Tag Archives: Fall Palette Challenge 2011

The Not Everyone Can Be You Dress

You know how in your mind you may be one person but in reality you are in fact someone completely different? So, for example, in my own mind I’m thoughtful and contemplative, a bit shy, wryly funny, and rather ironic. To others, I think the irony and wryness shines through, but I doubt the other things take center stage, if I’m being honest. So just like I would love to be, long to be, crave being Joan Holloway (or Harris, take your pick) from Mad Men (like you don’t get the reference) , I know that in my heart of hearts, I’m Peggy.

And you know what? That’s really okay. After all, Peggy, despite her few enormous missteps, is actually doing quite well for herself. Girl has a job and an apartment and a cute radical boyfriend. She asserted herself with her boss, and she does something that makes her wildly happy. She even seems squared away with job and the Catholic Church, which is cool, if you’re into that kind of thing. She’s actually getting her life together. Joan, on the other hand, has her crappy sexual-assault prone-husband away in ‘Nam, she’s keeping Roger’s baby (spoiler alert), she gets no respect for her considerable talents at work, I mean, come ON. Still. She’s awesome. And I would love to be a Joan. But sometimes you just have to face the music, and dance. I’m a Peggy.

Still, a girl can dream. Or even be a Peggy with Joan flare, every once in a while. Just like Peggy herself did when she was trying to impress Playtex/assert herself as a woman. As Joan said, “stop dressing like a little girl”. And so she did:

And it was awesome. Peggy looks great in this shade of blue. But Joan, well, she rocks royal like it’s her job. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Heh. This is from Nixon vs. Kennedy and they TOTALLY read Paul's one act play and it's amazing. This show. Always zigs when you think it's going to zag.

Or here:

But most of all, best of all, here:

I wouldn’t dye my hair red. I don’t really smoke, and I would feel a bit odd with that pen necklace, I think. But a royal blue dress? That I could do. And so I did. I used this pattern, McCall’s 7362, a vintage 1960’s darling from this etsy seller (thank you!)

And I used some royal blue wool purchased at my beloved Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, bought at the PRINCELY sum of 14 dollars a yard (insane, for me, but WORTH it) to create this:

I took these photos with a mix of flash, which obliterates detail, and no-flash, which achieves an odd pink hue. I color corrected in picnik, but still. Sigh. First world problems.

The color is more like this:

And I love it. LOVE. IT.

The pleat detail is pretty cool, but it doesn’t really photograph all that well. But it looks a bit like this:

Cute, right? I like it. It’s less dramatic then on the pattern envelope (isn’t it ALWAYS?) but I like it. And the fit is lovely. It’s a touch big, but very comfortable and the sleeves fit really well, which has been a problem for me in the past. And with a belt the room in the waist is in now way noticable. Score.

I really like the slash neckline. It’s not lined, just faced, and I ended up hand stitching portions of the facing to the inside of the dress, just to make it lie flat and not re-assert itself.

This photo was altered using a setting in Picnik called Orton-ish. I don’t know what that really means, but I love it.

Yes, I’m feeling like a pimp, so I go ahead and brush my shoulders off. I made this dress over a month ago, but circumstances conspired to make me unable to photograph it until tonight. So there you have it, my blue wool “I want to be Joan but am Peggy but maybe just while I wear this I can be Joan” dress. I have to say, I should really make more of these. You are never going to be from Peggy to Joan on dreams alone. It takes really cute clothing. And accessories. Which I think I did well:

Which match:

This set belonged to my grandmother. I’m trying to wear more brooches. Don’t ask me why.

And there you are. Most of the time I may be a Peggy, but in this dress, I’m a Joan. Powerful. Sexy. Ready for anything, and wearing the shoes to match. How did I get so tied to a fictional character? Something to ponder, while I look AMAZING


Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!


Filed under Clothing, Fabric, McCalls Patterns, Sewing

The Rear View Pants

I should start this off by saying that, like many women, I am not overly found of my posterior. I don’t hate it, but it’s not, um, well, it gets noticed. Blame my Puerto Rican father or my love of bread, both probably play a role in keeping my junk in it’s trunk. And, honestly, I work out, I bike and do pilates, I keep everything in it’s place, it just so happens that genetically (and do to my deep seated love of carbohydrates) I will never have the tiny backside of a runway model or ballet dancer. And that’s just life, right?

But because my bottom makes it’s presence felt in a pair of pants, I was a bit concerned about making my own trousers. I mean, let’s get real, here, pants are scary.  Skirts, unless they are of the pencil variety, are easy peasey when it comes to fit, really, espeically when you are a beginner. Measure your waist, gather the fabric and bam, full skirt with a high waist, done, wear that sucker. But pants are more complicated, more terrifying, even. So when the lovely and talented Sarai of everyone’s favorite pattern company released a pants pattern, I was like, what now? and then I was like, awesome! and then I was like, oh, hell. Nevertheless I conquered my fears, grided my loins, measured said loins, because, hell, these are pants here, and jumped into a pair of Colette Patterns’ Clovers. And you know what?

They actually fit! How cool is that?

Ignore the wrinkles, especially around the knees.  This is like the fifth time I’ve worn them, so they have stretched out a little bit.

I, of course, made a muslin before I made these. And when I tried it on? It was perfect. No stretching, no crotch issues, nothing. I have absolutely no idea how that happened, I certainly have far from a perfect body and I’ve never ever ever liked my legs. But whatever stars aligned and miracles of fit and design occured gave me the right shape for the Clover. Of course, it might just be a surpremely awesome and well sized pattern….

A little dance shot. Like you do, shooting in the November chill outside of your work.  Things have been busy lately at work as we gear up for the opening of this play (which is awesome, people, if you are around don’t miss it!) so I had but a few moments to force my kind co-worker Clara to take these photos.

I made only one change to this pattern, which, by the way, has impeccable directions, I now see what all the fuss is about. I also checked out the sew-along on Colleterie, but honestly, everything was so blissfully clear in the pattern that I relied on the sew-along less then I thought I would.

I used view A, the longer option, and I did put in the pockets. I would not do this again. (Who am I kidding, I need no subjective, there is no way I’m not making ten pairs of these glorious pants) The pockets are totally adorable, but completely useless. I cut out a size 6 and needed no grading or anything. No one is more surprised then I. Weirdly enough, I also lengthened the pants by 3 inches. Leah, you might say, are you a crazy-face? (Yes) You are but a short little person, barely 5 foot three! Why would you lengthen? Well, you see, I wanted them to just hit my ankles so I could wear them in the rough Philadelphia winter!

And they do. Though as I look at this I see a stray thread! Horrors!

I used a 98% wool 2% lycra blend I got at fabric.com for 3 dollars a yard, plus a zipper I got in bag of 80 9 inch invisible zippers for 2 dollars. Oh, and Gutterman thread, which my machine likes more then anything else. I followed this online tutorial from Sew Serendipity for how to put in an invisible zipper with a regular zipper foot. The internet seems to be all up in arms about this, so may I just say, I did it, it worked, it wasn’t perfectly perfect, but hell, it was my first time ever trying it and it totally worked for me!

Enjoy jibber jabber, you say, let’s see the Rear View!

There. You’d want to give that a slap or a pinch if it was social acceptable, right?

Yeah. Yeah you would.

You may or may not have noticed that these photos are all juicily saturated with color and edged in black. Well, that’s because I literally just discovered picnik.com and I love it. I want to marry it, and have it’s beautiful digital fee-free babies.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to go celebrate my butt. Feel free to watch me walk away, all well tailored and everything.


Filed under Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Because of the Buttons Skirt

You know how something you loathe, even fear it, perhaps, and then, once you learn how to do it or more about, it becomes your absolute favorite thing? Well, I can’t honestly say that I adore making buttonholes, but with my new sewing machine and it’s glorious button hole foot and easy buttonholes, at the very least they are far less of a struggle these days. And though I’m not in love with making them, I do really feel like you need to practice the things you don’t like so you can improve and not live in fear of the buttons. Or the invisible zippers. Or the tailoring. Or whatever.

So when I approached BurdaStyle’s FREE PATTERN Helena Skirt, complete with it’s buttons down the center, I gritted my teeth, shored up my courage, and jumped right in. And the truth is, other then the buttonholes, this skirt is easy peasy. I literally made it in one evening, which is so not my style. I mean, I see these people who can make things in three hours or less and I think, dude, are you on speed? And can I have some? Because I could be so much more efficient on speed. Sigh. They never respond, those bastards, too busy making one hour outfits.


I started taking photos of this skirt more then a week ago, and then I got deathly ill. I’m talking completely useless, congested, delirious, and with a voice like a three pack a day smoker. It was insanely sexy, honestly. I’m sorry you missed it.

I took said photos outside on a bitterly cold day, and then got really sick. Cause and effect? Of course not, but it couldn’t have helped…

I love this skirt. It’s a little funky, I suppose, with the stripes, but I find it adorable and surprisingly easy to pair with things.I used a wool blend (I think?) that I bought for 3 dollars from a yard sale about 2 months ago. It has a tendency to wrinkle a bit, which makes me think it’s not pure wool, but it’s warm enough and perfect for fall.

And it has pockets! Which I added, they were not in the original pattern. But hey, what doesn’t improve with pockets? This fabric may be a touch too heavy for this pattern, I must say. I’ve seen a lot of versions of this skirt on Burda Style, and they seem to hang just a bit better then mine. So if I made it again I would use something else. But I do love this skirt, so I can’t be too hard on it.  And a lot of that love has to do with the buttons:

Aren’t they adorable? Wooden buttons from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet. FTW.

Jump shot! I’m just going to always include a jump shot. I clearly look best when in motion.


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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

Fall Palette Challenge #1 and #2- The Screw Scallops Skirt and the Pro-Peter Pan Shirt

First of all, I want to thank my lovely and talented photographer for these shots, Brenna. Brenna is not only a theatrical rock star, she also is a wonderful designer and, as it turns out, a kick-ass photographer. So when I sheepishly asked her this morning at work if she would take some shots of my outfit for my sewing blog, she was like, where do I sign up? Which is awesome. (Speaking of work, check out this cool tumblr I made for our next show! And if you are around, come see the show! Buy tickets! It’s going to be amazing!)

And that brings me to another question, which is, how do you get people to take photos of you? Especially when, under normal circumstances, you don’t particularly like having your picture taken? And when most people are only acquainted with point-and-shoot cameras and assume that you want your face in the photo (which I don’t. Not when you are shooting my hem. Idiot), how do you explain that you really want them to shoot the yoke and the placket and the clever slip-stitching and all the other details that, if you are NOT obsessed with sewing, might as well be Greek? I know a lot of people have charming and lovely significant others who will patiently snap shot after shot of your cuffs and collars, but for those of us who don’t, who do you ask? Of late I have been asking friends because it causes both my mother and myself a great deal of tension when I ask her. So, Brenna, Emilie, Victoria, thank you. And be warned for the future, you’re on deck.

You when you think a lot about something, dream of it, even, only to have it turn out miserably, and you wonder where all of that hope and optimism went? Well, one of the two pieces of clothing I’m going to show you today was just like that. The other one was totally cool. No beef, no errors, no difficulties in construction. Why can’t they all be like that?

I don’t know why I look so distrustful in some of these photos. I totally trust Brenna.  The skirt is Vivat Veritas‘  FREE PATTERN Scallop waist skirt. Without the scallops. Hence the name, the “Screw Scallops” Skirt.

I love scallops. Love the food, love the look. And in making this skirt I was super excited for the scalloped waistband. How adorable, I thought, how chic! What a great detail. And it really is! Check out Casey’s version, or Adey’s, they are both too cute for words! But on my version, neatly cut out, interfaced and stitched, the things just would not scallop. The wool (which you may or may not recall from my Who Are You Calling Easy dress) just refused to stay in it’s shape, it kept dipping back into the seam, making a weird, squished, slightly spikey nightmare. And I’m not in love with my actual waist enough to just roll with that. So, with a heavy heart, I simply used my seam ripper to jack that thing out and sewed in a plain-Jane waistband. Sigh.

Look, maybe this is totally my fault. I mean, look, Chie is awesome. And gorgeous. And insanely talented. (And TINY. So tiny. This pattern really didn’t do much for my self esteem, true story.) And the woman recommended synthetic fabrics for this. And I just had to be all “whatever, I like natural fibers”. So I’m going to go ahead and blame myself. Whatever. It’s still super cute. But I belt it, out of shame.

Now to the top:

This blouse is yet another Ute Blouse from BurdaStyle. I’m very predictable. It’s also the first thing I’ve made with my new sewing machine that includes buttons! And as my new machine has a buttonhole foot, making them was the most fun I’ve had in a while. Man, I need to get out more.

I used a cotton shirting I got at fabric.com for 1.95 a yard, and buttons from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet. I lengthened the sleeves by three inches. In retrospect, I should have lengthened them more. Oh, well. What can you do.

I just love the peter pan collar. And the puffy pleated sleeves. I can wear it to work, and then out to my friend’s show opening! And if you around Philadelphia, go see that too! See everything! See me jump:

Brenna and I agreed that jump shots were a must.

Don’t you agree?

You totally agree. Who wouldn’t?


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing