Thursday, August 28, 2008

Birthday Dress Completed

You all were right, BWOF 05-2008-127 was the right call for my fabric. I did some fit alterations on the flat pattern and probably should have done some more (like shortening the bodice more than the one inch I did), but I'm really happy with it and it has, er, room to grow into. I definitely prefer to have the ties in the front to the back, they look so Laverne and Shirley in the front.


I'm wearing this to work today with a little silver shrug I got at Charlotte Russe in some mall in the middle of nowhere where Cidell and I met to see Juno. I really like the shrug. It's all lacy looking and also sparkly. Lace and sparkles cannot be beat. The rest of the photos are here, though I haven't edited/posted the construction photos.

I need to do a post on shoes soon. The ones I'm wearing today and in the pic are part of my Fall planning. They're from Naturalizer and reasonably comfortable with my orthotic inserts in them. They are navy blue and were $20 at Twenty dollars! You can't expect me to have passed them up, especially in the navy color. I can't wear ballet flats because of my accursedly narrow heels but these are cut far out toward the toe like ballet flats and are about as close as I can get.

We are having the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay here in DC today. It's about a mile and a half walk to work; it seems longer in the pouring rain but on the bright side I had the sidewalk to myself. I arrived looking like I had swum there, soaked to the waist. The shoes held up well in the rain--not slippery--though I hope they're not too stiff when they dry. The fabric is a gorgeous polished cotton from Dreyfus in Paris and is drying quite well, no stiffness or water-spotting. With all the rain it's a little cool, but this is my birthday dress and I will wear it today for birthday drinks! Weather appropriate clothing? pfft. I want to be cute.

More posts on birthday goodies to come over the weekend or next week!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Show and Tell

Well, without further ado, I should show off my Mondrian Dress! It's Simplicity 2922 with the pockets from Simplicity 2927. I tried to be all groovy in the photos. I finished it on my long weekend and wore it to drinks that Friday and then last Friday to work (with matching red shrug) and a party after.


Now it is sad because at the party last Frieday a little kid threw a ball at me and joggled red wine all down the front. I got the red wine out, but the red and yellow twills both ran even though I prewashed them. Argh! The red I was able to deal with but the yellow is still a problem. I think I'm going to have to resort to a bleach pen.

This dress involved hours and hours of hand-sewing and I am so annoyed about the little kid. He threw the ball at us once without incident and we made it clear we weren't interested. At that point the parents should have gently told him to ask before throwing the ball at people. Had he joggled me with the first throw I wouldn't have been so angry because that kind of thing happens. It's that he threw it at us a second time that makes me mad, because the parents were not paying attention. Then they made the kid come apologize to us, but were too cowardly to apologize themselves. Gah! Hopefully I can restore the dress to good condition eventually.


This is what I'm wearing today. The blouse is McCall 4922 and the skirt is a modified version of Simplicity 4881. I made the skirt of the leftover lining fabric from my green coat, BWOF 08-2007-115. Simplicity 4881 is just a simple elastic waist bias skirt. Unfortunately, with the limited fabric when I cut it out as is it was a little short. I was making it the night before my trip to Vietnam so I lived with it, but when I saw this picture I decided it was just too short. So I made a yoke and sewed it on. It's quite inelegant, but still serviceable and I love the colors.


There's a flickr pool called Wardrobe Remix, where people can post what they're wearing to offer fashion inspiration. The rules are that it has to be an outfit you actually wore outside the house. In the photo description, you list the source for everything you're wearing. I love the idea of it and there are some great outfits on display...but sometimes it seems more about shopping than about expressing yourself. There are other ways to show who you are than buying things. So I joined the pool to offer a little bit of an alternative to buying things--making them yourself. Not that sewing isn't consumerist in its way (my giant stash shows that up), I'm not trying to pretend I'm virtuous, but I just want to make sure people understand there's an alternative to buying the same sweatshop goods everyone else is wearing. It's fun to look through all the outfits I've posted. I see stuff in there I've forgotten about!


Next pattern review will be the much-loved yoke front blouse, BWOF 01-2008-108. You can read the review here.


This was instantly my favorite blouse pattern from that issue but it took me a while to get around to it. I had the idea of using a plaid (?-is that what it's called in this kind of shirting?--not like a traditional plaid wool or flannel but small scale) or striped shirting and cutting the yoke on the bias. Cidell gave me the fabric; she ordered it from Kashi and he sent her the wrong one. I figured it would work for the blouse, although the plaid design is not square, which would have been best. This kind of traditional shirting is not exactly my style so I nearly didn't finish this blouse because I was finding it so ho hum. But Cidell was on the phone with me and made me finish it and once it was finally done I loved it.

I am always amused that in "how to make things less homemade looking" discussions one of the things that is often mentioned is that larger buttons make things look homemade. I assume this is because it is quicker to make small buttonholes and cheaper to buy small buttons and both time and money are of the essence in RTW factories, so the tinier buttons are used. One of the (many) things I love about sewing is that I can use outrageous buttons. I don't want bitty buttons that blend into the fabric and serve their utilitarian purpose; I want sensational statement buttons that proudly proclaim I'm not afraid to be a little kooky. The big navy buttons on this one add the necessary dose of whimsy so that I still feel like myself in it. Cidell took the photos of this one.


Birthday dress is made according to original plan and adorable. I plan to wear it to work Thursday. Will try to take pictures then.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes

The beautiful cross-stitched napkin was a gift from Karen.

I have a love/hate relationship with pineapple. I love the way it tastes, but the acid burns my mouth *and* water tastes gross for like 30 minutes after I eat it. Does this happen to everyone? On the flip side, water tastes sweet after I eat (fresh) artichoke hearts, so that's a plus. I hear that doesn't happen to everyone. And while we're on the subject, I hear that eating too much wasabe doesn't give everyone a sudden fierce pain at the top of their head? At least according to some friends of mine. This really floored me. I assumed my reaction was normal. Now I'm kind of afraid to eat wasabe.

Anyway, so I had my book club over and we read Salt by Mark Kurlansky. It's a really long book about...salt and the location, extraction, refinement, transportation, and taxation thereof throughout the millenia of recorded history (and some pre-history). It is both as interesting and not nearly as interesting as it sounds. I enjoyed it, but I'm a huge nerd. Anyway, the hostess supplies appetizers and then everyone chips in for pizza.

I like trying to tailor the food to the book and this one was an obvious candidate. One of the things the book mentioned was the chili salt that is used in Asia for dipping fruit. I had actually had this in Vietnam and it was surprisingly good. I couldn't find such a mix at the store or a recipe online, so I ground up some red pepper flakes with coarse sea salt in my trusty mortar and pestle (of course), and squeezed a lime over it before serving. I later asked my Vietnamese neighbor what is in it, and he said that they crush a fresh chili pepper into the salt and then dehydrate it. Pineapple is particularly good this way, so I bought a pineapple and cut it up (also served mango, strawberry, and peach).

The fruit was a big hit, but I still had like a quarter of a pineapple left. Due to the aforementioned mouth-burning and water-grossness I couldn't eat it all plain. When life gives you lemons, make lemon meringue pie, or in this case, when life gives you pineapple, make mini carrot cake cupcakes. Both of these recipes are adapted from If you're not overly generous with the frosting the result is vaguely in the realm of healthy.

Carrot Cake

3 Cups carrots, grated (I used the fine side of the grater; more trouble but it's worth it)
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed or 1/4 Cup applesauce
Let sit for 1 hour (or up the four hours, depending on your schedule--I grated my carrots and then got distracted by my bed for a couple hours while I took a nap.)

2 eggs
1/3 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 Cup crushed pineapple, drained (you can use canned, but I hand-shredded fresh)

Stir in:
1 Cup flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp ground ginger (or fresh grated, if you have it)

Bake at 350 about 18 minutes for mini cupcakes, about 22 minutes for full-size cupcakes, or 45-50 minutes as a sheet cake; check doneness with a toothpick. Let cool before frosting. This is a very moist cake so don't be alarmed if your cupcakes lose some loft as they cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz neufchatel cheese--that's the 1/3 less fat cream cheese(half an 8 oz package; there are ounce lines marked on the package)
2 Tbsp butter

Add and beat until well blended:
2 1/4 Cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Frost the cupcakes. Eat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Duchess of Windsor

In Vietnam

Do I not look regal? This is my favorite picture from my trip to Vietnam, though I was quite reluctant to take it. The motorbike taxi guy who had been taking me around that day to see the Marble Mountains and Da Nang insisted we stop by the old American base with its hangars still standing to take a picture. Apparently, most tourists are eager for this shot, but it seemed a little distasteful to me. Reliving America's involvement in another country's affairs was not my priority there. I have to say, though, I'm glad he insisted because it is an awesome shot, especially with the green helmet and big sunglasses.

I'm also partial to this shot of the Hong Kong skyline in the same dress, with shrug. The sun never came out while I was in Hong Kong (and precious little while in Vietnam); I was told there were storms fairly close by but it seemed like pollution to me. So I fade into the background a bit in my blues and grays, but the French girl who took it ("Entiere?" she asked, "Oui," I said) really did an excellent job framing the shot. Here is a girl who understands that you want the whole outfit in the picture, not just your face!

The pattern review is finally up for this project from March (BWOF 03-2008-116)!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birthday Dress!

Paris Fabrics, May 08My birthday is August 31, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend--coming up in a week and a half! I always make myself a new dress for my birthday. For a long time it was an unbroken line of pink dresses, but last year I broke tradition to use the black and white wax print fabric Cidell got me in Ghana to make a wrap dress of McCall 5314. I earmarked my polka-dotted Paris fabric for this year's dress.

I originally had the idea of making BWOF 05-2008-127, the exclusive design from May. I love the retro styling and it is perfect for the retro print. Then I began to second guess myself. It's not a dress I can should wear to work, though I have a shrug that will go well with the fabric to cover my shoulders and it would be an excuse to make a little short sleeved jacket. Also, it's clearly a summer dress what with the cutout shoulders but that scarf around the neck will be hot so you can't wear it in high summer. It's very distinctive, so how often will I wear it? I don't want to "waste" the fabric.

So then I thought of maybe making a shirtdress or something more utilitarian so I'd get more use out of the fabric, which I love. But now I think I'm leaning back to the BWOF design. It is very birthday celebratory and while I won't wear it often within a year that retro style is firmly entrenched in the collective unconscious and will always be wearable. Of course, as I age I am all too acutely aware of the weight gain that comes with it so who knows for how many years it will fit (though all my weight gain is, alas, below the bust so that helps with empire/full skirt styles like this). But still, I think I'm going to do it. I traced out the pattern last night. At any rate, I have to make a decision before this weekend, because I'll need to sew it then. Am I making a grave mistake? Am I missing any patterns that are both highly festive and office-workable?

And here is an amusing article, which states that 34 is the most expensive year of your life. It appears that this is just an average and that 34 is the median age at which people get married, buy property, etc. Well, I already own property and it seems that I'll never get married (you have to go on a third date before that happens, I hear; I accept any and all donations of blind dates) so hopefully 34 will not be my most expensive year. I guess I should stop buying shoes and start saving, just in case.

Farmer's Market Ratatouille

Last weekend was one of my three day weekends (I get flex days at work; feel free to hate me), and finally for the first time in *ages* I felt like I had the right balance of social time and alone time. Happy hour Friday, birthday party Saturday night (I helped with prep from about 6:00 on so it took up all evening), and the rest of the time to sew and run that order, of course. It actually felt like an extra long weekend and I was satisfied to finish my Mondrian dress and a BWOF blouse.

Sundays we have a bitty farmer's market in my neighborhood and I just love to go. There are a four farm stands, a butcher stand, a community garden, a dessert lady, and Breadline, a local bakery. Breadline appears to employ only French speakers, so I order my pain au chocolat en francais and feel very fancy for the rest of the morning. Then I buy gobs and gobs of vegetables and, while they last, peaches galore.

Sundays are also my day to cook, and I usually get very little sewing done because I cook for the rest of the week. This Sunday I realized I spent about 6 hours in the kitchen, with a little bit of downtime but not much! In the end I had
-a big pot of South American Black Bean Soup (for lunches)
-Carrot Cake Mini Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Icing (because I had cut up a pineapple and needed to use it in something)
-Bread Pudding and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote to top it (for breakfasts)
-No-Knead Bread, this version based on the New York Times version that swept the nation a couple years ago (I mixed this up Saturday, baked on Sunday)
-Ratatouille (for dinners)

My mom used to make ratatouille from the garden when I was a kid and course I thought it was disgusting then. Now...yum. Eggplant is a difficult vegetable. If you don't cook it right it is bitter and horrible. I mostly shy away from it because it can be so labor intensive, but in ratatouille the only labor involved is cutting it up; you don't even peel it. Everything else happens by magic.

Veggies for ratatouilleTraditional ratatouille has only tomato, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper (capsicum to the international crowd), onion, and garlic, but I'm not a very traditional gal, and threw in a sweet pepper and some wax beans as well. Look at my gorgeous veggies! Everything came from the farmer's market except the onion, garlic, and spices/herbs (though the basil was some I dried from a farmer's market bunch). In addition to adding more veggies I also broadened the spice profile a little, and finished with red wine instead of white because I didn't have an open bottle of white.

Whole Bay Leaves Crushed Bay Leaves

The real revelation for me on this was using my mortar and pestle to crush the bay leaves, rather than putting them in whole and removing them. They smell wonderful while you're crushing them and I think they enhance the flavor of the dish.

I wanted a mortar and pestle forever (like, since I was a kid), and finally when I went to Ikea on my last hurrah with a car I got one. They are only $10, I really don't know what my issue was. Now I am obsessed with it! Fresh ground spices are really much better, and often cheaper too. Buying whole coriander seeds from the Indian section of the grocery store beats paying $5 for a small jar of ground any day! I highly recommend one if you enjoy cooking and time is not always of the essence for you. It doesn't take long, only a minute or two for the bay leaves, but I don't have hungry kids to feed who can't wait a minute or two.

Farmer's Market Ratatouille

Chop and saute in a bit of olive oil until softened
Large onion

4 medium cloves of garlic, minced

Chop into approximately equal sized pieces (I went for around 1 inch dice) and add to the saute
Small eggplant, stemmed but unpeeled
2 zucchini squashes
2 bell peppers (I had a red and a purple, but you can use any color)
1 sweet pepper

Meanwhile, coarsely chop and add to the pan after a few minutes
3 medium tomatoes, preferably heirlooms
The tomatoes supply most of the liquid to the dish (I add no water at all), so be sure to get all their juice into the pan!

Reduce heat to medium low. Add herbs, in amount given (which is a guess at how much I used) or to taste
3 bay leaves, ground
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
dash sage
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Throw in
1/2 Cup wax beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces

Cover pan and let simmer about 30 minutes or longer. After about 15 minutes add
1/3 Cup red wine (I used a good quality pinot noir)

We are not interested in crisp tender here; this is all about well done, falling apart veggies. When the eggplant is thoroughly tender, it's done. I like to drizzle olive oil over the bowl before serving (or, since it's only me, it's more like eating than serving) and accompany with a slice of no knead bread, with or without cheese melted on top.

Bon appetit!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

BWOF 04-2008-128

Paris Day 3:  Montmartre

This dress is part of my (still ongoing) blue and red wardrobe for Spring. Though this is a bright sky blue rather than a navy, it still matches the red shoes I bought to go with the wardrobe. I announced this project in April and as you can see, I made it long enough ago that I wore it in Paris! The photo was taken at Montmartre by Karen! I have projects even older than this still to review.

The April 2008 issue of BWOF has a lot of good stuff, but one of my favorites was plus size design 128. I like that the collar gives the opportunity to use a contrast fabric (of course!) and I also just liked the shape of it. Unfortunately, I am not so sure it works on my body. I feel like all I am is belly in this dress and I never wear it. This is partly me being overly self-conscious about my disproportionate belly, but it really does show, as you can see in this picture taken after I'd eaten a lot of delicious Ethiopian food.

Sizing was going to be an issue, but then I recalled that Burda had done a similar style top in my size range at some point. Sure enough, I found it in 08-2007-105. I even liked the little puffy sleeves better. Perfect.

So I traced out the body of the top (lengthening the bodice to be a dress and cutting it into princess-seamed shapes) and the collar of the dress and set to work. I found the directions for dress 128 impossible to decipher so I figured it out on my own.

Step 1:

Step 1

Sew CB seam and front to back at shoulders. Then pin the collar to the neck edge, right sides together and matching centers. Sew, stopping an inch before center front, leaving the neck edge free of the collar there. Fold back this inch of the neck and sew the collar, right sides together, for about an inch and a half (between the pin markings) to finish the edge for the twist; do this to both sides of the collar, though I only have one illustrated here. Turn the collar right side out through that inch and half.

Step 2:

Step 2

Stitch the center front of the bodice together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This takes up half of the inch you left free at center front, leaving a small bit of the upper neckline free of the collar. Stitch this down.

Step 3:

Step 3

At this point I found it helpful to turn under the raw edge of the inner edge of the neckline portion of the collar and pin in place on the inside. This will later be finished by hand-sewing in place. It was good to have everything in its proper place. Now make the double twist. I found it a little bulky, but a single twist was not interesting enough. My collar fabric had a fair amount of body with its eyelet-like texture and rough-ish hand. In a smoother fabric I don't think the bulk would be a problem.

Step 4:

Step 4

Keeping the twist tight and in its place, fold the collar in half *wrong* sides together and pin as one to the lower edge of the bodice. You can baste here, or if you're lazy like me you can sew the seams of the lower front and pin lower front to upper front, right sides together, with the collar sandwiched in between.

Step 5:

Step 5

Whether you basted first or not, stitch the upper front to the lower front, sandwiching the collar in place. Sew from each side toward the center, getting as close to the center as you can. When you sew the side seams, make sure the collar edge is turned down.

Very easy with a lot of impact! It looked strange with only the collar as a contrast fabric, so I added to sleeve cuffs and hem band.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wardrobe Plan

I don't plan to enter the August wardrobe contest as I have been sewing so slowly lately! But I do have some ideas for Fall clothes. I feel like I should try to incorporate more tailored, professional looking items into my wardrobe. Now that I am obsessed with blouses I'm getting closer.

The thing is, a generic suit makes me want to vomit. I HATE wearing a suit. I gave a speech yesterday and practically begged to be able to wear a dress (this one) with a blazer. Permission granted. Honestly, for speaking gigs my insistence on looking like myself is to my benefit for the most part. Especially because I am petite and look young, people way underestimate me, and the clothes factor into that too--though I must say the dress looked very respectable with the blazer, not unprofessional at all...just not a suit. Then when I give a dynamite presentation that blows all the other speakers out of the water the impact is all the greater. She said modestly. Heh. I will grudgingly wear a suit for depositions (a funkier suit) and court (a very traditional suit), but for anything short of formal legal proceedings I think they're unnecessary.

So I tried to come up with a collection of tasteful, professional clothes that don't make me want to vomit. I think I succeeded. They're even in neutral colors and I don't hate them!


Now, I am in no way committing to these projects. In fact, I'm already second-guessing my use of the gray pinstripe wool. Now I'm obsessed with the idea of a moderately high-waisted pencil skirt with a corset-type, possibly double-breasted belt that looks like part of the skirt but is separate so that if the style gets tired I don't have to ditch the otherwise classic skirt. I thought BWOF had given a pattern for such a belt, but I must have been thinking of the pants on the right, 08-2007-103; the "belt" is an attached waistband. It wouldn't be too hard to design the belt, but it would be easier just to use a pattern! But on the other hand, I definitely want to make that Simplicity jumper out of a wool. We'll see.

Tomorrow is my day off (yay!) and I hope to finish the Mondrian Dress. It will be so insane. In a good way. It needs some buttons and I wasn't finding any that inspired me. I found some cute yellow shanks, but they are going on red and I thought it looked too ketchup and mustard. So last night during Project Runway I painted some white satin fabric-covered buttons traded with Cidell from one of her 4 pound Fabric Mart button lots.


Could you just die?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Stashoholism Confessional and Random Projects

I am working on a Mondrian Dress and it is going to be SO CUTE. Except my stomach might be too big for it. And my butt. (Note: the problem is not that I made the dress too small.) I bought 5 yards of ribbon for it and wanted to add just 8 more inches. I could have lived without it, but I would always have regretted those 8 inches. I had a baby shower to go to on Sunday in the far wilds of Maryland, so I got dropped at a Red line station on the way back and metroed out to White Flint so I could hit up the G Street. I walked through the store chanting, "Only ribbon, only ribbon, only ribbon, and maybe a zipper" but of course they put the $2.97/yd table right at the entrance to ribbons and trims so I couldn't help but glance at it and then get drawn irresistably toward it.

I didn't do *so* horribly, though I fear the green knit print was a mistake. I love the motif and I like the colors, but I think the motif is too small and won't read as anything but stripes from a distance. For some reason, I don't wear a lot by way of stripes. I don't know why. So I feel weird when I do wear them.


I have BWOF 06-2008-128 in mind for the satin version of the print on the left. The hemline looks fairly straight to take advantage of the border print, and the drape of poly satin will work well with the style. Yes, I bought poly. The sheer will be part of the awesome Halloween costumes Cidell and I are making. Are you ready? Wait for it, wait for it, are you ready? Retro Air Hostesses. OMG we will be so cute.

I bought the green print to be a winter work top, even though I don't wear print tops I made one recently that makes me think it can be done, with the right print and the right pattern. But now I think it might need to be a dress. Perhaps the Tippi Hedren Dress from BWOF 02-2008-103? But I kind of have the aqua and white floral from this post in mind for that dress and I don't know as I'll want two.

The purple print I just loved (though after washing it I discovered there are ink stains all along one side about 4 inches in from the selvage; they are not too noticeable with the busy print, and it was $2.97/yd, but still). I have no ideas. It's a rayon, judging by the way it felt wet, and drapes like a cotton jersey. I never have enough patterns for knits and now that I don't have access to a Joann for cheap patterns I'm not sure what to do! Anyone have any dress suggestions for this fabric?


I also ordered, a while back, another yard and a half of yellow stretch twill from Fashion Fabrics Club, which has already been turned into this shrug (with bonus sneak peek at maxi dress). I am going to rant a little bit about FFC. When I made my order, ITY knits were on sale so I ordered some to bring me up to five yards, because there's no point in paying shipping for more yards than you ordered and it's flat rate up to five yards. First of all, they took an entire week to process my order. Second of all, by the time they processed my order all the knits I had ordered were out of stock. Which is annoying; is a reasonably real-time inventory count on the website too much to ask? The week delay makes me feel that they didn't process the orders in the sequence they were made so I could have lost out to someone who placed their order after me, but I'm willing to believe they were swamped and that didn't happen. But what is even more annoying is that they did not notify me that the knits were out of stock, just shipped my order with only the twill at the full five yard shipping price. Had I known the knits were gone I probably would have ordered a few yards of basics. So not only did they make me mad and waste my shipping money, they lost some sales. But the shrug is supercute.



My next pattern review will be for McCall 5426. I got the fabric in My Tho, Vietnam in the Mekong Delta. I didn't bargain for this one; I was with my work colleagues and our translator arranged the purchase for me (you can read about it here). How much do we love the orange shoes? I was lusting after them on for months and finally had to give in.

Puffy Sleeves

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Angled Seams

A fellow sewist wrote to me and asked if I had any advice on getting the angled seam in Vogue 2988 to lie flat, as she was not looking for pouchiness at the hip.

Vogue 2988

I told her to staystitch the corner and then clip all the way to the stitching, pivot with the needle in the fabric at the precisely marked corner, and press the lower seam open and the upper seam to the side. This is all pure guesswork on my part, as I have not attempted something like this precisely for that reason. Though having looked at the line drawing of 2988 I am suddenly in lust.

Then it occurred to me that I could do better for her than hazarding a guess, I could ask the (much more knowledgeable) sewing community if they have advice. Thoughts for her?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two Part Pocket with Piping

The recent disclaimer regarding the offering of opinions was not completely out of the blue. You might recall me asking for opinions on pocket configurations for a vintage dress I was working on; I couldn't decide if it was Saucy Seventies or Mod Maid. The overwhelming response was in favor of no pockets. Erm, I went with pockets. Well, a pocket.

The reasons are many-fold. First, the pockets were the whole reason I loved this pattern. Second, Most people who recommended no pockets noted that it made for a more elegant dress. Unfortunately, elegant I am not. I am 5'1.5" and on a good day "cute" is the best I can do. Since I will never be tall, graceful, and elegant, I play up the cute thing. Also, I have a bit of a Peter Pan complex and I don't want to grow up (at least not until I get grown up things like a husband and kids). Third, I was feeling very "What Would Erin of Dress a Day Do?" I love her love of pockets and I felt she would somehow be sad if I didn't use any, just because there would be fewer pockets in the universe. I don't want to make Erin sad. Fourth, I have to wear an ID badge at work. I refuse to wear the necklace kind because it will ruin my outfit, so I wear the belt clip kind. Dresses and belt clips can be hard to reconcile, but if the dress happens to have a large pocket--problem solved. Fifth, I didn't think the little bits of polka dot fabric at the collar and cuffs made sense without the pocket; they are too small and also the dress *is* more elegant without pockets, but the polka dots aren't elegant at all so there was just a style problem. And finally, in addition to all this, I am just a contrarian sometimes. Many years ago I dated this really great guy. He was super sweet and I liked him a lot. When I was having a hard time deciding what to wear (often!) I'd ask him to choose between two outfits. Invariably, once he chose one of the outfits I'd realize I wanted to wear the other one. Invariably. I hope he didn't take it personally.

Anyway, enough rationalizing. When I was making the pockets, I wanted to find a way to make them more interesting than just giant pockets. The pattern is designed with a lower pocket and then a band across the top. I considered making the band black or white or trying to find a different black and white print to contrast with the polka dots, but eventually I decided that a little bit of white piping was what I wanted to make it pop. Here's how I made them.

1. Make the lower pocket. I think it is so much easier to get a nice lower curve by lining the pocket in batiste than attempting to turn under raw edges.

2. Cut the upper pocket pieces. Make a strip of your piping fabric finished width + seam allowance x 2 and fold it in half, wrong sides together. Raw edges together, sew to one end of your upper pocket piece. Then fold the upper pocket piece in half, right sides together, and sew the side seams (better illustrated here). Turn right side out.

3. Right sides together, sew the outer-facing sides of the upper and lower pockets together. Make sure not to catch in your piping.

4. Turn under the seam allowance of the inner edge of the upper pocket and hand-stitch in place.

I hand-stitched the pocket to the dress so it will be easily removable if I suddenly wake up elegant one day.

Sadly, this is not one of the projects I had Cidell photograph. The photo was taken by a friend who was staying with me. I made her sing for her supper. Heh. Unfortunately, even though she has a super fancy mega DSLR camera, it obviously doesn't take indoor pictures better than my little point and shoot! But rather than wait for perfect pics, I'll just do the blog post and review with what I have. All the photos are here.