Tag Archives: Mood Fabric

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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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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OWOP 4: The New Kid (Finished The Wildcard Pants!)

I made another pair of clovers. A pair of bright blue clovers. Yeah I did. YEAH I did. And this is how they make me feel:

BOOM. Love them. LOVE THEM.

I made these from the mystery fabric from Chicago, which is just unbelievably stretchy. That makes these my loosest fitting and most comfortable Clovers to date. I gotta say, they are a joy to wear, even on days that are a touch too cold for them, like today.

Yeah, I wore socks with it. What are you going to do about it? (It was seriously, cold, I’m shivering in these photos but you don’t know! Acting.) They have pandas on them. That’s how I do.

They are rather wrinkled, but hey, man, that’s life in the real world. Aren’t they bright? I love them. They put quite a “spring” in my step. GET IT? subtlety. It’s my best thing.

I have to say, I never would have been so bold as to turn these into pants had my friend Becca not convinced me I could do so. Burgundy? I might leave that to the hipsters. But these I think give off a nice “Summer in Monaco” look, which is a shame, because I’m totally not going to Monaco this summer. Unless you know a millionaire who wants to TAKE me?

Just look what he could have on his arm. And the back view, you say? Don’t mind if I do.

Weak showing, you say, because it’s not a close up? My lovely photographer Dani had no qualms about zooming in:

Darts. How does anything happen without them? I owe all I am to darts.

And this is what it looks like when I’m laughing because I made my friend and co-worker take a bunch of booty shots. A little sheepish, but mostly cool with it.

Fun fact? I also made the shirt! It’s the third Renfrew I have made, though not that last. I’m making all nine variations, mark my words. Number 2 went to my lovely mother, and this is the scoop neck mid length sleeves I made up with a fabric I got at Mood the first time I visited that mecca of knit and silk (and everything else, let’s be honest here).

I love me a Renfrew. I also really adore this print:

Nice, right? I likes it.

Four days down, three to go. How is everyone else doing with this One Week One Pattern business?

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“Don’t go to the well, Peter, there’s no more water there”

People, sometimes being a planner can be a problem. I’m all about the plan, the inspiration board, the concept. I thought I had this Mad Men Challenge in the bag people. IN THE BAG. The best laid plans of mice and men. Am I right? AM I RIGHT?

Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of the TV show. Just a really huge fan. I know there are people out there who are into it for the vintage style and the pretty ladies, and that’s all well and good. And I know there are people who don’t even like the show itself, and while I literally can’t understand that, I totally respect your right to not invest in the story. Hey, man, I couldn’t get past chapter 1 of The Hunger Games (but I swear I’m going to try again! It’s such a  disturbing concept…) and I don’t even watch The Wire! So I’m guilty of some stuff. When it comes to Mad Men, however, I am a fanatic. So if you don’t get some of the references and direct quotes coming up, just ignore them, that’s totally fine by me. But know this. They will be coming at you fast and furious. Get excited.

Let me first say that I knew from the very begining that I didn’t want to emulate Joan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joan. I love Christina Hendricks! I loved her on Life! Remember Life? Great show. Sorry it was canceled. Damien Lewis, please feel free to CALL ME. But I didn’t want to go for Joan. SO mainstream. How can I express my true and complete fandom by dressing like the one character everyone knows? So I thought at first I was going to replicate something of Trudy Campbell’s. Not only does she have the same last name of one of the best people I know (talking to you, Lisa!), but I just adore her. Yes, she has gotten repeatedly screwed (on many levels, HEYo!) by Pete, and yes, she wears some insane hats. But I love her. Girlfriend is a treat. “This is America, you don’t just SHOOT the President!” Fact. Love her. But then I realized that because Trudy is so fashion-forward (read, trend obsessed) she rocks a lot of ensembles that don’t suit my personal taste. Okay, I thought, I have a near-encycolpedic knowledge of this show, let’s do this. I did love me some Helen Bishop! All progressive and pro-Kennedy despite her son Creepy Glen and her scandalous divorce. But she’s clearly an Autumn. And I’m a winter. That’s no good. Megan and I have simular coloring! But she’s a stick. And also more into the late 60’s aesthetic which frankly is abhorrent to me on so many levels. (Mod and I do NOT get along.) Allison is pretty! But she dressed pretty terribly, let’s admit that, shall we? Plus, she slept with Don and then freaked out and took it out on Peggy (and I’m very protective of Peggy) so I don’t want her life. Kitty is cute! But rather garish, though I do love her! And I don’t want to end up married to a gay man. Dr. Faye is super cute! But she’s a blond. That’s not happening.  And I’m not really into the boho thing going down with Madge (though I love me some Rosemary DeWitt). As a Jew and the decendent of department store owners, the Rachel Mempkin thing seemed a TOUCH on the nose, plus her best thing were her suits, which I don’t feel up to right this minute, or this amazing nightgown: Super practical. Where WOULDN’T I wear that? I loved this golden dress Bobbie Barrett wore, but I really have been trying to shop my stash and there is a curious lack of gold up in there: Besides, who wants to emulate Bobbie? Girl had issues. “The full Don Draper treatment”? Gross. I’m not going to discuss Betty and Peggy, because my mom already thinks I dress like a little girl, so those full skirts and florals aren’t going to do me any favors, and besides, I already have a ton of ’em.

So there I was. Sigh. I didn’t want to go there, I really didn’t, but in the end, I ended up with Joan. Still, if you have to end up with anyone as your inspiration, oughtn’t it to be the most gorgeous woman on television? With curves for days and some of the best most silkily delivered insults anyone has every heard? “The last thing I would have thought Paul was was open minded”. GOOD lord. “I’m not a solution to your problem. I’m just another problem.” JOAN. Be my friend, please. Thanks.

So I decided to try and emulate one of her outfits. No big deal, right? Of course not, easy peasy lemon squeezy. I wanted to use Simplicity 4558, which I had bought on Etsy. HOWEVER. When I took said pattern out to make a muslin, I had the shocking realization that this pattern is skirtless. I mean, I’m sure there was a skirt originally included but somehow I had bought the pattern without a skirt. No wonder it was so cheap….

Okay, I thought, I can use a skirt from so other source, no problem. Then I make the bodice muslin. And I just thought, no. This is not good. I do not like this. A. it needs a FBA (god, that’s just going to be my life, isn’t it? How did I get away with not doing them for TWO YEARS?) and B. I just didn’t love it! So what was I to do? Then, like manna from the heavens, I thought, the Pastille dress! I like the pattern, I’ve already adjusted it to fit my frame, I know how to make it, let’s do it! I ditched the pale pink and pulled out a hot magenta viscose I had bought at Mood Fabric all those months ago. It has a great drape and a nice hand (look at me, using fabric words!) and I thought it would be perfect in replicating that amazing magenta dress Joan wears. Of course, it’s a promo dress, I don’t think it ever made it onto the actual show, but you know what? I don’t even care. I DON’T EVEN CARE.

Ah, Joan, you help me stay calm.

So anyway, I’m almost done the bodice and then it’s skirt darts, attach skirt, install zipper and hem. I’ve made a few adjustments to the original pattern that I will outline later in more detail, but I’m just so thrilled to have something that I’m happy with and happy to be making and, hopefully, pays homage to one of my favorite things on television. And I watch a LOT of TV, folks, so that’s a stiff competition right there.

So, what’s going on with you? Are you a Mad Men fan, or do you just not get the hype? Did my Hunger Games confession concern you? I promise, I’m going to try again!

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