Tag Archives: life

The Least Laboreous Labor Day Dress

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

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

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

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

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

LLLDED4

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

Maxi Dress

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

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

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

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

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

LLLDED6A romantic gaze out onto the canal.

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

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

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Filed under By Hand London, Clothing, Sewing

The Make It Work Dress

As surprising as it seems, I have never seen Project Runway. Yes, I know, its about sewing. Yes, I know I sew. No, I don’t care. I’ve never seen The Wire, either. I’ve also never seen The Real World or The Jersey Shore. We’ve all got our stuff, okay? Have you seen every episode of Pushing Daisies? Or been to China? No? I’ve done both of those things. So shut up. The point is, even though I’ve never seen the show, I’m aware of it, and of Tim Gunn’s famous phrase, “make it work”, which, given that I have no context for it, I assume is in reference to people making something work. In terms of clothing. That’s logical, right?

So recently I was in a situation where, in fact, I couldn’t make what I was making work. Now, normally, who cares, right? It’s a bummer but life, she goes on. But this particular dress was for my friend Becca’s wedding. Now, I understand realistically no one cares what I’m wearing to this wedding, because I am not the person in white, but nevertheless, I love Becca, I didn’t want to look terrible, and besides, I have a reputation to uphold! People expect things of me and my sewing machine! I had to make it work!

So, despite the late hour and an early morning of teaching 9 year olds how to sew the next day, I cut and stitched a new dress. Because being exhausted is a great way to deal with 8 small girls and their incessant and well-considered questions that I have no idea how to answer, despite knowing how to sew. (This is interesting, how is it that you can do something but have real trouble explaining how things work to a beginner? I will be honest, I have totally resorted to, it just works, okay? when getting a hard question about stitching.) But I simply had to make it work. The wedding demanded a new dress! (Literally no one demanded this. I did all of this to myself.) And you know what? For something that I threw together, I completely love this dress!

MIW 1Turned out nice, right? I grabbed my bodice block, gathered the skirt, lined the bodice in a blue silk taffeta I got for free from a dressmaker looking to unload her stock. (THANK YOU!). The fabric comes from India via Mr. Struggle, and it has a lovely sheen to it, which I thought might make this appropriate for this black-tie-optional affair. The fabric is actually quite quite lovely, and I got scores of compliments on this dress to prove it. Well done, Mr. Struggle!

MIW 2Yes, I had to admit that he did something well. Yes, it hurt.

MIW 4I joke, I joke, he’s wonderful. The neckline of the dress turned out to be an excellent frame for the truly gorgeous necklace my new in-laws gave me to celebrate our marriage. It was a very India-centric outfit, as it turns out, which was of course totally appropriate for a Brooklyn wedding. The ceremony was truly lovely, and the girl in the white dress looked insanely gorgeous, not to mention happy. Hmmm, I wonder why?

MIW 6I didn’t get any amazing back shots but that’s okay, life goes on.

MIW 5 Oh, those shoes. So cute. So painful at the end of the night. How do women wear stilettos? These are thick chunky 1940’s style pumps and they still made my feet bleed. Thank goodness I picked a profession when I spend most of my time in my pajamas writing barefoot on the couch.

MIW 7After the disaster that was the first attempt to make something for this wedding (slippery silk did not participate or play well with others) this was super fast and basic, I’ve made this pattern many times before and there are no surprises, just lots of darts. I altered the neckline a bit but otherwise, boom. Nothing crazy. The only crazy part was ME.

MIW 3Jenny, my friend who took these lovely photos after the ceremony (so I’m smiling really hard to hide the fact that I’ve just been sobbing, weddings are emotional!) taught me this pageant pose which makes your waist look tiny. Thank you, Jenny! I will forever be grateful.

It was just a lovely wedding, and I was so happy to be there, to celebrate with my friends, and, of course, have a new dress, the most important part. Sometimes, regardless of your desire for sleep, you just need to make it work. Becca likes Project Runway, so I knew she would approve. Congratulations to an amazing couple, and stay tuned for an upcoming post on the dress I made to ANOTHER wedding of another amazing pair! I promise I will stop making party dresses, guys, for real. After all, it’s fall soon, right? Back to wools and heavy knits and pants! But first, a little more icing, cool? Get excited.

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Filed under Friends, Life, Sewing

The At Least It’s Before Labor Day Dress

I am all about the seasonal appropriateness of things. I really don’t drink red wine in the summer (although that recently was a rule that had to bend because someone gave us a bunch of red wine and in our move we’ve hemorrhaged money and….I like wine. So, red, anyone?) And I will be the first to admit that I’m a little bit weird about old-timey color rules. Black and navy? Nope. Wont do it. Brown and black? Kill me now. Absolutely not. I will hard-core judge the hell out of you, and myself, if such a thing happens. I like things in their places. I like things to be the way I think they are supposed to be. I mean, I use chopsticks when I make myself a stir fry, for goodness sakes. And yes, is this highly neurotic? Absolutely. You are welcome to talk to my therapist all about it. You two kids have fun. But I enjoy my exacting and strange nature, and luckily, I found someone else who likes it too. Obviously I’m talking about my cat. But also, Mr. Struggle has signed up to deal with all of my strange stuff plus the difficulty of living with such a divine being like Cadfael, and recently, we made it official down at City Hall.

And for the first of our three weddings, I was a little concerned about what to wear. How casual is City Hall? How formal? Well, as it turns out, a wonderful and strange combination of the two. Seriously, if you aren’t busy on a Friday, go down to New York’s City Hall with a drink and a snack and enjoy the people watching of the Marriage Bureau. It’s a wonderful place. It’s the happiest government building I’ve ever been to, because people actually want to be there when they come. Couples of all shapes and sizes, races, sexual orientations and levels of formal dress are there to tie the knot with not a lot of ceremony. (See what I did there?) Mr. Struggle and I, along with friends and family, enjoyed an hour or so wait on Friday morning before our lightening-quick ceremony and a day of delicious food, copious drinks and wonderful people. So what is the dress that can go from morning ceremony to afternoon gorging? The one that says “this is my first of three weddings”? The one that works for August in Manhattan? I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t be sure. I just had to take a gamble and hope the odds were in my favor. After all, I knew I could wear white, at least. We’re well before Labor Day. Right?

ALIALD6Oh, dear. Okay, so as you can imagine, photos were hard on this day. These are sort of torn out of my regular wedding photos, courtesy of my wonderful friend Becca, who is getting married herself in two weeks!!!! So obviously these are not the best of outfit pictures, but they do represent an amazing day in my life! So just go with it, okay? Oh, yeah, at New York City Hall you can pose in front of a fake backdrop of City Hall. Or….you can walk outside….and do it in real life…..but, hey, who am I to judge other people’s choices.

ALIALD7The pattern is Sewaholic’s Cambie dress, a wonderful and well-drafted pattern. The fabric I got at Mood Fabrics, because I really wanted a nice eyelet, and I knew they would have variety. Boy, did they. The prices left me disquieted, but I figured, it’s worth it. I love this dress very much. It’s got pockets and it’s comfortable and flattering and I love the sleeves. I might dye it, actually, because I don’t know when I’m going to need a white dress in this formality level again. In India I obviously have to wear a traditional outfit and our Philadelphia wedding will be more formal than this. Ah, well. Still, an eyelet dress is always welcome. Any color suggestions?

ALIALD5

I did not muslin this. I know. I KNOW. I didn’t make a muslin FOR MY WEDDING DRESS. PLAYING WITH FIRE. But guys, it’s been a little crazy. Mr. Struggle and I have had the worst move in the history of moves which is also known as “any time anyone moves in New York”. I don’t know how people survive here. I don’t know how I have survived here. I don’t know why anyone moves ever. I should have just had Mr. Struggle move into my three bedroom apartment and slowly murdered my other roommates with arsenic, rather than try to move. I love my old roommates deeply, but honestly, I’m pretty sure this sort of thing happens all the time. Because otherwise, I don’t know how people do this. Between the apartment we lost because it wasn’t done after two months of renovations, to the drunk mover who dropped box after box of my sewing stuff, to the dark seventh circle of hell that is Ikea, it’s just been some struggle. And then we got married. Like you do.

ALIBLD3It was still pretty wonderful, though, despite the move and the mess and the chaos.

ALIBLD2There were a lot of photos like this. So, sewing stuff, right. I cut an 10 in the bodice and graded down to an 8 in the waist and skirt. The lower-body stuff of Sewaholic Patterns always great for me, because I have such a Puerto Rican posterior, but the bodice part always needs a little extra room for my, uh, Jewish attributes in the bosom. I love love love this dress, I love the pattern, I can’t wait to make more. The sleeves are darling, the waist piece is awesome, it all comes together beautifully, and the pockets, well, come on. Everything needs pockets, even a wedding dress.

ALIBLD1Speaking of posterior, you may think the person you see on the right side of this photo a Kardashian, but it’s my husband’s cousin Rashi, who seriously looks that good all the time. It’s severely unfair, and the worst thing is, she’s awesome and wonderful as well. What a bitch.

I did the whole something old and borrowed (the pin, a piece that my grandmother brought from Iran and gave to my mother, who lent it to me), something blue (the fabulous shoes, duh, courtesy of Modcloth.com) and something new (le dress).

After our City Hall ceremony, Mr. Struggle and I celebrated with a fantastic lunch at one of our favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Franny’s. It was magnificent, and if you are in the area, seriously, check it out. And in honor of the occasion, I will give you your first and possibly last glimpse at Mr. Struggle, because he is shy, and besides, this is my damn blog, not his.

ALIALD4Yeah, he went super Indian for the event. That being said, he pretty much goes super Indian for life, so what can you do?

And that’s my first wedding dress. I know all white can be tricky, but at least it’s before Labor Day, right?

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Filed under Clothing, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing