mmmay day 30 – otome no policy

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vogue 1247 skirt with 1930s simplicity blouse, scarf, combat boots and black bag.

it’s friday and the devil in me could not resist a little stealth cosplay.  i mean, what do you think?

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ok, maybe i need to add a back bow.  but at least i had a little fun!

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after-work dinner in brooklyn calls for comfy jeans, a leather jacket, and a little more stealth cosplay.

so, true story:  last night i had dinner in BK with a friend of mine i have known for 27 years, and we were expounding upon the conditions of life, as one does when you are two over-educated 30-somethings with a 20+ year history, and i was explaining to him about my habit of making things (which really just proves my point from the other day.  one of my best friends in the universe literally has no idea how much time i spend making things).  and he says, ‘oh, right, you model those on facebook!  did you make your outfit?’ and i said, ‘you haven’t noticed a single thing i’ve worn since we were five.’  and he said, ‘i notice when you model it for me on facebook!’

anyway.

work was dull as anything this week.  i am so glad for the weekend.  i’m participating in a photography workshop at a local artists’ center in the hudson valley with a photographer i’ve long admired – and stolen techniques from.  i look forward to dazzling you all with better photographs in the future.

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i had some fun with shoes this week – some high-heeled platform booties were the perfect complement to my vintage butterick 4919, while some kitten-heeled open toes were the icing on a great trouser outfit, of which i do not have enough.  (trouser outfits, that is)  i also realized that i want to make many, many more of these blouses out of my stash of liberty and shirting cottons.  and check those LEGS.  i swear, my legs have not looked this good since i was nineteen.

ninteen-year-old-me in my most treasured skirt that was too short to sit down in.

mmmay14 is nearly over and i’m really happy i took the plunge this year.  i think i’ve come to a few decisions about my wardrobe choices going forward, and i’ve also decided to spend some time with the ‘wardrobe architect‘ series of posts over at the coletterie.  i’ve already begun taking notes on some things i hope to share with you going forward.

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NY-Lon2014: regarding meetups

i’ve been thinking a lot – perhaps too much – about the sewing community in the week since i have been back from ny-lon2014. because, really, it bears thinking about.

you know what i mean: how is it that people so consistently get together, get along, and make real friends at these meetups? what are we doing by participating in this act of blogging? how does it help us, what does it mean?

and from thence to the larger questions of life, the universe and everything. obvi.

i think about these things because yesterday at lunch it became clear to me that my adorable, loving, doting father was actually quite clueless about why i had gone to london – who with, what for, and how it had come about. “but you don’t even know these people,” was not actually a phrase used, but implied.

but don’t i? what are we doing, when we blog, when we share our style, our outfits, our thoughts, our sewing, if not presenting an authentic and true self? behind every elaborate persona, pseudonym, beverage selfie, chopped off head is still a person sharing his or her creations with the wider world. a fully formed person, with their own society/family/circle of friends in their “real” life and therefore free to share some of the most intimate things – by which i mean their creations – with us, their “internet” or “fake” friends. and when we see those creations and comment on them and appreciate the work you put into them, we are already accepting and admiring that most fundamental thing about you – what you create (or, if you prefer, how you express yourself).

so how can i not know these people, these “internet” friends turned “real life” friends, when i already know so much? maybe i do not know the details – the education, the socio-economic details, the religion, how “cool” they are perceived to be (or not) in “real life” – but those details are immaterial to the person i already know.

when we create a blog and start writing and sharing photographs and creations and ideas and inspiration, we are putting ourselves out there. i have come to consider it a genuine act of courage – your work, your self, is out there for all to see. and when we meet in person, in “real life”, you either show yourself to be that person or you don’t.

you put up or you shut up.

and sewists, i find, put up. we are lucky, because we share this innate interest in creating things. and because we know how much effort goes into each garment, we are, by and large, a respectful lot. respectful of people’s time, and ambitions, and skills, and style. we learn about different types of life by learning to appreciate the myriad styles represented across the blogging community – different shapes, and bodies, and colors, and religions, and traditions. beliefs about modesty or sexiness. balancing work life and home life and children and families.

so why would i not go to meet these people? i always think of kelli (of true bias) telling me how she had explained it to her husband: “of course i am going. these people think i am cool.”

and we do. because you are cool, kelli.  (and you have magic hair.)

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me made may day 27: back to the salt mines

oi.
work is hard.
all that waking up…showering…feeding the cat…deciding what to wear…remembering to get my keys off the counter…

…driving…
…and driving…
…and driving…

i sometimes feel like i drive the longest 24 miles in existence, although today it took me only an hour. a good omen to the week? or not, considering the jerk in the pickup who cut me off at the intersection of 7th and 17th. i’m shaking my fist at you, jerk! or the dingbat in the prius who thought that 45mph was just dandy…on the new jersey turnpike. in the left lane.

scratch that. it’s 3pm and i’m on my third diet coke of the day already. if i were doing selfies-with-beverages for #mmmay14 it wouldn’t be the beautiful ginger’s benign blend in a sippy cup. not me. i go straight for the hard stuff.

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which brings me to today’s outfit. boots were the word of the day – apparently i was feeling contrary now that we’ve skipped spring and gone straight to an 85*F summer – and for me that meant thigh-highs. and stockings, of course. otherwise my skirt would look too scandalously short. i love this dress and do not wear it often enough. i always have difficulties with cardi length because this dress hits me bang on at the natural waist.

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monday sadface, much? or, more appropriately, my reaction to “it only tuesday.”

“Not only do Americans have most of Tuesday morning to contend with, but all of Tuesday afternoon and then Tuesday night,” National Labor Relations Board spokesman David Prynn said. “If our calculations are correct, there is a chance we are in effect closer to last weekend than the one coming up.”

what i’m loving here is the playful, girlish short skirt and white cardi with the hardness of the black boots. something unforgiving and kickass about the combo.  the belt and bangle add some extra hardware for emphasis.

i turned my closets over yesterday and felt overwhelmed by choice. apparently i sew a LOT of summer-appropriate things, and although i don’t usually restrict my garment choices by season i had a lot of forgotten favorites in the pile destined for closet repatriation.  will there be a purge?  too soon to say, although i have to admit to over-identifying with this post from k-line this morning…

 

 

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back in the garden: grow write guild #23

About six years ago I fell down an entire flight of stairs on Election Day and hit every one on my way down. It took me ten minutes to get up again.

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weeping dwarf ornamental cherry tree

And I feel like this injury is haunting me as I gradually ease myself out into the garden in this slowest spring of all springs.

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achillea millefolium “moonshine” / moonshine yarrow

Or maybe, I tell myself, it is that all of the women in my family, excepting my sister, who is freakishly strong, have always had back issues.

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primula japonica / candelabra primrose

Or maybe, I grudgingly admit, it’s because I am not nineteen anymore and carrying a wheelbarrow full of pea gravel from one driveway across two acres to the back forty and my vegetable garden is hard work. Such hard work that I had to ration out my trips – no more than three in a day – and remind myself that it was ok to save a chore for the next week as long as it wasn’t urgent when I spent my first full weekend of 2014 outside, catching up on the garden chores.

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allium christophi ‘globemaster’ / flowering onion

The list was already unbearably long: re-set the raised beds in the veg garden; lay down black plastic and the aforementioned pea gravel, because this year, by gum, I am not going to spend august in a weed jungle trying to find my tomatoes; begin construction on the new hugelkutur bed along the orchard, where I have grand visions of climbing roses interspersed with different varieties of asclepias and other pollinator temptations for a half-cultivated, half-wild explosion of color.

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erythronium americanum / trout lily

And that’s before I deal with topping up the mulch on all of the other beds and planting the bareroot gooseberries, elderberries, and raspberries that have come in support of my quest to plant as many edibles as possible. Four new blueberry bushes found a home, mixing happily with two new blackberry specimens. And I couldn’t resist finding a space for some paw paw trees.  I’m determined to underplant the entire orchard with june-bearing strawberries, and I’ve come to view the space under my weeping ornamental crabapple as nothing so much as a blank slate for my alpine strawberries.

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pulmonaria ‘raspberry splash’ – lungwort

Is it wrong that I am already nervous about getting it all done? It’s barely may and there’s already fewer than 16 weeks until Labor Day.

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So it is at this point, again, that I must remind myself it is ok if a chore falls by the wayside. And it is ok to bring in professional help. The only question is – do I need a gardener or a therapist?

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cotinus obovatus / american smoke tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NY-Lon 2014: what i wore

day one: straight off the plane, i got rid of my “han shot first” dolman and swapped it for my favorite jeans (finally copied using the jean-ius method, hoping to pattern test this weekend) and my mushroom liberty print strappy top. here is what i love best about this top: the first time i wore it, kenneth king said to me: “i can tell that you made it because it has a point of view.”

which always leads me to wonder, what is it we mean when we say that? how do we define it, express it, refine it, explain it?

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day two: my cammo burnout drape drape 2 asymmetrical top. super-comfy for a long walk through kensington gardens, to hyde park, to oxford circus, and finally to grosvenor square for cream tea with my girl jen from workroom social. now someone explain to me, why do we not have cream tea here in the US?

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day three: MEETUP DAY. friends, i had some outfit turmoil here. we literally had a fashion show in the flat, courtesy of me and my wretched indecision, complete with wardrobe change as everyone else was walking out the front door. in the end, i was comfy and chic in my drape drape 3 tunic and my simplicity 1873 cammo skirt. with combat boots, obviously. oh, if only my hair had behaved; i had dried it and brushed it all properly only to have it look flat and dull and shoved in a knot about 20 minutes down the old brompton road.

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day four: for a chic brunch in the ultra-posh chelsea, i went for my split-front cami paired with my favorite papercut patterns pleated trousers. i actually got sunburned in this outfit. who ever heard of getting sunburned in london? but, no, it was 80-plus fahrenheit and quite quite sunny. the outfit was perfect for a day-long walk from battersea to blackfriars along the victoria embankment, plus a bonus stop at wagamama for mochi.

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day five: a leisurely stroll through kew gardens demanded a propos attire, and i obliged with my papercut rite of spring shorts, refashioned out of old jeans and a scrap of ‘just cavalli’ denim, plus my go-to 1930s simplicity button-down top and a scarf (not pictured).

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BONUS OUTFIT: farewell dinner in the up-and-coming shoreditch area warranted the full pretty-pretty-princess look. i went all in with my moon princess cambie and my denim cammo mccalls jacket.

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NY-Lon2014 in photos

guys, i am still in recovery from NY-Lon2014. seriously. i went to bed at 8:45pm last night and slept straight through until 7:30am. but – the inspiration, cheerfulness, support – that is what is truly overwhelming. while i gather my thoughts for a proper post, i’ve dove in to my pile of NY-Lon2014 fabric purchases. i’m feeling very moved by separates right now and am determined to not go straight to my pile of pretty TNT dresses.

thank goodness i’ve taken the entire weekend through the holiday on monday off work. too many thoughts! my head hurts!

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mmmay day 12: simplicity 1803, crop-top style and something abs-olutely horrifying

the trend of “crops” is, if you’ll pardon the pun, “cropping” up everywhere this year. but more on that in a minute.

the evolution of this look started from the idea of a two-piece dress. it became increasingly clear from the fabric combo that wearing both pieces at once would need to be reserved for special occasions, where the full-on kitty-cat goodness would be warranted.

so i went for it this way:

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the fabric is from the lizzy house “catnip” collection. one of the things that strikes me about these prints is that they are so clearly designed to interact with one another. it’s cheerful and bold and modern while still being cute.

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top make the crop top, i just used the bodice portion of my simplicity 1803 pattern, and finished all of the edges with bias binding. easy-peasy, and you can make any top in to a crop by doing this. sweet!

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with a cardigan for a work-appropriate flavor. it’s like the crop top version of a mullet! business on the inside, party on the outside! wait, did that make sense?

i’m obsessed with these new spring trousers that i bought at the nordstrom topshop boutique back in the dark days of winter. i swear that part of me was convinced i could never wear them because it would never be warm enough! i felt vaguely ridiculous in february perusing a rack of coral-colored spring trousers.

but look at these things. i am transfixed by them. i see many more pairs of trousers in my future, if i can make them all like this: perfect height at the waist, perfect height on the slits, gorgeous fullness in the leg.

but back to crop tops. did anyone see this story in the “paper of record” today?

“The stomach is the new erogenous zone, but not in a vulgar sort of a way,” she said. “Yes, you can show your whole midsection in a bra top, but most of the styles only give you a peek. Regardless, it is making women frenzied about shaping up their abs.”

The 5-foot, 115-pound Ms. Williams, for example, spends more than two hours most days of the week exercising in stomach-centric classes like Ab Attack (Crunch offers three others as well), running and dancing. Her day begins and ends with 100 crunches, she said, and she has drastically cut down on her sugar intake.

“I bought six crop tops, but I felt like I needed tighter and flatter abs to feel good wearing them,” she said, “so I’ve been working really, really hard to get them better-looking.”

it gets worse.

Dr. Michele Olson, an exercise physiologist at Auburn University, stressed that cardio intervals such as alternating sprinting with walking are the first step to a six-pack. “You need to have less fat over all to have firm abs,” she said, “not do hundreds of crunches or situps.”

Neither approach was enough for Nicole Abrahamson, 24, of Camarillo, Calif., a nursing student who spent more than $6,000 in March on a minimally invasive fat-removal technique called Airsculpt to address four pounds of unwanted belly. She says that even though she exercised and dieted, her middle was “doughy.” “I was really intrigued by crops,” she said, “and wanting to wear one gave me the push to get this procedure done.”

Dr. Aaron Rollins, the cosmetic surgeon who invented Airsculpt and performed it on Ms. Abrahamson at his Beverly Hills practice, says that she is one of nearly a dozen women a week who see him for the procedure. “Last year, it was the usual wanting to rock a bikini,” he said, “but this year, women come in actually wearing the short shirts and tell me that they want their bellies to look good in them.”

um, i think i just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

this was particularly interesting because mikhaela recently posted with some eloquence about this topic.

One of the reasons I love Me Made May is that it’s an excuse to feel fancy and to think a little more about what I put on. And to dress every day the way I WISHED I actually dressed every day of the year. And to practice a little self-appreciation and feel good about my style and my body.

But as I go through and edit the photos I’ve snapped to find my favorites, I find myself wondering: why are women supposed to hate our bellies? Why do I find myself choosing what is “most flattering” by whether or not my belly might look as squishy as it actually is?

When I was pregnant, I remember feeling this huge sense of relief — a break from any body image anxieties that might have plagued me for the past 30 years. No sucking it in, no control garments under clingier dresses, no avoiding lots of front gathers or staying away from knit pencil skirts.

I’ve worked very hard to love my shape and not talk myself down (especially in front of my little girl—who is thankfully incredibly self-confident and pleased with her beautiful young self!) but why SHOULD that have to be such hard work? Why should I have to go look at photos of Christina Hendricks in her Joan outfits from Mad Men to calm down my nasty inner critic?

 

 

sing on, sister suffragette. sing on. the glory of sewing is that we get to decide what makes us feel good, and sexy, and like the person we want to be today. no surgery required, thanks.

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