Tag Archives: Simplicity 5355

The Ikat Lover Dress

As my friend and former co-worker (oh, I’m done at the costume shop! So sad, I will miss it so much) Martin once said to me, you’re, like, a cat lady but not, like, a sad one. Like, you just have one cat. And you love it, but not in a creepy way….little does he know! IL8.jpgMy love for my cat is deeply creepy. Deeply. This animal contributes nothing to my finances or my professional life and yet I prioritize him above most things. I wake up early to feed him because he screams at me. I order special food for him because he’s enormous and therefore on a grain-free diet (which is the closest either of us will ever get to Paleo). He has never read any of my writing, or been supportive of my internal struggles, and yet I assume he knows me deeply. Don’t you think that’s just a little creepy? In fact, don’t you think that animals, all of the ones we keep in our homes, have the better end of the deal on this domestication business? I personally think they all get together and have meetings and toast with catnip and dog treats and whatever it is that rabbits enjoy, to their long con deceiving and manipulating their human slaves. And whenever we start catching on they just become cuddly and loving and lure us in with their stupid wonderfulness! Damn them!

IL7.jpgSo I’m sorry, Martin, but clearly I AM that creepy person you assumed I wasn’t. Sigh. What can I do? I love my cat. I also love Ikat! (I know, I know, its that smooth transition you’ve come to expect from this here writer). I a m a big Ikat fan. Maybe because it has the word cat in it, sort of. Maybe because it’s just a beautiful fabric printing technique and it’s literally everywhere right now. Maybe because it makes me feel like I’m in a Bedouin tent but without the scorpions and lack of water. I don’t know. But I’m into it.

And so when what’s-his-face brought me fabric from India this winter, and one of the pieces was a sort of batik-Ikat hybid, I was understandably excited. I am not, by nature, all that into batik on me, though I admire the process and love it on other people, but this was a kind of tribute to both techniques, or looked that way to me,without the color gradiation of traditional batik. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces of fabric that I’ve been given, and usually that would me that I stare at it for years and lovingly stroke it and never actually do anything with it. (That is a true story, I have lots of fabric I bought years ago that I just take out and look at and then return to the box, unsure what to do with something I love so much.) But this time I decided to be brave, and jump, or cut, right in. And I have to say, I’m very pleased with the results, though I don’t think these photos make it look as nice as I think it is. Oh, well, what can you do? So check it out:

IL5.jpgSee what I mean about the fabric? Pretty gorgeous, right? A friend recently said it reminded her of the sea. And I do so adore the ocean…

IL4.jpgFor the pattern, I used a very altered vintage Simplicity 5355. The original pattern calls for gathers instead of darts at the waist, but I wanted darts, so I converted them to darts, and re-drafted the neckline to be a square. I also skipped the pencil skirt and made it a full pleated skirt. As you can see, I cut the skirt cross-grain, which I really love the look of, even if it’s unconventional. I used the sleeve pattern from the original pattern and pleated the shoulders very slightly to make them fit without gathering. This was a very anti-gathering process, I realize.

IL1.jpgI’m a big fan of the square neckline, I realize. The bodice looks more form-fitting in person, but in general it’s a comfortable and not-over-tailored bodice. I lined just the bodice,but let the skirt go unlined, because summer in New York isn’t a good time for linings.

IK6.jpgI hand-picked the zipper, and I didn’t hem the sleeves or skirt, because both were cut on the selvage! Sneaky sneaky seamstress…

IL3.jpgOh, my camera caught a little swish there! I took this by myself in my living room with my tripod, so there was a lot of setting the timer and running for the shot.

IL2.jpgSo there we go, a summer dress in a fabric I adore, an Ikat overlaid with a sort of batiking thing (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical textile term). I know I’m going to get a lot of wear out of this one, it’s comfortable, flattering (well, I think so! And Cadfael, my cat….is sleeping. He doesn’t care. Sob.) and easy to wear. I love summer and summer dresses but I hate anything that I have to adjust all the time. This fits the bill! So maybe I’m creepy, but at least I’m well dressed.


Filed under Fabric, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

Me Made May 31, The Shirt Into Dress

I fully appreciate that it is far too late for a Me Made May post, but in my defense, my computer broke, and it’s hard to blog when all your photos are saved on your broken computer that the nice Apple people have taken away like a lunatic into Bedlam, all soothing and sad and shaking their heads and gently swaddling it in a soft foam case. And you were so mean to the Apple people, because you were stressed and sad and worried and angry, and they are just doing their jobs, and then you think, I’m going to be nicer to those nice Apple people, they are humans who want to help me when I am in a difficult situation, I am being a brat, I’m going to buy them some wine and really get to know them, they deserve it, but THEN they keep you waiting forever for your computer and it costs the world for something you don’t even understand and you are late for work and they want you to sign things on their iphones and it looks nothing LIKE your signature, and you worry about that, and you think, screw it, just give me my damn computer so I can post about my May outfits and be DONE. And all your charitable improving thoughts just fly out the window. Like they do.

SO. Here we are. FINALLY the last day of this godforsaken month of this documentation nonsense which I am terrible at, which is sad, because I love making stuff! I just hate photographing it. I always compare myself to other people and think, oh, struggle, there it is….

BUT. I appreciate that nice people in my life take these photos for me, and in this case it was Lee (hi, Lee!) who took these for me because he is an excellent human and all around rockstar. And talented. And attractive AND AVAILABLE. Ladies, ask me how!

Okay, so this is technically a refashion, but I did so much work on it that I honestly am going to take the win. My father, who is a very snappy dresser, had bought two of the same shirt, and when I went home for a weekend I snagged them both as he had put them in the discard pile. Given the two large men’s shirts I had to work with, I thought, maybe a dress?


It turned out cute! Given that I kind of just cut and slashed my way through it, that is….

SID 5I don’t know why I felt the need to hold onto that thing behind me, it’s not like I was in danger of falling. I’m the weirdest. I used the bodice from Simplicity 5355 for darts and what not, and just sort of made tucks instead of gathers and tucks in the skirt (made from the second shirt) and fiddled and stitched and added some buttonholes because there was some super-not-cute gaping going down, and there I was. Oh, I also used the sleeves from the same pattern and shortened them. Then I just sheared into the neckline, just really went to town on that thing, because it is nothing if not high-necked, and sometimes you gotta show a little collarbone, AM I RIGHT?

SID 1Some back view for you, and me looking rather contemplative, or like I’ve been hit in the face, I can’t tell. Annnnnd I see some hem wrinkling here, lovely. Cotton, the fabric of our lives and enemy of our hearts.

The end result works, I think! I like it, at least. It’s cute and perfect for daytime, a little blousy but utterly comfortable and hey, I can always belt it, right? The solution to all things.

SID 3I love this photo. Lee and I saw this guy with pigeons on his shoulders and just couldn’t get over it, because we are like that, and then he was like, look, another guy with pigeons on his shoulders! And I made that face. And he took a photo of it. BECAUSE WE MAKE THE BEST LIFE CHOICES.

SID 2It’s really hard to take photos in a public place in New York. As you can see.

SID 6Also, the tree stump thing was awesome. Don’t you think?

And there we (flipping FINALLY) go. Me Made May 2013 put to bed. And the lessons I learned? Hmmm.

1. I hate taking photos of myself every day.

2. I wear a lot of blue.

3. It was in no way a challenge for me to wear stuff I made and never repeat an outfit. Which is great! But probably means I should stop making things for myself and start making them for other people, right? RIGHT? Yeaaaaaah. Let’s see how that one goes.

Franqui out!


Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Refashion, Sewing

Me Made May 30, The East is East Dress

East is East is one of my favorite movies. AND my screenwriting teacher from the past semester, the incomparable Sabrina Dhawan, informed me that this is actually a play as well, which just blows my mind. But beyond that, I titled this dress with that name because this derives from the fabric my friend brought me from India. Really, he’s only my friend BECAUSE he bought me fabric. Yes, I’m a fabric prostitute, but with friendship. Fun fact, if you want me to like you as a human, just bring me some fabric. It’s really that easy. Oh, and be awesome. That helps too. But honestly, I can forgo the being awesome for the fabric, and will, nine times out of ten. So, you know, one or the other. Whatever works for you. OH. Or have a great dog, like, a really wonderful dog. No poodles. All bulldogs. Okay, so there are lots of ways to be friends with me. Honestly, if you show up with whiskey I’ll probably give you the time of day. I know, classy dame.

ANYway. The thing I made. It is a dress! And I adore it…

EIE 7The pattern is Simplicity 5355, a vintage pattern from 1964. It has gathers at the waist on the back and front bodice pieces which is a bit odd, but I’m okay with it. Initially I was a bit concerned about this fit, because I very much did not muslin it, because I am a degenerate, but it somehow worked out! It’s a little billowy, especially in the back, but it’s comfortable and I just belt it and go.

I actually made this for my Mad Men Challenge dress, and, like a fool, didn’t get around to photographing it until THREE DAYS AGO. Fail. Just, fail. It’s inspired by Megan’s outfits of the previous season, which I think were sort of Indian influenced:


b07bab9533f266f9d37ece000ca6e488Especially the second one. I’m not one to imitate Megan, because, um, I don’t exactly share her attributes, but I figured a sheath dress can work for both of us. Thoughts?

EIE 1I do so love this fabric, it’s an ikat and a bit darker then it seems in these yellowy indoor photos. I took these at work at the costume shop, because I really wanted to prove that I work in a costume shop, I was a bit worried that you might think it was all an elaborate ruse…I am so prone to ruses.

EIE 3I went for the sleeveless version. Obviously.

EIE 4A little semi-back view for you, or as my boss Sam, (hi, Sam!) says, the 3/4 view. THEATER. It’s the best. It’s got a word for everything. How nice is it that my boss took these? She is the best. Friday was my last day at the shop until August (and oh! In the Fall they are doing Ragtime and I made the majority of a corset last week, so I’m feeling like a boss, or at least an account manager of some time), and so I’ve got the summer off from the shop and then come August it’s chemises and bloomers and 1910’s stuff galore!

EIE 2The back view. I have nothing to say about this, except that I like it, and that I hope internet creepsters don’t find it.

EIE 5It wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t share the moments in which I look like I’m having a seizure. And here is one of them…

I’m trying to think of any construction details that are worth mentioning. Really this was a very simple dress to make. I ommitted facings and lined the bodice in white cotton, and hand picked the back zipper like I always do, and there is a tiny kick pleat. Should I make this again, I would extend the kickpleat up the back of the skirt, because given that I am short and even the “short” version of the pattern which I shortened on the pattern piece seems to have been made for a gazelle, I kind of ate up the kickpleat shortening the skirt once I had assembled it. Sigh, it is my cross to bear…Other then that I think this one was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

EIE 6I’m doing the pigeon toe thing here. I always see it on fashion blogs and they look so elegant and guileless. I think I look like I’m about to fall. Oh, well…

And there you go! I have one more Me Made May post to go, a new outfit that deserves its own induvidual post, and then we are DONE. Thank goodness. I’m exhausted.


Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Uncategorized, Vintage