a friend’s niece, so there you go, circle of fabric. It’s a linen-cotton blend and immensely cool and breathable.

The tunic is super straightforward to stitch up, and I made it all with french seams to counter the fray-leaning fabric and because I like them, what can I say.

PW 5

I did a little playing with stripes on the back, just a little, mind, for fun. I love it!

PW 2

I just realized none of these photos capture the collar, which is a shame, because it’s pretty cute. You will just have to believe me on this, I guess.

PW 1

And there you have it. A tunic that worked before wine, during wine of the white variety, and even after wine. I’m just kidding, There was no after wine that weekend….

PW 7

Otherworldly plants abound out there in California.

PW 6

And of course, tall tall trees. I think they liked my tunic too.

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The Sleeping In The Past Pajamas (Mad Men Challenge #2!)

I am a big pajamas fan. I know this is a strange thing to love and enjoy, but I do. I love pajamas. I love making them. I love wearing them. I think at this point it’s actually something I have almost entirely replaced in my wardrobe with all self-makes, which I honestly cannot say about any other group of clothing I own. I have actually always really enjoyed pajamas, especially pajama sets, and as a younger person I demanded such things of my parents for Hanukkah year after year, which is how I ended up with a set with cow prints on it that I loved so very much I couldn’t stand it. My mother eventually convinced me to give it up when it had almost fallen to pieces, but that was a sad sad day for me. And for cows, obviously.

I particularly love vintage pajamas, or pajamas that look vintage. Not the little fluffy sets, but the actual full pajamas with collars and cuffs. And when we recently made a pajama set at work for a production of Marisol, I admired the silky seperates, and even felt sad when we had to scuff them and cover them in fake blood (it’s a strange play, go with it). So I thought I would make myself a pair of pajamas as a memorial to those fallen comrades. I picked up a vintage pajama pattern, McCalls 4201:

4201amay250

and got to work, basing my pair vaguely off of these Mad Men duds:

0b843c9c384c57ccfaa113a767606fcd-1I actually have glasses like this but what’s his face hates them so they are rarely worn. Maybe if someone arranges for a home massage for me I will break them out again.

SITP 2.jpgThese are a bit looser then Joan’s, of course, but come on, I just don’t see the point of tailored pajamas. I might make the pants a little slimmer next time, but as it is, I’m very happy in these, and I slept wonderfully in them!

SITP 3.jpg

If you look at the pattern you can see there was originally a dart in these but I just let that go. I really don’t think bust shaping is going to help me sleep better.

The collar is nicely rounded, which makes it easy to turn:

SITP 6.jpgIt’s a little blurry but you get the idea. Also, I don’t did three buttons. PAJAMAS. ARE AWESOME.

SITP 1.jpgThe fabric is a kind of seersucker, which I don’t think you can see in these photos with little flowers on them. I got it from work. This was very much a work-inspired project, as you can see. The fabric is lovely and light-weight, and very comfortable, and I must say, this is extremely silly, but I kind of love feeling fashionably vintage even as I sleep. I swear I had sepia-tinted dreams. A

SITP 4.jpgA little back view. See, the pants are baggy, which, well, they should be, but they could probably slim down a bit. Ah, well, next time. This was an easy and fun pattern, I can see myself making it again. Maybe with short sleeves and shorts for summer? That could be cute…oh, I am just filled with pajama plans!

SITP 5.jpgI know, I’m not Joan. But at least I can sleep like she does now!

 

 

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The Wine Country Tunic

Oh, boy, it’s been a few weeks! This is what happens when you visit the West Coast, you get sucked into their laid back attitude. Now I’m all like, hey, man, whatever, I’m just loving life and letting the world come to me. Go with the flow, am I right?

I’m just kidding, that’s insane. I can’t even pretend that that’s something that would happen. I would never do anything like that. That’s madness. What’s even the point? How do you get anything done? When did being laid back and relaxed become a good thing? Because honestly it just sounds like a huge barrier to productivity to me. If you aren’t consumed by the constant anxiety that you could be doing more with your time, what is your life even about? How do you get up in the morning without high levels of neurosis is a mystery I will never understand. But because it’s become cool or whatever to be that way, I’m constantly like this:

parks-and-recreation-animated-gif-giphy-1390624547n4kg8-1 (dragged) copyALL THE TIME. I’M ON ICE I’M SO COOL. RIGHT? RIGHT?

Nope. Stupid relaxation. What is the deal with that? I have the heartbeat of a hummingbird through a combination of caffeine and self doubt, and I’m proud of it! Right?

I did have a great time in San Francisco, though! It’s so nice there, I’m naming it an honorary East Coast City, like Chicago, or Austin. YOU’RE WELCOME, all three cities. Dreams equal realized, am I right? Probably not. Still, the point is, I liked it out there, despite this despicable “hey man whatever” situation that seems to have infected the cultural zeitgeist like a venereal disease moving through a shared room during spring break in Cancun. Okay, real world example, I went to a fancy market to buy a popsicle (it was WARM there, okay! A nice albeit brief change from the rather brisk weather we are facing here in Nueva York) and when I got to the cashier, she asked me the price, and when I told her what I thought I remember from the label in the frozen case, she just BELIEVED ME AN RANG IT UP AS THAT. What. The. What. I could have been LYING! She didn’t KNOW me! I mean, goodness, who does that? It’s a small independent business! Every penny counts! Don’t trust me with numbers, lady, what’s-his-face tried to explain derivatives to me the other day and despite his stellar and lengthy explanation if you put a gun to my head and asked me to explain them to you I would be dead by now. That is a truth fact.  You want me to talk about Pushkin or Rushdie or Italian history or Argentine culture or 12th century English politics? I’m your girl. You want numbers? No. I got nothing. The point is, San Francisco. It’s a very nice place but who can possibly trust people who trust other people that much? It’s just absurd.

Still, it’s nice out there, they have fun hills to climb and beautiful houses from the Victorian era (and not a lot from much earlier because…California) and great produce of course, the best part, wine. Lots of wine. Whole valleys of it. Grapes fermenting as far as the eye can see. Obviously I loathed such a thing because wine is not the thing I love more then being as neurotic as I am. Wine is not the only rival my cat has for my affection. Wine is not the best thing there is. ON OPPOSITE DAY. Duh. So, we went to wine country.

I like it there. Because….wine. I had been to Napa once before so this time when Sonoma was proposed, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. And like I do, I forced my companions to shoot my newest creation. Because nothing goes as well with a California Chardonnay as a homemade tunic!

WCT 1Ha, you can see the shadow of what’s-his-face. Classic. So, the pattern is Butterick 5548, which I’ve made once before. The fabric is leftover lining from my coat attempt, an Anna Maria Horner lawn. Having made it once before the process was awfully easy and fast, and I figured this tunic business would be popular on the West Coast. I have no real evidence of this being true, but I liked it!

WCT 3The original one I made was always a little tight in the shoulders, so I added half an inch on both sides, problem solved!

WCT 5All the seams are French. Oh, la la.

WCT 6I love this print. I love love love it. There is a bit of bust dart shaping but mostly it’s a pretty loose comfortable easy fit with no closures. Fantastic.

WCT 7I seamed the back together for fabric efficiency and the print is so busy that it looks just fine, but I didn’t get any good photos, sorry.

More important than this outfit, there was a bunch of wine. How did I feel about all these wonderful wine tastings we attended?

WCT 2Um, swooning with happiness, duh. What else is there?

Of course, sometimes the people you ask to snap shots of you get a little camera happy, mad with the power. And then this happens:

WCT 4And that’s just the gesture I would make to the West Coast “too cool to care” vibe. That’s enough of that, silly West. Back to the place where happiness is a luxury, not a requirement, and people know that if you’re not nervous, you’re not trying.

It’s good to be home.

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The Indiophile Tunic

My sewing backlog is out of control. I keep making stuff and not documenting it. What is my deal? I have a tripod. I have no excuse. I just always end up throwing things in the laundry and as I step into the shower remembering that I was supposed to take photos of that and now it’s dark and my hair is wet and everything is the worst. So I go talk to some food about that, and, and this is the important part, NOT TAKING PHOTOS OF MY GARMENT. And the cycle, she continues. How do you guys do this? Do you find it to be as much of a struggle as I do? Am I alone in being decent at the making but bad at the taking (of photos, which I know you guys get, I just love to end on a rhyme…).

However, today was stunning, and I wore something new, so I basically forced my friend Sam into snapping some photos of me in Washington Square Park, which is just a stone’s throw from where I go to school. It’s usually filled to the brim with hip NYU students and ornery homeless people, and today was no exception. Sam and I felt just right at home. It looked a bit like this:

IT 9Nice, right? The trees are just starting to bloom, the grass is growing, the homeless people didn’t spit on us, it was a pretty good day, all things considered. And Sam ever so kindly put up with my terrible modeling, because she is a good friend.

So, remember when I told you all that my friend brought me back fabric from India? Well, I made something with some of it…

IT 6The glare from the sun caught this at an angle and so there are odd large green hexahedrons on my legs. And a little one that in this photo looks like a hair ornament. So that’s fun.

The pattern is Butterick 5548, a tunic that I thought went well with this fabric, one of the three (THREE, I’ve said it before but thank you, Rohan!) that I have. This one was a border print, and sort of a lightweight kind of a thing, cotton, I believe? So tunic seemed like a good choice. Check out the weird pattern image:

B5548I guess what I find so weird about it is that both of those models are actually the same person, but I feel like they are pretending it’s two difference people with the change of hair and pants and shoes. And it’s awkward. But the pattern is cute! I used the longer pattern and shortened it by about a foot, and yet it is still quite lengthy.

IT 2But I like it! What else did I change, hmmm, I guess that’s about it. It’s a very simple pattern to stitch up, only a few pieces and really the collar is the most complicated part.

IT 4It’s sort of flipping out in this photo, but I think you get the idea.

IT 1

I loved wearing this today. I finished it last night after Game of Thrones (guys, I’ve gotten into Game of Thrones! That’s why I’m not taking any photos of my garments, I’m too busy with Game of Thrones! Obviously!, and it was perfect for today’s weather. The shot cotton (I don’t know if you can see it in these photos but it’s sort of a lovely shot cotton in two shades of orange) seemed to brighten the day for me. I never wear orange, but I like this! 

IT 3

 

As you can tell, this fabric, amazing and wonderful as it is, wrinkles like a sharpei dog.

44982-dogs-shar-pei

See the resemblance?

IT 5WE ARE THE SAME. Ahhhhhh!

IT 8A little close up on the gold border print. So pretty, right?

IT 7As a thank you (read, way to torture) my lovely photographer, I took a photo of her so the world can see the person behind the magic. Thanks, Sam, and thanks, Rohan, and thanks, today, because the weather was simply gorgeous!

Stay tuned for my Mad Men dress coming soon, which I swear to you I will document, by all that is holy, I will take photos of that damn dress!

 

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