Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

my Vogue Patterns article on Anna Heylen

My article on Maison Anna Heylen is in this month's issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine.


It's not online anywhere, only print. Here's a preview:


I'm totally stoked about this because I've been a fan of Anna's work for a long time, and I visit the atelier whenever I'm in Antwerp. (Pics thisaway!) And because I looove love love Vogue Patterns; I read every issue cover to cover and keep them all. So I'm really happy to have the opportunity to write for them.

This took about a year to put together, between interviewing Anna (who is lovely), writing, editing, gathering photos and pattern-testing, because it also includes instructions for making one of her accordion-pleat puff sleeve. I'm dying to put one on a jacket at some point, after I practice some more.

It's out! I can't believe it's out! Yay.

In other news, we had a foster failure and wound up adopting this guy:


His name is Jack-Jack and his hobbies are stealing food and lounging on the seersucker I'm using for my Rachel Comey dress. He's cute.

Friday, April 13, 2018

spring Vogues

Confession: I like 'em.

Still can't do any ruffles or maxis or cold shoulders or open backs. (Saw my dermatologist yesterday! She yelled at me—again!) But I really love some of them and am intrigued by some of the others.

Such as!

Tracy Reese, V1584


I love this very hard. You had me at asymmetrical neckline with pleats. And that fabric is amazing.

Tracy Reese, V1586


There's a theme here, I know, but Tracy Reese always has really great patterns. Love the fabric in this one too.

(Don't worry, dermatologist, I'll finagle some kind of solution for the shoulders.)

Rachel Comey, V1585



I am...really intrigued by this, and might get it just to see how it makes up, even if the shape isn't  right for my petite apple-shaped self. I love that it's not the usual seersucker dress.

Marcy Tilton, V9317


I like this but not sure if I can pull it off.

Rebecca Vallance, V1591


I love this, but again with the open back. Cannot do.

Vogue Easy Options, V9313


Digging view F here. And look, sleeves!

As someone said on Lladybird's roundup, I kind of like it when designers mess around. It's why I love Vogue over most of the other pattern companies. Even if it doesn't work, at least it's interesting.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Alabama Chanin fitted dress #2

Way back, in, oh, 2012, or so, I picked up Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, fell in love with the eye candy, and fell hard for the dress on p. 153:


I kept returning to that page, and looking at it, and looking some more, and eventually I went, okay, I need to learn how to do this. And I took a deep breath and went and made my first purchase -- AC fabric in black and blue slate.

Eight years later, it is done. I finished it two days ago and debuted it today at a mini-Pattern Review meetup at the Peabody Essex Museum. (Hi Deepika!)


(It didn't take eight years. I started in June 2017.)





This time around, I raised the neckline, shortened the shoulders, and pulled in the bust area a bit at the center seam. I like the fit much better and might go unpick the first dress to make the same changes. 

(Also, you know your second dress is better than the first when your husband says, "Looks good. The first one was a bit...chaotic.")


Technique notes this time around:

1) I used spray adhesive on the back of the stencil, which worked GREAT. I worried that the adhesive would affect the fabric somehow, or it would be hard to pull the stencil off, which was not the case at all. It was fine.
2) I used Tulip black fabric paint at full strength, which covered really nicely -- although it was thick and a little hard to work with, and I kept having to stop to clean the nozzle.
3) Like last time, I did reverse applique with a running stitch around the shapes, and a Cretan stitch to bind the neckline and armholes. I feel like the Cretan stitch is getting easier, but I'm still not 100% thrilled with my work.

But. I'm SO happy to finally have The Dress. It's super-comfortable and I like it.


Side note: We saw the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit, which was amazing, because Georgia O'Keeffe designed and/or hand-made a lot of her own clothes. (The pintucks! OMG, the lady knew her pintucks.) Natalie Chanin spoke there a few weeks ago -- she's a big O'Keeffe fan and came to give a talk and a workshop.


AND ALSO if you like Alabama Chanin at all and are interested, you should check out the new School of Making Stitchalong Facebook group. It's great and very inspirational and people are making some really beautiful and cool things. That is all.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2017 recap and Paris and stuff

Hello from Massachusetts, where the cats are hunkered down on every heating vent and I'm living in sweatshirts and flannel pants and vats of moisturizer.


I'm enjoying reading everyone's sewing recaps. I wasn't all that productive this year -- just a couple of Renfrews for the office and two mostly finished dresses that need some unpicking and fixing. And I'm on the last panel of the blue-and-black Alabama Chanin dress, yay.

In work-life stuff, my contract ended in November (all good! the person I was covering for came back from maternity leave. I really liked them, actually, and I'm hoping something else opens up there), and a week after it did, I went to Paris!

(But Duck! you're saying. You're unemployed. How can you possibly afford Paris?)

(To which I say: Paris is dead cheap in December, and also I used airline miles and stayed in a hostel, which was fine except for the night someone projectile-vomited from the top bunk, which is a story for another time.)

It rained just about every day, but I had the Paris museum pass, which turned out to be the best thing ever, because you can just pop into any museum you want anytime. I saw a bunch of the ones on my list, including the Louvre, the Cluny, Ars et Metiers, and the Arc de Triomphe (I climbed it!), and a bunch I hadn't planned to just because I had the pass, including the Centre Pompidou, the Picasso museum, and the Orsay. I'm not a huge fan of the Impressionists, but I sure did love the building.



Stained-glass awesomeness at the Cluny
I did a bunch of Christmas shopping too. I know it's super-touristy, but I looooooved loved loved Galeries Lafayette. 


Also I found the world's creepiest Abercrombie & Fitch in an old mansion on the Champs-Elysees. It looks like it's run by vampires.



The road to hell is paved with polyester fleece
I didn't do a ton of fabric shopping, but I did track down Malhia Kent, where they weave fabrics for Chanel and some of the other couture houses. I watched them weave for awhile, which was pretty amazing. They wouldn't let me take pictures inside, but here's what it looks like. 


Also: They. Have. One. Euro. Remnants. 

Still sorry I didn't snag that blue one on the bottom.
Also, I popped over to Antwerp for a super-quick day trip, mostly to see the Olivier Theyskens exhibit at the MoMu.



I loved seeing his sketches next to the finished garments.



Antwerp was really pretty, all lit up for the holidays. Still one of my all-time favorite cities.


Finally, while I was in Paris, I found out that Gary Graham is closing forever and f/w '17 is his last collection. AUUUUGGGGHHHH.

So after I got back and recuperated for a few days, I hopped on a bus to NYC.




I spent a lot of time wandering around and appreciating things. I love the whole steampunk-meets-Laura-Ingalls-Wilder vibe (as Tom said, "Put me on the airship, Pa"). And his color palette, and mix of fabrics, and the prints. Basically everything.

I finally bit the bullet and sprung for the linen duster I've been gawking at since MPB Day:


Here it is on the hanger:



Here's the inside:


That lining is everything. I can't wait to wear it when the weather warms up. Whenever that is.

Anyway, that's the update for now -- Happy New Year and happy sewing!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

holding pattern (and new Vogues)

I know I'm way overdue for an update here...sorry. New job and all that. It's over in mid-November. I like it there and I'll miss the people, but not the four-hour commute.

I've been posting pictures over on Instagram...everything from Male Pattern Boldness Day (very fun) to progress on the Alabama Chanin dress (I'm on panel 3 now!) to dyeing with avocado pits. (Semi-disappointing, but still interesting...apparently you don't need to use a mordant because of the tannins in the pits. I got a light peachy-pink on cotton jersey.) Also a gathered-dress fail, which I still need to unpick and redo.

Here are the 2 complete Alabama Chanin panels, btw:


I like it so far. I'm not completely thrilled about the line across the middle (it's really hard to get the stencil to repeat evenly), but also I'm not really going to worry about it.

I also bought a few patterns from DP Studio (yes, I paid the shipping...overall it wasn't that expensive). Looking forward to trying them out once I have some machine-sewing time again.

Finally, DID YOU GUYS SEE THE NEW VOGUES. Holyshit. !!!!!!!!

I love lots of them (like, it's really going to be hard to decide which ones to get when the time comes), but especially the tabard by Sandra Betzina.


I can see making it up in sweatshirt fabric or fleece for the winter, some kind of fancy fabric for parties, wool for the office. I like the shorter version too:


I really want to know how she proposed this to Vogue. Sandra Betzina: "Hey Vogue, how about a  medieval men's coat for your holiday patterns?" Vogue: "Okay!"

I love how non-trendy it is too. Honestly, if I see one more cold shoulder...

I'm also digging this other Sandra Betzina top:


In the right fabric, it's very Salem-around-Halloween. (So is the tabard, actually.)

I like also the front cutout on the Tom & Linda Platt top:




And I'm intrigued by the Paco Peralta pattern, although once again, I'm not sure the skirt is short-person friendly:



Can I say that I'm also happy that so many of these are separates? Party dresses are great and all, but I only need one.


Anyway, looking forward to having some machine-sewing time in a month or so!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Vogue fall picks

New Vogues! Yay!

I like this release. A few patterns I'm eyeing:

V1563, Rachel Comey jacket. This is so way, way out of my league, but I love the sleeve insets and the mix of fabrics.


V9267. Really hard to see it in this fabric, but I seriously love the lines.


Best short-person dress ever!


V9272, Marcy Tilton top with godets. Can I have it in that exact color?

And finally, this Vogue Wardrobe was a surprise:


I saw this on the front and thought, "oh, standard Vogue Wardrobe businesswear." But no, it's activewear. I like the sweatshirt:


So I think those...maybe? I don't know, I probably won't have time work on them! Until I stop commuting, it's all hand-sweing on the train for now.