Tag Archives: Lisa

The Texas Two Step Outfit

Guys, I did something that many people truly refuse to do. I went back to Texas. I know! Who does that? But honestly, I went back to AUSTIN, so does that even count? It’s like, the anti-Texas, it’s got all the wonder and beauty of Texas without any of the crazy or conservative. It’s got smoked briskets at ever corner, cool cocktail bars with dumpling trucks attached, lovely scenery and actually deeply nice people. Unlike the saccharine strangeness that can sometimes pervade the South East coast, the South West is just some nice people with a lot of sand and sun and meats to cook. And many other things, obviously. But this trip to Texas was as lovely as my last, with the one exception of my friend Lisa not being there, which was a bummer, sigh. I had to have SO many glasses of wine in her honor, it was SO hard but totally essential, duh. Mr. Struggle, having never been there before, was excited about the food and, well, mostly just the food, but I managed to drag him to an art museum in between BBQ joints and beer. (He drank the beer. I don’t do such things. Obviously.)

It was really a lovely trip, and I must say, Austin is just an awesome city. Mr. Struggle was rather enchanted and I got to feel that smug superiority of someone who has already discovered and enjoyed something and gets to be all “I told you so” to their significant other. I’m sure there is a word in German for that. German. A language of feelings and throat clearings. And despite the general craziness of my post-graduate school post-getting-married life, I managed to make a few things for the trip! Two of which I will show you in just a moment.

Side note, I totally use traveling as an excuse to sew. I think I have the mentality of one of these Victorian ladies who took Grand European tours, that is, that journeys in fact require new themed clothing so that the peoples of Italy, or in this case, Texas, would think me chic but also adaptable. I don’t know why I assume that when I travel people I have never met before will need to see something new, because, well, wouldn’t everything I ever wear be new to them? but I do. I really do. There is probably a word for that kind of insane in German as well!

So for this trip, I made a little bit of a casual outfit because Texas is a rather relaxed place, a place where cowboy boots and dresses are an appropriate combination, a place where all denim outfits are not mocked, a place where large buckles are more important than large watches and hats are still a thing. So I figured, when in Rome…

TTS1This is a little bit of a Colette Patterns binge here. The pants are Clovers, like I do. I love the Clover. You can pull that pattern out of my cold, dead hands. I have made so many damn versions of this pattern, I have almost nothing to say about it. You know the drill, flat felled seams, invisible zipper, blah blah blah. These are denim. Very 1950’s style ladies jeans. And the back view!

TTS6Annnnnd more photos of my posterior on the internets. Why do I do this, again?

And the shirt! Is ALSO a Colette Patterns selection, the ever popular Jasmine. I have some issues with this pattern. Mr. Struggle, for the record, loved it.

TTS2I don’t know. I really wanted to love this shirt. I thought a lot about it. I don’t know, it’s just always a little off no matter what I try. It’s too short, for one thing, and I don’t know if I over-compensated with the full-bust adjustment I did. I just don’t know. It’s a quandary.

TTS4I used a material I got on fabric.com for 1.99 a yard. So, you know, whatever, I will wear this and it wasn’t hard to make. But I’m not quite sure about this fit, honestly.

TTS5The back is okay, though!

TTS3Whatever, I felt cute enough, I guess that’s fine. I can only really say that I think it looks better in real life, honestly. It just fits better than it looks like it does in photos. The fabric is pretty cute, though!

TTS8And it went from a Pitch Perfect Sing along, like you do, to more barbeque in the Texas sun before we headed home. We got there at 10:30am to enjoy it before our flight, and I must say, that truly is the breakfast of champions.

This is a smoker that assures us that heaven considers Texas strongly:

TTS9And there is what you can order from this particular dining establishment:

TTS10And here is how this meal made me feel!

TTS7I wonder if there is a word in German for the bliss of a full stomach cradled under a completely homemade outfit? If not, there should be.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Travel

The Yellow Rose Of Texas Skirt (Sew Bossy!)

So, Austin might be the liberal stronghold of Texas, but, y’all, it’s still TEXAS, so there are Stensons and cowboy boots and taco stands and friendly faces everywhere. For a northern aggressor like me, it’s VERY disconcerting…and also exciting! I’ve visited the South before, but never ever Texas, and Austin is mighty cool, I must say. We went to a speakeasy that is a converted brothel, we saw Tony Hale speak (it was…emotional), we ran around a beautiful running path with some of the happiest dogs I have EVER seen, I went vintage shopping, it was pretty baller. And pretty PRETTY:

TX 5 TX 4 TX 3 TX 2 TX 1

And so of course I had to make something appropriately Texan to go with the city, don’t you think? So I did, or at least I TRIED to!

Have you guys heard about Sew Bossy? It’s pretty amazing, and I was lucky enough to be contacted by the wonderful Amity of Lolita Patterns (which are SO. CUTE.) and we agreed to an exchange. Which I mostly failed at. As you will see. But that’s not because of Amity, or even Texas! It’s because I am the worst.

So Amity sent me this lovely pattern, Simplicity 1802, a Cynthia Rowley pattern.

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Actually, she sent me a lot of amazing AMAZING things, including a lovely purple border-printed eyelet, that I think she wanted me to USE for this pattern. Let’s talk a second about Sew Bossy, because clearly I do not follow instructions well and totally failed at the bossy part. Part of this is clearly is God help the person who tries to tell me what to do when I sew, as I have found, I am not good at that….Amity is a stellar person and she sent me the coolest stuff and then I…turned it all around. TO BE FAIR, the eyelet she sent me, which I love VERY much, wouldn’t have worked on this skirt, in my humble opinion, and I didn’t want to ruin her gorgeous gifts to me! But the yellow rayon she envisioned as a lining, well, that thing and I had some good times with this swishy flippy skirt.

Let’s talk about this pattern, which is the second place I failed to be bossed around. It’s really very lovely, and I like it so much, well made, great details, but I knew the moment I saw it that the bodice wasn’t going to do me any favors. That kind of segmented bodice does wonders for ladies who were made in the willow slight nymphy way. But me? I was not. So this pattern is something I really never would have bought for myself, but you know what, I thought, that’s pretty cool, let’s try something here! But I had to skip the bodice, I just had to, some things you just KNOW aren’t going to work out.

The skirt and I, however, are having a love affair…. so I thought, maybe just make that? And holy hell am I glad I did. Because this skirt couldn’t be more me, and I never would have known such a thing without Amity. THANK YOU AMITY!

YROT 6Look at that! Luscious lemony rayon, swishy swishy skirt, it’s everything I never knew I wanted! I seriously never would have made this pattern if I hadn’t been sent it, I would have taken a look, wrinkled my judgmental little nose and said, how fussy. But, it’s NOT fussy! It’s awesome!

YROT 2

This photo gives a nice view of the scarf I’m wearing too, which I bought at one of Austin’s many many amazing vintage stores. How cute is it? Matches the skirt, too, and the girl at the store loved my dress WHICH I MADE. I had to buy it. It wasn’t an option. Vintage silk for 10 dollars? THANK YOU AUSTIN.

YROT 7Ah, the warm sun of Texas, how I bask in it. I’m really loving my solid t-shirt tan in all these photos, how cute is that?

More skirt information: the segments, especially in a solid, are so fun and actually kind of subtle, and they give me SO much swish. SWISH IS ALL I EVER WANT. That and Vietnamese food. AND WE GOT THAT TOO!

YROT 1Yeah, that’s fried chicken. Vietnamese food with fried chicken. TEXAS FOR THE WIN.

Ahem.

Back to the skirt.

YROT 10Ha, you can see me clutching the lens cap. That’s because on a trip I lost my lens cap riding a camel (BIRTHRIGHT) so now I’m pretty careful about it. The skirt has four segments, one in front, one in the back, and one on each hip. It’s a little tricky to put together, or rather, to pin together, but once I got the hang of it it was smooth sailing. I did everything by machine because I really wanted to get this done before my trip and also I knew that a hand-sewn hem would pucker the fussy wrinkly AWESOME rayon. Seriously, it might be a little temperamental as a fabric and fray like crazy, but I love the way it hangs and the way it LOOKS.

YROT 4The back is a little messy whatever look away look away!

YROT 5Back to the front the front is cute!

YROT 9A little close up for you.

But, Leah, you say, this swish factor, tell me more, tell me more. Well, if you insist:

YROT 3Ha, that lady in the background is totally running away from the crazy impromptu photo-shoot happening at this charming Vietnamese cafe. Sorry, ma’am! (Look, I ma’amed! I’m trying, Texas!). But you must admit, that’s some solid twirling there.

So, in sum, a few things:

Austin is fantastic, and I’m so glad I got to go.

I do not follow instructions well.

I’m so grateful to Amity for trading with me and bringing this awesome skirt into my life!

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going back to twirling, thanks:

YROT 8If you aren’t twirling, are you really doing it right? Probably not…

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Filed under Challenge, Closet Case Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Orange Is The New Black Dress

So, recently I haven’t been posting much because A. the backlog of things I need to shoot is epic and B. I had big summer plans! Namely, some people I love very much who simply had to be visited this summer. I mean, come on, if you have people who live in amazing places isn’t it simply your obligation to go see them, regardless of their own desires? I’m just kidding, I would never visit anyone who didn’t want me to be there, that being said, I have been known to SUGGEST that a friend might want me to be there….and that’s what I recently did with my friend Lisa. Lisa is a damn saint (this works, she grew up Catholic!) and she has put up with me not just here in the continental United States but also in CHINA! I keep forcing Lisa to let me visit and she keeps being stupid graceful about it, like, come on, man, if you don’t want me to just intrude on your life maybe stop having such an interesting one, AM I RIGHT?

So now Lisa lives in Austin, which is an awesome place. How do I know such a thing? Because recently I imposed myself on my almost-a-decade-old friend and made her give me a place to sleep in Austin, plus food, PLUS BOOZE. See where the saint term comes from? She’s a wonder among women…

AND. She took photos of me. In the outfits I made to visit her in Austin. Because she is, like, the best damn person that exists. And I made her do it after our run around the Lady Bird Lake Trail (okay, this is important, Lyndon B Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson had the same initials, how is that not the weirdest thing anyone has ever heard of and also, THAT IS SO STRANGE, and also, Austin is so into these people, COME on, no one wanted that guy to be president, we can all agree on this, right? RIGHT?) on her damn BIRTHDAY, because Lisa is, like, the best person. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN TRY. AND HER HAIR DRIES WONDERFULLY. AND SHE LIKES DOGS. I can’t even. If I hadn’t pledged my life to hers years ago I would seriously hate this girl, but as it is, uprising comes? I’m Team Lisa, FOR THE WIN.

So recently Lisa and her boyfriend got into Orange is the New Black. Which. Have you seen it? You need to go see it. A friend got me into it and for the love of GOD, it is too good for words. If you haven’t seen it, please, stop reading this, seriously, nothing I have to say is as interesting as that series, go, watch it, it’s 13 hours long, I can wait. Don’t worry about it. Go. NOW.

Are you done? Did you see it? ISN’T IT AMAZING? Okay, cool, we can go on now. Yes, I’m sad too that it’s over, but it’s been picked up for a second season so…

Also I made a dress. If you want to go watch it again instead of looking at it that is so okay with me, seriously.

OITNB 9This is yet another Ballet Dress from Dixie DIY. I promise the hem is straight despite these photos…

OITNB 6Lisa took these in her apartment complex because she is magnificent as a human being.

OITNB 7What can I say? I got the fabric from Girl Charlee and it has oranges all over it, so….

OITNB 8This is me with my new garden owl boyfriend. We’re pretty happy together…

OITNB 4This is me sitting in the most demure Texan Belle way I can think of.

OITNB 5The swirl potential on this dress is pretty baller. I used the Dixie DIY bodice and added a half circle skirt and I’m fairly thrilled with the results. SO, by the by, are the residents of Austin, who were INSANELY nice to me when I wore this dress (and in general, AUSTIN IS AWESOME). I got so many compliments from strangers, homeless and otherwise, that, as I told a friend, I felt like I was in the Truman Show. I am not that good at making stuff. Austin is just a nice place.

Seriously, I was trying to take a self-photo and a homeless person was like, do you want ME to take that? And I did!

OITNB 1Along with a local popsicle! Which was DELICIOUS, by the by, and who doesn’t love the sheen of Texas-sun sweat you can detect in this shot?

OITNB 10Apart from being amazing and talented and wonderful, Lisa also is great at directing photography, don’t you think?

OITNB 3Some close-ups of the print:

OITNB 12Hence the orange name…

OITNB 14Oh, maybe you want SEE me and my gorgeous photographer/life coach?

OITNB 2Well of course you do. HOW PRETTY IS SHE? Also, a wonderful person. LIKE THAT MATTERS…

And there you go! And if you didn’t read this because you were busy watching the show, you know what? WORTH IT.

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

The Something Blue Dress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t she just to die for?

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

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

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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Sewing, Travel

The I Don’t Do Casual Dress

I almost never spend New Years Eve in Philadelphia. I adore Philadelphia with all of my heart, but for whatever reason I just don’t seem to ring in the new year in my hometown. Last year I had an amazing time in New York with my friend Becca, and the year before I was in London with my friend Andrew and we did things with duck fat that can’t be even remotely considered healthy choices. But they were delicious ones….

Anyway, this year was no exception to my out-of-town rule, so when my friend Lee invited me up to Cape Cod for the holiday, how could I say no? And I’m so glad I went, because I had the most fantastic time. Highlights included but were not limited to impromptu dance parties, late night croquet, fireworks, making dinner for 17 people ( like I do), getting to spend time with Lee and my friend Lisa and a score of other old and new friends who were filled with awesomesauce, and drinking everything in the house. Everything. In. The. House. But for me, mostly wine. And then Makers Mark. In a wine glass. Because I like things fancy.

I really do like things fancy.  I would say that comes to me directly from my mother, who got it from her mother. I didn’t own a pair of jeans until I was about 15 years old. I can honestly say that I’m usually overdressed for things, or at the very least, the only person in a skirt. So when I called Lisa, who had been to Cape Cod before, and asked her about the dress code, and she was like, oh, it’s super causal, I was like, ….okay. Causal, you say? And that’s, what is that, exactly?  But I try to make an effort, and when in Rome, right?

And yet, I made a dress.

Don’t yell at me! It’s super casual! It’s made of knit! (Ooooooo!)

I bought this fabric last summer (as in, a year and a half ago) at PA Fabric Outlet. It was in the special clearance section and I got two yards at 2.98 a yard. I honestly had no plans for it for the longest time, after all, I’d never sewn with knits and I was a bit afraid of them, really. But I recently came across/fell in love with Dixie of Dixie DIY, mostly because she’s excellent and charming and wise, but also because she did a series called Never Fear Knits, teaching cowards like myself how to deal with non-woven fabric. And I actually read all her posts and made myself a shirt from Burda Style’s Lydia pattern. You will never get a post devoted to said shirt, which I’m actually wearing right now, because it’s a bit wonkey (first time, people, come on!) and I don’t want you to make fun of me. But I wear it all the time, so whatever.

And then, like manna from the heavens, Dixie released a pattern FOR FREE called The Ballet Dress Pattern. Now, this was a limited free download but it’s still for sale for a measly three bucks over here. AND she did a sewalong! Which I meant to follow but got very impatient/was on a deadline for my trip to Cape Cod so I went ahead! Oh, well.

 

What can you do. So I missed the instructions about the neckline binding and as such mine is a little loose and slightly gapes. But in every other respect, I really love this dress!

I used the zig-zag stitch on my machine and had no problems at all with my usual foot. Instead of stablizing the shoulder seams with clear elastic, I used seam binding, which worked just fine. I used regular elastic at the waist, and didn’t QUITE match my stripes, but I don’t honestly care. This dress is so so so comfortable, and never wrinkles, is warm and forgives me for a large meal. What more could you ask for?

No matching chevrons. Whatevs. You can’t have everything, and I in no way had enough fabric for that sort of thing.

I made a medium. When I make this again (oh, I will be making this again. Many times. Short sleeves, long sleeves, ruffles, embellishments, the works) I would take it in a bit at the waist. You can’t see, because it’s belted, but it’s just a bit loose. But it’s quick and fantastically clear and easy to make. Thank you, Dixie! You’ve made me a convert, I really like knits now!

I love the sleeves. Rather drapey and fun, no?

I did not, alas, take these photos in Cape Cod. I was too busy with the aforementioned fantastic time I was having. So I made my friend Ben shoot them after brunch at Farmacia when I got back home.

Thank you, Ben. You are the best. He even indulged my wanting to photos of odd things, like my cool belt/nailpolish:

I was like, people will want to know! Right? So the belt was my grandmothers, and the polish, which is grayer in real life, was a gift from Lisa. Thanks, Lisa!

The light was great this day, so I took some shots on my way home from brunch:

And one last one of happy knit-clad me:

And that’s about as causal as I get. At least, in public, anyway.

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Filed under Angela Kane, Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing