Tag Archives: linen

The Pre-Wine Tunic

I’m working with a serious backlog here, so despite the fact that I’ve already moved to Mumbai, you’re going to see some US posts for a bit, sorry, guys. In the mean time, feel free to check out my new “living in India” blog here!

So you know what I love? Wine. Super a lot. A whole bunch of it. I know, you’re shocked, you’re amazed, you feel betrayed and horrified. I’m sorry. But the person who taught me how to love wine was my mom, who is the best. And we love wine together. So this summer, in anticipation of both of our birthdays, which fall in July, and my upcoming move, my glorious wine-goddess mother and my wine snob brother and I went west, to Napa, in a long anticipated wine tasting trip. I, of course, am an indiscriminate wine lover, so I will drink most things as long as they are on the dry side and not the last harvest sugar rush that some people call Riesling. But this was magnificent wine, in a magnificent setting, and I was so happy to be there. And so I figured I should make something cool to wear, to celebrate.

Now, here is the thing about Northern California, right, you just never know how the weather is going to be. You can go from warm to cold to warm again within hours, so packing for a weekend trip includes more clothing than you might bring for a weeks journey somewhere else. So in trying to make something that worked, I had to figure into account the weather, as one does. I also had to figure in the wine, and how when you start tasting wine you are like la la yes notes of sage and melon and concrete, but by the end you are like, this wine tastes red and I like red do you have more wine that is red or more wine that exists? So in the end, I decided this tunic would be best for a jaunt to Berkeley for a splendid meal at the illustrious and magnificent Chez Panisse during which the wine would be white and the sloppiness factor mitigated by decorum. And I will say, I planned this perfectly. This was a great shirt for pre-wine times. See why?

PW 4

Ugh, that face. It’s saying, why am I standing in this corpse of trees like I didn’t ASK FOR THIS MY OWN DAMN SELF. But that shirt though, right?

So it’s the Everyday Elegance Top from Patterns for Pirates, which I raved about the last time I went to the West Coast. I guess I feel like this is a really West Coast look, I don’t know, things are horribly causal out there, what can I say?

PW 3

The fabric was something I bought at Parons Fabrics years ago, some of which I made into a dress for my friend Betsy’s wedding, and some of which became this tunic. And extra scraps became a baby dress for a friend’s niece, so there you go, circle of fabric. It’s a linen-cotton blend and immensely cool and breathable.

The tunic is super straightforward to stitch up, and I made it all with french seams to counter the fray-leaning fabric and because I like them, what can I say.

PW 5

I did a little playing with stripes on the back, just a little, mind, for fun. I love it!

PW 2

I just realized none of these photos capture the collar, which is a shame, because it’s pretty cute. You will just have to believe me on this, I guess.

PW 1

And there you have it. A tunic that worked before wine, during wine of the white variety, and even after wine. I’m just kidding, There was no after wine that weekend….

PW 7

Otherworldly plants abound out there in California.

PW 6

And of course, tall tall trees. I think they liked my tunic too.

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The Birthday Resurrected Outfit

I love my birthday. I truly do. There is no real reason for me to love my birthday, honestly, and yet, there you are. I can’t say I’ve ever had a magnificent birthday, like a truly epic life changing birthday, probably because I’m not a billionaire and can’t fly all my friends all over the world. I wanted to find a link about a news story of someone who has done this but I couldn’t which leads me to believe that these billionaires are not doing what I would do in their position. Fools. It’s all lobster parties in the desert and inviting Lindsey Lohan, according to the google, and both of those seem like a recipe for getting someone sick. I would do it all so much better if I was that rich. Someday I will BE that rich, just so I can throw better birthdays than the immensely wealthy people who have come before me.

But until that day comes, I will just enjoy my birthday the way it has been in recent years, at a bar, surrounded by nice friends who all buy me glass after glass of white wine (because my birthday is in the summer, duh) until I end up telling everyone how much I love them and begging someone to go get me some pizza. What can I say, I like to keep my birthday fresh. And I always try to make a new outfit, to make myself feel special and to force everyone to compliment me in a subtle way. Hey, if you can’t manipulate your friends on your birthday, when CAN you?

It’s been, I should mention, a month since my birthday. OY. Guys, I moved and Mr. Struggle left for India and my play opened (it’s up for one more weekend! Check it out here, it has a sewing theme so this shameless plug is justified). Still, I had such good intentions of posting this right after my birthday and that….is another dream deferred. Speaking of which, my birthday outfit, why was there none last year, you might be asking, or not, because you have better things to do than comb through my archives….Well, last year my birthday was cancelled because I got quick sick with a vicious summer cold and spent the night I was SUPPOSED to be hanging out with the people and the wine and the outfit compliments in bed instead, watching this popular 90’s Bollywood blockbuster which I declared, after all 3 hours of it, “was pretty good”, which Mr. Struggle took as a major compliment, considering my previous reactions to his 90’s Bollywood screenings. So there was happiness, true, but still, it wasn’t quite the birthday of my imaginings. So this year, I was determined to do it right.

And here is the outfit I chose to do it in:

BR 1Okay, so fun fact about this skirt, it’s a wrap skirt that I drafted and the first time I wore it it did a little warping on the left side (right in the photo) as you can see. After I washed it for the first time this issue had disappeared, so I’m not sure what that was about, you heavyish weight linen, you, but it’s all cool now!

BR 2See those little ripples? They look weird, but they are good now. As I mentioned, the skirt is self drafted and I got the fabric just ages ago from the sadly now defunct PA Fabric Outlet (sadness). It’s a nice little wrap skirt and I have to say, I don’t know why I waited so long to make a wrap skirt. This was literally my first one. WHY? I LOVE THIS SKIRT. I would invite this skirt to my birthday. IN FACT, I DID.

BR 5A little back view to show you the tie. I love this look! It’s so cute, I think, it’s so pseudo-40’s and wearable.

BR 4Oh, linen. You are so nice, but you wrinkle up so easy. Price I pay to remain breezy and cool, I suppose. I’m not really a perfectly pressed person, so I think it’s worth it.

BR 3Now, to the shirt! I made that too, and it’s my first ever Scout T-shirt by Grainline Studio. Oh, this pattern. So simple, a woven t-shirt, and yet so brilliant. I love it! I did alter the pattern a bit, because I was concerned by the bust measurement in the pattern versus the measurement of my own, well, sizable chest. This pattern has no darts or shaping, so I graded the bust measurement up, the waist down, and the hips slightly, so I think it’s like a 12-8-10 so that the final pattern can accommodate my, um, assets.

BR 6This fabric was a leftover from a dress I recently made. The photos of that were accidentally deleted so….enjoy this shirt!

And that’s about that for this. I remember taking these photos. I remember most of this evening, actually, it was super fun. There was a point at which I was telling Mr. Struggle that this thing I had to say was REALLY IMPORTANT over and over again without saying the actual thing and then I decided I should go to bed. Birthday? Resurrected. Boom.

Someday I will catch up on everything. Someday my life will calm down and I will get back into a normal blog posting schedule. Someday I will be a millionaire and I will fly everyone I know to cool places. No lobster, no Lohan. Someday.

Oh! And I’m moving to India myself, a little over a month from now, to join Mr. Struggle, which means I have to get rid of many things. So get geared up for giveaways and hop over to my Etsy shop to scope out patterns for sale! I will be updating it as much as possible, and I’ve put two new patterns up today, so enjoy!

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Night to Day: Giveaway #6 (And by the way, I need your help)

Rough winds have shaken the darling buds of July and it is rainy, wet and honestly a touch chilly here in Philadelphia, not that I’m complaining, given that I’m on a bike for much of my day, so biking in the cool air is preferable to biking in the heat. I do both, as it turns out, but still, it’s nice when there us a breeze. I’ve been working on several new projects, two for my mamala, whose birthday is this coming Wednesday, one with the small person I’ve been teaching to sew, and one for the dinner I’m throwing tomorrow. That one is all done, expect photos and a dedicated post soon, along with some delectable food shots….

But for now, you will have to content yourselves with another giveaway, and a shameless plea for aid.

First things first, the winner of giveaway #4! And that is….Cindy, of Cation Designs! I think I’ve made my adoration for Cindy abundantly clear, but might I just say right now, thank you all, everyone who has been commenting to win on these giveaways! I really adore reading your comments, and I’m so thrilled that these patterns are going to such amazing people! Keep on commenting, I’ve got lots more goodies in store….

And here they are! Patterns which are far too small for me, but which I can’t help but find unbearably charming…

A closer look? But of course!

This could even be a cute dress, minus all the lace crap…

I actually really want all their shoes…am I alone?

Very Victorian, no? Or even Edwardian, for all those Downton Abby Fantasies…

And now that I’ve dangled patterns in front of your face as a bribe, please help me. If you want to enter this giveaway, or even if you don’t, would you mind terribly weighing in on my current internal sewing debate? I have 1.5 yards of 60″ navy linen, and it is awesome. It looks like this:

In the right hand corner you can JUST see some Cadfael paw. It’s a nice linen, even darker than this photo might suggest.

So I’m not really sure what to do with this length of fabric. Part of me says, make a skirt! You love skirts! And part of me says, make shorts! Make THESE shorts:

I’ve made them before, in fact, and I honestly adore them. But given all the shorts I’ve been making lately, I feel a bit silly making another pair, and a high-waisted style at that…

Or I could make this:

Okay, the cover art isn’t awesome, but I’ve made this before, the skirt and the pants, and the skirt, in a navy wool, is something I wore all winter, check it out.

Or I could do this:

Which of course I’ve made rather recently. And I can’t lie to you, I wear this at least once a week.

Or I could make something that ISN’T one of these options. What would you suggest? What do you like best? Any thoughts? Of course, it could just remain a perch for Mister Fattie:

Somehow, that doesn’t seem like the best use of this fabric…

Okay, tell me what to do! Or just tell me what YOU would do….

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The How Many Of These Are You Going To Make? Shorts (MMM Day 5)

I’m sure that’s what you are thinking right now. Leah, you say, you just posted about a pair of shorts. Which you made from the exact same pattern. Literally 12 hours ago. What the hell are you doing? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m posting about more shorts. Because I can. Because they are awesome. Because I made them with leftover scraps from my Nautical Bias Skirt. And because it’s my blog, and I’ll bore you if I want to. So without further ado, more shorts.

Of course, as I look at these photos, I can now see a waterstain on one of the legs. Great. Delightful.

I forgot to mention it, but both of these pairs were made with flat felled seams throughout. I think I’m in love with flat felling seams. Yes, it’s a bit more work, but it looks so cool, and it’s helpful, because this linen-cotton blend is fraying like it’s it’s job. Which it well may be, I don’t know what it does when I’m not around.

I wore these on Saturday morning to the Mercado I described in my last trip. We picked up some delightful cheeses, tiny tomatoes (PS: Puerto Rico, grow more tomatoes, please? Thanks) and island Basil, a small-leaved spicy scented variety.

We also picked up some amazing flowers for my cousin, which turned out to be a huge struggle because my family was determined to forget them after the wedding despite my mother’s imploring pleas, but hey, that’s life. So I posed with the flowers in the market, blinded by the sun that, by that afternoon, would become violent rain. Ah, the Caribbean. What a mess.

I’m only wearing one me-made thing in these photos, the shorts. Nothing vintage, either. Sigh.

BUT, I changed an hour or two after this photo was taken into the dress I made for the wedding, and that ensemble had a vintage touch. So that’s two outfits in one day, which I think makes up for my early transgression, don’t you?

Quick, become distracted with flower photos:

Aren’t these amazing? We were informed they are related to Bananas. So wild looking, like an Alien species.

Pretty….

The colors are so brilliant, they always astonish me.

Though here I seem more skeptical then astonished….

Coming up, more shorts! Ha, I kid. I will be gracious and give you a dress. We all like dresses best, now don’t we…

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

A Nautical Bias Outfit

First off, I want to talk about prejudice. Specifically my own prejudice against people who don’t like the things I like. I can honestly admit that I have actually (much to the disbelief of many) gotten more tolerant over the years. As my mother says, “You’re tough”, and that’s true, I am. I used to believe I ought to have free range to slap people who say further when they mean farther. I know now, having read Locke and Rousseau, having studied and understood the concept of a social contract, that while I might still think I should be ALLOWED to slap such folks, voicing it in public is a questionable idea. But I don’t think I will ever get over yelling at people who don’t like Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Recreation is amazing. I love it. My MOM loves it. It’s simply hilarious, and I think if you haven’t seen it you should stop what you are doing and go watch it. And if you DO watch it, I present you with this:

Click here, experience infinite drunk Ron Swanson.

You’re welcome. Feel free to enjoy that for a while. I’ll wait. No rush.

I know. It’s amazing. Shhhhh, let it wash over you, it’s fine.

That’s from one of my favorite episodes, and Drunk Leslie says to Drunk Ann “Sometimes if I don’t push you, you’ll end up standing still”. Which is why I even bring this wonderful show up. Because sometimes if I don’t push myself to make new patterns, I’ll end up making the same one over and over again. And that’s a problem. Because I have a lot of patterns. So when I decided to make Simplicity 5196, it was a controversial move for me, a new pattern, from one of my LEAST favorite decades? And yet, and YET, I think I love it! (But what am I so afraid of? I’m afraid of what I’m not sure of. A love there is no cure fooooooor…..)

See? Look how happy I am in my swishy bias cut skirt from the 70’s! Yay! Thank you, the Leslie Knope that lives inside of me. You’ve steered me well. Can I get some snake juice now?

So this is piece one and two of my Spring Palette Challenge! Woooo! I know, I know, I have 5 things I made that need to be photographed and instead of dealing with any of that business I made a new outfit and I’m writing about that. WHATEVER. The skirt, as you know, it’s Simplicity 5196:

Very very easy, and quite efficient, fabric-wise, it took a bit over a yard of 60 inch wide fabric. And I really like it!

I had imaged something fuller, in fact, I wanted to make Simplicity 3688, which I’ve made before, but I told myself no, push through the fear, try something new. It’s actually fairly full at the hem, but because it was cut on the bias it skims over my hips (thank you!) and looks sleeker then it is. Which I like! Yeah, it’s more Downton Abby then Foyle’s War but hey, that’s okay.

I cut out the two skirt pieces and the waistband, and let them hang over a few days, allowing the bias to stretch. Then I sewed it up and hemmed it by hand (four inch hem, what’s UP 70’s patterns? You were made for tall girls, I guess) late last night. Why so late? Well, I live next to a Russian Orthodox church and today is Russian Orthodox Easter (Happy Russian Orthodox Easter!) and I could hear every single minute of the midnight mass. EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE. And the bells. The flipping bells. All night. And people say the shofar is loud.

Now to the blouse! The blouse is Colette Patterns Jasmine, a bias cut blouse for a bias cut skirt!

I  cut a size 10 (by the way, sizing is just crazy talk. I have worn, comfortably, three different sizes in Colette Patterns. You just don’t know until you try), and I did a full bust adjustment. I had heard horror stories about the armsythe and the back, so I went for a larger size and I must say, it’s rather blousy but very comfortable, and I like the look.

How much do I like the ties? THAT much. Crazy-person grin much. I took the hem out so you could see the length, if you care about such things.

One cuff came out quite nicely. The other did not. So you can’t see it.

All together, I think I look like an Edwardian lady sailor.

And how do I feel about that, you ask?

(This is the preparation)

And also:

Yeah. I like this outfit. It might be a bit whimsical, but then, so am I. And we must credit my lovely photographer, Emily:

Thanks, Emily! You are the best!

Oh! And I should mention that I randomly generated a number and the winner of my giveaway is Gail of Today’s Agenda! She’s a lovely lady and I’m totally thrilled to discover that she’s got LOADS of tips about the Miette Sweater, which I’m totally making right now! Thanks, Gail, and let me know where I can send your packet of vintage goodness!

Oh, and if you are into Parks and Recreation, go ahead and google “Cats that look like Ron Swanson” and/or Tom Haverfoods. Have yourself a great time.

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Out Of Season Shorts

Aaaaaaand I’m back from San Juan, with a light tan on my face and a longing for the Caribbean in my heart. Our trip was lovely, but completely exhausting, just like always. Why is it that I always need a vacation from my “vacations”? I never come home feeling refreshed, I come home feeling like I’ve just been kicked around for a few days and could use a nice lie down. Does anyone else have that issue?

But I did manage to get a few photos snapped of myself between all the struggle. (Note to self, must invest in tripod or risk wonderful relationship with awesome mother). So here it is, another incarnation of Simplicity 7688. Waring, wrinkles ahead:

I actually made this garment and the other creation I will be showing you this week at least a month ago, but of course the Philadelphia weather wouldn’t have allowed me to model these, and besides, I really made them to take to Puerto Rico. It does, however, feel really strange to be sewing something out of season. Do you sew seasonally, or are you an anything goes type of person? Just like I only drink red wine in the winter and white wine in the summer (it’s the done thing, darling, didn’t you know?) I have, up until this point, crafted based on the temperature outside. But I must say, it was oddly liberating to be sewing off-season! It filled me with such anticipation, and when I finally got to wear the damn things I felt so fulfilled! I really must stop being fulfilled by my clothing….

So. Many. Wrinkles. Especially around the, um, crotch area. I know I should be castigating myself for the bagginess, but I actually really like the fit of these shorts. They are loose, especially in the waistband, and comfortable to the extreme. I added two inches to the hem, just like I did the last time I made them.

I’m so happy when I’m in profile.

The fabric is from the hoarder stash, a pale linen-cotton blend (…I think…). The zipper actually ALSO comes from the hoarder stash, and the snaps I used on the waistband came from my grandmother. So these shorts were virtually free, if you disregard the cost of the pattern, which was about a dollar, and the thread, which was leftover in my stash but, presumably, something I once bought at one time.

I hand stitched the hem, and hand-picked the zipper. But these shorts are so easy they probably took me 3 hours from cutting to catch-stitching.

I used the same fabric to make my Meringue skirt muslin, and then I had a length of it left and I thought, hey, why don’t I make some late 1960’s style shorts? And so I did. Like you do.

I just didn’t have quite enough fabric to make a wider waistband, so instead I have this tiny business, which I don’t adore, but shall live with, because one does what one must.

Back view, baby. I personally think these shorts are ideal for the Caribbean. Lightweight, light colored, with just enough vintage charm to avoid saying “I just jumped off the cruise ship and want to gawk at San Juan and walk around in horrible t-shirts and sneakers and refuse to speak any Spanish because why don’t YOU speak AMERICAN?”. Can you tell I have some mild disdain for tourists from cruise ships? And here I thought I was hiding it so well…

The top of my head may be cut off, but my blissful expression is clear.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a little San Juan street art:

Coming up this week, my Meringue goes Latin, a recent failure becomes someone’s delight, my March sewing kicks into high gear, and I depart for a brief trip to Chicago (what a jetsetter, right?) on Friday! Let’s hope I can deliver all that before my flight….

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Filed under Clothing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Jump Or Be Pushed Jacket

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Shakespearian pick up line? Maybe. But it’s also true, in my experience. And while I would LOVE to think I was born great, and would be willing to state that I, on rare occasions, achieve greatness, more often than not, greatness is thrust upon me. And that’s exactly what happened with my latest, and rather ambitious project, a jacket. You see, just over a month ago, I was contacted by Lisa who works at the fantastic Onlinefabricstore.net. It’s a lovely website full of amazing fabrics whose prices decrease as the amount of yardage in your chart increases (a devious trick, but I can’t say I hate it, oh, no, I simple MUST buy more yardage, the discount!). And Lisa offered me fabric if I would make a jacket and post about it here. She said something to the effect of, “that’s one of your goals for the year, right?”. And I had a moment of, ummmm, is it? Sure. Why not. Jacket. I will just do that. No big deal. But then I actually started thinking about making a jacket, and tailoring and technique and whether or not I was ready for this and then the beautiful fabric came, a linen burlap Lisa requested I use, and it was gorgeous but totally see-through and frays like a live wire and I just thought, oh, holy hell, is this actually something I can do? But then I just went ahead and did it. Because you have to jump in, or risk being pushed. And I would rather be the one making the choice. You dig? And I have to say, for a first jacket, I’m pretty damn pleased with this thing. (Slightly more picturesque shot amongst the ivy. You will note that the notebook matches the dress, which isn’t surprising given that I made the dress and covered the notebook with the same fabric. Jealous?) The pattern is Simplicity 4494, a Vintage 1940’s pattern. Let’s take a look at the cover art, shall we? I went with view II, the collarless one, but I used full-length sleeves because honestly a jacket with 3/4 length sleeves just feels ridiculous. It LOOKS cool, but I can’t imagine ever having occasion to really wear the thing. And here is what I came out with: I must say, I’m pretty pleased with this jacket. For a first try at a lot of things I think it turned out very well, if I do say so myself! The arms are a little baggy, but otherwise the fit is nice. I made a muslin, of course, no way I would cut into this expensive fabric without a tester, and found the fit just a touch closer than I wanted for a jacket, which, presumably, has something going underneath it. A normal person might have re-sized this pattern. I just used slightly smaller seam allowances, 1/2 “, rather than the 3/4” noted in the pattern. Worked like a charm. Who says cheaters never prosper?

Checking out my own lining.

Because the fabric was so loosely woven, I had to underline ever piece of linen. You know what I didn’t know about underlining? It’s insanely easy. You literally baste the underlining to the real fabric and use that piece as one piece. It was so helpful in this case, because marking the linen was impossible, but the underlining, plain black cotton, I would mark with ease. And because the jacket is lined, I didn’t have to worry about those markings washing out! I used vintage white and blue striped cotton shirting for the lining, which I got from my Grandfather’s attic. My grandmother had bought something like 20 yards of the stuff. God knows why. The black underlining came from my stash, as did the button. I might replace this at some point with something fancier, but for now this is fine, and I really wanted to use my stash as much as possible. I am really quite pleased with the fit of this jacket. There is enough ease to be comfortable but the princess seams make it fit smoothly and nicely over my curves. There is a bit of baggyness around the upper back near the arm areas, I think you can kind of see where it’s pulling and not lying flat to the body. But it fits in my (admittedly broad) shoulders. The 40’s is a great era for me, I don’t even need the shoulder pads, which I omitted, because my swimmers shoulders are that prominent. I also made a bound buttonhole. It’s not great. No, you can’t see it. I hide my shame from the world. Instead, look at how nicely it fits at the waist! Focus on the good! See? All better. Happy face! I love my new jacket, guys. It may have taken me 5 days to make, or at least 20 hours and it may not be perfect, but it’s my first foray into the exciting world of tailoring, and I have to say, I can’t wait to do more! Gertie is offering an amazing jacket class….anyone want to buy that for me? Anyone? Bueller? Thank you so much, Onlinefabricstore.net for this gorgeous fabric that I never would have gotten to use otherwise.  And to all you reading, I would advise you to check out the website for your spring sewing needs, they have some amazing stuff on there! And it’s extremely well-organized, which I honestly can’t say for a lot of online fabric vendors. And they delivered my order within two days, which is unprecedented. So go to Onlinefabricstore.net and browse their silks and satins, cottons and wools, linens and knits, because I promise you, it’s worth it! Consider this your chance to have greatness thrust upon you! See? It’s totally a pick up line. Seriously. Malvolio? More like MalvoliHO! Or maybe just ignore that and look at my pretty jacket. What? I always read standing against a wall of greenery in a hand-made jacket. Don’t you?

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Filed under Clothing, Fabric, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage