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A rare planning post

While many plan with the seasons, I have decided to plan anyway in this season-less land. I do very much miss seasons, and someday I will spend more time back in a place that has them, but for now, this nonsense doesn’t really cut it. Funny story, talking to a shopkeeper the other day, I asked him how he was enjoying the comparatively cooler (that is, like 7 to 10 degrees Fariegnheit cooler) weather in Mumbai. Mumbai winters usually last a week or two, with low humidity, days in the 80’s, evenings in the high 60’s, a veritable winter wonderland. He told me he really couldn’t get used to this weather and it was making everyone sick. I do not understand people sometimes, I swear.

Someone recently asked me what is the most challenging thing I’ve ever made. I couldn’t really think of anything that I thought was so very impressive, although there are things I’ve made that were more complicated than others. I think more about the things I HAVEN’T tried, or don’t as well as I would like to yet. I have actually made two coats, although one I never blogged, but I wasn’t really that happy with either, and rarely wore them. So that is a goal for the future, although spending a lot of time in Mumbai makes that unappealing right now, not just because I would have no opportunities to wear it here and could only bust it out when I’m back in the US or traveling somewhere cool, but also because the idea of constructing it in this hot place makes me sweat just contemplating it. But that is on my sewing bucket list, someday, a really nice well made wool-cloth coat. Ah, winter dreams…

Coat cravings aside, there are a few things I do have planned for myself in the coming months. Some are old patterns I’m excited to revisit, and some are new ones I can’t wait to explore. So here are my 2017 crafting plans so far:

Sewing:

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Ah, yes, that elusive beast the circle skirt. I want one of these, I actually want ten of these, but I want at least one or two. The circle skirt is the best, and while I attach them to dresses, I think I want one or two on their own. Solid colors, preferably grey, to go with everything and make me feel like I’m living all my 1950’s movie star dreams. What I need for this one is actually the fabric. I’m having a tough time finding that idea bottom-weight in a solid color I like here. But I continue to search!

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A blazer! (And a pencil skirt to go with it in a cute little set. Which is patterned!) This one I DO have the fabric for:

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So, do I NEED a suit like this? No. No I don’t. Shut up, you can’t tell me what to do! I have a vision of myself in a polka-dotted skirt-jacket combo and I cannot shake it. I have already cut this out, actually, using the Seamwork Delavan pattern for the jacket, and my skirt block for the skirt. I think a whimsical blazer is just the thing that’s going to take me from writer to whimsical-blazer-wearing-writer. Don’t you?

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Blow blouses. I love these things! This is the year I finally find my perfect one. I do enjoy the Seamwork Addison blouse, which I’ve made twice now (both unblogged, ugh, gotta get on that…). But is there a bow blouse anyone else would recommend? I’m also a big fan of the True Bias Sutton blouse, again, made two, gotta blog at least ONE of them…. I have a very lightweight silk that might be nice…

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Using an old favorite, Simplicity 2017 from the 1940’s which I’ve made one before, I want to make a few pairs of lightweight full-length and possibly culotte length trousers. How amazing do these wide-legged orange trousers look? I’m not sure if I could be so daring in color choice, but maybe burgundy? I’ve tried this out recently with strong results, again, gotta blog that. Sensing a theme?

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I’ve cut out the Colette Rue dress in this floral fabric, which I’m excited to stitch up! And then maybe a plaid version….I know, I’m a copy cat but come on, it’s so cute!

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I have made a lot of Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas and never. blogged. a. single. one. Frankly, I have been nailing down a good fit, and I think my last one really did finally get there so I should probably photograph those, sigh. It’s like, what am I even doing with my time? But this cat fabric was just too fantastic and I’m excited to sleep with kitties.

 

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I totally missed the Ginghamalong, mostly because I couldn’t find any gingham, but of course since then I’ve seen it everywhere. I want a gingham dress! How cute are these? This is clearly a more vague idea because I have no pattern OR fabric for this, but I just love it. Thoughts?

Now, for some patterns that I don’t currently own, but might want to tackle this year:
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Clearly a lot of love for Closet Case this year! But the Sophie swimsuit is so great. I am intimidated by the cups and the construction, but that just means I will have to try to figure it out, which is fun! And the Ebony is straightforward but I love it. Raglan sleeves, yes!

Now, a few quilts (baby gifts)

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I love the See Kate Sew Modern Ombre quilt. Wont it look amazing in these fabrics? Again, a tried and true here, I’ve made this more than once. That’s why I want to try something different, adapting this Purl Soho pattern to cottons:

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Now, beyond the machine, there are a few other things I want to do this year:

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I love these coloring books for grown-ups, mostly because I want to use them as embroidery patterns! Isn’t that mouse amazing? Or the whale? I gotta get stitching on these.

And in knitting news:

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I’m currently two-thirds of the way through this sweater for my mom. I picked up some wool to make myself one too, but let’s see when I finally get through this one. For such a simple pattern, it’s taking me FOREVER….

 

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Filed under Closet Case Patterns, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Planning, Purl Soho, Quilting, seamwork

The Trying It Out Outfit

The internet is a strange and scary place sometimes, with its anonimity serving as a kind of cloak for bad behavior, for hatred to pour out unchecked, for bigotry and disgust to make its way out there, and for humanity to be ignored in the face of that all-powerful deity, The Opinion. The fact that it’s easy, it’s impersonal, you don’t have to see the target of said Opinion makes it easy for people to forget that their words, sprayed out into the digital universe, have a real-life effect. And opinions become insults so quickly, because you can’t see someone’s face, you can’t try to meet them halfway, you can’t really interact with them as a human, so “I think you are wrong because…” quickly quickly becomes “You are a fat stupid loser….” or much worse. We all know this, and I’m sure we also all know the way women specifically are targeted, insulted, demeaned sexually and physically and trolled, for want of a better word. I think it’s a shame that trolls get such a bad rap but that’s what they get, hiding under bridges and stealing goats, I suppose. The Guardian evaluates it’s comments before posting them, and honestly, reading this article, it’s not hard to see why. Leslie Jones recently quit Twitter because of the massive outpouring of hate following the release of the new Ghostbusters film, although thank the powers that be she did return to help us all appreciate the Olympics.

Sometimes I think about the internet, this amazing tool we all have at our disposal, and I shake my head. Maybe we don’t deserve this kind of communication, this instant feedback loop, if we are just going to use it to be awful. Of course, who am I to say what we do or don’t deserve, but when I contemplate the swirling mass of humanity or glance at a YouTube comments section or read articles like this, I feel, on the fluttering edges of my otherwise upbeat nature, a rare shadow of despair.

That being said, I can also say that sewing, making things, writing, as also uncovered what for me personally is the best part of the internet, the community that can be formed around mutual passion, respect and interest, that can create educational loops of information, that can answer questions, that can make us feel close to and aware of people and events and things so far away from us. We can learn about people in need, people in conflict, people like us, people not like us at all. It can expand us and remind us of our humanity. I don’t know that I need to go on. You know how the internet works, after all. You’re reading a blog.

I find this comfort in small ways, with the writing I put out there and the responses I get back. In the way I learn about people’s relationships to their bodies, to their sense of self, to the empowerment within learning something and enjoying it, connecting to it, connecting to others through it. Clothing, fashion, fabric, the politics behind these, the way they impact gender, identity, economics, labor, the way the knowledge of these things has changed my own sense of my body, the world, and what I make, I appreciate it. In a recent instagram conversation, because we live in a world where such things can exist, I talked with a fellow blogger about how I would try things through sewing that I would never ever buy, never even consider buying. Sewing is a space of experimentation, as evidenced by my growing love of maxi-length, my recent attempts at a romper (more on that in another post), my unblogged search for the perfect pair of loose-fitting cotton pants (I believe the pants I’m about to show you are as close as I’ve currently gotten) my explorations of tighter shapes, looser shapes, new shapes. Sewing feels like a space where I can try things out, where I want to try new things and the labor involved makes it worth it, even if I don’t end up loving the result. I like the process.

If nothing else, sewing is teaching me that, the value of the process. And that’s a hard thing to communicate digitally, in our content and product driven age. But I’m hoping you, who read this, get it.

So, without further pontificating, I give you my latest outfit, an attempt to try some new things, in shapes I find woefully unflattering, but with a comfort that I cannot help but adore:

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I feel like I look like a genie who doesn’t try very hard. NO MATTER!

So yes, a lot of things being tried out over here, hence the name of the post. Number one, is, of course, the elephant in the room, other than Cadfael, who is my very own baby elephant:

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But other than him, we know what I’m talking about, right?

The crop top. CROP. TOP. What is this, Saved by the Bell?

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Sidenote, 90’s fashion is so in here in India, to a troubling trouble extent. At dinner the other day I counted 4 chokers. Sigh.

BUT. regardless of my feelings that I might be just simply having a Bayside High moment, I decided, after length and extensive conversations with my friend Liz, who is ALL about the loose-fitting woven crop top with a high-waisted bottom, to try it out. I had a little bit of fabric from our fabric trip that I had split with Liz. She got most of it, and I took a meter, thinking I could just get a top out of it, and get I did! Of the crop variety!

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The fabric is super cool, with multiple colors woven together to make a not-quite-pattern weave. Lightweight and airy, I decided I could alter my ever-faithful Grainline Scout Tee to make a crop top by shortening it and extending it to a tent shape. I made the sleeves a little tent-like too, so the whole thing has a kind of cow-bell shape.

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So on the body it sort of has a very subtle hi-low thing. The hem is a little wrinkled in this photo, so it’s making a weird shape. The fabric is a little crisp, but as it wears and is washed it will soften, I know from experience with Indian hand-looms that this is the case.

You can just see a sliver of skin there, right? Well, I’m not usually a big fan of that sort of thing, but I think exposure to Indian fashion, which is fairly crop-top focused, maybe because a crop top is a hop skip and a jump away from the traditional choli blouse?

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Whatever it is, I thought I would try it out. The verdict? Honestly, I’m just not sure. Every time I wear it, I feel sort of silly and self-conscious, but thus far I’ve yet to get any judgmental looks or been stopped on the street and yelled at for how bad I look. I think it would potentially be cute with a pencil skirt, or high-waisted shorts, anything, really, that sits at the waist. Thoughts?

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Now, to the pants! Wrinkles abound.

This is, believe it or not, a much altered Simplicity 1887, the third I’ve made but the first that is blog-worthy. Oh, this pattern, what wasted dreams have lived and died on its behalf! I loved the idea of a half-elastic waist, of the pleats, of a loose pant, of pockets. But the reality of that half-elastic waistband was just not working, neither in construction or in appearance. Then, revelation! What if I just made it a regular pair of pants with a zipper? On the side? Of course, I had to take it in a bit at the waist, but that’s okay, a dart here, a trim here, and boom! In earlier incarnations I cut out a 16, but I found it a little snug in the posterior, which looked cute, but wasn’t in accordance with my vision, so I added about two and a half inches in the hips, because I really wanted a baggy loose comfortable pant here. Attractiveness be damned!

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The fabric is a cotton I got at my new favorite Mumbai fabric destination, Thakur, which is quite close to where I live. This is…dangerous.

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Ah, the slight pouf of the pleats. Speaking of feeling good about myself…it’s a real uphill battle sometimes, I tell you. But you know, I like these pants, I do. I have made and will make more flattering garments, but I am willing myself to like this style, to try something new.

I don’t know if more crop tops are in my future, but they might be. Let’s see if this one grows on me. I do like it, I do, but new things take time to adjust to and enjoy. Nevertheless, making one, putting it out there, trying it out, that gives me joy.

Now, troll away, internet. I will be focusing on the good. And also, this, which has made everything a thousand times better. Read it. Right now. A stranger on the internet told you to.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Grainline Patterns, Life, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns

The Indian Soccer Mom Outfit

Guys, sometimes you make an outfit that you think is going to be super awesome and cute and vintage and fun and it ends up being….different. Special. Hell, awkward. And that, my friends, is what has happened here.

In the spirit of not ablogogizing, (god bless this concept, I learned it from Did You Make That, anyone else?) I’m just going to say that I have many undocumented makes and I’m trying to document them and someday that will happen and there that is. Did you know, for example, that I have three, count them, THREE sets of Carolyn Pajamas I have yet to blog? Not to mention the two sets I made for my mother, which takes me to five, oh hell. What can I say, I love a Carolyn Pajama, although I have yet to get the pants to fit EXACTLY right, sigh, they always end up a little too snug and a little too low in the crotch, but I’m working on it! I have a bunch of seamwork patterns, like a Mojave maxi-dress, and the akita top I’m currently wearing and a pair of moji pants which I will never blog about because the fabric I made them in bled like a body in a Quentin Tarantino movie so I wore them and the matching shirt I made using the grainline tiny pocket t to my haldi because you are supposed to give the clothing you wear to that ceremony away because it gets smeared with turmeric and is therefore lucky and if you want to know why THAT is the answer, as told to me, was because Hinduism. Here, see for yourself:
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The point is, I have a lot of back log, but I’m not going to ablogogize, because I feel like for me, the whole impetus behind that is hey, no, really, I’ve been making stuff, I promise! And why do I have to do that? I make things for myself, and I shouldn’t worry that you are all out there judging me, assuming that I’m not being productive enough because I haven’t posted a new thing. I shouldn’t assume you are thinking about me at all. I’m sure you have much more to do with your time. See, at its heart, I think ablogogizing is a sort of self-centered thing to do, so I’m not going to do it. I am, however, going to tell you about this outfit which I’m just going to own, regardless of how completely, well, let’s say not-my-normal-look it turned out. Basically, this outfit makes me look like a soccer mom. And not a great one, not one with an awesome SUV (I threw up in my mouth typing awesome to describe SUV, fyi) and a perfect plan for the kids and all their activities, not one who posts her OWN projects for cute snacks and fun 30 minute dinners on pinterest and gets repinned a thousand times, no, more like that soccer mom who really wants her kids to become readers and hopes they will get into drama and shows up with a package of Oreos to the school bake sale and is, in fact, a pinterest fail. The kind who calls wine mommy juice and drops out of every spin class about halfway through. Man, I can’t WAIT to be that soccer mom, actually, come to think of it….I don’t even need kids for that. I wonder if Cadfael would want to try soccer out.

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It’s not looking likely.

Anyway, with no further ado, I present you THIS:

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This is one of those outfits that has two individual positive pieces that together somehow make up Julie Bowen on crack. Sigh.

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The shirt is a Grainline Archer, (ps have you seen the new popover variation? I want to go to there.) This shirt is actually pretty cute, I promise. I made view B, with the little flare at the back, and I’ve worn it countless times, I kind of adore it. I stitched up a size 12, french seamed it all and the only adjustment was to lengthen it a bit, three inches this time, which is standard for my archers.

I got the fabric at Mangaldas Market in South Bombay. I was going for more Kate Spade than stuck in Suburbia, frankly, and I don’t know where in that spectrum it falls on a normal day but with these pants? It’s the beginning of the Feminist Mystique up in here.

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The pants are Butterick 5895, a Gertie pattern. I used a very stretchy cotton bottom-weight fabric which I got here at Sew in Style, an expensive but lovely fabric shop in North Bombay. This fabric is so stretchy that after a day in these pants they have bagged out like none other, sigh. It’s okay, they are extremely comfortable, and I like the pockets and the waistband. They were easy enough to sew, and I french seamed the majority of it, and omitted the overlap waistband for a longer zipper and a hook and eye. I do think some element of stretch is good for these pants, but maybe not quite…this much. I have a stretchy black twill and I’m thinking of mixing this with a pair of Clovers and seeing what happens.

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See? They are so extremely bagged out, it’s like a super market grocery line here. Ba-dum-ching!

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Nevertheless, there are worse things to look like than a soccer mom, and hey, at least here in India it’s not such a prevailing stereotype that I feel like people judged me for it. People called me ma’am, but then, this is India, they would have done that anyway.

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Okay. There you go. Soccer mom meets India. Now, time for some Mommy juice.

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Clothing, Grainline Patterns

The Welcome Spring Outfit

(Please note, because of life events like weddings etc. some of these posts were intended to be up months ago and are only going up now. This is a phenomenon known as the “life gets away from your syndrome” and it is very common with all the people who are me. Sue me. Please don’t. I can’t afford it.)
Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

-Rainer Maria Rilke
Just what you want in a sewing blog, right? Rilke quotes? I know. You’ve been waiting forever. You’re welcome, Internet. Rilke. He’s back.
It is obviously quite ironic for me to be discussing Spring now that it is now officially and completely summer, but given how mercurial and cool the weather has been in New York I feel I can comfortably get away with this. Of course, these photographs were taken in Portland….but you get the idea. Seriously, I only know it’s summer because the calendar told me so. Although one thing I will say is, the spring flowers were out of control gorgeous in New York this spring. My friend Ben (hi, Ben!) told me that because we had a rough and snowy winter with the ground being frozen for so long we were due for magnificent flowers because the ground got so much water. And as he so often is, Ben was correct! Well done, Ben. But the flowers on the East Coast could not have prepared me for Portland.
Portland is my new favorite place. It reminded me of Philadelphia, one of my other favorite places, and they both have P names so there you go, I have a type. Mid-size cities on the rise, with lots of greenery and excellent food who are paced on the slower side. Why do I live in New York, again? (And by the way I’m MOVING to an even crazier city,, more on that later!) Mr. Struggle and I visited Portland in April (good lord, APRIL, has it been that long? Guys. My life. Work, my novel,  our second wedding,I can’t even.) and we decided this is our new dream city. First of all, the food. We had radishes with smoked butter at Ned Ludd and Dulce de Leche ice cream at Salt and Straw and divine wines (for me) and beers (for Mr. Struggle) all over the place and holy god, it was amazing. Mr. Struggle almost passed out from the intensely good Singaporean style of chicken he had at Nong’s Khao Man Gai that transported him back to Singapore and the many years he spent working hard to decimating its chicken population. Are there things other than food in Portland? Probably. Who knows. Mostly we were just trying to get from food to food, stopping for food in the middle.
And obviously if you are going to indulge in a food tour you need and outfit to match. Something comfortable but still cute, as one must maintain one’s standards of dressing even when visiting the casual wilds of the West Coast. One must keep up appearances, mustn’t one? Here is what I came up with:
WS 1My second attempt at Deer and Doe’s Chardon skirt with the correct pleats this time! Boom. LEARNING things. Like a boss. This is in fact another all Deer and Doe outfit, because the top is my beloved Plantain. I know that everyone’s ideal t-shirt is different, but I must say, this free pattern (!) came as a godsend to me, because this is mine. The only change I ever make, and I have made this thing innumerable times now, is to lengthen it.
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The fabric for this skirt is really something special. My friend Becca (hi, Becca!), like most of us, has a mother. Her mother, Mary (hi, Mary!) is also wonderful, just like Becca, and she has consistently given me amazing random gifts of fabric. This is a Liberty of London print from I don’t know when, in what feels like a lightweight upolstery fabric. Oh, how I love to dress like a sofa! A sofa with pockets!
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The shirt is a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. Basic like a pumpkin spice latte.
WS 5I think it’s a little hard to see the pleats on this print, but in real life they are adorable! You’ll just have to trust me on that.
WS 6The ever popular jump shot! The people of Portland, bless them, didn’t bat an eye.
Oh, man, I have so many more posts to catch up on, including all the things I made for our second wedding (second of three, kill me now) and all the things I’ve been making to try and get rid of my fabric collection! Why would I do that? Am I quitting sewing? OF COURSE NOT. But I am moving! To Mumbai! Which is in India! And bringing fabric to India is like bringing sand to the beach. Don’t worry, I will still be blogging there, hopefully more frequently, as one of the many benefits of moving is committing more time to writing, both my dramatic and prose work, and my blogging. The move happens in September, so stay tuned for an outpouring of sewing for myself and others to diminish my stash in between novel revision, web series continuation, and the rehearsals for my new play, with sewing themes, coming to New York in August! You know. Lazy summer.

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Filed under Clothing, Deer and Doe, Friends, Life, Sewing, Travel

The Before It’s Too Late Skirt (topped with a noir plantain!)

This always happens, doesn’t it, you plan a bunch of things for a season, you end up not doing them and resenting that season because you get sick of the weather, and then, as the season FINALLY draws to a close, you find yourself scrambling to do even a fraction of those things because you now feel it might almost be too late! Because you will NEVER get that season back again! Because you’ve forgotten how time and weather works! Suddenly you feel a sense of strange and potent urgency. Must make more things that I can only wear for, like, three more weeks! Or is this just me?

Come to think of it, I realize that while I don’t suffer from fomo, I might have the opposite problem in that I might suffer from late to the partyitis. I think it takes me a while to get excited about change, and so by the time I’m really in the zone for a new thing, it’s already almost over. I will never be, I know, an early adapter of anything, except perhaps of television. In five years people are going to be having iPhones implanted in their hands and I’m going to be like, iPhone 6, I think I like it! Maybe I should get one!

So now that it’s finally feeling like spring might be imminent someday somehow here in New York (hahaha I’m just kidding it’s going to snow soon it will never be Spring oh my god people in New York are going to revolt!) I know I should be all about the lightweight fabrics and the showing of the skin, discarding wool for cotton, but guys, I just can’t bear too, not quite yet, not when I had this idea for a skirt in my mind that I knew would be awesome. And no amount of slightly warmer weather was going to stop me from making it! So despite the fact that I should be making aspiration warm weather clothing as an effort to entice Spring into coming and as an offering to the great Sewing Gods, I didn’t. If we get more snow, it’s my fault. Please don’t tell anyone. People will hurl rotten vegetables on my new skirt.

I had a small length of bright lovely felted blue wool from my days working in the costume shop that I knew would be a fantastic skirt with a ton of structure, and I also had Deer and Doe’s gorgeous Chardon pattern, which I had been itching to try. Why did I wait this long? For literally no reason whatsoever. I ended up playing with the pleats and changing the pattern a tiny bit, but still, I believe the spirit of the skirt in intact, and I couldn’t be happier, because boy, does this skirt have spirit. If this skirt was an extracurricular activity it would be the pep squad. Check it out, if you don’t believe me!

BITL 1It’s like I’m wearing a bell! I ended up omitting one pleat so that I have four in the front instead of five, but I think it’s pretty cute this way too! I liked the volume but I also thought that it might look nicer on me with a flatter front.

BITL 3How lovely is this color? I love it so deeply. I feel like this makes it a little transitional, right? A bright color for spring? No? The wool isn’t that heavy, actually, despite it being felted, and it actually felt lovely on the balmy 45 degree March day I wore it out on recently. Whatever, I’m not going to apologize for my fear of change, and if this skirt can get me from winter to spring, I’ll take it. It has even cheered me up this week when I’ve transitioned from a slight fever to a rather nasty and debilitating cold. So if it can help me through that, Winter to Spring can’t be SO bad, right?

BITL 4That’s the look of a person who loves pockets. POCKETS. And these are awesome a deep and lovely, and I like this skirt a lot. I would totally make this again, and try it with the original five pleats, just to see what that’s like. Maybe in a canvas or something lightweight but stiff. I think that what I love about this skirt is its structure and it’s fullness, and I would want something that works with that. Do we think a quilter’s cotton would do it?

BITL 6A little back view. I feel the bell-like aspect is fully in effect here. As are wrinkles. I live the life I live.

BITL 2Oh, I made the shirt, too! A plantain, en noir, so I can wear it to cafes in Paris and talk about the disillusion of the human spirit and stuff. Or, just, you know, with EVERYTHING. It’s a black shirt. Everyone should have one of these. Everyone should have ten. Everyone I know does. Remember when black was something you wore for mourning? Me neither. It made it out of a slightly stretchy rayon knit which is actually fairly comfortable despite its low stretch. Just your standard Deer and Doe Plantain. I’ve made maybe 15 of these now. I’m not kidding in any way.

I had anticipated putting the belt loops in this skirt, but the fabric ended up being too thick for that once I made the belt loops, so I had to omit them. That’s alright, though, although I liked the look. Maybe this would be nice in a linen, too, although maybe that would also be a wrinkle monster, just like me. See, I’m thinking about lighter weight fabrics! I’m getting there!

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But for now, I’m going to nurse my sickness and enjoy my warm, wool, not at all Spring-forward skirt. Oh, and I’m going to curse daylight savings times too because in the words of the John Oliver show, why is that still a thing?

BITL 7

Jump shot! Haven’t done that for a while, as Mr. Struggle reminded me.

Do you sew for the season you’re in or the season you WANT to be in? I’ve got to warn you guys, I’ve got some more warm clothing coming up, including a coat, sigh…I’m a mess….

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Filed under Deer and Doe, Sewing

The Knit Wit Outfit

I love a good knit. This may or may not come from my mother. If Megan Trainor is all about that bass, my mother is all about the knits. And who can blame her? A knit is a godsend to all women. Say what you will about Coco Chanel, but that woman made other women more comfortable by her innovative use of knits. Look, I love wovens. Who doesn’t? I would never surrender my love for them. But knits are just so deeply comfortable. They make anything cozier and easier to wear. If the casting off of the corset after the First World War transformed the way women felt in their clothing, then knits have done that once again, embracing curves and angles without darts or fabric geometry, stretching with the human body, moving as they move. They are more forgiving than any Catholic priest ever could be. They don’t mind too much if you have a big lunch, and they also shrink to you when you’ve been good about your running routine. Knits are like a sweet non-judgemental friend you can watch dumb movies with and enjoy large bottles of wine and large bowls of ice cream. Wovens are like that friend that motivates you and makes you feel ambitious and high achieving and professional and adult, but wovens aren’t going to hang out with you on a Sunday night while you watch The John Oliver Show, because wovens are busy, wovens are important, wovens don’t approve of getting their news with a side of comedy, wovens have ALREADY read the New York Times article and seen the BBC report on that issue and have OPINIONS before you even have context. Knits kind of make fun of wovens, as soon as they are out the door, and you smile, and sigh, and say “I’m friends with both of you, okay? But yes. Wovens can be a little uptight.  Now. Back to John Oliver. More wine?”

See, I would watch that show. That show with those three characters. It would be great. I wish someone would pay me to make a show where it’s just me talking to my fabric. Wouldn’t you watch that?

NO? Fine. Whatever. I wouldn’t watch your dumb show either.

Ahem. Anyway. Knits also make everything a little less formal, which I generally don’t approve of, as I like to feel fancy like a grown up, but I do think that knits can get there, with a little bit of sophistication and style. Of course, with silk jersey and rayons you can have a drapey slinky 1970’s dream, but what about the in between of this? Isn’t there something between sweatpants and draped halter?

And that’s why I like some of the new knit patterns that have been released by independent companies in the last few years. They have flare and they have fun. They are comfortable but they don’t only look like they are comfortable. You know what I mean?

Take, for example, Tilly and the Buttons Coco. I did:

KW1Oh, and what’s that on the bottom, lurking underneath? Is that a Colette Patterns Mabel? I DO BELIEVE IT IS! How delightful.

KW3

Yes yes! See, it’s all knit there, but I don’t look like I’m wearing a Juicy Couture Sweatsuit, I look like a person who has a job, and ambitions, and dreams.

KW5

I made my friend Liz take these photos when we went to Philadelphia for the day to see the Patrick Kelly show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I knew nothing about this designer, and the show is excellent, as is his work. Really a fascinating and vivacious man, bursting with talent and innovation, whose appropriation of cultural and racial stigmas and stereotypes richly activated his work. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of him before, and saddened by the brevity of his amazing life. If you have the chance to see this show, please do, it’s really lovely and worth the trip if you aren’t in the area.

Liz sews too, in fact she works at the Museum at FIT, so she is always a wonderful person to see these shows with, to force to take my photograph, and to enjoy drinks and fries with afterwards. She’s a multi-talented human being.

What can I say about the construction of this. Knits are easy, man, especially the ponte de roma that makes up this top. It’s got structure for days, for a knit, but still moves with your body. Score.

KW9I used the three-quarter length sleeves and the funnel neck, which is as close to turtleneck as I can get without feeling horribly self-conscious about my chest.

KW7

There is also  a little split action on the sides, which I like a lot. You can just see that in the photo above.

KW4Close up! I love the cuffs on this shirt, they are genius. I’ve made this once before, as a dress, actually.

KW8

The skirt is the longest of the Mabels, because I’m not a micro-mini kind of girl. It’s seamed up the front, which is hard to see on this black.

KW6See? Even I can’t see it! This skirt is just the easiest thing I have made in months. It literally took me 40 minutes, from cutting to hemming. That’s the real length of a one hour drama minus the commercials. With breaks. To drink wine.

I got that scarf at a vintage store in Austin, by the way. It has ships all over it. I love it.

KW2See, that is the face of a comfortable YET decently dressed person. Simple, easy, cozy, yet with flare. What else can one ask for as the weather grows cold? Don’t worry that I have abandoned my wovens, I will always be more type A then type K (GET IT? K FOR KNITS? Seriously, this would be a great show), but it’s nice to have the option, isn’t it?

 

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Filed under Colette Patterns, knit, Sewing, Tilly and the Buttons, Uncategorized

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