Tag Archives: Deer and Doe

It’s Been Awhile! I’m Alive, but time is a flat circle now

Oh boy! It has been a long time since I’ve been ready/willing/able to write a sewing blog post! In some ways our current pandemic has given me a lot of time, but in other ways it has filled my days with anxiety and isolation. I was stuck in the States for three months with my parents, which is a wonderful situation to be stuck in, but stuck nonetheless. I poured my energy into sewing, sewing for my newborn niece and other little people out there, sewing masks for healthcare workers and neighbors and friends, sewing outfits for myself that felt wonderful to make and foolish when they were done, where will I wear this? Who will see it? As project after project piled up, the idea of documenting them, along with the many things I had made between my last post and March, felt impossible, overwhelming. Not, of course that anyone was demanding I do so. But I was confronting, as Chekhov describes them, the unmountable barriers of the human soul. I’m an actress, no, I’m a seagull, no that’s not right….

 

ANYway. I’m going to make this post an item dump, and lay on you a bunch of things I have made, so that I can prove to you (again, not something anyone is demanding of me, it’s fun in my head so much all of the time) that I have been making, and hopefully clear out some of this messy mishegas and free myself to write a post AFTER this about a recent dress I made and pushed myself to have my husband take photos of. So, if you want to skip this one and wait for that, I totally understand.

 

Oh, and I also made a new novel, by the way! It’s called Mother Land and it came out on July 14th and I hope you like it, if you read it!

 

We will start with my always and forever stay at home life uniform. Seamwork Mel Joggers (hahaha I will never run in these), and a knit tee, in this case,  a Deer and Doe Plantain Tee. I wore a version of this a LOT.

Here with this free pattern baseball tee I found on the internets.

That black ribbon is a sign of mourning, in honor of my grandfather, who passed away in the beginning of May.

Another day, another Mel/Plantain combo. This got me through a lot of chilly days in March, April, hell, even May.

For a little variety, this Closet Core Patterns Kalle over tights.

I also tried the Paper Theory Miller pants, and I’m a big fan. These are in a linen-rayon blend and magnificent for so many things. This is a Seamwork Aberdeen shirt, a pattern I finally tried and love! I made a few for my mother, as well.

Also paired with a Plantain tee.

Another plantain tee!

A plantain tee I lengthened into a dress!

A modified plantain tee with some Seamwork Heidi shorts (which I added pockets too and later tightened up at the waistband, a common alteration for me on these shorts.

Another Plantain tee with a modified pair of Seamwork Marett trousers.

I also made this Seamwork Emmie top, into a bit more of a tunic! I wish I hadn’t gone with the ties, the fabric is too thick. Maybe I will remove them at some point.

My Passover dress for our very sad and lonely Passover was a Seamwork Tacara. Man, I made a lot of Seamwork stuff in the past four months!

I made this Deer and Doe Magnolia for a Zoom Wedding (oh, kill me, but also I’m very happy for them, but also the fact that all events are now on Zoom is just hard, right?).

I have been enjoying hot days more in these Seamwork Miller shorts and Seamwork Clarke top.

And then I made myself a bunch of pajamas:

As one does. The patterns are various Miller shorts hacks, and the tops are a clarke and a plantain.

Now, for the little people things, mostly just because small things are very cute…

These are from many patterns companies and if you are interested in any of them, please do message me.

I also made some quilts! The thing about having cats is that they do not recognize that all quilts are not their quilts.

And of course, I made masks. I have a lot of thoughts on making masks. I was really happy at first to make masks and then I read an article and talked with some friends who sew and read some more things and all of it boiled down to, women/crafters (but actually really women historically) are expected to pitch in and help with domestic tasks that are traditionally across the board devalued/ranked in the space of hobby/”women’s work” which is somehow both a requirement for women as keepers of home and hearth and not worth financial compensation/social status or respect. For example, cooking. Woman have, throughout history, been expected to bear the majority of the cooking duties in the world. From China to Colombia, from Bali to Baltimore, women, sometimes enslaved, sometimes not, have been histories food providers. And yet the professional world of cooking, the paid, validated (yes of course there are lots of food industry issues that’s a whole other thing) socially respected (sort of, again, issues, but you know) role of chef, is and was primarily male. Women have to fight for space in the culinary world while simultaneously being expected to cook for everyone all the time everywhere else. And sewing, crafting, works similarly. Designers, fashion executives, the people who arbitrate fashion, have historically been men, despite the fact that women are expected to sew and make for free. Don’t get me wrong, I love this, I chose this, I keep choosing it. But the fact that women, in crisis after crisis, have been expected to pitch in and make do and give and mend and fill gaps that shouldn’t be there, isn’t great. Even if I enjoy the process, the thought process isn’t great.

This article, also linked above, was what got me thinking, and you might enjoy it too.

I’m still making masks. I’m still giving them away for free. I’m happy to be able to help others. But I don’t think I, more than anyone else, should be expected to give my labor away for free, despite in this case being happy to do so.

Anyway. That’s me. What are you up to?

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The Whirly Twirly Girl Skirt

While I made both of the garments on display in this post, I’ve named the post itself after the skirt, and I think you will know why when you see the photos.

Sometimes you see an idea on the internet and despite all of your attempts to not be a pure unadulterated consumerist, (by the way, how was your me made may? I learned a lot about my outfit patterns and gave away some things I never touch, which was great!), you just hear a voice in your head whisper gimme. And this skirt tutorial from By Hand London was 100% one of those things.

Link in photo!

 

No matter how many years I celebrate, 32 this July, yay! (I love my birthday!!!) or how many times my mother gives me the “stop dressing like a little girl” look, I love a ruffle. Dammit, I do! Is that okay? Can I be a feminist if I love ruffles? Yes, of course I can. But why have ruffles become so gendered? I mean, look at the way men USED to dress:

I mean, come on. That’s some hard core manly ruffle right there. That’s DOPE. How did this happen? Why didn’t men fight back? Who doesn’t want to feel so fancy? How did we come to THIS:

Ah, well, their loss. Perhaps in this age of openness in the realm of sexuality and gender we can somehow return to a more egalitarian ruffle space. We can only hope. But for now, I love a good ruffle, and that doesn’t compromise my plans to tear down the patriarchy, but it does mean that when I twirl I look amazing!

RIIIGHT? Ah, a good twirl, who doesn’t love it?

Weeeeee!

I used the tutorial to make this skirt, and it couldn’t be easier. It’s also, by the way, a total fabric hog. I eked this out of three meters of  58 inch wide striped fabric from Thakur and as you can see, the ruffle is no where near as ruffly as it could be, so, well, I guess my mother will be happy.

Still, I was able to play with the directionality of the stripes, which I love. I get a lot of compliments on this skirt when I wear it which is always a good sign (although I dress for ME!).

The shirt is a Deer and Doe Plantain, in an organic cotton knit from Fabric.com, and that’s all there is to say about that, I mean, it’s a knit cotton t-shirt, I’ve made a bunch of them, whatcha gonna say about it, yeah you could buy it at H and M or whatever but it takes me, like, two hours to make from cut to hem.

The bow in the back is a cute touch. Love it. Love this skirt! I don’t really have that much to say about it but what’s-his-face got some great photos of me so….what else are blogs for?

Twirl! Twirl! Twirl! It’s very hard for me to not do this everywhere I go in this skirt.

I made it midi length which I like, despite my height. I’ve been over this on my maxi and wide legged pants journeys, but it’s still so tempting to live by old fashion rules. Whatever, I can’t possibly find this dowdy, I mean, it’s too fun!

Ah, this skirt. I recommend that you make one for yourself, should you so desire. Obviously don’t dip into consumerism or do it if it compromises your sense of your feminist journey, but sometimes, that little gimme voice is right. You might need this thing in your life. I know I do…

 

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The Just Peachy Palazzos with an Escher themed Hoya

I was this close to naming these pants the Coral Palms pants because they are a beautiful shade a bright coral and you know I love me some Brooklyn Nine Nine, right? Oh, you didn’t?

OBVIOUSLY.

And that, in fact is why I could NOT name these pants the Coral Palms Palazzos, even though that is an excellent name, because how could I name my pants after a place where Perelta and Holt had so many miserable moments?

I couldn’t do that to them. They’ve suffered enough. When it comes to Florida, we all have.

So I went with a much less interesting name for a pair of pants that are anything but boring.

Let’s talk about pants, shall we? Specifically wide legged ones. There was a time when I might have shied away from such a style. Modern style tips will tell you that short people and wide legged pants are a recipe for disaster. But that’s not what the 1940’s taught us, now, is it?

Not in the slightest. So where did this come from, the idea that short women couldn’t enjoy their legs encased in miles of fabric just like tall women can? Of course, one might say, well, that’s not what is most flattering. But screw flattering. I get a lot of compliments on these pants, so, I mean, how much more flattered can I be?

A little background on the pants of le wide leg, or as men call them, pants.  These styles became popular in the 1930’s and 40’s, particularly because of a group of Hollywood actresses who wore them regularly as costumes and in real life, prompting trouser lust. In the late 1960’s, the style resurged, in some cases to combat anti-pants bias, because the loose flowy style didn’t have the “figure hugging vulgarity” so disdained at the time for the delicate fairer sex. We’ve seen a wide legged pant move in and out of style, of course, ever since, popping up to duke it out with the legging and the skinny jean more recently for supremacy.

In India, palazzo pants have recently come back in a big way, although here people literally call all non-jean non-legging pants like options palazzos which…is interesting. technically, according to Wikipedia, a palazzo is a pant that flairs out evenly from waist to ankle, although the waist definition often comes through darts or tucks.

As is the case with the Marett pant from Seamwork. Now, it is April here in Mumbai and everywhere else in the world, and while where I come from that means cherry blossoms and cute cardigans for Spring’s changing weather, here that means straight up summer. What fun. Summer in Mumbai is a long swollen season of humid days, sticky nights, and waiting for the rains (which also give you humid days and sticky nights, just wetter). While pants might seem like madness in such a period, wide-legged pants in a lightweight material are actually, I have found, just as comfortable as a skirt, and make for a nice change of pace for my dress/skirt heavy wardrobe. So I decided, it was time for me to go palazzo. While I’ve made wide-legged 1940’s trousers before, and will do so again, the palazzo was new to me, and so, clutching my pearls, hoping for the best, I dove right in.

But then, not to be an underachiever, I thought, why make ONE new thing when you could make TWO? So I also (finally) made a Hoya blouse from Deer and Doe out of the most delicate lightweight Bengali muslin possible, and I have to tell you, it’s a pretty winning combination in Mumbai right now!

Sidenote: Deer and Doe is so great. Their designs are amazing, of course, but also, when my package got lost in the mail on it’s way to India, they sent me a new one, no questions asked! What a wonderful company!

It’s a little hard to see the fabric of the blouse on me, but it’s this Bengali white muslin shot with black thread to make these lovely sort of Escher-esk designs. I bought it at Geeta’s Circle in Kolkata, which is my new favorite Kolkata fabric shop! It’s super light, which is why it’s probably good that the front part of this blouse is lined, which I had to do with a plain white fabric because I didn’t have enough muslin, because otherwise my bra woudl show. I stitched the hem facing and sleeve hems by hand and tacked down the faux-wrap, and while I like this blouse a lot, I wish it was just a little longer, and wider at the hips, sort of a bit swingier? I don’t know. But the shape is great, I will certainly be making it again!

Back to the pants! These are true fabric hogs, but I love it, especially in this bright bright fabric I got at Thakur. The fabric is lightweight but not translucent, and has a nice texture which you totally cannot see in photos.

I love how these pants have pockets. I am sure there are those who would say these are not the most flattered design on my short curved frame, but honestly, who cares? Why does everything have to be the MOST flattering all the time? These are comfortable as hell, they keep me cool, and I love them.

Plus, this color combination says Summer to me in a big way! I cut a size 12 of the palazzos, just to be safe, but ended up taking a lot out of the waist, about 4 inches, and I think I could go down to a 10 or an 8 on these, they are just that big. I wanted them comfy, though, so mission accomplished.

The back zipper is such a classic detail, don’t you think? I hand picked it.

For the Hoya, I think I cut a 48 because I was worried about the bust measurement, and that’s fine, fit wise, roomy but not a sack. I would, as mentioned before, lengthen it and widen out the hem for next time, but that’s just my preference. For wearing it with high waisted stuff, this style is perfect. I french seamed everything I could on both garments, and finished the hems of the pants with seam binding and hand stitching.

So there you have it. Trying new things, wearing the pants, staying one step ahead of the humidity. That’s me, in a nutshell.

 

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The Ladies Who Art Skirt

One of the unexpected side benefits of having friends who are in the arts and have projects out of town means that you get to go visit them in said out-of-town spaces! Of course, now that I live in Mumbai, everything is….out of town. Hell, I’m out of town! But I digress. The point is, my friend Victoria was recently doing a play out of THE town that matters, aka New York, according to New Yorkers, and so I went off to visit her with two other friends so we could support her in her tour of the provinces and make sure her rustication didn’t endure for too long.

Fun fact, when Roman emperors wanted to punish someone without killing them, which is a small group of people, frankly, for whom that applied, they did something called “rusticate” them, that is, the recipient of the punishment would be exiled from Rome. They would get a country estate, and keep their lives, but what was even the point, if you couldn’t be in Rome, ya know what I mean? All those barbarians, my lord, a fate worse than death!

But luckily, Victoria didn’t fall in love with the countryside, nor did she receive some sort of punishment from the mayor of Brooklyn, so she’s back where she belongs, but not before we got to visit her, and, as a side benefit, we also got to visit The Clark, a lovely art museum in Williams, Massachusetts. They had a special exhibit about Women Artists In Paris, which was since closed, but was quite interesting, especially for us, a group of women artists ourselves!

She’s taking some HER time.

It’s hard to make new friends.

Love this. All women should have a copy of this, somewhere.

And so it was good that I wore a new skirt, obviously. Had to look good for all these Parisians and Parisian transplants! And my…actual friends, of course. Them too.

So this is a Deer and Doe Chardon Skirt, which I have made a few times now. It’s easy to put together and always fun to wear.

The fabric is from Cotton and Steel, and I get a ton of compliments on this when I wear it.

I appreciate how the pleats give this fullness at the hem but smoothness at the hips. It’s a nice thing about the design.

Yeah. That’s about all I’ve got to say about this. What can I say, some projects are simpler than others!

 

This is the kind of face you make when your friend takes the pictures and wont stop. I’m literally saying “ANASTASIA” in this photo!

It looks good in the reflection, too!

Just a simple skirt for a lovely day with some lovely ladies, some living, some dead, but all who art.

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The Happy in Hampi Shorts

It is interesting for me to consider the way my sewing and dressing trends have been affected by spending so much time in India. I’ve written about this before, of course, but it’s a continually evolving relationship, I realize, as I change, as India changes, as my comfort levels rise and fall. When I first came to Mumbai I was fairly nervous about clothing, what to wear, what was appropriate, what would make me feel safe. Of course, it is patently insane that women have to police their own safety through their clothing and feel that what we wear needs to safeguard us, that we need to work to not “provoke” men with our garments, but hey, that’s the world we live in, and as much as I loathe it, I also participate in it. I’m so extremely visible in India, although of course if I were blond and blue-eyed I would no doubt be even MORE visible, so I’m grateful for my hair and eyes, at least! But that visibility also makes me self-conscious, because it’s like a sign that says “look at me” in a country where man habitually stare at women ANYWAY.

Now, living in Mumbai, which is, in my limited experience, the best city for women in India, I am in a rare and privileged position because people come from all over India to live in Mumbai, the city where you can do and say and wear anything, relatively, that is. But I still feel tentative with my clothing choices, because while the temperatures are consistently steamy and you do see women in shorts and mini skirts on occasion, it’s still India, and the overwhelming majority of people dress in traditional Indian dress or a Western-inspired derivation of it. While my initial ideas of what to sew and wear in Mumbai might have been more limited, and I’ve certainly expanded my shapes, silhouettes and hemlines over the past two years, there are some styles that I have, well, say reserved for trips to Singapore, Puerto Rico, or the US in the summer.

But recently, I’ve decided to take the leap, and I’ve made a few pairs of shorts. I know! Scandalous! I experimented with a few patterns, finally settling on the Deer and Doe Goji Shorts. At first I just wore them at home, but having completed a pair of slightly longer sorts out of a lovely lightweight denim I picked up at Thakur, I decided to test them out on the world, and tried them out for a meal out, and then an afternoon coffee, carefully observing rickshaw drivers and waiters to see if anyone was shocked. As far as I could tell, at least in my very sophisticated and upscale neighborhood, I wasn’t making any waves with my outfit!

So I figured, let’s take this show on the road, and wore these shorts on a recent trip to Goa, which I knew would be completely fine, as the laid back party capital of India plays host to thousands of backpackers in skimpy outfits yearly, so my shorts put me on the more conservative side down there. But the real test was sporting these in Hampi, an AMAZING archeological site in Karnatika, which my friend Ben and I visited and basically had our mouths open in awe the entire time. It’s hard to get to, but absolutely worth it if you are in that part of the world.

And I explored it in shorts!

As I mentioned, these are the Deer and Doe Goji pattern, which is really easy to put together. This is my second pair. I did a first as a wearable muslin, which are great, but they are pretty short. I don’t even think that’s, like, my India-based consciousness, they are SHORT. I wore them in Singapore, and I do love they way they look, but I lengthened these about five inches, and one inch became the hem, but just so you know, and it’s not like these are really long!

The original pattern has a facing for the hem, but I find that a little fussy, so I just allowed for the hem when I lengthened, as I mentioned above.

So this pattern can be a skirt or shorts, but I prefer the shorts. All the details make it fun, the paneled legs, the patch pockets (which are wonderfully designed and like, the perfect size and shape!), the drawstring waist. I made the string a little wider, because I like that look. These are wrinkled from days and days of wear, but I think you can still see the lovely color of the denim. It’s a nice lightweight but it still has body and substance. Thakur, you get me!

I didn’t, sadly, make the t-shirt. It’s actually from Lulu Guinness’ collaboration with Uniqlo from YEARS ago.

Isn’t it weird that when you have a sewing blog and you make a bottom you are basically like, okay, guys, check out my butt? But….check it out! Also, I’m basically imitating this Russian chick we saw have her MUCH older husband/boyfriend/whatever take sexy photos of her on the beach in Goa. Oy.

And check out Hampi!

It’s the second largest archeological site in Asia! And it’s STUPID awesome.

Like my shorts!

 

 

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The Resting in Rajasthan Robe (and nightgown!)

The East has long been associated with luxury, a luxury that makes one soft, weak, effeminate. From the ancient Greeks, who viewed their Persian neighbors (and frequent enemies) with suspension for their trousers, soft pillows, and luxury oriented ways, to the British, who justified their growing expansion and imperial conquest of India as a government-run colony, rather than a vassal of the East India Company  in the 19th century the “effeminate oriental” and the association of luxury as A. Eastern and B. decadent, therefore weakening. If a concept of  virtue in the west after the Protestant reformation comes from deprivation, from austerity, from self-denial, than the grandeur and majesty of eastern monarchs, with their ceremonies, formalities, intricacies of rank and service, translated to a bewildered and derogatory image of the east as a place of weak and inefficient dilettante. You can read a lot about this here, or a little about Edward Gibbon’s many references to this in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire here, or you can just giggle at the thought of scandalized physically uncomfortable European ambassadors being all jealous and casting shade.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 3.24.57 PM

PS: If you aren’t following Fly Art in some way shape or form at this point, you probably should look at your life, look at your choices.

I am 100% sure that given the European desire for Eastern goods, the roots of this was a certain amount of envy. But whatever the cause, between the silk and the tea, the diamonds and the spices, the East was where virtue went to die and decadence when to thrive. It’s telling, then that the word for pillow in Spanish (almohada) comes from Arabic, the idea of slippers emerged out of the Ottoman empire, and every dish you’ve ever seen incorporating gold foil probably made its way to you via India. This is a culture whose rulers traditionally wore glorified pajamas.

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It’s very hot here. Who can blame anyone for wanting to be comfortable? The British. That’s who. Here is what Gibbon  had to say about men wearing silk:

“Two hundred years after the age of Pliny, the use of pure, or even of mixed silks, was confined to the female sex, till the opulent citizens of Rome and the provinces were insensibly familiarized with the example of Elagabalus, the first who, by this effeminate habit, had sullied the dignity of an emperor and a man…”

What. Is. Your. Deal. Men can’t feel a little fancy? I hope Gibbon wore sackcloth his whole life. Put your hair shirt away, Thomas Beckett, and get on the comfort train!

I, personally, have always wanted a bathrobe. In fact, I’ve owned a few, but I’ve never really used them. I don’t know what it is, maybe I never got the right one for me, but something about them always seemed a little unnecessary, silly, dare I say it, decadent? I would throw one on, feel like I was a character in a movie from the 1950’s, and take it off again. Robes seemed like something that television characters can’t live without and real people don’t live with. What is the use of a garment that you wear for what, an hour at most? In that brief window between pajama time and real clothing time on days when that window is more than, say, seven minutes? The allure of the robe was strong, but the practicality of it seemed lacking.

However, on a recent trip to Rajasthan, I stayed in an amazing place (seriously. Stay here when in Jaipur. Do not pass go, do not collect 100 dollars. Just stay here) where they gave us these gorgeous block printed cloth robes and something about being there with the beautiful robes made lounging around in them just heavenly and I thought, why can’t every day be like this?

So I decided to make a robe. Screw it. I live in a land of fabric, I can buy yards and yards of the stuff and make it into a robe and lounge about it for five minutes a day and feel amazing. And frankly, if I can feel truly glamorous and decadent and amazing for a full five minutes a day (and sometimes longer on weekends!), is that really a waste? Is that, in fact, what the Europeans did not get about the concept of luxury? That in small doses it can be just enough, and make all that virtue all little easier to swallow.

So, without further ado, my Resting in Rajasthan Robe!

RIR 4

Oh, that style. Isn’t it just too chic for words? I love the kimono elements, the self-attached tie (isn’t that the thing that is always getting lost?) the sleeves, the sleeves! I could bask in them.

RIR 3

I cut a Large, which was a bit large, but I wanted it big, frankly. I recently made a medium for a friend and frankly, that would have been just fine, but I’m not taking this thing in, what’s the point? A robe should be loose and make you feel embraced by soft softness.

RIR 2

The fabric is a heavenly buttery sheerish white cotton stamped with a highly traditional Rajasthani motif that I picked up while fabric touring in the North with Liz. The large motif meant it didn’t scream garment to me, but I knew I wanted to do something with it. And this robe really fit the bill.

RIR 5

I lengthened it about five inches, which I think works. I can’t imagine it shorter, that’s for sure! Well, it actually only looks really short in this photo, it’s pretty perfect in real life.

RIR 6

The one thing I would change (and did when making this for a friend) is the back seam. I just don’t really know why you need that, if you have a fabric that is wide enough. Of course, if you don’t, it makes the sense, but for a fabric wider than 45 inches, go nuts!

I used french seams throughout and some self-made bias tape to finish the front edges. All in all, it truly is as Seamwork promises a quick project. Maybe 3 hours, from cutting to (machine) hemming!

I also wanted to show it to you while open. And you can see the nightgown underneath!

RIR 1

It’s a Deer and Doe Plantain. I don’t really make other knit tops these days, I’ve realized…..This one I just lengthened to dress length for a night-gown. I rarely wear them but when I do, the glamour is way up. So why no combine it with a robe? (Side note, I never look this put together when I sleep. IT’S ALL AN ILLUSION.)

RIR 7

THOSE SLEEVES. Sigh.

I realize, I’ve actually made a bunch of Seamwork patterns and documented….zero of them. Guys, how great is Seamwork? I love it!

RIR 9

That’s right! I used a prop! Trying to step my photo game up a bit! That being said, you can totally see Cadfael’s food area at the bottom of this photo soooooo….win some, lose some.

RIR 8

Ahhhh, luxury. Whatever, Western morality, I’ll take this any day of the week. For about five minutes. And then I have to get dressed and go to work.

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Deer and Doe, seamwork, Sewing

The Ants in my Pants Pants

I would not say I am one for crazy pants. We live these days in a crazy pants world, and I think that’s wonderful, but crazy printed pants have never drawn me into their brightly becoming arms (legs?), probably because I’m already a prints person with closet full of printed tops and despite what the runways and Pretty Little Liars seem to want me to believe, pattern mixing is not my thing. So I need SOMETHING to be plain, or at least, matchable, and that is usually the job of pants, to my mind. Not that I wear pants much, to be fair, but when I do I tend to want something basic. Pants are sort of like giving up for me, if I’m being honest. Pants are something I wear when I can’t figure out something cute, and I just throw up my hands and think well, I guess it’s PANTS today, way to let yourself DOWN, Leah, way to let the TEAM down. I don’t know what team this is supposed to be, but in my head those sad mornings it’s quite clear.

I know that this isn’t everyone’s philosophy. In fact, I think most people I know prefer pants to anything else. Especially jeans. I own two pairs of jeans. I rarely wear either. It’s a good thing I’m moving from the States because I believe this is grounds for treason here, not wearing jeans much. At the least, it’s deeply unpatriotic. Although since denim became popular in India it might even rival our own devotion, check out these sad 90’s monstrosities:

 

Dungaree-Style-in-Bollywood IndiaTv2e83c3_bollywood-fashion-90s

Or this more modern negative situation: 11062039_805373329547083_414232679461784162_nThis actress’ name is Kangana Ranuat and she is very talented and she is better than this.

Yeah. So maybe I will be even stranger to the general public once I’m there, but I have to be what I am and live my life, and that’s a life with minimal pants. That all being said, I did recently make a pair of pants that I could not be more into, and not only are they not plain, they are insanely printed. And yet? I love them. I love them so much that they give me ants in my pants and I need to dance.

AIMP 5Yes! See? CAN’T STOP THE DANCING. Could barely stop to take these photos! These began as a love affair with fabric. I saw this fabric on  GirlCharlee.com (yes they have wovens now I don’t know what to do with myself).

AIMP 2

See? Look at that face. That is the face of someone dancing on the inside.

The pattern is the Colette Patterns Clover. I gotta made a different pants pattern, guys. I’ve made this so many times. I need something new. I HAVE many other patterns. I should made some of them! I’m going to make these next. Maybe this is why I’m not as into pants? No. Probably not. ANYway. The Clover pattern ain’t broke so yeah….

AIMP 3

This fabric is just, I can’t stop loving it. It reverses everything I’ve ever felt about printed pants, on myself, and on others.

AIMP 1

The Clover is something I can kind of make in my sleep at this point, and I always make a size 6, and that’s what this is. I did, as I always do, flat felled seams on the inner thighs and crotch, and french seams on wide side-seam.

AIMP 6A little rear view for those on the internet who would like to see that. YOU’RE WELCOME, creepy guys googling 90’s Bollywood images! Take that!

AIMP 4

I also made the shirt! It’s a plantain. Boy, this outfit is like a double tried and true combo.

And because it’s a typical outfit, I have to do a typical jump shot!

AIMP 7BOOM. Pants I love and don’t even feel bad when I’ve chosen to wear them. Pants that don’t make me feel like I’m giving up! Boom.

Do check out my Etsy Shop for new (old) vintage pattern listings! I gotta unload these before I move, people, I can’t take ever pattern I own to India, I think the Indian Government will suspect a new and entirely inefficient form of colonization.

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The Welcome Spring Outfit

(Please note, because of life events like weddings etc. some of these posts were intended to be up months ago and are only going up now. This is a phenomenon known as the “life gets away from your syndrome” and it is very common with all the people who are me. Sue me. Please don’t. I can’t afford it.)
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

-Rainer Maria Rilke
Just what you want in a sewing blog, right? Rilke quotes? I know. You’ve been waiting forever. You’re welcome, Internet. Rilke. He’s back.
It is obviously quite ironic for me to be discussing Spring now that it is now officially and completely summer, but given how mercurial and cool the weather has been in New York I feel I can comfortably get away with this. Of course, these photographs were taken in Portland….but you get the idea. Seriously, I only know it’s summer because the calendar told me so. Although one thing I will say is, the spring flowers were out of control gorgeous in New York this spring. My friend Ben (hi, Ben!) told me that because we had a rough and snowy winter with the ground being frozen for so long we were due for magnificent flowers because the ground got so much water. And as he so often is, Ben was correct! Well done, Ben. But the flowers on the East Coast could not have prepared me for Portland.
Portland is my new favorite place. It reminded me of Philadelphia, one of my other favorite places, and they both have P names so there you go, I have a type. Mid-size cities on the rise, with lots of greenery and excellent food who are paced on the slower side. Why do I live in New York, again? (And by the way I’m MOVING to an even crazier city,, more on that later!) Mr. Struggle and I visited Portland in April (good lord, APRIL, has it been that long? Guys. My life. Work, my novel,  our second wedding,I can’t even.) and we decided this is our new dream city. First of all, the food. We had radishes with smoked butter at Ned Ludd and Dulce de Leche ice cream at Salt and Straw and divine wines (for me) and beers (for Mr. Struggle) all over the place and holy god, it was amazing. Mr. Struggle almost passed out from the intensely good Singaporean style of chicken he had at Nong’s Khao Man Gai that transported him back to Singapore and the many years he spent working hard to decimating its chicken population. Are there things other than food in Portland? Probably. Who knows. Mostly we were just trying to get from food to food, stopping for food in the middle.
And obviously if you are going to indulge in a food tour you need and outfit to match. Something comfortable but still cute, as one must maintain one’s standards of dressing even when visiting the casual wilds of the West Coast. One must keep up appearances, mustn’t one? Here is what I came up with:
WS 1My second attempt at Deer and Doe’s Chardon skirt with the correct pleats this time! Boom. LEARNING things. Like a boss. This is in fact another all Deer and Doe outfit, because the top is my beloved Plantain. I know that everyone’s ideal t-shirt is different, but I must say, this free pattern (!) came as a godsend to me, because this is mine. The only change I ever make, and I have made this thing innumerable times now, is to lengthen it.
WS 3
The fabric for this skirt is really something special. My friend Becca (hi, Becca!), like most of us, has a mother. Her mother, Mary (hi, Mary!) is also wonderful, just like Becca, and she has consistently given me amazing random gifts of fabric. This is a Liberty of London print from I don’t know when, in what feels like a lightweight upolstery fabric. Oh, how I love to dress like a sofa! A sofa with pockets!
WS 4
The shirt is a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. Basic like a pumpkin spice latte.
WS 5I think it’s a little hard to see the pleats on this print, but in real life they are adorable! You’ll just have to trust me on that.
WS 6The ever popular jump shot! The people of Portland, bless them, didn’t bat an eye.
Oh, man, I have so many more posts to catch up on, including all the things I made for our second wedding (second of three, kill me now) and all the things I’ve been making to try and get rid of my fabric collection! Why would I do that? Am I quitting sewing? OF COURSE NOT. But I am moving! To Mumbai! Which is in India! And bringing fabric to India is like bringing sand to the beach. Don’t worry, I will still be blogging there, hopefully more frequently, as one of the many benefits of moving is committing more time to writing, both my dramatic and prose work, and my blogging. The move happens in September, so stay tuned for an outpouring of sewing for myself and others to diminish my stash in between novel revision, web series continuation, and the rehearsals for my new play, with sewing themes, coming to New York in August! You know. Lazy summer.

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The Before It’s Too Late Skirt (topped with a noir plantain!)

This always happens, doesn’t it, you plan a bunch of things for a season, you end up not doing them and resenting that season because you get sick of the weather, and then, as the season FINALLY draws to a close, you find yourself scrambling to do even a fraction of those things because you now feel it might almost be too late! Because you will NEVER get that season back again! Because you’ve forgotten how time and weather works! Suddenly you feel a sense of strange and potent urgency. Must make more things that I can only wear for, like, three more weeks! Or is this just me?

Come to think of it, I realize that while I don’t suffer from fomo, I might have the opposite problem in that I might suffer from late to the partyitis. I think it takes me a while to get excited about change, and so by the time I’m really in the zone for a new thing, it’s already almost over. I will never be, I know, an early adapter of anything, except perhaps of television. In five years people are going to be having iPhones implanted in their hands and I’m going to be like, iPhone 6, I think I like it! Maybe I should get one!

So now that it’s finally feeling like spring might be imminent someday somehow here in New York (hahaha I’m just kidding it’s going to snow soon it will never be Spring oh my god people in New York are going to revolt!) I know I should be all about the lightweight fabrics and the showing of the skin, discarding wool for cotton, but guys, I just can’t bear too, not quite yet, not when I had this idea for a skirt in my mind that I knew would be awesome. And no amount of slightly warmer weather was going to stop me from making it! So despite the fact that I should be making aspiration warm weather clothing as an effort to entice Spring into coming and as an offering to the great Sewing Gods, I didn’t. If we get more snow, it’s my fault. Please don’t tell anyone. People will hurl rotten vegetables on my new skirt.

I had a small length of bright lovely felted blue wool from my days working in the costume shop that I knew would be a fantastic skirt with a ton of structure, and I also had Deer and Doe’s gorgeous Chardon pattern, which I had been itching to try. Why did I wait this long? For literally no reason whatsoever. I ended up playing with the pleats and changing the pattern a tiny bit, but still, I believe the spirit of the skirt in intact, and I couldn’t be happier, because boy, does this skirt have spirit. If this skirt was an extracurricular activity it would be the pep squad. Check it out, if you don’t believe me!

BITL 1It’s like I’m wearing a bell! I ended up omitting one pleat so that I have four in the front instead of five, but I think it’s pretty cute this way too! I liked the volume but I also thought that it might look nicer on me with a flatter front.

BITL 3How lovely is this color? I love it so deeply. I feel like this makes it a little transitional, right? A bright color for spring? No? The wool isn’t that heavy, actually, despite it being felted, and it actually felt lovely on the balmy 45 degree March day I wore it out on recently. Whatever, I’m not going to apologize for my fear of change, and if this skirt can get me from winter to spring, I’ll take it. It has even cheered me up this week when I’ve transitioned from a slight fever to a rather nasty and debilitating cold. So if it can help me through that, Winter to Spring can’t be SO bad, right?

BITL 4That’s the look of a person who loves pockets. POCKETS. And these are awesome a deep and lovely, and I like this skirt a lot. I would totally make this again, and try it with the original five pleats, just to see what that’s like. Maybe in a canvas or something lightweight but stiff. I think that what I love about this skirt is its structure and it’s fullness, and I would want something that works with that. Do we think a quilter’s cotton would do it?

BITL 6A little back view. I feel the bell-like aspect is fully in effect here. As are wrinkles. I live the life I live.

BITL 2Oh, I made the shirt, too! A plantain, en noir, so I can wear it to cafes in Paris and talk about the disillusion of the human spirit and stuff. Or, just, you know, with EVERYTHING. It’s a black shirt. Everyone should have one of these. Everyone should have ten. Everyone I know does. Remember when black was something you wore for mourning? Me neither. It made it out of a slightly stretchy rayon knit which is actually fairly comfortable despite its low stretch. Just your standard Deer and Doe Plantain. I’ve made maybe 15 of these now. I’m not kidding in any way.

I had anticipated putting the belt loops in this skirt, but the fabric ended up being too thick for that once I made the belt loops, so I had to omit them. That’s alright, though, although I liked the look. Maybe this would be nice in a linen, too, although maybe that would also be a wrinkle monster, just like me. See, I’m thinking about lighter weight fabrics! I’m getting there!

BITL 5

But for now, I’m going to nurse my sickness and enjoy my warm, wool, not at all Spring-forward skirt. Oh, and I’m going to curse daylight savings times too because in the words of the John Oliver show, why is that still a thing?

BITL 7

Jump shot! Haven’t done that for a while, as Mr. Struggle reminded me.

Do you sew for the season you’re in or the season you WANT to be in? I’ve got to warn you guys, I’ve got some more warm clothing coming up, including a coat, sigh…I’m a mess….

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The A-tisket A-brisket Dress, and giveaway winners!

First of all, I’m sorry for the gap in posting! It was actually easy for me to write posts on vacation in Ireland then it is here in Brooklyn. Go figure. It must be all this pesky graduate school writing I have to do. They keep giving me deadlines and I’m like, um, but, 30 pages by next week? Don’t you know I have blogging to do? Strangely enough they don’t seem to care, the cretins. Don’t they know what’s most important in my life? Selfish, is what they are, very very selfish.

As always the problem lies not in clothing production but in documentation. I swear, I should just carry my camera around with me all the time and smack strangers around and make them photograph me. I wear my own makes all the time, ALL. THE. TIME, and yet I have the hardest time getting them photographed. I am the worst. Sigh.

Okay, so first of all, giveaway winners!

For the yarn, that goes to Crafty Little Bugger!

The simplicity patter goes to tamalyn1,!

And the McCall’s pattern goes to Maryall!

So, ladies, do let me know where to send your patterns by emailing Leah.Franqui@gmail.com, and thanks for entering! There will be more giveaways and round-ups soon, I promise, and I’m even going to do the flickr thing, for reals.

To the outfit!  I did get my roommate, Jordan, to take these shots of my new Deer and Doe Plantain Dress after the Brisket King Festival last night, after which I was pretty thrilled about the loose nature of this garment…worth it. Worth every minute of self-hatred and stomach-ache. BRISKET. I must have tried ten kinds, including at Korean brisket hand roll, but what’s his face and I agreed that the best brisket came from Duck’s Eatery, not only because of the meat, which was astounding, but because of the SAUCE. I could take a bath in that peppery smoky wonder. My Jewish grandmother would be very offended by this, but it might be the best brisket I’ve ever had, though a close second is Morgan’s, an amazing place in my hood and also well represented, and they gave me a plate of just the crispy ends, so, you know, I kind of just want to hug everyone there. But a comfortable loose knit dress was clearly the right choice for such an event, can you blame me?

TB1So, when Deer and Doe released this free pattern, the Plantain top, I couldn’t have been more excited. I’ve already made it four times, and almost finished a fifth for my mom. I am basically making a plantain plantation. That’s happen. Get into it.

TB 4

I love the fit and the neckline, and I am so happy Deer and Doe, a company whose designs I love, released a free pattern. The generosity of pattern companies never ceases to amaze me, it really made sewing possible for me when I first started and I always appreciate it, especially one this nice.

I got the fabric from Girl Charlee (like I do), and simply lengthened the original hemline. It turned out a little looser then I thought, and I would make it a little closer fitting next time, but it’s nice to have something that is supremely comfortable and still looks good while being squished by brisket aficionados and trying to get another cocktail in Chinatown.

TB5It’s a bit lightweight for a winter that has been so cold but I’m hoping that an incentive for spring to come, because obviously my clothing dictates to the weather. It’s a very comfortable fabric, though. Cadfael likes it:

TB 2

There is nothing complicated at all about this pattern and if you haven’t yet made it, deal with yourself and just do it. It’s free. It’s great. It survives brisket. So far, it’s survived Cadfael, what more can you ask for?

TB3Nothing! So make it. It’s nice.

I promise I have more stuff to show you, and I will harass all those around me until I have decent shots. As god is my witness, I’ll ruin all my relationships to show you what I’ve made!

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