Tag Archives: jersey

The Sweaters Everywhere Skirt

Guys, I’m going to be honest with you, it’s cold here in New York. It’s really quite cold. It’s a bit on the scale away from warm. Comparing this to a tropical island would be almost impossible except for the island parts. The east coast is in the middle of a painful freeze and it seems to be taxing all but the most diabolical Christmas special claymation villains.  Mr. Struggle, who hails from a sultry exotic climate, turned to me the other day and mournfully asked me when it would be warm again, as though this is somehow under my control. I told him he would have to wait until springtime. I strongly suspect that if he could, Mr. Struggle would hibernate like a bear. Unfortunately none of us are built that way, except actually bears, so we all have to figure out ways to deal with winter, should we live in such places.

Now, honestly, I don’t really mind the cold that much. I like having seasons, I find the weather fairly bracing, and I feel that as long as you have appropriate clothing you can kind of deal with anything. Layers are key, wool is key, etc. Actually the issues I have with winter don’t have much to do with my personal reaction to the weather and have more to do with how awful people become during the months after December.

See, during the holiday season people are very excited and cheerful and everything is romantic and lovely, at least, if you’re into that sort of thing. But people WANT it to snow, the fools, they want that White Christmas any everything. After New Years, though, once the snow has stopped being charming and just looks like sad gray sludge mixed with garbage and rock salt (isn’t New York a magical place?), people grow bitter and take up a great deal of space on the subway with their coats. I do not begrudge them the coats. I feel weird when I see someone whose coat is not made of down when the temperature is under 30 degrees. I don’t care how good you think that cloth coat looks. No one looks good with pneumonia. Fact. But people just get grumpy and short-tempered in bad weather and who can blame them, only this is a city of so many people who you sort of wish everyone wasn’t like this at the same time. I know it’s hard to be cheerful when you are freezing and your boots are slowly being eaten by whatever they put on the roads here to prevent ice, but my goodness can’t we just try?

However, I might have this attitude because I try to dress for the weather and make sure I have lots of warm comfortable layers to help me make it through. First of all, you must have sweaters. And maybe you shouldn’t limit them to your upper body….

SE 1Maybe you should put them on all over your body! RIGHT? Genius! This is a sweater skirt! I love it so much. It’s gotten really big because wool stretches so it used to be closer fitting and more flattering and better, but I don’t care because I’ve worn it like ten times already so this is only my fault and it’s worth it. This is a wool sweater knit that came from Mood and it is actually the remnant of another garment, this dress! Which I also wear all the time these days because this wool is seriously warm. This wool is thick and cozy and actually not really itchy at all, so it’s basically a miracle. The only issue is that it stretches, so the waistband has already stretched and you are going to see some fun gaping on that subject in the side view. I have already washed it and it didn’t quite return to its original size so….who knows, really. Ah, well. It’s warm. That’s all that matters right now.

SE 6See, you can see a little bit of sagging in the fabric. What do you guys do to tighten up your wools? Anything? It’s okay, honestly, just wondering, though. So the pattern was Colette Patterns Mabel, which I lengthened and took in at the hem to give it a more pencil-skirt shape. It was insanely easy to put together. That is all.

SE 3A little rear view for those who are interested. If I had had more fabric I would have tried to match up the back better but I didn’t and c’est la vie, I don’t mind, all that is behind me.

SE 5Here we go. See the back-gaping? Upside, I can fit a lot in this waistband, downside, will it stay in place? One never knows. SE 2So there you have it, a little something to help beat the cold. As for Mr. Struggle, he’s avoiding the outside world as much as possible, forcing me to bring him supplies and report to him what’s going on. Hmmm, maybe he IS hibernating….

Of course, there are some who would say it’s madness to wear skirts in winter at all. To those I would say, I can’t hear you over the feeling of insane warmth in my legs from this SWEATER SKIRT.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, 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

The In The Pink Dress

I wouldn’t consider myself a girlie-girl, per se, though my mother might disagree, because compared to her I’m Imelda Marcos meets Marilyn Monroe meets Shirley Temple. And that’s just because I enjoy a ruffle or two, while my mother once turned to me and said, stop sewing with ruffles. It’s too many ruffles. Take a break. And, as usual, she was correct. That woman knows her ruffles. I do like a floral, and a shimmery eyeshadow, on occasion, I enjoy le Pinterest, and I have been known to order the rare fluffy cocktail, although not as much as what’s-his-face, who never met a fruity cocktail he didn’t like. So maybe I’m somewhere between my mom and him on that scale. That’s a fun thought….

But generally I would like to think that I’m more womanly than girlie. Girlie is like Polly Pocket (which, sidenote, remember Polly Pocket? Why did anyone think that was good for small children? It has so many choke-worthy parts! Can you even buy that anymore? I had, like, 4.) Womanly is like Mae West. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself…but I honestly can’t remove, by surgery or otherwise, my enjoyment of pink. I like pink. Especially bright pink, the brighter the better. Maybe that’s the adult way to like pink, in fact, as a fierce bold color, not a pastel insipid one. Maybe liking pink is the daring choice, especially in New York, where black is the new black is the new black. Maybe pink can be a feminist statement, not a Stepford-Wife aspiration, saying that I’m comfortable enough enjoying such a pretty-pretty-princess color while still maintaining my adult (well….semi-adult, let’s be real, 26 years and a master’s degree does not a complete grown-up make) sense of self.

At any rate, anxieties about adulthood aside, I recently was puzzling over a pink fabric purchase from months ago, two yards of magenta jersey from, where else, GirlCharlee.com, and thinking what would be the best use of it. A wrap dress? I’ve made so many. A few tops? I’m kind of sick of overbuying jersey and having three shirts in the same color. And then it hit me, a maxi-dress. I’ve wanted another since my first attempt, and I knew I wanted to use the Mission Maxi for the bodice, while having a fuller skirt on the bottom. I also knew I wanted sleeves, albeit little kimono ones. These desires fresh in my mind, I went to work, using a highly unscientific method of making it up as I went. I cut, snipped, and hoped for the best. And you know what? It turned out pretty wonderfully!

ITP 2.jpgOh, dear, that expression looks really painful but I promise this was a really fun day! I wore this dress to my department graduation, where what’s-his-face and I both were lucky enough to hear the most amazing speech from the truly astounding playwright, Anne Washburn, and then we enjoyed lunch and a boat ride with what’s-his-face’s family. As it turns out, a maxi-dress transitions well from place to place, and boy does it work well in New York in warm weather and then out on the semi-open seas. And the color? I can only speak for myself, but I think it works.

ITP 1.jpgThere we go, that looks like a better face, right? Much more reflective of the day. Tour boats might seem touristy, but actually they are the most fun, especially when the weather is lovely. Manhattan looks lovely from afar, where you can’t smell the garbage so strongly, and New Jersey even looks attractive, woodsy and well groomed. I would heartily recommend it, for tourists and natives alike.

ITP 5.jpgI have to tell you, I’m deeply in love with this dress. I got more positive feedback on it from my classmates at our department graduation than I did on any of my work over the past two years. Which is….sad, now that I come to think about it. No, I’m just kidding. My classmates are amazing and I have been so lucky that they all support my writing AND my sewing.

ITP 4.jpgThe construction of this was extremely simple, just like knits always are. I gathered a large rectangle into the skirt, and stitched up the bodice with a neck binding and a simple turn and stitch hem at the sleeves. I actually left the skirt un-hemmed because it was the perfect length and I didn’t want to mess with that. I know, I know, sloppy, sloppy, but whatever, I can live with that.

Just to prove to you that these boat trips are fun, check out some views:

ITP 6.jpgNot too shabby, right? One more:

ITP 7.jpgIf only there weren’t so many PEOPLE in the way. Damn the world…

ITP 3.jpgOne final happy boat shot. This is totally going to be my go-to summer dress, I can tell right now. Pink and all, girlie or womanly, it’s me, and that’s what matters.

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Filed under Clothing, Jamie Christina Patterns, knit

The Put A Bird On It Dress

I’ve never seen Portlandia. Let’s just start there. I’m sure I would love it, I’m not neglecting it through spite, I just, I have a really full T.V. watching schedule, okay? Okay, okay, I’m going right now to see it! But I do know about this whole “put a bird on it” thing and I must say, it’s as hilarious as it is true. How many birds have I seen on things in Brooklyn? Or even in the very hipster Philadelphia? So many birds. Fly, bird pillows and tote-bags, fly free!

That being said, I really like this dress I made….

PABOI 1See? My mom was right about the messy hair thing…

So I made this with Simplicity 4704, and fabric from my favorite knit fabric source, Girl Charlee. Seriously, that place is the best. This fabric came from the very first fabric order I ever placed with this store, and I have been waiting and waiting to use it and then finally I just decided, you know what I need? A mock-wrap dress.
PABOI 5

And I’m mostly happy with the results! It’s a bit big on me, so I think I’m going to go down a size (sidenote- how do you muslin with a knit fabric pattern? Discuss.) I shorted this by about 5 inches and took our 6 inches in the back/waist, creating large darts out of thin air, but it’s still a bit loose, and given that it’s jersey it stretched during the day I wore it to the point that at the end of the day the good people of Harlem had no doubts about the nature of my bra. So I’m going to tack that business together now that I’m back home…

PABOI 6Still, it’s cute, right? It stood me well through the Rijksmuseum:

PABOI 9

Where I enjoyed the Dutch Masters:

PABOI 3

And thought deep thoughts about art:

PABOI 8

Or DID I?

PABOI 4I guess  I was concerned that this goose was going to pick a fight with my dress’ canaries.

And onto the train to Haarlem:

PABOI 10PABOI 2

PABOI 7Where I posed in a Church, the one and only one we went to this whole trip! I tell you, Holland has a lot of nice things but it’s Churches are just okay. Unless of course you actually are Christian, then I’m sure they are very nice! But as a tourist and a Jew, well, you know…

So I love this dress, and I think I will duplicate it, at least one size down…

Oh, and by the by, Holland was fantastic, we had the best time! Just in case you were wondering…

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Filed under Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns