Tag Archives: travel

The Khadi Body Pants

Okay, guys, we need to talk about culottes. Culottes. I never thought this day would come. What is this, 18th Century France, am I right? I mean, politically and personally I have always thought of myself as a sans culottes, you know what I mean? That’s a little French Revolution humor for you, for the cheap seats. I’m just kidding, there are no cheap seats at Versailles! Hey-o! Tip your guillotine operator, try the cake.

ANYway. Culottes. This is a thing. This is a thing in the world we live in and I have resisted it, as I do with so many things, until the point that I flip and wholeheartedly embrace it and THAT, my friends, is what is happening right now.

I want to talk to you about Megan Nielsen patterns. I really like Megan Nielsen patterns in that I really like the design. Seriously, lovely design, time and again. But the fit? The fit, my friends, is a situation. When the Flint Pants pattern came out, I was deeply deeply excited. I have been looking for a wide-legged loose fitting pleated pant that I could make in a lightweight fabric that would be good for the heat of Mumbai. I have tried a few options, and generally found myself disappointed. So when the Flint pattern came out, I was like, this is it. Pockets. Pleats. Wide legs. Cute closure options. Loose fit. IT’S THE GRAIL.

But then I tried them. I wanted a loose fit, because, um, isn’t that the point? So although my literal hip is an L, and my waist is a M (ummmmmm, question, why is a woven pattern S-XL?), I decided I would cut an XL to be safe, because the finished garment measurement had no ease, or so it appeared to me. Well, I cut and stitched up a pair of shorts in a turquoise fabric, and, um, I mean, technically they fit I guess, but it was a literal disaster. Puzzled, I measured the hip, and found that the finished shorts were actually the M hip measurement! What the WHAT? I am not a large person. I am never an L, let alone an XL, and now these shorts wont fit? I blame my butt. These CANNOT have been drafted for any junk in the trunk, am I right? Yes, there is an ego issue here, but beyond that, it was bewildering. I fumed. I sighed. I was OVER this, over pants, over everything! But no, NO. I bought the physical paper pattern, not even a PDF. I committed to these pants. I was going to make this WORK if it killed me. I decided to go all out, and I added two inches to each side of each leg pattern piece for a pair of shorts I was making. This…might have been overcorrecting, because I ended up with super loose shorts and I took the waistband at least 6 inches, so it’s back down to the pattern M measurement. But while big, these shorts, which I may photograph later, were much closer to what I had been looking for. Loose flowy comfortable shorts/pants/MAYBE CULOTTES WHAAAAAT?

Yes. Culottes. In the third iteration of my attempts to make the Flint pattern, I think I’ve hit my sweet spot. I added 1.5 inches to each side of each leg piece, so essentially adding a nice 12 inches to the leg pieces, giving me ample room through the hips and posterior, while grading to a M at the waist. I might not love the originally drafting here, but I’m glad I stuck with this pattern and made it work for me. Finally I have the comfortable loose fit of my dreams. Hard work, it pays off, whether you are overthrowing the French Monarchy or just making a pair of pants happen, am I right?

So here you go, without further ado, my Flint Culottes:

When my friend Liz was here, she bought this purple and white khadi that I adored but graciously let her buy because I am an amazing person/hero. However, when I saw this, virtually the SAME FABRIC, in Darjeeling in a Khadi Store, I luckily had no one else around me interested, and I could scoop it all up furtively and get out of there before anyone tried to take it. I had just enough to make these culottes, which, when I cut them, 100% reached my ankles and could have just been straight up pants. That might be another drafting issue, actually… Ah, well, that’s what hemming is for.

The shirt is actually something I bought. WHAT? I KNOW. But it’s a linen t-shirt from J Crew and I have to say, I adore it. Linen. I love you. And as a knit? I want to go to there. I might buy more, guys. I want five of these. I live in a hot place. Linen is amazing.

Here I am, posing by the synagogue in Cochin, a city in Kerala, which I recently visited with my friend Sarah who was in turn visiting ME from the States. I got Jews in different area codes, am I right?

This very sweaty back view is my gift to you from Kerala.

I love love love the waist tie detail. There is a button on the inside, which cleverly keeps the whole pant-system in place. How amazing is this khadi? The texture is so great, and I think it really works with this pattern, much as I’ve adapted it. It makes for loose pleats, but they still have weight and definition.

These pants were, for all their struggle in the making, for all my emotional upheaval around making, and WEARING, culottes, because, you know, the horror, the humanity, but these were seriously magnificent for walking around Cochin. So. Damn. Comfortable, and the pockets? YES. And the loose fit I engineered, knowing it was all I wanted, kept me cool in the heat of Kerala. The khadi did it’s job, of course, and all in all, I have to say, for all the pain these caused me on the way, they were wonderful in their actuality.

Emotionally, mentally, yes, I’m still very much sans culottes. But, when it comes to real culottes? I might be more pro than I thought.

And now, some images from Kerala:

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Filed under Clothing, Megan Nielsen, Sewing

Fashion of Port Cities: Textile and Cultural Exchange at the Asian Civilizations Museum

While there are many who fear the other, I choose not to, and I am happy to be celebrating diversity, historic and current. I am of the opinion that cultural exchange leads to innovation and development, and if you feel otherwise, please go away. I am sure that if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you probably knew that about me all ready, but just putting it out there into the universe. If, however, you like me are fascinated with cultural exchange and moments of intersection and the way they give birth to new things, specifically in the textile and clothing space, I think you will enjoy hearing about and seeing some of the objects from a current exhibit on Port Cities at the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore!

On my recent trip to Singapore, I had to break my normal Singapore rule. You see, there is nothing really to do in Singapore in my opinion. Now, of course, some people think there is a lot to do in Singapore, so I should really change that statement to there is nothing much for ME to do in Singapore, but semantics. Singapore is great, but I find it rather boring, and What’s-his-face and I realized that we need to ration our Singapore activities, because we visit the country frequently and given that I don’t think there is much to do, if we do it all at once, what will we do NEXT time? If we don’t limit ourselves to one museum a trip, we will be out of museums in no time! But we were with others, and we needed activities, so we had to break our rule and on this trip I saw the botanical gardens, the bird park, the National Museum and the Asian Civilizations Museum. Oy. I’m sorry, future Leah. I screw you a bit.

But at least the Asian Civilizations Museum has temporary exhibits, like this one exploring the many mixed communities of port cities in Southeast Asia. And given that this area is a textile-rich region, you just KNOW that mixture of people created a mixture of clothing styles and fabric options. Now we see people in all forms of dress in cities across the world, but historically ports would have been the only real places where costumes clashed consistently, and that is fascinating, in its fruitful ground for change and influence. Coming across this exhibit was a wonderful surprise because of the amount of textile within it, and I’m excited to share all that with you guys. The descriptions of Singapore itself through history, and cultures that arose in Batavia (now Jakarta, once the capital of the Dutch East Indies), Hong Kong, Malacca, and other ports, in clothing, was fantastic and fascinating. So even though we broke our rule, I gotta say, totally worth it…

So without further ado, to the photos!

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On the left the traditional garments of Peranakans, the mixed community of Chinese-Malay traders and fisherman. In the center, Chinese traditional dress, and on the right, South-Indian lungi.

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A kimono from the Japanese community in Singapore.

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Indian/Malay worker garb on the left, next to European/American female dress in a light gauze for the tropical heat (although God knows those undergarments would cancel THAT out…)

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On the right, Malay/Indonesian/Peranakan female dress with Portuguese lace and Chinese prints/embroidery. On the left, Gujurati cloth for an Indo-western sari.

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European male suit next to a Parsi merchant’s garb.

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Indian sari in the foreground, in the style adopted after the 1890’s with a blouse and petticoat underneath.

I love imagining a city of such vibrant and diverse clothing cultures, and therefore people cultures! I guess on some level Singapore is still like this, like London, New York, and other large and small cities of diverse groups. Spending time in Mumbai, where the clothing culture often feels homogenous in the extreme, I think I appreciate this mix on an even deeper level than I had before.

The exhibit also had some lovely examples of fabrics and their re-use in new clothing shapes. Like Indian chintz, so very popular in European clothing:

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Which then became something like this:

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I totally saw a woman looking at a similar fabric to create a kurta/trouser set in a fabric store in Bandra the other day. True story.

Of course, it wasn’t just Europeans who loved Indian chintz. Check out these Southeast jackets:

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I’m sure people were like, sick kimono, bro. Right? That sounds like a normal 19th century thing to say.

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A mix of Chinese imagery with Indonesian prints for this decorative hanging.

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The many faces of labor and commerce in 19th Century Singapore.

If I think about it, a lot of my own clothing is a mix of Indian fabric with Western shapes, so many in some tiny way I am also a part of a cultural global fabric and costume exchange. Diversity in how people look and how they dress and what they do and act is, to me, the cornerstone of progress and human development. If you never see anyone around you who looks, acts, speaks, eats, or thinks differently than you do, you probably will think that the world is singular. But to my mind it is beautiful in its variety, and I love seeing that in an exhibit like this one. Doesn’t it make you want to go out and pick of a global assortment of fabrics for inspiration and creation? Make a batik ballgown, stitch up some Thai silk cigarette trousers, or try a gingham tunic or a pinstripe kimono! Let’s be a part of a global fashion movement that celebrates diversity as the very fabric of humanity. Onwards, friends! To the sewing machines!

 

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Filed under Clothing, Costume, history, Life

The Twice In A Year Shirt

The title of this post is less reflective of the item I sewed than it is of the place where I had the photos taken. Because when you get a chance to see one of the seven new wonders of the world TWICE in a year, you….well, you sort of just do it because even though Agra is a total bitch of a sad one horse, one million cow town, and you really don’t need to fight through a thousand beggars, children trying to send you pens decorated with mirrors, and literal goats twice in your lifetime, when your mom wants to see the Taj, dammit, you lady-up and SEE THE TAJ. Twice. In one year. Ooo-pah!

Having guests in India is wonderful, especially when it’s my parents, but it’s also stressful, because you want to give people the best possible experience but there is a lot out of your control, and everyone’s tolerance for and understanding of the developing world is different. I’ve had guests eager to engage with India, and guests uncomfortable with the realities of India, and honestly, most of the time those are the EXACT SAME GUESTS, just in different moments in time. India is not for the faint of heart, and while I’m happy living in Mumbai, I’m not really the Indian tourism board over here, and I don’t feel any kind of need to convince others to like the country. Even the most luxorious trip to the sub-continent exposes travelers to the realities of the polarization of wealth, the divisions in culture, class and way of life, and the fact that day to day existence can be a real struggle, no matter how much money you can throw at the problem. Navigating India can be exhausting, hilarious, magnificent and strange, so when I have people come, I want to bear the brunt of that for them, with some (a ton of) help from what’s-his-face, but that sometimes means running a long monologue that goes like “okaywe’regoingtogodownthisstreetintothiscabdon’tfeedthatmonkeyIdon’tknowwhythatthingislikethathereissomebottledwateryesthat’sacownothat’sabuffaloyesthat’ssadokaylet’sgetoutofthecaryesit’scooltakeaphotookaylet’sgobackintothecar”. And so on.

Having been to the Taj Mahal twice now, traveling two separate ways at different price points, I can say with some confidence that getting to Agra is arduous, but possible, and however you do it, you are going to end the day sweaty, dusty, annoyed and exhultant, because not only did you see something awesome, YOU MADE IT BACK. Don’t discount either as victories. This time we took a car, true luxury indeed, and stuffed like sardines being jolted over every speedbump and pothole on the road, being driven by a man who knows that road like the back of his hand and deserves a medal for the kind of patience he displays driving in India, I guess 35 years working for the Delhi Board of Tourism will do that for you, we, like the Mughals who came before us, stared in wonder at the marble tomb of Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. We had to compete with thousands to do so, of course, but still. Worth it.

And while my parents marveled at the inlay and the carvings and the sheer gorgeousness of it all, I got what’s-his-face to snap some photos. What? You’re mad I didn’t fight through to see the actual tomb part once again? I’ve BEEN before, jeez….

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I know, I know, how are you supposed to care about the shirt with that background? My top, an Itch To Stitch Mila shirt, didn’t take nearly as long to make, I’ll be honest. But it was also a labor of love, does that count?

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Well I say labor, but it’s pretty easy. The placket instructions are excellent, and this is the second time I’ve made it, but never blogged the first. I lengthened it, and would even do a little more next time, frankly.

I got the fabric at my new favorite fabric place in Mumbai, Thakur Fabrics on Hill road for any locals. This shirt is dusty and wrinkled from the day exploring Fatephur Sikri (Akbar’s capital, built and then abandoned) and Agra, but you get the idea. The strain at the buttons is I think a by-product of the long day, because it fits quite well. I think I stitched up a 14 with the D Cup size, which is super comfortable, and I’m happy this shirt had cup sizes, I rarely see that in independent patterns! Well done, Itch To Stitch! It’s seriously a lovely pattern company, and I’m excited to explore other designs.

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I omitted the collar this time, but did one for my first version, and found it to be well drafted, etc. I guess I don’t have much to say about this shirt, the tricky thing is the placket at the front but it’s worth it, and this one is well designed and explained, so it’s easy to do well. I like the popover look! It’s cute, and while I thought it would make my already large chest look insane, it DOESN’T. So there you go, me and Shah Jahan, getting stuff DONE.

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I made the long sleeved version, although I had the sleeves rolled up for most of the day because although it’s chilly in the evenings in Delhi during the winter, climbing around monuments is hot during the day! I did some stripe playing, as you can see, with the cuffs and the placket.

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Little side view for you. It’s a very dramatic curve at the side seam, which is also why I would lengthen this even more next time. I think I did two inches this time, but I wouldn’t mind a little more, really…

Otherwise, love this shirt! Love this fabric, love this pattern, love all around!

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Obviously you needed a little Taj selfie. I mean, come on, if you don’t take a selfie at the Taj did you even really GO? Not according to the internet! I tried to get my parents on board but that means explaining what a selfie even IS and that’s just, that’s the kind of labor that would go into making a second Taj. Who’s got that kind of time?

 

So there you go! One last post for 2016. I hope you all have had a magnificent year, as painful as some parts of it have been, and for the love of god, let’s hope 2017 is better. Maybe I’ll go to the Taj like five more times. That’ll help, right?

 

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Filed under Itch To Stitch, Travel

In Search of Fabric or Forest for Trees

Oh my goodness, this past month was a total whirlwind, and my backlog of projects to photograph is bigger and better than ever before, just take my word on that. Travel from city to city and hosting friends in Mumbai was layered with furious working and sewing sessions, none of which has been conducive to blogging, but it has been a blast, I must say.

Projects I’ve completed include, but are not limited to, two pairs of Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files, a bunch of Burda Style Jakob shirts for Mr. Struggle, curtains for our apartment, a bajillion Scout and Tiny Pocket tees, a Mission Maxi Dress, by Christina Hayes, a self-drafted box pleated maxi skirt, two more sleeveless Archer shirts, a Seamwork Adeline dress, at least three plantain tops, a McCalls M6696 shirt dress that I finished last night, oh god, the list goes on and on….

How do you guys do it? How do you get good consistent photos of your projects? This is something that has plagued me since I started blogging, how to get photos, how to make time for that, how to even like the way I LOOK in pictures, how to not feel embarrassed to ask other people. I left my tripod at home in the States, and I will say having one did make it a little easier to get photos of myself, but it’s always been an issue for me, getting photos of my projects. I love my friends, but I don’t always love their photos, and I get uncomfortable trying to get them to do what I want them to and usually give up halfway through and say, it’s fine, it’s fine, and never use the photos because they aren’t what I want. I think the trick is to take a million photos, because then about five of them work, but no matter how many times I assure people “just keep taking photos” or “tell me if I look weird” it is rare that either of those things actually happens. But given the kind of backlog I have, I think I need to find some kind of better solution here, because I have so much unblogged…I have the sewing part down, I like the writing part too, but the photography part, that’s the issue.

At any rate, here is a quick outfit and a lot of photos from my travels to the north. India is a great place for fabric, as you may know, but what you might not know, what I didn’t really know, was the amount of types of fabric that are produced all over the country, and the fact that every region has their specialities, their methods, their materials, their weaving and dying techniques. The floaty fine muslins that inspired such fervor in Regency England come from Bengal, things like this:

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The thick brocade silk weaves of Benares, now Varanasi, are duplicated all over the world, and they look like this:

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Chintz from the Coromandel Coast inflamed the European imagination, and we can see the influence of these patterns and dye techniques even today:

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But for many, when they think of Indian fabric, the first thing that pops into their head is hand block printed styles from the great state of Rajasthan, or Land of Kings. A central fabric producing hub since pre-Mughalite India, it wars with nearby Gujarat, the embroidery center and longstanding fabric powerhouse, for dominance of Northern styles, and it’s the place I wanted to take my friend Liz, (hi, Liz!) who was visiting me in India. A magnificent pattern maker and stitcher, although she loathes both (why oh why does the universe give such gifts to those who spur them?) Liz is a costume historian and she works at FIT. Despite her disinterest in sewing she does actually sew, and makes awesome beautifully constructed things I would kill to create, and she was excited to do some textile-based tourism in India. We toured the Anokhi Block Printing Museum (which I had detailed in this post), and even got to visit the amazing Rangotri Fabric Printing Workshop (a must for any Jaipur visitors interested in this form). We also did some damage at Delhi’s government emporiums, which are a fabric education in and of themselves, showing visitors the variety and magnificent quality of Indian textiles.

Check out our bounty:

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Block pints and ikats!

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Khadi forever. There is so much beauty in this simple cloth, I can’t get over it!

 

 

I know, I know, it’s excessive, but to be fair, half of this stuff is Liz’s….

Now, to show you the guts of the Rangotri Fabric Printing Workshop!

Headed by Vikram Joshi, who worked for Anokhi for a long time before heading out on his own, this company is amazing and does gorgeous work. Using traditional techniques and modern aesthetics, Joshi often enlarges a simple shape or design until it becomes something else entirely as a block, or uses older designs with different colors and combinations, to create something that is at once traditional and new. He does custom printing work as well for people, carving blocks and printing designs that look so unlike what you think of as wood block printing, it’s remarkable. With a workshop that includes all levels of production, from block carving to clothing stitching all in one place, the quality control and design is all supervised by Joshi, who was kind enough to give us a tour and set me loose in his overstock room, where I picked up more than one amazing piece of fabric….

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The floral on the left and the zebras and the blue bird are all from Rangotri.

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Cadfael modeling his personal favorite. Some of this has already been turned into a living room curtain but the rest is going to be an outfit so I can match my curtains a la Maria Von Trapp!

He also collects wooden blocks, and has an insane collection of textiles and pieces in his own personal little museum. I hope someday he makes a larger museum, because I would so be there….

Check it out!

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A block printer carving out a simple design or horizontal lines.

A block printer carving out a simple design or horizontal lines.

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A block and the dye.

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The block printing wardrobe. Watching these amazing printers quickly and perfectly place the blocks and print the fabric is insane, both hypnotic and awe-inspiring.

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A little close up for you. Most prints require a minimum of four blocks. Every time you see a color, that’s a block to distribute that color.

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Prepping a piece for printing.

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Once it’s printed, it’s hung, then later washed and dried.

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The “true” final color of the print above.

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Amazing that this is a block print, right? It looks painted, but it’s all coming from a carved piece of wood. Also, you can see what happens to the color after it’s processed, washed and hung. The colors on the bottom are the “true” final colors.

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This guy soaks and beats the cloth. Clearly he doesn’t need a gym membership. I can’t believe no pop-gym has adopted this as a work-out method yet….

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Quality control! Having the whole process in one place means immediate communication about the quality of the objects.

Rangotri produces a lot of home-goods fabrics, in fact, that’s most of what they do, which is sad, because I would buy ALL the fabric from them if it was commercially available. As it is, you have to go there and hope they left you pick up a piece or two. Still, it’s totally worth it!

And now, just because I have to get through this one way or another, a little outfit post for you:

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It’s a Scout Tee from Grainline Studios in a fabric I picked up in Kolkata and a pair of Butterick 5898 Patterns by Gertie pants in a stretchy crappy fabric I grabbed at Mumbai’s Mangaldas Market, which were great for Delhi in summer (it’s already summer here), because it helps to be more covered up in Delhi, a city where men actively stare at you wherever you go, although it’s so painful to be so in the scorching unforgiving sauna that is Delhi. Capris and loose-fitting tops like this help. They don’t ENTIRELY make it great, but they help!

 

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Oh! I also did Me Made May, of course, through my Instagram  but honestly, at this point in my life, I wear me-made every day, so I sort of have a me-made LIFE, really. I always enjoy seeing other people’s stuff, though!

Okay, I’m off to put my life back together post-travel, and try to figure out a way to photograph my excruciating backlog, sigh. Seriously, advice is welcome! Happy June, everyone. What are you sewing this summer?

 

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Filed under Butterick Patterns, Dye, Grainline Patterns, Life, Sewing, Travel

The Worth The Wait Dress

This is the first thing I ever made when I came to India, and it is sort of strange and wonderful and awful that I haven’t blogged it before now. But the thing about this dress is, it is probably also my favorite thing that I’ve made here to date, and I’ve worn it so many times and thought about photographing it So. Many. Times. that it in some strange way makes sense that I never took a moment to photograph it before because I was too busy loving it to get a moment to document it. I have seriously worn this dress in all kinds of circumstances, in several Indian cities, all over Mumbai, and now, finally, in Udaipur, the most romantic of Indian cities, which I recently visited (i.e. returned from today) with my friend, Emily. We had a very romantic time in Udaipur, although people did ask me where my husband was, but I mentioned that such a thing would be wasted on him….

Isn’t is amazing how the garments that are most useful to you end up being the very last that you document and share with the world? I have put this dress on so many times and told myself I was going to get photos of it and every time that has been a huge fail. The very evening I finished it I was all set to go out in it, and then our plans got cancelled, we ended up in with wine and netflix, and that was the first time of many that the documentation of this dress was a dream deferred. I wore this to work, to be the hospitality official for a Bollywood celebration event (don’t ask, I can’t even deal with my life here sometimes), out to a birthday party in Kolkata, to my friend’s literary panel in Bangalore, and now, strolling the streets of Udaipur. This dress gets around.

Maxi-dresses were never really my thing, but I have to say, it’s a really useful thing to have here in India. If you are planning a trip to India, let me recommend the maxi-dress. Maxi-dresses are extremely useful here, they keep you cool and comfortable and you still subscribe to Indian modesty standards, limiting and arbitrary as they are. I personally am not a huge fan of the way that some clothing traditions restrict women and not men, especially when they have no cultural or religious injunction and are a modern invention that has had an imagined social history established as part of a national myth, but you should check out my other blog for my more articulate feelings on THAT subject. Nevertheless, I live in India, and however else I feel, I still want to adapt. Maxi-dresses are a helpful way to do that. They work really well in a rickshaw, which is good, because the open-air of the experience along with the bumps in the road make you happy you have covered your lower body and don’t have to think about anything. Except how awesome this looks! Check it out:

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As maxi-dresses go, I happen to think this one is aces. And I finally got a chance to take photos of it, courtesy of Emily! Thanks, Emily! And the setting couldn’t be more perfect. Thanks, Udaipur!

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As I said, this was the first thing I made when I got here. I found the fabric quite near to my apartment between Santacruz West, where we live, and Bandra, a super hip neighborhood. I was going to meet my friend Natasha, hi, Natasha! for lunch, when she texted that she would be late, a common ailment in Mumbai because of the traffic. I took a moment to explore the neighborhood around the place we were to meet, and found Sew In Style, a fabric store along the way.

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I picked up this Ikat fabric, and cut out a maxi dress from it, employing a little strategy mixing directions along with my bodice block for the bodice. I wanted a slightly looser style, so I added a larger seam allowance than usual, and I finished everything with bias tape instead of lining it. Very Mumbai weather friendly…

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I drafted the skirt, whose large box pleats do not seem that evident in these photos, and it’s turned out quite well. The hem is a little narrow for the strenuous activity I have performed in this dress, but what can you do? Sometimes you buy fabric first, realize what you need later, it is what it is. And I sort of like lifting up the skirts of this dress as I climb up large temple stairs and pitch myself over obstacles. I feel downright historical.

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A little back view for you, with the skirt in a very bell-like situation.

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A little close up of the bodice, slightly obstructed by my hair, for which I will blame Udaipur. Udaipur, which is a small city in Rajasthan, is simply gorgeous, and on a small lake.

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Everything in this town is about the lake, the views, the sunset over it, the palace near it, etc. It’s great.

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But the wind is also…a thing .

Also, we realized I had been standing in front of an amazing royal marble bench that whole time and not even used it! A fatal crime, am I right? I had to deal with that.

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My best possible Maharani pose. I think I do the Mewar dynasty fairly proud, don’t I?

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Okay, I couldn’t keep it up for long. But what can I say, I’m just a girl in a maxi-dress, making life work for me as best as possible. I am so glad I finally blogged about this dress, though. Of all the places I wore it, this was the best, view-wise. Well worth the wait, I say. For the first dress I made in my new home, I knew something special was in order. Thanks, Udaipur. You, like this dress, were worth the wait.

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Filed under Sewing, Travel

The Texas Two Step Outfit

Guys, I did something that many people truly refuse to do. I went back to Texas. I know! Who does that? But honestly, I went back to AUSTIN, so does that even count? It’s like, the anti-Texas, it’s got all the wonder and beauty of Texas without any of the crazy or conservative. It’s got smoked briskets at ever corner, cool cocktail bars with dumpling trucks attached, lovely scenery and actually deeply nice people. Unlike the saccharine strangeness that can sometimes pervade the South East coast, the South West is just some nice people with a lot of sand and sun and meats to cook. And many other things, obviously. But this trip to Texas was as lovely as my last, with the one exception of my friend Lisa not being there, which was a bummer, sigh. I had to have SO many glasses of wine in her honor, it was SO hard but totally essential, duh. Mr. Struggle, having never been there before, was excited about the food and, well, mostly just the food, but I managed to drag him to an art museum in between BBQ joints and beer. (He drank the beer. I don’t do such things. Obviously.)

It was really a lovely trip, and I must say, Austin is just an awesome city. Mr. Struggle was rather enchanted and I got to feel that smug superiority of someone who has already discovered and enjoyed something and gets to be all “I told you so” to their significant other. I’m sure there is a word in German for that. German. A language of feelings and throat clearings. And despite the general craziness of my post-graduate school post-getting-married life, I managed to make a few things for the trip! Two of which I will show you in just a moment.

Side note, I totally use traveling as an excuse to sew. I think I have the mentality of one of these Victorian ladies who took Grand European tours, that is, that journeys in fact require new themed clothing so that the peoples of Italy, or in this case, Texas, would think me chic but also adaptable. I don’t know why I assume that when I travel people I have never met before will need to see something new, because, well, wouldn’t everything I ever wear be new to them? but I do. I really do. There is probably a word for that kind of insane in German as well!

So for this trip, I made a little bit of a casual outfit because Texas is a rather relaxed place, a place where cowboy boots and dresses are an appropriate combination, a place where all denim outfits are not mocked, a place where large buckles are more important than large watches and hats are still a thing. So I figured, when in Rome…

TTS1This is a little bit of a Colette Patterns binge here. The pants are Clovers, like I do. I love the Clover. You can pull that pattern out of my cold, dead hands. I have made so many damn versions of this pattern, I have almost nothing to say about it. You know the drill, flat felled seams, invisible zipper, blah blah blah. These are denim. Very 1950’s style ladies jeans. And the back view!

TTS6Annnnnd more photos of my posterior on the internets. Why do I do this, again?

And the shirt! Is ALSO a Colette Patterns selection, the ever popular Jasmine. I have some issues with this pattern. Mr. Struggle, for the record, loved it.

TTS2I don’t know. I really wanted to love this shirt. I thought a lot about it. I don’t know, it’s just always a little off no matter what I try. It’s too short, for one thing, and I don’t know if I over-compensated with the full-bust adjustment I did. I just don’t know. It’s a quandary.

TTS4I used a material I got on fabric.com for 1.99 a yard. So, you know, whatever, I will wear this and it wasn’t hard to make. But I’m not quite sure about this fit, honestly.

TTS5The back is okay, though!

TTS3Whatever, I felt cute enough, I guess that’s fine. I can only really say that I think it looks better in real life, honestly. It just fits better than it looks like it does in photos. The fabric is pretty cute, though!

TTS8And it went from a Pitch Perfect Sing along, like you do, to more barbeque in the Texas sun before we headed home. We got there at 10:30am to enjoy it before our flight, and I must say, that truly is the breakfast of champions.

This is a smoker that assures us that heaven considers Texas strongly:

TTS9And there is what you can order from this particular dining establishment:

TTS10And here is how this meal made me feel!

TTS7I wonder if there is a word in German for the bliss of a full stomach cradled under a completely homemade outfit? If not, there should be.

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Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Travel

The Orange Is The New Black Dress

So, recently I haven’t been posting much because A. the backlog of things I need to shoot is epic and B. I had big summer plans! Namely, some people I love very much who simply had to be visited this summer. I mean, come on, if you have people who live in amazing places isn’t it simply your obligation to go see them, regardless of their own desires? I’m just kidding, I would never visit anyone who didn’t want me to be there, that being said, I have been known to SUGGEST that a friend might want me to be there….and that’s what I recently did with my friend Lisa. Lisa is a damn saint (this works, she grew up Catholic!) and she has put up with me not just here in the continental United States but also in CHINA! I keep forcing Lisa to let me visit and she keeps being stupid graceful about it, like, come on, man, if you don’t want me to just intrude on your life maybe stop having such an interesting one, AM I RIGHT?

So now Lisa lives in Austin, which is an awesome place. How do I know such a thing? Because recently I imposed myself on my almost-a-decade-old friend and made her give me a place to sleep in Austin, plus food, PLUS BOOZE. See where the saint term comes from? She’s a wonder among women…

AND. She took photos of me. In the outfits I made to visit her in Austin. Because she is, like, the best damn person that exists. And I made her do it after our run around the Lady Bird Lake Trail (okay, this is important, Lyndon B Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson had the same initials, how is that not the weirdest thing anyone has ever heard of and also, THAT IS SO STRANGE, and also, Austin is so into these people, COME on, no one wanted that guy to be president, we can all agree on this, right? RIGHT?) on her damn BIRTHDAY, because Lisa is, like, the best person. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN TRY. AND HER HAIR DRIES WONDERFULLY. AND SHE LIKES DOGS. I can’t even. If I hadn’t pledged my life to hers years ago I would seriously hate this girl, but as it is, uprising comes? I’m Team Lisa, FOR THE WIN.

So recently Lisa and her boyfriend got into Orange is the New Black. Which. Have you seen it? You need to go see it. A friend got me into it and for the love of GOD, it is too good for words. If you haven’t seen it, please, stop reading this, seriously, nothing I have to say is as interesting as that series, go, watch it, it’s 13 hours long, I can wait. Don’t worry about it. Go. NOW.

Are you done? Did you see it? ISN’T IT AMAZING? Okay, cool, we can go on now. Yes, I’m sad too that it’s over, but it’s been picked up for a second season so…

Also I made a dress. If you want to go watch it again instead of looking at it that is so okay with me, seriously.

OITNB 9This is yet another Ballet Dress from Dixie DIY. I promise the hem is straight despite these photos…

OITNB 6Lisa took these in her apartment complex because she is magnificent as a human being.

OITNB 7What can I say? I got the fabric from Girl Charlee and it has oranges all over it, so….

OITNB 8This is me with my new garden owl boyfriend. We’re pretty happy together…

OITNB 4This is me sitting in the most demure Texan Belle way I can think of.

OITNB 5The swirl potential on this dress is pretty baller. I used the Dixie DIY bodice and added a half circle skirt and I’m fairly thrilled with the results. SO, by the by, are the residents of Austin, who were INSANELY nice to me when I wore this dress (and in general, AUSTIN IS AWESOME). I got so many compliments from strangers, homeless and otherwise, that, as I told a friend, I felt like I was in the Truman Show. I am not that good at making stuff. Austin is just a nice place.

Seriously, I was trying to take a self-photo and a homeless person was like, do you want ME to take that? And I did!

OITNB 1Along with a local popsicle! Which was DELICIOUS, by the by, and who doesn’t love the sheen of Texas-sun sweat you can detect in this shot?

OITNB 10Apart from being amazing and talented and wonderful, Lisa also is great at directing photography, don’t you think?

OITNB 3Some close-ups of the print:

OITNB 12Hence the orange name…

OITNB 14Oh, maybe you want SEE me and my gorgeous photographer/life coach?

OITNB 2Well of course you do. HOW PRETTY IS SHE? Also, a wonderful person. LIKE THAT MATTERS…

And there you go! And if you didn’t read this because you were busy watching the show, you know what? WORTH IT.

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Filed under Clothing, Dixie DIY, Fabric, knit, Sewing, Travel