Tag Archives: Renfrew

The Easy Being Green Dress

Ever since I started sewing, Black Friday has taken on a strange feeling for me. I’ve never been all that into Black Friday, honestly, my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because….Judaism, so I never needed to take advantage of the sales to make sure I have gifts for everyone. But since I started sewing, even though I got into it because it seemed fun, I think quite differently about consumption and buying and the impact of my buying choices. Of course, some might say that I’ve shifted my commerce from clothing to FABRIC but these are lies, lies I say! No, I am trying not to buy fabric unless it’s for a specific project, which is HARD, people, I swear. Anyway, regardless of my fabric consumption which depending on who you talk to is minimal (me) to out of control (Mr. Struggle, foolish silly man, he should know better than to get between me and my fabric…) I just don’t really buy clothing anymore. The rare sports bra or a piece of outerwear, perhaps, but nothing more. So when I see all of the sales and the flurry of activity on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it’s interesting to me but I see it from far away, like I’m watching a movie. Which is probably bad, because there are things I should buy, but I can’t bear to be a part of that experience, honestly, it just seems awful and exhausting and besides, the idea of undressing and trying on a bunch of clothing in dress-room lighting after a huge meal the day before sounds about as fun as a root canal. Without drugs.

I know there are people who love this holiday, Black Friday, that is, and you always hear about crowds lining up earlier and earlier outside of large stores waiting for their deals, but honestly, I can’t imagine that. And then you always hear about people who get injured in some way trying to fight someone for that amazing bargain and you have to figure, holiday gifts, expensive, a trip to the hospital over a pair of designer jeans? Priceless. That being said, if Mood Fabric had a Black Friday sale I would probably end up killing someone, straight up, so I shouldn’t judge, right?

So instead of doing any shopping, I spent the day hanging out with my family, writing, and of course, taking a Pilates class to try and deal with the meal situation of the day before. And instead of buying something, I wore a dress I made. Like I do. And I DID buy this fabric on sale almost six months ago in a sweater knit close-out from my beloved Girl Charlee, so, hey, look at that!

EBG1

This is another Sewaholic Renfrew. I’ve made so many of this pattern I can’t even count them. I probably should stop documenting them but OH well, you’re welcome.

The sweater knit was easy as pie to work with, and I even managed to match up stripes which is surprising as I really didn’t have a ton of this fabric with which to work! This is a deeply simple pattern. If you haven’t made it, you probably should. That’s just all I have to say about that. EBG3I’m not usually a stripe person, because of my propensity for eating large amounts of bread most of the time, but I think these kind of work, the thin stripes with the thick ones, it’s a little kinder, don’t you think?

EBG4Ohhhh, blurry. Sigh. Cold weather and early sunsets really don’t help my sewing photos, do they? Indoor photos, meh.

EBG6A little side view where you can admire my awesome stripe matching right there. That’s another thing about Black Friday, once you start sewing and you see what a mess of a lot of discount clothing is, you kind of just roll your eyes like the snob sewing makes you and sigh, impatiently, over mis-matched stripes and plaids and other such nonsense.

EBG2And there we go. Another lightweight sweater dress photographed by my lovely mother and a nice substitute for anything I could have possibly bought.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to money versus time. Right now, I have the time to make things for myself, and so I do, and I can, and that changes my relationship to consumerism. But if my life looked different and my time was differently allocated, maybe I would NEED those Black Friday sales, because I wouldn’t have the time to sew, buying clothing would be a necessity. So it’s easy for me not to participate in shopping culture because I have the time to find an alternative. If I didn’t, I just don’t know. But I hope I keep making this a priority, because I really don’t want to get stabbed at a Target someday….

 

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The Happy Holidays Dress!

Happy 2014 everyone! I write this from a bed and breakfast in Galway, Ireland, where I finally have a strong internet connection and a little bit of time on my hands. I hope you all rang in the New Year with joy and happiness and ALL the booze, and that you have survived your hangover with the greasiest of foods and the largest of painkillers.

In sewalong news, I’m so sorry I couldn’t fit one more post in before I left! I promise all sorts of goodies for my return, including an Irish treat as a giveaway to make up for my failure. Also, I realized in retrospect I did not post the badge I made! I’m sorry, guys, and now I’m typing this an ocean away from my normal stuff and can’t, I promise I will when I get back to New York on the 7th! Don’t hate me! Don’t quit! Oh my god, I’ve been waiting my whole life to say this, THINK OF THE CHILDREN! Here, I found this free pattern, take this and love me again!

teddy-bear-2

Okay, so obviously to the horror of my family and my brother’s girlfriend, Lydia, who has joined us on this jaunt to the Emerald Isle, I tend to use trips as opportunities to document large amounts of new items in interesting places. So my suitcase arrived here filled with new things for my long suffering loved-ones to photograph for me. And, nice people that they are, they do, and so here is number one, a simple wool sweater dress I made almost a month ago and have worn to literally every holiday party I attended:

HH 3Please excuse the yellow indoory photos. This was the first night of our trip and I got so excited I just had to get these photos taken! The pattern is an altered Sewaholic Renfrew, I have made so many of these I have totally lost count. I just lengthened it. That’s all there was too it.

HH 6The wool sweater knit I got from Mood Fabrics, and it is extremely warm and cozy, and much thicker then I thought (online ordering is a mixed bag). But that just means it holds it’s shape really well and doesn’t allow underwear lines so that’s all to the good. And it’s stood up to cold weather in New York, Philadelphia and Dublin, so I’m a fan.

HH 5

This took me, like, two hours to make, maybe less, cutting to hemming. It was a total procrastination project, I had to write, but I also had a party to go to and NOT A THING to wear. So. You know. Things happen. Dresses get made. Is what it is.

HH 4

A bit blurry but you get the idea. It hugs the curves nicely, no?

HH 1

How was Dublin, you ask? Well we are going back but on this day we arrived, shook off our jetlag, and walked around seeing this:

HH 7And this sad memorial of the Potato Famine:

HH 8And this cool boat:

hh 9And this lovely park:

HH 11With this adorable park guide:

HH 10And then we went to buy food:HH 12And buy food I mean cheese:

HH 13And the cheese was amazing:

HH 14Which made me feel like this:

HH 2Stay tuned for more updates as time and internet connection allows, and if not in the next few days then certainly there will be a barrage of posts upon my return!

2014 for the win!

 

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The By The Sea Outfit

My father always says he bought our house in San Juan for the view. From the roof of our house, a green roof, just so you know, because my mom is amazing and she insisted, you can see San Juan Harbor, and you can sit and watch the giant cruise ships, floating cities of Disney tours and sunburnt tourists, slip in and out of the bay. At least, he can see that, and tall people can see that, but I am 5’2″ and I kind of have to peak over the wall if I want to see anything. Still, I love having a house by the sea. I love the ocean, I love the water, I always want to near it.

BTS 3Well, can you blame me? Especially when it looks like this?

BTS 1

Of course, wouldn’t you know it, I went to San Juan with someone who could care less about the ocean, so I spent some time on the beach alone, reading and floating and watching the October currents sweep in and out. The waters are really rough in Puerto Rico this time of year, it’s hurricane season, of course, and it rained every day I was there, but I am sort of an idiot about the water and I stayed in it anyway, letting it push and pull me around.

And if I can’t be in the ocean, I at least want to be around it. And of course, I’ve got to dress the part, now, don’t I?

BTS 2Of course, this is trying to be around in the 1940’s, I suppose. The top is a renfrew, to which I added a tie. I really just elongated the neckline binding and stitched it on, leaving the ends loose to be able to tie a bow. Spiffy, no?

BTS 5The shorts are a pattern from the 1940’s, Simplicity 2017. I’ve made these once before, in a tan linen, which I took to Israel. These I did in a linen cotton blend, which I like a bit better, it’s lighter weight, which is whatever, but it wrinkles slightly less, which I adore. Because let’s be real, I’m never ever going to iron a pair of shorts. Who the hell am I?

I made no changes to the pattern except to use a zipper instead of the snaps recommended because zippers are awesome and snaps are dumb. There. I said it.

BTS 7

The fabrics come from two places, the knit is an organic cotton from FabricMart.com which I got forever ago and have made so many things out of (I got four yards and boy does that stretch. Get it? Knit? Stretch? I crack myself up.) And the linen-cotton blend is from a wedding gift I made for a friend this summer and had a bit of left over yardage for me!

There isn’t much more to say about this sewing process, except that I originally made these to take to Cape Cod and what with one thing and another didn’t get photographs up there, and the the weather turned cooler and I figured, ah, well, wait for Puerto Rico. But both items were perfect for San Juan in October, and I have to say, I’m a huge fan of the high-waisted 40’s style shorts. Hipster as hell they might be, but I love them. It’s like wearing a skirt but you don’t worry about wind issues as much. Which, by the sea, is a good thing.

BTS 8A little back view for you. Isn’t the light lovely? It kind of back-lights me, which meant I had to light-correct the photos, but I kind of adore the effect. It gives me a halo, who can hate that?

BTS 6So there you go, a little sea-side ensemble for a house by the sea. The shorts I left in San Juan, they seemed quite happy there.

I know, I know, summer stitching in October? What is the world coming to? I promise, just one more tropically themed post and then I’m back to wools and flannels in a jiffy. Just bear with me, we’ll get there. Oh, we’ll get there. I’ve got big plans for cool weather, guys, stay tuned.

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The Color Me Shocked Dress

Hello hello! Graduate school seems to have swallowed up my life lately, like a boa constrictor who, having enjoyed a tasty snack of live goat, now sits in the sun allowing it’s stomach acids to break the animal down. So in this analogy, New York University would be the boa constrictor, and I would be the live goat, or any of these other animals. (Seriously, that link is not for the faint of heart, and yet I could not look away. Also, side note, who is letting their goats get so damn near boa constrictors? I mean, come on, that’s a fallacy of logic right there, boa constrictors are going to eat goats, it’s just how it goes. And to that end, how did that even happen, what is the evolutionary impulse for snakes to eat the largest animals possible? Can’t they just content themselves with a light bite? Small meals through the day! Limited protein! One giant meal every other month? That can’t be healthy. No dietitian would recommend this.)

At any rate, when the stomach acid of NYU ISN’T corroding my body and destroying my emotional well-being (we were joking today in my TV class about how you don’t just pay tuition at school, you also pay in mental health. Apparently you get it back with you diploma but I’ll believe that when I see it.) I have had a chance to make something things, but if I didn’t have time to take photos BEFORE, holy hell do I not now. Between working at the costume shop (oh my god we’ve been doing Ragtime and it’s amazing and the actors are adorable and stupid talented and wildly great and it’s been fun and EXHAUSTING!) and all the work for school and Cadfael and trying, with limited success, to maintain a social life, plus, you know, fall TV, I mean, it’s a lot, guys! So many pilots! So little time! But I promised myself that this year I would be better about making and posting things, so I’m trying, people! I’m heading to San Juan next week with a couple of things to photograph, so let’s see how that goes, shall we?

But in the meantime, here is a thing I made recently:

CD 1This was unbearably simple to make. I really just used the Renfrew pattern, one I use almost monthly at this point, and lengthened it into a dress. A very SHORT dress. I really did not think it would be so short….

CD 2But it is. Really, a basic rational thought process calculating the amount of fabric I had (a yard) and the amount of fabric needed to cover my body (more than a yard) could have saved me from the surprise of finding myself in a dress shorter than some shirts I own, but who needs RATIONALITY or LOGIC, I go to clown college.

Of course, part of why this feels short to me is that I don’t really go in for short hemlines on a regular basis (…or at all), but I think I can get away with this with black tights or leggings. I was a bit self-conscious wearing this, but my friend Becca went on hemline patrol and let me know any time I was moving from “cute dress” to “Miley Cyrus downward spiral”. It’s good to have good friends.

CD 5See, pretty short….sigh. Well, if it shrinks I can always use it as a top.

Speaking of Becca, she also took these photos on her terrace! And she gave this dress its name, albeit unintentionally. You see, Becca got engaged, and told me about an hour before these photos were taken! I went over to her house to make her and some other people dinner (a braised beef tagliatelle, if you must know), and when I walked in the door Becca, who I hadn’t seen for a week, declared that she was engaged! Actually, point of fact, I think she said something like, Derek proposed! And irreverent jerk that I am, I’m pretty sure my response was, wow, what did you say? See, the joke there is that Becca and Derek have been together for 11 years now, and approximately zero percent of people who know them DIDN’T think that that thing was going down with a large cake and a lot of flowers. So of course Derek asked and of course Becca said yes, because when you like it you throw a ring on it, right?

CD 3And then, because she is a rockstar, after I got dinner started and cooed at the ring, and we put a dvd on to soothe the boys who were both amazed and vaguely concerned by all the screaming, Becca valiantly took photos of my new dress. I can’t even hide how happy I am for them, I’m trying to look normal in these photos and failing so horribly.

Becca has also been swallowed up by graduate school boa constrictors, and her reptile is the Art Conservation program at NYU, so she wont get to the actually wedding part of this story for a little while, but it’s just wonderful and given that I was ALREADY there to cook them dinner, it worked out pretty damn well if I do say so myself.

CD 7Their view is so lovely, especially in the evening. This photo is in Greenpoint looking out onto Manhattan, which is just how I like Manhattan, far away from me, seen from Brooklyn.

CD 8Construction details? Dude, it’s a knit dress, it took me about an hour cutting to hemming. I lengthened the bottom and omitted the sleeve bands. Done. The print is pretty wonderful, though, and perfect for an evening in Greenpoint, perched as it is above Williamsburg:

CD 6I got it at Girl Charlee, duh, obviously, where else does anyone buy knits?

And that’s about it, folks. I made a simple rather leggy dress, and my amazing and lovely friends Becca and Derek got engaged. Saturday night. Not big deal.

CD 9Why anyone would want to see the view without my astounding form is a mystery to me, but I suppose SOMEONE might want such a thing, so there you go.

I shall endeavor to free myself from the strangling grasp of the graduate school snake in the future with more regularity. It’s hard, guys. Does anyone have a machete?

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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!

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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 thisĀ 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!

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The Back to Black Dress

There were SO many things I could have named this garment. The, I Promise I’m Still Alive Even Though My Life Has Been Eaten By Writing, Dress! The, Three Needles Down, Dress (this stretchy soft sweater knit broke three sewing machine needles. I don’t even know…). The, Miss Me?, Dress, because I’ve been out of commission for SO. LONG. But I’m going with the Back to Black Dress because I like alliteration and I like Amy Winehouse and I like black.

So, you might ask, where the hell have I BEEN all this time? Again, I refer you to “my life has been eaten by writing”. The end of my first semester of graduate school got a little crazy, guys. There was writing. There was whiskey. It did not help the writing, but I enjoyed it anyway. There were nights hunched over my laptop furiously typing. There were nights hunched over my laptop furiously NOT writing, and those nights are the WORST. My lovely and amazing roommate Emily (who, along with my equally lovely and amazing roommate Jenny who are both saints to put up with all on my nonsense and mishagas) is also a writer, and we were talking with my friend Emilie (it got confusing, I can tell you) about writing and how when it’s bad, it’s horrible, and when it’s good, it’s amazing, and you live for the times when the writing just comes because there is nothing like it, it’s what I imagine a runner’s high is like. Oh, I run, a couple of times a week these days, but I never get a high, I just sort of collapse at the end which is embarrassing, but hey, it’s New York.

But now I have emerged into a warm pillow of time, i.e. my vacation, which is six weeks long. As I write this I’m sitting in Philadelphia, typing away in my parent’s office, waiting to set up my new laptop (THANK YOU PAPI!). And I have to tell you, it’s not that I haven’t been sewing, or knitting (lots of knitting for lots of holiday gifts). I just haven’t had the time to DOCUMENT any of it! ‘Tis a hard life. Cue the violins. In three days I’m off to Holland for a family vacation, and then I’m back, and then going to San Juan, and then back in the New York, it’s crazy! And what will Brother Cadfael be doing this whole time?

Sew On 016Yep. Did you expect anything less?

Onto the dress. I made this thing in a feverish rush a week and a half ago because I had run out of homework. I was so used to having a lot to do, and then I had finished my screenplay and my play and all the essays and scenes and I was sitting at home on a Wednesday evening after Zumba and I thought, well, I have some time….

Sew On 002So I pulled out this fabric which came from the hoarder stash of which I have oft spoke, and grabbed my trusty Renfrew pattern, and did a bit of lengthening a la Andrea (p.s. I was trolling through her project gallery, she is so impressive, I want to make everything she’s made) and here I have a dress!

Back to Black 1And wore it to the department holiday party that evening. And then out, for more whiskey. Which did not make my Friday morning an easy or a pleasant one, but the life of a writer is one of hardship and sadness, so I’m chalking that up to a good source of material. Sometimes you need to dominate on 99 problems in some random bar, it HAS to happen, the evening wants what it wants!

Back to Black 2Contemplating the beauty and grace of Jay-Z’s poetry.

Back to Black 3This fabric, which, as I said, came from that giant pile saved from the hoarder, is a really cool fuzzy sweater knit with these little speckles of color in it. I have no idea what it’s made of, probably something highly flammable, but it’s warm and cozy and I’ve been wearing this dress with alarming regularity since I made it.

Back to Black 4My mother said the neckline is a little wonky. That might be because the first thing I made her do when I came home was take photos of me…

Or it might be because it’s a knit and stretchy and yes fine okay it’s a little wonky I’m a human sue me!

Back to Black 5Side view!

Back to Black 6Back view! With flash, it started getting dark. You can see the seam down the back, which is my new favorite thing for knits because A. its efficient, fabric-use-wise, and B. I kind of really like the way it looks.

So if you asked me how I felt about this stretchy comfy easy to wear warm and to my mind, quite cute, garment, I would show you this picture:

Back to Black 7

 

Now, I’m off to run errands and deal with my existence which is sad, because all I want to do is this:

Sew On 043I hope that you are all having a perfectly lovely holiday season! My hanukkah was excellent, and I will be celebrating what’s-its-name tomorrow with Asian food and a movie, but I promise to post again before I go to Holland, and I will do my very best to not fall off the face of the earth any time soon!

 

 

 

 

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