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.

 

 

My Judi Dench Coat

buckle up, these pictures are weird as shit lol

WOOHOO! How y’all doin?? If you follow me on instagram, you know how…special…my experience with CATS the movie was. I’m not here to argue with anyone about whether or not CATS was good. I have been around long enough to know that art doesn’t have to be good to be entertaining, and I was NOTHING if not entertained! One of the strong takeaways from the film (and there were MANY takeaways given my state of mind, lol) was Judi Dench’s Cat/God character wearing this gigantic honey blonde colored coat that seemed to be made out of cat fur. Like, she had her own cat fur…and then she wore a coat on top of her own cat fur made out of what looked like…other cat’s cat fur. At the time I couldn’t stop thinking about Silence Of the Lambs, how this was the equivalent of a human wearing a trench coat made of human skin, and how, since she was a Cat/God, the coat was probably made out of all the furs of her enemies. Which is…so weird. But perfectly suited to the rest of the movie which was also…so weird!

Anyways, when I started making this coat, I realized that it drew a fashionably striking resemblance to Judi Dench’s costume in CATS, which tickles me to no end! I originally got the idea for this coat after trying on a jacket at a store in Vancouver last summer.

You can see these fleecy furry coats everywhere now, but at the time they were brand new to me and I absolutely loved how unique it was. I loved the texture of the sporty, wooly fabric paired with a more traditional cut of coat, and I loved the curved hem at the bottom. I would have been happy to buy this RTW jacket since it was such a special piece but it didn’t fit well (see how long it is in the sleeves?), it was too expensive for the quality, and it was made of 100% polyester. I knew I could do better than that- it didn’t seem like a particularly difficult hack to pull off- no lining or surprising design details or anything.

I found the pattern before I found the fabric. I think I asked the IG hive for any pattern ideas they might have based off this photo, and IG totally came through- the Stacker jacket pattern by Papercut seemed like the closest thing to what I was looking for, and hacking would be super easy- I just needed to lengthen it and curve the hem (I also made it a slightly hi-lo hem). It took longer to find the fabric.

All I could find was 100% polyester fleece or sherpa, and the places that did sell organic cotton fleece tended to not have enough fabric for my project or only have it in colors I didn’t want. Eventually I found a place called Simplifi Fabric based in Canada, which is an online fabric store that specializes in organic and sustainable fabric by the yard. I love them! In addition to all kinds of organic cottons and bamboo and denim and ribbing in their online shop, they had a few different colors of a sherpa fabric that was mostly organic cotton with a little polyester in it, and after being indecisive about which shade I wanted, I went with the earthy-gray toned sherpa (I was initially drawn to the ivory shade but I knew it would probably get dirty pretty quickly).

do not know whats going on here but i think im supposed to be acting like a cat? a florist cat? 

The fabric was super soft, softer than I anticipated, and squishy and cozy. The back of it is flat and non-furry, and seems to be more like a knit- it kind of looks like  the inside of french terry on the back, actually. It has a little bit of stretch but not enough to make any big alterations to the sizing. The pattern was straight forward and construction was easy- I serged my inside seams since I knew I didn’t want to line it and they were too bulky to french seam (wasn’t interested in Hong Kong seaming either). I turned up the bottom hem and used my coverstitch to tack it down, not that you can tell- the texture of this fabric eats up any top stitching which means you don’t get much room for detail, but it also hides away any imperfections. The fabric was super easy to work with- the seams were certainly bulky, but it was stable, not too messy (nothing like velvet or sequins) and my machine needles had no problems working through several layers at a time.

I didn’t run into any issues at all except the normal problem solving that comes with hacking a pattern, haha. I constructed my yoke with two pieces instead of one, because even though the fabric isn’t super heavy, I wanted the shoulder area to feel nice and stable with all that coat length pulling down on it. I had a little bit of confusion about the construction of the pockets at the front of the coat- there are two different versions and I didn’t realize I was following the directions for a specific one til I was halfway through it, haha. Turns out, I wasn’t making the pockets I intended to make! In addition to that, the original placement of the pockets was off on this coat- probably something to do with the new length and the fullness and texture of the fabric, but my original choice of breast pockets looked strabnger and bulky. I scooted them down to hit around hip length (which is where my hands would naturally fall if I was using side pockets. Ultimately I think I would like this coat better with regular in-seam side pockets in addition to the patch pockets on the front, but it’s all good!

I found some beautiful buttons from Michael Levines and I think they work so well with the coat- they elevate it a bit from looking like your average athletic-wear fleece jacket into something a little more refined.

And…I guess that’s it! A super simple garment that has a pretty major impact- I got a compliment on this coat by a salesperson in SAKS recently, who, upon finding out that I made it myself, immediately started scrutinizing it and asking to see the insides, lol. I hate when people do that- just appreciate it and move on! Sometimes people are so shocked when you tell them you’ve made something impressive that they start looking for flaws anywhere they can find them, telling themselves that you can’t be THAT good (it happens with men examining my woodworking ALL the time!). Well guess what- we can and we are!!!

Hoping I can get some more good wear out of this thing before LA heats up to the oven setting that global warming has turned it to. Anybody else so ready to be on the other side of this election with an amazing, exciting and inspiring president in office?? I can’t bear to deal with all the upcoming stress and anxiety of it, but I am SO ready to celebrate some good political news!

Keep on keeping on, y’all! And as always, thanks to Claire for this pics!

 

A Camel Overcoat

This particular make was the source of a lot of interesting conversations on my instagram a couple months ago, and it all started with curating my closet and defining my color palette. In culling a wide assortment of beautiful looks on pinterest to get a better understanding of my style goals, I found myself coming across the same duster over and over again. It was usually camel colored and in a very lux, expensive looking fabric, hitting at the ankles and unadorned with lots of bells and whistles. I loved the clean lines of these RTW dusters and how easy I knew it would be to wear with so many things in my closet, since camel is in my seasonal color palette already. I also happened to have the most exquisite, luxuriously soft cashmere wool coating from The Fabric Store in my stash that I had been saving for years, which was perfect for the look I was going for. I was planning to make By Hand London’s Rumana coat with the cashmere but once I discovered the boxier, less tailored style of these pinned RTW looks, I decided I would use the fabric for this instead, since I knew I would be getting lots of wear out of it.

All I needed next was a pattern, and here is where this sewing tale takes a detour into darkness, folks. I have a handful of great coat and jacket patterns in my stash, but nothing that checked all the boxes for this particular make. So I did a little online research and asked around IG for any recommendations that had the design details I was looking for: unlined, simple, boxy fit, a proportionate collar and lapel, and a drape that allowed the coat to kind of hang open on it’s own; I wanted this duster to be a compliment to whatever outfit I wore underneath it, not the main attraction. After receiving a few good suggestions, I settled on the Hot Toddy Coat by a company called Our Lady of Leisure because it seemed the closest match to what I was looking for. It was boxy, loose fitting, the perfect length, and the collar and lapel were exactly what I was looking for. The only thing I needed to change were the pockets- as designed, they are simple patch pockets stuck onto the fronts, but I wanted hidden side pockets that didn’t detract from the smooth lines of the coat. I hacked my pockets from the Oslo coat onto the Hot Toddy Coat and it worked a treat. Sadly that’s about the only thing that went smoothly with this make, lol!

I made the smallest size provided because I was in between a size 2 and a 4 and I didn’t want the coat to end up being super huge on me. When I decided on this coat I asked on IG if anyone had ever made designs from this pattern line before and I didnt get many hits (red flag number one). Two people reached out to say that their makes of different patterns from this company fit a little on the large side, so I thought I was safe in choosing the smaller of the two sizes I fit between.

I printed out the tiled PDF pattern, taped all the pieces together and then started cutting them out. I immediately noticed that there was an error in the layout of the sizes. This pattern uses letters for sizes (size A=US  2, size B=US 4 and so on) and nested patterned lines to differentiate between them, but one side of the same pattern piece would have backwards lettering, so that the dotted line for size A on one side of the front coat piece would suddenly turn into size G on the other side. I’ve been sewing for long enough that I know how to follow the right line for my size even if it’s not properly labeled, but for some reason the nesting of these pattern pieces was extremely hard to follow. I couldn’t tell if the pattern line for one specific size was mislabeled or if the letters were out of order, or both. So the ensuing fit issues I ran into? I am still not sure if its because I cut the pattern pieces out incorrectly due to their mislabeling or if the drafting was really that off. I think it’s the latter, but I honestly have no idea (you are required to add your own seam allowances to this pattern, which I did). The reason this ticks me off so much is because this was not a cheap pattern. For a $12 PDF, I expect there to be no major, obvious errors with drafting or labeling of pieces- if you are charging people this much money, you got to deliver the goods, and they simply did not. It’s one of the reasons I scoff good naturedly at BURDA patterns all the time- their instructions are atrocious and you have to add your own seam allowances, but their PDF patterns are usually no more than 5 bucks. You get what you pay for!

Once everything was cut out, I constructed my pockets and sewed the main pieces of the jacket. It came together very quickly because there is no lining and it’s already a very simple design, but even with such a beginner-friendly pattern I noted that the accompanying instructions were really poor, which was red flag number 2. The illustrations didn’t make sense a lot of the time, because if I recall correctly they didn’t differentiate interfacing and regular fabric in the drawings. Furthermore there was no information on pressing anywhere! Like, at all! I don’t just mean they didn’t specify which direction to press, I mean they didn’t suggest you press at all. On a wool coat! As my sewing wizard friend Grace says, “Pressing is sewing!”  For a pattern marketed to novice and beginning sewists, this pattern left a LOT to be desired.

Not crazy about the bright white pockets inside this coat cause they obviously dont blend in well and you can get glimpses of them if I am sticking my hands in my pockets or something, but honestly…these are the least of my worries with this coat lol!

I basted one sleeve onto the jacket, tried it on, and was very surprised at how ill-fitting it was. It’s a two-piece sleeve so I assumed it would have a pretty nice fit right away since it was built to allow ease of moment for your arm, but it was so tight that it got stuck halfway up my arm and I had to yank it down. The seam of the underarm was also so high that it cut into my armpit. On top of that, not only was the sleeve itself way too tight for a boxy coat that was supposed to fit my measurements, but it was also puckering all around the armscye. I took the sleeve out and redrafted the pieces with an additional 1.5-ish inches of ease while also scooping out the bottom of the armhole of the coat. Sewed everything back up again and tried it on. Thankfully the sleeve fit much more comfortably now, but the wrinkles and puckering around the armholes hadn’t disappeared at all. I went up to my mirror for closer inspection and turned my camera around so I could have a better view of the back and it…was…my god. What a nightmare.

The drag lines in the back made clear that there was simply not enough room in the body of the coat to lay across my shoulders smoothly. Because it doesn’t close in the front, I had no idea how badly it was pulling in the back when I first tried it on, but now that I could see it clearly, I was devastated. There was no way I could (or would even want to) get away with wearing such an ill-fitting coat. I kicked myself for not making a muslin, then admonished myself for feeling guilty- at a certain point in your sewing career, you can comfortably make all kinds of simple projects without doing a muslin first, and should have been one of those patterns! It’s got a boxy fit, simple design lines, no darts or curves to fit onto the body- by all means this should have been an easy project to sew and adjust without having to rely on a muslin. Anyways, I digress- I was just super disappointed in both myself and the pattern. I hated that I had saved this cashmere coating for over 3 years, just waiting for inspiration to hit, and I had ultimately squandered it on a pattern that didn’t work well at all for me.

Camel Coat From Hell

this is my “Im too mad to talk” face

I decided to walk away from the coat, to take a long break. I knew that after a couple days of letting it marinate on my brain, I would either decide to move forward with trying to save it, or…gasp…throw it in the trash, attempting to save as many large, unencumbered pieces of the cashmere fabric as I possibly could (to do what with? Who knows! But saving some of it felt better than trashing all of it). As much as I tried to get the jacket out of my head over my “break”, I was unsuccessful. I couldn’t stop thinking of ways to fix it, wondering which would be most efficient, which would lead to the sleekest looking final piece? I was dreaming about this thing! After my break, I knew I couldn’t move onto another sewing project before trying my best to save this one, so I got to work. I took out the back seam, cut out a 2 inch-plus-seam-allowances panel from my remaining fabric (from here on out I will be referring to this panel as my “racing stripe” lol) and sewed that to my back pieces. Because of adding 2 additional inches to the back body, I knew this would have to transfer to my collar and neck facing pieces so I recut all of them with the extra 2 inches included. These additional two inches would also mean that the coat would fit differently in the front, and I was hoping that the new neckline wouldn’t sag out or droop down too much.

After adding the racing stripe, I tried the coat back on and it was…not perfect, but definitely better. Still a few drag lines around one of the sleeves, and I actually kind of hated the idea of the racing stripe, but it was way more comfortable than before and didn’t look like the nightmare it started as. I ran into trouble again at the kick pleat (which, as designed, seemed to include way more fabric than necessary, but whatever) and the mitered corners. FYI hate mitered corners! They look so beautiful when finished properly but I always find it hard to get them even on both sides of a garment. This coat was, unsurprisingly, no exception, and after lots of fussing and seam ripping, I ended up just cutting the excess hem and kick pleat fabric off, omitting the pleat entirely and extending my racing stripe all the way down to the hem. Fin. UGH.

I have so many conflicting feelings about this coat. On the one hand, I am SO PROUD OF MY STICK-TO-ITIVENESS! In the past, I have given up on far less complicated makes, or fixed things in ways that made them wearable, but not as aesthetically pleasing. This jacket, though not the initial vision I dreamed of, toes the line between the two- it is absolutely wearable (which I know is true because I have been wearing the CRAP out of it since I finished it) and the weird racing stripe is in the back so I really don’t have to look at it and be reminded of how much I hate it! But on the other hand…I am still frustrated at myself for not making a muslin, which should be par for the course when working with fabric that is precious to you, or working with a pattern from a company you have never sewn before. And of course, I am frustrated with the actual pattern.

The coat elevates pretty much any outfit I wear it with, but it can also go from casual to dressy without a hitch. This is face is because someone handed me a box of french fries with caviar, and I do not think they go well together at ALL.

Which leads me to the tricky part of this blog post: attempting to offer an honest, personal review of a pattern without tearing that indie pattern company down. It is important to me to show respect to everyone in the sewing community- those who sew the patterns, and those who make them, but I also want to be specifically careful with discussing indie pattern designers, whose work and growth I want to support whenever possible. It’s easy to complain and nitpick and judge what we have purchased when it’s brought us grief, but the truth is that I don’t know the first thing about designing patterns and managing a small business, so I can’t comprehend all the work that goes into it- it does NOT look easy. If I had made tons of patterns from this company and had issues with every single one, I wouldn’t hesitate in telling folks to be weary- I’ve done it before and I will do it again! I have had consistently bad experiences with both bigger and smaller sewing pattern design companies, and I try to be very transparent about my experiences with them- I’m not offering honest contributions to the maker community if I am afraid of speaking my truth because I don’t want to offend anyone. But, although I don’t plan to make any Our Lady patterns in my future, I want to remind you all that these are my experiences, and not necessarily indicative of what other people have experienced- after sharing my rough journey with this coat on IG, I had a few people write in to say that they also had a terrible experience with this specific coat pattern, but others wrote to say that their makes from other designs by this company came out great! So what is the truth? Well, like so much in this world, it’s not binary. My experience with this pattern wasn’t great. But someone else’s experience with it was terrific. Above all, this pattern company seems to be helmed by passionate, enthusiastic makers who want to share the joy of sewing to a broader audience, and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I wrote an honest review on their etsy page so if they are interested in taking constructive criticism about what could be better, they have the opportunity.

There you have it, y’all. This was my weird experience. This is my weird coat. I get compliments on it every time I wear it. Sometimes the world makes no sense. We just gotta keep stitching!

Thanks to Claire for the photos! And FYI the dress underneath is another Rachel Wrap Dress in forest green ponte from Blackbird Fabrics- unfortunately I think they are sold out but they restock popular fabrics all the time 😉 !

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!

 

More Color, More Curation! Part 2

That last post started so many conversations, both here and on IG, which I wasn’t expecting at all! Thanks for sharing your own experiences and enthusiastic responses- it’s been fun reading about your own forays into playing around with a color palette and being more thoughtful about your wardrobe planning- it feels like there is plenty of inspiration to go around!

In this post, I am sharing some of the exercises I completed from The Curated Closet! It’s kind of work-booky which is great if you’re into that sort of thing. Normally I just make mental notes for myself when I read books like this, but I figured why not just dive in deep and write all the important stuff down so I can have it to reference later on.

Once you have created a visual style profile out of images that you have collected, the author wants you to start articulating the specifics of your taste with words, which will not only make your style easy to describe to yourself and others, but it will also be helpful when you’re finally out shopping for clothes and accessories (or planning your makes). Knowing how to describe your style helps you know what to look for.

Here are some of the trends I noticed on my pinterest style inspo board:

  • clean lines
  • clashing patterns
  • simple silhouettes
  • rich fabrics
  • monochromatic looks
  • layers
  • interesting textures
  • unique features on simple foundations (cool straps, piping, bows)
  • tailored pieces

the design of this dress is pretty simple with it’s clean lines, and it has some really interesting details like the clashing fabric prints and the little buttons that go down the side. hubba hubba!

The individual items I need in my closet to pull off this look are as follows (and FYI I own many items already!):

  • classic structured brimmed hat
  • shawls and scarves with which to layer
  • simple gold jewelry
  • tailored/long line jackets, lightweight coats and oversized/long cardigans
  • skinny belts
  • sweat guards for all the silk I want to wear lol (more on this later!)
  • turtlenecks
  • a variety of blouses in different textures, solids, and prints
  • high waist pants
  • cropped trousers
  • high waist knee and midi length skirts
  • fitted, tailored dresses

honestly this whole look speaks for itself- love the tailored jacket worn so casually over the shoulders and the simple, feminine romper underneath. AND THAT HAT, OBVIOUSLY.

I was able to hone in on the colors I liked both by noticing trends on my Pinterest board (it was pretty obvious that I leaned toward earth tones) and working with my newly acquired seasonal palette. Here’s where I landed with the three primary color fields that the book suggests you create (there are some soft restrictions placed on how many of each color you can include, but I took liberties with mine because I do what I want):

Main Colors:

  • pumpkin
  • golden yellow
  • brick red
  • a variety of greens (moss, forest, grayed and honestly anything else I find that I love)

Neutrals:

  • tan/camel
  • deep chocolate brown
  • graphic prints in black and white  (totally outside of my color palette but it’s the only black or white I generally ever wear and I think it works as a neutral in my closet the same way that denim does for others)

Accents:

  • gold
  • coral
  • brick red (didnt mean to include it twice but whatever!)
  • chartreuse

ignore the white block of color here- I couldnt make a palette with less than 5 colors and I was hoping the white would blend into the background of my blog lol

In between landing in LA from our east coast Christmas vacation and heading back out to Vancouver just a few days later, I found enough time to pull out every workable piece of fabric I had in my craft room (no remnants or pieces less than a yard) and divide them into cool and warm colors.  I just wanted to see what my stash, which is practically hidden in bins and drawers, actually looked like. It was a remarkable experience to see everything laid out on my sewing table in piles- shocking no one, my cool color pile (or rather piles, PLURAL) dwarfed my collection of warm fabrics by at least 50%, probably more. The photos here don’t even show the full accumulation of my cool colored fabrics-when these photos were taken I had already pulled out everything that I knew would look good on Claire and stuck it in a bin for her, seeing as how I have labeled her a firm summer. So this fabric is all of what’s leftover, which I plan to donate.

I felt so validated looking at everything all laid out- I suddenly understood why I had such a hefty sized stash that I rarely sewed from, even though I deeply loved so many of the pieces in it. I think it’s because, on some unconscious level, I knew those weren’t the most harmonious colors for me- all the blue, gray and light pink garments in my closet sadly get very little use! But gosh I learned so much from this exercise! It was easy to figure out which pieces were cool versus warm but a little tough to figure out which pieces looked nice on me; some pieces were obviously good, but others I just wasn’t sure about- and then I had another realization: I’m really pale right now so some lighter hues in my palette don’t wake me up at all. But I can get away with lots more colors when I have a tan! Bright white, which is not in my color palette, looks good on me when I am in Hawaii or Mexico (and it obviously looks great on Kelly, too!).

Peaches and corals are the same- the lighter, more subdued the color, the less harmonious it looks on my winter skin (and let’s be honest, even though I live in LA I have winter skin a lot because I wear sunscreen like nobody’s business)…but the better it looks on my browned skin. This was so key to understand because holding up a lot of the lighter colored hues in my palette against my arm had me very confused- I wasn’t looking very lively or glowy at all next to some of them, but I think that’s because my shade changes with the seasons, and therefore so should my palette. If we are being honest I think that deep brown skin looks good in virtually every color on the planet, so the browner I get in summer, the more I will probably play around with colors outside of my palette.

Another source of validation I got from pulling out all my fabric and deciding what to get rid of came in the form of relief– relief to have such a (comparatively) small stash, which made me feel so excited about my future sewing projects! My stash had gotten so big over the years because I have been an ambassador to a few different fabric stores over the years which started piling up in my bins, but also (and maybe mostly) because people LOVE to give me their old fabric…and I LOVE to say yes to it! I had essentially just become a storage place for someone else’s unwanted junk though, and, more often than not, it became MY unwanted junk. I kept it thinking that I would use the fabric that I didn’t quite work on me for muslins, or that my sewing friends would come over and rifle through it and choose what they liked and take it home with them, but it just never ever worked out that way. It accumulated and accumulated until I got so overwhelmed by my stash that I barely made anything from it because I forgot what was even there. SO! Paring down significantly didn’t make me feel sad at all! And there were a few pieces in the cool colors pile that I kept, even though they aren’t in my palette, because I just like them a lot and imagine that I will still get joy out of wearing them.

Now instead of SEVEN bins of fabric, my entire stash can fit into my fabric bureau, with room left over! Here is what my new selection of fabrics that fit into my color palette looks like:

As you can see I kept a couple pieces outside of my palette: on the far right, a navy and white polka dotted gauze and a bright royal blue silk – these are pieces I couldn’t bear to part with, so it seemed reasonable to keep them around. Now that I have a smaller stash, I might actually make something with them, color palette be damned!

the light pink, black, and purple modal jerseys are not in my color palette but these were intended for undergarments so I kept them!

Another drawer of things that don’t quite work for my palette, but that I might be inspired at some point in the future to work with anyways…on the far right is Claire’s special NO GLUTEN fabric we designed lolololol- I mostly use it for linings for her pants. It has an image of a butt farting with a big red STOP symbol around it.

a few more pieces outside of my palette that I can use for linings, plus a mint green silk brocade that I refuse to get rid of cause its so pretty.

Okay! So next in the book you have to figure out silhouettes that best define your style. This is a list of what I found on my style boards and that I know I like to wear:

  • nipped-in waists
  • high waisted pants
  • cropped pants
  • blousy/full tops paired with fitted pants
  • shoes with a heel, slight wedge, or platform
  • midi-length figure skimming dresses
  • skirts with body and/or flare

Fabrics I want to wear:

  • linen
  • silk
  • cotton
  • denim
  • tweed
  • high quality velvets (although who am I kidding I HATE sewing velvet!!!)
  • soft blended merino wools and cashmere
  • solids with simple graphic prints like stripes, grids, plaids and polka dots

The significant ways in which I will style these pieces?

  • minimal jewelry
  • thin belts
  • layers
  • monochromatic color schemes
  • my kick ass hat from New Mexico (I’ve gotten more compliments on this damn hat than anything else in recent memory!)

After accumulating inspirational fashion images and culling my style list, I was surprised to find that I am not that drawn to clothes with bright, bold prints on them, even though I might be drawn specifically to the image on the fabric itself. I prefer outfits made of solids to most everything else, and the prints I do like tend to be graphic as opposed to floral or novelty, with a more subtle color palette. I guess I’m nowhere near as funky a dresser in real life as I am in my head, hahaha!

here’s an exception to the statement above: a bold fabric I’m in love with, but surprise, surprise- it’s all in my color palette!

Another surprise about my style boards was the lack of vintage looks I was drawn to. I’ve always thought of myself as being a huge fan of vintage, and while I still drool over those looks, it’s not exclusively the way I want to dress anymore. As I get older, my style seems to be transitioning to slightly more modern looks. I still love the cinched waist + full skirt silhouettes of 50s vintage styles and all the interesting detailing, but I have often struggled with wearing vintage in my everyday life that doesn’t make me feel like I’m wearing a costume (the people who do commit to a decidedly retro style profile are endlessly inspiring to me, and I love the way they successfully pull off such ambitious looks, it’s just not my right fit). I will definitely still play around with vintage silhouettes and detailing in my dressed up/red carpet looks, though!

The overall feeling of the style I want to present is a twist on the traditional lux, feminine, preppy, minimalist look-  I love that style but I also want to feel fun, unfussy, and comfortable. I want my outfits to look chic and tailored but be easy to wear, at least for my casual, everyday life- I LOVE going all out for a big event!

The styling tricks that I need to tackle for this style are finding different textures of fabrics in similar colored hues which will be a priority in making the monochromatic look work. I’m also not yet sure how to translate some of these ideas to the hot LA summers where less clothing is best for comfort, so I might just have separate seasonal styles where in warmer months I focus on simple sundresses in my color palette with interesting details.

My biggest fear with this new style focus is keeping the simple, chic ensembles from looking too bland and boring. I generally think of myself as someone who stands out, and I have often used my clothing to feel emboldened and empowered- I worry that subduing my palette and print choices will make me fade into the background, but maybe that’s just because everything I’m doing is a bit out of my comfort zone. I went into a store the other day where a friendly woman came up to me to say that she followed me on instagram because of my making exploits. The person behind the counter overheard our convo and chimed in to say something along the lines of “Sorry, I don’t know who you are on instagram, but as soon as you walked in I was paying attention!” That’s the kind of style I want to walk through the world with, the kind that makes you want to know more about the person wearing it.

Lastly, this is what I want to say with my style: that I love clothes and somehow manage to make putting them together look effortless. That I feel at home both in my body and in my garments, and can wear pretty much anything and still feel great…because the clothing isn’t defining me, it’s just enhancing all my favorite parts of me. I want to convey ease! confidence! beauty! I want my style to look and feel luxurious and refined without using any of the traditional methods of achieving such a look- I have never been very brand-conscious and I kind of abhor garments and accessories adorned with designers’ monikers. I want my clothing to look expensive because the fabrics are high quality, the pieces are well sewn, and the outfits are thoughtfully put together, not because the emblem splattered across the front tells you exactly how much it cost (now watch me get gifted a Gucci bag or something lol!)

I’m stumped on what to call this look: “Grandma Chic” has been defining my style for decades but I feel like I owe this new, more updated look a better name. Rich Bitch With Personality? Naahhh…but funny! Carefree Preppy Black Girl? Earthy Hipster With Class? Please. Help me.

Here’s what’s next, the most exciting part for me, the equivalent of going out and shopping for all the things needed to fill up those clothes in your closet once you’ve been honest with yourself and expunged it of all the things you don’t actually wear anymore because of fit or style or color or all of the above…MAKING SEWING PLANS!

Oh, and a word about those items I am getting rid of from my closet. So many people, and I mean SEW many, have “reminded” me that I can dye lighter colored items in shades from my palette instead of getting rid of them. I’m very well aware that this is an option, but I seriously dislike dyeing. Seriously. Dyeing has only been variably successful for me, it takes a LOT of water to complete from start to finish (something that is really hard for me living in SoCal where we are always in a drought) and, perhaps just as importantly, I don’t find dyeing to be all that fun. I don’t want to risk the chance of ruining perfectly good garments just to keep them in my closet- I would rather give them away or sell them for charity or something. If I’ve already gotten good wear out of it, I am mostly okay with sending it on to a new life. There are one or two items I’ve made in shades that definitely aren’t in my color palette, so I might work up the nerve to dye those items at some point? I dunno, it’s doubtful, LOL!

 

The third and final post in this series will be my sewing plans for the next year! I got myself an iPad Pro to replace my beat up old iPad mini so now I will be able to sketch and draw much more easily- hopefully I will be able to incorporate illustrations and drawings into lots more blog posts! And now I will leave you with this, a series of makes both in and outside of my color palette, since so many of you seemed to really resonate with that part of my last post!

this cream color is in the same family as the “oyster white” in my color palette, but it’s a bit too soft and I definitely think it looks better on tanned skin, so I might save this for just a summer wear if I can pull it off.

(oyster whit, btw)

this green is in my palette!

there are no blues in my palette but I think this looks great against tanned skin. But compare it to the green dress above…do you see a difference in the amount of harmony created in each one?

you would think that since the warm colors are based off of yellow there would be more of it in my palette, but there is only one: yellow-gold. Not sure if this buttery yellow with gold works but I think it looks amazing on me!

yes, yes, and more yes!

 

Sadly there are no purples in my palette, but this color does not look bad on me at all! Some might say it’s pretty on me! And here is the crux of working with a color palette: some colors outside my season look absolutely awful on me but more often they look totally fine! And I usually don’t mind looking “totally fine”! But right now, I’m interested in experimenting with a style that is more TOTALLY WOW than totally fine.

I don’t know if I ever blogged about this Burda jumpsuit because I was too overwhelmed by everything that was wrong with it to sit down and WRITE about it. The pattern for the jumpsuit is terrific but my fabric choice and the proportions of the garment were way off. BUt look at this color that is not in my palette! Its a greenish gray, more gray and definitely cool, and I think it looks just AWFUL on me lol. My purple-ish cool toned lipstick is not doing me any favors either but YOWSWERS no thanks.

 

I know I put this in the last post but just to reiterate: NO. This is a dress I would consider dyeing tho.

Jesus Lord NOOOOOOO

hard to tell in this photo because I am so washed out from the bright sun, but salmon is one of the only pink-ish colors I can wear and I love it on me.

Gold-yellow, yes, hello. I’m pretty pale in this pic but I think the yellow still looks good on me, which I cant say for most other colors.

This is a great example of wearing colors outside of your palette further away from your face- the skirt is white and gold which I can get away with, but the greenish gold of the bustier is def in my palette and I think it shows. I had no idea green looked great on me before I started delving into this color business, and it has been a sensational discovery.

Will obviously keep wearing this dress because I love the shark print so much, but c’mon! your eye gets drawn to the shoes cause they do more for me than the blue and white of the dress! what a shame!

 

oh god, no! BUT WHOA I LOVE MY HAIR, now I’m gonna be obsessed with getting it cut short for the next three months ugh.

 

This has a lot of navy in it but it’s predominantly a bright orange which is totally my color! Pops of non-palette colors work just fine on me as long as the main shade is my season.

 

god I love this dress. Again, not terrible! It’s such a gorgeous print and I will absolutely keep wearing it! But, you know…I’m not popping, especially with that pale pink lipstick.

 

 

This whole look is very, very weird. The hair looks like I’m trying to copy The Supremes. Don’t have much to say other than that the dress is what is popping here, not me at all.

 

 

Are we on the same page yet? Do you see what I see? Are you picking up what I’m putting down??

 

I can wear blues that are closer to green, like aqua and turquoise. I think this color really works on me.

 

 

sadly, no.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t make this dress but I’m posting it because it’s the only red I had in my closet for years and it totally works on me because it’s an orange red. The lipstick I think is something I already had on with something else because it obviously doesn’t go, but in general Im gonna steer clear of those Barbie and pale pinks- they make my mouth recede so much and just don’t GO.

You will have to rip this non-Deep Autumn dress from my cold, dead hands.

 

Not the best shot of my face and the lighting is atrocious, but hopefully you can already tell that this deep earth toned dress looks way better than say, that last silver dress.

 

Let’s end on a high note, shall we? This two piece yellow and blue works great on me, and the yellow is more lemony than gold, but I think it still works- my face looks clear and bright and harmonious with the colors radiating from the blouse!

The Curated Closet and Color Me Beautiful

I took a strong cue from my friend Renee of the Miss Celie’s Pants blog to read The Curated Closet, a lovely little book about how to cull your personal style and create a closet that works best for your tastes and lifestyle (full disclosure: I haven’t finished it yet because it was due back at the e-library before I was done with it, lol- consider this blog post part 1). Although I heard lots of good things about the book since it’s publication, I avoided reading it for a long time and I haven’t yet pinpointed exactly why. It might have something to do with protecting “freedom” in my making life, freedom to just make whatever I want to make when inspiration hits, freedom to create without boundaries, without plans, without expectations.

I also tend to connect the terms “curated” and “minimalist” together, and the word “minimalist” is not one I am usually very comfortable with. Again, not exactly sure why, but if me and my therapist had to guess (HA!), it would have something to do with growing up poor and hating not having access to all the things that my peers did. When you’re poor, you’re often living a minimalist life out of necessity, and while I made it through intact, the important thing that was absent from my life was choice. It’s possible that I wouldn’t have changed much about my material life at all if I had the power, but I still would have loved the opportunity to choose; choice is a privilege. And now, all these years later, as a working adult with financial freedom, I still carry this strange burden with me.

I have a tough time figuring out whether certain colors are warm or not, blue being one of them. Not entirely sure if this is in my palette, but I think it looks great anyways.

Anyways, I’m deciding to try something new, even if it feels a little weird at first. What is drawing me to this idea, after so long, of curating my closet with my makes? Well, I started asking myself how pleased I was with my closet in its’ current state, and although I anticipated being perfectly happy with it, after really marinating on it for a while I realized that I wasn’t. My dissatisfaction had little to do with the specific items I had made over the years, but rather the lack of cohesiveness. There were some items I had sewn that only paired with one other garment in my closet, but I seemed to have sewn even more items that went with nothing in my closet! A button down in a funky print that matched no bottoms, pants I never wore because I had no blouses or shirts to match them with, and so on and so on. The most successful “outfits” I had in my closet were just jumpsuits and dresses, things I could wear on their own. I did have a couple of ensembles comprised of more than one item that looked really cute, but because they were so few and far between I ended up getting sick of those outfits because I wore them (and wore them out) to death.

the top color in my sweater looks to be close to an oyster white, which is in my pallet, but maybe because it’s paired with the greys and black, it’s just not doing me any favors.

So what was I doing wrong? Besides, you know, making every new sewing pattern I thought was cute in every inspiring fabric I fell in love with? Well, turns out…that’s pretty much it. I wasn’t putting any thought into how my clothing worked together, I was only waiting for inspiration to hit, and then sewing impulsively from there. Guess what. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this method of making! You do what works for you and what feels right! For some reason, this stopped working for me so I am excited about exploring a different approach- I’ve seen all kinds of sewing wizards on IG and in the blogosphere who dazzle on either end of the spectrum, and I’m sure I will continue to be inspired by them all!

I love this pale, snowy pink in the Camus blouse but it is nowhere in my color palette lol- I never end up wearing it because it makes me look so pale and boring.

I hadn’t gotten very far into the book before having a couple of big revelations: 1. curating my closet was going to require me to start paying attention to color, an area in which I am mediocre at best, and 2. I did not actually dress at all like my preferred style! Shocker!!! Because I love pretty much all the things I have been wearing! But when I took an honest look at my wardrobe and tried to define my style, I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. And that is because my “style”, as disappointing as it is to admit, is all over the place.

holy shit I am so tan here! Thanks for the sun, hawaii!

I had always prided myself on not caving to fads and being thoughtful about the styles of clothes I wore when I shopped RTW, but I think that when I transitioned into sewing my own clothes, that intention got lost. As I moved out of sewing strictly vintage-inspired garments and started wearing more modern silhouettes, my focus broadened-  suddenly I was excited to make the shiniest, newest patterns, no matter if it fit in with a certain “look”. It was great in terms of learning new techniques and discovering new silhouettes that I never knew I liked on myself, but unfortunately it also led to lots of garments made over the years that weren’t sewn with much intention, and therefore didn’t get a lot of wear. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with following trends and fads of course, but this method of making made no sense for my closet because not all of the newest, coolest patterns actually worked for my tastes.

I am so in love with this dress but I have only worn it once…it is not in my color palette!

I figured all of this out after starting a Pinterest board (as recommended in the book) to gather all the outfit images and visual inspiration for the style that I envisioned for myself. Again, I was shocked to see how far off I was! My closet had several individual items from my board of inspo, but hardly ANY of the outfits, so my closet and my pinterest board were practically unrecognizable to each other. One big reason for this was because the color palette of my closet and the color palette of my dream style were waaaaaay off. I mean, I had never even thought about a color palette in my life til I read about it in the Curated Closet! But sitting down and looking at the dozens of images I had compiled onto this board, my color choices were pretty clear. I liked earth tones, oranges, peaches, tans and really soft pinks, with bursts of interesting colors. It was surprising how consistent the styles and colors were on my board (because that’s not what my closet looked like), and I started getting excited because this meant there was an actual direction that my curating could take.

Here are the main takeaways I got after examining the themes in my style board:

  • I preferred simple, graphic prints over florals, so there were lots of polka dots, plaids, stripes and grids. The florals that showed up were in medium to large prints and in a subdued palette.


  • I was drawn to a playful look that still felt sophisticated. Instead of relying solely on novelty prints or bold color combinations to get across my quirky tastes, I want to experiment with pairing different kinds of textures together and mixing and matching prints. This seems like a fun way for me to mix up simple silhouettes and classic garments while not looking boring (which is how my entire closet has started to feel the more I have honed in on my personal tastes!)


  • I LOVE MONOCHROMATIC LOOKS! But I don’t have one true monochromatic outfit comprised of separates in my entire closet! What gives?!? When Katie of What Katie Sews started the #dresslikeacrayon hashtag earlier this year, I would drool over every single photo she shared and make a weak promise to myself that I would try it out myself one day, but of course I never could because nothing in my closet matched! My board also had many versions of matching print top + bottom separates, or pieces paired together with fabrics within the same color family but with slight variations in texture or shade.


  • I love dresses in two silhouettes: a simple, fitted shape with delicate but interesting details in luminous fabrics…




    …and I like midi and maxi dresses that are well proportioned to my body with a close fitting bodice.



  • The other trends I noticed were ensembles with thoughtfully layered pieces,

    big blousey sweaters and tops paired with fitted trousers and jeans,

    playfully preppy looks,

    and pattern clashing.

Seeing all this together might seem like way too many variations in style to be cohesive at all, but trust me when I tell you that it absolutely is more focused than whatever is currently going on in my closet, lol.

In her book, Rees mentions color a few times and refers to a person’s specific palette and how some people have found a lot of power from only wearing “their” colors. I of course had heard the theory of people having “seasons” before but I didn’t know much about it, so I googled to learn more…and then I went down a whole color rabbithole! It just so happened that my mother in law heard me and Renee, who was over for a visit at my in-laws house over the holidays, discussing the theory of seasons of color. She then went on a hunt to find her copy of the original book that started this trend in the early 1970’s, Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson. It eventually fell out of fashion but at it’s height it was considered the “bible” for fashionable women.

I read the thing cover to cover within a couple days. It was jam packed with both a wealth of thoughtful and helpful information and some of the most antiquated, racist, sexist and fatphobic tropes that you could imagine. In short, the book shares a simplified theory about how skin tones can be categorized into 2 main groups, warms and cools, and 4 sub-groups, a.k.a. seasons: Winter and Summer (the cool side of the spectrum) and Autumn and Spring (the warm side). Cools have a blue undertone and therefore benefit from wearing cooler colors that make their skin and face brighten and look alive, while Warms have yellow undertones and look best in their own specific palette of colors. In addition to understanding how color works with hair and skin and eye color, there is a section about the kinds of styles women in the strictest binary sense of the word “should” wear and how certain clothes and shapes can “make you look fat” and how that should be avoided if at all possible. Sigh. It was appealing and appalling in the same breath, and I marveled at the mess of it! I’ve been told that the book has been updated for modern times and is less problematic now, which, if true, is great, but I can only comment on what I read in the version I recieved.

The biggest issue that I noticed right off the bat was that there were only 2 models of color out of maybe 19 or 20 images throughout the book, so determining the seasons for anybody not white or light skinned has proven to be pretty much impossible for me. There are several factors used in determining what your own undertone is, but the most common way seems to be looking at the veins on the inside of your wrist/hand/arm to see if they look greenish or bluish. If you have more pigment in your skin, the color of your veins might not show up that well or at all, and there are essentially no ways listed in (my version of) the book to apply any of the other the rules to brunettes with dark eyes and brown or black skin to figure out their season, a fact that the author essentially refuses to even recognize- I guess she doesn’t understand that black and brown people can be brunettes, too.

green is in my color palette but im not sure if this blush is

I knew what my color was before I even read the book because I found information online to figure it out (I’m a deep autumn!), but the book goes into detail about WHY your color palette exists, how it’s helpful and how to apply the use of your specific colors in your wardrobe, so that stuff was helpful to me. For folks interested in reading the book who have skin color that might not be accurately reflected in the pages, try figuring out your palette with some of the quizes available online first and then using the book to supplement that knowledge.

The most helpful part of the book for me was seeing “right” and “wrong” color photos with some of the models. Although not many of them looked downright bad in the “wrong” color (and obviously there should be a different descriptive word than “wrong”, but I digress), seeing them in a hue from their specific color palette really did have a positive effect on them, which could be hard to describe in words. Sometimes it was obvious that a color washed a model out or made her look sallow, but other times I couldn’t articulate why the other color looked better on her, she just suddenly seemed to pop and look alive in the “right” color.

Seeing my Color Me Beautiful color chart for the first time made me audibly gasp- although the variety of colors seemed limited in comparison to the other seasons, it was hands down my favorite group of colors. And again, big shocker, but I hardly have any of these colors in my wardrobe. Autumns don’t have pink in their chart, nor is there much gray, two colors that show up a LOT in my closet, but there are lots of oranges, golds and browns, and more shades of green that I could even imagine! I hardly ever make things in green! There was also a lot of red, but it was orange-red, not blue -ed, and now I realize that I don’t actually despise the color red at all, I’ve just always been envisioning the wrong shade of it. Cherry red is no good on me, but brick and rust and sunset reds, all reds with a yellow undertone, are terrific. These little epiphanies were so exciting once they were revealed! I was getting direction on how to hone in on my ideal style, and instead of feeling overwhelmed about how to tackle the next steps, I was feeling focused. I mentioned this years ago in a blog post here, but earth tones, which my mom always said looked so good on me, just made me feel boring when I was a teenager- I always gravitated towards sparkly turquoises and purples and fuschias (colors not in my palette). But today when I wear those jewel toned shades, I feel like the color is what pops, not me. Well, guess what- I’m officially ready to pop!

while purple is absent from my chart, it doesn’t mean I can’t wear it- every season can wear any color they want, it just has to be in the right shade and intensity. This purple is warm and I think it looks really pretty against my skin, but I definitely should have chosen a different lipstick lol

While on the east coast visiting family for the holidays, I took a trip down to Alexandria, VA to go to Fibre Space and Stitch Sew Shop, both well reviewed yarn and fabric stores, respectively. Neither one disappointed; the moment I stepped into Fibre Space I felt overloaded with all the beauty! I wanted to touch every single skein, brush every fibre against my neck to test it’s softness, shroud myself in each sample on display. The store was cozy, beautiful, and well-designed, but the yarn selection was outstanding. The colors were exceptionally vibrant in the well-lit space and I got dizzy whipping my head around to behold everything, but then I remembered that I’d brought my color palette chart with me.

I pulled out the book and started comparing the squares of pigment on the page to what I was most drawn to in the shop, within the parameters of my palette. The bright golden yellow on the page (surprisingly the only yellow listed for my season) matched perfectly with the chunky, soft yarn I was eyeing to make a hat for myself, but the pinkish-purple-y red I liked didn’t make the cut because it had blue undertones, not yellow. Instead, I opted for a variegated mossy green with flecks of gray and forrest throughout. Easy peasy! I still brushed my fingers over all the pale pinks and powdery blues and grays because I adore those colors, but I didn’t waste my time with them- I’ve made so many sweaters in these hues that never got much wear, and now I know why!

 

the brick red hat and golden yellow velvet dress are both in my palette!

One line in The Curated Closet book stuck out for me a lot- the author says that she has always been drawn to dramatic floral prints, but that they don’t really suit her personal style so much. So instead of forcing herself into a print that didn’t make her feel her best, she started incorporating florals into her home decor, which means she still gets to see and experience the beautiful prints she loves. I love this simple twist of perspective so much. I am always, always going to love pale pastel pinks and heather grays and aquas and lemon yellows, but not having them in my color palette doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them; if it’s in a color that it is too cool for me, I can simply try scooting them over to other places in my life, through accessories or garment linings or jewelry or home decor, and see how that feels.

My trip to Stitch Sew Shop, a curated fabric and patterns store with a space for sewing classes, was just as successful as my yarn store visit. Stitch Sew Shop store was so beautiful and upscale that it felt like an atelier! The selection was considered and alluring- instead of being bombarded with a giant selection of textiles of varying quality, I got to revel in each carefully selected bolt, which of course made me want to buy everything I saw. But I showed restraint because I had my color chart with me, and I already knew what holes from my closet needed to be filled! I bought a grayed green medium-weight corduroy (which will probably become a pair of Landers), a pumpkin colored ribbed knit that I will most likely turn into a fitted turtleneck, and one yard of an expensive and incredibly lux 3-ply silk in the deepest, most vibrant shade of rust I’ve ever seen. I plan to make a simple blouse with this one, possibly a cami or tank. Looking at my stack of yarn and fabric together was the first time I can remember making a purchase where everything actually looked like it belonged together, which I think can only bode well for getting my wardrobe into better shape.

Thanks for joining me on this very verbose journey about style and color and clothing- I have been sharing stories about the Color Me Beautiful book on my IG all week and so many people have been writing to ask for more details about it that it seemed smart to write a blog post- after all, this new method is changing the way I make and dress, and that’s what this blog is about! Once I am back home in LA, I plan to go through all my fabric and keep only the pieces that I know are in my color palette and the pieces that I am most fond of (if I don’t want to use it on myself it might still work for Claire or someone else I know).

this pink is so far away from my color palette, GOOD LORD- it’s just not doing me any favors at all.

In part 2 of this subject, I plan on actually finishing The Curated Closet and sharing some of the things I’ve learned about my style goals and what I need to do to my closet to implement them. I’m also starting a list of the key, basic, and complimentary wardrobe items that are missing from my closet that I want to make, plus any accessories I can buy to round things out and help complete certain outfits so that more of my items can work well together. Stay tuned if you want to know more about the next part of curating my closet with my color palette!

 

 

let’s close out on the positive note that is ME in this CHARTREUSE, a color that is luckily in my palette and one that I always feel terrific in!

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!

 

Snowbunny In the Desert

This is a two-for one post because the garments looked so good together I couldn’t bear to separate them! Let’s start with the jacket, which has inspired more ridiculous stories and posts on my instagram account than I ever imagined.

The jacket pattern is Simplicity D0899 and I bought it shortly after I moved up to Vancouver this summer. The warm days and cool nights had me wishing I had a lightweight, long jacket that I could throw on over summer dresses, and I thought a linen or silk noil would be beautiful in this very simple unlined trench style pattern. But it turned out that I didn’t have enough fabric in my stash to make it in the kind of fabric I wanted, so I decided to find something nice from The Fabric Store for my next order.

Although I was initially planning to make this in a slightly drapey muted fabric, I kept feeling drawn to this interesting animal print jacquard on the website (as of this post I think they are all out of this specific fabric now, but this is the same textile, I think, but in a different hue). The fabric was pretty much the exact opposite of my original idea- stiffer, bulkier, with lots of body, and in a very bold print- but once it was in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so the obvious choice was to take a chance and move forward with it!

I think that this fabric is described as “reversible”, which is totally legit, but there was only one side that I was really drawn to. The side of the fabric that looks decidedly animal print-y, is bolder and a little more…garish maybe. I think it could be really cute in like, a skirt or pants or blazer, but for a whole coat, it just wasn’t working for me. However the other side? I was crazy about it! It looked less animal print-y and more abstract, and the feel was softer, more pillowy, and frankly just a bit more interesting to me personally (for some reason I am really trying hard not to shade the other side of the fabric, as if it’s going to be offended, lol).

This jacquard was pretty easy to sew with and definitely not slippery or grippy, but I did need to make sure my needles were sharp so it wouldn’t snag any of the threads on the outside part of the fabric (the inside of the fabric is smooth and flat and has no raised threads). This was a very simple and straightforward make- the jacket is unlined and has no button or zip closure so it’s really just made up of the front and back pieces, sleeves, pockets and collar, therefore it came together very quickly. I considered french seaming the insides but the fabric is fairly thick and I didn’t want to battle the bulk so I decided to finish the seams with my serger, which was definitely the right choice.

I wish there was more to say about the construction of this jacket but there isn’t- it truly was an uncomplicated make! The dynamic look of the garment is not matched at all to it’s simple design, which I kind of love. It’s exciting when you make something with a huge wow factor but no wow construction- it almost feels like cheating! One of my other favorite things about sewing patterns is seeing them made up in fabrics or prints that they might not have been designed for, but still look amazing with when paired together. As soon as the garment started coming together and I tried it on for fit (no adjustments necessary for this one except for shortening the sleeves) I realized that, although I had set out to make a really casual, easy-to-throw-on jacket, I ended up with one of the most lux looking items in my closet!

I am still just so tickled about it! Whenever I put this jacket on I immediately start channeling the personality of a painfully wealthy woman who chain smokes and has so many lap dogs that she can’t remember any of their names, haha. My friend Carly and I have this idea to do a series of shorts based on this woman and her jacket so I will definitely post here if we ever get around to it, but until then, I am enjoying parading around town in such a sleek, sexy coat! It surprisingly goes with EVERYthing!

Next up are these amazing high waisted wide legged trousers from a new-to-me indie pattern company called Fibre Mood that Sophie of Ada Spragg told me about. There are so many really cute and thoughtfully designed PDF patterns on the site that it was hard to choose just one to start with, but I finally decided on the Peaches Trousers to try and get a taste for the drafting. Obviously I am in love with them.

Funny enough, the photos of the pants on the website feature a pair of powder blue Peachers Trousers that I was so obsessed with I knew I would have to essentially make the exact same pair. And I just so happened to have an almost identical fabric in my stash that was perfect for this make, a lightweight crepe wool also from The Fabric Store. I got it years ago from the LA store before it closed down- I had no idea what I would make with it at the time but the look of it was so vintage and the color was so fabulous that I couldn’t not bring it home with me. I never got a chance to sew it up because the width is really narrow and it just wasn’t enough yardage to make anything I was ever inspired by…til now!

The wool isn’t exactly transparent, but it’s so lightweight that the outline of whatever is underneath it is pretty noticeable, so I had to be thoughtful of what I used to line the pockets, etc. I went with a white silk from my stash and it works pretty well, although you can still see the outline of the welt pockets in the back, which I am actually okay with. I usually hate welt pockets on my pants because they have a tendency to bulk up on my butt and jut out in a way that I find unflattering, but for this make I wanted to try them out anyways since the pants would be wide-legged. My theory was that welt pockets stick out on my butt when the pants are super fitted, but if the pants had more ease around the hips, they might lay down and look less obtrusive. Thankfully I was right and now I know that welt pockets aren’t the enemy, it’s just the silhouette they are attached to that matters. Which is great news because I LOVE the way welt pockets looks on pants! Just so professional and slick! Since this was my first Fibre Mood pattern and their directions are written in another language and then translated to english, I skipped over their zip fly and welt pocket instructions and used the ones from the sasha trousers by Closet Case, which I had already made before and was familiar with.

My zip fly is a little wonky up close cause this material was a bit tricky to work with (at least with the fiddly bits- the crepe wool has some stretch but is also really lightweight, so it liked to scrunch up and gather under the machine foot if I wasn’t careful…and it liked to snag, too) but my welt pockets are beautiful and I am so pleased with them! The general fit of these trousers is exactly what I was looking for, and I actually made no adjustments to the size except for letting the hips out a tiny bit after I baste-fit them on my body. I could probably stand to do a tiny sway back adjustment, which I am realizing seems to be necessary the higher my waistband is on a pair of pants, but the fit of these is entirely acceptable for now and I am very happy I made them.

FYI, the top is a handknit sweater I made several years ago from a vintage knitting pattern- I don’t think I ever blogged about it here but there are a few details about it on my ravelry page (which I don’t really tend to anymore, but I knit much less often these days so, whatever). As always, thanks to Claire for the photos, and thanks to everyone on IG who played along with my #dresslikearichbitch hashtag with this coat on IG- it was too much fun and we should absolutely do it again!

 

Cielo Dress in Vintage-Inspired Silk

The fabulousness of this dress was a huge surprise for me! I thought that the design might be a bit too simple to pack the big punch I was hoping for, but it absolutely delivered and I am happy to learn, once again, that you can’t always judge a pattern by it’s model photos! Not to say that the model photos aren’t brilliant, it’s just that the dress was intentionally styled to look casual, comfortable, and easy to wear, so I wasn’t sure how well it would translate in a fancier fabric like silk.

But I have my answer now!

Heather Lou of Closet Case Patterns released The Rome Collection earlier this year, and it includes the Fiore skirt (I am teaching some Vancouver friends how to sew and we are using this pattern!), the Pietra Pants (love these and will be making another pair soon!), and the subject of this post, the Cielo dress. The Cielo came out shortly after the Wiksten shift by Wiksten Patterns was released, and at first glance they are very similar designs. Since I had made a Wiksten already I didn’t imagine I would get around to the Cielo any time soon- while the Wiksten is lovely, it’s a bit of a shapeless garment and I didn’t have much need for more than one of those in my closet at a time. But while in Vancouver and in between projects, I found myself staring at the tiny stash of fabric and patterns I keep in my apartment and at a loss as to what I should make next. I glanced at my yardage of printed silk de chine from The Fabric Store and got an idea.

You can’t tell so much from the pictures, but if you have ever gotten silk from The Fabric Store before, you know what I mean when I say it’s SO JUICY! It’s just got a gorgeous hand feel, it has body, and it drapes beautifully, like any high quality silk should. But what drew me to this particular textile is the print and color! I love skin-toned peaches and tans, and the vintage motif, reminding me simultaneously of 1930’s Art Deco and 1980’s Saved By The Bell, was an immediate eye-catcher for me (btw it comes in two additional colorways– vanilla and black!).

I wondered if the star power of this fabric could carry a simple silhouette like the Cielo, but once I opened up the pattern instructions and really examined the details, I saw everything that I had missed about it at first glance. It’s not a simple shift dress like the Wiksten at all- it has beautiful enclosed pockets on the front (I didn’t use them for this make but I definitely will on the next one), a lovely back shoulder detail that creates a nice, close fit without having to use a dart, and a set-in sleeve (the Wiksten’s sleeves are flat and extend from the bodice/dress).

But it’s not just ANY sleeve- this sleeve is soooo unique! It’s beautifully drafted and fits around the curve of the arm at the shoulder so perfectly, but do you see the detail??? It’s billowy and dramatic at the top, then it tapers down ever so gently and folds in on itself a few inches above the wrist, so there is no traditional hem at the bottom. Instead, there is a facing, which gives the tiniest bit of weight to the sleeve and allows it to move and float while still maintaining it’s structure. HOWWW??? I could never have imagined such a shape myself, but this is why I am such a fan of Close Case Patterns- their attention to detail, to trends, to options, to the fun of making and wearing clothes, is unparallelled!

Once I finally recognized how exceptional the sleeve was, I was even more interested in seeing how this pattern would pair with my pretty silk, so I took a leap of faith and cut it out. I graded from a whopping 2 in the bust to an 8 in the hips because I wanted ample wiggle room and no catching or wrinkling around my thighs, just silky smooth drape- thankfully that’s exactly what I got. Construction-wise, I flew through this dress. CCF is known for having some of the clearest, most comprehensive pattern instructions on the market and this pattern was no exception. The only thing that took me a long time was cutting out my meager yardage of slippery silk fabric in one layer, but once that was done, it was just french seams and red carpet dreams, baby!

I didn’t have enough printed fabric for my sleeve facings and didn’t have much to replace it with from my meager stash, so I settled on a cut of very lightweight transparent silk instead, which works fine. The facing fabric has a very faint animal print on it which doesn’t exactly go with my printed silk, but it turns out that it doesn’t matter- you can’t see too deep inside the sleeve and the fabric is so transparent that it barely shows up anyways. I suppose I could have done without the facing and just hemmed and french seamed the insides, but I loved the idea of a closed sleeve hem and I am glad I figured out a way to get it done- it’s truly a thing of beauty.

I liked the idea of a curved hem on this garment, but it was kind of a last minute decision that could have been executed a bit better- if I had had more fabric to work with I could have done a slightly more dramatic hem and made an appropriate facing out of self fabric, but instead I kept the curve pretty tame and used bias tape to hem the bottom. Next time! Although I think this dress looks really cute without being cinched in at the waist, I prefer wearing it with a belt. Partly because I don’t feel super comfortable in loose garments with little-to-no waist definition, but also because I feel like the sleeves look even more dramatic when paired with the cinched in waist.

I am truly blown away by how fabulous this dress looks- for something I finished sewing in less than two days, I would have expected something a little less sophisticated and stylish. But here we are, beautiful fabric married to beautiful pattern! It’s one of my favorite pieces of magic in sewing- playing around with the “rules” to find new dimension and shape and texture and sense of self in everything we make! Thanks to Claire for the photos, The Fabric Store and Heather Lou for the silk and pattern, and thanks to this dress for giving me a reason to get the hell out of the house and go somewhere!

Oh, and I know I’ve talked about this before, but CCF also sells these stunning Maker and Sewist (not pictured) necklaces in gold and silver that I basically never take off unless I have to work- so easy to wear, such a good conversation starter, and such a terrific reminder that even on my worst day, I am capable of bringing love, value, and beauty into the world. Don’t forget that you are, too!