Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

The Gracias Griffin Dress

You know that thing they tell you in kindergarten, that it’s the effort that counts? I feel like that might be a giant lie. I mean, it’s true in kindergarten, certainly, where the stakes are low and the negative consequences consist of a time out or a loss of cookies. But in life, while trying is important, say, trying to get a job, or trying to make it across the street before a fleet of New York City cab drivers mows you down, it is also important TO get a job. Or to survive said mob of yellow car-monsters. No one at your funeral or your bankruptcy hearing is going to point out that you tried really hard, and that’s what matters. And if they do, well, call this guy, especially for that second one:

For example, with this, my recent dress project, I honestly did try to make something perfect, I had lots of hopes for this dress and dreams for it, I made an effort, and yet, I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s not quite what I had in mind. And a lot that, honestly, comes down to fit. You see, I was very excited to make Colette Patterns Hazel Dress. Leah, where have you BEEN, you ask? Because that pattern was released years ago and you are only just making it now? I know. I KNOW. I’m still looking with love at the Lily, I bought fabric for it two years ago, and, and…I don’t know. I just don’t know! I really wanted to try the Hazel in anticipation of several border print fabrics that what’s-his-face brought me back from India. And I think I still will, but I really need to figure out this bodice better. Because right now? I just don’t know.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

GG1.jpgEven though I’m unsure about the dress, it’s hard for me NOT to smile in San Juan!

So, I have only really myself to blame for the things I don’t like about this dress. First of all, it’s too big. Which I brought on myself, by cutting the bodice two sizes bigger then my own size to try and compensate for my opposite-of-diminutive frontal attributes. But obviously this dress did not need my “I don’t want to do a full bust adjustment so I will cheat and fail” alteration, I’m pretty sure it would have fit fine as drafted. This is why we make muslins. This is why I should have made a damn muslin. Alright, alright. So the bodice is a little big, and the waist is too, and as a result, this does not fit my waist and torso the way I like things too. That being said, it’s super comfortable! But I’m really used to things fitting right to my waist, and I prefer it, because I think I look a little wide otherwise.

GG2.jpgI could, in fact, belt this, and I probably will, for the future, as well as taking it in at the waist through the sides of the bodice. It also hits just below the waist, so next time I would totally shorten the bodice an inch, or use more seam allowance.

GG3.jpgOy, you can see that I got a lot of sun. Despite many applications of sunscreen, (I may be half-Latina but I’m not stupid) I still got burned on my first day in Puerto Rico and enjoyed that pain for the rest of the trip. Ah, well. It was the effort that counted.

GG6.jpgUgh, my face. Still, I really do love this stripey thing happening here, I think it’s different and interesting and fun. And I love love love this fabric. Hence the name of the dress. Because my friend Griffin picked some of this up for a school project, and when I saw him constructing and elegant 17th century gown from it, I was like, this would make a great strappy thing! And so he bought me some of the fabric when he picked up more for himself. GRIFFIN. You are magnificent. Gracias, my friend, for your love of languages, and for this fabric, and for San Juan.

GG4.jpgI knew this fabric would work well when playing with stripes. And despite my reservations about the overall fit of this, it does!

GG5.jpgOh, yeah. And there are pockets. God, I love pockets. Life without pockets is sad indeed.

GG8.jpgOh, yeah, this is another struggle. I personally loathe when my bra straps show. It really makes me uncomfortable because I spend so much time adjusting everything. This dress is a bra-showing nightmare. When I attempt this next time, and oh, I will, because now it’s a challenge and I can’t back down from a sewing dare, I will probably make the straps bigger. Because this? Is a struggle.

GG7.jpgAh, well. What can you do. In theory, this is very cute, and I can probably make this work a little bit better to keep wearing it, because I really do like the fabric and the idea of the dress, but the end result leaves me a little meh. Still, it actually felt good to wear it in the San Juan sun, as my mom and I fed stray cats and read mystery novels. So maybe the effort was worth it after all!

A few photos, just for fun:

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So there you go. A dress I’m unsure about in a place I love. Hello, summer. I hope this isn’t going to be a pattern….

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Travel

The Father’s Day Blouse

I didn’t even THINK about this, because I’m a terrible and ungrateful child, but I made this shirt from one of my father’s shirts and then it was Father’s Day! What the WHAT? But I suppose it’s a fitting tribute that I would make this blouse and wear it in San Juan, on of my father’s favorite places in the world. Because I just got back from PUERTO RICO, people. Yeah. What can I say? In between Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathons and chat sessions with my cat, I lead a glamorous life.

No, I kid. But I did go down to San Juan this past Thursday for a long weekend vacation/reward for finishing my first year of graduate school/reward for my friend Becca (hi, Becca!) getting INTO graduate school. And I did wear this blouse, though not on Father’s Day, and I did call my father on the day itself, so we’re all good. And Puerto Rico was lovely and relaxing and we did absolutely nothing at all. Paradise. I NEVER do nothing. It was quite a revelation, I can tell you. Do you know what I’ve found out? Booze really helps….

And so does vacation clothing! I don’t know if this qualifies, though the two other things I made Becca photograph (sidebar, Becca was SUCH a good sport about taking photos of me. I told her she would need to do it and she looked at me like I was insane and said, of course! Becca is good people.) are a lot more like the kinds of things people wear in the Caribbean. Additional sidenote, why do people wear things on vacation that they wouldn’t wear at home? Go brighter if you are a subdued dresser but for reals, people, your hemline doesn’t NEED to shift in proportion to your distance to the equator….or does it? Did a memo go out about this that I missed?

Enough of my 75 year old lady judgement. The garment!

FDB 7I made those shorts, too, never documented, don’t even worry about it.

FDB 2This thing, I kind of just winged it. I really did. I know I have said that in the past, but I am not kidding or exaggerating or anything of the sort in this go around. I just grabbed another cast off from my Papi (gracias, Papi, te adoro!), cut off the sleeves and collar, flipped it around (I had this idea of a button back blouse) and went to town.

FDB 1It gaps just a bit in the back at the waist, sigh. A swayback adjustment would be nice, I sometimes think but never do it…

I added two inch tucks on the front and back pieces, and darts at the bust. I lowered the neckline and finished the neck and sleeves with bias tape. The result? I love it! And Becca loved it too, she even wanted one for herself! The HIGHEST POSSIBLE COMPLIMENT, don’t you know.

FDB 6I love it! I do. I think it looks a little Grecian, a little vintagey, a little classic. A little of everything! Which is fitting, because in my family they call me little Leah, my father included.

Becca and I had the best time in San Juan. More posts about this will follow, but I did have a chance, even in the first day we spent in Puerto Rico, to demonstrate how I feel about being there:

FDB 5And also:

FDB 4And also, very much:

FDB 3See what happens when you improvise? It can work! For someone who fears a life without planning, that can be nice to remember. But not that nice….point is, vacation is all well and good, but I still love sculpting order out of chaos. Much like my dad!

FDB 8It’s okay to be jealous. A lot of people are.

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Filed under Refashion, Sewing, Travel

The Matchy Matchy Dress

Okay, so I was clearly not able to post twice last week, which was an almost instantaneous fail. But to be fair, I was without internet access, for the most part, in Puerto Rico, from whence I have only just returned.

I have been going to Puerto Rico my entire life. I have a lot of family still living on the island, and my parents ended up buying and renovating a house in Viejo San Juan several years ago, so, you know, I’m acquainted with the island. I’ve seen its many absurdities over the years, I’ve walked down city streets only to find myself competing with chickens for sidewalk space. I’ve accepted the insanity of day-to-day living, the fact that sometimes basic things are just not available in the one and only grocery store (though there is always rum. Never fear). But I tell you, I was just on the island for the San Sebastian Festival, and boy oh boy, was that something else. It is best described as Puerto Rican Mardi Gras, though that’s too tame a term to deem this four-day drunken bonanza that pollutes the city of San Juan with drunken Puerto Ricans begging for one more beer and screaming in the streets and playing music at all hours of the night and in general making my life more painful than I had thought possible.

Really, the truth is, I’m glad I went. I mean, I wouldn’t go again in a hurry, and next January you can find me far away from San Juan around this time, but it was fascinating, and it’s worth experiencing, if you are into Puerto Rico at all. However, my love for the island couldn’t possibly compete with my hatred of people. It fought a good fight, but in the end, loathing always beats love in my book. Still I got some good photos out of it:

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So when we got a chance, my mother and I snuck off to the beach. And my wonderful mamala wore something I had made for her which I had not previously photographed, namely, this dress:

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It’s Simplicity 8955, a vintage pattern I’ve made before. My mom liked the one I made, and asked for one for Puerto Rico. I was more than happy to make her this cover up/lounge wear, and I thought, why not make it match out house? So I did…

BDD 2Looks good, no? Now, picture a plethora of drunk teenagers wandering in front of that. Not so nice, now, is it…

BDD 8My mother tried doing the soulful “look to the side” thing.

BDD 7Nice, right? I love this material, and I think it matches our house perfectly.

We had a lovely day at the beach that day, it was probably the only quiet spot in all of San Juan!

This is an extremely simple pattern, by the way, and I love it. I cut the back in two pieces but otherwise I made no changes, and I really cut the back that way for fabric efficiency, which is my kind of thing… Other then that, it’s just the pattern as written. Cute, no?

See, it all looks nice right now, does it not? Little do you know…

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Filed under Clothing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage

The Thrice as Nice Shirt

Sometimes titles completely elude me. For example, every play I’ve ever written has had its title tacked on at the end as a complete after thought. As a result, the titles are not very good. For the screenplay I wrote this semester, it got to the point where my teacher just looked at me and said, really, Leah? Untitled Screenplay? I tried to pass it off like a Duchamp “Fountain” thing but I don’t think he was buying it…

So sometimes I have a hard time finding names for the pieces I make, and nevertheless I like having names for the pieces I make because I like thinking of my wardrobe as something filled with chatty vibrant personalities to rival my own, so when I get dressed in the morning I can say, hello, such-and-such-blouse, hello, such-and-such-pants, who wants to hang out with who today? Am I anthropomorphizing my closet? Mayhap. You should see the chats I have with my cat. Seriously, you should, my roommates could use more people with whom to watch and judge.

B 1

So this blouse is New Look 6808, my third version of this all-too-cute pattern. This time I did the collar, but without the little bow in the middle because I’ve really been working on this “dressing like a grown up” thing. And I did long sleeves, because it’s cold out here for a pimp. And I did stretch poplin because it’s seriously comfortable and I had some in my stash from over a year ago when I got a bunch of stretchy fabric for clover muslins. Ancient history.

B 2I adore this color. One has to admit, though, this poplin is a tad wrinkly…

B 3Eh, what are you gonna do….I also made the pants! My first clovers, in fact, which makes this outfit weirdly perfect and fated, come to think of it…

B 4Side view! I had to add two pleats to force the sleeve to fit into the shoulder. I’ve had to do that every time with this pattern, but instead of altering it I just go with it because I kind of love the pleat!

I also noticed that the sleeve cuff detail is flipped up in all of these photos, sigh…

B 5A little back view for you. You can’t see it in these photos, nor can you really see it much in real life, but there is a seam down the back which I have because I pieced together the back. If I was a super-villan, that would be my trademark, back seams. I just some fabric efficiency!

B 6A little wink, terrifyingly caught on camera. You can see the cuff here, sort of, it’s cute.

B 7Annnnnnnnnd there I am talking to my cat again. Of course. Duh.

We are actually having a tearful goodbye moment. Sniff. I love vacations but I loathe leaving him. It’s a constant dilemma for me, travel or Cadfael? Wow, my twenties are just WILD.

I know this is some rapid fire posting over here, but I wanted to throw this up online before I leave tomorrow morning for San Juan. My internet access is sort of limited there, and I can only use my computer in one of the two Starbucks in town. So my blogging shall be curtailed for a while whilst I swan about the island with my friends and then alone, and then with my family. Of course, that alone time is reserved for writing, writing, and then more writing. Because that’s why people go to tropical paradises, to sit inside and write…

I hope everyone’s New Year is treating them gorgeously! And before you call me out on it, I’m aware this blouse doesn’t fulfill my plans to make new patterns. I’ll get there, okay? At least I tried a variation. Counts, right?

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Filed under Clothing, New Look Patterns, Sewing

The What’s Up Buttercup Shorts (Me Made May Day 28!)

These really should be called the “What’s Up Iris” Shorts, but that doesn’t rhyme, so it’s dead to me. I normally have more photos for a introducing the world to the garment post, but given how many times I’ve made this pattern (Simplicity 7688, but of course) I feel like maybe that’s not really necessary. And I’m not even going to pretend I’m not going to make more pairs because hell, these shorts are awesome, and they use less then a yard of bottom weight fabric, which is great, because I’m not really sure what to do with that otherwise. See, lighterweight stuff can always become a sorbetto blouse, but what do you do with mid-weight linen? You make shorts!

The fabric is leftover from a project I made for my Mamala. Check it out:

It’s a touch wrinkly because, hello, linen, but it’s the BurdaStyle Shari dress and I think it’s pretty excellent. My mamala thinks so too.

And that’s our house in Puerto Rico! Which my mamala renovated! See, she’s with something she made with something I made! What????!!!!! I know. Minds are blown.

Enough of that, to the shorts!

See, I thought I would have to content myself with mirror shots, but then I sweet talked my mamala into shooting me in the garden, amoung the irises. (Yes, I just said my mother shot me.)

Wow, my hair is the worst. Sigh. It was hot, what can I say. The blouse is my Parque de Palomas Blouse.

I flat felled all the seams because linen frays like whoa, and I hand stitched the hem. Like I do.

My very best Vanna White to show you the wonders of our garden.

In other news, Poirot, who has gotten very little face time here, decided to be all adorable yesterday. It was too much.

Look at that guy. Does he care about my linen shorts? No he does not. And yet I love him. Curious. No human in my life could get away with such a thing.

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Filed under Burda Style, Buttrick Patterns, Challenge, Clothing, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

A Peppermint Pastille (MMM 5 Continued)

I don’t know if I would call the color of this dress mint, really, but an Icy Aqua Pastille doesn’t have that alliteration I so crave, so there we are, everyone okay with that? No? Well, suck it up, we’ve got a lot to cover, here, and I don’t have time for your tomfoolery. Now, you remember my pastille muslin, don’t you? I mean, I only showed it to the world a mere three months ago, how dare you not remember it like it was yesterday? Well, never mind that, it was a trifle snug in the bust, so I did a full bust adjustment and made it up in a stretch poplin. Let’s talk about woven fabrics with a touch of stretch, shall we? They are delightful. They will solve any number of fitting issues with ease (heh) and grace. They don’t strain, they don’t constrain, they curve around you and they do what they are told. In short, I loves em. And I must be so immodest to say that I think they love me.

I wore this to my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, at a church out in nowheresville, Cerdo Gordo, Puerto Rico. The wedding was lovely and adorable and perfectly suited to the bride and groom. Of course it started a full hour late. Like everything does in la Isla Del Encanto. So I had time to force my brother to take some shots of this here dress.

This time I didn’t bother with facings. I have very negative feelings about facings. So I lined the bodice and left the skirt unlined. The wrinkles in the skirt rather obscure the pleats, I’m sorry to sa, and if I could afford it, I would travel with a team of people waiting to iron me at all times. That would be just splendid.

I was probably one of the only people, other than my mother, who didn’t wear a set of three-inch or higher heels. I don’t really wear hells. Why? Because they make me fall down.

The back, she is rather wrinkled. Swayback adjustment in the future? I suppose I must do what I must.

Still, I’m pretty into this dress. I think the fit is nice, though of course sheaths aren’t particularly flattering to any stomach of any kind, and mine is no exception. Still, I like it, and wrinkles aside I think it’s adorable and I’m sure I will wear it to other Spring and Summer events.

The church was surrounded by palm trees, as most places are in Puerto Rico. But what was astonishing were the gorgeous orchids grafted onto the trunks of the trees. magnificent!

Amazing, aren’t they? I’ve never been able to grow orchids. They just stick them on a tree and call it a day.

By the way, the vintage item is the headband, which is really a scarf, from my grandmother, which looks something like this:

It’s a souvenir scarf! I love souvenir scarves. Adore them, in fact.

One final shot amongst the orchids.

So there it is, FINALLY, my Pastille dress. Only one more to go and I will have fulfilled the obligations of Sew Colette and sewed my way through the Colette Patterns Handbook!

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Tutorial

The How Many Of These Are You Going To Make? Shorts (MMM Day 5)

I’m sure that’s what you are thinking right now. Leah, you say, you just posted about a pair of shorts. Which you made from the exact same pattern. Literally 12 hours ago. What the hell are you doing? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m posting about more shorts. Because I can. Because they are awesome. Because I made them with leftover scraps from my Nautical Bias Skirt. And because it’s my blog, and I’ll bore you if I want to. So without further ado, more shorts.

Of course, as I look at these photos, I can now see a waterstain on one of the legs. Great. Delightful.

I forgot to mention it, but both of these pairs were made with flat felled seams throughout. I think I’m in love with flat felling seams. Yes, it’s a bit more work, but it looks so cool, and it’s helpful, because this linen-cotton blend is fraying like it’s it’s job. Which it well may be, I don’t know what it does when I’m not around.

I wore these on Saturday morning to the Mercado I described in my last trip. We picked up some delightful cheeses, tiny tomatoes (PS: Puerto Rico, grow more tomatoes, please? Thanks) and island Basil, a small-leaved spicy scented variety.

We also picked up some amazing flowers for my cousin, which turned out to be a huge struggle because my family was determined to forget them after the wedding despite my mother’s imploring pleas, but hey, that’s life. So I posed with the flowers in the market, blinded by the sun that, by that afternoon, would become violent rain. Ah, the Caribbean. What a mess.

I’m only wearing one me-made thing in these photos, the shorts. Nothing vintage, either. Sigh.

BUT, I changed an hour or two after this photo was taken into the dress I made for the wedding, and that ensemble had a vintage touch. So that’s two outfits in one day, which I think makes up for my early transgression, don’t you?

Quick, become distracted with flower photos:

Aren’t these amazing? We were informed they are related to Bananas. So wild looking, like an Alien species.

Pretty….

The colors are so brilliant, they always astonish me.

Though here I seem more skeptical then astonished….

Coming up, more shorts! Ha, I kid. I will be gracious and give you a dress. We all like dresses best, now don’t we…

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