Tag Archives: fabric.com

The Blending In Dress

The thing about moving to a new country is that you end up picking up on clothing trends, either because you choose to participate in them, or because you actively don’t. As I’ve mentioned before, in my initial “set in India” post, I’ve made some hemline adjustments, and I’ve said things in passing in other posts about clothing being “India friendly” or not “India friendly”, but generally I think I’m on the actively not participating side of the scale. After all, I haven’t adopted Indian forms of dress, nor do I follow the general “jeans and top” trend on display here among India’s elite. Instead, I tend to stick by my whole dress-and-skirt thing. Side note, try as I might, I genuinely do not understand something about the way people dress in India, specifically people who complain about the heat. Now, if you are comfortable in full-length pants and a long sleeve shirt in this climate, magnificent, no judgment here, you do you. If you wear a kurta and salwar trousers daily, I get that, it’s lightweight and really easy to wear, and I see how even if more of your body is covered, you actually stay really cool and comfortable. No idea what I’m talking about? It looks like this:

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And if you swear by the sari? No comments here, I get it, sari for life. But what I DON’T understand is people who wear long sleeve shirts and pants, and then complain to me about the weather. Why are you wearing a long sleeve shirt? Why? These people are never people without clothing options. They are sitting in a sweater or blazer and trousers and complaining about the heat and it’s like, come on, now, this one is on you. Look at your life, look at your choices. I am one of those people who really prefers not to complain about the weather, mostly because there is nothing I can do about the weather, except try to dress appropriately within it. That, I feel, is on me. People here are constantly asked me, don’t I think it’s awfully hot? And yes, Mumbai is hot and humid, but I can mitigate this with my clothing choices! This is not a high-alert modesty city, so you have clothing options wherever you go, and besides, it’s never the people who walk around on the street who complain about this stuff with me, its people who go from car to cafe to car again. If you are hot, invest in a pair of capris! Wear a short-sleeved shirt! It’s not rocket science, people! COME on! No matter how nice that leather jacket is, you don’t live in a place where that is practical, so save it for your North-bound vacation, or IF you are going to wear it in a city whose normal temperatures are in the 80’s, please don’t complain. Look at your life, look at your choices. You’ve made this bed, friend. Lie in it’s wool-lined sheets and sweat away.

Anyway, rant over. Probably never going to really understand it, sigh.

But clothing cultures do affect me, maybe because sewing has made me creepy and observant and likely to drool over details in other people’s outfits to the point that I’m sure a lot of people think I’m sexually interested in them because of how closely I’m looking. Oh, well, whatcha gonna do. So I did notice that when I visited Singapore for the first time that the clothing culture there is wildly different from India, not just because of Indian ethnic dress, of course, but because it’s a super business-casual kind of town. In my woven cotton dresses and skirts I felt oddly underdressed, and I realized that georgette crepe, pencil skirts and synthetic fabric dresses suitable for a business meeting are more the done thing there, especially walking around during the day. Of course, that makes sense, everyone works in Singapore, it’s business IS business, and it’s highly influenced by Chinese and Western fashions. But the homogeneity of it, or the way it looked homogeneous to me, really amazed me at the time and I wandered around feeling like a shlub both trips times I visited. So by the third time I was set to visit, I decided enough was enough. I was going to make something in that tropical-climate appropriate but slightly more formal but not that formal sweetspot. We have to invent more names these clothing categories…

So without further ado, my dress I constructed to, like a spy or an anthropologist, blend in in Singapore. Not that anyone actually CARES about me blending in there, it’s so not that kind of place. But still, a girl’s gotta keep herself occupied, packing for trip wise.

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Singapore right now is rather rainy, but still humid and hot. But this dress, made of a synthetic double-knit with a nice slightly crinkled texture I got from Fabric.com when I was in the US a few months ago, survived the rain we got caught in this day well. My hair? Not so much…

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Oy. Well, again, WHATCHA GONNA DO.

I drafted the pattern for this, based on my bodice block for a woven, which I converted into a princess-seam bodice and removed the seam allowance because of the knit-factor. I thought I would have to add a zipper because it was a double knit but this thing is stretchy as hell and so comfortable I can’t get over it.

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The skirt is a half-circle and I pleated the sleeve-heads. But really, the fabric is the star here, anti-synthetic bias aside, it’s just great. I love the print and the recovery is stellar. Damn you, synthetic knits!

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A little side view for you. You really can’t see any details of the stitching, ah well, sorry guys. The wind up on the roof of the National Museum of Singapore was a bit fierce, so the skirt looks a little hi-low in this photo, but it’s not, I promise. Boy, this dress post is all about trust, isn’t it?

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I seamed the back which looks okay, not great. If I was doing this again, I would omit the back-seams and just keep the princess seams on the front, which I like, shape-wise.

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So there we go! I probably should have taken some crowd shots so you could see how well I blended in in Singapore. But again, trust me, I’m really basically a native because of this outfit, I promise…

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, knit, Travel, Uncategorized

The Least Laboreous Labor Day Dress

I’m not going to lie to you, gentle readers, as I write this I’m suffering from a really painful stomach ache so if some of that bile starts to seep into my writing Middle Ages Medicine style, I apologize, because this post is about an awesome dress (I truly believe it to be awesome) for a beyond awesome event so I’m hoping that all that positivity heals my stomach as I sip seltzer and wince. Hopefully the heat of my computer is relaxing my stomach muscles or something.

Ah, Labor Day, you sly minx of a holiday. As lovely as it is to get the Monday holiday, it also marks the unofficial end of summer, the return to school for many, but not me, sadly, sigh, sob! I miss school….aw, well, one must become an adult sometime. I have no idea when that will happen to me, but the point is, I graduated, so I can’t go back or its creepy. But luckily, so very kind and thoughtful friends like my friends Joe and Kira knew that I might feel a little ambivalent about my post-graduate school Fall, and they very thoughtfully planned their wedding around Labor Day weekend. I know, I know, aren’t they wonderful? I think so. Imagine, doing all that JUST for me! The coordination, the family stuff, the rabbi, the dress, they made it all come together just to cheer me up. Those people are the best.

I joke, of course, I had no part in any of their decisions, which does not mean that I didn’t love and enjoy the end result! Joe and Kira had a beautiful wedding and getting to celebrate with them literally on the heels of another wedding of close friends, featured here, was really amazing. Did I mention that this wedding was ALSO in Brooklyn? So I literally didn’t have to leave Brooklyn for days? I love when that happens. The happy event took place in an event space right next to Gowanus Canal, a less than ideal view that nevertheless has been featured in countless deeply hipster instagram accounts. My mother, in fact, to whom I sent a photo after the wedding, told me she liked the dress, but not the background. What can you do? I believe Brooklyn has plans for Gowanus but for now, it is what it is, and I have a good deal of affection for the area, even if I don’t go there often. So not only did I get to celebrate Joe and Kira’s gorgeous wedding and happy happy union, but I enjoyed the ugly if interesting views of the canal while I did so.

And, to the dress. I wanted to make something interesting and different this time, to combat my last fiasco, and also because why do I buy all these patterns if I’m only doing to use the same five over and over again? So I branched out, and I just adored it! It surprised me in every way, because I really didn’t think this would be my style, but you know what? It works. No labor required.

LLLDED1This is a By Hand London Anna Dress, which I cannot believe I am so late to the party on. I was not late to the wedding, but I was late to this awesome shindig because this dress is a marvelous pattern. I love this design, and I really had no idea that I would. The bodice is flattering and fits me well with literally no adjustment. The only thing I did was grade from a 10 in the bodice to an 8 in the skirt, and easy peasy lemon squeezie, this thing was a hit. I chose the v-neck option and against my better judgement adhered to the original instructions and used the facing. This actually was not the disaster I’d been fearing. It did not pop out as so many facing had on me in the past. I did not have to stop mid-dance to push a flapping facing out of my face. I did not hate this situation at all!

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Well done, By Hand London, well done. The pleats in the bodice are just lovely, and the kimono sleeves were comfortable and look great. I even enjoyed the maxi-option of this dress, which is not my normal thing, because I’m so damn short.

Maxi Dress

But between the slit and the wedges I had planned to wear (also a rare move, I am really not a heels person as I’m sure you’ve intimated from the history of this blog) I think I don’t look too “swimming in fabric” but more “swimming in the canal”. No, I’m kidding, that’s disgusting, it’s not nice in there.

LLLDED2My lovely husband Mr. Struggle took these photos. I knew there was a reason to marry him! Permanent photographer when all others fail. Lovely.

LLLDED5A little back view for you. I used a contrasting zipper. I would love to say that was a fashion statement but it was all I had. I pinked the hell out of everything, and I used a $1.99 a yard fabric I got from fabric.com. I know that french seams would be great on this if I had had more time, but I seem to have fallen into the nasty habit of last-minute stitching for these kinds of events. Bad Leah. That being said, the zipper is fine. I did try to press this but it literally melted the fabric the first time I tried and I had to sort of pinch the hole left behind and stitch it into a tiny unsuggested dart. Luckily it’s in the back. so NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. Except you. Because I just told you.

Still, I do love this fabric, it’s just really fun and different. I only managed to get a rather blurry photo of it but hopefully you can see it:

LLLDED7You see, this little man is going up and down the bannister of these stairs. I just love it! The stairs are much more orange in real life, just so you know.

LLLDED6A romantic gaze out onto the canal.

LLLDED3And there it is. My dress for the wedding that ended the summer and marked the first year of my new life as a writer on my own. Well, not quite on my own….

Congratulations Joe and Kira, and welcome to the Fall, people! I can’t wait to sew for it!

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Filed under By Hand London, Clothing, Sewing

The Platanos Shirt

Spoiler alert, this is a t-shirt. I know. I know.  A whole blog post for a t-shirt? Scraping the bottom of the barrel, am I? But listen, I’m proud of this t-shirt, for a variety of reasons, and also, it’s my damn blog and I’ll post whatever I want to post! You’re not the boss of me!

While I might revel in vintage dress patterns and elaborate makes, the reality is that my ever-growing self-made knit shirt collection, courtesy of several amazing designers and their generosity in offering free and reasonably priced knit-top options (like Sewaholic’s Renfrew, Cation Designs Dolman Sleeve Top, Grainline’s Hemlock Shirt and Deer and Doe’s Plantain), is the place where I can see most clearly that sewing has made my life easier and better. I didn’t start sewing because of the political, socioeconomic or environmental issues surrounding clothing production and fast fashion, but the more I’ve learned and understood, the less comfortable I am participating in an unsustainable and human-rights-violating system. I do still buy, on occasion, ready-to-wear, from places I know I shouldn’t, because I’m not perfect and I really like J. Crew and I get lazy and it’s cheap. Especially shoes. New York eats shoes. But the more I know about clothing and the fashion industry, the more I’m inspired to take myself as a consumer more seriously, and be careful and thoughtful about the things I buy and use. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my workout wear and if I’m brave enough to try to make more than yoga pants. But that’s a conversation for another day. The point is, being able to make a t-shirt, or 10, that fits well and gets that so elusive compliment, “that looks store-bought!”, means that I never have to run to Forever 21 again for a handful of crap that falls apart in a week. It means that my sewing can extend beyond the world of the glamorous (because I’m SO glamorous) and into the practicalities of my every day life. That honestly fills me with a great deal of satisfaction that I really can’t explain. Sewing the basics, while maybe boring for some, actually really excites me, well, maybe not in the act of doing it, but in the end result. It means that I can wear something I made easily every day. While the price might end up being around the same, or more, because  4 dollar t-shirt from H and M is hard to beat, somehow it’s worth it to me. A t-shirt can be a step on the road to freedom from consumerism. And this one? This one is pretty cute:

IMG_2445Please note, my hair is up in these photos because my lovely and wonderful mother, who took these, refused to photograph me with my hair down because, “It’s making me overheated just to look at you”. June in San Juan did not please my mother in terms of it’s humidity.

IMG_2460The pattern is Deer and Doe’s Plantain, but in San Juan I figure it’s a Platanos. It’s a very simple make that I’ve made, what, maybe 10 times now? I also made a new one for my mom which she wore down with her, a longer tunicy style that looks fabulous, if I do say so myself. I love this pattern. It’s just a seriously flattering t-shirt. I love the neckline, I love the fit, the only thing I ever do is length it a bit.

IMG_2446I got the fabric for this from fabric.com, and it was on sale for 1.95 a yard. And I bought a yard. So in this case I suppose I DID beat Forever 21. Ha! And I think the pattern of the stripes even has shades of J. Crew. So there you go. Oh! And I matched the stripes!

IMG_2457I get very excited about doing this basic thing correctly. I also made the shorts, which I only wear in San Juan because, well, they are bright yellow linen shorts. So. I guess that just feels right to me. Because no matter how many of my own t-shirts I make, I will never really be a hipster. I’ll never achieve that level of cool, or facial hair.

Our green roof is a little bit of a jungle right now, but it’s still pretty!

IMG_2443So maybe yes, it’s just a t-shirt. But I love it, I love that I made it, and I love that I can, and will, make a bunch more. Why not? It sure beats shopping…

IMG_2454What do you think? Do you sew basics or do you buy them? Do you get a sense of satisfaction from making stuff like this, or does it seem like a waste of time?

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Filed under Clothing, Deer and Doe, Sewing, Travel

OWOP 5: The Middle Child (New Finished Project: The Sewing Is Not Exact Science Pants)

We can all agree that I’ve made a bunch of clovers, right? Counting the muslin I made that never saw the light of day, I have made 5 pairs of these pants. It doesn’t match the number of muslins I’ve seen out there (Lauren, I’m talking to you, though the final fit was clearly worth it!) but still, I’ve made these pants. I’ve cut them out, I’ve flat felled their seams, I’ve inserted their invisible zippers. To be fair, I totally follow the instructions every time because I just like reading Sarai’s instructions, but still. I know how to make these pants.

And yet….the pair of clovers I most wanted to make, the pair I probably spent the most time one, well, they are a triffle snug in the, um, crotch. And I could not for the life of me tell you why. They have literally the same measurements as EVERY OTHER PAIR I MADE. I cut them from the SAME PATTERN PIECES. The fabric.com order said they have stretch! And yet….and yet. Maybe they have LESS stretch then the other fabrics in which I made these? I don’t even know. People, I just don’t know.

Still. I do actually like them, and I noticed over the course of the day that as they stretched a bit with wear they actually feel more and more comfortable. So, yeah. I’m going to wear them. Because dammit, this is One Week One Pattern and I made these pants so this is what we are doing. I will make the crotch work with SHEER. FORCE. OF. WILL. Same way I made things fat free just by thinking about them.

But hey, they look cute, right? Let’s go to the photos:

They are also SHORTER then all the other pants. It’s gotta be the fabric, right? I just don’t get it otherwise.

So what did I do today? Well, Brother Cadfael needed his shots. And I am not rich. So I took him to the clinic hours offered by the SPCA, which is way the hell up in North Philadelphia and has open hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I figured it would be less crowded on Wednesday, so I packed my meowing friend into a carrier and took him to the clinic. OH. MY. GOD. There were approximately 80 dogs and three other cats (…odd) waiting for their vaccines and microchips as well. Poor Cadfael was a champion, ignoring the mastiffs and pitbulls and not even uttering a whimper when jabbed with the CANON* they use to chip animal. Still, spending the morning in an endless line with my trembling cat was, you know, just the best. Still. At least I looked cute!

More photos? But of course!

You want to see the back? Of course you do. Who wouldn’t?

I did not angle this photo. This is how Dani, my photographer/co-worker, likes to take photos.

It should be noted that I never during this entire photo session released my coffee cup. Because coffee makes me feel like the above photo. And the below photo:

The pants may not fit me just exactly the way I might wish, but hey, they are slim black capris. They’ll do.

Oh, I don’t mean to get all girlie here, but guuuuyyyyys, check out my shoooooeeeeees!

They are little mice. They were made by Marc Jacobs.  I bought them at a second-hand shop for 35 dollars. They literally make my heels bleed. But I do not care. (Why don’t I care? Um, did you hear that thing about the MICE?)

So, that’s all my clovers. I’ve already repeated my denim ones. What will I wear next….

*Okay, yes, it was just a very large needle, but I swear, it looked like some sort of weapon.

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Filed under Challenge, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Cat’s Pajamas

Not everyone enjoys sewing for other people. I know this, and I respect it. After all, it’s a hell of a lot of work. I think that Oonaballoona (who I deeply adore, from afar, for her daring and her mad skillz, and for her cameo on Royal Pains) summed it up best in this blog post, and if you click on that, read the comments, because they are all insightful and amazing. I must say that more and more as I’ve been sewing for longer and, of course, my garments look a hell of a lot better, when I mention that I sew (I’m just kidding, I never mention, I scream it to the rooftops) people have started asking, do you take commissions? To which I just grin. Because in my mind I’m thinking, honey, do you know the time and effort it takes to make a garment? And fit it? And finish the seams and make sure the design is right and hem and baste and blah blah sewing blah? And you want it in chiffon? That’s cute.

But it’s just like anything else, isn’t it? Like, someone sees an actor perform in a role. And they think, hey, I’m attractive and I can talk and I have feelings, I should be an actor! But what they don’t think about is that that’s an art form, and it requires work and skill and effort. Sewing takes a lot of work, and the longer you do it the more you realize that you don’t know, and still need to learn. So when people ask you to make something for them, “real quick”, it demeans you, in a sense, because they think that what you do is easy and quick, whereas we know that sewing is labor and time intensive, not to mention the cost of materials.  It’s one of the reasons learning to sew will put you off, as the British say, buying RTW, because you know that the labor isn’t being compensated fairly if you only need to pay 10 dollars for a blouse.

That being said, I am someone who does make things for other people. Not when they ask, necessarily, though I do like to know what they want before I spend timing making something, but because I love certain humans and want to show that love with hand-made items. And that is why, among the many things I made for people this holiday season, I made my mother and father pajamas. And you know what? They turned out pretty baller, if I do say so myself.

I think my parents make excellent models, don’t you? The pajamas my mom is wearing come from vintage pattern Simplicity 4006, which is one I have also made for myself. I made it for myself first because A. I’m selfish and B. I wanted to check the fit on my mom before I made her a pair in this lovely flannel that is more her color palette (she’s an Autumn). I scored the fabric from a fabric.com flannel sale and I got the pattern from this lovely etsy seller. I got the buttons from PA Fabric outlet, because that’s all I ever do. I think it turned out really well, and my mom certainly likes her new pajamas!

Oh, I think I love the collar best of all, it’s inside edge bound with lime bias tape:

As for my father’s pair, I got that vintage pattern from this other lovely etsy seller, and it’s Advance 8217. I loved the style, but I ALSO love the fact that three out of the three cover sketches are smoking. Thank you, 1960’s.

My dad's head looks enormous here, but I can assure you that's fairly normal for him, he has a very large head.

I got the fabric from the same fabric.com order (come on, I had to make it to the free shipping! Anyone would have done the same!) and I got the buttons from PA Fabric outlet. My father wanted a collarless style, and a fabric shortage led me to cut the exposed front non-collar thing (it’s hard to explain) on horizontal stripes, when everything else had been cut on vertical. I think it looks kind of cool, what do you think?

Sorry about the wrinkles, but these are pajamas, after all.

I also really enjoy the cuffs:

 

So there you have it. Two cool cats in very cool pajamas, looking comfortably vintage in their flannel glory.

But just because I made this for my folks, don’t get any funny ideas, okay, people?

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage