me and gerry brave the cold

so some friends and i have this joke. basically, every time things seem to be particularly wretched in our lives, someone sends out the call:

is mercury in retrograde again?!

and, as of this writing, the answer is indisputably yes. someone even understood the importance of this cosmic question for the ages enough to make it easy to find out why your life is going totally haywire for no apparent reason.

we are in our second snowstorm in two weeks, which is actually pretty good if you think back to the horror show that was last winter on the east coast of the us. but it is never fun to play slip-n-slide on the hills of new jersey on one’s way to work in the morning.

even though this winter is tame compared to 2014, i have to confess to a bit of cabin fever. it’s been cold and windy and icky and i haven’t wanted to go too many places or do too many things – and the one thing i did do has necessitated a lot of staying at home for socialization purposes.

20150202-133758.jpg          20150202-133816.jpg

mine or theirs? i will let you decide.

but i did at last complete gerry and get some photographs of us enjoying the brisk winter air together. spoiler warning: the interlining was so worth it.


and this pattern, to my mind, was just impeccably drafted. i say that because the lapel and facings turned perfectly and fell right into place with just a bit of pressing and some catch-stitching. the lapel broke at the break point and folded under exactly where it was supposed to and putting this collar and lapel together was about the easiest one i have ever done.

because all of my fabric choices were so bulky, i was extremely focused on trimming down seam allowances and also catch-stitching them open. so every seam in this garment is pressed, trimmed, and stitched down. i ended up not taping the roll lines on the lapels – instead i steamed them into place by pressing the lapel fabric over a towel lined up where the roll line would be. and, like with most indie patterns, i had to find my own roll line. hey – indie pattern people – a little guidance would be nice on these things, is all i am saying.


i did interface the jacket front, collars and lapels with sew-in hair canvas. instead of cutting out the pieces with no seam allowance, i cut out extra pattern pieces of muslin, based the muslin to the hair canvas, and then cut the hair canvas out of the seam allowance to leave just the muslin behind. that way i got a nice, non-bulky place to rest my hair canvas without too much angst. doing this adds a lot of up-front work during planning and cutting but is, in my experience, worth it. (it is a trick i learned from kenneth king and detailed instructions can be found in his book, the tailored jacket.) i used this same technique for my interlining.

ginger recently posted a 2nd gerard and i think between her two versions and my own one can really see the differences that fabric choice can make in a garment.

mine feels huge and square and bulky, which is actually quite lovely because it is so warm. but it’s a different shape than i typically favor so every time i put it on i have to adjust my expectations a bit.


i do love that it covers the bum for that extra bit of warmth, though.






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is “meh” an appropriate synonym for “january”?

i think that oona said it best last year when she said that january incites a certain special kind of homicidal mania in new yorkers.  seriously.  it’s cold, and windy, and every joint in your body hurts just from walking to the laundromat or the supermarket.  it’s too hot on the subway and too damn cold everywhere else.  the holidays are over – for better or for worse – and suddenly everyone at work remembers they have a job after six weeks (between american thanksgiving and new year’s day) of being able to say “no worries, it can wait until after the holidays.”  and now that mythical, far-away time has arrived.


for me, that includes adapting to a new work space and atmosphere and commute.  mostly positive – except the commuting nonsense – but still an entirely new power shuffle must play out before everyone is completely comfortable with where we are and what we are doing.

and, alas, i am also adapting to the newly-empty vastness of my palatially-sized apartment.  my beloved four-legger left me very suddenly this week and i am in the midst of a long, dark tea-time of the soul.  gerry is temporarily on hold while i regain my scattered wits although i think my critter would want me to finish, as he bestowed his stamp of approval by thoughtfully using my poor in-progress gerry as a bed whenever possible.

so i will belatedly take a moment to reflect on some of the successes of 2014.  it was my most productive, engaged and positive year of sewing since i began in 2009.  i feel i am finally beginning to understand my “voice” and my “point of view”.  but i do have many more finished makes than one could be forgiven for thinking by looking at this site.

more on that contentious subject later.


without a doubt one of my more ambitious and crazy ideas was this super-fun flared skirt with alabama chanin string appliqué.  i will definitely be revisiting this technique in 2015.


i am similarly obsessed with my chanel-inspired alabama chanin half-sweater.  an interior designer colleague of mine called it an “art piece,” and i am pretty sure she meant that in a good way!


i just really like this simplicity 1610 with kitty cat print.  it has a lot of my signature details – fun zipper, uneven hem, wacky cotton print – and is easy to grab on a hot summer day for a chic and office-appropriate look.  but still with a kitty cat print.  nyah.


han solo trousers!  need i say more?  base pattern was the papercut peter and the wolf pant.

20140804-222422-80662829.jpgbut i think the 2014 signature garment has to be the toquilla-inspired fat quarter challenge playsuit.  it combined all of my favorite elements in a garment:  fun design, wacky prints, wearability, and good friends.


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WIP report: me and gerry

it started, like so many innocent things, with a casual conversation.

ginger:  “hey, i am thinking of making a coat.”
me:  “yay, that is awesome!”
ginger: ….
ginger:  “don’t you think you want to make a coat too?”
me: ….
me:  “OF COURSE I DO!  let us be best friends forever and i will terrify you with my intricate and insane plots for tailoring and interlining and doug the pug will hide in the piles of your shredded fabrics that i have persuaded you to buy, mwah ha ha.”

ok, it didn’t really go like that.


but i find it helpful to blame ginger for my current, WIP-ified predicament. as you know by now, we settled on the gerard coat by republique du chiffon, which really has a great, on-trend silhouette and that je-n’est-sais-quoi that so many of the cute europrean patterns have. ginger soon zoomed in on the gorgeous pink boucle (with, i confess, some gentle persuasion on my part) and i immediately went for a dyed mohair number from elliott berman textiles that you may have spotted already expertly deployed by rolling in cloth.

and here i got ambitious, but in a different way than ginger.


  • i decided to interline the coat.  i am a small person and i get cold.  easily.  the giant mohair blanket was not going to be enough for me, so i cut another layer of lambswool interlining (from steinlauf and stoller).
  • i decided to do some light tailoring on the coat with horsehair canvas from the stash.
  • doing both of these things meant cutting an extra four pieces of each pattern piece, and that was before i cut the lining.

and o!  the lining!  i was desperate to cut everything out all in one day and used some stash, off-white flannel-backed satin.  but really the off-white was way too plain and since it was polyester i could not tie-dye it into oblivion.  so i scored two competing options from B&J fabrics and after much instagram persuasion settled on the gray.


then me and gerry had a little spat.  nothing major, but i had so many cut-out pieces and bits and bobs that i was completely not in the mood to associate myself with him and i needed some alone time.  dude, i can’t be tied down.  i’m a free spirit.  or at least that would have been the conversation if, you know, garments could talk.


ginger:  “how are you doing with your coat?”
me: …
ginger:  “i am DONE.  DONE.  mwah ha ha.”

and now, back on track, i have this.  more to come when i get that lining in there and that hem tacked down.






Posted in In Progress | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

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.

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.


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!

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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.

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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.


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.


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.


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


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.


so here’s been my construction order so far:


  • 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


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.



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.


  • 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



  • 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