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! So 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…. The 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! A little side view for you. Enjoy. That’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. Oh, I was out of matching zippers so I had to use a maroon one which you can JUST see in this photo. Enjoy that. A 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! Ah, the view from our roof. See why I love it here? Yes 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? The “green” aspect of the green roof, complete with my father’s many solar lights. So 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.
Tag Archives: Simplicity 4529
Call me crazy, but I love Russia. I love it. It’s a weird place and it’s super strange and scarred and currently a human rights disaster, and I’m not a political fan, but culturally, I just love it. This is not, I understand, something many other people feel. After all, Russia has a reputation for being a cold and bitter place filled with pain and sorrow. But that’s what makes it so much fun! It’s dramatic! It feels things deeply! It lives on vodka and emotions! What’s not to love?
Real talk, I’m predisposed to love Russia, honestly. My mother’s family is Russian, I grew up hearing Russian (though I can say maybe four things myself), eating Russian food, reading Pushkin fairy tales and thinking about how I could get a duel going. When I was in college I studied abroad in Moscow. I want to work in theater, for goodness sakes, and after Greece and England Russia really has the market on that one cornered. (Don’t talk to me about France, okay? Just don’t. Bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys who don’t use half of the letters they could be pronouncing because, what, that’s too much effort? Writing plays about Greek myths and corrupt clergymen and defecating kings? Whatever. Call me when Godot comes. Jeez.) And after my time living in Russia, well, there was no going back. I was a whole-hearted convert, a lover of the Russian doucha (that’s soul, come on, be cool) and bitter sad grimness on each crumbled little Slavic face. It’s adorable!
But I no longer have family in Russia, and plane tickets don’t come cheap to the land of eternal winter (See, Game of Thrones should shoot the North of the Wall stuff THERE), so the next best thing for this current New Yorker is Brighton Beach. Oh, Brighton Beach, my love, my life, my youth, my orchard!
Ahem. Just a casual Cherry Orchard reference. Like you do. For those who do not know, Brighton Beach is a Russian neighborhood in Brooklyn, right near Coney Island. For just under a century it’s been an enclave of Russian life in New York. In the 1860’s the area was developed as a resort town with its own racetrack. The area wasn’t technically a part of Brooklyn until 1894, after which it became a residential area with its own amusement park. With the Depression and the Second World War, floods of Jewish immigrants, primarily from Odessa, but also from other Eastern European nations, poured into the area, making it a Russian neighborhood.
In the last few decades, increased immigration from former Soviet states, including those with stronger Asian influences, have added more kinds of food and more accents of Russian to the area. Getting out of the train you might not hear a word of English spoken in any direction for blocks and blocks.
Bright plentiful produce spills out from every store, women in heels and sparkles chatter and bicker, every sign points the way to Russian pastries, watches, oil, pelmeni and perfume.
Headscarves mix with peroxided blonde locks, and everyone finds themselves scattered over the boardwalk, especially in the summer.
I love going there, and I don’t go nearly enough. In fact, I hadn’t been once since I moved to New York almost two years ago. Given that I live in Southern Brooklyn, this is a crime I plan to rectify with frequent trips in the future. For for now, I went with what’s-his-face this past Sunday and could hardly contain my excitement.
We had read about this place last summer and always wanted to go there for lunch, so we finally did it. Totally worth the trip, even if I wasn’t wild about Brighton Beach. I heartily recommend it to anyone.
And obviously I had to wear something new. I mean, what am I, a savage? Luckily in my post-graduate school free time between working and my frequent existential crises, I’ve made a lot of new things. Some of them were for my roommate Emily’s trip, which she leaves on today for a month. Photos for those will be delayed for obvious reasons, but hopefully feature exotic locals! And some things are for my own trip with my parents to San Juan which I am taking tomorrow. Again, stay tuned. But this seemed like a good occasion to bust out something special, and so I present to you my Brighton Beach Bunny Skirt!
The pattern ought to be a familiar one to anyone who reads this, because it’s Simplicity 4529 and I’ve made it so many times and I have no plans to stop any time soon. Look, I’m all for making new patterns and trying new things. But honestly, I’ve been sewing long enough at this point, and also DRESSING myself long enough, to know is something is just not going to work for me, and to appreciate the things that really make me look and feel good. It’s a grown-up uniform, sure, but what’s wrong with that? I’ve said it before and I will say it again, if it ain’t broke…
Actually, this is pretty funny, I was worried that it WAS broke, I had this strange anxiety that this time it wouldn’t fit. I was so worried and convinced that somehow my Puerto Rican caboose wouldn’t be able to squeeze into this that I added fabric in the back, two strips adding up to about 3 inches.
Real talk? This totally would have fit. It’s my loosest make of this skirt to date. But it’s also supremely comfortable and I don’t mind at all. So either I miscalculated or my tush got smaller over night. Could it be the second one, please?
This skirt is unbearably simple for me at this point. I made so many over the winter and one last summer, I’ve got this. But I love how it looks, and this fabric was just too perfect. I love it, I can’t deal with how much I love it. I kept pointing out images to what’s-his-face.
I can hardly decide which is my favorite. The Elephant reading the newspaper? The monkeys in the band? The juggling guy? The frogs? It’s a party! Just the sort of thing to wear in Brighton Beach. This way I’m something to look at, too!
Of course, if you are in Brighton Beach already, you might as well stop by Coney Island.
Though I can’t decide which is more thrilling, amusement park rides or sullen Russians who continuously reference the Gulags? I’m just kidding. It’s obviously the Russians. Sorry, Coney! Better luck next time.
As I write this I’m sitting in an impossibly fancy cocktail lounge in an impossibly beautifully and grand castle that has been converted into a hotel in Western Ireland. I have no idea what I’m doing here, and I really hope no one kicks me out. This place is stunning and elegant and I keep swirling my cognac like I know what I’m doing and hoping no one notices that my shoes are from H and M. Suffice to say, 2014 is going wonderfully for me so far, how is everyone else doing?
I didn’t do a year-in-review post this year, partially because I was traveling, and partially because I couldn’t really stomach the idea of summing up my year of sewing/life (in that order) in just one post. I have learned so much over the past year, from my continuing work at the Costume Shop, to sewing for other people with its challenges and delights, to trying new projects for myself, I can hardly contain it all. I made a coat! I made yoga pants! I made three swimsuits! (One was for my mom so you didn’t get to see that, she isn’t as brazen as I am, though she looks really good in a swimsuit, never fear.) I traveling a lot of places! I forced so many good friends to take photos of me and, and this part is important, they still say they like me! So I feel happy about what I did, sad for the failures, but I can honestly say that anything that didn’t work on my I either gave away to the Salvation Army or to the Textile Recycling in my neighborhood. I also made the shift to recycling all my fabric scraps, large and small, at the Textile Recycling as well, which makes me feel amazing. So big days.
But I will say, I did not keep my sewing resolutions all that well, or at least one of them. I had vowed last year not to make the same pattern over and over again and yet I think I have done that more this year then ever before. I guess I sort of unintentionally reverse-pyschologied myself. So, well done, self, but also, you are silly. Honestly, maybe this is just a part of growing up, that you realize there are certain things you reach for over and over so you had better make yourself a bunch of those because that’s the best thing for your wardrobe and your getting-dressed-sanity. Is this boring? Maybe. Is it practical? Certainly. Don’t get me wrong, I also tried and will keep trying new patterns, but I think I will also stop beating myself up when I make another of something I love. I might not always document it, but I plan to keep making certain things again and again for the simple reason that I love them, they look good on me, and if it ain’t broke…
So without further ado, I present to you my new Old Hat Outfit, worn on a visit to Kilmainham Gaol, in Dublin:
Do I even have to say this at this point? The skirt is obviously Simplicity 4529. I really need to make another skirt pattern. OR DO I? I don’t know. I love this thing. Ten darts. Curves for days. Kick pleat. Less than a yard of fabric. I may never stop making this. NEVER.
I only dislike how shirts create a roll underneath pencil skirts. How do I avoid this? Any ideas? The shirt is a Hemlock from Grainline Patterns. I’ve made, like, five of these. It’s a great pattern. I slim them all down and get them out of about a yard of knit fabric. Ha, two yards, one outfit! Style for yards! Don’t groan, that was brilliant. Can’t stop, wont stop.
I was a little worried about the stripes of this fabric, a Costume Shop freebie, by the by, with all the many darts happening here, but somehow it worked pretty well! You can see the darts, of course, but I don’t really mind that. I mind more the small dish soap smudge there, but what can you do? At the side, in an earlier photo, you can see that the large hip dart kind of makes a chevron thing happen, which I personally support.
As you can see, I put in a red zipper. Which is showing, quite a bit. I hand-picked it, and it really doesn’t usually show this much, or at all, I promise. Maybe it’s all the hip sass happening here? Could be, could be.
The button is a vintage button.
This skirt is so warm and cozy, I can’t even describe it. No lining, just soft wool.
The fabric from the shirt is from GirlCharlee.com. Obviously. That’s kind of a give-in with my knits at this point, honestly.
I forced my mother to take these photos (I tell you, that woman is a Jewish Saint, I swear, the princess moments about photos that she puts up with from me. With anyone else I’m like, it’s great, so great, thank you so much, and with my mom I’m like, DO THIS BETTER, GOD, haven’t you ever used a CAMERA before? This woman gave birth to me. What is my deal?) in the courtyard of the former Royal Hospital, which is now the Irish Museum of Modern Art. We didn’t actually go inside this museum because homie don’t play that with contemporary art (but you get me near some 17th century something something and baby, we got a stew going!) but it’s right across from Kilmainham Gaol, a large prison which has housed some of Ireland’s most important political prisoners and rebellious heroes. It’s an amazing place, and if you ever come here I can’t recommend it enough. Check it out:
Okay, enough sadness. here is a cat photo from a nice Irish cat we met:
Some things just go well together, like steak and fries, or Barbie and Ken, or wine and I, or bacon and …everything (shush, I know I’m Jewish, you let me worry about that, I had a nice long chat with Elohim and he was like, Yaweh or NOway, and I was like, yes, but try this, and he was like, this is amazing, what was I THINKING when I made this trafe? And I was like, we all have our off days. And then we ate ALL the bacon and laughed and laughed and laughed and talked about how everyone in the Torah was in bed. Spoiler alert, Issac was pretty kinky. Sigh. How I wish this was true…. maybe I will write this, a la Salman Rushdie, and have a fatwah put out on me. That’s how you know you’ve really made it, when large groups of people are calling for your head. Joan of Arc was, like, so famous.) Combinations are important, I believe. As a child I always loved this plastic plate my mother got for us that had little compartments for different parts of the meal. I still love this, to be fair, show me a bento box and I will love you forever, this is a fact. I know it’s all the same to my stomach but I am a segregationist when it comes to food. But when it comes to making things, that’s another story.
So, a few years ago now, my, how time does fly, I saw this outfit on Mad Men:
I love this, and not just because of Christana Hendrick’s super sassy expression, but because it’s such a lovely outfit, and in a lot of ways is super modern, couldn’t you just see this in a modern office? I loved this image and I filed it away as inspiration to some something similar. And then I….didn’t.
The thing is, some outfits inspire you not just because of the individual pieces, but because of the combination of factors. Why must all things be a choice? Why are we suffering under this oppressive yoke of election? Can’t I have everything at once? Can I have bacon AND Judaism? Why do I have to limit myself to one piece of inspiration or the other? Can’t I copy an entire outfit without feeling like a loser? Well, regardless of how I felt, I still made an imitation outfit. So step right up and judge me, internets, I don’t even care, because I love this very much:
Obviously it’s not quite as Joan as Joan can be. First of all it’s a faux-wrap top, which I made from the Hope Dress Pattern, a free Burda Style download (FREE PATTERN!), and Girl Charlee fabric and it’s lower cut than Miss. Holloway’s top, which is funny, I don’t think I’ve ever been LESS modest then Joan before… Not that I’m casting aspersions on her honor, here, I love Joan, I respect her, I’m not a Jaguar executive (ooooh, it’s still too soon to joke, isn’t it? The Other Woman is one of the best single stand alone episodes to television ever. Fact.) Second of all, it’s a sort of dark teal peacock color (not as it looks in the photos) not red. But that being said, I think the tweed pencil skirt/wrap top thing works pretty well! I’m thrilled with it, anyway.
See my odd grimace? Nothing says happiness like grinding your teeth together so hard you start to feel powder between them!
There is sort of a drop-shoulder thing going on with this pattern which is fine, but I don’t know that I would include it next time I make this. I’m thinking about doing a slim-fitting faux-wrap dress in red. Thoughts? Seriously, if you haven’t tried the Hope Pattern, do it, it’s free, it’s one size but easy to size up or down with a knit, and I actually really love the neckline, it’s a nice shape and quite flattering.
To the skirt!
Oy, that invisible zipper is a little visible. OH well. Whatever. Why did I use an invisible zipper? Because that’s what I had. Factual. The pattern is my beloved pencil skirt, Simplicity 4529, a godsend, a dream, a wonder, the one of 10 darts and one seam and all my devotion. I used a yard of grey tweed wool from the Ebay, and a china silk lining from Mood, so that’s 20 darts in total. 20. Darts. Holy hell, this thing is a dart monster. Worth it! Look at that fit! Love it. I know I’m asking the internets to enjoy the view of my posterior and I don’t even care, such is the majesty of this skirt pattern. Back vent! I think Joan would approve.
The waistband button looks like something off a Sailor’s Peacoat, no?
As you can probably tell, these photos were taken at work by my lovely co-worker, Christopher, who is an amazing sewer and costume design student. And a peach. He put up with all of my demands, like, okay, more, but make me look better, would you?
As a parting gift, enjoy this photo of Cadfael, who is the best part of any combination:
I’m happy to have made a skirt that finally matches him. At least all the cat hair will just blend in this way! Ha, unintentional genius moment, well done, self! And yet, somehow I know he will find a way to assert himself, he always does….
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?
It’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:
Oy, 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.
Here, 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.
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.
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.
Meh. 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!
I have to say, I’m a really lucky person when in comes to living with people. A year ago seriously landed on this amazing apartment with one of my really good friends and lo and behold, we actually can live together comfortably, which is a real miracle, honestly. The people you love may not always be the people you can live with but I am so lucky in that I live with my friend Emily, who is the best possible roommate and also a person I love and, and this is REALLY important, never want to slaughter her in her sleep. It’s interesting how big a deal that is….
Our other roommates, Jenny, who has just moved out, and Jordan, who has just moved in, are also amazing and wonderous, but they didn’t buy me the fabric I used to make this skirt, so I’m not going to gush as much for them, although I COULD….
So, Emily, because of her high level of awesomeness, bought me a yard of Liberty of London tana lawn for Hanukkah. She is amazing and bought me a fabric that I love so hard and would literally never buy, because it’s just so the opposite of inexpensive. Thank goodness she liked the cowl I knitted her in return, because honestly, the second I looked at her gift to me I wanted to run out and buy the contents of a wine store for her. Luckily I’ve had the chance to make her a bunch of things since I started living with her, so I feel like I’m chipping away at this debt, but this is a Rumpelstiltskin level owing here, so I think it’s going to take a while…I’m up for that.
So what did I do with this treasure? I made a skirt!
A pencil skirt, to be precise, my favorite of all time, Simplicity 4529, which I’ve made twice now. I love this pattern, and all it’s many many (10!) darts), which do nice things for my whole curvy self. And I wasn’t going to mess around with this fabric and try something new and crazy, I wanted to make damn sure I treated this luscious lawn with the respect it deserves.
Lawn is a fluttery thing, so I underlined this skirt with a white cotton/polyester blend fabric which is actually sheet material I had bought to make Emily curtains! Ha, it’s all thanks to Emily, this skirt.
Please excuse the wrinkles. I wore this on the Bolt Bus going home to Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding shower (HI, Anna! Oh my lord it’s only a week and a half until the wedding ahhhhhhhhh!) and it got a bit fatigued by the trip. And then my mother was like, making me take MORE photos for you, what a draaaaaaaag. But she did it! My mom is the best mom.
It’s also buttery and smooth and soft and gorgeous, oh, I cannot CANNOT say enough about Liberty of London. I know, blah blah blah, everyone who sews knows it’s fabric-crack, or doesn’t buy the hype, but let me tell you something, the hype is helplessly correct, because this is a joy to sew with and to wear. Normally I don’t even bother about how something is to sew, because unlike knitting you don’t spend as much time touching fabric as you do touching yarn, so I don’t think about the process of sewing as much as how it’s going to be to wear. But this, oh, my, can hands have orgasms? DARTS were fun with this thing. DARTS.
I hand-stitched the hem, and here you can see that and the underlining. All in all a simple skirt, and something I of course made about a month ago and am only now getting around to blogging. Le sigh.
I love this skirt. And it’s all thanks to Emily! Thank you, Emily! And please note, everyone, that if you are ever wondering what would be a good gift for me, well, now you know….And if you forget, just ask Emily. She’s got this.
First of all, thank you people all so damn much for your kind comments about my last very form fitting dress! I really appreciate all the love, you people are amazing. I get really weird and nervous about putting those photos on the internets, so thank you. Seriously. You are all way too kind and way too amazing, and thank you for your advice about knit hems and junk in the trunk. Saving all my future makes is what you people do best!
So, you know how Vogue and Marie Claire and Glamour have an article every five minutes about “The Five Staples You Need Right Now” or, “The Ten Pieces You Need For Spring” or “The Only Things You’ll Ever Need To Wear”, like no one is every going to shop again, like fashion as an industry is just going to stop and throw up it’s hands, all, okay, we’re all done. These things do not happen. And yet, the magazines keep selling! I myself buy them! What the hell? So we’ve all heard this mishagas about “staples”, like, THE black pant, THE white shirt, THE floral trench for 5000 dollars (which everyone totally needs, SAID NO ONE EVER). But of course, for convenience and simplicity and just normal day-to-day needs, most people DO have staples, they do have a sort of uniform. And mine is typically woven skirt, knit top, tights, go, especially in this long cold Spring we are having up here in the mid-Atlantic. So it’s obviously in my best interests to make things that correspond with that pattern. Hence this lovely thing I made recently:
I have, of course, made this before, and pretty damn recently, too. It’s Simplicity 4529, which I have learned from experience needs a non-stretch woven to work. But I think when it works, IT REALLY WORKS. Am I right? Even though the expression on my face above looks like I’m eating glass. I really need to work on my face…
Ignore the line of my shirt which you can totally see here, and isn’t this nice? Yes, it’s a bit wrinkled, whatever, I live a life of wrinkles, one must accept such things. The one seam of this 10 dart skirt (10 DARTS! My mind balks each time I consider it, but clearly darts are the key to happiness!) is finished with navy bias tape, which you can see peeking out here at the back vent.
More wrinkles, sigh. But I love this skirt! And the three times I’ve worn it thus far, everyone around me has told me they like it, including my bosses at the costume shop , who, like, sew for a living and are the real deal. So I feel pretty darn good about this. How good?
This good! To be fair, I’m more laughing because my friend Ben, who took these photos, made me crack up. Also, it was so damn cold when we took these. Also, it’s the end of March. Also, it snowed today. SO that’s why I’m making wool flipping pencil skirts at the end of March.
To the sewing! I made no changes except that this one has an invisible zipper not a visible one, which, I mean, I hate invisible zippers, but it’s what I had. I also shortened it by 3 inches or so, which is my standard for this pattern now. This buttery spongy wool I bought last winter at the Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet and I got the last remnant on the spool, and I pet it for a full year before I actually made this. But I’m so glad I did! I love this skirt, and, weather being what it is, I will probably get a lot of use out of it before it gets too warm.
I’m trying to dance to stay warm here because it was seriously cold. But I’m so thrilled Ben took these photos of me, after a bagel brunch celebrating our last leavened product for a while, it’s Passover now, goodbye breadybye!
So how to I feel to have a well-fitting red pencil skirt that I love and is my version of a staple?
I have finally found a pencil skirt pattern that works for me.
I HAVE FINALLY FOUND A PENCIL SKIRT PATTERN THAT WORKS FOR ME. This is a big flipping deal, people. Pencil skirts are hard, guys, they hard just plain hard! But I really wanted a good pattern, for the LONGEST time, and I tried all sorts of things out until I found my new favorite favorite pattern, this vintage 1950’s treasure:
Simplicity 4529. It’s actually a rather amazing pattern, 10 darts, 1 yard of fabric, fun all around. I actually tried this pattern once before with a stretch fabric, and that, as I discovered, was some bad news bears. That skirt turned out way too big on me, and it just never really clung the way a good pencil skirt should. I wanted so much from it, and it gave me nothing, it was very sad, I cried many a salt tear over that failure.
But for whatever reason, my instinct was, try this pattern again, and this time, do it in a non-stretch fabric. And lo and behold, look what I came out with?
And it looks, if I do say so myself, baller! I love this skirt, I really do. I shortened the pattern by about 5 inches (this is LONG, and I am short), but otherwise made zero changes.
I’m pretty into the fit of this. Oh, and I made that shirt, too. The sage of that nonsense can be read here.
I wore this on Valentine’s Day, a day in which I went to class, went to kickboxing, and made dinner for my roommate and we drank wine and watched Nashville. So, it was pretty perfect in all ways.
Obviously, given the nature of this skirt, it’s important that you see the back view. Much as I might blush to put this on the interwebs, I will sacrifice in the name of sewing.
Also, there is only one seam in this ten dart skirt, and I finished that with bias tap. I adore the back vent, I really do. It’s hard to photograph, though:
And I hand stitched the hem, of course. As one does.
I just, I adore this pattern. I love the fit, I think it really works for me, and I am so thrilled that I made this unbearably practical plain black skirt, and I can’t wait to make this pattern in other fabrics. I have a red wool I got a year ago that I think might be just perfect, don’t you? A red pencil skirt, doesn’t that just delight your mind?
Is there a pattern you have been trying for a while to find a perfect version of? Any luck? I feel so thrilled to have finally figured out a pattern that works for me, I can’t even deal with it. Very Joan Holloway, no?
Oh, and this is me with my Valentine:
I have been the worst flipping blogger in the world. And I’m sorry. Graduate school is crazy, people! Even when it’s Clown College. It’s a lot of work, making stuff up, writing it down, it really is! You can trust me on this one. And I also have to go to plays! And deal with humans! Who want to get dinner! The hell? Don’t they know I hate everyone? Apparently not, I keep getting invited and having some kind of attack in which I say YES instead of NO I HAVE TO STAY HOME AND TALK TO MY CAT. New York is doing bizarre things to me…
Anyway, I have been sewing. And I met Mika! Mika is awesome. I always loved her blog, so I’m really glad I got to meet her in person. She’s just fantastic, and her red clovers were dope. Seriously dope. I use this term because A. Mika is from California and I thought it might appeal to her, should she read this and B. they just ARE.
I’ve actually made a grand total of FOUR things of late, which I hurriedly took photos of this morning, because I’ve been trying for two weeks for some of this stuff, and I just couldn’t wait anymore! In other news, I’ve totally deviated from my Fall Sewing Plan, of course, OF COURSE. I have made the SPIRIT of the plan, but not the LETTER. That’s just who I am.
So, I made a bit of a vintage duo about which I have mixed feelings. Let’s take a look at the patterns from whence this sprang, shall we?
Cute, no? I ignored everyone’s advice about drafting my own pattern, like I do, and just bought something. Specifically, Simplicity 4529. I’m just that way. Actually I kind of love this pattern dearly, and while the end result is a bit loose, I know how I can tweak it to perfect the fit.
The blouse is, well, let’s look to the pattern, shall we?
It LOOKS really awesome, right? Yeah, it does. It did to me. But the end result, well, I just don’t know. And let it be said right now, I’m so insanely influenced by pattern art, as you can see right here:
God, I look so mad! I’m not mad, really!
Or am I? I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about this blouse. For one thing, like the skirt, it’s a bit big. For another, it may well be a bit, um, clowny…
I had this vision that this bow blouse was going to be the bow blouse to end all bow blouses. Because honestly, I really REALLY love bow blouse, but I have yet to make one with which I’m completely satisfied! How sad is that? Life is SO HARD SOMETIMES.
See, a bit baggy, not quite the sleek sophisticated thing I’d been hoping for, ah, well, I still enjoy it! It might be a bit clowny, but I can’t help but like the waist tucks and the bow. Bows, I’m just a sucker for them! Why is that? Can anyone tell me why bows are so delightful?
Oh, yes, I always forget construction notes. Well, most of this is French-seamed, with a bit of pinking. I eliminated the facings in favor of bias tape (I mean, come on, facings? ARE THE WORST.) And what else, I think that’s it!
So stern! Like a weird candy striper at, say, a mental institution. Super cute.
Now to the skirt!
See, I can still smile! I do like this skirt, I do I do I do. I like this pattern, something like 10 darts, one seam, which I finished with bias tape, a kickpleat which I sadly had to eliminate because I shorted this some 5 inches (at the insistence of my roommates who have informed me that I dress rather, um, matronly.) I made this in a stretch cotton, which, well, I’m going to do it again in red wool (speaking of sexy) and I will shorten the pattern and keep the kickpleat AND tighten it a bit at the waist, it’s a touch loose. But this version is perfectly serviceable and so comfortable and practical, it’s the ultimate in cake, to go with this rather frosting top.
Oh, yes, it does.
I noired it up for you. Now imagine a cigarette, a throaty purr, and a dark plot. And….scene.
How is your fall sewing going? Do you think I dress matronly? What does matronly mean to you? All comments are entirely welcome!