Tag Archives: Plaid

The Return of the Lady Lumberjack Dress

I just want to state for the record that I would be a terrible lumberjack. When I was a junior in high school I spent a semester living on an organic farm in Maine, it’s actually a fantastic program with your normal junior year classes plus a crash course in community building, sustainable living, and salt marsh farming. I rarely do that last one anymore, but the first two, I’m all about, and I credit the Chewonki Foundation with much of my interest and abilities. It’s basically using Thoreau’s edict in Walden to “Live Deliberately” and teaching it to 17 year old kids, which works a lot better than you might think it would. Plus, you get to hang out with lambs fresh of out their maternal ovens, which is both cute and strange. All the things I’m into!

But back to the lumberjack thing, we did have to do a day or two on the forest rotation, where we observed how they grow wood for lumber and fuel and are careful to vary their cutting and rotate their gathering so that they don’t deplete too much of their woodlands at any one time. And we had to use a chainsaw. And it was terrifying. It sounded like a wild beast growling at me and it moved really fast and I was totally sure I was going to cut my own arm off, who knows how. So that was my first and last time with a chainsaw and I certainly wouldn’t trust myself with an axe, because I’m clumsy with a pillow, so what would I do with and axe? I would be the worst damn lumberjack. It’s a fact. But that doesn’t mean I can’t dress like one, right?

So here it is, my second Lady Lumberjack incarnation, following last year’s Archer Shirt in a cozy flannel. This year, it’s a red plaid wool that was given to me by a costume designer who worked with me last year. Oh, how I miss the costume shop…..I miss you all! This pattern is the Grainline Studio Archer, lengthened to a dress and shaped with a belt because, you know, that’s how I do. Check it out!

RLL1I was sitting in this for a while before I took these photos so it’s a bit more wrinkled than I had anticipated. Sigh. I’m the worst. I never consider wrinkles when I take these photos, or when I bask in the sun.

RLL4A blurry photo because of the rapidly setting winter sun. These photos were taken at, like, 4pm. I hate winter for this reason, we spend our days mourning the death of light. I wanted to show the curve in the side of the hem, though, so there you go.

RLL5Here’s the back. I have nothing much to say about this, really, I think it looks nice!

This dress was very easy to make. I’ve made this pattern so many times that it’s sort of second nature to me now, it still takes time and effort and is complicated in its way, but I get it, I get how it works, and I kind of enjoy how labor intensive it is, not that it is so labor intensive, really, it’s not a coat, for goodness sakes. I now flatfell all the shoulder and arm seams, and I french seam the sleeve and side seams in one continuous motion. I like the collar and I like the collar stand, and this time I had enough fabric to make the outside yoke cut on the bias, so, that’s a win! I really have a hard time justifying buying more fabric even if it does allow me to have the details I want. It’s a constant internal struggle, I must say. Sigh. Between my dashed lumberjack dreams and these dilemmas my life is SO hard, isn’t it?


That bias cut situation really makes the shoulders so deeply comfortable, does anyone else think this? I feel like it stretches over your shoulders so nicely.

RLL7That strange line of white is actually the markers mark on the selvage which I used to cut the button band. I really didn’t mean for it to be visible but I actually think it’s kind of nice! I never mind when that kind of thing is visible, I usually enjoy it.

RLL2So there you go, a new dress, and by the way, I know I know I know I’ve been on a dress roll and I’m not going to apologize for that. Dresses are easy and they are fun and I love them. It’s an instant outfit. Who can argue with that? I will stop making dresses when they stop being awesome which will be NEVER.

In other news, a recent stay in Philadelphia with my parents included a late Hanukkah gift exchange which had me leaving the table with an endangered species my mother adopted in my name, which Morse, one of their cats, really could not figure out at all.


Are you a new friend?

RLL9OR A MORTAL ENEMY? We may never know. Meanwhile, I’ll be making a dress. Excuse me.

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Sewing

The Lady Lumberjack Shirt

I can sometimes be a little stubborn. I’ll admit it, it’s true. I think if I was REALLY stubborn I would never admit such a thing, or maybe that’s just crossing the line into contrary, so that’s probably positive, and I try not to be inflexible, but hey, you know, sometimes you are the way you are, and the way I am is occasionally stubborn, and usually about the weirdest possible things. For example, I was really tired and not getting a lot of sleep about a year ago and someone, someone who generally irked me with their attitude about the world, told me I should get to sleep early, and I stayed up until 3 in the morning just to spite them. The weirdest part? They never knew! I never told them! I was exhausted, but some part of me took great joy in that act of stupid stubborn pointless defiance. I’m like a freedom fighter for very futile battles. It’s PRETTY impressive, obviously.

So when Grainline Patterns Archer Shirt came out, I liked the look of it, but everyone was into it, and shirts are tricky with all their pieces and stuff, and everyone and their mother was making one, and I just decided I wasn’t going to do that sort of thing. No, that sort of shirt wouldn’t look good on me anyway so why bother making it and I don’t CARE if all the cool kids are doing it I’m just going to eat my lunch in the library and be ALONE, that’s the REALLY cool thing. Wow, I just flashed back to high school there, hmmm, I’m going to need to go talk to some wine about that.

Okay, I’m back, my friend wine and I really hashed that out. The point is I just arbitrarily decided that this well-loved and beautifully made pattern just isn’t for me. And then I changed my mind. I blame Griffin, honestly, my costume shop co-worker, he just has the coolest collection of handmade button down shirts in shades and shades of plaid and he looks so awesome and I got really jealous. And once I noticed Griffin had a bunch of plaid shirts I started looking around and EVERYONE seemed to have plaid shirts and then I was all alone in the library again, and, and, wine, come back here, we’re not done.

So I bought the Archer shirt, and got some plaid flannel, and just went to town. And you know what? I’m so glad my stubbornness didn’t get the better of me, because I love this shirt. I seriously was sewing on the buttons 5 minutes before I needed to leave for my final class of the semester and I sat in the room hugging myself the whole time because it’s so cozy, causing my classmates a lot of laughter and mockery. I don’t care, man, this shirt is awesome. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself:

LLS 2Not only did Griffin inspire me to MAKE this shirt, he also took these photos of me during a slow moment at work today! Griffin, you are the best.


My co-workers are seriously the most lovely people, I can’t even deal with the level of awesomeness they exude, they always love my handmade stuff even though they are serious and seriously good sewers. I’m like the toddler who has learned to walk and can’t stop pointing out how great walking is and they are marathon runners.

LLS 5This is one cozy warm shirt, I made it just in time for the cold New York winter. It’s a little bulky under this skirt, I realized after wearing it all day and catching sight of myself with a shirt-flap shaped stomach bludge. Ah, well.

LLS 3I don’t even care! Because I love it. And honestly, once I got over myself, it wasn’t even that hard. Sure it’s a lot of pieces and steps but if you go slow and follow Jen’s amazing online tutorials it’s really not so hard. And I love the way it turned out, I think it looks really professional and well finished!I love the back pleat, let’s take a closer look, shall we?



I flat felled the sleeve settings and did french seams on the side seams but otherwise followed all her instructions to the letter. The collar wasn’t even so hard, what was I so afraid of? I had nothing to fear but fear itself.

LLS 6See? Baller. Like a boss. This is the face I use when I’m making collars like a boss:

LLS 7Just so you know for future reference. Because there will be more Archer shirts. The seal has been broken. I’ve already cut one with the last of the Indian fabric from what’s-his-face.

LLS 9Ooooh placket! Cuff! Ah, it’s a little off, whatever whatever whatever it’s a cuff who cares. LLS 8

The buttons! I love these.

LLS 10What more can I say, I love this shirt! The plaids aren’t perfectly matched, I didn’t have quite enough fabric, but I’m willing to let that go. I can’t wait to make my next one. It’s even Archer Appreciation Month right now! Archer, I appreciate you. You broke my stubborn silliness and gave me something perfect. We are now friends. You can eat lunch with me in the library. But you have to bring your own wine.

LLS 11I’m just kidding! No. I’m not. Bring wine. Thanks.



Filed under Grainline Patterns, Sewalong, Sewing

The Double Booked Dress

I tell you, it’s all feast or famine when it comes to my weekend plans. Either I have a zillion things to do and I’m completely overwhelmed and end up crying in a corner clutching some wine, or I have nothing to do and I’m sad and lonely and end up crying in a corner clutching some wine. So it’s pretty great either way, honestly. Do you ever look around and wonder if your friends have some kind of conspiracy going, like, “we’re all going to have birthdays in May this year, that’ll work!”? I do….yes, I know birthdays aren’t a choice. They are, however, a scam invented by Hallmark to sell birthday cards. God, what I’m going to do when that show ends? This must be how people felt about Breaking Bad. But not me, because I just couldn’t get into Breaking Bad. For a show about drug running I felt that thing moved awfully slowly. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I’m going to laugh about that one for a while. See, it’s humor like this that helps me out when I’m all alone crying in that corner.

ANYway, this past Friday I had not one, but TWO parties to attend! I know, I know, cue the sad violins because you just feel so damn sorry for me. But it’s a lot of pressure! One was a pub crawl in the East Village for my friend Josh, and one was a BBQ Birthday Bash in Astoria for my friend Victoria. Two parties, two friends, two worlds, one Leah. So what could I wear that would work for both of these events, and also look decent at work during the day before either of these parties, AND keep me warm and comfortable dashing around New York in the October chill, because it is chilly, and god knows I don’t suffer for fashion? In the Struggleverse, fashion suffers for YOU. What could fulfill all of these requirements? Nothing already hanging in my closet, obviously, because that’s all be SEEN and besides, I wanted to make something new, duh. And then I thought, what have I been craving most as the leaves change and the apples are harvested. Something cozy, something plaid, something cute, something plaid, something flannel, SOMETHING PLAID. And so here we go:

DB 1So I made myself something plaid. Are you mad? Don’t be mad. Of if you are, just be mad for plaid. Hehehehehehehe, see, no wonder I’m alone in that corner…whatever, more wine for me!

DB 2I used the Amy Butler Liverpool pattern, something I’ve had for at least two years now and never got around to trying. It’s a nice pattern and her instructions are pretty great, especially the diagrams, really helpful. The collar and collar stand threw me a bit at first, but I just went slow and breathed my way through it, and I think it turned out beautifully, honestly, I’m unabashedly proud of this collar:

DB 7To see my true pride, check out this facial expression:

DB 6I am feeling like a pimp, yes, and I will indeed be brushing my shoulders off, thank you very much. Having not tried Amy Butler patterns before, I cut the pattern to my size, a 6, and for the most part it fits, but clearly the bust was drafted smaller than the independent companies I’ve gotten used to, because it’s a touch snug. It’s not bad or uncomfortable, I can just see a little pulling at the bust buttons, sigh. Next time I would do a full bust adjustment. Oh, how I’ve become so spoiled!

DB 4Otherwise the fit is pretty good, I like the slimmer fit and the sleeves are great. I omitted the cuff buttons and went with the 3/4 length sleeve, because I tend to roll things up anyway. The back is especially cute:

DB 5You insert these ties into the sides and tie it in the back, which gives you nice waist definition in a sneaky way. I like sneaky clothing. Who wouldn’t?

You can’t really tell in these photos but this fabric is actually navy and red, not black and red. I got the fabric on Ebay, it’s an extremely cozy flannel, which I also don’t know if you can tell here. The lighting at my job sometimes leaves something to be desired. But my lovely co-worked Michelle, a costume design student and stand-up human being, agreed to snap these of me on a break, so I can’t really complain. My costume shop co-workers are so great, they coo and clap over my stuff even though they are sewing bosses and I am in so many ways a lowly layman. Thanks, costume shop friends!

DB 3

Oh! I don’t really know how this happened because I didn’t really try and didn’t have enough yardage to really make an effort, but somehow, by some strange magic, my sides and sleeves totally match on this thing! The same cannot be said for my collar/stand/back, but I have long hair whatever whatever just look at the nice plaid matching, please!

DB 8Thank you, magically matching plaid! You are a sewer’s best friend!

So the most important question, did my dress make it through the night? It did, with flying colors, staying as comfortable and cute as it was when I put it on from Pub Crawl to smoked brisket to the ride home, looking good even as my Guatemalan cab driver shared with me about his recent messy divorce. People, man. You want to see it in action? Well, by the time I got to Astoria enough wine had been consumed that photos weren’t going to happen, but I did get a shot in the East Village:

DB 9Here with my friend Liz! I know my face is totally blurred, but trust me, that’s me, how many other people would show up wearing a plaid shirtdress? Well, I mean, hipster is king, so maybe a lot…

The only problem is, I think I’ve caught plaid fever. There is no existing cure….

How is your fall going?








Filed under Amy Butler, Clothing, Sewing

Me Made May Day 2: So it’s spring, right?

I’m not all that into talking about the weather. It’s just not a passion of mine. Don’t get me wrong, I care about the weather, I obsessively check weather.com and monitor every cold front and hot spell so that I’m prepared for every eventuality. What can I say, I like to know what’s going on and how to layer appropriately. I just don’t feel the need to discuss it all the damn time. Still, today was cold. And rainy. Do you know how annoying it is to bike in the rain? I do. Oh, I do….

Still, I try not to let the weather I constantly check completely alter what I wear. So for Me Made May Day 2, I went with a skirt. Wool in May. What are you going to do about it?

The blouse is the thing I made, it’s my “I don’t believe in UFOs blouse”. It’s grown on me, honestly, though I haven’t worn it all that often. The skirt is vintage, it belonged to my grandmother, I think, my mom and I aren’t sure if it was Isolda’s or my mothers. Ah, well. People always ask me if I made it. I did not.

And the other vintage thing? This brooch:

It came from the hoarder stash. How lovely is this brooch? Very 1960’s. I adore it.

And there you have it. A rather dreary day two. No scraps today, just rain and red blouses. I’m off to San Juan tomorrow. so expect a gap between postings, and then a flurry of new projects. How is Me Made May going for YOU all so far?


Filed under Butterick Patterns, Challenge, Vintage