Tag Archives: dress

The Khadi Body Dress

My love of khadi, the Indian handloom cloth popularized by Gandhi as the icon of the Swadeshi movement, knows no bounds, but most of my experience with the cloth has been crafting shirts for what’s-his-face, which you will never se because he is very not into being featured on the internet in any form. What’s-his-face is firmly of the opinion that the internet is for him to learn about the world, not for the world to learn about him, which I respect. But that means that the many lovely khadi shirts I have made him to help battle the intense humidity of Mumbai (and this summer, New York, more on that later!) remain undocumented. Sigh. C’est la vie. I have made some khadi stuff for myself, although not as much as I would like to, and this dress, made for our friends’ wedding, is a good start towards a khadi filled life.

I found this fabric on a trip to Kolkata, because the one thing that Mumbai DOESN’T have is khadi. I really don’t know why! But the lightweight wonder is absent from those Marathi shores. So it’s something I look forward to whenever I go to Kolkata because I get a chance to really go nuts and indulge. As opposed to my regular life in which I….buy a lot of fabric regardless.

The big revelation I had recently was that khadi can be silk as well as cotton. Point of fact it can be wool, too, I read, but most of my life isn’t super wool-friendly right now, so I’m sticking with silk and cotton for the moment. I snagged this truly excellent silk khadi with my mother-in-law about 8 months ago, and I knew, I just knew, it would be ideal for the wedding. And sure enough, it was!

It’s my new favorite, McCalls 7503, which I have now made four times!

Although….it also turned out super super duper low cut, which…I don’t really understand? Because I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times now? But somehow, I don’t know, in the cutting or stitching I must have lowered the neckline or something because this is…a lot of decolletage! A not-India-appropriate level of decolletage. Which is fine! Because the wedding was in America! But oh boy, India has totally changed the way I feel about parts of my body being out in the public gaze….oy. Something else to talk to my therapist about!

The fabric, it’s the star here, seriously.

I mean, look at it! And it’s khadi, and it’s silk, and oh boy, that’s a lot of my chest out there. But the fabric!

The design lines totally get lost in the busy print but I am fine with that. Maybe I should make it in stripes or something, something to highlight that.

I drafted the skirt, aka pleated it in a way that I thought looked nice, and the sleeves, and underlined and lined the bodice, and underlined the skirt, because this silk is so lightweight I knew it needed some structure.

 

Sideview!

 

This is what happens when I wear heels! Not a ton of balance, here….

And there you go! A khadi dress, for a khadi lover, so now I have a khadi body!

 

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The Blue in Brera Dress

Recently, I was at this very cool Durer show in Milan, because my life is REALLY THAT GLAMOROUS, with my friend Liz, because she is amazing and we like to meet in delightful places and talk about how delightful we are, and there was a line in the (very extensive, mayhap too extensive?) wall text which described Milan as “the undisputed design capital of Europe”. Which….I feel like there actually might be a few people who WOULD dispute that, I don’t know, Paris, maybe? But sure, why not, let’s give it to Milan, because it really is an unbelievably fabulous city jam packed with stylish people walking past stylish buildings, doors that open to elegant interior courtyards, food that makes me want to drop everything and work in one of these kitchens, and charm to spare.

It was so hard to leave the amazing residency I attended, which was tranquil and calm, tucked into the hillsides of Piemonte. It is a really amazing place, and one you might want to consider when thinking about artists residencies, for any of you artists out there! You can also visit for other purposes, and I would strongly advise you do so. But at any rate, while it was jarring to return to busy streets (to think, I am calling Milan busy, I live in Mumbai!) and the hubbub of human life, it was also delightful because Milan is simply great. Sophisticated but welcoming, sleek but homey, with grand avenues and cute tiny streets both in spades, I enjoyed myself immensely, and so did Liz, oh, and what’s-his-face, who was also there! In fact, I made him take these photos of me after we visited the Pinacoteca di Brera, a lovely museum in the Palazzo Brera, a palace in the heart of Milan’s Brera neighborhood. Once the artistic capital of Milan, now it is a chic area of tons of fancy designer shops and thronged with tourists, but I can’t complain, I was one of them.

As I so often do when I travel, I went to the art museum, not the modern one(s), (Milan is modern as hell), but the historic ones. The Pinacoteca di Brera is a lovely collection of some excellent pieces in a very digestible way, i.e. it’s not extremely overwhelming but it has some top tier stuff, and the building is really pretty. Ah, Italy, full of urban mansions and palazzi, why you gotta be so charming? This is why said tourists do said thronging….

If you are in Milan and into this sort of thing, you should totally check out this museum. It has this stunning Rubens:

And this excellent Caravaggio:

Man, Caravaggio, am I right? What a baller. Actually, it’s funny, the first time I ever saw one of his paintings was also in Italy which…makes sense, and it was this one:

Which is in the many many rooms of art you see on the way to the Sistine Chapel and my mother, to whom I owe so very much, pointed it out to my brother and I. We’ve both been pretty hooked ever since.

After enjoying all this, What’s-his-face and I went to La Latteria San Marco for some spaghetti con limone y peperoncino (spaghetti with lemon and chilies) which was life altering but NOT before I made him take these photos of my new Colette Patterns Claudette Dress!

This is the second version of this dress that I have made, and the first, while cute, had some bodice wonkiness. I mean, I’m still going to WEAR it, already have, at least twice, but it is not for le blog. But this one turned out well, partially because I was more careful making it and partially…nope, that’s it, that’s the only reason.

So without further ado, here you go!

I mean, sure, it’s no Caravaggio, but it’s still pretty cute!

I picked up this fabric at, you guessed it, Thakur, after someone I am teaching to sew snagged some for pillows. So I’m basically wearing her couch. I DON’T CARE! It’s lovely, a nice contemporary ikat-style fabric with a good weight so its sturdy and holds its shape in the sheath.

You can kind of see the lining in this photo, sigh, sorry, I didn’t have an iron with me! AH well, at least you know I lined it, now!

I love this dress. Seriously, I really do. I cut a 12, for the hips, and did a full bust adjustment and then took the waist in about an inch or so I would have some wiggle room (GET IT?) but still have it be fitted. In this iteration I made the version with two large bust darts, rather than the princess seams.

I feel like there is a SMIDGEN of breast-flattening happening here, still, but it’s pretty cute nonetheless.

I’m not NOT proud of my stripe matching, I think given the darts on this sucker this was the best I could do. AND THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH!

And I’ll murder anyone who says differently, got it? But I really am into this make, and I’m so glad it was a lovely day in Milan so I could get this one photographed. The weather turned chilly and rainy soon after, and anyone who has been following my instagram Me Made May stories can probably tell that I’ve been recycling a few outfits over and over and praying for a warmer day. Luckily it’s turned slightly warmer here in Parma, from which I write this post, and looks like it will be nice in Venice, were we end our Italian adventures, and lovely in New York and Philadelphia, to which I will be heading afterwards, so fear not, my Me Made May outfits are sure to improve!

I have no construction notes, this is easy to put together and I french seamed the skirt and the sleeves. I did not, as instructed, hand stitch them. That sounds….exhausting. I got places to be, people! In Milan! Or whatever!

I hope you are having a lovely May, me made or otherwise!

 

 

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The Chicken Little Dress

First of all, enter here to win an advanced reader copy of my novel! Or not, it’s your life.

Isn’t it wonderful how far curiosity can take you?

This is the story of the time that I grabbed a swath of cloth with fabric shopping at Thakur (OBVIOUSLY. I literally don’t buy fabric anywhere else anymore) and then ended up grabbing a second piece of that fabric while shopping there again with my friend Ana (hi, Ana!). I just couldn’t resist it, because it was too cute for words, and I knew exactly what I would make from it and what I would call that garment. (Of course, knowing what you would make from something is probably the best and most efficient and least wasteful way to shop for fabric, but I don’t always do that, much to my shame. How do you guys feel about stashing? Pro or anti?)

At any rate, this does not always happen to me, that a fabric calls out to me, like a siren, tempting me as I sail, lashed to the prow of the ship, trying to get home to Ithaca, sort of, while I bang a bunch of other ladies on the way. Sidenote, have you seen this excellent thing? It is excellent.  

But this fabric did call me. Or rather, clucked.

It’s chickens! Yes, yes it is. What was that about trying to dress more like an adult? I don’t remember saying something like that on numerous occasions, do you?

Sidenote, once Whats-his-face told me, “you shouldn’t buy more animal printed fabric” and it was the closest we’ve come to divorce yet.

How amazing are these chickens! And given that I live in India, a place where I literally constantly see chickens everywhere around me, I feel like it’s very appropriate. Of course, this is sort of a cutesy version of my reality. It’s like this:

(OTHER SIDENOTE did everyone know that Jane Krakowski starred in the London production of Guys and Dolls in 2005 AND JUST FORGET TO TELL ME????)

But my reality is like THIS:

This is a real photo from my actual life.

At any rate, I loved the fabric, idealization of chickens in my life or no, and I knew it would make a nice version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7503. 

As you might recall from careful reading of this blog, I made a test version of this for a fancy project. That worked out well, if a bit loose, so I went down a size to a 16 and it’s perfect! I didn’t get a chance to document said fancy dress, sigh, ah well. It’s hard to get good photos at evening events, don’t you find? What do you guys do in that case?

So at least I can show you the fit with this, my Chicken Little dress!

Oh, and that leads me back to the point about research. Took me a while, but I always get there! I loved the story of Chicken Little when I was a child. You know it, I’m sure, a chicken gets hit in the head with a leaf or a feather or an acorn, what have you, and thinks the sky is falling. He gets a lot of other animals on board with this story, and they go off to warn the king of the incoming danger. Like so many folktales and fairy tales, it has a modern sanitized ending, in which they do indeed warn the king, but the original version has them all eaten up by a wily fox who knows, even if the credulous animals don’t, that you can’t believe everything you hear. In this era of “fake news”, isn’t that a good lesson for us all?

So when I looked up Chicken Little, just to get a link, really, to the folktale, I found out that the story, like most, is much older than I thought! And readers outside of the United States might know it better as Henny Penny, which is arguably far more adorable.

Check out these illustrations of the story from different eras!

This illustration from 1916 proves that everyone looked better when we all had to wear hats and obviously the fox is a villain because HE IS THE ONLY ONE NOT WEARING A HAT GET IT TOGETHER ANIMALS!

This one is from 1840!

Another version of the story calls the character Chicken Licken, which is delicious for obvious reasons, and the original Danish version of the tale called him Kylling Kluk which is….amazing. Just absolutely amazing.

But I know the character as Chicken Little, and that is the name I have given my dress.

To the dress!

With the busy print it’s a little hard to see the pattern, but it’s adorable, I promise.

Maybe you can see it a bit better here. I rounded out the neckline on this one for variety, but otherwise made no changes, except for using bias tape instead of a lining. It’s hot here!

Oh, I suppose I also omitted the horsehair at the hem this time for the simple reason that I didn’t have any. Although I will say, it’s a bit scratchy on my other version, so I might just throw a petticoat under this (I finally broke down and bought a petticoat and it’s waiting for me in Philadelphia and I’m so excited!) if I want more swish. I feel like horsehair should be reserved for dresses with a lining, maybe? What do others do about that scratchiness?

Although it does have a decent swish right now, when I move!

Love a good twirl shot.

 

I do like that v back. This is the first version I’ve made, actually, of the three I’ve made, that is sleeveless, just like the original, and I like the armscye depth and strap thickness.

You can almost sort of see the princess seams there, but not quite. Ah, well, I suppose that’s not the end of the world. I mean, who is sitting around looking at everyone’s seamlines? Other than….people like me?

And there you have it. A dress I can wear whether the the sky is falling or not. I’m seriously loving this pattern! I’m thinking of stitching it up for a friend’s wedding, which is a daytime event, so hopefully photos to follow!

In other news, I’m working hard on my #makingmaisel garments! How about you? And congratulations to Miriana and Esme for winning patterns from the giveaway! Speaking of stash busting, keep an eye out for a fabric one to follow soon…..

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The Peoples of the Ancient World Dress

First of all, just so everyone knows, you are WELCOME to enter my pattern giveaway regardless of joining the #makingmaisel sewalong! Check it out, here!

When I was a child of about 12, I was already a big fan of history. Especially ancient history. I know. Knock you over with a feather. Nothing I have ever said before on this blog has ever even shaded towards that for you. But I was a kid who used to sit around reading books on young Martha Washington and Greek battle secrets and learning how to mummify stuff. As you can imagine, this made me really popular, which is good, because that was 100% my goal.

But the question is of course, why did I become this sort of human? Well, it’s probably because of a variety of factors, if I’m being perfectly honest. If I had to give you a recipe for a historically minded nerd child, because you might like to bred one yourself, it might be as follows:

10 cups historic fiction reading materials (anything from the Horrible History series to Japanese myths will do. Bonus points if you give them access to questionable appropriate series like Steven Saylor’s Gordanius the Finder books which no ten year old should read and this ten year old 100% did)

2 cups historically minded parents

1 cup access to travel and historic spaces (an expensive ingredient, to be sure. Can be substituted with appreciation for said historic spaces, if access is not possible immediately/ever)

3 tablespoon obsession with Indiana Jones

2 teaspoons costume obsession

1 teaspoon love of old-timey fonts

1 pinch of vivid fantasy life

Stir to combine, serve. Warning, becomes more potent with age.

In addition to all this, I lived downtown in Philadelphia, while I attended a school in the suburbs, which meant that school vacations were a little, say, isolated. My parents would hand me a stack of museum memberships (an optional ingredient for the recipe above), and send me on my way, to fill the long days with something other than watching television and bothering them at work. And one of my favorite places to spend a long vacation day was The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. A lot of people don’t know about this museum, but it is splendid, and well worth a visit if you are in the area. I would take my mother’s high school textbook from the 1950’s, The Peoples of the Ancient World, hugely out of date and more than a little offensive by modern standards, and sit in the galleries supplementing the exhibition texts with choice self-taught Assyrian lessons.

I think you are probably seeing why I was….alone for these trips, unaccompanied by “friends”, or whatever.

Well, on a recent trip to the States, from which I am still jetlagged, having returned to Mumbai on Thursday, I got a chance to not only visit the museum, but do so with my friend Becca, AND get a tour of the conservation lab! It was beyond my wildest imaginings and I mostly clasped my hands to my chest so I wouldn’t knock anything over.

And at the end of the visit, I got Becca to take my photo! I named this dress after the textbook, which I love and treasure and still have.

This dress is actually SUPER simple, like, STUPID simple, but I wanted to show it off because the fabric is just a star. And I bought it with my friend Ana!

It’s this lovely scuba knit I got at Thakur in Mumbai, and I just adore the print. I had never sewn with this fabric before, so that was new! And pretty easy, honestly…

Scuba knit is HOT, though, guys. It really does not BREATH. Note to self: make the next scuba knit thing I made sleeveless, because….sweat.

But look at that! I love the ferns….

To make this dress I adapted my bodice block into a princess seam, and used the sleeves from the Deer and Doe Plantain shirt, combined with a half-circle skirt.

I wouldn’t say the fit is PERFECT but it is fine. There is some extra fabric around the armholes, which…I don’t know how to fix for next time. Any ideas? The bodice in general is a little roomy, but that’s not a bad thing, I guess. I suppose it makes it easier to wear because I didn’t want to put in a zipper.

It was, of course, quite easy to make. I didn’t hem the skirt or the sleeves to eliminate bulk. I am okay with this.

This is one part of the museum from the outside. Pretty, right?

Right?

RIGHT??????

A little side view for you!

And the other side! Becca had fun with the angles…

And the back! The skirt only has one seam, so I matched it to the back seam and called it a day.

And now, some of my favorite objects (from THIS trip, I have new ones each time….) and reasons you should check out the museum yourself! And Philadelphia, in general!

Right? Doesn’t it just make you want to throw some khaki on your body and jump into a tomb?

Just me? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Well, at least we can agree that the dress is fun!

What were you into when you were 12/still into now? What is your favorite historic period and region? Mine changes daily, but right now, I’m really into Tang China, Mughal India, and Gilded Age New York, probably because of The Alienist, if I’m being real….)

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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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Filed under Colette Patterns