Mustard Linen Jumpsuit and Windowpane Check Duster

Before I begin this post, I just want to take a moment to make my position very clear- I am a staunch proponent of #blacklivesmatter #blacktranslivesmatter #disabledtranslivesmatter and #defundingthegoddamnpolice. I am so worn out by the last couple weeks and I have tried to use my social media platforms as much as I can to share information on anti-racism, dispel harmful myths about blackness, shine light on the effects of white supremacy, and uplift the voices of my black, queer community. At this point I am exhausted from having these dialogues and dealing with the ignorance that is par for the course when we start talking about why black lives matter, so I don’t have much energy to write anything very eloquent here right now (other than this blog post that I wrote weeks ago and am only now getting around to posting, haha). My website will not be a space for debate or “conversation” with white people on why black lives need to be protected and police brutality needs to finally, FINALLY, end. You are either on our side, or you are in the way. I expect that I will write more on this at some point in the future, but ’til then, if you are not an actively anti-racist person, please feel free to begin the journey of defunding your own personal white supremacy/anti-blackness and seeking out information to enlighten your mind, your heart, and your spirit…anywhere but in the comments of my post 🙂

My inspiration for this jumpsuit came directly from themindfulsewist, who used FibreMood’s Carmella Jumpsuit as a starting off point and ended up with this beautiful thing!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B58fVDaAroa/

My jumpsuit has a slightly different fit than hers (which makes me want to give hers another go at some point) but I still love how mine came out. I already had so many similar jumpsuit patterns in my stash that I couldn’t bear cutting a new one out and figuring out all the alterations, so I combined 3 or 4 patterns to end up where I did, with a slightly loose-fitting, cropped legged jumpsuit. I started out with the pants of the Intrepid Boilersuit Pattern from Alice & Co that I tested a while back, then I added the Leah Jumpsuit pattern from FibreMood (I hadn’t made this pattern before but liked the collar and boxy but not-too-loose bodice). Next I used the popover button placket from the Kalle shirtdress to create that beautiful front button band, and I think there was a little taste of a McCalls jumpsuit pattern in there…but I can’t remember exactly where- maybe in the crotch curve of the pants? lol)

Anyways, it was a real Franken-sperience putting it all together, and I didn’t quite nail it. Aesthetically it’s great, but fit-wise I really don’t like the bodice. The arm holes are too low and I hate that webbed underarm look in garments where it seems like your arm and torso are connected. It’s not uncomfortable, but I like the fit of the arms on the Intrepid Boilersuit much better. Additionally, I’m not super pleased with the crotch depth- it’s just a teeny bit too short and has a tendency to ride up when I first put it on (versus once the linen has relaxed a bit). That part is all my fault- I usually leave like, a whole inch in the seam allowance of the waistband so that I can adjust the fit as necessary, but because of the order in which I sewed the button placket in relation to the rest of the garment, I had to make a decision on length before I was able to fully try it on, and I cut myself a little short.

The popover placket is one of the things that really drew me to themindfulsewist’s jumpsuit- it looks so finished and modern with it, much more interesting than the standard button bands I usually tack onto the front. And I always hate figuring out how to finish the bottom of the normal placket where it attaches to the crotch seam. Mine just never seem to turn out very clean. But this one looks great! Unfortunately, because I was hacking so many different patterns together and wasn’t following any one set of instructions, I painted myself into a bunch of weird corners in the process of sewing this. I got myself out of every single one of them, thankfully, but watching me figure all the details out in real time was quite the sight!

 

This was mainly because I really liked the popover button placket technique for the Kalle shirtdress and didn’t want to draft a new one for the jumpsuit; I essentially just took the popover pattern piece, lengthened it to fit all the way from the neckline to the crotch, then followed the instructions as written. Since the popover placket gets sewn onto a flat, uncut bodice front (you cut the placket open during construction after it’s been sewn and stabilized to the front piece), this meant that I needed to sew the waistband before I sewed the placket, but sewing the waistband on first meant I also couldn’t try it on for fit adjustments (it’s a woven garment, so a closed front meant I couldn’t try it on until after I had already made the placket). I solved this by doing some very weird clothing yoga where only half the waistband was sewn so I wouldn’t have to unpick the WHOLE thing in case the fit was off, and then I just kind of held the bodice up to my body with my legs in the pants and eyeballed where the shoulders hit, lol. It was bizarre! And inexact! As I said earlier in the post, I could have given myself a tiny bit more room at the waist to create more room in the crotch and more of a bloused effect, but it’s not uncomfortable so I am not stressing too much about it. Again, the garment is made of linen, so it softens and stretches out quite a bit after some wear.

Speaking of the fabric, WOWZA, amirite? This is a stunning vintage washed linen from The Fabric Store in the most beautiful blend of green, brown and yellow I could imagine. Mustard is in my color palette (obviously!) and I think it’s brilliant, one of those colors that doesn’t say much when by itself, but when worn against brown skin, it just sizzles.

So you may be asking, what the hell is going on with those pockets, lol. I loved the pockets from the inspo make- extra big patch pockets that took up practically the whole thigh. I waited to draft the pockets until after the majority of the jumpsuit was constructed so I could make sure I got the proportions correct, but once I got to that point, I realized I had very little fabric left and I still needed to draft a belt. At some point I was standing in the mirror with a pocket pinned to one leg and a scrap of fabric held around my waist for the belt, just trying to visualize the proper placement. The top of the pocket and bottom of the belt were hitting at the same place on me, and when I lifted the pocket just a touch to be even with the belt, I got this interesting apron effect with it. I wondered if I had enough fabric to make this apron idea an actual design feature, and after a little puzzling around with my tiny scraps, I figured it out.

I would have loved to have even more fabric so I could make the pockets bigger and wrap the apron/belt tie around my waist more than once, but I am totally satisfied with how this came out and I think it looks so rad. I can’t explain why it works, it just does, and honestly those are some of my favorite moments in making clothes. I have only a basic understanding of color theory and would consider myself only an intermediate sewist, but when things click into place for me without any rationalizing, when I’m just overwhelmed by a moment of “THIS LOOKS SO RIGHT!”, I feel rejuvenated! Because there isn’t really a science of style- we all have different tastes and we like what we like, and when I put these pink memade mules on with this brownish yellow ensemble, I can’t explain to anyone why it works, I just know that it makes my heart beat fast when I see it. And I really want to hold on to that, hold onto being motivated by my own tastes instead of what I think I am supposed to like, or what advertisers and marketers assume I will like based on my demographic.

So yeah, here I am inspired by a jumpsuit that I didn’t quite end up with myself, but one that I love nonetheless. And truth be told, I will probably give my inspo jumpsuit another try in the very near future- after having hacked about 3 jumpsuits from different pieces of different patterns, I am ready for a regular old run of the mill pattern that will need much less work. My guess is that the new Closet Case Patterns Bianca Flight Suit is gonna work out well for me since all their other patterns do, and Heather always does a fine job of sharing smart ways to correct fitting issues along the way! So far, jackets and jumpsuits have been my sewing mainstays (did you know that I will have made SIX JACKETS in the past 6 months?!?!) and I don’t want to ruin a good thing. Speaking of jackets…

 

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this one- making it was a last minute decision because I had acquired the pattern (Simplicity R10013) on my hunt for a different coat project which I ended up not using it for. It is a very simple and quick pattern to put together, no real shaping, no lining (although I ended up adding one), and no special techniques required. It’s a great pattern for a newbie but doesn’t offer much in terms of style- it’s baggy and boxy even in the XS I made. I think the only reason I like it is because the fabric is so dynamic. The fabric is actually the wool suiting that I planned to make my Jasika Blazer out of, which, FYI, is on it’s way to the blog, I just need better photos of the jacket first. Once that post is up, you can read all about why I discarded the fabric in favor of something more stable and thick, but thankfully I figured out another way to use it. It’s actually pretty terrific as a warm weather jacket- the wool suiting is so light that it’s almost floaty, which is why I decided to line it with white dupioni silk from my stash- it needed a little more heft to ground it. Again, it’s not the most interesting jacket in the world, but it’s gonna be a dream to layer over things when the weather gets cool again; thankfully the window pane check gives it all the drama it needs.

You might recognize that this icy blue color is not in my autumn palette (one of the other reasons I decided not to make a blazer out of it!) but it pairs beautifully with this mustard yellow and also with other oranges and browns in my palette, so although I haven’t had many opportunities to wear it yet, I think it will be a nice addition to the outerwear portion of my closet.

FYI, shoes are memade suede mules that you can read more about here. Thanks as always to Claire for the pretty pics, and thanks to you all for continuing to show support and love for me and my black community!

Spotted Shelby Romper

I LOVE THIS MAKE, I LOVE THIS MAKE, I LOVE THIS MAKE!!!

This is one of those garments that worked for me right from the very start- directly out the envelope and every step of the way. Such garments can be pretty few and far between for me, I usually need to make some sort of adjustment along the way, even if it’s just taking length out of the body or the sleeves, but nope, this one was solid the whole way through. What a joy to make!

I have been a fan of True Bias patterns for a while now, but for some strange reason it took me a long time to appreciate the full beauty and simplicity of this design. The Shelby Romper/Dress pattern came out a couple years ago I think, and…I dunno- it just didn’t jump out at me at the time. But that’s ok- better late than never, right? This design has a firmly 90’s vibe and I think that might have been one of the reasons I didn’t connect to it initially- I was in middle and high school in the 90’s and that decade isn’t cemented in my head as a particularly wonderful time in my life.

It was typical teenage angst stuff- hormones, crushes on all the wrong boys, managing the pros and cons of newfound independence- but with the addition of recognizing a sexuality I thought I needed to repress, dealing with racism every day while not always knowing how to defend myself against it, and confronting blatant misogyny and patriarchal standards of beauty. Although I probably fared better than a lot of people, I still connect those years with massive feelings of insecurity, loneliness, and confusion. Today when I see 90’s styles, I don’t always have a positive association with them- I only remember the feelings of inadequacy, the urge to pretend to be the confident, carefree girl that I so desperately wished I was.

But this is the beauty of adulthood, right? If we are lucky, we get to struggle through the tumultuous years of wanting to fit in and be liked by everyone and eventually settle down in the land of I’m Proud Of Who I Am, If You Don’t Like It, Feel Free To Get Lost. I’ve been living in this place for quite a while now, and wow, it’s so freeing! And it gives me the opportunity to reaquaint myself with pieces of my past in a new way. Like Doc Martens! I never wore them when I was a teenager because the fear of being seen as a “poser” was so terrifying to me- I wasn’t brave enough to explore my identity outside of what was expected of me, and I didn’t know of any black or brown cheerleaders who did show choir, excelled in English class, and wore Doc Martens.

While so many of my peers were trying to experiment with how they presented themselves to the rest of the world, I was exactly the opposite. So many things about my identity were ambiguous to others, so all I wanted was to be stuck in a box, to have a category, to feel known. Thankfully I don’t give myself those kinds of limitations anymore- I feel much more comfortable asserting my identity to others instead of trying to meet their expectations, and as a result, me and my Doc Martens have been living a pretty beautiful life together, trying out different styles, exploring our connection to fashion and queerness and identity on our own terms.

Enter: The Shelby Romper. My high school was mostly preppy, but I did see this style occasionally when I was out and about, usually as a dress (the romper option provided with this design has absolutely elevated the whole look for me). They were often made with Liberty-style floral prints on a black background, polyester or a rayon blend, and only the cool girls with really good taste in music wore them. They paired them with chokers and shit-kicking boots and fishnets tights, and while I feel pretty solid that I am *never* gonna be on the black velvet choker train again, I love the idea of taking such a defining style from the past and framing it with my own sensibilities. Black is one of my least favorite colors to wear (I appreciate it on others but it makes me feel invisible!), so marrying it with this bright, polka dot rayon from Emma One Sock in a shade smack in the middle of my Deep Autumn palette feels like a match made in Jasika heaven. The fabric is really light and flowy which matches the movement of the garment perfectly- although it’s a romper, it’s got the ease of a loose-fitting dress, so lightweight, floaty fabrics show it off so nicely.

Because there is so much ease in the romper, I didn’t grade between the waist and hips like I normally do and I made a straight size 2- there are like, 17 inches or so of extra ease in the hips so I knew that it would be plenty for me to still feel swishy in. There is no waistline seam in this pattern, as this style is traditionally made with princess seams that flow easily over the body, but there is a waist tie at the back to cinch in some of that volume. I think I forgot to mark the tie position on my back pattern pieces so I just kind of eyeballed it when it was time to attach them, and I think I made them a tiny bit too low- I would prefer they be maybe two inches higher, which is a quick and easy thing to fix on this garment, but alas I haven’t actually done it yet, lol.

I used french seams on the side and back seams of the garment but used regular ones with a serged finish for the front seams so that I could clip the curves and have them lay properly over the bust. Other than that, construction was an absolute cinch- very straight forward with smart techniques and clear illustrations, as I have come to expect from True Bias patterns. I really cannot rave about this make enough. I love every single thing about it- the sleeves are comfortable and proportionate to the rest of the garment. With the right textile, all that ease around the body lays down around my figure beautifully and doesn’t make me feel frumpy or like I am laden with extra fabric. The fabric itself is an absolute dream- cool to the touch and breezy, and striking with it’s simple, irregularly spotted print. It almost looks like animal print to me, but much more subtle. And the dynamic orange color gives me the perfect opportunity to play around with the color combos in my curated palette, essentially setting the stage for me to get away with the cool-toned robin’s egg blue of my boots, which is not in my palette, but successful because it is not worn right next to my face and plays off the heavy warmth of the orange romper.

I LOVE the length of this romper, too- I didn’t have to shorten it at all, and it gives me lots of coverage while still feeling very flirty and cute. I didn’t think when I first bought this pattern that I would ever make the long version, but seeing how in love I am with the short one, I would be remiss to not give it a try. I just saw someone’s version of the longer length Shelby on IG in a cotton double gauze and OH MY LORD it looks absolutely perfect! If I can get my hands on a richly-colored cotton gauze in my palette, you better believe this pattern is gonna make it to my sewing queue again, and I will 100% be wearing it with my Docs. Circle complete 🙂

A Short Story

This blog post is coming to you from my personal queerantine! Times are pretty terrifying and stressful and unprecedented for many of us who have had the privilege of living lives absent of large-scale chaos such as what the Coronavirus has introduced, but I have witnessed and experienced such profound moments of beauty during this time that I thankfully have been able to stay more optimistic than panicked. This weekend Claire and I had a google hangout with some of our NYC friends over dinner, and it was so lovely to see their faces- it added a sense of normalcy to my life that was desperately needed. We chatted about how we are all coping, how our families are doing, what our new normals looked like. I shared that I had just bought a huge packet of vegetable seeds to plant, the best case scenario being that gardening would give me something productive to do during isolation, the worst being that it would provide sustenance in the (hopefully unlikely) event that we would need better access to fresh food in the coming months. My friend Geri shared that she had just purchased gas masks. It was in that moment that I realized how much of an advantage we had over so many people, how much our environment was affecting our ability to feel optimistic and hopeful. We have sun, warm, breezy weather, plenty of outdoor space, a walkable neighborhood, lots of rooms, plants, flowers, more activities than one person could get through in a month. I love our home so much, but I’ve always thought of it as modest. Right now, though? It feels like a paradise.

Anyways, it got me thinking about how this pandemic has allowed so many of us to be vulnerable to each other in ways we just don’t normally practice. Sharing our fears and our worries to feel less alone, being honest about where we came from and where we want to be once we find ourselves on the other side, creating and inspiring one another and being soft to strangers and friends during the bleakest moments of our days. It’s one of the bright spots I’ve found, feeling so connected to people even though I am more isolated from them than I have ever been. In that spirit, I want to share a short story I wrote a while back. I wrote it to workshop in my writer’s group, the first I have ever been a part of. As someone who is constantly creating, I am embarrassed to say that sharing my fiction writing is REALLY difficult. It feels personal in a way that none of my other artistic endeavors do. I have been writing essays for years, but fiction holds this really strange, sacred space deep inside me, and sharing my work is literally one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever done. Which is why it feels kind of important now. In my writer’s group (which has been a beautiful experience for me because I am lifted up by some of the smartest, most talented and compassionate women I have ever known), one of the members remarked that my story was emblematic of a heroine’s journey, which really resonated with me. Because it’s not a big story, it’s very small, very intimate. But maybe that’s what we need to be reminded of right now, that sometimes saving ourselves is just as powerful as saving the world. Sometimes we are the world. It’s okay to show up for ourselves.

Below is my short story, if you feel so inclined to read it (and a drawing kind of inspired by it). Thanks for being here. I am wishing you all peace, and hope! And wishing you as many moments of joy as you can find or create yourselves!

Stockinette

She called them “panicked attacks” when she was a little girl, when her mom used to have them. As a kid she didn’t really understand what panic was as a singular thing, where it came from, what it meant. But she knew exactly what it looked like, the rolling chaos it brought, a wave too big for the shore. A panicked attack wasn’t just any ordinary, run-of-the-mill bout of anxiety; a panicked attack arrived with problems of it’s own.

The girl sat in her parked car in this foreign neighborhood, staring out her smudged front window, not actually seeing anything on the other side of it. She counted silently, backwards at first, and when she lost track of where she was, she counted forwards, and when when she lost track again, she just made up numbers.

“Two thousand, three hundred seventy-eight.”

Always in her head as the words, never the shapes.

“Four hundred thirty-two. Twenty-seven thousand, sixteen. One million, sixty seven hundred, thirty-one thous-.” She paused. She wasn’t good at naming 9-digit numbers. She started over.

“One million, sixty seven thousand, three hundred forty three.”

As she named numbers she made sure not to grip the steering wheel too tightly because she had read in a magazine (or maybe it was on twitter?), that if you clenched your muscles when you were about to be attacked by something panicked, your body would hang on to that fear and never release it, and you would be destined to live with negative energy churning through the strands of your muscles forever, and so would your babies, and so would their babies. (Wait, maybe it had been her horoscope). She worked her fingers gently, rhythmically over the molded bumps on the back of the steering wheel. The little dips were notches for your fingers to rest inside, as if to make sure the driver knew exactly where their hands were supposed to fit when operating the vehicle. As if the driver’s hands could go anywhere else while operating the vehicle.

She traced each of the bumps around the wheel and went back to counting. There were thirty-two of them.

She traced them out again. Thirty-three?

She traced them out again. No, thirty-two.

Thirty-two?

She traced then out again. Coughed.

Okay, thirty-two.

But how many dips in between the bumps?

Her eyes were getting dry from staring through the window into the bright outside, so she shut them tight. Took a deep breath. Took five more deep breaths. Focused on keeping her fingers relaxed while ignoring her taught shoulders pulled up her to her ears and her toes clenched into little balls under the roof of her Keds and her stone stomach struggling to make room for all the breath she was forcing in and out of it. She told herself she felt better. She wasn’t really sure if she knew what “better” felt like but she figured that if it wasn’t this, she could be sitting in her car until it turned dark. Maybe until it turned dark and then light again. She was in a dip between two bumps and if she didn’t climb out of it now, she wouldn’t manage to do what she had come here to do.

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Out of her car and squinting in the bright sun, she watched a middle-aged man with too many balled up plastic bags stuffed under his arms cross the street towards the peach colored house on the corner, number Fifty-Seven Sixty-Seven Oakley. She had memorized the house number last night but she pulled out her phone anyways, unable to stop herself from double-checking the address that she had already double-checked seven times before she left her apartment. What is double checking called when you do it more than twice?

“Double…triple…quadruple…” she muttered to herself, following in the man’s footsteps down the tree-lined sidewalk. “…quintuple…” she mouthed. She pulled her canvas tote tight against her body, then loosened her grip just as quickly, paid attention to her exiting breath (no negative energy). The thing is, she had never been to an estate sale before. And when she was in a new place, real or imagined, and she didn’t know what she was supposed to do there, what it was going to look like, how she was supposed to operate, she just…felt wrong. Too many possibilities to sort through and make sense of. Too many variables to prepare for. Not good. No bueno. No thank you.

Wait, what came next? Was six times of something the one that started with ‘sex’? Or was it seven times of something? She knew that if she walked fast enough she could enter the house right behind the man with the bags and learn how to be at an estate sale by watching him (he looked like he knew what he was doing). But she couldn’t remember if ‘sextuple’ meant six of the same thing, or seven.

Two bags fell out from under the man’s arm. He bent to pick them up, but then another one fell out of his back pocket, and then four more fell from under his other arm. Maybe he didn’t know what he was doing. He snatched all the bags up, walking a bit more slowly towards the house to keep hold of them all, and at this point she could have easily caught up with him and followed at a respectful distance, but instead she slowed herself to pull out her phone from the very bottom of her bag, open the safari app, and type into the search bar “what next after quintuple”. She clicked the top result. Sextuple for six, google said. Septuple for seven. Octuple. She had learned all these a long time ago but had forgotten most of them, so she kept reading. Nonuple. Decuple. She rehearsed the words in her head, tried to commit them to memory. She glanced up just in time to see the man gently closing the front door of Fifty-Seven Sixty-Seven behind him, one of his dropped plastic bags doing a slow motion bounce across the overgrown lawn.

“Goddamnit” she groaned, marching across the walkway towards the three concrete steps leading up to the house’s tiny peach porch. At the front door she paused. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to ring the doorbell, knock, or just walk in. She cursed herself again. She hadn’t paid attention to what Plastic Bag Man had done because she just had to know what ten of something was called. She was right on the verge of starting what had the potential to be a very time consuming spiral of self-aggrandizement when she heard a car door slam behind her and turned to see a spritely older lady hop out of her Range Rover, open her trunk, and start pulling out cardboard boxes. If she waited any longer to go inside the house, the white-haired lady would be on the porch in no time, probably asking her questions, trying to make conversation. She felt her stomach roll. No bueno. The girl pressed her palm to the doorbell, then turned the knob with one hand while pounding on the door with the other.

Three’s a charm.

When she had first entered the house, the darkness, the coolness of the space, had stopped her in her tracks. She shut her eyes tight and waited for the wave of wooze to drip from her head and settle into her, yes, still clenched toes, where it usually resided, waiting to rise up again whenever she needed to be reminded that she was indeed a living thing. Her breathing steadied and she opened her eyes right as a clipboard swiped past her face, a mash of words trailing over the shoulder of the person holding it: “welcome-let-me-know-if-you-need-anything-sorry-the-velvet-couch-is-already-sold”. There were, in fact, many general things she needed at any given time. She would not be letting the person behind the clipboard know what they were.

The shadow of the space started to lift as her eyes adjusted and she realized she was in a living room, an older person’s living room by the look of the purple-ish shag rug and dusty brocade drapes towering in front of too-small windows. Clear plastic covered what was left of the furniture and she didn’t have to touch it to know it was sticky. She had once begged her mom to take her to the hospital, convinced she had ripped off the skin of her legs after spending three hours in the dead of summer on her grandma’s plastic covered couch watching a Soul Train marathon (her mom was going to take her but grandma said “uh uh we ain’t doin’ no such thing” and gave her ice cream instead). The space was awfully dated but the taste wasn’t exactly bad- everything looked well preserved, expensive. Not very crafty, though? She scanned the room, then peered down the hall looking for makes. A quilt, maybe? A framed cross stitch? A crocheted throw in too many shades of clashing acrylic orange? Nope, nada. The living room was littered with lots of things, but nothing seemed handmade: porcelain table lamp, albums, a mid-century stereo system and a collection of battery-operated radios from what looked like every decade of the past century. A vintage storage trunk in pristine condition that she could probably have fit her whole body inside of. Dozens of framed canvases were propped up against the walls, mostly still lifes, some portraits, all creepy, a perimeter of angles rising from the cushiony carpet. Did the person who used to own this house paint all these? Did a painting count as something ‘handmade’? Technically that seemed like a fair description, but it also seemed weird somehow. She had always hated the fact that painting was considered a practice of art while needlework was considered a practice of leisure. What was the difference if you used your hands for both?

She walked towards one of the smaller paintings that leaned against the couch, sliding between an armchair and a folding card table covered in ornate silverware. She knew it wasn’t physically possible to squeeze in her butt, but she tried to make it smaller anyways, inching slowly past the furniture so that no part of her body would have to touch it. Crouching down low to the carpet, she strained her eyes to see the painting better: a bowl of shiny fruit spilling onto a table, a glass of juice or wine, a spoon holding some pomegranate seeds. It wasn’t a particularly moving painting, but it was very detailed and she could tell what everything was supposed to be. ‘Robert H. Woods’ was the name carefully, legibly painted in white at the bottom of the canvas. ‘Robert’, she said quietly to herself. Maybe that was the difference between painting and needlecraft: men. She stood up and scooted again down the tight alleyway of card table and couch, immediately noticing that the antique spoons on the tea-colored tablecloth were identical to the one in the painting. She instinctively grabbed one and exited the room through the kitchen, floating past a bookcase of encyclopedias and old maps, eyes peeled for her prize.

It was waiting for her immediately when she opened the heavy wooden door next to the bathroom and climbed down the creaking stairs to the basement. One bulb with a long metal chain to click it on and off dangled from a wood beam in the middle of the room, and all around the tiny circle of light loomed the shadows of sweaters. There were dozens and dozens of them, hung up on wire hangers snagged onto the frames of doorways, hooked over knobs and curtain rods, clenched onto window sills, metal scrawls etched deep into the peeling paint of the concrete. She wondered if all these sweaters had been knit by hand. She shook her head. No way. There were more sweaters here than anyone could have knitted in two lifetimes. They dripped from the ceiling and the walls, the curved edges of the hangers pulling on the stitches at the shoulders, arms too long for the bodies reaching grotesquely towards the floor. Gravity thinned out the Fair Isle, distorted the tiny shapes and flowers and patterns stamped across the rows; the collars sagged so much they looked like U’s instead of O’s. She felt her breath catch. Who would do this? Anyone with a bit of sense knew not to hang up wool garments for any length of time if you wanted them to keep their shape. She knew that yarn, like skin, grew. You left them stretched out like this and the stitches got weaker, got pulled out of shape, were impossible to block back into their original dimensions, were destined for death. This basement was a goddamn sweater graveyard. She let her toes clench up.

It wasn’t until she stepped off the last step, walked further into the basement, past the bookcase that had been relieved of it’s titles and crammed instead with vintage Disney glassware, that she realized the entire room was carpeted in shadowy stacks of more sweaters. There were a few skeins of yarn hovering in the corners, some plastic tupperware of pipe cleaners and fabric remnants and rick rack, but mostly it was just sweaters. They were everywhere: piled up on the plaid couch, stacked on top of the wooden crate, leaning against the rusty wheels of a road bike, smooshed inside an empty fish tank. A few looked small enough for kids but they were mostly adult sizes- stripes, cables, tweed yarn, thick’n’thin yarn, lace weight. It was hard to breathe in this room, all the fuzzy fibers from the wool clinging to the air. Something rough suddenly grazed the girl’s cheek and she spun around, eyes wide. A sleeve cuff dangled in the air, peeking out of a cluster of wool torsos that hung suspended from a beam in the low ceiling. She grabbed the sleeve and leaned in closer, scrutinizing the stitches in the dim light. Fingers have a way of working yarn into knits and purls that can’t be duplicated by machine, the oil of skin plumping all of the fibers up, giving them life. She grabbed another sleeve hanging on her right, reached for a waistband that hovered on her left, eyed the thick two by two ribbing, found a single end of yarn woven into the backs of the stitches.

These were all hand knitted.

No. Way.

The original sweater that had attacked her was a deep, royal blue all over, save for the mint green bow that was woven onto the front, it’s ties tucking under the arms to the back. Stockinette with intarsia, she noted, one of the simpler ways to create an image in a knitted garment, and, guessing from the over-sized fit and slouchy raglan seams, made in the 80’s. The sweater should have been ugly- blue and green was a weird color combination by most people’s standards, and the bow was a bit much, but…there was something about it that she liked. It looked like winter. She got on her tip toes, gently lifted the hanger from it’s hook in the ceiling, and examined it more closely, tsk-tsking at the peaked spots of stitching bubbled up at the top of each shoulder. ‘Who would do this??’ she thought again. She saw a couple of moth holes on one sleeve, a bit of unraveling at the collar, but they were only tiny bits of bad; the yarn was a great quality, a super soft merino, or maybe even a cashmere blend? As she carefully unhooked the cold hanger from the sweater, she glimpsed it’s insides and felt a thrill at the sight of all those purls stacked next to each other, row by row by row, a parade of tiny, even nooses at the necks of each stitch.

She stood silent, alone in the quiet chaos of wool, holding the sweater. She had come to the estate sale to rifle through some vintage skeins of yarn, maybe pick up a couple pairs of needles that were in good condition. But she felt she had just stumbled across exactly what she was looking for, though she wasn’t sure why.

She held the sweater up against her body and swayed back and forth in the sweater graveyard. The girl had never actually knitted a sweater before; she told the knitting friends she had made online that sweaters were beyond her expertise, but that obviously wasn’t true. In the three years since she had taught herself, she had knit dozens upon dozens of scarves, hats, dolls, each project built with a more intricate stitch pattern than the last as her fingers became more adept at maneuvering hard metal with soft skein. She got very good very quickly, graduating to gloves (both fingerless and closed) on double-pointed needles with fingering weight yarn, thick square pot holders with the outlines of tiny cows grazing across the edges, lacy shawls, more complicated hats with poofy pom-poms than she cared to keep track of (but of course she did: she had made twelve). She gave most of her makes away to family, sometimes donated them to the thrift shop downtown, but the truth was that she had been ready for a while to make a sweater for herself, she just hadn’t been ready to be bad at it. She didn’t like learning curves, hated the long transition between starting something and owning it. She probably would have never even tried knitting if an important person hadn’t told her that it might help curb anxiety. Her mom had hated the idea, had said “who could sit still long enough for all that?!” so of course she took it up. The suggestion had come at a time in her life when she didn’t have a lot of space to say to no to things that might make living easier. So she reluctantly put

  • Learn To Knit

on one of her many to-do lists, which was followed in quick succession by

  • Learn To Bind Off
  • Learn To Use Circular Needles
  • Learn to Knit In The Round
  • Learn To Read a Knitting Pattern
  • Learn To Knit German Short Rows
  • Learn To Knit With A Double Strand of Yarn
  • Learn to Knit On DPNs

and so on and so on.

She had been waiting to put a thin, even line of ink through

  • Knit A Sweater

for about five months now, theoretically spending all that time counting backwards from about two million. And here she was now, in the middle of a home filled with subpar artwork by a Mr. Robert H. Woods, at one.

“Jesus Christ Look At All These Sweaters!” screeched a high pitched voice, and the girl instinctively threw her hand to her mouth to clamp it shut, fearing she had actually vocalized what had been running through her mind since she had first descended the stairs. No, not her own voice- the voice of the woman from outside. White Hair Lady smashed one of her cardboard boxes down on top of a clear patch of polyester couch cushion and started fingering the folds of a knot of sweaters at her feet. The woman caught the girl’s eye and brightened. “D’ya see this?!” she yelled, brandishing a delicate sleeve in her direction. “Look At All These Sweaters!”  White Hair Lady kept staring at her as if waiting for an explanation, but the girl couldn’t, wouldn’t give her one.

Hours later, she is sitting in her bedroom, twinkle lights plugged in, cross legged on the floor at the foot of her bed. The music trickling from her phone is turned down too low to really tell what’s playing, but it’s loud enough for her to feel like she isn’t by herself. She takes a tiny pair of silver plated scissors, holds her breath, and snips into one of the bottom-most stitches of the ribbed waistband. This part she knew would be tricky, pulling the yarn apart from the row where the sweater had been bound off. It catches every six stitches or so, knotting up on itself, keeping the length of growth to a slow crawl, making her stop to squint at the tiny fibers rolled all together in a tiny cushiony glob. But once the bottommost row is unraveled, her fingers speed through the body, stitches zipping away from the grip of it’s mass, miles and miles of zig zagged stretches of yarn piling up at her knees.

It gets tricky again when she gets to the bottom edge of the bow because now she has another color of yarn to contend with, to carefully separate from it’s braid, but she gets through it, manages to not break the continuous flow of yarn any more than she has to. Bits of fuzz and debris and the ache of whatever was happening in the 80’s flies around the room, settling in her hair, on her eyelashes, making her sneeze. Part of her had wanted to go very, very slowly, keeping count of every single stitch she unraveled from the old sweater, to know exactly how many stitches she has to work with for the new sweater that she will make out of this untangled yarn. But she knows that this is too, too many steps backwards. Uh-uh, nope. It wasn’t too long ago that she had made a promise to herself (in front of someone else, for accountability, even though it was hard, and even though she hated it), that she would no longer let her brain soothe itself in a way that might put her body in trouble. The kind of trouble that not drinking or eating or sleeping or peeing can cause when the person wearing the body is occupied with performing a task that might take hours to complete. Or days. Weeks. No bueno.

So she is going fast, she speeds through the rows, she rips them out with steady resolve, only pausing to undo a knot, or to start folding a new skein of yarn. She doesn’t even have time to count all the individual stitches.

But.

She’s still sort of like, loosely keeping track. Just of the number of rows she has unraveled. She could probably do the math and figure out a very approximate figure for how many stitches comprised this beast of a sweater. But she doesn’t have to know, or need to know. She just likes to know. She likes to know as many things as possible.

As the sweater shrinks down, invisibles itself to nothing more than a chunky necklace of stitches, her excitement rises and collects in her fingertips like butterflies, itching to get started, even though it’s not time yet. Having touched every single stitch on the sweater, she has a good feel for the yarn, can tell that it will glide off her metal needles with ease, won’t clump too much, will slip into a wall of tiny, even loops while her fingers dance above them, coaxing them together, pushing them apart, through the back loop (TBL) to rib, through the front loop (TFL) for stockinette, gently scooting each one down and off the needle so she can get to all the stitches behind it, the ones her fingers haven’t choreographed yet.

In the bathroom, a sea of deep blue with spots of green is pooled inside the tub, tiny filaments like cactus needles poking through the surface of the water. She has painstakingly wrapped the miles of yarn into many large, thick loops, then tied little pieces of string around them to keep the strands from getting tangled on itself when she puts it in the bath. The cool water soaks through the strands, irons out the kinks that someone’s hands and needles folded into them so many years ago, loosens all the leftover dirt and grief that have been mashed into the grooves of what was once a piece of art.

After exactly forty minutes in the bath, she pulls out the stopper in the tub and watches, listens as all the water glugs out. The yarn, almost black with water, smells heavy of wet dog, so she cracks open the window above the sink. Tip toeing to the hall closet, her feet leaving faint prints on the wood floor, she finds six empty hangers and floats back to the bathroom, the breeze from the outside already thinning out the air. She lays the soaked loops across the hangers, places them all around the inside of the tub, on the shower head, the towel hook, the soap dispenser. For a moment it sounds like it’s raining in the bathroom, the yarn dripping too many rhythms at once, a tiny but determined applause. She remembers when she first started knitting, remembers learning the difference between knits and purls; a knit has a loop that wraps around it like a necktie, and a purl has a loop that wraps around it like a noose. That’s how you tell them apart. But really, the back side of a purl is just a knit, and the backside of a knit is just a purl. There’s no difference between the two stitches, it just matters which side you are on when you make it.

She turns out the light, closes the door, and lets her yarn dry.

 

 

Where In The World Is Sika San Diego?

I actually hate the nickname Sika and I only let a tiny few people in my family use it, but it does have kind of a nice ring to it in this context, lol!

This Vogue 1650 trench coat was a BEAST, but I expected it to be. Occasionally I’ll come across a design that is deceivingly fancy, the kind that looks like you put way more work into it than you actually did, the kind where you feel a little guilty accepting compliments on it because it wasn’t a particularly difficult project even though it looks super amazing. This is not one of those patterns. Every bell and whistle you see on this coat took all my strength to ring and all my breath to blow, but I do think it was worth it in the end!

The green fabric is from The Fabric Store, and I am so tickled that I chose this color even though I hadn’t gone on my color palette journey yet to discover that green is smack dab in the middle of my seasonal palette. One of the reasons I landed on this fabric (aside from the fact that it’s so similar to the version on the envelope, haha) is because it specifically seemed perfect for this project, but green is the only colorway it came in, so the color is just a happy accident! It’s a sturdy nylon and canvas blend, which makes it great for outerwear since it repels water very easily (it’s not treated with anything, that’s just the qualities of the fabric) but it was incredibly difficult to sew because…well, again, it repels water very easily!

Ironing interfacing to these pieces was a journey into madness- it wouldn’t take steam well at all and adding more heat just burned the nylon fibers of the fabric, but I had to press on because, what good is a trench coat without interfacing?? I was afraid that regular sew-in interfacing would alter the fabric’s properties (it is crisp, unwrinkling, and…unfortunately I can’t think of a better word than erect, lol- it just stands straight up at attention!) I worried that sew-in would either make it floppy or make it lose it’s crispness, and I also was lazy and didn’t want to go all the way downtown to buy some sew-in. Eventually I learned that spraying the interfacing lightly with water, then pressing down very hard with a medium-set iron and a press cloth worked 80% of the time. When it didn’t work, I would see little bubbles peeking up from the otherwise smooth canvas, and then I would have to use the strength of ten Serena Williamses to press even harder and push those bubbles out to the edges, which would also work about 80% of the time. In short, I couldn’t get all the interfaced pieces perfectly flat and adhered, but so far I haven’t noticed any bubbles when I am wearing the coat, so let’s just call it even: Trench:1 Jasika:1.

 

Aside from the bizarre properties of the fabric, this sewing pattern has 4,672 pieces. Y’all. Y’ALL. I feel like I might have spent one lifetime tracing and cutting out all the fabric, lining, and interfacing pieces of this damn coat. Then I died and was reborn again in time to actually sew everything together. Half of this coat was made by a ghost. This many pieces of a sewing project isn’t all that unheard of, nor is it that difficult for me to get a hold of under normal circumstances, but I started and finished this entire project in my apartment in Vancouver, which means I didn’t have my trusty cutting table or rotary cutters or the space I’m used to for laying pattern pieces in separate piles around the room for easy organization. And also. I had to cut. my. pieces. out. on. the. floor. I’m fast approaching the age where this kind of activity is a OH NO THE HELL YOU WONT! I was doing cat/cows, back stretches and downward dogs every 10 minutes because my body was SO not okay with being treated so poorly, lol. I think it took me a full two days to cut all these pieces out but I finally got her done. Then I went through the hell of trying to interface everything, which took another half a day. When I was finally ready to sew, I celebrated and hooped and hollered and flew through construction of all the big parts, but I got slowed down again once I finally put the sleeves on the jacket and realized that something was very wrong.

This next part of my sewing project became a dramatic saga detailed in my stories on instagram over the span of a few days, so if you missed seeing them, I’ll get you up to speed. Essentially the sleeves were drafted really weird on me. I made a size that my measurements fit squarely into and I didn’t anticipate there being any issues with fit, but once I tried the jacket on with the sleeeves, it was obvious that something was amiss. Mainly, the armhole felt way too tight at the underarm, and way to shallow around the bicep, so it pulled on the bust area of the coat even when the coat was open. I am not a busty person (32B here!) and I also have a small back, so whenever I have too-tight issues at the bust on a garment that I know for sure I made the correct size in, I know it’s something to do with the drafting and not with me. There were drag lines at the bust as the sleeves tugged around my arms, and that was just with me standing still with my arms at my sides- as soon as I moved my arms away from my body, the whole entire coat lifted up- instead of  being able to move my arms freely, the jacket was moving with them.

Thankfully Grace (wzrdreams for those of you who are unfamiliar, my friend and professional tech designer for RTW who is a virtual wealth of information for so many of us in the sewing community) had some ideas for me on how to fix the sleeves. She also shared lots of helpful information about the drafting of Big 4 patterns and explained why I always seem to have the same issues with their patterns but not any others. With my newfound knowledge from Grace, I unpicked the sleeves, made the armholes deeper by scooping out maybe 3/4″ at the bottom of the armhole grading to nothing about halfway up, and re-drafted my sleeve pieces (back on the floor, I went!). I added length to the top of the sleeve cap to accommodate what I scooped out of the armhole, widened the entire sleeve so I had more ease for wear, and re-cut the little band on the one side so that it would fit around the wider sleeve piece. I was nervous this wouldn’t work at all because I didn’t have any of the TOOLS that you are supposed to do this with, like curved rulers and math, lol. I was pretty much just eyeballing things and guesstimating, but it’s all I had to work with and guess what…it totally worked! I know it is imperfect in some ways, perhaps there is a version of this fix that is much more precise than what I was able to do, but by god, it worked! I could move my arms and wiggle around comfortably, wear a sweater underneath without it feeling like I was suffocating my arms, the bodice has no more weird drag lines, and there was no visual misalignment with any of my seams. So, take THAT, coat! Trench: 1  Jasika: 2, for those of you still keeping score.

The rest of the coat was put together without too much drama. The lining of this coat didn’t require me to birth her, sadly, so I did lots of hand sewing to attach everything at the hems, and a bit more hand sewing when I realized the  coat wasn’t hanging properly and the lining was tugging at the outer shell. That’s pretty much the last hurdle I had to tackle, right at the very end, and again, I attribute it to the wonderfully strange qualities of this nylon canvas- I’ve never sewn with anything quite like it, and it bewildered me as much as it made my heart sing. I think there is still a little tugging and pulling on the hem because of how the fabric wants to lay, but it’s something I can am living with. I’m not a sewfectionist and probably never will be!

I was excited to wear this coat even before it was actually finished- I wrapped the belt super tight around me and wore it without buttons when I went shopping for… buttons! Ha! Which, by the way, I found at Dress Sew, my favorite physical fabric store in Vancouver. The selection of buttons in the basement of Dress Sew is tremendously good but also overwhelming. Thankfully everything is arranged by color which at least gives you a place to start if you are trying to color match.

I am so proud of this jacket, not so much because of how well it turned out, but because of how much I persevered to see it through to the end. It’s so easy sometimes to run into one too many obstacles on a project and decide that your time is better spent starting over from scratch, with something different, something familiar, something easy-ish. That’s what my Butthole Bin has been for. But as I get further along in my sewing career, I have learned to trust my skillset and my ability to think outside the box when it comes to making something work that decidedly does NOT want to work. This doesn’t mean that the same answer applies to every project I work on- sometimes my mental health is way more important than figuring out how to fix that wonky zip fly. But trusting myself enough to at least try to fix things instead of immediately discarding them feels like major growth for me, and I’m very thankful.

Thanks to my babygirl, Claire, for the photos!

My Journey To A Curated Closet, The Finale!

Well, it’s not really the finale…it’s actually more like the beginning! I feel like I’ve put in a considerable amount of brain work these past few weeks trying to make sense of all this information that’s been swimming around in my head and that part finally is over- now I just get to implement all the things I have learned and see my hard work pay off! I don’t know how it happened or when, but around the time that I really and truly started understanding my palette (as in, being able to identify colors from it without needing to have my Color Me Beautiful book open to reference at all times), things just kind of snapped into place; colors that worked well together seemed to swim out at me when I saw them. I was able to put together favorite color and texture combinations without much thought at all, combinations that I had previously coveted from afar but never felt assured enough to pull off myself. Looks that I had never imagined putting together were suddenly easy to envision because my my closet was filled with more pieces that made sense with each other than stood out individually. Memade garments that I hadn’t worn in over 2 years, sometimes 3 (!) were now getting back into rotation, or at least paired up with items that I now felt excited to wear. I never threw those items out because I knew the issue wasn’t that I disliked them- I wasn’t wearing them because I had nothing to wear them with! And then, with my colors and style all over the place, I knew that I would be making one garment just to go with another one- two individual pieces that go with nothing but each other, perpetuating the endless cycle of making things that don’t fit into a cohesive closet.

Okay, I got a bit ahead of myself just now. I wanted to start this post out with the illustrated map I made above because I worked really hard on it after I took a really fun skillshare class with Mimi Chau. As I mentioned in my last post, I got myself an iPad Pro for Christmas hoping that it would motivate me to draw more regularly (if you’ve perused my website at all you know I have a background in illustration and comics). As much as I love pencil and paper, it had come to feel a bit limiting for me over the years with the kind of work I was drawn to, and forcing myself to carry a sketchbook around everywhere was not having the desired effect I intended it to at all. The transition to the iPad was easier than I thought it would be because I spent a lot of time in the early 2010’s  on a wacom tablet, so understanding Procreate and “drawing” on a smooth faced tablet (I don’t like the paper-feel screens) didn’t have too steep of a learning curve for me.

I took one of Mimi’s skillshare classes to better familiarize myself with Painting in Procreate because I am historically not very gifted when it comes to creating with color, but my recent delve into seasonal color palettes both inspired and educated me enough to want to get better at it. In that class Mimi mentioned another one of her classes called Illustrated Memory Maps that looked really interesting, so I took it and I loved it! My first idea was to make a map of my journey figuring out how to curate my closet, and although it changed a lot along the way and I got even more ideas for it as I was finalizing it, I still love it. It’s the first fully realized drawing I’ve made in a long time, and I even challenged myself by working outside of my familiar parameters and incorporating…COLOR! Ha! Color is definitely going to be the theme of my 2020!

One of the (many) reasons I wanted to get back into a regular drawing habit was so that I could plan out makes and share them here on the blog. I’ve used a couple of those croquis sketch pads in the past and I’ve tried using a small notebook to keep track of all my drawings of projects, but scanning them from paper was always a pain in the ass and I wasn’t very consistent with the drawing anyways, probably because I was never sold on those formats- I prefer having all my stuff digitized for easy access and sharing. Below are a few images I created while I was getting to know the Procreate and Fresco platforms, and they were inspired by some of the obvious holes I found in my closet after getting rid of garments that simply didn’t work for my dream curated closet. It is not an exhaustive list of items I need to make, nor will I be making every single item from it, but I think it’s going to be a great jumping off point for me as I start the next phase of bringing my style goals to life.

One of the key pieces to bring my style to life, as discussed in my previous post about my curated closet, is a camel colored duster. It serves as a layering piece to tie in lots of different garments and outfits in the cooler months, it can be used as a neutral from my color palette, and the design, though simple, is unique- it’s not exactly a coat because it’s meant to be worn open and isn’t drafted to close in the front. But I also wanted my version to be more substantial than just a long sweater. After gathering a little instagram intel, someone suggested I try the Hot Toddy coat by Our Lady of Leisure, a new to me pattern company with lots of cute, simple and fashionable sewing patterns in their etsy shop. The pattern looked exactly like what I wanted, a boxy shape but not bulky or loose-fitting, and I had the perfect fabric for it in my stash, a stunning, very luxurious cashmere wool in camel. Looks great on paper, right? Unfortunately this make has been really disappointing. I already started making it but it hasn’t at all met my expectations- the instructions are lackluster and inefficient, there were issues with the pattern lines on my PDF print out tiles (the lines and sizes didn’t consistently match it), and the sleeve is so tight and uncomfortable that I am having to re-draft them entirely with more ease and scoop out the armhole. I am optimistic but please still send me the good sewjo I need to save this thing!!!

  1. This is a vintage Calvin Klein shirt pattern that was gifted to me along with some beautiful large-floral print cotton that is in my color palette. Something is up with the shoulder slope on this pattern- even though its sewn about as perfectly as possible, the neckline is gaping out on one side so I’m not crazy about it yet, but I am hoping I can figure it out so that I can be.
  2. This is another vintage pattern, Butterick I believe, that I got in a big box of donated patterns from an IG follower from Canada. This shirt is designed for wovens but I plan to make it in a nice knit. It’s such a unique design that I can’t tell if it’s my style or not…but I am sure gonna try it out just in case it is!
  3. Green turtleneck! The one I ended up making isn’t as lime green as this, it’s more of a subdued grayed green, which works better for me. As much as I love a pop of color, this lime green from my seasonal color palette is probably the only one I don’t like or plan on using, haha. I used the #monroeturtleneck for my version, a really simple and beautifully drafted top from Tessuti.
  4. A beautiful vintage blouse with a necktie, this one in a rusty-colored silk.
  5. I am currently about to finish the yoke on this No Frills sweater, a garment I knitted last year in a gradient of colors from Miss Babs Yarn. Although I do love it, my earlier version is not in my palette at all (I hate what the eggshell white of that yoke does to my skin tone, blech!) so when I went fabric and yarn shopping for my colors on the east coast a couple weeks ago to get new yarn for a second one, I chose a really deep, forrest green with flecks of gold and yellow greens that I knew would look harmonious against my face.
  6. I keep seeing these short sleeved turtlenecks in ribbed knits all over pinterest and I am dying to make one, once I find the perfect ribbed knit in brown!

  1. Persephone Pants in a deep chocolate twill- haven’t found the fabric yet, so I might have to dye it, right after I just complained about how much I hate dying! Hahaha!
  2. More Dawn Jeans in the skinny fit with tapered ankle, in a light wash denim. I really really love my first pair of dawn jeans, even though I have a few more tweaks to make to them. They are my first pair of woven jeans I have ever owned that fit me like a glove without cutting off my circulation and they never bag out! They are actually made of raw denim, I only pre-soaked them before sewing them up, so hopefully I can find a light wash denim that is close to the quality of these.
  3. I really want to add polka dots to my wardrobe and I haven’t had much luck finding high quality spotted apparel fabrics, but I am not giving up! For this midi-length skirt I have about a hundred pattern options, but I might end up going with the Cielo skirt.

This drawing illustrates the Cap Sleeved Burda #122 03_2013 pattern that I am so in love with, which I’ve made and worn a lot in the past, and which I most recently made in a deep rust colored knit from Stitch Sew Shop (not green as pictured here). This make was the first sign that all my color palette and curated closet obsessions were actually going to pay off, because when I opened my closet to hang the garment inside, all these other items, some I hadn’t paid attention to in years, started trying to grab my attention: “Put me in, Coach! I’m ready!” “No me! I’m right here! I’m gonna look great with that top! Give me a try!” So I stopped everything I was doing to have a Fashion Show At Lunch and document everything for the gram…and eventually for here!

Above is me in the Burda top- a simple ribbed knit, beautiful deep orange color, unfussy design. It’s pretty, but it’s nothing too fancy- I’d call it a step up from just a regular knit tee. Now watch how it pairs with so many items in my closet….

A pair of yellow cotton pleated #alphonsetrousers…

A much beloved but rarely worn cotton printed circle skirt in navy blue, a color that is not in my palette, but still works well when paired with the orange top since the blue isn’t close to my face…

Another pair of Alphonse Trousers, this time in a supremely drapey tweed from The Fabric Store…

A pair of olive green corduroy Lander Pants…

A bright yellow felted wool skirt, yet another rarely worn gem from my closet that nothing ever seemed to work well with…

Light blue Pietra Pants that, somehow, some way, look amazing with this orange top. Even though light blues and orangey-browns were all over my pinterest style board and made it to my chosen palette as a color combination, I didn’t imagine that I had anything in my closet to pull this look off. But I did! Which brings me to a whole series of blues and blue-greens that look amazing with this orange top…

Like these Jenny Overalls which I never wore because the pink shirt I matched with them washed me out too much!

And, biggest shocker of the whole experiment, these Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers in printed silk cotton which I love but have never found the right match for! I kept pairing them with pink blouses, a color outside my palette that does not look great on me, so then I just wouldn’t wear them, ever. I wouldn’t in a million years have thought that this garment would look great with these pants, but here we are! We aren’t judging anymore, we are just basking in the magic that is my closet right now! Ha!

Okay, yall, I think that’s it! What! A! Journey! I will absolutely still be talking about my curated closet and specifically my color palette as I find more ways to wear the things in my closet with the new items I am making, but I feel solidly invested in this new mindset as opposed to talking through and trying to figure things out as I have been doing for the past few weeks. I know I say it in every post, but thank you again for following along, sharing your own journeys in color and thoughtful making, and inspiring so many great conversations around the subjects. This whole experience has been such a great treat, and one I am SO happy I embarked upon. I started reading The Curated Closet on a whim because my friend was doing it, but I ended up feeling inspired and excited about creating again in so many ways! May your 2020 be filled with as many lightbulb moments and fingers just itching to make as mine has been!

 

Confetti Dress

I tried making this dress several years ago when I was a) not yet as adept at fitting clothes to my body b) not yet as adept at matching perfect fabric to perfect pattern and c) not yet as adept at handling silk. Needless to say, it was a not a win. I blame it mostly on the slightly too-flowy silk I chose for the make (which is a shame because it was GORGEOUS- a background in a deep shade of lilac with little dots all over it. Actually… not too dissimilar graphic-wise from the print I later ended up using!) but it didn’t look that great on me at all, mostly because the fabric wanted to drape instead of hold it’s shape, and this is a design requiring a fabric that can absolutely hold it shape  (it was also weirdly static-y and was billowing in all the wrong places). It’s the Stella Dress from Pattern Runway and it’s one of those makes that has shown me how far I’ve come in the last few years with my sewing.

I remember that when I first made this dress, the sleeves confounded me, I had tons of trouble getting the silk to behave so my stitching was really uneven, and once it was complete, it just didn’t lay on my body right at all. Fast forward a few years and zoom in on me at Mood Fabrics in LA obsessing over this grosgrain confetti fabric last spring. I had never worked with anything like it before (I believe this fabric is from a Carolina Herrerra collection) and I was completely intrigued by both the fun confetti design (party on a dress!) and the textile itself – it was just so slick and soft and stable, with a texture exactly like it’s namesake (just imagine a grosgrain ribbon 56 inches wide and 2 yards long). It was expensive, way more money that I normally spend on fabric, but that’s eventually why I decided to splurge on it- I rarely come across fabric that I simply cannot walk away from and I wanted to treat myself! And I’m so glad I did, because I think this dress came out beautifully.

That’s not to say she didn’t give me trouble, though! This fabric is deceptively tricky to sew with. Because of its’ stability and the hundreds of tiny little ridges across the yardage, it was weirdly bulky, and this became an issue because I decided to french seam all the insides- I might have been able to get away with serging the seams, but the raw edges were incredibly frayed and I figured that french seams made the most sense in terms of longevity of the garment. It’s all fine; the insides look beautiful and it feels like a really strong and stable garment, but sewing over some of those intersecting seams was a bit of a nightmare with all the thickness.

I didn’t make many adjustments to this dress and didn’t have to fiddle with the shaping all that much since it’s only fitted at the waist. The bodice has pleats stemming from the waist instead of darts which gives more wiggle room and accommodates a larger range of bust sizes, and the skirt also has front and back pleats, so you can nip it in or take it out at the waist as much as you want and it wont have as huge an effect on the hips/butt/thigh area because there is so much positive ease built in. This design is actually incredibly forgiving in terms of fitting a broader range of sizes, but it certainly doesn’t look like it’s over sized or loose or anything, and it isn’t made with a knit or an elastic waist, which I love. I also shortened the skirt length since I knew I wouldn’t be able to take length out of the hem as easily.

Speaking of, I love the hem of this dress- I am a sucker for a curved hem, but this one in particular has a separate hem with a facing on the inside which gives the bottom a little bit of weight and substance.

The sleeves I also love now even though I was initially on the fence about them. Since the fabric I used is so structured, the sleeves stick out from the bodice and the silhouette looks a little Judy Jetson-ish, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! I think I was stuck on both the shape of the sleeves and the fact that they are eased into the armhole on the fronts and back of the sleeves instead of just at the cap, which was a bit strange. But again, I got over it and I think they look great now- super unique and fun and unexpected and just the thing to keep this dress from landing into mix + match/ bodice + skirt  territory (after sewing for so many years do you ever feel like all the new patterns just look the same??)

I also love the cute, subtle detail of the waistline with it’s folded ribbon of fabric that extends all the way around. Such a simple yet interesting addition to an otherwise straightforward make. Here is what I didn’t like: the neckline has a facing which is not normally my preference but it was necessary with this weirdly bulky fabric (lining the bodice would have been way too much material). It doesn’t flip out too much because I tacked them down on the insides, but still, they are not ideal and I wonder how a neck binding would work on a future version. My fabric, which I fell out of love with as soon as I got it home and started working with it, looks terrific in this dress but it’s suuuuuper wrinkly, which I would never have anticipated. The wrinkles aren’t deep, but they are all over, so much so that it almost looks like the dress is textured that way. They iron out easily but reappear as soon as the fabric has moved even just a little bit, so it works great for a one-off party dress but it wouldn’t be something I reached for over and over again on future garments. Also, I guess because of the tiny little ridges on the surface of the fabric, it was REALLY hard to interface!

Thrilled with how great this dress came out and also I thrilled that I decided to return to this sewing pattern even though it didn’t work out for me the first go round. For years I have loved the shape and style of this dress but was convinced that pattern wasn’t right for me after my first fail and I never imagined I would come back to it. As it turns out, I just needed a little more experience, a little more perspective, and little more fabric!

 

DKNY Dress in Leopard Tencel Twill

I have had Vogue 1287 by DKNY in my stash for a long time but was always hesitant to make it because it seemed like it would be complicated to grade out at the hips and I was afraid I wouldn’t fit a straight size in this pattern.

Image result for vogue 1287

As per usual, I am frustrated by the fabric choice on this pattern envelope- it’s certainly a cool looking dress, but the print covers up all the cool details that make this dress so unique and fun! Someone told me that the big name designers for Vogue (and probably other brands) get to design and sew up the samples that are used on the envelopes, which is fun in terms of seeing the designer’s original creative vision for a garment, but functionally it leaves much to be desired- how can anyone see the innovative pleating and pocket design in the midst of all those dots??

Image result for vogue 1287

Ok, that’s better. Now you can see the beautiful draping, the fun shoulder pleats and neckline, those wacky pockets that gave me such a headache but that look so cool on the finished garment. I was also hesitant to make this dress because, although I do love an elasticized waist, I was afraid it would make the dress look less chic. I’m so used to seeing elastic waists on cheap, poorly made clothes from fast fashion RTW that I tend to relegate the design feature in my own makes to casual wear and athleisure, and I wanted this garment to work as something a little dressier than that.

While packing for #sewnawayfromhome earlier this year, I hastily threw three patterns into my sewing suitcase, one pattern I loved and had made before, and two Vogue patterns I had never touched. This was VERY risky, because if you have followed along on my #sewnawayfromhome journey in the past, you will have learned along with me how important it is to make patterns that have a great chance of fitting/not needing a ton of adjustments since on the road I don’t have a dress form, a huge table to work on or any of the other tools required to do some serious re-working of a memade garment. But I was running out of time before my departure and unsure of exactly what I wanted to make, and I figured I would just do my best to make these patterns I had never sewn before work. Spoiler alert: I ended up successfully making and loving all three of the garments I made over the week and a half that I was in Vancouver! But it wasn’t all fun and games, folks!

First off, I brought a couple of cuts of fabric with me to Vancouver but I ended up not using either of them for this dress, and instead using the new (at the time) leopard print tencel twill Blackbird Fabrics was carrying in the store. They recently started letting customers pick up their orders directly from their shop instead of posting it in the mail, so I got to stop by the new space and ooooh and aaaahh over every single thing inside, and of course I got to say hi to Carolyn and the lovely members of her team. Once I got back to my hotel and finished sewing up my purple dress, I realized that this leopard print tencel would be a great pairing for Vogue 1287- the fabric has soooo much beautiful drape but it’s not  lightweight and it serves the slightly fitted skirt of the garment very well. The fabric has great body and is soft to the skin, and the print covers up any extra wrinkles that might be hovering around (tencel twill irons well but gets wrinkles very fast).

The pattern pieces for this dress are INSANE. I wish I had taken a picture of everything laid out on the floor after I cut it out, but of course I didn’t think to do that- I had tunnel vision when I cut all these pieces out and all I wanted to do was plow through them so I could make sense of how they fit together. The pieces are so uniquely shaped that I had a lot of trouble envisioning how they would morph into a dress, so, since I didn’t have a dress form, I carefully pinned the paper pieces of the dress together and draped them on my body to get a better idea. It was super helpful, but once I moved to the fabric and all my notches and dots got lost in the busyness of the print, I was back at square one, haha. The pockets were a huge obstacle for me- they fold back on themselves at certain points specified on the pattern pieces and they also make up part of the body of the skirt, but in order to lay right, the front pleats of the skirt waistband have to be perfectly lined up and sewn down, and any shift away from perfection makes the pockets lay really wonky and look weird. I had to take the pockets out twice to get them right and I moved those pleats around like 20 times before I was happy with how the front looked, but who cares, at least I ended up where I wanted to be!

My memory is a bit hazy because I completed this dress months ago but I believe I cut out a size 10 and graded to a 12 at the hips and I am very pleased at how terrific the fit of this dress is- much of that has to do with the elastic waist, which gives the garment a more forgiving fit, but still, I have made elasticized waists on less complicated patterns that looked way less chic than this. I realize now looking back at the details on the back of the pattern envelope that I took another risk by pairing this fabric and pattern together- although I thought the print and hand of the fabric would work great, the pattern specifies using a fabric with a bit of stretch (it suggests “stretch silk crepe, stretch charmeuse, lightweight jersey”) but of course my tencel twill was a woven. I wondered if this would give me trouble- if a stretch fabric was an absolute necessity, it would mean that this dress, which is designed with no closures whatsoever, would not slip over my head when I tried to put it on. This pattern also includes pieces for a bias cut slip to wear underneath the dress, I guess because charmeuse/silk/lightweight jersey would likely be too thin to wear on it’s own? Looking at the finished design image on the envelope, I could see that there was a decent amount of ease in the waist and hips what with all those pleats and folds, and the bodice was also drafted as very loose fitting, so it seemed hard to imagine that this garment wouldn’t translate well to a woven. Obviously I took the chance and it worked out great- I didn’t need the slip underneath and the dress is easy to get in and out of. I have noticed this in Big 4 quite a lot- this dress also required a stretch lace fabric for its’ outer shell and a lining underneath, but I was already married to my non-stretch bright neon lace and I forged ahead, not even adjusting the size for it, and it worked out perfectly.

I love the subtle sandwashed sheen of this tencel twill, I love the slightly abstracted leopard print (okay fine! I will no longer say that I don’t do animal prints!!!), and I love the look and fit of this dress. The shape and construction are so fun and unique and although it took me a while to get those pockets in a good place, it was worth the work- I don’t have anything like this in my closet and I LOVE that! I can sometimes get in a silhouette rut with dresses and skirts because I know what shapes and styles I think I look and feel best in, but sometimes you gotta get outta that comfort zone and change it up a bit- it doesn’t always pay off but when it does, it’s so exciting!

Thanks as always to my sweet Claire for these pics!

 

 

 

A Rigel Bomber for Claire

I make Claire stuff all the time- hoodies, binders, approximately 326 pairs of Hudson pants- but not all of it gets catalogued here on my blog. Mostly because getting photos of myself in my makes seems to take forever, so trying to schedule an additional person feels downright preposterous. But every once in a while, I make Claire something so radical that it’s essential to catalogue here, and this Rigel Bomber by Papercut Patterns is a perfect example.

Rigel Bomber

Although I’ve pinned and pined over lots of photos of their patterns, this is the first one I have actually ever made. Hilariously it was gifted to Claire through me (since Claire doesn’t sew), because our friend thought it would be a good style match for her, and she was totally right- this bomber jacket has all the athletic/leisurewear essence of the clothing that Claire is generally drawn to, with a little bit of design flare included.

I have to be honest- I wasn’t a huge fan of this pattern, drafting-wise or construction-wise, but I am not turned off of it enough to not try out another of their patterns in the future, and I do like the outcome of this jacket! Let’s start with the fabric and notions choices, which are probably my favorite part of the whole project, but which definitely took the most time to collect. Last December when Claire and I went down to New Orleans to celebrate our friend Geri’s birthday, we made a stop at Promenade Fabrics because I had heard of what a special store it was. I guess they weren’t quite ready for our crew when we arrived- we were like, 10 people deep, and we barged in on the quiet store with a lot of conversation and squeals of delight (mostly coming from Claire). I got the distinct feeling that the people manning the store didn’t actually think we were going to buy anything. But we did! And this beautiful print is one of them!

Of course Claire is the one who picked this out- it’s got her personality all over it: bold, bright, and totally unique. We had already decided that I would make her the Rigel Bomber but it was taking forever to figure out what fabric she wanted- nothing online caught her interest but she also wasn’t sure what she was looking for. When we walked the aisles of Promenade, she kept asking ‘would this one work?….what about this one?’ and not finding the exact print-to-textile match necessary, but then she found this random little bolt off to the side that caught her eye. We pulled it out and it was stunning! A galaxy print with a bit of embossing on the fabric, lots of silver, gold, yellows and reds. The fabric was expensive but they only had one yard left and although I knew it wasn’t enough to complete the whole jacket, I felt confident that we could supplement the rest of it with something really cool.

Back at home with the pattern pieces cut out I determined that we could get the back and front bodice pieces from the galaxy print and we just needed a different fabric for the sleeves…but what?? I glanced in a corner of my craft room and saw a big box of leather that I had just purchased for a steal from the Brooklyn Shoe Space instagram account. Sticking out of it was a soft, pliable chocolate brown hide that matched the reddish, brownish hues in the galaxy print. “Ever considered leather?” I asked Claire, and her eyes widened.

Once we had the main fabric worked out, I forged ahead. I didn’t muslin (yeah, yeah, I know!) or make any big adjustments, but I did redraft the front neckline to be more rounded- as designed it slants into a V and pulls down kind of low at the front, which I just don’t like very much- I prefer the more classic neckline shape of a letterman’s jacket. Next I re-drafted the facing to match the curve of the neckline of the front bodice, and I liked the look much better, although I could have raised the neckline higher and rounded it out even more. Weirdly, I got pretty stumped by the welt pocket construction…well, not stumped, per se, but dissatisfied. I wasn’t impressed with the techniques they used but I didn’t realize how strange they were til I was already halfway through them and it was too late to change it up. I don’t remember everything I disliked about the method, but I do remember that it lacked a lot of key information, like which direction to press the pocket bags and facings, etc. Pressing properly throughout welt pocket construction is one of the things that makes this design feature look really tidy and professional, so omitting it was a big oversight to me (FYI I really like the technique used in Closet Case’s Sasha Trousers).

I also disliked the size and shape of the pocket- it’s not very deep or long and it was kind of frustrating to sew. Part of it is because the jacket is relatively short and narrow, but I still think it could have a lot more room in the pocket without compromising the design too much. Thankfully the unattractive pocket and welt can’t be seen on the inside of the jacket because I decided to underline it! A regular lining would have been nice but because I used a thick material (leather) for the sleeves, I didn’t want to bulk up that area even more, so I just underlined the back and front bodice pieces with some bright green quilted polyester by basting the lining and outer fabric together and then sewing it as one.

 

Claire had purchased a zipper and a length of binding on etsy once we found her main fabric, but I neglected to tell her not to purchase from any accounts shipping from overseas, since they can take months and months to get here and it’s not the most sustainable way to buy. Spoiler alert: we are still waiting on her zipper from China and it has been THREE MONTHS lol! I ended up having to hunt down ribbing locally once I got to that step in the instructions, and I also picked up a really cool zipper, but lo and behold, when I got back home to use them, they were all wrong. The “ribbing” I bought from Michael Levine’s was actually more of a thin, lightweight, ribbed stretch knit- it was incredibly flimsy when I basted it onto the neckline of the jacket, and the color was also not quite right- a little too bright and orange-y to pair well with the galaxy print. And then! The zipper I got was too long! Which normally wouldn’t matter, but because this is a separating zipper it needs to be exactly the right length for the jacket front.

I took to instagram asking my followers if anyone had any beefy, sturdy ribbing to suggest for me that I could buy online, and Michelle of Stylemaker Fabrics wrote me with a link to the perfect ribbing that she carried in her shop. I bought two packages of waistband ribbing (I used the additional one for the neckband) and matching ribbed cuffs in a color that ended up being the absolute perfect compliment to the jacket- a deep purple-ish wine color that enhanced the purple in the galaxy print and was a nice pairing for the brown leather of the sleeves.


Next I looked on youtube for tutorials on how to shorten a separating zipper, and I found that I could remove some of the teeth with wire cutters and then cut the excess length, but I wasn’t sure how to close off the top of the zipper without an extra pair of zipper stops – apparently you can buy zipper repair kits at a local fabric store, but I wasn’t planning on leaving the house for the rest of the night so I was determined to figure it out with the tools I already had. Somehow, someway, I convinced myself that if I was careful, I could pull the stops off the orginal zipper with pliers and then close them back onto the zipper where I needed them to be, right below where I had cut off the teeth. It took a while and a lot of muscle, but I did it, and it was totally worth it- this zipper is just too cool to not be attached to this jacket.

Because I opted to use leather sleeves for this project, I had to be flexible with a lot of the construction methods- it would have been quick and easy to serge almost the whole jacket, but I can’t run leather through my serger, so I had to sew straight stitches with Nylon thread (which holds up better when sewing leather). I also had to try and reduce bulk in as many places as possible, sometimes skiving the leather down at intersecting seams, sometimes using my mallet to pound the seams flat or open. Using leather took a little bit more time but I adore the look is brings to the jacket.

Another design element I didn’t like so much was the facing, or rather the fact that the facing isn’t instructed to be tacked down inside the jacket around the zipper. On this jacket, the facing constantly wanted to fly open or get scrunched up inside the jacket when it was being put on, and tacking it down was easy since I underlined the outer shell, but on a single layer jacket, depending on the fabric, this might be a difficult thing to do.

This jacket was literally four months in the making but I am glad I kept working on it because it looks really freaking cool and it’s SO CLAIRE! I am hoping that the leather of the sleeves softens up more over time because as of now, even though the leather is soft and pliable, it’s still pretty thick and it needs to be broken in. If I made this again I would probably lengthen it a bit and round out that collar even more (and alter that pocket bag shape!), but I think it fits Claire well and is a beautiful collaborative effort on both our parts. Enjoy, Claire- I love you!

 

 

The White Kiki Party

All my posts are being shared out of order because I made several things over the summer months but was too lazy to photograph any of them until recently, so now I am trying to balance them out with things I am currently making and I am getting all turned around. But it’s okay! Please bear with me as I trudge through these clothing makes in the most (un)timely fashion!

To catch you up, Claire and I went to the wedding of our good friend Lawrence in Hawaii this summer, and it was our first time on the island of Oahu, which we were very much looking forward to exploring, but Claire started getting sick days before our departure and by the time we landed she had what turned out to be a full blown ear infection that was slowly making its way to her sinuses and throat. It was ROUGH for Claire, she was in a LOT of pain and discomfort, but thankfully we didn’t have much planned outside of the wedding events so she could be miserable in peace. Luckily, our airbnb was a 3 minute walk to a practically private beach, so I still had a lovely time hanging out with the sand and sun while I took breaks from looking after Claire.

The day before the wedding there was a “White Party” on Waikiki that all the wedding guests were invited to, but the name of the party was changed to the “White-kiki Party” at Claire’s urging, LOL. We were of course all invited to show up in white attire, and I had one dress in my closet that would have worked for the event but decided to make something new for it because…WHY NOT? Claire also needed something white to wear for the party and she settled on a Kalle shirtdress with popover placket in a terrific white linen fabric from Joanns. Claire is mostly a jeans and t-shirt kind of gal but my goodness she LOVES her housedresses, and she wanted something that felt comfortable and looked clean and classic to wear to this event. I opted for something a little more dolled up (surprise!) but still comfortable and breezy for the warm island weather.

When The Fabric Store closed in LA over the summer I got my hands on as much fabric as I could, which is why my stash is bigger than it has ever been before (a big stash is not my happy place, but I also can’t turn down good fabric that’s free or deeply discounted, so I have committed myself to not buying any more for the rest of the year so I can work through what I have…although I might need to amend that to next year after going through Mimi’s fabric giveaway pile yesterday lol). One of the cuts I ended up taking home with me was a white poly with animal stripes embossed across it. Because the whole print is white, it doesn’t really read as animal print (which I am not really into) but it gives the fabric a bit of depth and a texture, and I decided to pair it up with McCalls 7778, a jumpsuit/dress with options for different straps and closures. It’s a very simple garment to make with princess seams at the bodice, and I only needed to make some minor adjustments to it (surprise! it was too big right out the envelope!) to get the fit just right.

I actually had a bit more trouble with the legs of the jumpsuit than anything else because the crotch was just too high which gave me dreaded camel toe! It was a simple fix though- I sewed about 1/2″ past my seam allowance at the bottom of the crotch curve, grading to the regular seam allowance at the front and back waist, and now they are much better than they were, although if I made this pattern again (which I doubt I will), I would absolutely adjust the crotch areas on both front and back pattern pieces to give myself more room for my seat. As it stands, the crotch is still a bit too high for my preference, and you can see the fabric hugging my shape in the butt area more than you should for a flowy, gathered waist, culotte-style garment.

I also had to adjust the bodice pieces (which was to be expected) to make them smaller- it gaped out at the top of the bodice and was too loose under the arms, so I brought the seams in in these areas on both outing and lining of the bodice and it fit better. I pulled a real rookie move when I absentmindedly used my pink chalk pen to mark all my notches and circles on this white fabric, which of course showed through to the other side and wouldn’t rub off when I tried to remove them. I have other marking tools like Frission pens and invisible markers, I just use the chalk so often that I didn’t even consider how it would work on this white transparent fabric! Thankfully when I completed the garment, I threw it in the wash immediately and it wiped out every trace of the pink chalk.

Again, this was a super easy make- no pockets included, which I would have loved to add myself but I didn’t have quite enough fabric leftover after my pieces were cut out, and on top of that, the white poly is a little bit sheer and having pockets underneath it would have made them show through in a way that I am sure I would have been unhappy with. As a whole I feel pretty meh about this project. It came out fine and I was happy to wear it to the White-Kiki party, but there just isn’t anything all that special about it. The fit is nothing spectacular and the silhouette is definitely cute, but maybe paired with this fabric, which isn’t all that dynamic, it just landed a little flat for me. It’s not even the solid color that makes it feel boring, because I think this would have looked even nicer in a plain white linen. But I also think it would look cool in a statement fabric where the print takes centerstage. I’ve worn this garment several times and I always get lots of lovely compliments on it which are appreciated, but it’s just not my favorite make.

Now before I move on, I want to say just a little bit about my shoes! I didn’t wear these to the White Kiki party because I hadn’t made them yet, and I have a ‘no heels in Hawaii’ rule anyways, but I think they look really good with this jumpsuit so I figured I would do a 2-for-1 since I always neglect to do full blog posts for my shoe makes here (gotta get better at that)! These are the first pair of shoes I made from a pointy toe high heeled last I found at Saderma several months ago. Finding lasts is always tricky because once you find a pair in your size, you wont know if they actually fit your foot well until you make them, so there is always a little risk involved, and unlike clothing, you can try them on for fit throughout the making process to ensure you are on the right track. I have had a few pairs of lasts that seemed like they would work great for me but ended up being too big or too small, so I really lucked out with this pair!

I got the “snakeskin” leather (it’s just embossed) from The Fabric Store quite a while ago and was excited to make this style shoe with them once I got my hands on these lasts. High heeled slingbacks have been a little tougher to find in RTW than I anticipated so I figured I might as well give them a try, and I think these came out great. One thing I want to do on my next pair of heeled slingbacks is to use elastic at the buckle. If you have a pair of slingbacks, take a look at where the buckle is attached to the leather- there is likely to be a small strip of elastic connected to the buckle and leather which allows your foot to move around in the shoe without feeling too constricted and allows the strap to move with your foot. These heels are totally fine without the elastic because I am able to put holes for the buckle wherever I want them, but ideally the strap just adds a touch of comfort to wearing a shoe with a strap and it helps keep that strap in place.

I am still working on getting my heel completely attached and flush to the bottom of the shoe and this is my most successful pair yet, although I do have room for improvement. I seem to always choose a slightly-too-thick leather to cover my heels with which makes getting the top of the heel flat very difficult, but these came out pretty okay, and I like the contrast of the purple lining leather peeking out of the inside and bottom of the shoe. And they are comfortable! Well, about as comfortable as wearing 3 inch heels gets, hahah. But you know how when you buy new heels (if you wear them), they tend to take a little time to break in and form to your foot? Well my memade heels so far are not like that- they are softer than RTW shoes and feel pretty much the same the first time you wear them as the 2nd and the 10th, which is pretty cool. Still have a lot of distance to cover with shoemaking but I can definitely see that I am on a steady incline UP!

Okay, so back to the wedding…

you can’t take me anywhere.

Claire ended up being too sick to come to the Whitekiki party so me and my friend Kelly went together, and we BOTH happened to be wearing white jumpsuits, and we got to rock them while I drove the WHITE Jeep we rented for the trip! We were SOOOOO STYLISH! And the party was a blast! After some food and mingling with all the other guests, our little corner of the park was set up into different stations where we each got to learn from a local a little about Hawaiian culture and how to participate in a traditional luau. Me and Kelly’s favorite station was of course the hula, and we learned the song “Pearly Shells” while dancing to the music Lawrence’s friends played on their ukuleles. The night was beyond magical as the sun set over the ocean and our voices floated above us- the only thing missing was Claire! But I sent her lots of videos and pictures and she was at least able to make it to the actual wedding the next day.

Thanks for being my date, Kelly, and thanks Lawrence and Q for such a fun party!