Tag Archives: PA Fabric Outlet

The Elephants See Manhattan Dress

One night thing about sewing is that you can always make yourself a new outfit for an occasion. This is also a very dangerous thing about sewing, because you can just make new things all the time, so your wardrobe can become populated with dresses themed to specific events and therefore limited in their use, and also, if people know you sew, because you’re like me and you proudly declare it to every damn person that you meet who doesn’t really care about your weird hobby but is just trying to buy some coffee so great, thanks, bye, then people start asking you if what you are wearing is a new outfit and then you feel some kind of compulsion to make something new for every occasion and then even more stuff finds its way into your closet but your life in New York, a land where closets are an endangered species, so you end up getting rid of a lot of stuff all the time which is why you might someday see a homeless person wearing a dress I made. And thus, the cycle of life continues.

As discussed in posts from previous years, I really love my birthday. But this year, I suppose, my birthday and I hit a bit of a rough patch. We’re dealing with it, we’re talking it out, we’re getting to a good place, I have every hope for the future, but honestly, this year? My birthday was basically cancelled. I had big plans to make a new dress, have drinks with all my friends, enjoy the evening in the company of people I love and wine that loves me back, and yet, it was not to be. I caught an awful and debilitating summer cold, which arrived in my chest and spent several days there, before deciding it wanted to see more of the world and traveling up to my head. This cold, a sociable fellow, called it’s business associate, a fever, over for tea, and the two of them kept me company instead of all my friends. It’s always nice to meet new people, but this was outside of enough. When the two finally departed and I was back to feeling like my normal, unoccupied by illness self, I had already cancelled my birthday plans and honestly, it just seemed silly and after-the-fact to try to do anything else. So there you go. No birthday for me. I didn’t even get to finish my birthday dress! The biggest tragedy of all.

But, on the upside, I was lucky enough to have another event on the horizon that was dress-friendly and worth something special, and that was my friend Becca’s bachelorette extravaganza. So I figured, no one had to know that this was a birthday dress, right? Except…all of you. Who I am telling right now. Oh, well…

As the day included a variety of activities, from mimosas and wine-glass decorating to trivia games to dinner to 80’s tribute dance party, the dress had to include comfort, style, and pockets. And you know what? I think it does!

ESM 2.jpg

And, happy bonus, elephants. And of the many things Becca and I both love, elephants are very much among them. Elephants are amazing, the most precious and perfect of pachyderm. Sorry, rhinos and hippos! Rhinos, you are basically dinosaurs, and hippos, you look really cute but you are mean. Elephants are gorgeous creatures and so astounding. Their trunks have over 40,000 separate muscles, and that’s just the beginning of the amazingness of their trunks along. Find out more here. And their babies? Are the damn cutest. Look. Look at this. Come on:

and look at this:

They are wonderful animals and yet they are abused and slaughtered all over the world. There are many amazing charities to support elephants, and I like this one a lot, if you are interested.

At any rate, the elephants on my dress enjoyed adventures in Manhattan to celebrate the end of Becca’s non-married life. But before all that, I had a chance to force my friend Jenny, who was in town for the event, to snap some photos. The best part was that the last time I got to see Jenny was her OWN wedding, where she and Becca and our friend Lisa and I enjoyed the event and the chance to have a reunion. Seeing all these amazing women in the same room again for the first time in two years made me happier than an elephant in a mud pit.

Which is really very happy. I can assure you.

ESM 3.jpgThis fabric, while appearing Indian in nature, is actually faux-Indian, or Findian, which is a new word I’ve recently invented and feel I might be using a lot in my life. (Mr. Struggle is Indian, for those who hadn’t picked up on the clues.) I actually bought this fabric three years ago at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka one of my favorite places on earth. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I loved it, and I bought it, and I buried it in boxes and storage containers over several moves and cycles of warm weather, loving it, taking it out and touching it, thinking about it, and then putting it away again, unused. But this year, I was ready, and I think I used it well, if I do say so myself.

ESM 4.jpgI used my trusty bodice block. God, that thing. I cannot thank my friend Liz, who drafted it with me, enough for this. It had changed my life. I altered the bodice to be a square lower neckline and sheared a little off the back bodice pieces at the neck to make it almost a boatneck on the back.

ESM 5.jpgYou can’t really see that here. Sorry. But I loved this photo, Jenny kept making me cry with laughter as she directed me like a fashion photographer and told me to pop the leg. Vogue should hire her. It’s a shame she wants to be a doctor, sigh, she’s really missing her calling.

ESM 6.jpgThe skirt was just a gathered rectangle. Or rather, three gathered rectangles, as there had to be seams to accommodate the pockets. I used a vintage metal zipper I had in my stash, in a nice teal color. I hand-picked the zipper and hand-stitched the hem. Otherwise this was very simple to put together. Other than the 16 darts in the bodice, 8 in the elephant fabric, 8 in the lining, it all goes very fast. Or it would, if I hadn’t gotten that cold in the middle. Sigh. Clearly this dress wanted to be used for a higher purpose then my birthday.

ESM 7.jpgPockets like these are really good for holding your phone during 80’s night and having it handy for quick photo opportunities of the bride-to-be in all her drunk dancing glory.

ESM 8.jpgA little close up of the fabric for you. How cute are those elephants? Another friend there, Kira, wore elephant earrings. Clearly it was an elephant kind of day.

ESM 1.jpgI can assure you that this dress, of the many I’ve made, is guaranteed to be a frequent flyer in my wardrobe. The elephants would protest, otherwise. And they would be correct in doing so. They deserve to see the world, don’t they?

 

10 Comments

Filed under Clothing, Fabric, 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!

LTC 2

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.

LTC 4

 

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!

 

13 Comments

Filed under Deer and Doe, Life, Sewing

The Gun Control Dress

I’m not the most political dresser there is, in fact, I’m not even sure I know what that would mean. I guess if I was more anxious about it I wouldn’t sew from vintage patterns, because that’s totally buying into a gendered way of dressing reviving a system of the past and embracing with nostalgia the notion of “vintage” without investigating its deeper historical and social connotations. More on that here.  But as it is, I don’t really care so much if other people don’t think about this stuff, or think about it a lot, or if they have a political view I don’t, although I will say, I admire sewing bloggers the world over, but I tend to read regularly the writers who aren’t all that far from me, as far as I can tell, in terms of social politics. I mean, I don’t know how comfortable I would be regularly reading people who make amazing things but consider homosexuality to be degenerate. And I’m sure there are people out there who like my makes but are offended by my words. It happens. I want to dress sometimes like a 1950’s housewife, but I sure as hell have no interest in ever acting like one.

Of course, all of this gets into clothing and what you wear and what it says about you and how much you want it to say about you. When I was young I went to a Quaker School from 3rd grade to senior year of high school (please don’t make an oatmeal joke, don’t be that guy, everyone hates that guy) , and some of the Quaker doctrine of non-violence had to have stuck with me, because we couldn’t wear any cameo (…not that I wanted to.) or anything with curse words on it (which is good, I think, school isn’t a Limp Bizket concert, unless your school was wildly different then mine…), or anything with any symbol of violence on it. And I’m not a big fan of guns, in general, like, I wouldn’t want to personally own one, or live in a house with one, or be near one on any kind of regular basis. I know not everyone feels that way, and I understand that completely, but that’s just me. So recently when I was home in Philadelphia over my winter break, I picked up a few yards of this ultra-cheap (1.99 a yard, whaaaaaat?) jersey from Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet, aka my Mecca, mostly because I really really love the color. But the thing is, it’s a Betsey Johnson print, and I’m not wild about her prints in general, and this one, well, it’s covered with guns.

UCG 8.jpgAnd hearts, to be fair. but, I don’t know, I just couldn’t really get around it. I thought I would be fine with it, but the more I considered it, the more the influence of those damn Quakers pervaded me, and I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable covered in guns. So, I did something a little radical. Can you figure out what it is?

UCG 1.jpgI used the wrong side of the fabric! WHAT? I know. I KNOW. Such things are not DONE. Such boundaries are not CROSSED. Well, just call me Lenin because I am a revolutionary! Waaa waaaaaaaa.

UCG 3.jpgAh the smug look of a history joke. These indoor photos are a little yellow, by no fault of my amazing photographer, my boss, Sam, who balanced a camera and a womb filled with a child, because she is amazing. The color is a little more cool than these photos would indicate, but I think you can see how nice and orchid purple it is.

UCG 2.jpg

The pattern is Dixie DIY’s Ballet Dress, with three inches added to the length of the bodice, and cut to a trimmed small, with full length sleeves and a half circle skirt. I have made it many times with many alterations and adjustments, and it was a piece of cake, and remains one of my top favorite patterns ever.

UCG 6.jpgKnit dresses. They are the best. They are comfortable and they look nice and they don’t wrinkle. What more can you ask for?

UCG 5.jpgI topstitched the neck binding and did the hems in black. This took me no time at all to make. It took me way more time to deliberate about my whole “using the wrong side” decision then to actually construct this. Sewing. It’s 90% agonizing, 10% doing.

UCG 7.jpgBut I think it works, and honestly, if I had used the right side, I don’t think I would have ever worn it. As it is, I can see myself wearing this thing often during what is clearly an everlasting winter. This is what Winterfell must feel like ALL THE TIME. Death must come as a relief to the Starks… too soon?

UCG 9.jpgHAHAHA JUST KIDDING EVERYONE SURVIVES GAME OF THRONES OBVIOUSLY IT’S MORE LIKE YOU WIN OR GET COOL PRIZES FOR TRYING!

No. No it’s not. But that being said, this leaves Robb Stark time to CALL ME. I already have a dress for our date/engagement/lifelong love. I think he’ll like the guns inside. Don’t you? If you don’t get any of this, don’t worry, neither would I have just over a year ago.

The point is, sometimes the wrong side is the right side for you! Too cheesy? Whatever. I like this dress a lot, and I’m glad it worked out. The rest of the fabric I gave to my boss for baby clothing. That baby’s going to be way more bad-ass than I am. Fact.

10 Comments

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

Me Made May Days 1 and 2 (The School Ties Outfit)

Hello, gentle readers, and welcome to Me Made May, 2013 edition! I for one am more then a little excited. I hadn’t actually thought too much about it, but then I was explaining it to friends of mine and all of a sudden I thought, man, I love Me Made May, I really do! I love seeing other people’s outfits, I love planning my own, I love being inspired by new combinations of clothing, the only thing I don’t love so much is the daily photo session, sigh. Oh, well, the sad consequences of having a sewing blog, poor me, boohoo.

So without futher ado, because I have an outfit AND two new garments to display, Day 1!

MMM1 2Here I am in my Indiophile Tunic and my Too Practical for Words jeans. I easily wear these jeans once a week, they were a clutch move. I forced my friend Rohan (thanks, Rohan!) to take this photo of me yesterday. I forsee a lot of my friends getting over Me Made May REAL quick, but I don’t even care, they shall take my photo and do my bidding! Bahahaha!

Oh, and I figured, if I have to do a photo a day, at least, so does Cadfael:

MMM1 1He made zero things.

And then Day 2, a brand new outfit!

MMM1 6I’m calling this my School Ties outfit for several reasons. Number one, unintentionally, I made this shirt and skirt to go together and didn’t think about the fact that grey and blue are my high school’s colors. Weird. We even had this game day, blue and grey day. It must have sunk itself into my consciousness somewhere along the line…

MMM1 9The shirt is a Renfrew, made from Jersey from the Pennsylvania Fabric outlet, the same as I used for this dress. I still have some left, not enough for another shirt, but maybe for some underwear and color blocking? We shall see…

MMM1 8

I cut the back in two pieces, as you can see here.

The skirt is self-drafted, just a simple pleated affair, and I made it from fabric my lovely roommate Emily had given me for Hanukkah. Thanks, Emily!

MMM1 4The OTHER reason I’m calling this the School Ties outfit, is because my friend Andrew (thanks, Andrew!) took these photos. Andrew just moved to New York and as we met in college, this outfit is just a conflation of my educational experiences up to this point. OH, and we took them two blocks from my building at NYU! It’s all coming together…

MMM1 5

This fits all my requirements for a spring/summer skirt, and by that I mean it’s good for twirling and jumping. That’s the big one for me, right there.

MMM1 7And obviously I did not let the fact that I was in a public place stop me from doing either of those two things for the camera. To be fair, this was Washington Square Park, so I was probably the most normal person around…

MMM1 3Another day, another outfit, and yet Cadfael is in the exact same position as before…He leads a really hard life, guys.

And there we have it, the first two days of the month are over, onward into outfits of the future!

9 Comments

Filed under Challenge, knit, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing

The My Kind of Staple Skirt

First of all, thank you people all so damn much for your kind comments about my last very form fitting dress! I really appreciate all the love, you people are amazing. I get really weird and nervous about putting those photos on the internets, so thank you. Seriously. You are all way too kind and way too amazing, and thank you for your advice about knit hems and junk in the trunk. Saving all my future makes is what you people do best!

So, you know how Vogue and Marie Claire and Glamour have an article every five minutes about “The Five Staples You Need Right Now” or, “The Ten Pieces You Need For Spring” or “The Only Things You’ll Ever Need To Wear”, like no one is every going to shop again, like fashion as an industry is just going to stop and throw up it’s hands, all, okay, we’re all done. These things do not happen. And yet, the magazines keep selling! I myself buy them! What the hell? So we’ve all heard this mishagas about “staples”, like, THE black pant, THE white shirt, THE floral trench for 5000 dollars (which everyone totally needs, SAID NO ONE EVER). But of course, for convenience and simplicity and just normal day-to-day needs, most people DO have staples, they do have a sort of uniform. And mine is typically woven skirt, knit top, tights, go, especially in this long cold Spring we are having up here in the mid-Atlantic. So it’s obviously in my best interests to make things that correspond with that pattern. Hence this lovely thing I made recently:

RS 1I have, of course, made this before, and pretty damn recently, too. It’s Simplicity 4529, which I have learned from experience needs a non-stretch woven to work. But I think when it works, IT REALLY WORKS. Am I right? Even though the expression on my face above looks like I’m eating glass. I really need to work on my face…

RS 2

Ignore the line of my shirt which you can totally see here, and isn’t this nice? Yes, it’s a bit wrinkled, whatever, I live a life of wrinkles, one must accept such things. The one seam of this 10 dart skirt (10 DARTS! My mind balks each time I consider it, but clearly darts are the key to happiness!) is finished with navy bias tape, which you can see peeking out here at the back vent.

RS 5

More wrinkles, sigh. But I love this skirt! And the three times I’ve worn it thus far, everyone around me has told me they like it, including my bosses at the costume shop , who, like, sew for a living and are the real deal. So I feel pretty darn good about this. How good?

RS 4This good! To be fair, I’m more laughing because my friend Ben, who took these photos, made me crack up. Also, it was so damn cold when we took these. Also, it’s the end of March. Also, it snowed today. SO that’s why I’m making wool flipping pencil skirts at the end of March.

To the sewing! I made no changes except that this one has an invisible zipper not a visible one, which, I mean, I hate invisible zippers, but it’s what I had. I also shortened it by 3 inches or so, which is my standard for this pattern now. This buttery spongy wool I bought last winter at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet and I got the last remnant on the spool, and I pet it for a full year before I actually made this. But I’m so glad I did! I love this skirt, and, weather being what it is, I will probably get a lot of use out of it before it gets too warm.

RS 3I’m trying to dance to stay warm here because it was seriously cold. But I’m so thrilled Ben took these photos of me, after a bagel brunch celebrating our last leavened product for a while, it’s Passover now, goodbye breadybye!

So how to I feel to have a well-fitting red pencil skirt that I love and is my version of a staple?

RS 6I think you can figure it out.

 

19 Comments

Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Oh Boy Dress

Oh boy. Ohhhhhh boy. I do not usually make dresses like this. I did not intend for THIS dress to be so much, um, like this. But a combination of rash pattern alteration and a tight-fitting jersey seems to have left me with something that is rather out of character.

I am, I will say, a fairly modest dresser. I don’t know why, really, I have no moral or religious stipulations on my dressing, I don’t feel negative about showing parts of my body, I just, I don’t know, seem to have adopted that way of being. But recently I felt the need for something a little, I don’t know, more close fitting? More curve hugging? More contemporary? More something. Less FABRIC, but more something. And thus this pattern hack was born:

OBD 2I’m showing a touch of bra in this photo, so just be cool, okay? This is a Renfrew, sized down and lengthened. And I will say, I do like this dress, but boy oh boy did it turn out to be close-fitting…

OBD 6Like, I have to be careful what UNDERWEAR I wear close-fitting. And I also, you know, lowered the neckline. As you can see.

OBD 3Not too much, though.

OBD 4I’m not the kind of woman who thinks that tight automatically means sexy. But I will say, damn, it kind of helps! This dress puts a lot of sway in my step, and no, my hips don’t lie. In this thing, they couldn’t possibly.

I really like the back seam, both for fabric efficiency purposes, and because I kind of like how it looks. Is that super weird?

OBD 5I love that you can see a cat that seems to emerge from my posterior in this photo.

My only issue with homemade close-fitting knits is that it does that kind of weird flip thing at the hem. What is that? Does anyone know what that is?

OBD 7My mom took these photos for me because I have a grand total of FIVE items I still need to document and I haven’t been able to and I’m home this weekend for Passover and I though, well, if I’m home I might as well be documenting clothing…like you do. She likes this dress, my mom, but she thinks it needs more color. Therefore the cat.

I actually finished this two weeks ago and wore it to an event. My lovely roommate Jenny took some photos of me, but I kind of look like I want to commit murder in them:

OBD 1RIGHT? There is a real killing people turn there. Still, at least you can see it in action!

Okay, that’s one down, I’ve still got four to go…stay tuned!

41 Comments

Filed under Clothing, Sewaholic Patterns

The American Apparel Knock Off Dress

I have to admit, I am completely a dress person. I’m a formal person in general, as it turns out. My grandmother was a formal woman, and my mother inherited her sense of what is and isn’t appropriate, and now I kind of have that too. Like, for example, jeans. As a kid my mom wouldn’t let us wear jeans on European vacations. Or any vacations. At all. And now I do sort of thing jeans are a bit, I don’t know, casual, when you travel, and I don’t wear them. Of course, these days everyone wears jeans and it’s no longer the thing that marks you as an ugly American, but still. Some things infuse your identity and never let go. Like, when I was going to Hebrew school my mom put me in skirts and dresses every week. That sticks with you. So I like skirts and dresses. But I also like being warm. And comfortable. Which is not something my grandmother thought of as a concern, but what are you going to do.

So I’m always looking out for dresses that fulfill my sense of wanting to dress nicely and my sense of comfort and warmth and ease of wearing, because let’s be real, not all dresses, gorgeous as they are, are easy to wear and live in all day/night. The obvious solution to this is a knit dress, no? And I have a good knit dress pattern, my beloved Dixie DIY Ballet dress, which I’ve been tweaking over a series of versions, and here is what I have finally come out with:

AAKO 2I have to say, I’m pretty into this dress. It’s unbearably comfortable, probably because of the hellishly soft stretchy lycra cotton blend fabric I got from PA Fabric Outlet the last time I was home in Philadelphia and had time to fabric shop. I still have quite a bit of this left yardage-wise, and my brother has requested pillowcases, but even with that I might be able to scrape together a shirt or something, which is great, because it’s warm and cozy and lovely.

AAKO 4

Here is a full body shot, complete with my tights/socks combo,which I have found makes every day a bit better as your feet are a touch warmer.

AAKO 9

What did I do to the pattern, you ask? Well, I extended the bodice by two inches to have it hit at my natural waist. I lowered the neckline by about two inches at the lowest point, and I slimmed down and extended the sleeves. Were I to make this again, which I probably will, despite my resolution to sew different things, I would slim the sleeves even more and extend them to the wrist. And I changed out the skirt Dixie provides us with with a half-circle skirt. Love the swish. Oh, and I cut the back bodice and back skirt piece in two pieces each and seamed them up. I really like doing this for fabric efficiency purposes, but also I don’t think you can really see it, can you?

AAKO 16

I’m sorry about these photos being indoor ones and not the best light, I forced my wonderful parents to snap these when I went home for a benefit for Pig Iron Theatre Company. I wore this dress to work at the costume shop before I took the bus home (which was HORRIFIC, never take Megabus, seriously, every time it’s late and every time I think, why is this happening? and this time it was COLD and it picks you up at 12th and 34th which basically feels like you are about to fall off the edge of Manhattan, just don’t do it. Take the Bolt. Learn from my mistakes) and one of my lovely co-workers gave me the ultimate compliment. He said, that looks like you just stole it from an American Apparel! Hence the name.

Being home is a great opportunity to squeeze multiple cats:

AAKO 6AAKO 5AAKO 3

Squeeze ALL the cats! Don’t tell Cadfael I was cheating on him…

And then we went to the benefit! Which is and always is awesome.

AAKO 8That’s Miss Martha Graham Cracker. She’s a rockstar.

AAKO 11

I paired my dress with a cream wrap sweater from Buffalo Exchange, and of course, wine.

I’m quite happy with this dress, I really am.

AAKO 14

But I couldn’t match the majesty that is Martha Graham Cracker:

AAKO 10

AAKO 13Not everyone can pull that look off, now, can they? I love her. Dito van Reigersberg, aka Martha in daily life, is just so insanely talented. Check out this version of Life on Mars. Magnificent.

AAKO 12But I tried. I really tried.

So this month’s Stashbusting challenge is to sew for other people! I need to get on that…any requests?

21 Comments

Filed under Clothing, Dixie DIY, knit, Sewing

OWOP: El Original

Here we go, people, One Week, One Pattern. Let’s make it happen, shall we?

For everyone’s information, I chose to make the Colette Pattern’s Clover Pants for my drug of choice. There are actually a ton of patterns that I have made more then once. I’m a multiple maker, personally, once I find something I like I tend to make it at least twice. Part of it is that I’m fairly cheap, honestly, so when I pay for a pattern I want to get my money’s worth. But part of it is that I really enjoy having a kind of a uniform, so making more then one of something I like just makes sense.

Also, I must admit, my father always said, when I liked an item in a store, okay, good, buy two! So now I make two. What are you going to do, childhood scars us all differently.

Onto the pants!

I do not adore this photos, but when you ask strangers to shoot you you kind of have to take what you can get, right?

People who have been avid readers of this blog, i.e. my mother, will recognize these as the first pair of pants I ever made, The Rear View Pants. I had to fix the front tire of my bike this morning, so I had the extremely nice people at Trophy Bikes take my photo. I wanted to take photos through the day, so I asked a girl at my beloved PA Fabric Outlet, where I went to buy a zipper this afternoon, to take my photo. I asked her three times if the pants were in the photo. She was like, of course!

Yeah. You can’t trust nobody in this life. I swear.

Day one, down. Just 6 to go. I got this, people. Get excited.

12 Comments

Filed under Challenge, Colette Patterns

The Cat’s Pajamas

Not everyone enjoys sewing for other people. I know this, and I respect it. After all, it’s a hell of a lot of work. I think that Oonaballoona (who I deeply adore, from afar, for her daring and her mad skillz, and for her cameo on Royal Pains) summed it up best in this blog post, and if you click on that, read the comments, because they are all insightful and amazing. I must say that more and more as I’ve been sewing for longer and, of course, my garments look a hell of a lot better, when I mention that I sew (I’m just kidding, I never mention, I scream it to the rooftops) people have started asking, do you take commissions? To which I just grin. Because in my mind I’m thinking, honey, do you know the time and effort it takes to make a garment? And fit it? And finish the seams and make sure the design is right and hem and baste and blah blah sewing blah? And you want it in chiffon? That’s cute.

But it’s just like anything else, isn’t it? Like, someone sees an actor perform in a role. And they think, hey, I’m attractive and I can talk and I have feelings, I should be an actor! But what they don’t think about is that that’s an art form, and it requires work and skill and effort. Sewing takes a lot of work, and the longer you do it the more you realize that you don’t know, and still need to learn. So when people ask you to make something for them, “real quick”, it demeans you, in a sense, because they think that what you do is easy and quick, whereas we know that sewing is labor and time intensive, not to mention the cost of materials.  It’s one of the reasons learning to sew will put you off, as the British say, buying RTW, because you know that the labor isn’t being compensated fairly if you only need to pay 10 dollars for a blouse.

That being said, I am someone who does make things for other people. Not when they ask, necessarily, though I do like to know what they want before I spend timing making something, but because I love certain humans and want to show that love with hand-made items. And that is why, among the many things I made for people this holiday season, I made my mother and father pajamas. And you know what? They turned out pretty baller, if I do say so myself.

I think my parents make excellent models, don’t you? The pajamas my mom is wearing come from vintage pattern Simplicity 4006, which is one I have also made for myself. I made it for myself first because A. I’m selfish and B. I wanted to check the fit on my mom before I made her a pair in this lovely flannel that is more her color palette (she’s an Autumn). I scored the fabric from a fabric.com flannel sale and I got the pattern from this lovely etsy seller. I got the buttons from PA Fabric outlet, because that’s all I ever do. I think it turned out really well, and my mom certainly likes her new pajamas!

Oh, I think I love the collar best of all, it’s inside edge bound with lime bias tape:

As for my father’s pair, I got that vintage pattern from this other lovely etsy seller, and it’s Advance 8217. I loved the style, but I ALSO love the fact that three out of the three cover sketches are smoking. Thank you, 1960’s.

My dad's head looks enormous here, but I can assure you that's fairly normal for him, he has a very large head.

I got the fabric from the same fabric.com order (come on, I had to make it to the free shipping! Anyone would have done the same!) and I got the buttons from PA Fabric outlet. My father wanted a collarless style, and a fabric shortage led me to cut the exposed front non-collar thing (it’s hard to explain) on horizontal stripes, when everything else had been cut on vertical. I think it looks kind of cool, what do you think?

Sorry about the wrinkles, but these are pajamas, after all.

I also really enjoy the cuffs:

 

So there you have it. Two cool cats in very cool pajamas, looking comfortably vintage in their flannel glory.

But just because I made this for my folks, don’t get any funny ideas, okay, people?

4 Comments

Filed under Butterick Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Sleep No More Skirt and the I Don’t Believe In UFOs Blouse

What we have here, folks, is a double header.

First of all, I hope you had a merry christmas/awesome 6th day of hanukkah/day just like any other. I myself celebrated in the traditional way of my people, gorging on popcorn during Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (it was awesome. AWESOME.) and then feasting on Chinese takeout in the company of my family. It was quite a day, I must tell you.

Second of all, quick, to the sewing project! Or projects, as the case may be. Because I recently completed an extremely frustrating little blouse that I decided to pair with a skirt I made the other evening and wear out to a neighborhood Christmas Eve party. Of course, no holiday is complete without me forcing my mother to take photos of me and yelling at her while she does so, so here we go:

As you can see from my charming expressing, I was being a bit of a jerk about these photos. I’m sorry, Mom.

Let’s break it down, shall we? First, the easy part. The skirt:

I love this skirt. Love. LOVE. It’s unbearably simple, but I believe it to be extremely flattering. It’s a basic six gored navy skirt made from Simplicity 3688, a reproduction 1940’s pattern. I love it. It’s full at the bottom but because of the gores it’s really nice from the side and the rear:

Glides right over, right? I think the key is, when you have a bit of junk back there in the trunk, which I do, and you like full skirts, which I do, you have to make sure that the skirt only fills out past the hips. Which is sad, because I love me a gathered skirt. It just doesn’t love me back….

Pleats are okay, though, right? RIGHT?

Whatever. Look at the pretty simple skirt:

It’s hard to see the gores, which are topstitched, but I love the 40’s flare of this skirt. I call it my Sleep No More Skirt (find out more about the show here and read my review here) because I was inspired by the event (on so many levels) and just adored the severe but elegant skirts of the female performers. So 40’s, so sleek and easy to move in but flattering and lovely. I whipped this skirt up over two evenings, and that includes hand stitching the hem and the zipper. I love 40’s style bottoms, they all use exactly one button which is a great way to get rid of those beautiful but seemingly useless one-offs you may or may not have haunting your button box.

I used a gold one. It felt right.

Now, to the blouse, which is more exciting, but also more ANNOYING. I call it my “I Don’t Believe In UFOs” Blouse, because really, I don’t. I don’t like, nay, I can’t physically start one project, one big garment, before I have finished the one I’ve started. I just can’t do it. I have to finish what I start, I just have to. And that determination is pretty much all that kept me going, I must tell you.

zI got this blouse pattern from a lovely Etsy seller, SewUniqueClassique, and I was extremely excited about it. I waffled for a week or two after I found it online and then finally bit the bullet. I imagined that this would be my new go-to-blouse pattern, I would make every variation and use it all the time. I love this style of blouse, and this one seemed to have the shaping and details I’ve been looking for in a pattern. It looks perfect on paper, right?

Quick and easy, eh, Butterick 8097? Oh, sure. SURE you are. So I guess I’m just slow and frigid, because I had a hard time getting this one into bed. First of all, for such a short blouse (you can’t see in any photos but it only reaches a few inches below the waist) it ate up almost three yards of fabric. Second of all, it’s fussy. Really fussy. Lots of hand sewing (on shirting poplin? Really? That’s not happening), lots of silly steps, general struggle, but who would expect anything less? And while the fit is nice, it’s actually kind of baggy around the waist, despite the diamond darts and oddles of shaping, and it’s got a lot of fabric bunching in the back:

I suppose I should have done a swayback adjustment, but I’ve never done one of those before. Sigh.

I should say that now that I’ve finished the thing I do really like it and will probably get a lot of wear out of it. That being said, I don’t know if I would make another of these.  I might, because I like a challenge, and because I like a lot about this style, but my hopes for the blouse I make seven of and wear daily have been dashed. Sigh. I like the collar, though:

And the gathered sleeves:

I like the color, too. It’s a stretch poplin I got from Fabric Mart for 1.99 a yard. Bam. And the buttons are from my beloved PA Fabric Outlet, real shell, too! Fancy dancy.

And there it is.

See? Happy Face. I guess it’s my own fault, really. I’m always looking for patterns I would make more then once, rather then something I would just do once but do really carefully. What about you? Do you look for patterns that will make one unique statement in your closet, or ones you can make over and over again?

I used picnik to make some 40’s style shots.

I’m reading Macbeth, because it’s the primary source material for Sleep No More. SO CLEVER.

Can you just see me keeping the home-fires warm?

Glamor Shot!

And there you have it.

8 Comments

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