Tag Archives: dress

The Be A Pineapple Dress

I have to admit something, a dark and shameful secret. I am terrible at muslins. I just am. I never really make them, is the thing, because I always want them to be wearable because, well, I don’t know, I guess sometimes it feels like a waste of time although of course it IS NOT and I have botched a lot of things and ruined good fabric more times than I can count through NOT really muslining, by just cutting out a dress or shirt or whatever and realizing it doesn’t fit correctly and I hate it. Ugh, sigh, foolish Leah. I don’t know, I just have a hard time sewing when it doesn’t create a wearable product, which isn’t great, I should be more process oriented, more fit oriented, but I find myself just…not being that way.

Should I just bite the bullet and actually commit to muslins? Yes, yes I should. WILL I? I honestly can’t say.

So this dress was my SECOND muslin/tester/just a dress I made because I’m a muslin fail, as you know. I have to make a dress for my friend Ekta’s upcoming wedding (hi, Ekta!). Well, I mean, I don’t HAVE to but I want to! And it has to be formal, a gown, really. I have been encouraged to make something Indian, but I just, can’t even with that. First of all, I like traditional Indian clothing on other people but I’m not all that wild about it on myself, unless it’s like a sari or a lenhga. The whole mashed-up Indian outfit options are beautiful, but just not really me. I think it might be the lack of waist definition, which is so big in concepts of Western beauty, but not as important here in Indian clothing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, all very nice, but not very me. So Ekta will have to be down with my gown!

I knew I wanted to take a dress pattern and lengthen it to make it a gown, so I decided to try my hand at New Look 6526, because I really liked the bodice details. But alas, it was not to be. There were so many issues, from the bust to the armscye, and I just didn’t know where to start or if it was even worth it. So I took a step back and thought about what I liked about this pattern, really liked about it, and decided it was the princess seams and the v-neck. So I took out another pattern I had, McCalls 7503, with some similar elements, and tried that one out for size. This pattern also had multiple cup size options, which is always a good sign, because New Look 6526 is going to need a full bust adjustment and a HALF to get that to fit.

I was worried about the bust size, though, so I cut an 18 for my tester, which means this dress, which is a dress, honestly, not a muslin, I mean, I frenched every seam, I’m insane, is a bit big, but that’s fine, for a “day frock”, as my friend Lucy, who shot the photos below, put it. I will go down a size all over and maybe two at the waist for my dress for Ekta’s wedding (technically it’s for her Sangeet, the wedding gets a sari!).

But honestly, this dress could be four sizes too big and I would still love it because the fabric is just the best. It comes to me courtesy of my friend Meredith, who handed it over to me when she left India, because she never got a chance to take it to a tailor. Meredith’s loss is my gain!

Pineapple party!

Good advice for us all. I am not tall, but I did wear these wedges, so that helped, but hey, where is my crown?

As I am fond of remarking, one of the positive things about India is the constant abundance of fresh tropical fruit. Does it make up for the constant abundance of feces dotting the streets? Jury is still out. Still, I love me some watermelon, so I enjoy that daily, and we have recently started adding pineapple to our green juice (yes I drink home-made green juice daily, don’t care that it’s #basic, it’s healthy!), which I buy from a streetseller across from my gym. And now I can match him!

So I made a few changes to the original design, adding these flutter sleeves (the sangeet version will have cap sleeves, fyi) and moving the zipper to the side. I didn’t have enough fabric to line it, which is okay, this is a solid cotton, so I finished off the sleeves and neckline with bias tape.

This fabric is so busy that you can’t really see the princess seams, etc, but they are there, along with a bust dart. It’s a nicely drafted pattern, I think!

I finished the hem with horsehair, as instructed, which gives it a little body and bounce. I struggled to figure out how to describe this in my notions shop, but it turns out the word in Hindi for horsehair is…horsehair.

 

This was an easy make, even with all the french seams I did, which I think is a good thing, because I’m about to attempt this in a different fabric, with a full length skirt, which will be flared if I have enough fabric, and something else if I don’t…and lined, and fancy, and probably a bit more challenging. So at least the base pattern is easy!

Lucy took these photos at golden hour, so this was me trying to do my most romantic golden hour pose. Nailed it.

We took these photos in this gloriously empty lot near a movie theater after watching The Post (it’s pretty good! Meryl is amazing, Hanks is good, the costumes are fun, the press stays free) and there was also this giant jar there. WHAT IS THIS THING?

Never mind, I will just keep on being a pineapple.

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The Orientalist Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mint Julep Dress

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

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

10. We Bury Our Feelings And Our Relatives Alive

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

READ THEM ALL RIGHT NOW.

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

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

ANYway. To the dress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Days of the Raj Dress

Whenever I come to Kolkata, which is not infrequently, as my in laws live here, there are a few things to which I look forward. The first of which, or I suppose the second, because the first is my in laws, (gotta win those daughter in law points, hope they are reading this!) is the food. Kolkata is famous for it’s cuisine, a mix of delicious things, from Bengali steamed fish with mustard sauce and banana flower cutlets, to rich Adwah biryanis and grilled meats, to some of the best Chinese food, albeit Indian tinged, I’ve have on this subcontinent, to delightful European style baked goods. Kolkata is a city of laid back pleasure seekers, and people wake up from their dreams about breakfast, spend breakfast discussing lunch, and spend lunch planning dinner. So it’s my kind of town, obviously.

But beyond the food, which is stunning, I will say, that Kolkata is an interesting place, and for me it’s one I like visiting because of its colonial charm. Of course, when I first came to Kolkata, TWO YEARS ago (I have been in India for two years I need someone to kill me now, thanks, bye), I had read a series of books about India’s history, including Amitav Ghosh’s spectacular Ibis trilogy, and I was prepared for a well-preserved colonial city when I landed in West Bengal. Of course, now I know that preservation is a foreign concept in India, in many sectors, but especially as far as history is concerned, but at the time, woefully naive child that I was, I believed that such things were possible. If your expectation of Kolkata is anywhere close to my own, well, you will be sorely disappointed in the city. If, however, you are willing to look behind the crumbling ruins, the horrible renovations and construction, the layering of signs and informal businesses and grime and poverty and decay, well, there you can find some shadows of the British Raj, some echoes of the princely Bengali millionaires or babus who built mansions and lit cigars with one rupee notes back when one rupee meant something. Here and there you can see the gorgeous buildings funded by Bagdhadi Jews in the 1800s, streets named by Anglo Indians in the 1920’s, glimpses of Calcutta in Kolkata of today.

As a history enthusiast, it is that city I am always on the lookout for in Kolkata, in between meals, of course. And this time, I made an outfit to match my search, McCalls 7153, from their Archive Collection.  I don’t know if any of you have seen or heard of the BBC show Indian Summers, which I believe was intended as the inheritor of all those Downton Abby fans (richly detailed historical drama featuring strong class issues? Check!). I have no idea how successful that was as a plan, but it’s set in 1930’s Shimla, against the dying breaths of the British empire, and the costumes are sumptuous as hell. 

This was actually the first McCalls Archive collection pattern that I have ever bought or made, so that was an adventure! I mean, it was fairly straightforward, I suppose, but still, trying new (old) things! The pattern is a 1930’s style dress, a new decade for me but one I am deeply into. I don’t know if anyone else got to check out the 1930’s Glamor exhibit at FIT, but it was stunning, and really showed me how the 1930’s was the first truly modern fashion era.

So here we go, my 1930’s dress! As a non-Indian in India, I felt like I should really be oppressing people in India while wearing this. My husband took these pictures, so maybe that counts?

There I go, looking off into the distant past, wishing I still controlled the tea and opium trade. AND THE WORLD!

This dress is pretty easy to put together, and I used this iteration as a sort of “wearable muslin”, throwing it together quickly (so quickly I made a mistake on one of the skirt panels, a sharp eyed reader can totally spot it, I DON’T CARE), and pinking all the seams. I got this fabric at my beloved Thakur, and it’s an indigo (or synthetic indigo) print, which I thought was lovely and fun for this dress. The pattern image is in stripes, and I liked that for a first try. It’s jaunty! Just like 300 years of British rule! A total lark!

In this dress, I feel like I could build a bunch of railroads, introduce several non-native foods that would become essential to the Indian diet (potatoes, tomatoes and tea, I’m looking at you guys) and systematically strip a nation of its natural resources while telling them it’s for their own good. I’m sure that’s JUST what McCalls intended.

I am pretty happy with the way this turned out, although next time I would change a few things:

  1. I was a bit worried about the bodice fit, because there were no darts or anything to do a full bust adjustment, and the bust measurements seemed slim on the pattern envelope. BUT THAT WAS A LIE! Damn, you, McCalls! I cut a 20 in the bust, and graded down to somewhere between a 16 and a 14 in the waist, but I feel that this bust has AMPLE room, and frankly, the bias panels mean the whole dress has a lot of wiggle room and ease, so next time I might just do a straight 16 and call it a day. As you can see in these photos, I have a lot of ease around the arms and bust.
  2. I might shorten the hem. I KNOW, I know, that’s what makes it so 1930’s, but I think even an inch or two might make it a little more wearable.
  3. I would french seam it all. THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

Still, I like this dress a lot, and I really do feel that 1930’s fashions DO work even today, without feeling too costumey. But maybe that’s just in Kolkata?

What’s-his-face wanted to try “fashion photography”. I gotta say, I kind of love it! Well done, what’s-his-face, I will now be demanding this every time.

 

I wanted to take these photos at Victoria Memorial, but it’s such a tourist trap, darling, you don’t want to be where all the commoners are, do you?

A little bodice close up for you. I love the details, the winged bodice, so chic.

Thinking about which of my suitors to allow to take me tiger hunting over the weekend. Probably. Wait, what’s a weekend?

A glimpse of our “shoot location”, probably from the 1920’s, judging from those balconies. Practically modern, relative to the dress!

So there you go, chasing the days of the Raj in this dress. Well, not chasing, of course, a lady wouldn’t do that. Mincing behind the days of the Raj, maybe? Swooning around the days of the Raj? Something like that. You get it.

 

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The Big Hit Dress

I am very clumsy person, it’s true, but the story behind this dress, or more specifically, behind the PHOTOS for this dress is really not my fault. Seriously. SERIOUSLY! I swear!

So after I met my friend and stylist Liz in Singapore, I jetted off to Thailand. Please don’t stop reading because you are like, over me and my champagne lifestyle. First of all, I mostly drink passable but inexpensive local white wine from India’s nascent wine industry and second of all, I KNOW I’m insanely lucky to be in this region where travel is cheap and easy, I know, I really do, I am grateful on a daily basis, I promise. Spending time in this part of the world has its drawbacks, to be sure, but it also has its advantages, and this is certainly one of them. ANYway, what’s-his-face and I sped off to Thailand, first to Bangkok, which we adored, staying as we did in the old city, eating our weight in street food and enjoying the scruffy but cleaner-than-India charm of the city. Phuket, on the other hand, we did NOT like all that much, frankly, because it’s a tourist trap and a half, getting around the island is difficult and expensive, EVERYTHING is expensive, come to think of it, and the beaches are lovely, but is it really worth it? Not for us, I suppose. We did, however, have an enjoyable day in Phuket town, which is rather cute and quant with charmingly maintained Chinese shop houses, which in the past would house a family on the second floor and their business on the first. Phuket town was a bustling port city at one point, bursting with the tin-trade an a favorite for Chinese merchants, so it makes sense that style would linger.

What’s-his-face has spent years and years in Singapore, which has a handful of these buildings as yet un-demolished to make way for shiny new condos, so he’s, like, over le shop house, but I am still enthralled.

I was LESS enthralled, however, by an extraordinarily low-hanging awning, held down by a sturdy pipe, which I walked directly into as I strolled down the street during my explorations. The stunning pain of hitting the pipe with my firm but tender forehead literally knocked me to the ground, and, after peeling myself off the sidewalk, I staggered about, dazed, until I wandered into a food stall where the owner quickly furnished me with some ice. She then, upon hearing my story, took me by the hand and made me lead her back to the offending awning and the shop it belonged to, where she proceeded to yell at the shop owner in Thai to raise her awning, dammit! Which. FAIR. When she asked me where I was from and I told her, she was surprised because Americans are usually angrier about this kind of thing. I didn’t have the energy to inform her that India will scrub the indignation right out of you, while, of course, leaving you with a much deeper seated low-simmering rage. Instead, I continued on my wanderings, holding fast-melting ice up to my forehead and trying to see straight.

Hours later, I asked what’s-his-face to take these photos. Obviously I should have gotten him to do them BEFORE the run in, literally, with the awning, but hindsight is twenty-twenty, now, isn’t it?

Ah well. Do ignore the bump, please. I LOVE this dress, it really IS a big hit, and I also SUSTAINED a big hit, so yeah, double meanings, etc. Score one for social media not being deceptive, I guess?

QUITE a bump. Sigh. But the dress is nice! I altered my bodice block, adding 2 inches on each part of the front bodice piece for the button placket, and extending the shoulder seams to make kimono sleeves.

The skirt is a circle skirt, and lucky for me this fabric, from Thakur, was wide enough for a nice length on the skirt in one piece!

The dress is extremely comfortable, and I keep reaching for it weekly.

See, I’m just smiling through the pain here, seriously.

NICE shot of the bump, there. It has since shrunk away to nothing, thank goodness, but yeah, nothing ruins a vacation picture like a firm blow to the head. Here, though, you can see that the fabric is a very subtle large print gingham/plaid sort of a thing, in shades of blue.

So there we go. I adore this dress, it was easy to make and it’s consistently easy to wear. Easy to explore new places in, easy to walk directly into a low hanging awning while wearing, it’s the grail.

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The Luxe Life Shirtdress

One of the greatest things about other people is the things they introduce to your life. I am, of course, enough of a Sartre fan to feel deeply that hell is, in fact, other people, and I wanted to put that on my yearbook page my senior year, but my mother told me it would be too negative. Deborah was probably 100% right, and she herself had a cynical senior yearbook page and knew of what she spoke, so I trusted her, but I’ve always been one of those people who was like, ohhh, man, PEOPLE, am I right? The worst! And yet, I also need and crave them, which is why when I find MY people, I’m a stage five clinger, and let go for nothing. I sing their praises to the world like troubadours of old, and I go to them for the wisdom of the ages. And I am forever grateful for the things they introduce me to, the books they recommend, the television shows they adore, the life hacks they tell me about (I would…not know what a lifehack was without my friends. For reals.) and all they bring. So today, I will celebrate Liz, my friend who introduced me to the joy that is going nuts over luxury hotels.

When Liz visited me in India, we traveled North together in May, a time when most people I know told me I was literally out of my mind because of the ground-baking heat. I maintain, however, that this was the best time to visit Delhi and Jaipur, specifically Jaipur, because yes, it was a daily desert, BUT, there were no other tourists! In India, I will take bad weather over crowds ANY DAY OF THE WEEK (please refer to the earlier statement about Sartre, kay, thanks) AND all the prices were slashed because it was the low point of tourist season. So we spent five nights at the Royal Heritage Haveli, which is seriously one of the best hotels I’ve even been in, a renovated Maharaja’s hunting lodge in Jaipur and just an amazing place to stay. I had stayed with my parents previously, but in the May scorching heat, Liz convinced me to spend a day lounging at the fabulous pool and soaking in the stunning Rajput inspired renovation. It was so wonderful, and I had never before spent a day during a trip not….doing anything. It was a revelation, and while I’m still a very active tourist wherever I go, hunting down historic sights and museums with the single-minded focus of a falcon hunting for mice, I do value lounging at a nice hotel and even taking some downtime, once I’ve exhausted my list of activities, that is.

Luckily, in Singapore, I’ve done most of the things that interest me from a tourist perspective, several times, so when Liz stopped by between traveling with her mother in China and being stuffed full of delights by her family in Hong Kong, we could focus on eating, hanging out by the pool, and squealing about our hotel.

Obviously, it’s clear to me that my life as a writer will mean millions and millions of dollars, fame, a-list events, and celebrity friendships. I mean, that’s really why I got into it in the first place, all those stereotypes about how easy it is, the glitz, the glamour. I obviously joke, but I hope that even if I do achieve modest success, and end up staying in a series of nice hotels, I still have the same feeling of joy and delight that I do now when I stay somewhere sleek and shiny and pretty. Or somewhere charming and historic and pretty. Basically, I just never want to take nice stuff for granted. Nice stuff is nice, and it’s a privilege to get to spend a night or two or however many in a lovely place like the Pan Pacific Singapore. If anyone in my life ever hears me being like, well, it’s nice, but it’s no Ritz, please, shoot me. Shoot me immediately. It’s fun to read Crazy Rich Asians, but I think it would be hell to live it.

So here is my latest Kalle Shirtdress, the third I’ve made, with the third button placket style, photographed in my most glamorous style possible with my expert photographer/partner in hotel adoration, Liz:

I have a lot of wonderful people in my life who take my photos, but I will say, Liz, with her eye for clothing and fashion, given that she sews herself and is a costume historian, really knows how to photograph my makes. She gets into it! Which is good, because 99% of the time, I feel like an idiot getting my photo taken. But here? I knew and know, I was super cool.

This is my third Kelle shirtdress, and this time I stitched up a 12, while my two previous incarnations had been a 14. It’s a roomy pattern, and I knew going down a size wouldn’t do much.

I made my usual adjustment of adding five inches at the hem, and that’s about it. Oh, I also did the inverted V rather than the pleat.

These photos were taken on our hotel room balcony. OUR HOTEL ROOM HAD A BALCONY! That was awesome.

The fabric is from my newly beloved Thakur, and this time I did the concealed placket. It’s a little more work, but it’s a cool effect, so I didn’t mind.

 

Liz was like, grab your sunglasses! She needs to add “shoot styling” to her resume.

Ahhh, enjoying the steamy humid Singaporean sunshine.

I have made three of these dresses, but I don’t know if I’m interested in stopping any time soon. They are so comfortable and airy in the clinging Mumbai heat, or, in these photos, in the Singapore stickiness, that I feel like I could just make them forever. Kalle shirtdress for life!

Meanwhile, I’m currently listening to this song and making this soup and talking with my co-worker about Joan’s style evolution on Elementary. What are you guys up to?

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Filed under Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Sewing

The Red-y For Thirty Dress

Oh boy, thirty years. That just happened. #thirty

I don’t know that I had any special feelings about thirty. I mean, it’s a liminal point in many lives, I suppose, and I certainly viewed its approach with a certain amount of bemused trepidation, trying to figure out if I feared thirty, or just felt like I was supposed to. And had I done enough in my first thirty years on earth? I asked what’s-his-face but he said that I hadn’t done as much as the guys who created Snapchat so probably not. Thanks, guy. Super glad we got married three times. #couplegoals

So I had to, gasp, evaluate my own existence on my own, without aid. Ugh. So I thought about the things I have done, and the things I haven’t done, and all the ways I would like to make the world better, and all the things I’m lucky to have had and experienced, and then the list became too long and my head was spinning and I decided that perhaps, just perhaps, thirty years is just that, all that, and only that. Yes, I did not make snapchat. In fact, I do not actually know how snapchat works even though my friend Ben explained it to me in the Brooklyn Museum one time. #millennials

Here are six other things I didn’t do by my 30th birthday:

  1. I have yet to figure out what to do with my hair. I don’t have a hair dryer. I don’t know how they work. I mean, I understand the mechanics because I get how basic electronics function, but the closest I’ve come is using a rickshaw on the highway as a wind-tunnel cum hair dryer. #class
  2. I have never backpacked through Europe. Or Southeast Asia. Or anywhere. I do not own a large backpack. I own a small one that whats-his-face made me buy and I hate wearing it because I feel like I look like a 7-year-old. #backpack
  3. I have never seen the wire. I am not going to see the wire. Stop telling me I need to see the wire. Oh, and I don’t like Tarantino films, and that’s not because I don’t “get them”, I get them. I don’t like them. That is a fair and legitimate thing to feel. You are allowed to just not like stuff. That’s not a comment on its quality, or my intelligence. #thewire
  4. I have never learned to enjoy grapefruit juice. Or okra. Or tripe. Is there a point when your palette stops evolving? #thebigquestions
  5. I have never understood how to keep my voice down. I just don’t here it. It’s loud. I project. Blame my theater training. #volume
  6. I have not won an Oscar. Or a Tony. Or a Pulitzer. YET. #futureme

Here are six things, however, that I HAVE done already in my life:

  1. I learned to sew, cook, knit, read a map, fold my laundry, figure out basic plumbing and keep plants alive and thriving. I can spatchcock a chicken, I can debone a fish, I can putty a wall, I can help a seed to grow, I can make my own wardrobe, I can build a bench,I can give a cat a home and all the love in my heart. #skills
  2. I have traveled, with a bag that is on wheels, by myself and with other people, to stand in a room with three Vermeer paintings in the Hague, to toast strangers with vodka in St. Petersburg, to dance until 5am in Buenos Aires, to the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. #global
  3. I have seen 30 Rock and Mad Men both from pilot to finale twice. And also like a billion plays, and a bunch of movies, WITH subtitles, and so much television like Fleabag, Glow, The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Insecure, Blackadder, Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister, Are You Being Served, Fawlty Towers, Gilmore Girls, Parks and Recreation, Better Off Ted, Arrested Development, Nashville, Hart of Dixie (NO REGRETS), Better Call Saul, Sherlock, Poirot, Miss Marple, Grantchester, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, Doctor Blake, Miss Fisher, Murdoch Mysteries, Death in Paradise, Seinfield, New Girl, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, Law and Order (ALL OF THEM), True Detective (YES REGRETS), Lovesick (formerly scrotal recall), Gavin and Stacey, Claws (IT IS SO GOOD WATCH IT MY FRIEND JEFF WROTE IT ALONG WITH OTHER PEOPLE), The Mick, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia…..  #accomplishments
  4. I have learned to accept gin as a part of life. #colonialism
  5. I have learned to be okay with my voice. And my hair. And my body, like, once a month. Maybe. #selflove
  6. I have sold a novel. And my friends who are amazing produced my play.  And I married my writing partner which is the best thing I could have ever done, because what’s-his-face and I have all sorts of plans. #blessed

And here are some things I want to do:

  1. I want to see more places. #go
  2. I want to learn more things. #do
  3. I want to write more, and do more, and love just as much. #yes

 

And here is a dress I made:

I used my trusty bodice block and obviously modified it for this very-unIndia friendly dress.

I mean, the fabric COMES from India, but the cleavage is basically A Fistful of Dollars it’s so Western. GET IT?

I took the sleeves from the Grainline Scout Tee and draped the skirt myself. The fabric is a subtle ikat from Thakur, and I have already made my feelings clear about Ikat sooooo….

And yes, pockets, obviously, you know the drill. I made what’s his face take these photos in this very cool hotel we stayed in recently in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

POCKETS FOREVER.

I finished the neckline with bias tape and french seamed the other seams. LIKE YOU DO.

And there you go. Red, and Red-y.

So maybe I’m okay at thirty. Maybe I am whatever I could have been. Despite the lack of snapchats to sell.

 

 

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Filed under Life, Sewing