Tag Archives: San Juan

The Annual Elephant Dress Round Three!

Here we go, my annual elephant dress in its third incarnation! Those who have missed the first two rounds of this tradition can check out year one here, and year two here. And if you are wondering why I like elephants then I would kindly request that you stop reading this blog because you are obviously a heartless monster.

LOOK AT THEM:

I am this baby elephant at all times.

I really am making this thing a tradition, guys. Which makes sense, because there is nothing that is easier to get in India than fabric with elephants printed on it. I mean, it’s a CENTRAL theme, in a big way. Elephants walk across fabric the way they walk across the subcontinent itself, and as a result, I can be a little picky about my elephant fabrics. After all, I don’t want just ANY elephants, and I don’t want to look like my whole body is a white tourist in Thailand.

UGH. THE HUMANITY.

Fun fact, on a recent trip to Sri Lanka, my friend Ben and I decided to count elephant pants, because we are united in many things, not the least of which is our loathing for these pants, and we counted like 10 pairs in one day at one tourist site before I gave up because as some point you are just setting yourself up for failure. Good GOD, just buy a pair of loose-fitting pants in a linen or cotton in your own country BEFORE YOUR TRIP! Note to tourists of South and Southeast Asia, THESE ARE NOT REQUIRED. They WILL let you in the country without them. Alternatives to these monstrosities include ANYTHING ELSE. These will not actually help you on your trip, they will fall apart as soon as you get home, and while you are traveling they are like putting a “please overcharge me for everything” sign on your head. Get a pair of loose-fitting, lightweight and dark pants, and you are DONE. End this madness! It starts with you!

So, I didn’t want THAT. I wanted something more subtle, more interesting, more me, less backpacking-through-Cambodia.(I tugged a WHEELIE bag through Cambodia, thank you VERY much.) So I waited, and watched, keeping an eye out for the right fabric, knowing it would come to me in time, with patience. Much like the elephants themselves, wise great creatures that they are, I picked my moment. And when I found this subtle green fabric with origami elephants on them at my newly beloved Thakur Fabrics, despite the fact that the color might not be exactly my perfect shade of green, I went for it. Because sometimes, you just gotta go with a color you know isn’t in your seasonal palette because dammit, the elephants! And then, once the fabric was secured, which pattern? Well that part was easier, because right now all I want to do is make Kalle dresses. Actually, that’s another thing that I’m on the fence about in terms of it being flattering, but honestly, they are such perfect dresses for hot humid weather which is basically most of my life right now that again, I’m letting that go. I’m letting so much go, and embracing elephants. What a life.

So here we are! My second Kalle, by third Elephant dress, shot in the blinding sun of San Juan, Puerto Rico. This face really reflects the ambiguity I feel about this color coupled with a lack of caring. This shot is the most reflective of the dress’ coloring, fyi.

Once again I lengthened this dress (seriously it’s so short, does any one else feel that way? I am a short person!) by five inches, and this time I put in the band collar which, if I’m honest, I probably wont be doing again soon, not my style, but I like to mix it up!

See, the elephants are very small and subtle here, basically they opposite of the way they are in…life. Elephants, great and small, are all amazing.

I don’t really have much to say about this dress, honestly. It came together fast, it’s comfortable as hell, and I am going down a size to the 12 for my next version (already cut!). That’s…about it.

I mean it’s basically a well-shaped sack pretending not to be. I love it.

The sun was extremely bright, and my grimace game strong, but here you go, me, a street in San Juan, elephants. What else is there to say?

If you too love elephants and want to contribute to their safety and survival, there are many places you can donate, and may I suggest this one for today?

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Filed under Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Sewing, Travel

The Somewhere Columbus is Happy and Doesn’t Know Why Dress

I am sure you, like most people who went to kindergarten, know, that the whole Indians-Native Americans thing exists and is such a damn mess because of Spanish explorers like Christopher Columbus and Portuguese explorers whose names no one remembers after that 11th grade final history exam. Geographically challenged explorers trying to get their hands on some pepper just assumed that the people they met in the New World must be Indians, despite the fact that I’m sure those guys tried to explain that these were NOT THE SAME PEPPERS, IDIOTS. Ugh. Translation issues, am I right? Tower of Babel indeed.

Peter Bruegel the Elder's Tower of Babel. Where all the trouble began....

Peter Bruegel the Elder’s Tower of Babel. Where all the trouble began….

Sidenote, how boring must food have been before the spice trade kicked in? My friend Ben and I (hi, Ben!) were wandering the Brooklyn Museum the other day in the Egyptian wing (I recently visited the States, more on that in a moment, GOD I’ve missed museums, like, really good museums, come on, Indian museums, step it up!)  and we were talking about pre-sugar societies. I think I could do a pre-sugar society, but pre-salt, no way to the Jose. What is life without salt? I’ve read the Grimm tale but it turns out it’s a universal one, check out this Punjabi story on the same theme.  But pre-spice society also sounds fairly lame. No wonder hundreds of Portuguese guys killed themselves trying to navigate the Cape of Good Hope trying to get to that Indian pepper, that ginger, the cardamom, those cloves. In medieval Europe spice stores were locked up and specially opened for feasts. Princesses came to their new households with dowry boxes full of spices as well as gold and silks. Spices changed the world, and if you don’t believe me, you can read about it in this, one of my favorite books on the subject.

So it’s not so surprising that the early Europeans who came to a place like Puerto Rico would have wanted it to be India, because, duh, spices, but it is sort of surprising that when they discovered it WASN’T India they didn’t, I don’t know, find another name for the natives. Oh, well, I guess they didn’t care because they were too depressed about the lack of pepper or too amazed by the taste of peppers. One of those two. So the word in Spanish, indio, still means native person, for no reason anyone can tell, and the West Indies are still a thing, despite the fact that literally the entire New World could be characterized as West of India.

So, end of the day, the Spanish didn’t get to bring any Indian stuff back from Puerto Rico. But I did get to BRING some Indian stuff to Puerto Rico this past March, when I got a chance to stop by San Juan during my trip back to the United States. So, there you go. It’s the circle of life. I really should have gotten some peppercorns to sprinkle around, like you do with malt liquor when a fellow gang-member dies. Instead, I just brought a pretty (if I do say so myself) block printed dress. Ah, well. Close enough, right? If those guys couldn’t figure out that Latin America isn’t India, they probably would buy that this dress was an exotic kind of pepper…

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So, I used my handy bodice block for this one, and I have to say, I think the darts actually did something really cool with these lines of darts on this fabric, I love it! Totally unintentional, but I’m going to pretend it was my idea all along. Natch.

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See? It warps the lines of printing around my (not unsubstantial) bosom, giving it a cool look. I tried to do a split neck thing here but it instead keeps flapping open, grrrrrr. The lining I used, which the smiling men at the fabric stall not too far from my apartment in Mumbai ASSURED me was 100% cotton and is probably like, 10% cotton 80% polyester 10 % LIES, is really light and drapy, so I probably should have interfaced around that slit. Oh WELL. I can live with it. Sigh.

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I drafted the skirt, in that I cut large rectangles and pleated them in large box pleats. Does that count as drafting? I’m going to say no, it’s too fancy a word for what is essentially some fabric folding.

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Yeah, I put in pockets. #Stayingonbrand.

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A little back view for you.

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The fabric is a block print from Rajasthan which I bought in Kolkata. That might sound confusing to you, but go with it. India has large government emporiums where they sell goods from each state at prices subsidized by the government so they are cheap and amazing, and a lot of those goods are, shall we say, of the textile variety? So this fabric came from one of those markets in Kolkata, but it is a Rajasthani bock print, nonetheless. It’s fairly different from the more traditional prints, which is what attracted me to it. That and the color. I should just live my life in this color, I’m telling you.

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Ug, that neck split. WHATEVER. I’m moving on with my life! I’m not going to dwell like the Spanish Empire did! If there is one thing I promised my self I wouldn’t do with my life, it was become like the Spanish Empire.

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A little hand stitching on the hem. I also hand-picked the zipper. I’m back to doing that. After a brief foray with the machine stitching, I’ve returned to my one true love, the hand stitched zipper.

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Neck split aside, I love this dress. It’s colorful, cheerful, and it mentions India without screaming it out. Much as the Spanish probably did when they saw Puerto Rico. Idiotas!

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Here’s to you, Cristobal. Sorry about the pepper. Enjoy the peppers. I will be enjoying this:

 

 

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Filed under Sewing, Travel

The El Farolito Dress

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

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

The Put The Lime In The Coconut Outfit

Why, when we are young, are we taught that it is wrong to be a copy cat? This is clearly nonsense. Isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Isn’t imitation in fact the basis of our early childhood development? We learn by watching and imitating others. We learn to speak by listening and repeating. We learn to walk by watching people do it. I personally as a child observed my older brother in all things and aimed to  be just like him. This has yet to actually happen, but it did help me jump from the bottle to a glass with no sippie-cup required, so, hey, come on, obviously some part of that was valid.

I understand that the deeply held need for individuality and uniqueness can often feel at war with a generally imposed sense of conformity, of social instruction and expectation. But imitating someone else doesn’t mean you are trying to be like everyone else. Hell, sometimes it just means you like a shade of lipstick or admire someone’s reading tastes. In an age where information is rapidly shared, we, or at least the people I know, still have the impetus to declare themselves as the first, the originator, the conquistador of a trend or article or idea. Well, here is the thing about conquistadors. The places they discovered already had occupants. Just because they all died of Spanish flu and smallpox doesn’t mean they weren’t real. And before the Aztecs there were the Olmecs, and before them, someone we don’t even know about because the Olmecs were total jerks and wanted to set the trend, not just follow it. GOD. The OLMECS. COME ON. With their giant heads and their lost civilization. What dweebs.

Anyway, putting ancient Mexican history aside (how many sewing blogs have you read that on lately?) I just think its a little silly that we idolize, and teach our children to idolize, an impossible standard that leaves us unable to appreciate the value of copying others as we get older. And honestly, copying other people has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that word, and replace it with something more positive, shall we? Let’s call copying inspiration. After all, no copy is equal to the original in every way, it holds it’s makers mark in some way, even if they don’t want it to. So let’s be inspired, that’s a good thing, right? After all, as Picasso once said, Bad Artists Copy, Good Artists Steal.

In sewing, we copy all the time. I do it especially when I’m making something for someone else, because most of what people ask me to make or want me to make is a duplicate of something they love and wish they had more of. So my mom has this little adorable linen top and pants set which she bought at a store in San Juan which no longer exists. I call this her little Papaya outfit.  It’s papaya colored (duh), loose, comfortable, kind of like a 20’s or 30’s style lounge suit, something she only wears in Puerto Rico. She likes it a lot, and I figured, it can’t be THAT hard to copy, er, be inspired by! So I made her another one. Boom. Only this time, it’s a little Lime outfit. And it’s awesome.

LIC4I used a lightweight finely woven linen I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, when I was still buying fabric. Sniff. I miss those days. Soon, soon! I said through October! I can do it!

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The top is a modified Tiny Pocket Tank, which a button front. I finished it with store-bought bias tape. It was easy as all hell.

LIC3The pants are a modified pajama pant pattern which I added a waistband and pleats to, to make them a little more formalish. The waistband has elastic, though, after all, it’s a lounge suit!

LIC6My mother wore this outfit reading on our green roof and sipping white wine, so she declared it an excellent duplicate of the original suit, which had been used for literally the selfsame purposes.

LIC1Isn’t my mom gorgeous? I’m actually quite proud of this simple outfit, it’s a great pleasure to be able to make something for someone you love and know that it’s exactly what they want. Not too bad for a copy-cat, eh?

Speaking of cats, my mom and I enjoy feeding the many stray cats of Old San Juan when we come down there. Here she is, in another one of my creations, a simple elastic waist skirt. Elastic waist goes really well with the Caribbean, guys, it accommodates a LOT of rice and beans and rum. Just sayin’.

LIC7See, these cats don’t mind copying each other! And neither do I.

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Platanos Shirt

Spoiler alert, this is a t-shirt. I know. I know.  A whole blog post for a t-shirt? Scraping the bottom of the barrel, am I? But listen, I’m proud of this t-shirt, for a variety of reasons, and also, it’s my damn blog and I’ll post whatever I want to post! You’re not the boss of me!

While I might revel in vintage dress patterns and elaborate makes, the reality is that my ever-growing self-made knit shirt collection, courtesy of several amazing designers and their generosity in offering free and reasonably priced knit-top options (like Sewaholic’s Renfrew, Cation Designs Dolman Sleeve Top, Grainline’s Hemlock Shirt and Deer and Doe’s Plantain), is the place where I can see most clearly that sewing has made my life easier and better. I didn’t start sewing because of the political, socioeconomic or environmental issues surrounding clothing production and fast fashion, but the more I’ve learned and understood, the less comfortable I am participating in an unsustainable and human-rights-violating system. I do still buy, on occasion, ready-to-wear, from places I know I shouldn’t, because I’m not perfect and I really like J. Crew and I get lazy and it’s cheap. Especially shoes. New York eats shoes. But the more I know about clothing and the fashion industry, the more I’m inspired to take myself as a consumer more seriously, and be careful and thoughtful about the things I buy and use. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my workout wear and if I’m brave enough to try to make more than yoga pants. But that’s a conversation for another day. The point is, being able to make a t-shirt, or 10, that fits well and gets that so elusive compliment, “that looks store-bought!”, means that I never have to run to Forever 21 again for a handful of crap that falls apart in a week. It means that my sewing can extend beyond the world of the glamorous (because I’m SO glamorous) and into the practicalities of my every day life. That honestly fills me with a great deal of satisfaction that I really can’t explain. Sewing the basics, while maybe boring for some, actually really excites me, well, maybe not in the act of doing it, but in the end result. It means that I can wear something I made easily every day. While the price might end up being around the same, or more, because  4 dollar t-shirt from H and M is hard to beat, somehow it’s worth it to me. A t-shirt can be a step on the road to freedom from consumerism. And this one? This one is pretty cute:

IMG_2445Please note, my hair is up in these photos because my lovely and wonderful mother, who took these, refused to photograph me with my hair down because, “It’s making me overheated just to look at you”. June in San Juan did not please my mother in terms of it’s humidity.

IMG_2460The pattern is Deer and Doe’s Plantain, but in San Juan I figure it’s a Platanos. It’s a very simple make that I’ve made, what, maybe 10 times now? I also made a new one for my mom which she wore down with her, a longer tunicy style that looks fabulous, if I do say so myself. I love this pattern. It’s just a seriously flattering t-shirt. I love the neckline, I love the fit, the only thing I ever do is length it a bit.

IMG_2446I got the fabric for this from fabric.com, and it was on sale for 1.95 a yard. And I bought a yard. So in this case I suppose I DID beat Forever 21. Ha! And I think the pattern of the stripes even has shades of J. Crew. So there you go. Oh! And I matched the stripes!

IMG_2457I get very excited about doing this basic thing correctly. I also made the shorts, which I only wear in San Juan because, well, they are bright yellow linen shorts. So. I guess that just feels right to me. Because no matter how many of my own t-shirts I make, I will never really be a hipster. I’ll never achieve that level of cool, or facial hair.

Our green roof is a little bit of a jungle right now, but it’s still pretty!

IMG_2443So maybe yes, it’s just a t-shirt. But I love it, I love that I made it, and I love that I can, and will, make a bunch more. Why not? It sure beats shopping…

IMG_2454What do you think? Do you sew basics or do you buy them? Do you get a sense of satisfaction from making stuff like this, or does it seem like a waste of time?

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Filed under Clothing, Deer and Doe, Sewing, Travel

The Beach Blanket Bingo Bikini

Real talk? I much prefer Gidget to the Beach Blanket movies, but I will really do anything for alliteration, so…. besides, I don’t know that Gidget ever even wears a bikini in the movie, even if that’s what Moon Doggie would have liked to see, because Gidget is a GOOD GIRL and a SERIOUS SURFER and that’s what’s most important and, more than that, what gets pinned! The ultimate goal of all things!

You don’t know what I’m talking about? What’s Gidget, you say? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? It’s only one of the best movies (worst movies) ever made, all about surfing and attracting men and being yourself and attracting men and the dangers of parties and did I mention it’s actually 100% about attracting men? Through surfing? And being yourself? But mostly changing yourself completely to attract some guy you barely know. Which, you know, feels like the right thing, doesn’t it? Basically the plot goes a little something like this, Gidget, aka Francie, a young lady on the verge of womanhood, has no interest in boys, or doing her hair, or anything the girls around her are into. Instead, she gets into surfing, and boy, does she have a fun time of it! But most of it is about attracting this young surfer who only has eyes for more conventional girls, which, as soon as Gidget (that’s girl plus midget, duh, because she’s like 5’5″, practically Thumbelina, and making fun of midgets was socially acceptable then, I suppose) imitates, he can appreciate. But she almost gets sexually assaulted because it’s the 50’s and it’s a party and I guess that was less threatening than, and then, silver lining, she gets Moon Doggie’s pin. So, you know, it’s pretty much the surfing version of Citizen Kane.

What does this have to do with sewing? Very little, honestly, but I’m pretty into this franchise because of how weird I think it is and also I secretly deeply love it and it’s 1950’s purity and bizareness and the costumes are fun and the music is awesome and her name is FRANCIS, who can turn away from that? and the fact that I have watched Gidget every March since I was 15, so, you know, it had to all be said. But also, this swimsuit I recently made put me in mind of Gidget, so there you go.

Of course, this might be a bit too daring for Sandra Dee. After all, a faint amount of midriff is showing!

BBBB 3Ahhhhh more photos of my body in a swimsuit on the internets ahhhhhh! Ah, well, I do this to myself.

This was actually supposed to be a one-piece suit, but I think I put it together incorrectly because when I tried on my creation it was adorable, and far too short, like, it only came up to the edge of my bosom. So I’m pretty sure I might have over-gathered the sides because I lined it all up with the length of the back, but really I shouldn’t have done that, because the back of this amazing pattern (The Bombshell, duh!) is shorter than the front, it’s supposed to hit right at the waist, so if you gather the front to that length….well, you get the idea, sort of only works on a topless beach. And I really didn’t think Gidget would approve of that sort of thing, so I had to figure something else out.

BBBB 2I was a little panicked initially, because I wanted to finish this and another suit for my mom (which went fine, don’t worry, everyone just CALM DOWN OKAY!) before coming to San Juan, because I’m not going to use a swimsuit in New York any time soon, so I was rushing and it was late at night on Tuesday and I had to leave Thursday night and I was like, ahhhhhh what do I do! So I decided to go to bed and figure it out in the morning, and then I tossed and turned, because sewing anxiety keeps me up at night, and finally thought, what if I make a top? So I did!

BBBB 5I used the Bombshell pattern top and just sort of cut it off below the bust line, and then I stitched it to the lining, put in bra cups, put a double line of elastic at the bottom band for support because those things don’t just hold themselves up in the air, added side ties, gathered the front down, and called it a day! Ninja-stitching. Like a boss.

BBBB 4There is the bottom. I like it a lot, I really like the high-waisted thing. It feels fun like a bikini, but gives a lot of coverage, which honestly, is nice! I’m just not a teeny-bikini person, and now that I can make my own I don’t have to suffer under the oppressive yoke of small spandex ever again! Bahahahaha! Freedom!

BBBB 7A little back view for you. You can’t really see the back ruching but trust me, it is insanely flattering.

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I didn’t get any photos of this on the beach but I did swim in it and it survived, which is important, for a swimsuit, don’t you think? I bought the fabric online at Girl Charlee and I have to say, mistakes and all, it kind of worked out that it’s a bikini because I think its just so cute!

So there you go, my second suit! I did manage to make one for my mother, too, and I left it in San Juan for her, and spoiler alert, she loves it! How could she not, this pattern is the best! I am filled to the brim with gratitude to Heather who made this pattern, because honestly, it’s just the damn best. Heather is so nice to us, don’t you think? Of course, she has to be, she lives in Canada. Man, you could hate Canada if it wasn’t so nice!

BBBB 6But I wont hate Canada, because I’m too busy loving this suit!

The irony is, I honestly feel more covered up in this suit then I did in my last one, and this is a two piece! What a world.

Okay, I promise, no more summery stuff for a while. Let the fall festivity begin! Flannel ahead, I promise you.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, knit, Sewing, Travel

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?

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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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