Tag Archives: Jenny’s Wedding

The Sphere of Influence Dress

Happy Independence Day! If you, like me, adore the musical 1776, you have enjoyed this day for that reason alone. Because the parades are deeply annoying, given that I can’t get around them even on a bike, and people injure themselves yearly with homemade fireworks and barbeques are full of PEOPLE and I certainly don’t like that….I do like real, non-homemade fireworks, but I never get the chance to see them, though as I type this, thunder and lightning split the sky, giving us here in the great city of Philadelphia, home of the Declaration of Independence (seriously, go rent the film version of 1776, it stars Mr. Feeny as John Adams and it’s just the best), some real artisanal fireworks courtesy of nature herself.

I wore this dress which I actually made for an event for Jenny’s wedding, but didn’t get a chance to photograph, to a very relaxed evening with my parents at their house. At any rate, I don’t know how festive this thing actually is, it’s really more vaguely Ming Vase themed then anything else. So that’s why I’ve deemed it the sphere of influence dress, to symbolize our complicated relationship with China which dates back to the 1800s, and to pay tribute to the famous “spheres of influence” which caught the Chinese Empire in a world of colonialism under the guide of benevolent imperialism. I know, not a day goes by you don’t sew a garment and dedicate it to fighting the patriarchy, any way you can….

I think it’s pretty darn cute, honestly. The bodice is Dixie DIY‘s ballet dress bodice, with a few modifications. I took it in on the sides (from a size medium, and honestly I could probably go to a small with no fitting issues), and re-drafted it a bit to be less of a “bodice” shape and more of a “tank top” shape. I also lengthened it by 2 inches, so I could be sure it would fall at my natural waist, which it does. I lowered the neckline by about 1 inch and a half, and I narrowed the straps, That ultimately proved useless, as the finishing binding is rather thick, and honestly I should have narrowed the straps more, really, they aren’t what I had in mind, but I like this, nonetheless!

The skirt is Vivat Veritas’ half-circle skirt, as I wanted something a bit fuller than Dixie’s (wonderful) design. I have made that skirt three times now, but of course some how I cut this one out on a bit of an asymmetric angle. I DO NOT KNOW HOW. But it was totally unintentional intentional. I honestly didn’t notice it until I tried it on for the first time and then I tried to convince myself I was just seeing things. However, my ever observant Mamala commented on it today, so I had to just own up to it and go with lalalalala design choice asymmetric hems are in this year lalalalalalalala.

The fabric came from Girl Charlee. I can’t talk enough about how much I love Girl Charlee.

Here it is from the back. I would still like the bodice to be a bit tighter but honestly it’s SO COMFORTABLE so how can I really complain?

Side view. Thanks for taking these photos, Mamala! I’m getting a tripod soon, for my birthday (WHICH IS MONDAY) so I wont have to torture my relatives and friends for much longer.

Now, as I made this dinner and we ate it in our garden, I thought you might like to see A. what was served and B. the garden, as the fruits of the labors I mentioned back in May. Oh, you have no interest in any of that? Suck it up.

Turkey and Beef Burgers from Whole Foods with baked fries (so…are they bakes? Whatever, they are potatoes which I peeled, sliced and baked, okay? We also had a capresse salad.)

Me with wine.

A white eggplant, on the stalk, growing…

A cantaloupe! This is what they look like, as babies. Later their skin does that wrinkly thing.

Tomatoes, ripening on the vine.

Beans, which we really plant because they add nitrogen to the soil, but their fruits are a delicious bonus.

Chard! How pretty is chard? It’s a very dramatic plant, if you ask me.

There are also flowers.

So there you go. Vegetables, flowers, a cute and easy knit dress. Is there any other way to enjoy our nation’s freedom? (And of course in point of fact the 4th wasn’t the celebration of the freedom of the United States, it just celebrates the day a small group of white men wrote an angry bitchy letter to the UK and signed it in fancy ways. It’s the Colonial equivalent of singing “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Still, it’s fun to grill things.)

A parting shot of me, my dress, and an awkward smile. Enjoy!

And don’t forget about the giveaway! And look for a new one for Friday!


Filed under Clothing, Sewing

The I’m Really A Dog Person Skirt

Shocking confession time: Until about three years ago, I would have said I was a dog person. WHAT? I know. I KNOW. BETRAYAL.

I actually grew up with dogs. We had a HORRIBLE cat when I was young, Nadia, and like most horrible things she just lived for flipping EVER. My mother adopted that mean calico in college and the animal just would not die. Horrible cat. Horrible even to my mother, her savior. Horrible. But that’s cats for you, ungrateful, selfish, never kind. Right?

Mom, how could you say such things about me and my kind? I’m so upset I’m just going to have to sleep for 9 hours to deal with these emotions. Excuse me.

So we had dogs. Sweet stupid wonderful dogs filled with doggie happiness. I love dogs, I really do. My school mascot was a dog, in college, and I actually got to meet the fellow. Here is how I felt about meeting Handsome Dan in real life:

Right? In my disposition I’m actually quite dog-like. I’m cheerful, I pant easily, I love food, I enjoy getting my belly rubbed, it’s all there! I’m literally a person who is like a dog.

But somehow along the way, these devious plotting fuzzy jerks (i.e. cats) have crept their ways into my life. And what can I do? I love them. They are cute! They are interesting! They are consistently weird and funny! They’ve got tails and they chase bugs! I’m into them, what can I say….

So I made a skirt. As an ode to these creatures who have infiltrated my life and show no signs of leaving.

Ha, I forced Becca to take these photos in Target near O’Hare Airport. Yeah. I did this whole “oh, I’m shopping, are you taking a photo, how surprising!” thing. Super cute.

The fabric is the Tammis Keefe for Michael Miller line which came out, I don’t know, 2 years ago? But somehow I JUST discovered it and HAD to have it so off I went to le Ebay to spend some cash on new fabric, which is NOT what I’m supposed to be doing right now. Remorseless spendthrift that I am, I got it, I cut it, (thank you, Vivet Veritas’ free half-circle skirt pattern!) and I made it. Additionally, Remorseless Spendthrift is 100% going to be my indie rock band name.

Still, a woman complimented me as we boarded the plane back to Philadelphia, so I consider it money well spent.

Cute, no? Certainly crazy-cat-lady approved.

The fabric is really adorable. Take a look:

How adorable are these cats? Even loving dogs, as I do, I just can’t help it. SO. CUTE. They all look so happy with themselves. Of course, cats always do…

Of course, I could do as much jumping as usual, us being in public and all. Still I made some spinning happen, at least…

I don’t know that you REALLY need a back view of this very simple very easy to make skirt, but just in case, here it is.

I know it’s not my most exciting project ever, but it was fast and easy and fun and makes nice use of this ADORABLE fabric, so I’m pretty into it. And sometimes, you really just need something fast, fun and easy in a gorgeous fabric that celebrates an animal you haven’t ALWAYS loved, but can’t help loving now…

And as a final image, please enjoy this photo of Becca’s cat, Eloise. Eloise is a MEAN cat. Still, she’s pretty cute, right?


Filed under Sewing

The Something Blue Dress

Another dress, you say? Good lord, Leah, can’t you make anything else? Well I can, of course, but sometimes I CHOOSE not to. And for a wedding, when the attire is formal/cocktail attire, well, a pant-suit just isn’t going to cut it (unless you are Hilary Clinton. Then you can do whatever you want.)

Real Talk: What is WITH people making up their own degrees of dress? Sport Causal Basic. Business formal fun. Black-Tie Interpretive. COME on. I discussed this with my friend Becca’s boyfriend, Derek (hi, Derek!) and we agreed you can’t just MAKE stuff up, it’s confusing and upsetting, especially if you are coming in from out-of-town and don’t have unlimited wardrobe options because you have a suitcase not Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Luckily, Jenny did not do such a thing with her wedding because A. She’s a champion and B. she was PROPERLY raised. I went to a “black-tie-modest” wedding last year. Granted, it was an orthodox Jewish wedding, but STILL. That’s not a THING.

At any rate, this is the dress I made for Jenny’s amazing wonderful spectacular moving and gorgeous wedding. Of course, what I made is rather inconsequential because the bride was the focus of the day, as well she should have been, walking around all beautiful and stunning and glowy, but I thought you might like to see what I sewed up anyway, so here it is:

The pattern is a Burda Style, V-neck cocktail dress with starbust (PS: Burda Style, could you please put any effort at ALL into your pattern names? It’s embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as your instructions! ZING.). I made a muslin and liked the shape, but found the neckline extremely low, so I raised it a full 3.5 inches, because it was a day wedding in Highland Park, IL,  not a night wedding in Vegas.

I forced my friend Lisa at gunpoint (i.e. I asked her nicely) to shoot some photos before the ceremony started, and she graciously agreed. With all her pageant training (true story) she was the best photo-director I’ve ever had! Thank you, Lisa. This is my angry model face.

The material is a silk charmuse from Mood in New York. Love the color. I learned a lot making this dress, and looking at the final product I do like it, but I think I should have underlined it with silk organza to stiffen the slippery charmuse and give it a bit more structure. Still, it’s not too shabby, don’t you think?

I lined the bodice but didn’t line the skirt, and I switched the invisible side zipper for a visible one, (hand-picked, of course) but otherwise made no changes. I straight up ignored the instructions, as they are worthless.

A little over the shoulder action for you. Hello, sailor….

Funny story, Becca and Derek, who housed Lisa and I for the weekend (Thank you thank you thank you!) live in Chicago proper, in a lovely area that just so happened to be in the heart of this weekend’s Gay Pride Parade. The parade looked like an awesome event, but it seriously interfered with our “getting to the Suburbs for the wedding on Sunday morning” plans.  So we ended up getting up early, taking a cab to a train stop and taking that train to a suburb and finding a Starbucks to hang about in until we got caffeinated and called ANOTHER cab to take us to the country club for the wedding. All of this, of course, we did in our wedding finery, which for Derek just meant a suit, but Lisa and I wandered around in heels and fancy dresses like crazy people. Becca, being a bridesmaid, didn’t have to deal with any of this crap. Still, it was an adventure! Not a day goes by I don’t wish I was walking around an empty strip mall parking lot dressed for a wedding….

That’s the face I wear when I think about wandering around strip-mall parking lots. It also shows you the starburst which, try as I might, didn’t iron quite right. Sigh. You can’t have everything. ]

Still, not bad from the back, eh? Oh, that’s right, I also added a slit to make entering the garment a bit more, shall we say, user friendly?

Of course, I simply must feature a photo with my lovely photographer:

Isn’t she just to die for?

I totally failed at asking Jenny what her four things were, like, something old, something new, blah blah blah. I’m sure she had four amazing things (including her AMAZING dress), but just in case she didn’t, she had the something old (her friends) and something blue (Lisa and I) completely covered:

Are those not some of the most attractive people you’ve seen today?


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Sewing, Travel

The In A Jiffy Dress

The wedding was amazing. A. MAZ. ING. More on that later.Suffice to say it was wonderful, the bride was and is gorgeous, the guests fantastic, and the event everything a wedding ought to be. As for what I wore, well, you can expect a dedicated post on that in the future with more information about the day-of. But my amazing friends put up with my crazy all weekend and photographed not just my wedding-day outfit but several others, too. I have the BEST friends. Jenny only escaped because she was getting “married” or whatever. Next time, though, Mrs. Rossen, you won’t be so lucky…

I debated many a name for this piece of clothing. The Tester Dress. The Almost Ugly Dress. The Folk Art Dress (after the fabric line). But in the end, I really had to name it after the pattern. Because the pattern is just something quite special, now, isn’t it:

That’s Simplicity 8955 from 1979. A Jiffy Pattern. Whose pattern art is just sheer delight, now, isn’t it? She looks so happy. She has no idea.

I made this really as a tester for a pattern for my mother, who had expressed a desire for a beach cover up. I got this pattern in a group of 30 others and thought it might be cute or it might be horrendious, and I ought to try it out and see. What say you? Naughty or nice?

I actually think it’s pretty damn cute. About halfway through the construction,most of which happened while watching Miss Marple: The Body in the Library (an AWESOME episode which rests on a classic Agatha Christie plot, the secret homosexual), I was concerned that this thing might just turn out to be a hideous mess. But somehow, I think it escaped such a fate.

The fabric is Kaffe Fassett’s Folk Art Line, which I really adore. It’s busy, to be sure, but it’s fun.

Look how much fun I’m having!

It’s a very simple design, not a true bodice, but two large pieces shaped elastic at the waist and tied at the shoulder. A casing covers three lengths of elastic which serve to bring in the waist. I used an old sheet for the facings at the neckline and the casting. Otherwise I was able to use almost all over the 2 yards of this fabric I had, which I do so adore, maximum efficiency!

Quite a jumble of stuff on this cloth, don’t you think? Becca and Lisa gave their approval, so that’s all that really matters, honestly.

I gave this french seams throughout and a machine hem. With a few adjustments it should be perfect for my Mamala to have as a cover-up. And I get a cute new dress. Win-win!

It’s not the most flattering dress I’ve ever made or worn, but it’s comfortable, light and airy, so that’s fun!

Another full length view for you.

Lisa, who took these amazing photos, thank you, Lisa, insisted that I do an angry model face shot. That’s what it would look like if I didn’t eat.

But I DO eat….

So that’s what I really look like.

Good times. Go team wedding!


Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Can’t Hardly Wait

…is not that great of a movie. AND I WILL STAND BY THAT STATEMENT FOREVER!

But I CAN hardly wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow I’m flying to Chicago!  (And boy will my arms be tired, yuk yuk yuk.) Seriously, tomorrow marks the first day of a multi-tier multi-event wedding weekend which I could not be more excited about if it included some sort of reunion of some of my favorite people ever. HAHAHAH IT TOTALLY DOES! WHAT? Yes. My friend Jenny, i.e. one of the best people I know, is getting married on Sunday. And many of the people who are the other best people I know are going to be in Chicago together, celebrating this wonderful event together. Its going to be epic. Get excited.

And it’s not just going to be amazing for ME, with all the dancing and drinking and wild celebrations, it’s going to be great for YOU! How, you say, could such a thing be possible? Well, I have a whole BUNCH of stuff that I’m going to force my friends to photograph, ruining all those relationships in the process, but ensuring a slew of new items to display to the world. In brand new locations! Capturing the wind of the windy city! And I’ve got new shoes, too! So there is no way this isn’t going to be amazing!

Well, except Cadfael isn’t coming. It’s weird if you bring a cat as a plus one, right? That was my instinct.

Um, you aren’t taking me? (says Cadfael). LAME.(But check out some sneak peeks of new stuff on the bed…)

Sorry, buddy.

At any rate, I will see you all when I get back on Monday!

However, if you really miss me, check out the guest post I’m doing at Dixie DIY this Friday! Remember that scrap tutorial I promised you during Me Made May? Well, I made it, alright, but I gave it to Dixie! Aren’t I just the best? Seriously, though, check out her blog, it’s lovely and amazing, just like the author, and the guest posts she’s got going on for her vacation are also fantastic!


Filed under Clothing, Friends, Travel

My Kind Of Town

My amazing and wonderful and beautiful and brilliant friend Jenny is getting married. Jenny is one of the best people I have ever met. We met in college, and we’ve been friends since our freshman year, so that’s about 7 years, now. She is upsetting nice (not only is she from the midwest, where they grow nice people, but she is naturally a kind and generous human. I would hate her on sight if I didn’t love her so much), she is gorgeous, she is going to heal the world (she’s in med school right now and MAKING IT HER BITCH). Oh, and she is also getting married to a remarkable and wonderful fellow this June. Congratulations Jenny!

So of course I’m making a bevy of outfits for the wedding, because that’s how I do, and also it’s fun to sew dresses (man, it’s so fun to sew dresses. I can’t really stand how much I love making dresses. It’s getting to be a problem.). So you can expect many more posts to come this spring on this subject. But this weekend I flew to Chicago (and boy are my arms tired) for the wedding shower.  And I am extremely lucky because not only did I get to see Jenny and her amazing family, but I also got to spend time with our friend Becca, who lives in Chicago with her own long term fellow, and is going to be a bridesmaid in the wedding! She and her gentleman put me up, for which I gave them booze. Like you do.

So while I don’t have any new garments to post, here are some shots of Chicago, and then a shocking and painful confession:

This is the Carbide and Carbon Building, an amazing example of Art Deco Architecture (of which I am very fond).

This is the Tiffany Glass Dome which you can see in the Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the Chicago Public Library. The mosaic in this building is amazing, I would go see it if you get a chance. Book-lovers like myself can delight in wall art like this:

So true.

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.- Logan Pearsall Smith

And ME!

And now my horrid confession. I know I said I wouldn’t buy more fabric. I know I said I don’t NEED any more fabric. And I have been quite good and I haven’t bought a scrap of new clothing for over 4 months. But Becca and I went shopping, like you do when you are avid shoppers spending a free day in a lovely city full of things to buy. And while she drooled over sweaters and dresses, I averted my eyes, virtuously. But all that commerce got to me, folks, and in some down time I just couldn’t help myself, and I dragged poor Becca to Vogue Fabrics which I had found out about on the interwebs…..

and I bought some fabric. I couldn’t help myself!

I’m just showing you this one, because I don’t want you to judge me, but I bought 5 different items in total, including a short length of silk organza for interfacing, a lovely silk crepe by Anna Sui (the same kind Kelli used for this amazing dress), and two kinds of jersey (for Renfrews 4 and5). This beauty was sitting in the (extensive) remnant table, which is separated by fabric content (GENIUS, THANK YOU!) . Becca had noticed that I’d been eyeing turquoise ready-to-wear items all day, and said, in her glorious no-nonsense way, Leah, get this fabric. And I was like, I love you.

And then later, when I showed our June Bride Jenny the fabric, she was like, awesome, and I was like, you two are like the flying buttresses to my Cathedral. And by that I mean that you support me.

Of course I couldn’t be all that crafty in Chicago. OR COULD I?

I had to crop this because of some other junk that was on this table. But it’s a sweater! In process! Because knitting is mobile, and sewing is not. Until that day I learn how to haul my machine across the country. And then it’s on.

How was your weekend? Break any of your own rules? Get to see your friend unwrap scores of cooking supplies at a wedding shower? No? How sad.


Filed under Fabric, Travel