Tag Archives: mr. struggle

The El Farolito Dress

Isn’t it an awfully strange feeling to show someone someplace you love? Maybe everyone doesn’t have the same sense of place as personal, but I do, and I think I probably always have. My mother trained as an architect, and she renovated the house I lived in from the age of three months on, so I can say with honesty that I lived in a house my mom built. Space and its meaning and memory therefore have always had resonance for me. When I meet people who say they don’t care about where they live, I find it difficult to comprehend the words coming out of their mouths. Whatever space I’m in has always affected me deeply. When I was 22 and just out of college I lived in Spain for three months I lived in a tiny room with no windows. That was like a prison, and while Spain might be fun for many people, on some level it was difficult for me to enjoy my time there because the space I inhabited was so unbearable. But when I moved to Brooklyn, I moved into an amazing apartment, a place that felt cozy and comfortable and fit me well, and every day felt like an adventure, with a safe spot to return to at night. It’s not just where I live, though, it’s also places, and what they mean. Despite that apartment, Madrid will always be a place I long to return, because it’s streets are so gorgeous, it’s museums so glorious and bursting with art, it’s buildings so charming and enticing. Philadelphia, my hometown, will always fit me like a soft pair of jeans. And Puerto Rico will always feel like a sigh of relief, coupled with the anticipation of seeing something insane. It’s a rare place, a mix of comfort and crazy. Sharing it with people is wonderful, but also worrisome. What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t get it? It’s another house my mom made. Will they enjoy her, her style, her touch, her details? Will they love it the way I do? Why do they have to? I can’t help but get worried when I bring people. Luckily, Mr. Struggle loved it. Problem, solved. The thing is, though, I am in every way a creature of habit. It’s a difficult thing, I think, because people who I meet who are NOT that way tend to find it a curious quality, rather than a way of life. Especially Mr. Struggle. He is not as into the habits, and so the explanation of “this is what I do and therefore we should do it” doesn’t always, how shall I say, fly? So when we went down together, he wanted to do new things, things I hadn’t done there. This filled me with something like dread. NEW THINGS? DIFFERENT THINGS? What am I supposed to do with that? Well, a lot, as it turns out. Mr. Struggle is a smart guy. So now when we travel, even to a place I’ve been, I try to remember that there is new stuff out there, and I can make a new memory in an old place. This time, when enjoying San Juan, Mr. Struggle found a new bar, which is very much his style, and I have to say, it was an excellent discovery. The bar is called El Farolito, or The Lamplight, like the lantern on a lamppost, and it’s AMAZING. If you ever go to San Juan, go the hell there. Bourbon and Coconut water is a surprisingly stellar combination, and that’s the least of what they do. So this dress is named in honor of that bar, which was a surprise for me, something I usually abhor, but am learning to hate a little less. And this dress was a combination of two familiar patterns grafted together in a new way. So that’s something new too! BH1So the bodice is my self-drafted bodice pattern, and the skirt is my all-time favorite, Simplicity 4529. Can’t stop, wont stop. This dress therefore between the bodice and the skirt has 26 darts. You read that correctly. 26. That’s a real thing. Enjoy that. God knows I didn’t when I made it…. EF2The fabric I actually got for free from a friend and co-worker of my friend Liz, a seamstress and costume historian who was giving away huge amounts of fabric to make space in her apartment. GOD. BLESS. NEW. YORK. These tiny places really work out when you need free fabric! EF3A little side view for you. Enjoy. EF5That’s our green roof! A big thing my mom wanted to include with this property. It’s very cool. I love it a lot. The perfect place for these photo shoots which I force Mr. Struggle to do. EF7Oh, I was out of matching zippers so I had to use a maroon one which you can JUST see in this photo. Enjoy that. EF6A little bodice close up. How lovely is this print? I can’t honestly believe it was free. And so MUCH of it! Liz told me to make something and then give her the remainder, I can’t wait to see what she does! EF8Ah, the view from our roof. See why I love it here? EF10Yes it’s a little non-pristine and maybe slightly odd, but it’s also glorious with the sun and the clouds. Don’t you think? EF11The “green” aspect of the green roof, complete with my father’s many solar lights. EF4So there you are. Something familiar, and something new. All that’s missing is an amazing cocktail. And for that? You’d need to go to El Farolito.

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Filed under Fabric, Friends, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Tutorial, Vintage

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?

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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

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!

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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.

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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