Tag Archives: Thakur

The Blue in Brera Dress

Recently, I was at this very cool Durer show in Milan, because my life is REALLY THAT GLAMOROUS, with my friend Liz, because she is amazing and we like to meet in delightful places and talk about how delightful we are, and there was a line in the (very extensive, mayhap too extensive?) wall text which described Milan as “the undisputed design capital of Europe”. Which….I feel like there actually might be a few people who WOULD dispute that, I don’t know, Paris, maybe? But sure, why not, let’s give it to Milan, because it really is an unbelievably fabulous city jam packed with stylish people walking past stylish buildings, doors that open to elegant interior courtyards, food that makes me want to drop everything and work in one of these kitchens, and charm to spare.

It was so hard to leave the amazing residency I attended, which was tranquil and calm, tucked into the hillsides of Piemonte. It is a really amazing place, and one you might want to consider when thinking about artists residencies, for any of you artists out there! You can also visit for other purposes, and I would strongly advise you do so. But at any rate, while it was jarring to return to busy streets (to think, I am calling Milan busy, I live in Mumbai!) and the hubbub of human life, it was also delightful because Milan is simply great. Sophisticated but welcoming, sleek but homey, with grand avenues and cute tiny streets both in spades, I enjoyed myself immensely, and so did Liz, oh, and what’s-his-face, who was also there! In fact, I made him take these photos of me after we visited the Pinacoteca di Brera, a lovely museum in the Palazzo Brera, a palace in the heart of Milan’s Brera neighborhood. Once the artistic capital of Milan, now it is a chic area of tons of fancy designer shops and thronged with tourists, but I can’t complain, I was one of them.

As I so often do when I travel, I went to the art museum, not the modern one(s), (Milan is modern as hell), but the historic ones. The Pinacoteca di Brera is a lovely collection of some excellent pieces in a very digestible way, i.e. it’s not extremely overwhelming but it has some top tier stuff, and the building is really pretty. Ah, Italy, full of urban mansions and palazzi, why you gotta be so charming? This is why said tourists do said thronging….

If you are in Milan and into this sort of thing, you should totally check out this museum. It has this stunning Rubens:

And this excellent Caravaggio:

Man, Caravaggio, am I right? What a baller. Actually, it’s funny, the first time I ever saw one of his paintings was also in Italy which…makes sense, and it was this one:

Which is in the many many rooms of art you see on the way to the Sistine Chapel and my mother, to whom I owe so very much, pointed it out to my brother and I. We’ve both been pretty hooked ever since.

After enjoying all this, What’s-his-face and I went to La Latteria San Marco for some spaghetti con limone y peperoncino (spaghetti with lemon and chilies) which was life altering but NOT before I made him take these photos of my new Colette Patterns Claudette Dress!

This is the second version of this dress that I have made, and the first, while cute, had some bodice wonkiness. I mean, I’m still going to WEAR it, already have, at least twice, but it is not for le blog. But this one turned out well, partially because I was more careful making it and partially…nope, that’s it, that’s the only reason.

So without further ado, here you go!

I mean, sure, it’s no Caravaggio, but it’s still pretty cute!

I picked up this fabric at, you guessed it, Thakur, after someone I am teaching to sew snagged some for pillows. So I’m basically wearing her couch. I DON’T CARE! It’s lovely, a nice contemporary ikat-style fabric with a good weight so its sturdy and holds its shape in the sheath.

You can kind of see the lining in this photo, sigh, sorry, I didn’t have an iron with me! AH well, at least you know I lined it, now!

I love this dress. Seriously, I really do. I cut a 12, for the hips, and did a full bust adjustment and then took the waist in about an inch or so I would have some wiggle room (GET IT?) but still have it be fitted. In this iteration I made the version with two large bust darts, rather than the princess seams.

I feel like there is a SMIDGEN of breast-flattening happening here, still, but it’s pretty cute nonetheless.

I’m not NOT proud of my stripe matching, I think given the darts on this sucker this was the best I could do. AND THAT IS GOOD ENOUGH!

And I’ll murder anyone who says differently, got it? But I really am into this make, and I’m so glad it was a lovely day in Milan so I could get this one photographed. The weather turned chilly and rainy soon after, and anyone who has been following my instagram Me Made May stories can probably tell that I’ve been recycling a few outfits over and over and praying for a warmer day. Luckily it’s turned slightly warmer here in Parma, from which I write this post, and looks like it will be nice in Venice, were we end our Italian adventures, and lovely in New York and Philadelphia, to which I will be heading afterwards, so fear not, my Me Made May outfits are sure to improve!

I have no construction notes, this is easy to put together and I french seamed the skirt and the sleeves. I did not, as instructed, hand stitch them. That sounds….exhausting. I got places to be, people! In Milan! Or whatever!

I hope you are having a lovely May, me made or otherwise!

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Chicken Little Dress

First of all, enter here to win an advanced reader copy of my novel! Or not, it’s your life.

Isn’t it wonderful how far curiosity can take you?

This is the story of the time that I grabbed a swath of cloth with fabric shopping at Thakur (OBVIOUSLY. I literally don’t buy fabric anywhere else anymore) and then ended up grabbing a second piece of that fabric while shopping there again with my friend Ana (hi, Ana!). I just couldn’t resist it, because it was too cute for words, and I knew exactly what I would make from it and what I would call that garment. (Of course, knowing what you would make from something is probably the best and most efficient and least wasteful way to shop for fabric, but I don’t always do that, much to my shame. How do you guys feel about stashing? Pro or anti?)

At any rate, this does not always happen to me, that a fabric calls out to me, like a siren, tempting me as I sail, lashed to the prow of the ship, trying to get home to Ithaca, sort of, while I bang a bunch of other ladies on the way. Sidenote, have you seen this excellent thing? It is excellent.  

But this fabric did call me. Or rather, clucked.

It’s chickens! Yes, yes it is. What was that about trying to dress more like an adult? I don’t remember saying something like that on numerous occasions, do you?

Sidenote, once Whats-his-face told me, “you shouldn’t buy more animal printed fabric” and it was the closest we’ve come to divorce yet.

How amazing are these chickens! And given that I live in India, a place where I literally constantly see chickens everywhere around me, I feel like it’s very appropriate. Of course, this is sort of a cutesy version of my reality. It’s like this:

(OTHER SIDENOTE did everyone know that Jane Krakowski starred in the London production of Guys and Dolls in 2005 AND JUST FORGET TO TELL ME????)

But my reality is like THIS:

This is a real photo from my actual life.

At any rate, I loved the fabric, idealization of chickens in my life or no, and I knew it would make a nice version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7503. 

As you might recall from careful reading of this blog, I made a test version of this for a fancy project. That worked out well, if a bit loose, so I went down a size to a 16 and it’s perfect! I didn’t get a chance to document said fancy dress, sigh, ah well. It’s hard to get good photos at evening events, don’t you find? What do you guys do in that case?

So at least I can show you the fit with this, my Chicken Little dress!

Oh, and that leads me back to the point about research. Took me a while, but I always get there! I loved the story of Chicken Little when I was a child. You know it, I’m sure, a chicken gets hit in the head with a leaf or a feather or an acorn, what have you, and thinks the sky is falling. He gets a lot of other animals on board with this story, and they go off to warn the king of the incoming danger. Like so many folktales and fairy tales, it has a modern sanitized ending, in which they do indeed warn the king, but the original version has them all eaten up by a wily fox who knows, even if the credulous animals don’t, that you can’t believe everything you hear. In this era of “fake news”, isn’t that a good lesson for us all?

So when I looked up Chicken Little, just to get a link, really, to the folktale, I found out that the story, like most, is much older than I thought! And readers outside of the United States might know it better as Henny Penny, which is arguably far more adorable.

Check out these illustrations of the story from different eras!

This illustration from 1916 proves that everyone looked better when we all had to wear hats and obviously the fox is a villain because HE IS THE ONLY ONE NOT WEARING A HAT GET IT TOGETHER ANIMALS!

This one is from 1840!

Another version of the story calls the character Chicken Licken, which is delicious for obvious reasons, and the original Danish version of the tale called him Kylling Kluk which is….amazing. Just absolutely amazing.

But I know the character as Chicken Little, and that is the name I have given my dress.

To the dress!

With the busy print it’s a little hard to see the pattern, but it’s adorable, I promise.

Maybe you can see it a bit better here. I rounded out the neckline on this one for variety, but otherwise made no changes, except for using bias tape instead of a lining. It’s hot here!

Oh, I suppose I also omitted the horsehair at the hem this time for the simple reason that I didn’t have any. Although I will say, it’s a bit scratchy on my other version, so I might just throw a petticoat under this (I finally broke down and bought a petticoat and it’s waiting for me in Philadelphia and I’m so excited!) if I want more swish. I feel like horsehair should be reserved for dresses with a lining, maybe? What do others do about that scratchiness?

Although it does have a decent swish right now, when I move!

Love a good twirl shot.

 

I do like that v back. This is the first version I’ve made, actually, of the three I’ve made, that is sleeveless, just like the original, and I like the armscye depth and strap thickness.

You can almost sort of see the princess seams there, but not quite. Ah, well, I suppose that’s not the end of the world. I mean, who is sitting around looking at everyone’s seamlines? Other than….people like me?

And there you have it. A dress I can wear whether the the sky is falling or not. I’m seriously loving this pattern! I’m thinking of stitching it up for a friend’s wedding, which is a daytime event, so hopefully photos to follow!

In other news, I’m working hard on my #makingmaisel garments! How about you? And congratulations to Miriana and Esme for winning patterns from the giveaway! Speaking of stash busting, keep an eye out for a fabric one to follow soon…..

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The Peoples of the Ancient World Dress

First of all, just so everyone knows, you are WELCOME to enter my pattern giveaway regardless of joining the #makingmaisel sewalong! Check it out, here!

When I was a child of about 12, I was already a big fan of history. Especially ancient history. I know. Knock you over with a feather. Nothing I have ever said before on this blog has ever even shaded towards that for you. But I was a kid who used to sit around reading books on young Martha Washington and Greek battle secrets and learning how to mummify stuff. As you can imagine, this made me really popular, which is good, because that was 100% my goal.

But the question is of course, why did I become this sort of human? Well, it’s probably because of a variety of factors, if I’m being perfectly honest. If I had to give you a recipe for a historically minded nerd child, because you might like to bred one yourself, it might be as follows:

10 cups historic fiction reading materials (anything from the Horrible History series to Japanese myths will do. Bonus points if you give them access to questionable appropriate series like Steven Saylor’s Gordanius the Finder books which no ten year old should read and this ten year old 100% did)

2 cups historically minded parents

1 cup access to travel and historic spaces (an expensive ingredient, to be sure. Can be substituted with appreciation for said historic spaces, if access is not possible immediately/ever)

3 tablespoon obsession with Indiana Jones

2 teaspoons costume obsession

1 teaspoon love of old-timey fonts

1 pinch of vivid fantasy life

Stir to combine, serve. Warning, becomes more potent with age.

In addition to all this, I lived downtown in Philadelphia, while I attended a school in the suburbs, which meant that school vacations were a little, say, isolated. My parents would hand me a stack of museum memberships (an optional ingredient for the recipe above), and send me on my way, to fill the long days with something other than watching television and bothering them at work. And one of my favorite places to spend a long vacation day was The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. A lot of people don’t know about this museum, but it is splendid, and well worth a visit if you are in the area. I would take my mother’s high school textbook from the 1950’s, The Peoples of the Ancient World, hugely out of date and more than a little offensive by modern standards, and sit in the galleries supplementing the exhibition texts with choice self-taught Assyrian lessons.

I think you are probably seeing why I was….alone for these trips, unaccompanied by “friends”, or whatever.

Well, on a recent trip to the States, from which I am still jetlagged, having returned to Mumbai on Thursday, I got a chance to not only visit the museum, but do so with my friend Becca, AND get a tour of the conservation lab! It was beyond my wildest imaginings and I mostly clasped my hands to my chest so I wouldn’t knock anything over.

And at the end of the visit, I got Becca to take my photo! I named this dress after the textbook, which I love and treasure and still have.

This dress is actually SUPER simple, like, STUPID simple, but I wanted to show it off because the fabric is just a star. And I bought it with my friend Ana!

It’s this lovely scuba knit I got at Thakur in Mumbai, and I just adore the print. I had never sewn with this fabric before, so that was new! And pretty easy, honestly…

Scuba knit is HOT, though, guys. It really does not BREATH. Note to self: make the next scuba knit thing I made sleeveless, because….sweat.

But look at that! I love the ferns….

To make this dress I adapted my bodice block into a princess seam, and used the sleeves from the Deer and Doe Plantain shirt, combined with a half-circle skirt.

I wouldn’t say the fit is PERFECT but it is fine. There is some extra fabric around the armholes, which…I don’t know how to fix for next time. Any ideas? The bodice in general is a little roomy, but that’s not a bad thing, I guess. I suppose it makes it easier to wear because I didn’t want to put in a zipper.

It was, of course, quite easy to make. I didn’t hem the skirt or the sleeves to eliminate bulk. I am okay with this.

This is one part of the museum from the outside. Pretty, right?

Right?

RIGHT??????

A little side view for you!

And the other side! Becca had fun with the angles…

And the back! The skirt only has one seam, so I matched it to the back seam and called it a day.

And now, some of my favorite objects (from THIS trip, I have new ones each time….) and reasons you should check out the museum yourself! And Philadelphia, in general!

Right? Doesn’t it just make you want to throw some khaki on your body and jump into a tomb?

Just me? Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Well, at least we can agree that the dress is fun!

What were you into when you were 12/still into now? What is your favorite historic period and region? Mine changes daily, but right now, I’m really into Tang China, Mughal India, and Gilded Age New York, probably because of The Alienist, if I’m being real….)

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The If You’re Gonna Go, Go Goa Dress

As you may have gleaned from my previous blog post, I was recently traveling once again, as I seem to do so very often.

Actually, wait, you know what, before any of that stuff, so sorry but my publishing company, well, the publishing company publishing my book, its not MINE per se in terms of ownership, has finalized my US cover and I just have to share it with all of you amazing people because…come on!

Oh, and the UK cover ain’t half bad either, AKA it’s equally gorgeous!

And it’s available for pre-order! So go ahead, buy it today! Or tomorrow! I don’t know how your day is laid out.

ANYway. Back to the reason you come here, handmade clothing, quirky commentary.

So as I’ve mentioned, my friend Ben and I, (hi, Ben!) made a sojourn to Goa, Hampi, and then Goa again! Goa is actually a state in India, but it’s quite small, by Indian standards. Nevertheless, we realized we had to split up the trip to visit the multiple things we wanted to see. If you want to soak up sun and enjoy pristine beaches, South Goa is the place to be. If you want to revel in Portuguese-Indian fusion and enjoy the colonial hangover along with a nice glass or five of feni, cashew liquor, you go to Old Goa. If you want to party with Russian oligarchs and risk a staff infection, check out the beaches of North Goa! We only wanted to do two out of these three things, so….we went to Old Goa as the final stop on our trip. And on our day exploring Velha, or Old, Goa, the remains of the once great Portuguese empire in India, I wore this dress I had recently made:

You know when you sew something for a trip and you save it and save it for the perfect day that fits your outfit? No? That’s…not a thing other people do? Yeah, no, me neither. Except of course YES that is a thing I do and this dress fit THIS day of exploration with its 1950’s flare and literal flare, because circle skirt, baby!

So this dress is pretty basic in construction etc, I made it from my bodice block which, I need to buy my friend Liz like, a case of wine or something for this, because I use that ALL THE TIME and it has changed my life. Thank you Liz! She helped me draft it, because she is a boss.

And then I just added a circle skirt. It has pockets!

It’s unlined and the neckline is finished with bias tape. I used french seams throughout, etc. I don’t know what else to tell you. Machine hem! I know, I know, the worst, but like…also sometimes you just can’t. Hand picked zipper, sooooooo, cancels out?

A little twisty twirl!

This was a nice spot for photos because we avoided a large group of European tourists, but it was a little dark, so I don’t know if you see the true color of the fabric.

The fabric is from my beloved Thakur, and those circles have little hearts in them! It’s sort of pseudo Japanese, and it’s so cute I can’t stand it.

This is a bit blurry, sorry!

This is a bit truer to color! Here I am, posing in the ruins of the church of St. Augustine, which fell to pieces some 100 years ago or so, and now sits as an archeological site, perfect for picturesque photos. Please note, there are signs everywhere saying no video cameras, so you know that at multiple points people have tried to stage their own romantic Bollywood video tributes there. Ben and I did not choose to try to do this. What can we say, we were too busy pretending to be 15th century missionaries. To each their own!

So there you go! In Goa! But I would say, for all the stereotypes around visiting Goa, which has long been the destination of choice for Russian millionaires, drugged out hippies, Israeli backpackers and Indian honeymooners, it does kind of live up to the hype. I mean, if you plan on visiting India, and you are self-aware enough to build in a break from all the…India of it all, if that is indeed something you might need, I would say, throw a day or two in Goa on the itinerary. I mean, it’s calm, it’s stunning, it’s fairly clean, relatively, and the laid back attitude is the best version of a mix between Southern European and South Indian culture. I say, if you’re going to go, go Goa. 

And that’s about it for me on this dress. It’s totally one of those projects I easily could have not shared because I’ve made many like it, but then it turned out so well and it’s so cute and I just, I wanted to feel pretty, YOU KNOW? You know. You get it.

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The Happy in Hampi Shorts

It is interesting for me to consider the way my sewing and dressing trends have been affected by spending so much time in India. I’ve written about this before, of course, but it’s a continually evolving relationship, I realize, as I change, as India changes, as my comfort levels rise and fall. When I first came to Mumbai I was fairly nervous about clothing, what to wear, what was appropriate, what would make me feel safe. Of course, it is patently insane that women have to police their own safety through their clothing and feel that what we wear needs to safeguard us, that we need to work to not “provoke” men with our garments, but hey, that’s the world we live in, and as much as I loathe it, I also participate in it. I’m so extremely visible in India, although of course if I were blond and blue-eyed I would no doubt be even MORE visible, so I’m grateful for my hair and eyes, at least! But that visibility also makes me self-conscious, because it’s like a sign that says “look at me” in a country where man habitually stare at women ANYWAY.

Now, living in Mumbai, which is, in my limited experience, the best city for women in India, I am in a rare and privileged position because people come from all over India to live in Mumbai, the city where you can do and say and wear anything, relatively, that is. But I still feel tentative with my clothing choices, because while the temperatures are consistently steamy and you do see women in shorts and mini skirts on occasion, it’s still India, and the overwhelming majority of people dress in traditional Indian dress or a Western-inspired derivation of it. While my initial ideas of what to sew and wear in Mumbai might have been more limited, and I’ve certainly expanded my shapes, silhouettes and hemlines over the past two years, there are some styles that I have, well, say reserved for trips to Singapore, Puerto Rico, or the US in the summer.

But recently, I’ve decided to take the leap, and I’ve made a few pairs of shorts. I know! Scandalous! I experimented with a few patterns, finally settling on the Deer and Doe Goji Shorts. At first I just wore them at home, but having completed a pair of slightly longer sorts out of a lovely lightweight denim I picked up at Thakur, I decided to test them out on the world, and tried them out for a meal out, and then an afternoon coffee, carefully observing rickshaw drivers and waiters to see if anyone was shocked. As far as I could tell, at least in my very sophisticated and upscale neighborhood, I wasn’t making any waves with my outfit!

So I figured, let’s take this show on the road, and wore these shorts on a recent trip to Goa, which I knew would be completely fine, as the laid back party capital of India plays host to thousands of backpackers in skimpy outfits yearly, so my shorts put me on the more conservative side down there. But the real test was sporting these in Hampi, an AMAZING archeological site in Karnatika, which my friend Ben and I visited and basically had our mouths open in awe the entire time. It’s hard to get to, but absolutely worth it if you are in that part of the world.

And I explored it in shorts!

As I mentioned, these are the Deer and Doe Goji pattern, which is really easy to put together. This is my second pair. I did a first as a wearable muslin, which are great, but they are pretty short. I don’t even think that’s, like, my India-based consciousness, they are SHORT. I wore them in Singapore, and I do love they way they look, but I lengthened these about five inches, and one inch became the hem, but just so you know, and it’s not like these are really long!

The original pattern has a facing for the hem, but I find that a little fussy, so I just allowed for the hem when I lengthened, as I mentioned above.

So this pattern can be a skirt or shorts, but I prefer the shorts. All the details make it fun, the paneled legs, the patch pockets (which are wonderfully designed and like, the perfect size and shape!), the drawstring waist. I made the string a little wider, because I like that look. These are wrinkled from days and days of wear, but I think you can still see the lovely color of the denim. It’s a nice lightweight but it still has body and substance. Thakur, you get me!

I didn’t, sadly, make the t-shirt. It’s actually from Lulu Guinness’ collaboration with Uniqlo from YEARS ago.

Isn’t it weird that when you have a sewing blog and you make a bottom you are basically like, okay, guys, check out my butt? But….check it out! Also, I’m basically imitating this Russian chick we saw have her MUCH older husband/boyfriend/whatever take sexy photos of her on the beach in Goa. Oy.

And check out Hampi!

It’s the second largest archeological site in Asia! And it’s STUPID awesome.

Like my shorts!

 

 

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The Days of the Raj Dress

Whenever I come to Kolkata, which is not infrequently, as my in laws live here, there are a few things to which I look forward. The first of which, or I suppose the second, because the first is my in laws, (gotta win those daughter in law points, hope they are reading this!) is the food. Kolkata is famous for it’s cuisine, a mix of delicious things, from Bengali steamed fish with mustard sauce and banana flower cutlets, to rich Adwah biryanis and grilled meats, to some of the best Chinese food, albeit Indian tinged, I’ve have on this subcontinent, to delightful European style baked goods. Kolkata is a city of laid back pleasure seekers, and people wake up from their dreams about breakfast, spend breakfast discussing lunch, and spend lunch planning dinner. So it’s my kind of town, obviously.

But beyond the food, which is stunning, I will say, that Kolkata is an interesting place, and for me it’s one I like visiting because of its colonial charm. Of course, when I first came to Kolkata, TWO YEARS ago (I have been in India for two years I need someone to kill me now, thanks, bye), I had read a series of books about India’s history, including Amitav Ghosh’s spectacular Ibis trilogy, and I was prepared for a well-preserved colonial city when I landed in West Bengal. Of course, now I know that preservation is a foreign concept in India, in many sectors, but especially as far as history is concerned, but at the time, woefully naive child that I was, I believed that such things were possible. If your expectation of Kolkata is anywhere close to my own, well, you will be sorely disappointed in the city. If, however, you are willing to look behind the crumbling ruins, the horrible renovations and construction, the layering of signs and informal businesses and grime and poverty and decay, well, there you can find some shadows of the British Raj, some echoes of the princely Bengali millionaires or babus who built mansions and lit cigars with one rupee notes back when one rupee meant something. Here and there you can see the gorgeous buildings funded by Bagdhadi Jews in the 1800s, streets named by Anglo Indians in the 1920’s, glimpses of Calcutta in Kolkata of today.

As a history enthusiast, it is that city I am always on the lookout for in Kolkata, in between meals, of course. And this time, I made an outfit to match my search, McCalls 7153, from their Archive Collection.  I don’t know if any of you have seen or heard of the BBC show Indian Summers, which I believe was intended as the inheritor of all those Downton Abby fans (richly detailed historical drama featuring strong class issues? Check!). I have no idea how successful that was as a plan, but it’s set in 1930’s Shimla, against the dying breaths of the British empire, and the costumes are sumptuous as hell. 

This was actually the first McCalls Archive collection pattern that I have ever bought or made, so that was an adventure! I mean, it was fairly straightforward, I suppose, but still, trying new (old) things! The pattern is a 1930’s style dress, a new decade for me but one I am deeply into. I don’t know if anyone else got to check out the 1930’s Glamor exhibit at FIT, but it was stunning, and really showed me how the 1930’s was the first truly modern fashion era.

So here we go, my 1930’s dress! As a non-Indian in India, I felt like I should really be oppressing people in India while wearing this. My husband took these pictures, so maybe that counts?

There I go, looking off into the distant past, wishing I still controlled the tea and opium trade. AND THE WORLD!

This dress is pretty easy to put together, and I used this iteration as a sort of “wearable muslin”, throwing it together quickly (so quickly I made a mistake on one of the skirt panels, a sharp eyed reader can totally spot it, I DON’T CARE), and pinking all the seams. I got this fabric at my beloved Thakur, and it’s an indigo (or synthetic indigo) print, which I thought was lovely and fun for this dress. The pattern image is in stripes, and I liked that for a first try. It’s jaunty! Just like 300 years of British rule! A total lark!

In this dress, I feel like I could build a bunch of railroads, introduce several non-native foods that would become essential to the Indian diet (potatoes, tomatoes and tea, I’m looking at you guys) and systematically strip a nation of its natural resources while telling them it’s for their own good. I’m sure that’s JUST what McCalls intended.

I am pretty happy with the way this turned out, although next time I would change a few things:

  1. I was a bit worried about the bodice fit, because there were no darts or anything to do a full bust adjustment, and the bust measurements seemed slim on the pattern envelope. BUT THAT WAS A LIE! Damn, you, McCalls! I cut a 20 in the bust, and graded down to somewhere between a 16 and a 14 in the waist, but I feel that this bust has AMPLE room, and frankly, the bias panels mean the whole dress has a lot of wiggle room and ease, so next time I might just do a straight 16 and call it a day. As you can see in these photos, I have a lot of ease around the arms and bust.
  2. I might shorten the hem. I KNOW, I know, that’s what makes it so 1930’s, but I think even an inch or two might make it a little more wearable.
  3. I would french seam it all. THAT IS HOW I ROLL.

Still, I like this dress a lot, and I really do feel that 1930’s fashions DO work even today, without feeling too costumey. But maybe that’s just in Kolkata?

What’s-his-face wanted to try “fashion photography”. I gotta say, I kind of love it! Well done, what’s-his-face, I will now be demanding this every time.

 

I wanted to take these photos at Victoria Memorial, but it’s such a tourist trap, darling, you don’t want to be where all the commoners are, do you?

A little bodice close up for you. I love the details, the winged bodice, so chic.

Thinking about which of my suitors to allow to take me tiger hunting over the weekend. Probably. Wait, what’s a weekend?

A glimpse of our “shoot location”, probably from the 1920’s, judging from those balconies. Practically modern, relative to the dress!

So there you go, chasing the days of the Raj in this dress. Well, not chasing, of course, a lady wouldn’t do that. Mincing behind the days of the Raj, maybe? Swooning around the days of the Raj? Something like that. You get it.

 

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The Big Hit Dress

I am very clumsy person, it’s true, but the story behind this dress, or more specifically, behind the PHOTOS for this dress is really not my fault. Seriously. SERIOUSLY! I swear!

So after I met my friend and stylist Liz in Singapore, I jetted off to Thailand. Please don’t stop reading because you are like, over me and my champagne lifestyle. First of all, I mostly drink passable but inexpensive local white wine from India’s nascent wine industry and second of all, I KNOW I’m insanely lucky to be in this region where travel is cheap and easy, I know, I really do, I am grateful on a daily basis, I promise. Spending time in this part of the world has its drawbacks, to be sure, but it also has its advantages, and this is certainly one of them. ANYway, what’s-his-face and I sped off to Thailand, first to Bangkok, which we adored, staying as we did in the old city, eating our weight in street food and enjoying the scruffy but cleaner-than-India charm of the city. Phuket, on the other hand, we did NOT like all that much, frankly, because it’s a tourist trap and a half, getting around the island is difficult and expensive, EVERYTHING is expensive, come to think of it, and the beaches are lovely, but is it really worth it? Not for us, I suppose. We did, however, have an enjoyable day in Phuket town, which is rather cute and quant with charmingly maintained Chinese shop houses, which in the past would house a family on the second floor and their business on the first. Phuket town was a bustling port city at one point, bursting with the tin-trade an a favorite for Chinese merchants, so it makes sense that style would linger.

What’s-his-face has spent years and years in Singapore, which has a handful of these buildings as yet un-demolished to make way for shiny new condos, so he’s, like, over le shop house, but I am still enthralled.

I was LESS enthralled, however, by an extraordinarily low-hanging awning, held down by a sturdy pipe, which I walked directly into as I strolled down the street during my explorations. The stunning pain of hitting the pipe with my firm but tender forehead literally knocked me to the ground, and, after peeling myself off the sidewalk, I staggered about, dazed, until I wandered into a food stall where the owner quickly furnished me with some ice. She then, upon hearing my story, took me by the hand and made me lead her back to the offending awning and the shop it belonged to, where she proceeded to yell at the shop owner in Thai to raise her awning, dammit! Which. FAIR. When she asked me where I was from and I told her, she was surprised because Americans are usually angrier about this kind of thing. I didn’t have the energy to inform her that India will scrub the indignation right out of you, while, of course, leaving you with a much deeper seated low-simmering rage. Instead, I continued on my wanderings, holding fast-melting ice up to my forehead and trying to see straight.

Hours later, I asked what’s-his-face to take these photos. Obviously I should have gotten him to do them BEFORE the run in, literally, with the awning, but hindsight is twenty-twenty, now, isn’t it?

Ah well. Do ignore the bump, please. I LOVE this dress, it really IS a big hit, and I also SUSTAINED a big hit, so yeah, double meanings, etc. Score one for social media not being deceptive, I guess?

QUITE a bump. Sigh. But the dress is nice! I altered my bodice block, adding 2 inches on each part of the front bodice piece for the button placket, and extending the shoulder seams to make kimono sleeves.

The skirt is a circle skirt, and lucky for me this fabric, from Thakur, was wide enough for a nice length on the skirt in one piece!

The dress is extremely comfortable, and I keep reaching for it weekly.

See, I’m just smiling through the pain here, seriously.

NICE shot of the bump, there. It has since shrunk away to nothing, thank goodness, but yeah, nothing ruins a vacation picture like a firm blow to the head. Here, though, you can see that the fabric is a very subtle large print gingham/plaid sort of a thing, in shades of blue.

So there we go. I adore this dress, it was easy to make and it’s consistently easy to wear. Easy to explore new places in, easy to walk directly into a low hanging awning while wearing, it’s the grail.

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