announcements, announcements, announcements!

if the words “what a horrible way to die” followed by a chorus of frère jacques are going through your head right now, we’re already on the same page.
camp_ws

jennifer at workroom social has gathered a true dream team of sewing experts and enthusiasts to plan and host Camp Workroom Social in the new york catskills in the fall of 2015.  i’ll let her words speak for me:

Camp Workroom Social is not your typical sewing retreat. It’s a new approach to sewing education. At Camp Workroom Social, perfection is not our goal, learning is. Immerse yourself in an encouraging and non-competitive sewing course and escape your everyday routine. Socialize and bond with other adults who share your enthusiasm for sewing, and embrace the excitement of sleep-away camp.

i don’t know many people who had anything but a positive camp experience, and of those, i feel like most of them would go back in a heartbeat. here’s your chance!  i’d love especially to recommend this to sewists out there who don’t have the chance to share their love with other local peeps.  here in the city area, we get spoiled at how easy it is to spend hours foregoing sleep in order to talk sewing – come and try it out for yourself!

also, not to step on fiona’s excellent-as-usual indie pattern update from october, but i think the sutton blouse, geometry top and soon-to-come tate top are going to be my new go-to blouse patterns.  here’s why: i have, literally, an entire box of gorgeous vintage shirt patterns tucked away, but most days what i really need is something clean, comfortable, elegant and modern to complement and quiet-the-hell-down whatever crazyness i have going on everywhere else.

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need i say more?

not to mention that any of these would be a brilliant choice under a “little french jacket” and paired with either my jean-ius draft or a pair of gingers.

okay, gudes, so now it’s disclosure time.  with the exception of K&L, whom i have never met, many of the women involved in these projects (including several of the instructors jennifer is working with at CWS) are, if not actual good friends of mine, good acquaintances.  i was there when the tate top was invented and named and cannot wait to see how jen took a sketch and a joke and turned it into an actual design.  so here’s my disclosure:

If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and can collaborate or help each other, do this without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome.

GUDES.  speaking of awesome.  i know this is not necessarily a typical reaction to receiving a chain letter, but i was nominated for the blog hop.  by someone i do not know in person.  seriously.  thank you, Sew I Sewed This.

  1. why do i write?  this is going to sound weird and pretentious, but it’s kind of like asking me why do i breathe.  i just love to write – i am perpetually having a conversation with myself in my head and writing it down totally justifies that.  writing helps me clarify my thoughts and hone an argument and understand why i think the way i do about things.  when i was a kid my friends and i would literally pass notes back and forth to each other to make short stories out of.  at camp i was a compulsive letter writer (on one memorable occasion, my friend sent me a letter back with my address torn and pasted out of my previous rambles because my handwriting, according to him, was so impossible to read).  when my college obsession treated me horribly i filled up an entire notebook with heartfelt angst, writing and re-writing until i came up with all of the perfect things i should have said (but never did).  when AIM was a thing i used to stay up all night with a psych major friend of mine at haverford arguing the finer points of The Wheel of Time and now that i am (ostensibly) a grown-up i have taken that conversation to the blog, only now i talk about sewing.  (although in private i have still been known to start and maintain five-years-long email chains about LOST, arrow, firefly, dollhouse, buffy, and/or veronica mars.  PIZ, LOGAN OR DUNCAN, people?  these are important questions.)  my thoughts feel more real when they are written down.  also, i am a huge introvert, but i do not sound like it when i write.  this helps me to feel better about life, the universe and everything.if we’re talking about why do i write this blog specifically, the answer is more complicated.  i started it so that when i started going to local meetups i had something to point to as a marker of my existence.  so much easier to say, “i’m devra and this is my blog” than “i am a creepy stalker who thinks you all are awesome, won’t you be my friend?”  i started going to the local meetups because the long-term illness of my mother (for whom i was a primary caregiver) had curtailed most  of my social bonds, but had given me sewing.  so i was at a place in my life where i needed to reach out and find some new people, and i had the tools to do that with wordpress and a kenmore.
  2. how is your blog different from others in the sewing community?  i was a creative writing major in college, and the major takeaway from four years of writing workshops was that if i used two words when i could have used ten then i just wasn’t trying hard enough – so aside from the fact that i use more words, make less sense, have more punctuation marks and shun proper capitalization, i think the only thing i honestly do differently than the other amazing people participating in the community is my style.
  3. what are you working on now?  aside from the obvious marfy 1756, my other WIPs include but are not limited to:  a style arc polly jacket; a self-drafted zip front jacket in cashmere and leather (and embroidered!); quilted boucle trousers; three pairs of jean-ius draft jeans; a re-fashion out of oscar de la renta silk (which may have achieved UFO status by now since the last time i looked at it was in june); and an entire drawer of cut out and stenciled alabama chanin-inspired projects.
  4. what is your writing process?  stream-of-consciousness that i then go back and edit.  i KNOW.  i am sure 90% of you don’t believe me – i would not, either!  but these words are the product of careful thought and editing.  sometimes when i have a specific project or story to tell the words arrange themselves in my head and all i do is transcribe them.  sometimes i have to try a little harder.  but, you know, it’s just writing.  writing is easy.  all you do is sit, staring, at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

who’s next??  i want to give a shoutout to sena at Sew Many Mistakes because i really identify with her trying to challenge herself with a project – jeans – that most people think a beginner shouldn’t tackle.  that was totally me.  only with a tailored coat.  because why make life easy when it can be challenging and fulfilling?  i also want to drag into the fray some of the other women i know who are even more amazing than their blog-words would suggest:  jennifer, kelli, wanett and aspen.  let’s hop, kids!

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

drape drape does comfy

20140922-213430.jpgi know these aladdin-style knickers from drape drape #1 come in for their fair share of ridicule, but i rather love them.  and here is why.

a month or so ago i was invited to a big girls’ night lasagna dinner on a friday evening, and i was tired, and hungry, and didn’t want to get all dressed up (i know, not even for wine and lasagna.  i am officially a horrible girl friend).  but i had these, already cut, filed away in my area 51 drawer, and pulled them out, fired up the serger, and had a new comfy pair of sweatpants in an acceptable leave-the-house-looking-like-this fashion in about an hour and a half.

paired with my “balls and bayonets brigade” spaghetti strap tank and a jeans jacket, i actually felt like a million bucks.  STEALTH PAJAMAS FTW.

Posted in Finished Objects | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

WIP report: marfy 1756, or as i like to call it, THE BEST JACKET EVER

as i mentioned last week i’m deep in the weeds on my latest (and greatest) chanel-style jacket.

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it’s ridiculous, truly, how many i have by now:  7, to be honest.  BUT.  but.  three are for “every day” wear.  two are long and for special occasions.  one is sleeveless and backless (and still needs its lining fell-stitched for completion) and one is sleeveless and has a tie-dye lining.

but times they are a-changing, folks, and as i was turning over my closet last weekend for the last gasp of warm weather before the harsh rawness of fall really sinks in for good (and then gives way to the dreaded winter) i was overwhelmed by how much amazing stuff i have from my pre-sewing days that just don’t work in my life any more.  mostly suits, to be honest – while i’ve never been a sensible black suit and pearls kind of girl, i have found ways to express myself in a business-appropriate manner.  maybe a few dresses that i’ve gotten beyond.  but what i really thought was:  i want a chanel, a wearable chanel, for every day of the week.

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i know.  I KNOW.

but couple that with my recent completion of the jean-ius jean draft, and the release of the ginger pattern (i got a kit!  i can’t wait to test out that fabric, plus i got to support two of my sewing friends in their real-life business endeavors), and i immediately understood that my winter wearings would bounce back and forth between my amazing skirt collection and the time-honored chanel-jeans combo.

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so that makes all of my bloody fingers this wednesday morning totally worth it.

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what happened was, i needed to be able to hand-sew the facings.  but the facings are leather.  none of the selections out of my singer kit were going to cut it, and my more delicate clover needles were out of the question.  so i procured a few glovers’ needles at the FIT bookstore saturday afternoon, and damn if those things do not slide in and out of leather (and fingers!) like buttah.

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so here’s been my construction order so far:

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  • started with:  marfy 1756, mostly for the lovely collar drafting.  blended it with my TNT vogue 7975 pattern and made a muslin
  • used the muslin to thread trace my pattern pieces
  • quilted the lining to the side front, center  back
  • assembled jacket starting at collar/shoulders and going down to the side seams
  • tailored the front facings on the boucle side
  • fused the leather with fusible hair canvas for extra shape
  • handsewed the zipper in between the layers
  • closed up the lining seams using piping

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because the fashion fabric is such a loud plaid, i had to do all of that before i can even contemplate beginning the sleeves, which i intend to be three pieces, with a leather undersleeve, and an open sleeve vent, in a 3/4 length.

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Posted in In Progress | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

me-made-everyday style report and the BEST casual friday EVER

friends, what a wild and weird week it has been for me here in the ‘time corridor’, to throw in an a propos sailor moon reference. i quit my corporate job this week to open a consulting firm with my father, so that is super-exciting. to have the day finally here, to have seen the demo-ed out office space, gave me a bit of a rush. i am just so lucky to have this situation with my father and our business partners and the positive energy is overwhelming.

speaking of overwhelming, i recently suffered my first major instance of “whoa, OMG, bought too much fabric.” i will not name names but someone we all know and love helped with this issue, but then i compounded it by going to visit the october french jacket class hosted by mendel goldberg and taught, as always, by the lovely susan khalje. her students had a really beautiful array of fabric/lining combos and i quite blatantly copied a gorgeous chanel multicolored plaid/lanvin lining combination from one woman who was making a perfectly fitted, sublimely nipped-in basic V7975 out of it. if you are out there, madam, know that your choice so completely inspired me that i have already muslined, cut out and tailored a version of marfy 1756 that i hope to continue working on this weekend. my version has a zip front and leather accents and it is the most excited i have been about a project in a while. talk about positive energy!

on other fronts…

  • jeans!  not only am i working on multiple additional pairs of my jean-ius jeans, i am thrilled to be supporting my friend heather by checking out the new ginger pattern.  in my new office, i am going for a never-ending supply of gorgeous, business-casual jeans with blazers, and these will help send me on my way.
  • in addition to my marfy 1756, i am working on a style arc polly and – of course – constructing it chanel-style.  so there’s my entire weekend gone in a flash.  what TV to watch in the background?  these are the important questions, people.  (PS – have you seen the gorgeous hybrid marfy 1756 from leisa at a challenging sew?  it actually spurred me to download, print and cut my first-ever PDF pattern – that is how excited it made me to get to work)
  • on a shopping trip last week with my cousins, we lurked a chanel pop-up store featuring the styles from the last runway show (you know, the one that was meant to invoke a street protest?) and guess what i saw:  quilted boucle chanel trousers.  yeah, i was done.  picture mine using Simplicity 1371 as a base pattern and…well, i won’t show you the fabric yet.  but it’s intense.
  • COATS!  meet gerard.

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  • shortcut butterick 5952 with silk cami, pleated taffeta skirt, fold-over booties.  i think i am in love
  • cropped (but comfy!) white sweater with re-fashioned advance 3951, pink tights, and COMBAT BOOTS.  because me.
  • peter and the wolf trousers with white silk blouse and black kitten heels
  • original vogue 7975 with white button-down, original elizabeth and james ‘crosby’ jeans, and kitty cat ballet flats

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  • haters gonna hate.  and liberty denim jeans.
  • me and the happy couple, in my tie-dyed chanel and screenprinted alabama chanin camisole (both unblogged)
  • nothing says beautiful late october weather like a cape that could have cost $1400 but that i made for a fraction of that
  • my favorite liberty skirt and a cashmere turtleneck i wish i had for every day of the week, tights, booties
  • sweater, blouse, and cammo jeans for my first day of my new life.  and also…

IMG_1397.JPGthis happened.  happy friday!!

Posted in Inspiration, Style | 8 Comments

jean-ius strikes again?

IMG_1373.JPGanother pair of my elizabeth and james “crosby” style jean-ius jeans.  i got much better at my topstitching on this second pair, which i think shows, and i love the print on the denim.

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it’s liberty of london stretch denim from B&J fabrics here in NYC, and even though it is 2% lycra (and should have 15% stretch), it was more like 10%, so the fit here is significantly tighter than on my original pair.

but i’m super-happy with the result.  again, i flat-felled all of my seams except the inseam for a true-religion-style look.  i used white metal zips at the fly front and at the inseams and rocked the heck out of them at my friends’ engagement party last weekend.

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let me tell you, few people appreciate a rainbow unicorn t-shirt and a pair of flowery jeans like a hot tub full of san francisco gay men.  these were my people!  :-)

Posted in Finished Objects | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

from my soap box, i almost can’t see the book review (gertie sews vintage casual)

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i’ve recently come to feel that a lot of my life lately is about my feminism. i feel like it’s suddenly me in that long-ago episode of law & order where jack is mocking claire kincaid for her “latent feminism” and she reminds him that it isn’t latent.

so, for example, i recently came back from an insane weekend with my best friend and his partner (now fiancé), celebrating their engagement, and had several conversations where someone asked me, “how did they decide who was going to ask?” and my answer, simply, was that b just went for it and c was ecstatic. they had no expectations to grapple with based solely on a chromosome in their dna; it was all about what worked for them.

or, a co-worker of mine (male) recently celebrated the birth of his first child and took a week of paternity leave as a result (cue my quebecois co-worker excoriating america for that measly week; i had enough lectures about canadian socialism to be convinced long ago, if vicki and heather lou still want me). but the brass around here in my corporate office kept saying, “their wives had children.”   as though these first-time fathers were ridiculous for taking time off to support their wives and snatch a few days home with their newly-born offspring.

even my beloved father fell prey to these assumptions. “did he have a baby or did his wife?” was a frequent point of conversation, at which point i reminded father that ejr’s wife had a c-section and couldn’t even get out of bed yet, so how exactly was she supposed to be home caring for her child all by herself? and furthermore, dad, this isn’t 1982 anymore.

“well,” he said, “in 1982 i would have been fired for taking an entire week” (a week! hah!) “when you were born.” yes, father, and in 2014 i am still making 77 cents for every dollar you are paying ejr.

thank goodness it isn’t 1982 anymore, is all i can say.

i say all of this as a long-winded introduction to a book review because these issues of gender and requirements and, dare i say it, feminism and what we ask of men versus women are very upfront in my world right now, and all of this was exacerbated by a recent piece i spotted in vogue patterns magazine. it was an innocent enough piece, a review of a new book by professor linda przbyszewski called the lost art of dress. its arguments are likely familiar to many of you, dear readers, because she espouses most of the reasons that we make our own clothing (as linda przbyszewski does, too):

  • an expectation of beauty and detail
  • an appreciation for the details inherent in each piece
  • an ability to create garments that fit and flatter in the exact color/style/fabric of our choice

yes! hear hear.

here is where she lost me, as she bemoans the decline of home economics in our schools (a worthy thing to bemoan, by the by, because we would all, men and women alike, be better off if we knew how to cook, sew, use a drill, balance a checkbook and change our own oil but i digress):

“the absence of home economics in the classroom has left generations of women unschooled and unskilled in the ways of dress,” przbyszewski says. in the 40s and 50s, home economics “was taken just as seriously as english and science.”

there are so many assumptions wrapped in that statement that i had whiplash just trying to process it. ultimately, my reaction was something like this:

1 – i cannot deny that juicy couture sweatsuits have a lot to answer for. but.

2 – how can a book about the “lost art of dress”, a book basically about the horror that was the rise of the a-line shift dress, in the interview with vpm, so casually elide the fact that the changing mores of our dress code happen in a direct correlation to women being able to choose from a wider array of goals when setting their dress habits?

3 – and why are women responsible for rectifying this supposed lost art? i mean, have you ever seen a frat boy with a popped collar and nantucket red trousers and not understood it to be a travesty of fashion?

“when the 60s rolled around, all of the grown-ups wanted to look like teenage girls. there’s this extraordinarily sophisticated, wordly look in the 50s and just one decade later everyone is wearing what would have been known in another era as toddler clothing.”

the entire interview had an undercurrent here of ‘knowing one’s place’ (as a woman) that makes me hugely uncomfortable. this kind of presentation, the idealization of this image, is hugely disturbing to me because it discredits the real work that is being a homemaker, or a stay-at-home-mom, and suggests that it be above all things well-dressed – not because that woman chooses to be, but because it is expected.  (and maybe, just maybe – at least if you read divergent and understood it the same way i did – maybe there is comfort in knowing one’s place?)

all of this has nothing to do with the new book hitting our shelves, gertie sews vintage casual, except that it completely does. in a section reminiscent of one of her more infamous blog posts, gretchen includes a small sidebar on the evolution of women’s casual dress. “the evolution of women’s clothing in the 20th century is closely linked to the rise of feminism,” she writes in the intro to her new book. “it generally wasn’t acceptable for women to wear trousers to work, school or church until the 1970s.”

and yet we continue to be fascinated with the details and the styles of vintage, classic casual dress, and i think it is because we want to be comfortable and fashionable whenever possible. the simple fact is that the state of rtw, especially to those of us who sew, is fairly heinous, and it’s easy these days to look at the beautiful casual clothes of the 40s and 50s and think only, ‘le sigh.’

enter gretchen.

her book is a rundown of every vintage vogue weekender pattern you ever wanted but didn’t want to spend the money on (because those bad boys can be expensive). they are every excellent capsule wardrobe for a “full-blown mini break holiday weekend” in one book. imho this book has a stronger, more developed point of view than the NBfBSand a more authentic aesthetic. the first book often felt like a re-hash of garments and patterns that hirsch had already tested and adapted from the vogue patterns that were the original highlight of her website. this book has a clear, specific point of inspiration and sets about expressing that point in every pattern and hack laid out in the book.

as in the original book, gretchen spends some real estate discussing basic patternmaking, and then uses that knowledge in a wide array of style variations suggested by her basic patterns (i.e., trouser to short to pedal pusher to jumpsuit to romper). i like that she included trousers, by the way, and will be interested to compare her trouser draft to my own moulage and potentially make it work.

gretchen also continued the art direction and style of the first book, two of the things i liked most about her initial offering. in this one, she includes a list of inspirational movies (for costume details), and an expanded section of fashion drawings that she calls a “gallery of styles”. the photography is better, the presentation of garments is stronger, although not what i would hope for or look for in a finished book. here in the SBC we often ask a lot of our fellow bloggers WRT their photographs and these are not the step up into style or fashion photography that i would love to see in a book with such a specific aesthetic. that said, they are a giant step up from my own (ahem) jumps in front of an isight camera, so your mileage will definitely vary.

on a closing note, i almost don’t want to say that gretchen’s new book is more authentic (even though it feels that way to me as a reader), and here is why. there’s a lot of navel-gazing going on in the sbc interwebs right now – some of it i agree with, some i think is overblown, all of it makes me a bit angsty, and let us not forget that some people are just mean. without editorializing, here’s an interesting reading list for you.

- Want nothing but the best for your friends, because when your friends are happy and successful, it’s probably going to be easier for you to be happy.

- If you’re having a rough go of it, and a friend is having the best year ever, and you need to think some dark thoughts about that, do it alone, with your therapist, or in your diary, so that when you actually see your friend, you can avoid the myth discussed in item 1.

- If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and can collaborate or help each other, do this without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome. Men invented nepotism and practically live by it. It’s OK for women to do it, too.

- Don’t tear other women down, because even if they’re not your friends, they are women and this is just as important. This is not to say you cannot criticise other women, but understand the difference between criticising constructively and tearing down cruelly.

- Everybody gossips, so if you are going to gossip about your friends, at least make it fun and interesting. Never say, “I never lie” or, “I never gossip”, because you are lying.

and finally, a note that i jotted to myself at a recent presentation by author, essayist, and professor roxane gay. an audience member asked why, when we look at books by women, we are often looking for “likeability.” it is a question almost never asked of male authors of serious literature, so why do we demand it of women? and roxane’s answer was another question: ‘do we mistake likeability for perfection? do we look for likeability as an entree into certain milieus? when we demand likeability, aren’t we just policing our behavior because likeability is what we, as women, are supposed to present?

discuss.

 

 

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , | 34 Comments

me-made-everyday: style report

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  • megan neilsen crescent top (again!!) in lizzy house catnap for a casual friday romp
  • franken-patterned 1960s mccall in liberty of london ‘dorie’ for a political cocktail party
  • simplicity 1803 in overscale rose cotton, avec blazer and boots
  • butterick circle skirt in liberty of london ‘windsor house’ for an early fall day at the office
  • ‘cammo couture’ simplicity 1873 with a sweater, long blazer, tights and booties for a political fundraiser breakfast
Posted in Style | 6 Comments