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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


cotinus obovatus / american smoke tree








Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

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?


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?


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.


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.


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).


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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 9 Comments

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!




Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments

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:


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.


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!


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.

Posted in Finished Objects, Style | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

mmmay14 roundup! and TGIF!!

well, kids, it’s been quite a week over here in my neck of the woods. i do some minor event planning as part of my grown-up job and this week we had a doozy. i’m honestly relieved just to have survived.


burdastyle scrap skirt; stretch lace renfrew; black embroidered moto jacket; polka dot fishnets; fold-over booties

you can’t see it in this photo, but there are practically tears happening there over how much i got stressed out over my little, “low-key” event.


NL6001 in etro lace paired with a brown velvet embroidered jacket, brown fishnet stockings, and combat boots.


on wendesday, i forgot to snap a photo of my work outfit! which was just my V1247 mini. here’s my comfy chic for heading to brooklyn for a FMQ workshop at workroom social with nicole of boldgoods: sher-locked tee with 1940s simplicity skirt. and combat boots. because combat boots.  ALSO:  PROOF THAT I BRUSH MY HAIR.  sometimes.


me in the rain trying not to sob with relief that the event is over and everyone was happy with it! alabama chanin chanel-inspired sweater, with black pleated jason wu for target skirt and vintage chanel blazer.

and here it is, sweet friday. sweet raw, rainy, awful friday. and yet i feel nothing but joy. after a late-afternoon jaunt to my upstate studio, i hope to finish cutting a few things (my gabriola skirt pattern arrived! WOOT!), pinning a few things (my papercut patterns peter in the wolf pants WITH CORELLIAN BLOODSTRIPES), and prepping a few things (the quilting on my backless summer chanel jacket!). when the sun finally returns on sunday, i shall have a merry day in the garden catching up on two weeks’ worth of garden chores and design planning.  perhaps a late-spring fire in the fireplace and a slow, lazy sabbath evening.

maybe even some pride & prejudice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

mmmay the fourth be with you

success! almost a year later i did actually add a bias band to the back of my “we can do it” raglan frankenpattern. and i did it, i’ll have you know, while my ass was seriously still dragging after the workroom social pop-up party last night – which, of course, went longer than it was meant to (duh) and even longer after some late-night chowing down with some of the hot chicas i picked up at the party. :-) but there were cherry-vanilla ice cream floats, making it SO WORTH IT.


so happy sunday, and happy star wars day, and happy MMMay.  may the fourth be with you.


friday 3 may: 1930s blouse; alabama chanin skirt; thrifted army jacket; hermes scarf; combat boots (obvi). catholic schoolgirl gone wrong or strangely awesome? either way i can see the skirt-blouse-scarf combo being a repeat offender.



party time in my east village drag! kaylee’s strawberry t-shirt; vogue 1247 skirt; houndstooth stockings; thigh-high boots; vintage gloves; elizabeth & james blazer. worn for the workroom social popup party.



beverage selfie in honor of ginger.

Posted in Style | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

me made may and hanging out with workroom social




i, devra of puu’s door of time, hereby endeavor to wear at least one me-made-garment for each work day of may, 2014.  i also endeavor to wear me-made garments (at least one per outfit) for the duration of my NY-LON trip between may 15 and may 20.


may 1, 2014 – datura blouse in liberty symposium, elizabeth & james black leggings, blue chanel ballet flats. and yeah, i actually did go out of the house with my hair looking like that.

so here’s the thing.  it’s my first official me-made-may.  i’ve never jumped in before, but as my handmade wardrobe has grown and changed and i’ve mixed up entirely new outfits and combos that i never could have imagined, i realized i wanted to focus a little bit on how i like to wear and style my DIY.

couple that with carolyn’s recent question about professional wear, and i had a few parameters.  and a caveat:  obviously, in a properly conservative work environment, most of my outfits would (at a minimum) get me sent straight to HR for a lecture on appropriately professional and feminine business attire.  and don’t get me wrong, i work for one of the largest REITs on the east coast.  but i’ve also been here for five years, and have demonstrated that i can dress like a grown up when i have to, so most people accept me as part of the scenery.  so here, then, is my documentation of how i style my outfits for a professional environment.

that, and i spent most of my weekends this time of year in the garden.  and i actually wear a bunch of me-made t-shirts while i do that.  but i think there is a limit to how many times my mom jeans, foul-weather boots and firefly t-shirt would be tolerated as fashion.


“we will rule over all this land! and we will call it….THIS LAND!”


but this week i am forsaking the garden for the WORKROOM SOCIAL POPUP PARTY!

because sewists absolutely throw the best parties. courtesy of workroom social.

will you be there??


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments