May 28, 2012

Finished Project: Simplicity 1872 with Sleeves and a Dirndl Skirt

After complaining profusely in my last post, I should tell you I do feel human again. It's a wonderful thing to enjoy going outside outside again after weeks of praying for rain to wash the pollen away (FYI: complaining is praying for secular people).

Sometime this Spring I sewed this lovely little dress, though I have yet to wear it truly. I plan on wearing it to dinner at X20 on the Hudson with my husband when we celebrate our 5th anniversary in mid-June (turns out five wedded years years = wooden anniversary, which will be appropriate because on our actual anniversary we will be in the deep wilderness in British Columbia visiting my dad at the totally inaccesible-by-road property where he lives. My dad has had to shoot two bears there already this Spring (not for fun or sport — for protection), so wearing a little number like this is out of the question there: I'd look delicious to a bear in this, sort of blood-splattered, wouldn't you say?) 

Anyway, the bodice and sleeves of this dress are Simplicity 1872, which is a Cynthia Rowley pattern I was given by the Team at, a new website in development that will be both an online community of crafters posting their projects and sharing skills and a marketplace where you can buy the stuff needed to make a project you see there. I already made one version of this dress. I'll show you both and tell you what I did to make this one better than the first. 

This version, which I do believe I'll wear a lot, is sewn from a lightweight silk (from Metro Textile Corp. on 37th Street in New York's Garment District). It was quite sheer, so I lined the bodice and sleeves with white silk, and made a white slip to wear on the bottom (incidentally, sewn from a silk maternity top that I had ruined somehow with a stain). The skirt is just two gathered rectangles because I wanted something simpler and less twirly than the original skirt, which is very flirty, as you can see here:

If you're thinking I look flat-chested and big-hipped in this pose, it's probably because I am. Also, this dress ended up too big, which doesn't help. I love the colour and shine of this cotton sateen and think it would make a very cute holiday frock — for someone with a bigger bust than me. And maybe a few inches taller.  I'm thinking of giving it away on my blog. If I had bigger closets I would just save it for my daughter. She's probably going to be taller and have a bigger chest than me in a couple years, damn her.

For my second version, I cut the smallest size (even though I feared not being able to pull it over my head — there are no closures in this dress, which makes it easy for beginners). I also cut over an inch from the long straight edge of the front wrap pieces. The original was a little too modest for me. I like a little cleavage. But then, of course, I ran into the problem of the front wrap pieces gaping, so I added a hook-and-eye closure right at my bust and it works beautifully:

Instant slut-but-not-too-much

I also added an elastic at the waist to make the shape a little more defined. The skirt weighs down the original version, and I think it would have done the same here with the dirndl skirt. But with the elastic, it keeps the skirt up in place, and allows for a little more of a natural drape through the bodice, which is less flattening. I really dig it. Love the colour, love what it does for me:

As always, I got photobombed a lot:

Better to just embrace it:

One thing I learned in sewing the first version of Cynthia Rowley's Simplicity 1872 was how easy it is to make thread belt loops — and how they really keep a belt in its place. (Since sewing the first I went back and added thread belt loops to every dress I have ever sewn that requires being belted!). My husband was on a three-week break from ad school while I worked on that chartreuse dress and post, and so he volunteered to help me make a little video on how to make thread belt loops. They're one of those things that is ultra easy to do, but (for me anyway) really hard to figure out from a diagram in a book. SO I thought I'd preach it here with a link to my video. Enjoy!

May 26, 2012

Just stopping by to make you feel better about yourself

Can I blame the Blogger redesign for my absence? No, but it hasn't helped when I can't find the "new post" button. Can't we all just agree not to update anything for a few weeks? Ergh. I'm digressing already and I haven't begun.

When you have too many balls in the air, you have to decide which one to calmly set down and then keep going. (Because if you know me, you know I can juggle — literally! I can! — but only three balls at a time). And this blog, plus reading all other blogs, has to be the one ball I leave behind when things get busy. Because a) it doesn't make any money and b) it doesn't contribute to keeping my kid busy in any way. It's a time suck. A very enjoyable time suck. And one that I have missed.

I've been averaging 6,000-8,000 words of paid writing work each week, which means waking up at 5 a.m. to write before my kid wakes, writing while she's at nursery school, writing after she goes to bed at night, thinking about all the writing I have to do while I am doing anything short, I have few brain cells left to rub together after a day of writing and taking care of a badass almost-four-year-old. Also, my husband is in school right now, so my income is sorely needed while he shifts focus to this career change, so I can't say no to anything that pays (well, SOME things, yes. Don't get any ideas. I am a lady.)

Also, the spring is a very rough time for me in NYC. I never experienced allergies until I moved here five years ago, but now for eight weeks between mid-March to mid-May I feel utterly awful. Imagine the worst cold you've had, and then imagine having it for two months. That's allergies. It's hard not to get very depressed when you know you're staring down another six weeks of feeling ill. In the middle of allergy season, I find myself going to bed at the same time my daughter does, because what would be the point of staying up any later? I feel too terrible to even want to be conscious. I can't imagine how hard it is for people who suffer from a chronic illness to be happy.

And if you know me well, you know that every Spring in the middle of allergy season, I get a cold sore under my nose from the rigors of blowing, wiping, sneezing, etc. Yes, under my nose. It looks like a crusty red Hitler mustache. And this year, I had two — one right after another. So even though I have sewn some lovely garments this Spring, there's no way anyone is taking a picture of me in them. Because: crusty, red Hitler mustache.

Right now, as I compose this blog post, I'm thinking about the writing I should be doing before my family awakes. Also, trying to think of how to entertain my kid today because my husband will be working. Time to sew? Forget about it. And now I'm thinking of how this is just one long complaint. Nobody likes listening to a kvetcher. Except when it makes you feel better about your life. If that's the case, this is practically a public service I am providing here. Go forth and enjoy your work-free, kid-free (or two-parent-with-kid) day without allergies, with an upper lip you don't have to hide behind a sandwich. Or kvetch at me: if your Spring has been shitty too, why?



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