Tag Archives: Sewaholic

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!


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….



Filed under Clothing, Sewaholic Patterns

The Practice Makes Perfect Dress

For some of us, it takes a long time to find the right person. But for some of us, we know right away. For some of us, we live in doubt for years, wondering if we will ever find anyone we can tolerate, let alone love. For some of us, we wonder if we can tolerate the person we love forever. Sometimes these states even exist simultaneously, which is bizarre and might make you feel like you are in some kind of odd house of mirrors where your ideas of reality distort from room to room.

I personally came to the state of existing with another person rather late, and then, you know, I married him. This is a rather precipitous turn of affairs by any standards, though of course one that makes me very happy.  It is impossible not to compare and contrast yourself against other couples, other ways of life, at least, within my own experience, however dangerous that is. Because the truth is, at least in my limited experience, that ever couple creates its own community, its own rules and ways of thinking and language between the two parties involved, and trying to gauge yourself next to someone else’s union is like trying to compare two different countries to decide which is better. Not that people don’t do that, too. And yet I have often looked at the people around me, especially my friends who have been in long-term relationships, and compared myself and my life and, later, my time with Mr. Struggle, to them, as unfair and fruitless as that is.

And the person who always prevented me from doing this, the person who reminded me how foolish and unproductive this is, is my friend Becca, who recently tied the knot herself. Becca and Derek have always taught me that love, just like life, takes practice, and time, and patience. But whether that practice has been for a few years or a few months, it doesn’t matter. It’s just important that you know that’s what it’s going to take. So, having been with her own partner for 12 years, she and Derek got engaged last fall, which was of course signficant because of what I wore. Just like everything else, these life events are wonderful showcases for my sartorial choices. I was so thrilled to celebrate their engagement, just as I was overjoyed to watch them get married, and of course, I had to bring my A game with my sewing decisions. But as it turns out, A game is a hard thing to bring to the party when you’re moving/getting married yourself/dealing with your own existence. Oy with this summer. Still, looking good is worth a few late nights hunched over the sewing machine, right? Right? So focus on the dress, not the under-eye circles, deal?

Here we go, the first of two dress posts created exclusively for Becca and Derek’s wedding! Sewing dresses to post on my blog. It’s the greatest wedding gift of all, right, guys?

PMP 1For the rehearsal dinner, I whipped together (literally, I finished this thing three hours before the dinner, Mr. Struggle thinks I’m insane. Way to get the memo late, dude) a Cambie dress, my second one in a row! This pattern is so great. I love the sleeves and the way they get inserted, though the one thing I would change for next time would be to place them a little bit towards the armscye, as they cut a little oddly right now and reveal that little bit of plumpness around the upper chest. The bane of existence.

I cut a 10 for the bodice and graded down to an 8 for the waist and skirt, as I did before. I love the fit, and I love the fill skirt, but I think I should probably try the other for the fall, I love the sleek slimmer option. It’s great for that office job that I….don’t have.

PMP 3Still, I adore this dress! It’s a bit wrinkled in these photos as I actually had my friend Jenny who came in for the wedding take them the day after the rehearsal dinner. The dinner itself was such a blast and so busy I didn’t have time to awkwardly stand around getting photos of myself taken, and then we ended up stuck in the rain waiting for a cab in Chelsea. Aka in hell. So there are some wrinkles. What can you do.

PMP 4You gotta just laugh it off an enjoy the time with your friends. Jenny and her husband Marty got married two years ago, and I dutifully made dresses for those events in Chicago, so it was lovely to be able to host them as we watched Becca get married, and have Jenny act as my fashion photographer for the day. She’s so good at it, don’t you think?

PMP 5Oh, yes, it has pockets. Obviously. The fabric is a Nani Iro double gauze which is to die for, and Mr. Struggle bought it for me at Purl Soho under my supervision because he is nice and knows how to make me happy with Japanese fabric. He’s a keeper.

PMP 6Nice, right? I see a stray thread, sigh. That’s what speed sewing gets you!

PMP 2And there it is. The first of two dresses for Becca and Derek’s beautiful and fantastic wedding. This one only had to stand up to a meal. The other one? Had dancing to do. More on that later!



Filed under Life, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing, Uncategorized

The I Must Confess Shirt

There are a lot of confessions to be had with this shirt.

First of all, I must say that given that my school was cancelled all week because of the hurricane and subsequent power outages and the shutdown of the subway, I’ve been going a bit crazy.

I am, by the way, extremely lucky and so grateful to have survived the hurricane with my power intact and my apartment and life untouched, and I’m so happy for that. And so I recognize that my problems are literally the pettiest ones possible in the face of this major event, I truly do, there are real things happening and if you want to donate your money or your time, please visit this website.

At any rate, while keeping in mind how privileged and lucky I am and was, I also went a little stir crazy hanging out in my apartment for a week. So one night, when I told myself I should start this project, I just straight up stitched it from start to finish, because sometimes it’s important to stay up until 2am sewing a shirt. It just is. I couldn’t tell you WHY in the cold light of day, but at 2am after some wine it just NEEDS. TO. BE. DONE.

So I made this:

I’m so ashamed, I can’t even look at the camera.

BUT, I really love this shirt. Really really really. It’s a sewaholic Renfrew (couldn’t you tell?), long-sleeved scoop-necked version. I still have yet to make a cowl-necked one….

The fabric is, sadly, some completely unnatural fiber I got at Paron Fabrics. I had bought a living social deal for the store over a year ago, and two days before it expired I thought, oh, better go! And I scored two yards of this amazing neon pink, and a bunch of another knit. And because I bought it so long ago, it’s almost like I didn’t spend any money at all, right? RIGHT?

So I have some of the pink left, so I might make a short-sleeved shirt, too. I love this shade of pink. It’s vaguely radioactive looking, but I love it! Oh, and I made those pants too.

Where on earth am I, is a question you might be asking yourself. Well, I’m in front of Manhattan Theatre Club, where my friend Victoria is acting in Enemy of the People, an Ibsen play, in which she is magnificent. Victoria, who is marvelous as a human as well, snapped these photos before her call for her Sunday show today. She’s a rockstar. Just see for yourself:

This is where she goes to work every day. Jealous? Yeah, you should be.

But I actually have another confession. And that is…I haven’t bought a piece of new ready-to-wear clothing (with the exception of underwear, two swimsuits and work-out pants) in just under a year. What? Yes. It’s a bit of a unoffical challenge I gave myself, sort of, can you do this? Well, it turns out, I could! I’ve bought a handful of second-hand things, most of which I re-fashioned, and the exceptions I listed above, but other than that I haven’t bought a new item in just under 12 months. Black Friday will be a year. And what makes me bring this up now? Well, actually, the back of this shirt:

See the seam down the back? That’s a change I made to be more efficient with the fabric, because it frees you from cutting both front and back on the fold. But also, the last piece of new ready-to-wear clothing I bought was a Gap knit top with a seam down the back, and I thought, I like that! So I have finally duplicated it, and you know what? I like this EVEN MORE.

That face does not adequately convey my joy. But this was in midtown Manhattan. I don’t honestly think anyone can be truly happy there.

So, yeah, that’s my big confession. And honestly, I haven’t missed buying new clothing at all. So I don’t know if I’m going to keep to this as strictly as I have this past year, but, honestly, most of me thinks I will. It really was not hard, which is an interesting revelation in and of itself. Making this bubblegum pink top, simple as it was, was so much more satisfying than just buying one from Forever 21 or Target. I’m sure I could have gotten something similar at a store. But I don’t really desire that, anymore. Curious.

What about you? And shocking confessions?




Filed under Challenge, Clothing, knit, Sewaholic Patterns

The Thank You Tasia Top

Sew Grateful week may be over, but my gratitude goes on and on! And today I would like to thank a wonderful and amazing Tasia, of Sewaholic, for the pattern that has taken the interwebs by storm and set my heart a flutter, and that would be the deceptively simple Renfrew Top.

Tasia is amazing, number 1. First of all, she’s Canadian, and I will pretty much do anything a Canadian tells me to do at any time. (Sidenote: Go watch Slings and Arrows right now, if you haven’t already. Don’t question me, just do it.) Tasia’s blog, Sewaholic is fantastic as all hell, filled with awesome tutorials and tips and tricks and truly excellent question posts that generate smart and helpful discussions.  And, most importantly, she bikes to work! I also do this, so I love her.

Additionally,  Tasia designs patterns especially for pear-shaped ladies. I am not, in fact, a pear shaped lady, rather I am an hour-glass shaped lady, but still, I appreciate her making a range of patterns for lovely pear-shaped ladies. I like knowing that it’s out there, you see. So anyway, I’ve always admired Tasia’s designs, but never actually made one myself, despite the plethora of amazing makes out there (google Pendrell Blouse if you need something to do for the next, say, ten hours, because that’s how many amazing iterations of it exist). However, Tasia recently released a pattern in knit, the Renfrew Top. And people, my heart, it nearly exploded.

As you may or may not know, I’ve recently jumped into the world of sewing with knits head first. Dixie DIY has been hugely grateful, as has Made By Rae, who recently did a week of interviews with champion knit sewers. As someone who doesn’t own a serger, and isn’t planning on buying one anytime soon, not for lack of interest but for lack of funds, I have been on the lookout for ways to make knit stuff that doesn’t look hopelessly home-ec. Enter Tasia with the Renfrew, as if on cue. And so I bought the pattern in pre-sale, got it almost instantaneously, and, armed with this striped knit from the Hoarder Stash, came out with this:

In other interesting news, my hair is really big.

And I love it. I LOVE IT. It looks like a real, honest to god shirt! That’s what Ginger’s boyfriend said, and he is very wise. It looks so professional! Right? RIGHT?

It’s the bands, people, the glorious glorious bands. There are fabric bands around the hems of the sleeves and bottom of the shirt, and they just make it look so good!

Look how happy the bands make me!

So happy. My enormous face is aglow with happiness.

Now, onto the construction. As I said, Tasia designs for Pears, and I’m not one of those. So I had to do some resizing. I traced the pattern in a size 10, and graded to a size 8 in the waist and a size 6 in the hips, essentially ruining all Tasia’s hard work in scaling for pear-shapes. Sorry, Tasia! I kept a 10 in the shoulders and sleeves, which, in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have done, because the sleeves are a bit too long. Oh, well!

And this is the face I make when my sleeves are too long.

Nevertheless, I am quite pleased with this top. It came together in a ridiculously easy fashion, taking up maybe 4 hours of my life, all together.

I like the length of the body of the shirt a lot, it’s perfect for me. And I cannot wait to make more of these. I sewed up View A, but there are two other options, a short-sleeved v-neck, and a 3/4 length-sleeved cowl neck, which, if you mix and match, makes a total of 9 combinations, as Tasia reminds us on the envelope. Challenge? Accepted.

And the back, if you are interested.

I know it’s more typical to see horizontal stripes then vertical ones, but I swear, they are death to women with anything going on in the chest region. So I went vertical, because I think they look awesome. But I threw in the horizontal ones on the bands A. for variety and B. so I didn’t have to worry about matching! Two birds, one stone.

I didn’t mean to do this, but the neckline came out all white, even thought it was cut from the same cloth. Oh, well, it actually looks rather nice, I think:

You can just see the zig-zag used to keep the collar in place. Luckily, I don’t mind that kind of thing. In fact, I kind of like it.

A final photo of happy, stripy, me. And it should be noted that not only am I wearing Tasia’s pattern, BUT the cowl I’m wearing in this photo is one I made after I saw her version and was inspired! It’s the honey cowl, and after I selflessly made one for my friend Becca to help her through the cold Chicago winter, I made one for myself! A girl can only be so selfless….

So thank you, Tasia, for all that you do.


Filed under Clothing, Sewaholic Patterns, Sewing

Captain’s Log 4/20/11 and GIVEAWAY WINNER!

First of all, congratulations to my very first giveaway winner, Alice! A helpful internet program randomized the results, and her number came up! So thank you so much everyone for entering and I will be hosting another one soon, I promise. Alice, I’ve already emailed you, but please let me know how I can send you your new package of goodies! I had, mistakenly assumed that it would actually be nice by this point but it’s cold and rainy here and I want to cry. Oh, well, have this charming series of magnolia, cherry and pear blossom photos for your escapist viewing pleasure:

Nice, right? But it’s all a lie. The silly trees bloom in response to changes in light, not changed in temperature. Silly trees…well, a girl can dream. And compulsively check weather.com.

Now, onto more sewing productivity project! Here is a helpful if totally obvious tip that I can now offer after an evening spent hand sewing and then cursing. When you plan a project, BUY ALL THE STUFF YOU WILL NEED AT ONCE. Or, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU START. Because otherwise you will be ALMOST done your project, say, Simplicity 6723 and then realize that you need a zipper before you can go further. So you will go to, say, the adorable if expensive Spool and buy yourself an invisible zipper and hand sew it on because you don’t have a zipper foot only to have the damn thing break because Coats’ invisible zippers are literally the worst things in the world. And no, it wasn’t expensive and yes you can get another zipper but what you really want is that TWO HOURS OF YOUR LIFE BACK. And, also, what the hell with the vilification of zippers? I like zippers. I don’t need them to be invisible, I like seeing them, why must we relegate the poor zipper to invisibility? Why can’t we all acknowledge that we need zippers and garments don’t just magically fasten on their own and stop demanding invisible zippers? They always break! And they are fussy! And expensive! And I hate them! Argh!

Of course, someday I will get a machine with a zipper foot and probably jump on the invisible zipper bandwagon, but until then it’s all just hateration.

And so, confronted with such pain and anguish, I turned to other projects. And that’s another productivity tip, keep small easy to finish projects around for when you hit a road block (or zipper) with a bigger project and just need something quick and satisfying that you can finish in one sitting and restore your faith in sewing/humanity/life. Lately I’ve been making little birds for the Nichole Canuso Dance Company Benefit (you should come!) and when those are done I’m going to do some embroidery for it as well. I use a pattern by Michael Fulkerson available for FREE on the Spool blog and it’s a great way to get rid of scraps of fabric. See?

Sewaholic did a post on scraps that was very interesting and if you read the comments people gave all kinds of great ideas about how to use scraps. You can check it out over here. I like to make the birds, because they are fun and easy and remind me of all my past projects. I think covering buttons would also be fun, but I’d need a kit. Oh, well, one more thing to add to the list.

So that’s my sewing advice for the week. Buy everything at once, and make sure you have fun small back ups so you can feel accomplished rather then frustrated. So don’t feel like this:

When you could be like this:

And for the love of God, explain to me the appeal of invisible zippers. Anyone? Bueller?


Filed under Giveaway, Sewing