Harley helps.

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

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.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Alabama Chanin updates

Fitted dress #2 is progressing. The first panel is done!

Here it is next to panel #2, which is stenciled and ready to go:

So here's the weird thing: 1) the completed panel definitely shrinks/contracts a little bit along the way, and 2) the blues look so different! Exact same fabric, though. I guess increasing the contrast by cutting out the shapes causes that?

Here's what I'm going for eventually:

I'm planning to make the underskirt too -- I ordered this hemp/organic cotton lightweight jersey from Organic Cotton Plus, which I'm hoping will work. Figuring out the beading should be fun. Also, seeing how long the "mid-length" skirt falls on someone who's 5'0".

And pockets! Pockets this time, if I can figure those out too.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MMM fail, the Azores, and the next Alabama Chanin project


I failed MMM—mostly because some unexpected things came up for which I didn't have MMM pieces. (I really need to learn to make a suit one of these days.) And I'm starting a new job on Monday in a formal work environment, and the only formal anything I have is that suit, so I had to spring for some RTW dresses and stuff. Double fail.

But! I got the dresses from Nau—in linen and hemp and Tencel, yay!—and also sprung for the Annelise dress from Alabama Chanin with cap sleeves, which I'm hoping will be dressy enough with a cardigan and flats. Hooray for NO MORE BLACK POLYESTER PANTS, EVER.

We also went to the Azores for a week (just Sao Miguel; we're definitely going back to see the other islands at some point!) Embroidery, knitting/crocheting and cross-stitching are big there, and I stumbled across at least four fabric/sewing stores. Some pics:

That newsstand had a kajillion issues of Burda and other pattern magazines, and a TON of cross-stitching magazines. I kind of busted my budget there.

Aside from that, I'm trying to get as much planting done as I can before the job starts—tomatoes, cukes, anise hyssop, hardy hibiscus, amaranth, and purple basil so far. I'm also trying to make progress on the next Alabama Chanin fitted dress:

I have to admit, every time I start a reverse applique project, I start to question whether I should just leave it stenciled. Sticking with the original plan for now, though.

That's all for now!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Me-Made May

I'm doing it this year for the first time now that I finally have enough me-made things to wear -- but won't be doing daily outfits or photos or anything like that.

Will most likely wear a lot of tees (I have a ton!) So far, I've worn:

Vogue 8877, which turned out to be super-comfortable; I wear it a lot more than I thought I would:

And blurrily stenciled Alabama Chanin/Renfrew mashup:

Weirdly, I get compliments on this when I wear it out. Blurry stenciling: the wave of the future!

In other news, foster kitty is doing well. We named her Kiki, after the cat in Kiki's Delivery Service. (Yes, I know the cat is a boy named Jiji; she just looks so much like a Kiki.)

She's gained weight (she's a super-picky eater, but we finally figured out that she only seems to like Purina Cat Chow; she doesn't even like treats!), passed all her tests, and will be going to the shelter for adoption on Sunday. I'll miss her! It's nice to have a lap-sitter around the house.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Vogue summer pattern update

I bought the Guy Laroche, the Anne Klein, and the Patricia Keay.

I can't stop thinking about the Laroche; it's such an interesting design. How do you even put that together? Metal or covered buttons? How does the overlay work? Why those sleeves? Etc. I kind of want the pattern just for the instructions.

Then, on the PatternReview roundup, I saw the amazing original version:

THAT MAKES TOTAL SENSE. Much better than the all-white version:

I fell in insta-love with the original version and am now trying to figure out how to rent or borrow an embroidery machine to make it happen (either that, or learn hand embroidery, which is a whole new world and something I was thinking about trying anyway).