Tag Archives: silk

The Indian Ink Tunic

Guys, I am so sorry to have dropped off the face of the earth for what I realize is a month and a half. Holy. Graduate. School. Struggle. And now it’s DONE! I am done! I had a reading of my thesis, a new play, I turned in my last paper, I evaluated my last professor, I angered my last security guard, I’m done. Finito. Fin. Termino. Caput. Capiche? Of course, I’m hugely sad and anxious about the future, graduate school has been a dream in terms of writing and creating and taking a vacation from adulthood for two years, but every vacation’s gotta end sometime, right? So I must move on, kicking and screaming. And well dressed! Because I finally have time to sew again!

Part of my lack of personal clothing productivity has been due to my job at the costume shop, which kicked into high gear about a month ago with the frenzied creation of seven metric tons of 1920’s style underwear. The show we just costumed is set in the vaudeville of the 1920’s among the flamboyant theatrical elite desperately clinging to their youth and past fame in the face of decadence and aging. So, a lot of glitter and a lot of paint and a lot of trim and a lot of pathetic need. And a chorus of dancing girls in peach silk and hours and hours of stitching. We wore our fingers to the bone for that thing, I swear, who knew that such small pieces of clothing could require so very much work!? But it happened, it’s over, we threw a babyshower for my boss complete with hand-sewn gifts:

II3.jpg II2.jpg II1.jpgPatterns for the dresses are here and the quilt here.

So it’s all good! Life, she goes on. And I finally had some time to sew for me! Bahahahahahah! Yes, yes, I may be unemployed with a master’s degree in dramatic writing which has as many solid job/life prospects as the incoming tide, but dammit, at least I can make stuff. Right? RIGHT?

II6.jpg

The fabric is from India, hence the title, and what’s-his-face got it for me this past winter. It’s a lovely silk with a gorgeous print, and it was great to sew with, very easy to use. A little slippery when being cut, but otherwise just fine. I used my favorite by virtue of being my only tunic pattern, Butterick 5548, which I’ve made twice before.II4.jpgThis time I didn’t include the side slits, but the fit is loose enough that it’s still super comfortable without them. I also stitched the facing to the wrong side instead of the right side, as the pattern dictates. I don’t know, I just like it a bit better. I made the sleeves three-quarter length, and added an inch to each side seam around the bust to do a cheater’s full-bust-adjustment. Because I’m sneaky like that.

II9.jpgI laugh and laugh at my own devious sewing nature! I love the neckline of this tunic, it’s the best. And the print, I have to say, does work with this ever-so-Eastern style.

II8.jpgThe first version I made of this fit tightly across the back so this is nice that it’s roomier with the extra inches. Ah my giant shoulders, the things you do!

II5.jpgYeah, it’s a cute one. Simple, easy, fast, though I did do french seams which took longer, but seriously, this is a quick make. But I love the style and I think it suits the fabric, and I’m sure I will make more of these. After all, I have all this time now. Which is a little scary but also it makes me feel like this:

II7.jpgOf course, I could jump higher if someone wanted to give me a JOB….

More posts soon, I promise! I have lots of clothing and lots of photos and lots to write about!

 

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Clothing

The Dream Big Top

You know when you dream and dream about something and then the reality actually happens and you are like, hmmmmmmm, this is less exciting than the dream, I wish this hadn’t become a reality so I could dream again? As a die-hard planner, I recognize that this is the business I’ve chosen, and this is its major consequence. I think about sewing a lot before I actually do it, and I imagine how the garment is going to look like and feel, and I get so excited about it, and sometimes, less and less as time goes by and my skills improve, but sometimes, the reality takes a backseat to the fantasy.

See, this is why they say with online dating you should meet the person in real life as soon as possible, because otherwise you end up building up the person into this thing they can never possibly be through a series of texts and messages and confabulated fantasies that include fondue and the same taste in music and ultimate frisbee and computer manuals and leather, or whatever you’re into. For the record, I’m pretty much only interested in someone who is also interested in fondue. All the rest of that isn’t in my wheelhouse. Well, music, I guess, whatever, but the fondue is important. The point is you can build up a whole castle in the sand and forget that sand is a terrible building material. It’s structurally unsound and it gets everywhere. Come on.

So I suppose my sewing sometimes can be a bit like OKCupid. I put a lot of pressure on the fantasy of the potential clothing I could create. So I’ve been dreaming for a long time about a red silk blouse, and recently I made one. My feelings on the fantasy? Are insanely positive. My feelings on the reality? Are mixed.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

TKK 3It’s not bad, really, it’s just not quite what I’d been hoping and wishing for. If wishes were horses…

I think that the fit is a little off, which is bizarre to me, as I’ve made this blouse twice and haven’t changed sizes at all! And yet somehow the yoke is a little off here and it pulls in sort of an odd way. I don’t know how to describe it, really, so take a look:
TRR 1Oy, blurry. More horrible indoor photos, sorry guys, but my awesome roommate Jordan shot them, thanks, Jordan! But you can see some pulling right above the bustline, right? Weird.

TRR 5Here, this shot of it outside the skirt shows it well. It’s fine if I just keep my arms perfectly still and don’t move, which has zero percent chance of ever happening. Sigh. I don’t know what happened! I love the color, the material is silk and a dream to wear (and not too much of a nightmare to sew with, which is really all you can hope for), but there is this odd pulling!

I think that what might have happened is that I cut the armholes a bit wider this time, because the armscye has pinched in the past, and somehow that meant that this happened. Or maybe not? It’s kind of a mystery, honestly.

TRR 4

See, my arms are more down in the close up so it’s not so bad. God, I love that color! The fabric, which I got over the summer at Paron Fabrics on sale! has a really nice subtle luster. I don’t know that any of these photos captured that but you will just have to trust me, like you trust that OKCupid date not to lure you to a dark alley and murder you and make a tent of your skin.

TRR 6

A little side view for you here. I also made this skirt, it’s this one, I have now made 4 versions of it and more to come. If it ain’t broke…The fabric has a really nice drape, the hand is just lovely, so it sort of slips out of the waistband but I don’t hate it because it still glides over the body well. Like that one OKCupid date you let take you home and then you get up in the middle of the night and realize he shares a studio with two other people like some kind of commune and you just get out of there claiming you have a thing and never return any of his texts.

TRR 7Meh. I don’t know. I had such dreams, such big dreams, and yet the reality has sort of underwhelmed me what with this sudden and new fit issue. It’s one of those things that I know for a fact most people would never notice but I notice it and I can’t stop seeing it like when you suddenly realize that your OKCupid date’s eyes are too close together and that’s all you can look at for the rest of the evening and they go in for a kiss and it’s like a gerbil is making out with you.

OKCupid didn’t go great for me, guys.

How about you, are you an anticipatory sewing, or do you just cut and go? Do you find you are more surprised or disappointed by the stuff you over plan? And how is OKCupid going for YOU? Inquiring me wants to know!

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Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Uncategorized, Vintage

The “April Is The Cruelest Month” Top

I don’t want to sound like a low rent comic, here, but what is the deal with this spring weather? After a cold winter we here in Brooklyn we have been enjoying a cold and chilly Spring. Ah, well, it is what it is, and after all:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Thanks, T.S. Elliot, you’re the best. The rest of the poem can be found here. Also, side note, for someone who is, in life, not that into poetry, I sure as hell am throwing a lot of it down on this blog, now, aren’t I? Bizarre. I’ll have to talk to some booze about that.
Still, I don’t mind it all that much, except that I happen to believe I look a whole hell of a lot cuter when the weather is warmer, sigh. But on the other hand, I did get to make a lot of cold-weather things this past winter, and now I’m trying out transitional things for this temperamental season we call “spring in the mid-atlantic”. Not quite New England, not the South, but somewhere stuck between the Mason-Dixon line and the Cape, we few, we happy few, we band of mercurial-Spring havers.
So I’ve been trying to make things that look cute, remind me of Spring, and are warm enough to survive my commute and daily needs. It’s been a challenge, but what are you going to do? If you are me, you are going to buckle down, you are going to suck it up, and you are going to make a silk dupioni blouse!
AITCM 1Recognize the pattern? It’s the blouse from Simplicity 3688, that lovely 40’s reproduction business I’ve made once before.  I have altered it EVEN MORE! Bahahahaha. I omitted the waste tucks, lengthened it by four inches, added two darts  to the existing three on each sleeve cap, and lowered the neckline. Oh, and I did french seams throughout. For next time, and oh yes, there WILL be a next time, for such a simple blouse it really works for me and I always get compliments when I wear it, I plan to lower the neckline just a smidge more, but keep the rest as it is, this length is perfect for me!
AITCM 4See? See how happy I am with the length?
AITCM 3Oh, and I cut the back on the selvage and seamed it together. I do that so often now I kind of forget it’s an alteration!
AITCM 6I love my expression here, like, oh, really, a photo? I couldn’t possibly, despite having set up the tripod and the timer and jumped into place for this photo. It’s all so unexpected!
AITCM 5I love the yoke, I really do, I don’t know why it’s so flattering but somehow it is.
AITCM 2That expression says, I am, indeed, feeling like a pimp, and I shall, in due time, be brushing my shoulders off, if I didn’t have such qualms about ending a sentence with a preposition.
The fabric is, as I said, a silk dupioni, one I bought at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet a year and a half ago for, get this, 1.98 a yard. WHAT THE WHAT? It was a steal. I got a bunch, and I still have some…what to do, what to do. It has a lovely texture that you can see in this closeup:
AITCM 8The leaves sort of shimmer a bit in the light.
Fun fact about this photo, I wanted to get a close up and I was alone at home so I just took off my shirt and took the photo. I can do that because I also make these CURTAINS!
AITCM 7I made them for most rooms of our apartment. It’s been a recent sort of boring but totally important and useful project. I also made the futon cover which you can sort of see, it’s the red sofa on the right. Anyway, home decor, it’s a bitch, but when I do it’s just so satisfying!
In other news, can it get a little warmer soon? I think I’m making the best of it but seriously. SERIOUSLY. Ah, well. Elliot and I will just have to live.
PS: I promise I did make a Mad Men inspired dress, though I’m past the deadline, but I will be posting it soon just for your viewing pleasure, I swear! Stay tuned!

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Filed under Simplicity Patterns, Uncategorized, Vintage

The Call It Compulsion Top

I could also call this the “better than before but still a struggle” top. Or the “why do you torture yourself” top. Or the “shapeless but useful” top. There are a lot of ways I could have gone with this one.

I don’t know what the hell my problem is but every once in a while when I come across a pattern which doesn’t work for me I feel compelled to MAKE. IT. WORK. It will not defeat me. I’m a human, it’s a small pile of paper. I will fight. I will strive. I’m going to make this style/shape/combo work or DIE. TRYING. And so I get all worked up and slave over something and then finally have to admit that A. it’s not great and B. I don’t have to look great in every pattern, it’s okay, life, somehow, goes on…

But despite these useful lessons of the past, I made this top. And I was, initially, really excited about this top! The pattern is actually Colette Patterns’ Taffy Blouse, which I didn’t adore in practice, but I loved the way the bias cut hung over my body, so smooth and comfortable! So I thought, okay, why not try it sleeveless, as the sleeves were my major sticking point in the past. And I had a bit of fabric left over from that luscious if more-shiny-then-I-typically-go-for charmuse from my Something Blue dress, so I thought, okay, let’s do this thing!

So I cut it out, piecing the back together, and I french seamed and bias tape made and generally did it all by the book (literally).

And, you know, when I first tried it on I loved it. But looking at these photos I have come to the charming realization that this thing is rather shapeless. Like, not flattering. At all.

The look on my face says it all. Meh. Just meh. Mehville, population me.

I shouldn’t say that, though, really. I mean, I think this is actually going to be a rather useful piece of clothing, as a very comfortable silk (silk!) shell. But on it’s on? Well, I don’t think it does much for me.

In other news, these are the first blog photos I have taken with my new tripod! WHAT? Yes! I got it for my birthday, thanks, Mamala! No more torturing other people, no more angry photo sessions, just me, my tripod and some limber running into place. I can do that, right?

I’m still working out how to use it well, but this photo shoot was FUN! I’m a bit off-center in most of these, but hey, I will figure it out. Thanks for suggesting this, commentors (specifically Lauren), I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!

But one mustn’t be all negative to this poor blouse. I tucked it in, and prefered the results infinitely:

See, that’s better, right?

See, that highlights my waist, instead of making me look, well, wide. And one does so prefer to look slim, now, doesn’t one?

The shorts, by the way, are Simplicity 7866, and you can win that pattern in this giveaway! Now, is that service or is that service.

Of course, being who I am, I couldn’t help but play with the tripod and the timer setting a bit. Want to see?

Yeah. Do you ever do this? Not play with your tripod, I mean, do you see a pattern as a nemesis who must be defeated, rather then what it REALLY IS, a style of clothing that may or may not suit you? I know empirically that not every style is my style and yet sometimes when it comes down too it I get oddly stubborn about patterns. I don’t regret making this blouse, really, I think it will be very useful and it’s lovely to wear, that silk, it’s expensive for a reason, I suppose, but I wouldn’t say it’s the most flattering thing I’ve even sewn. I think I’m throwing in the towel, Taffy, I really did try. I gave you my all. But you give love a bad name…

Yeah. Still sorting out the tripod. I’ll get there. I promose.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Something Blue Dress

Another dress, you say? Good lord, Leah, can’t you make anything else? Well I can, of course, but sometimes I CHOOSE not to. And for a wedding, when the attire is formal/cocktail attire, well, a pant-suit just isn’t going to cut it (unless you are Hilary Clinton. Then you can do whatever you want.)

Real Talk: What is WITH people making up their own degrees of dress? Sport Causal Basic. Business formal fun. Black-Tie Interpretive. COME on. I discussed this with my friend Becca’s boyfriend, Derek (hi, Derek!) and we agreed you can’t just MAKE stuff up, it’s confusing and upsetting, especially if you are coming in from out-of-town and don’t have unlimited wardrobe options because you have a suitcase not Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Luckily, Jenny did not do such a thing with her wedding because A. She’s a champion and B. she was PROPERLY raised. I went to a “black-tie-modest” wedding last year. Granted, it was an orthodox Jewish wedding, but STILL. That’s not a THING.

At any rate, this is the dress I made for Jenny’s amazing wonderful spectacular moving and gorgeous wedding. Of course, what I made is rather inconsequential because the bride was the focus of the day, as well she should have been, walking around all beautiful and stunning and glowy, but I thought you might like to see what I sewed up anyway, so here it is:

The pattern is a Burda Style, V-neck cocktail dress with starbust (PS: Burda Style, could you please put any effort at ALL into your pattern names? It’s embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as your instructions! ZING.). I made a muslin and liked the shape, but found the neckline extremely low, so I raised it a full 3.5 inches, because it was a day wedding in Highland Park, IL,  not a night wedding in Vegas.

I forced my friend Lisa at gunpoint (i.e. I asked her nicely) to shoot some photos before the ceremony started, and she graciously agreed. With all her pageant training (true story) she was the best photo-director I’ve ever had! Thank you, Lisa. This is my angry model face.

The material is a silk charmuse from Mood in New York. Love the color. I learned a lot making this dress, and looking at the final product I do like it, but I think I should have underlined it with silk organza to stiffen the slippery charmuse and give it a bit more structure. Still, it’s not too shabby, don’t you think?

I lined the bodice but didn’t line the skirt, and I switched the invisible side zipper for a visible one, (hand-picked, of course) but otherwise made no changes. I straight up ignored the instructions, as they are worthless.

A little over the shoulder action for you. Hello, sailor….

Funny story, Becca and Derek, who housed Lisa and I for the weekend (Thank you thank you thank you!) live in Chicago proper, in a lovely area that just so happened to be in the heart of this weekend’s Gay Pride Parade. The parade looked like an awesome event, but it seriously interfered with our “getting to the Suburbs for the wedding on Sunday morning” plans.  So we ended up getting up early, taking a cab to a train stop and taking that train to a suburb and finding a Starbucks to hang about in until we got caffeinated and called ANOTHER cab to take us to the country club for the wedding. All of this, of course, we did in our wedding finery, which for Derek just meant a suit, but Lisa and I wandered around in heels and fancy dresses like crazy people. Becca, being a bridesmaid, didn’t have to deal with any of this crap. Still, it was an adventure! Not a day goes by I don’t wish I was walking around an empty strip mall parking lot dressed for a wedding….

That’s the face I wear when I think about wandering around strip-mall parking lots. It also shows you the starburst which, try as I might, didn’t iron quite right. Sigh. You can’t have everything. ]

Still, not bad from the back, eh? Oh, that’s right, I also added a slit to make entering the garment a bit more, shall we say, user friendly?

Of course, I simply must feature a photo with my lovely photographer:

Isn’t she just to die for?

I totally failed at asking Jenny what her four things were, like, something old, something new, blah blah blah. I’m sure she had four amazing things (including her AMAZING dress), but just in case she didn’t, she had the something old (her friends) and something blue (Lisa and I) completely covered:

Are those not some of the most attractive people you’ve seen today?

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Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Sewing, Travel