Tag Archives: knit

The Oh Noble Sheep Outfit

 

In the photos you are about to see, I am wearing two self-knitted garments. One of them took me a week. One of them took me 5 months.

Guys. Knitting. It’s a whole damn thing.

I do actually really like knitting. But since we moved to Mumbai, my knitting game has taken a strong hit. This is 100% because it is so damn hot and humid here, and the idea of handling a ton of wool is just painful. I am not a fast knitter, one-week skirt aside, so I end up spending a long time with a knitting project, most of the time. The idea of covering my lap with wool is so so appealing in a crisp fall, cold winter, or damp spring. Not so much in this tedious land of constant summer.

But I do spend time in the States, in Philadelphia and New York, and they are cold in the winter! Which, I know that that is a bummer but honestly, I just can’t even with this monotonous weather, I had a total temper tantrum the other day with What’s-his-face about the sameness of the weather, I’m a mess. So I was really excited to finish this sweater, FINALLY, and wear it in America. And then I thought, let me get this party really started! On a two week trip to the States, I ordered wool and bought a pattern and decided to challenge myself to knit a wool skirt in 7 days. And I did!

Chunky knits, man. They just HAPPEN.

In other news, I’m going to attempt my first fingering weight sweater while on an upcoming writer’s residency in Italy. I might be knitting that for a year. Wish me well.

But first, a word from our sponsors:

 

 

To the outfit!

I do feel that all these knits make ME look a little chunky, but ah well. They also keep me warm! And it was cold, as I wanted it to be. And I was happy!

The sweater is the Purl Soho Folded Squares Cardigan.  I made one for my mother in Manos del Uruguay, so then I had to do the same for myself….

The shape is lovely, and drapes well, and the Manos yarn in Clasica is SO warm and cozy. I made one change to the pattern, lengthening the sleeves. This was the same alteration I made for my mom, and we both are big fans!

A bit windy up there….

The sweater is an easy knit, but  time consuming. I started it in July, and I finished it in February, just to give you a sense of how slow I am. Row after row after row, it’s a little monotonous, but it’s fun the way it all fits together!

The skirt, on the other hand, is super easy and and very fast. It’s the Bryn Mawr skirt, which, given my own origins in Philadelphia, is very appropriate! (Bryn Mawr is a suburb of Philadelphia, and a great college! Midge went there!)

I read a lot of Ravelry reviews of this pattern and all of them said it knitted up big, so I opted for a size 28 waist, figuring that would be comfortable, but it’s enormous! It was slipping off during these photos and literally slide off of my body about thirty minutes after we took these, which was about an hour after I wore the skirt for the first time. So I’m going to insert elastic, because otherwise I can’t wear this, and it’s so cosy and cute, I want to!

It’s SO warm. This yarn is from a company called Valley Yarns, and it’s the Berkshire Bulky, and it’s a dream.

Okay, so that’s about it. Busty photos of me in chunky knits on a rooftop. But let me tell you, I was WARM!

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Filed under knit, Knitting

The Before It’s Too Late Skirt (topped with a noir plantain!)

This always happens, doesn’t it, you plan a bunch of things for a season, you end up not doing them and resenting that season because you get sick of the weather, and then, as the season FINALLY draws to a close, you find yourself scrambling to do even a fraction of those things because you now feel it might almost be too late! Because you will NEVER get that season back again! Because you’ve forgotten how time and weather works! Suddenly you feel a sense of strange and potent urgency. Must make more things that I can only wear for, like, three more weeks! Or is this just me?

Come to think of it, I realize that while I don’t suffer from fomo, I might have the opposite problem in that I might suffer from late to the partyitis. I think it takes me a while to get excited about change, and so by the time I’m really in the zone for a new thing, it’s already almost over. I will never be, I know, an early adapter of anything, except perhaps of television. In five years people are going to be having iPhones implanted in their hands and I’m going to be like, iPhone 6, I think I like it! Maybe I should get one!

So now that it’s finally feeling like spring might be imminent someday somehow here in New York (hahaha I’m just kidding it’s going to snow soon it will never be Spring oh my god people in New York are going to revolt!) I know I should be all about the lightweight fabrics and the showing of the skin, discarding wool for cotton, but guys, I just can’t bear too, not quite yet, not when I had this idea for a skirt in my mind that I knew would be awesome. And no amount of slightly warmer weather was going to stop me from making it! So despite the fact that I should be making aspiration warm weather clothing as an effort to entice Spring into coming and as an offering to the great Sewing Gods, I didn’t. If we get more snow, it’s my fault. Please don’t tell anyone. People will hurl rotten vegetables on my new skirt.

I had a small length of bright lovely felted blue wool from my days working in the costume shop that I knew would be a fantastic skirt with a ton of structure, and I also had Deer and Doe’s gorgeous Chardon pattern, which I had been itching to try. Why did I wait this long? For literally no reason whatsoever. I ended up playing with the pleats and changing the pattern a tiny bit, but still, I believe the spirit of the skirt in intact, and I couldn’t be happier, because boy, does this skirt have spirit. If this skirt was an extracurricular activity it would be the pep squad. Check it out, if you don’t believe me!

BITL 1It’s like I’m wearing a bell! I ended up omitting one pleat so that I have four in the front instead of five, but I think it’s pretty cute this way too! I liked the volume but I also thought that it might look nicer on me with a flatter front.

BITL 3How lovely is this color? I love it so deeply. I feel like this makes it a little transitional, right? A bright color for spring? No? The wool isn’t that heavy, actually, despite it being felted, and it actually felt lovely on the balmy 45 degree March day I wore it out on recently. Whatever, I’m not going to apologize for my fear of change, and if this skirt can get me from winter to spring, I’ll take it. It has even cheered me up this week when I’ve transitioned from a slight fever to a rather nasty and debilitating cold. So if it can help me through that, Winter to Spring can’t be SO bad, right?

BITL 4That’s the look of a person who loves pockets. POCKETS. And these are awesome a deep and lovely, and I like this skirt a lot. I would totally make this again, and try it with the original five pleats, just to see what that’s like. Maybe in a canvas or something lightweight but stiff. I think that what I love about this skirt is its structure and it’s fullness, and I would want something that works with that. Do we think a quilter’s cotton would do it?

BITL 6A little back view. I feel the bell-like aspect is fully in effect here. As are wrinkles. I live the life I live.

BITL 2Oh, I made the shirt, too! A plantain, en noir, so I can wear it to cafes in Paris and talk about the disillusion of the human spirit and stuff. Or, just, you know, with EVERYTHING. It’s a black shirt. Everyone should have one of these. Everyone should have ten. Everyone I know does. Remember when black was something you wore for mourning? Me neither. It made it out of a slightly stretchy rayon knit which is actually fairly comfortable despite its low stretch. Just your standard Deer and Doe Plantain. I’ve made maybe 15 of these now. I’m not kidding in any way.

I had anticipated putting the belt loops in this skirt, but the fabric ended up being too thick for that once I made the belt loops, so I had to omit them. That’s alright, though, although I liked the look. Maybe this would be nice in a linen, too, although maybe that would also be a wrinkle monster, just like me. See, I’m thinking about lighter weight fabrics! I’m getting there!

BITL 5

But for now, I’m going to nurse my sickness and enjoy my warm, wool, not at all Spring-forward skirt. Oh, and I’m going to curse daylight savings times too because in the words of the John Oliver show, why is that still a thing?

BITL 7

Jump shot! Haven’t done that for a while, as Mr. Struggle reminded me.

Do you sew for the season you’re in or the season you WANT to be in? I’ve got to warn you guys, I’ve got some more warm clothing coming up, including a coat, sigh…I’m a mess….

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Filed under Deer and Doe, Sewing

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 Winter Uniform Outfit

Hey, there, people! So sorry for the long delay in posting, though I know that with all the internet content out there very few people even noticed because you know, reality television exists. I have to say, the holidays make hell with my posting. I’ve made a lot of things, but my work schedule is crazy and I can never get them documented, and then I’m spending all this time making gifts for other people and KNITTING which takes so much damn time, it really makes you appreciate sewing, right? Knitting really encourages me to see more movies because that’s when I end up knitting the most, otherwise I will never get it done. That being said, there are a lot of bad movies out there, and I would know, I’ve dropped stitches through all of them.

So I feel I should give you a quick recap on my January. Let’s see, a lot of sewing, working, more working, sewing, surviving the New York winter, getting into Jane the Virgin (SERIOUSLY WATCH JANE THE VIRGIN IT’S AMAZING) and then being sad that I watched Jane the Virgin so quickly and now I have to wait for more episodes. Oh, and wedding planning and life and writing and whatever. All such non-important nonsense because it has nothing to do with Jane the Virgin.

I am seriously jealous of the insanely good costuming throughout that show, for women AND for men. It’s set in Florida so everyone looks warm and happy all the time. Now, I’m not actually that anti-winter. I don’t mind the cold much, I grew up with this weather over in Philadelphia and do so enjoy wool. But watching this bright and sunny show after trudging through the sludge of the city does make me just the slightest bit jealous. The thing about New York in the winter is that it just destroys your sense of dressing, for most of us, at least. Your boots get eaten by salt, your body grows due to puffy coats, layers and, to be fair, eating your feelings, which makes subway rides even more crowded, and at some point you just figure, god, why am I bothering to look nice? Let me just lean into this, invest in the biggest sweater I can find, and call this a look. It’s deeply tempting to do this, and I admit, I have. Additionally, on the days I’m working from home, writing on the couch, it’s even MORE tempting to just live in pajamas, especially of the flannel variety. But I’m trying to feel a little more pulled together even when I’m writing, because it’s important to take writing seriously and treat it like the job that it is, so I have decided that even my lounge-wear needs to be nice, and, if possible, handmade.

Enter the Papercut Patterns Anima pant and the Megan Nielson Briar Top, stages right and left, respectively. Separately, they are wonderful patterns. Together? They are my winter writing uniform:

WU 1I made both of these pieces over a month ago at least, and hadn’t gotten around to documenting them before yesterday because it’s hard to pry them off of my body unless it’s to put them in the washing machine.

WU 2They are both super-easy to put together. The anima pants have pockets which is just fantastic and the construction is actually fairly fun for those, I liked that a lot. Otherwise these pique knit pants came together like a dream.

WU 4

Next time I would use wider elastic for the waistband, because the thinner elastic I used makes it a little bunchy, but hey, these are basically high-class sweatpants, does anyone actively care? My laptop sure doesn’t and that’s the real audience for these….

There were no other fitting issues. I cut a medium for the top and the bottoms, and they both fit like a dream, but to be fair, these are comfortable knits, the fit is, shall we say, an easy thing. But the last thing you want when wrestling with words on a page is a woven, I can assure you…

WU 5The shirt is super easy, I love it. The hi-lo thing, I wasn’t initially a fan but I kind of like it now, and when I wear this with real pants I throw a tank top on underneath, and there you go. Layers. Like an onion of an outfit.

The fabric for the pants came from FabricMart.com and was insanely cheap, I think it was like 3.50 a yard. I used some to make this skirt. The shirt came from a length of fabric from Paron’s. The cat hair is all Cadfael.

WU 6Plus, it’s always nice to have some extra butt-coverage. Am I right? I mean, when you have this much to cover….

WU 7There’s that high-lo for you. I look like I’m in deep pain, but go with it. I promise I’m very comfortable and happy in this outfit. Mr. Struggle, who kindly took these photos, was also kind enough to brush at least a large portion of the cat hair off of me before these were taken. Cadfael also likes this outfit, clearly…

WU 3So there you go. Comfortable, easy, the perfect winter writer’s uniform. Who can ask for anything more?

I promise that now that all my gifts have been given and my life has calmed down I will be giving you more posts and more photos! Including wedding updates coming soon! So many things to make, so little time. Why can’t everything be made of Jersey? It really does make things easier….well at least I have my winter writing look down…

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Filed under Megan Nielsen, Papercut Patterns, Sewing

The Knit Wit Outfit

I love a good knit. This may or may not come from my mother. If Megan Trainor is all about that bass, my mother is all about the knits. And who can blame her? A knit is a godsend to all women. Say what you will about Coco Chanel, but that woman made other women more comfortable by her innovative use of knits. Look, I love wovens. Who doesn’t? I would never surrender my love for them. But knits are just so deeply comfortable. They make anything cozier and easier to wear. If the casting off of the corset after the First World War transformed the way women felt in their clothing, then knits have done that once again, embracing curves and angles without darts or fabric geometry, stretching with the human body, moving as they move. They are more forgiving than any Catholic priest ever could be. They don’t mind too much if you have a big lunch, and they also shrink to you when you’ve been good about your running routine. Knits are like a sweet non-judgemental friend you can watch dumb movies with and enjoy large bottles of wine and large bowls of ice cream. Wovens are like that friend that motivates you and makes you feel ambitious and high achieving and professional and adult, but wovens aren’t going to hang out with you on a Sunday night while you watch The John Oliver Show, because wovens are busy, wovens are important, wovens don’t approve of getting their news with a side of comedy, wovens have ALREADY read the New York Times article and seen the BBC report on that issue and have OPINIONS before you even have context. Knits kind of make fun of wovens, as soon as they are out the door, and you smile, and sigh, and say “I’m friends with both of you, okay? But yes. Wovens can be a little uptight.  Now. Back to John Oliver. More wine?”

See, I would watch that show. That show with those three characters. It would be great. I wish someone would pay me to make a show where it’s just me talking to my fabric. Wouldn’t you watch that?

NO? Fine. Whatever. I wouldn’t watch your dumb show either.

Ahem. Anyway. Knits also make everything a little less formal, which I generally don’t approve of, as I like to feel fancy like a grown up, but I do think that knits can get there, with a little bit of sophistication and style. Of course, with silk jersey and rayons you can have a drapey slinky 1970’s dream, but what about the in between of this? Isn’t there something between sweatpants and draped halter?

And that’s why I like some of the new knit patterns that have been released by independent companies in the last few years. They have flare and they have fun. They are comfortable but they don’t only look like they are comfortable. You know what I mean?

Take, for example, Tilly and the Buttons Coco. I did:

KW1Oh, and what’s that on the bottom, lurking underneath? Is that a Colette Patterns Mabel? I DO BELIEVE IT IS! How delightful.

KW3

Yes yes! See, it’s all knit there, but I don’t look like I’m wearing a Juicy Couture Sweatsuit, I look like a person who has a job, and ambitions, and dreams.

KW5

I made my friend Liz take these photos when we went to Philadelphia for the day to see the Patrick Kelly show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I knew nothing about this designer, and the show is excellent, as is his work. Really a fascinating and vivacious man, bursting with talent and innovation, whose appropriation of cultural and racial stigmas and stereotypes richly activated his work. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of him before, and saddened by the brevity of his amazing life. If you have the chance to see this show, please do, it’s really lovely and worth the trip if you aren’t in the area.

Liz sews too, in fact she works at the Museum at FIT, so she is always a wonderful person to see these shows with, to force to take my photograph, and to enjoy drinks and fries with afterwards. She’s a multi-talented human being.

What can I say about the construction of this. Knits are easy, man, especially the ponte de roma that makes up this top. It’s got structure for days, for a knit, but still moves with your body. Score.

KW9I used the three-quarter length sleeves and the funnel neck, which is as close to turtleneck as I can get without feeling horribly self-conscious about my chest.

KW7

There is also  a little split action on the sides, which I like a lot. You can just see that in the photo above.

KW4Close up! I love the cuffs on this shirt, they are genius. I’ve made this once before, as a dress, actually.

KW8

The skirt is the longest of the Mabels, because I’m not a micro-mini kind of girl. It’s seamed up the front, which is hard to see on this black.

KW6See? Even I can’t see it! This skirt is just the easiest thing I have made in months. It literally took me 40 minutes, from cutting to hemming. That’s the real length of a one hour drama minus the commercials. With breaks. To drink wine.

I got that scarf at a vintage store in Austin, by the way. It has ships all over it. I love it.

KW2See, that is the face of a comfortable YET decently dressed person. Simple, easy, cozy, yet with flare. What else can one ask for as the weather grows cold? Don’t worry that I have abandoned my wovens, I will always be more type A then type K (GET IT? K FOR KNITS? Seriously, this would be a great show), but it’s nice to have the option, isn’t it?

 

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Filed under Colette Patterns, knit, Sewing, Tilly and the Buttons, Uncategorized

The Lots To Celebrate Dress

Ah, the 4th of July. What a holiday. Who would have known that when a bunch of slave-owning white man got together and said, you know what is the worst, paying taxes to other white men who speak our language on a tiny island far away, let’s deal with that in a long and elaborately worded “Dear John (or George, as the case may be) letter”, we would, some three centuries later, be celebrating that half-assed international mailing with fireworks, beer and awful displays of jean-short madness? Also, quick side-note, given that overseas mail took signficantly longer then, that must have been the most anti-climactic break-up ever. That’s like sending an “it’s over” text via carrier pigeon.

Look, I’m just kidding, I’m a huge fan of the founding Fathers of the United States, specifically Benjamin Franklin who gave us firehouses, public libraries, bifocals, and the best children’s book ever.  My father is probably Franklin’s biggest fan, and you can’t help but be a bit of a groupie if you grow up in Philadelphia, Franklin’s adopted city. He was actually from Boston, and was apprenticed to a candlemaker until he escaped and…you know what? You should read his autobiography. I did. At the age of 13. Because my father made me. And then you can come to Philadelphia and see his home and his grave and the University he founded and the museum named after him and you can cry to your dad that you don’t WANT to read more about Franklin and you like John Adams because Principle Feeney played him in this movie and besides he seemed like a cool guy who respected women and oh my god I need a moment a lot of my childhood just flashed back excuse me. Sob.

ANYWAY.  I even love celebrating July 4th.  Who doesn’t love freedom? Specifically a freedom only granted to landowning White males of a certain income and education level? It’s a great excuse to grill a bunch of things, drink a bunch of wine (I don’t CARE if it comes from Europe, it’s freedom juice to me!) and enjoy some time with my family. That’s worth celebrating, right? It’s certainly worth a new outfit….

And with no further ado, may I present to you the latest in a long line of Plantain and Plantain hacks, my Lots To Celebrate Dress? Don’t mind if I do!

LTC 2

Ah, I love this dress! And could it BE more patriotic? My cynical ramblings are totally negated by this dress, aren’t they?

So, yes, Plantain. To this. How,you say? Well, I took the top part of the top, that is, above the waist, and used that to cut the bodice. I then slimmed it on the front and back pieces by about two inches, and used the sleeves as they were, and the neck binding. Then I just cut and gathered the skirt. Gathering a knit is the damn worst. I don’t recommend it. It’s dumb. Still! I like this.

LTC 4

 

The fabric I got at my beloved Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet for literally 1.98 a yard. Because, Philadelphia. I got two yards and I still have enough to make a tank top. Luckily it stretches in both directions because the vertical stripe and I are good friends.

LTC 5Although I do think that it is deeply hilarious that the stripes look bigger on the bodice because of my, um, front area. Sigh. Whatever. Franklin would have appreciated this. He loved himself some ladies.

LTC 3A little rear view for you. This dress was insanely easy to sew. I have made this pattern 10 times now and it only gets easier. And it wasn’t hard to begin with. Make this pattern. It’s awesome. That’s all I can say about it. It’s easy and fast and free. What else do you want on July 4th?

LTC 6Obviously these photos were not taken in Brooklyn, but rather at my parent’s house in Philadelphia where we had a lovely BBQ to celebrate the holiday. Not that we are so into it, but, honestly, any excuse to grill…

LTC 8Obviously I left Cadfael in Brooklyn but that’s okay, I wasn’t lonely:

LTC 7Cats gotta be a part of everything, am I right?

LTC 9We made some excellent slaw from this excellent blog. Try that today, too.

So, obviously, celebrating the United States and it’s weird and wonderfully awkward revolution is important. But it’s also important to celebrate personal things too, like this dress, or the slaw I made with my mom, or, you know, getting engaged. Which I also did. So there’s that.

LTC 11Yes. Sharp eyed readers will have noticed this new piece of jewelry making it’s first appearance on the blog. And in my life. As it turns out, what’s-his-face was not just hanging out with me for the sewing tips, and he proposed to me recently. So in honor of that event, and because my mom is unhappy with the moniker “what’s-his-face”, my gentleman caller is being upgraded to Mr. Struggle. I don’t know that you will ever see him on this blog, as he is shy, but I do know that I will be documenting all of my wedding-related makes here, so it seems only fair to tell you why all the white all of a sudden. And why I have a lot to celebrate. He took these photos of me. Maybe that’s why I look so happy? Hard to tell. It’s probably just dreaming about Ben Franklin….

LTC 1Yeah. That’s gotta be it.

I hope you had the best 4th of July possible if you live in the United States, and if not, I hope you had a lovely Friday that had no other meaning to you. I know I did. Thanks, dead white guys!

 

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Filed under Deer and Doe, Life, 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 Gun Control Dress

I’m not the most political dresser there is, in fact, I’m not even sure I know what that would mean. I guess if I was more anxious about it I wouldn’t sew from vintage patterns, because that’s totally buying into a gendered way of dressing reviving a system of the past and embracing with nostalgia the notion of “vintage” without investigating its deeper historical and social connotations. More on that here.  But as it is, I don’t really care so much if other people don’t think about this stuff, or think about it a lot, or if they have a political view I don’t, although I will say, I admire sewing bloggers the world over, but I tend to read regularly the writers who aren’t all that far from me, as far as I can tell, in terms of social politics. I mean, I don’t know how comfortable I would be regularly reading people who make amazing things but consider homosexuality to be degenerate. And I’m sure there are people out there who like my makes but are offended by my words. It happens. I want to dress sometimes like a 1950’s housewife, but I sure as hell have no interest in ever acting like one.

Of course, all of this gets into clothing and what you wear and what it says about you and how much you want it to say about you. When I was young I went to a Quaker School from 3rd grade to senior year of high school (please don’t make an oatmeal joke, don’t be that guy, everyone hates that guy) , and some of the Quaker doctrine of non-violence had to have stuck with me, because we couldn’t wear any cameo (…not that I wanted to.) or anything with curse words on it (which is good, I think, school isn’t a Limp Bizket concert, unless your school was wildly different then mine…), or anything with any symbol of violence on it. And I’m not a big fan of guns, in general, like, I wouldn’t want to personally own one, or live in a house with one, or be near one on any kind of regular basis. I know not everyone feels that way, and I understand that completely, but that’s just me. So recently when I was home in Philadelphia over my winter break, I picked up a few yards of this ultra-cheap (1.99 a yard, whaaaaaat?) jersey from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka my Mecca, mostly because I really really love the color. But the thing is, it’s a Betsey Johnson print, and I’m not wild about her prints in general, and this one, well, it’s covered with guns.

UCG 8.jpgAnd hearts, to be fair. but, I don’t know, I just couldn’t really get around it. I thought I would be fine with it, but the more I considered it, the more the influence of those damn Quakers pervaded me, and I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable covered in guns. So, I did something a little radical. Can you figure out what it is?

UCG 1.jpgI used the wrong side of the fabric! WHAT? I know. I KNOW. Such things are not DONE. Such boundaries are not CROSSED. Well, just call me Lenin because I am a revolutionary! Waaa waaaaaaaa.

UCG 3.jpgAh the smug look of a history joke. These indoor photos are a little yellow, by no fault of my amazing photographer, my boss, Sam, who balanced a camera and a womb filled with a child, because she is amazing. The color is a little more cool than these photos would indicate, but I think you can see how nice and orchid purple it is.

UCG 2.jpg

The pattern is Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress, with three inches added to the length of the bodice, and cut to a trimmed small, with full length sleeves and a half circle skirt. I have made it many times with many alterations and adjustments, and it was a piece of cake, and remains one of my top favorite patterns ever.

UCG 6.jpgKnit dresses. They are the best. They are comfortable and they look nice and they don’t wrinkle. What more can you ask for?

UCG 5.jpgI topstitched the neck binding and did the hems in black. This took me no time at all to make. It took me way more time to deliberate about my whole “using the wrong side” decision then to actually construct this. Sewing. It’s 90% agonizing, 10% doing.

UCG 7.jpgBut I think it works, and honestly, if I had used the right side, I don’t think I would have ever worn it. As it is, I can see myself wearing this thing often during what is clearly an everlasting winter. This is what Winterfell must feel like ALL THE TIME. Death must come as a relief to the Starks… too soon?

UCG 9.jpgHAHAHA JUST KIDDING EVERYONE SURVIVES GAME OF THRONES OBVIOUSLY IT’S MORE LIKE YOU WIN OR GET COOL PRIZES FOR TRYING!

No. No it’s not. But that being said, this leaves Robb Stark time to CALL ME. I already have a dress for our date/engagement/lifelong love. I think he’ll like the guns inside. Don’t you? If you don’t get any of this, don’t worry, neither would I have just over a year ago.

The point is, sometimes the wrong side is the right side for you! Too cheesy? Whatever. I like this dress a lot, and I’m glad it worked out. The rest of the fabric I gave to my boss for baby clothing. That baby’s going to be way more bad-ass than I am. Fact.

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Filed under Clothing, Dixie DIY, Fabric, knit, Sewing

The What Does The Fox Say Dress

I would be the first to admit that I can be a bit behind trends. Or maybe I wouldn’t be first, because I would behind the trend of knowing that I was behind the trend. I think part of this comes down to the fact that I get most of my pop culture news from my friend Ben, hi, Ben! And Ben only sends me things that have to do with Game of Thrones or cat ladies dying alone, I guess because he feels like those are my two major interests. And, hey, he’s not wrong, per se, but it does mean that I saw the Rebecca Black Friday video way later than everyone I’ve ever met. And I still haven’t seen any of the Miley Cyrus stuff, or the Gangnam Style Video. But that might be a conscious choice on my part, I’m okay with my existence as it is. I HAVE seen this video with kittens doing the Lion King, so, you know, I think I’m doing pretty well. Though if those people would do kitten Shakespeare I would seriously lose my mind with happiness. Meow is the winter of my discontent made glorious summer, AM I RIGHT?

Ahem. As you enjoy that splendid joke in all it’s glory and admire my brilliance, let me tell you about my latest dress, which I have named after a new internet Meme (well, not THAT new, as I explained) that my friend Ranjit introduced me to (THANK YOU, Ranjit. Ben, step up.) Basically it’s this video. And it’s weird. And scientifically inaccurate.

763a1ba9552164ff69a0c079a0e47b34Foxes actually sound like this. Except in England where they probably sound like “STOP HUNTING ME FOR SPORT YOU COMPLETE AND UTTER TOOLISH PRAT!” It’s England, they say prat there. But the point is, that video is super weird and I can’t get the song out of my head. Also, there is an awesome SNL parody of this with the incomparable Kerry Washington who I would love to be my best friend and we could drink copious amounts of wine and talk about how pretty and talented she is. I feel that this could happen. If you see her, do let her know about this plan, I’m sure she’d be on board.

So, this song implanted itself in my consciousness, which is probably another reason I let youtube video trends pass me by, because I get WAY too into them and influenced by them, and I went ahead and bought some fox themed fabric. Like you do.

WDTFS 3.jpgAnd I made a dress! Please enjoy my face filled with laughter and delightful closed-eye photo. The pattern is the Hope Wrap dress which I have now made 4 times. When I like something….This time I made it a faux-wrap by stitching the whole thing together. I have to say, I love this style, I know a wrap isn’t for everyone and I respect that, but it really works for me.

WDTFS 2.jpgThis is me, thinking seriously about what the fox says. The foxes on MY dress just tell me I’m pretty.

WDTFS 1.jpgMy boss took these for me at work and I got lots of posing advice from her and my co-worker, Martin. This three-quarter turn with the Miss America arms is all them. Can’t you just see me telling everyone what I want is World Peace? Cue the “cupping a bird” wave.

WDTFS 5.jpgThe fit of this is pretty nice, I think. I mean, knits make all that so easy, and this jersey shrank a tiny bit in the wash but also softened a bit, becoming a little heathery, and the stretch is nice but not too drapey, so it holds the shape well. I should just tack the wrap part at the bust, I have it kept together with a safety-pin now like the class act I am.

WDTFS 4.jpgThese indoor photos make the color look duller then it is, it’s actually a deeper blue and a truer brick red. I got the fabric from Girl Charlee, duh, and while you can’t find the dark blue there anymore, they have the same pattern in a lighter blue, if you want to go foxy as well.

WDTFS 7.jpgThese foxes are so cute. I love them. I love wearing this dress! Seriously, this pattern is great and so easy, I would recommend it heartily to anyone, especially someone new to knits, because it’s simple and flattering and quick and looks good on everyone I’ve seen make it. There are tons of wrap dress patterns out there but this one is FREE.

WDTFS 6.jpgYou are never lonely if your clothing is covered in friends! Fantastic foxy friends. So I’m pretty sure what the fox REALLY says is, awesome dress, Leah!

Also, in holy cuteness news, Foxes apparently wag their tails when they are happy. AND IT’S AWESOME.

You’re welcome.

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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, knit, Sewing