A Little Blush for Evening

In between travels and springing and birthdays and gardening, I was able to squeeze in a new lounge set.

Doesn’t that sound better than pjs? And that’s exactly what I do in them–I lounge a lot more than I care to admit. (How about right now?) Adding more of these to my drawers is making me plain happy. Feeling comfy and pretty and having some variety in my schlepsleepwear = bonus.

{And apologies for the grainy photos but this is what happens when one shoots in shade at an extreme ISO and then tries to expose afterward in software. Even though I could spend hours playing with all the filters and plugins for Aperture. So much cool stuff out there.}

Pattern: The set is from Burda November 2009, #129 and #132.

Details: I made the pajama trousers for my last set and they’re super easy, a simple drawstring pant which I’ve now adjusted for a better fit. It’s embarrassing how easy these are. Seriously, like less than two hours to cut and sew at my snail pace.

At first I thought I’d make another version of my kimono-sleeved pajama top but this fabric doesn’t quite have the stretch for a hip band. So instead I went for the wrap Burda top from the same issue. It’s a pretty simple wrap top with a shawl collar, and piping is sandwiched in between the collar and facing. I almost left out the piping but in digging around my ribbon box I found enough of this coral charmeuse bias tape that I’d made for something else. You can see the facing doesn’t quite want to fold in neatly but these are pjs and this fabric is too slithery to want to stay anywhere in place.

Fabric: Now I’m going to share a secret: polyester! This is a satin-type polyester knit from Gorgeous Fabrics, described as “70 denier microfiber jersey”. It looks like silk jersey, and feels a lot like it, but was much, much less expensive. And easy to wash and dry without wearing it down. (In my experience, washing silk jersey aggressively really messes with it.) The noticeable difference between silk and polyester is the static cling, which is the last thing that holds me back from drapey polyesters–and this fabric wants to cling. I’ve been trying to educate myself on types of fabrics for lingerie. Other than silk, obviously, there’s a lot of nylon and polyester, especially for bras, with terms like tricot, denier, microfiber coming up a lot. (You’d also see these in activewear.) With some of these fabrics, you have to let go of old stereotypes. There are polyesters that breathe and microfibers that feel very fine and soft to touch. And these will make some fine summer pjs–very, very cool on the skin.

It was nice to have an easy-peasy sort of “in between” project after all the work on my fur coat. We all need those palette cleansers now and then, right? Now it feels like a matter of weeks before the Texas summer dawns on me, so I’m strategizing, strategizing, strategizing. The onslaught of spring has sent me into deep spring cleaning and organizing mode on every front. Throwing out, compiling yard sale items. It’s even trickled down to computer folder organization (what a mess…). And I decided it was time to refresh my blog with a different design. More palette cleansing! I’ve been working on it offline quite a bit and it feels much more like me, much more like how I want to be blogging into the next year. It’s not up yet, but sooon.


it’s not easy being green

Do you ever feel like spring is just a bunch of exclamation marks?!


Growing, growing, green. That unstoppable energy of spring is hard to keep up with. And March in particular is often the only “spring” we get in Austin–from here on out it rapidly turns to summer. So we get extra exclamation marks for that. I’m an avid gardener and it’s hard not to want to be outside digging in the dirt every chance I get. Here’s a bit of home for the “expat” Texans out there:

I have declared this the Year of the Bluebonnet. There are some years that they are smaller in crop than the others but between some perfectly timed rains in the fall and spring they are INSANE this year and I’m sure the Texas-dwellers out there have noticed the highways brimming with them. I dreamed for years of having a wildflower patch, something that simulated a meadow in a city garden kind of way. We have a pretty large yard for a city and even for central Austin–but it was entirely covered in shade and invasive plant-weeds. It took one fall of serious weeding, hacking down a few junk trees and bushes, and throwing out a few packets of seeds. Now my little patch of sunlight has taken on a life of its own. Some years the poppies show off, others the larkspur. Last year I had one lowly bluebonnet and all of this somehow came from THAT. (I never tire of the wonder that one plant can generate about 1000 more in just one season of seed-bearing.)

March is also a thick time because it’s also my man’s birthday month. Friends, birthdays are a really big, big deal around here. Sometimes wearily so. We usually take the day off (okay, sometimes more than one) and basically fill it with everything we love. It just so happens that Derek’s birthday is also St. Patrick’s Day. Yeah, he is part Irish and all heart so his bday always has this double-the-party energy. Add to all this SXSW, which seriously takes over Austin for about a week straight–the buzz, the traffic, the 10s of thousands of people crowding every square inch of this little town, the feeling that you are always missing some kind of huge convergent opportunity.

So we had a l’il party last night and now that things are calming down, from my quiet little porch in the universe, I can think about how much I adore this man and hope he had the bestest birthday:

{In this one, he’s wearing a vest I made him a couple of years ago from a vintage 1940s pattern. I’m going to do another one soon.}

Derek wears green velvet pants to breakfast and top hats to conferences. He collects circus paraphernalia and weeps in front of a Marc Chagall. He has the biggest heart and zest for life of anyone I know–and often loves people so much it hurts him. Darn Irish. I know it’s not easy being green.


Liebster Love

Last week I had the honor of being nominated by three lovely bloggers for the Liebster Award. Thank you Amy (Sew Well), Lavender (Threadsquare) and Christine (Daughter Fish) for bestowing your blog love. Shucks, I feel a little sheepish. Some days I feel as if I’m blogging my own private Idaho, so thank you for reminding me otherwise!

The Liebster is for blogs with followers of 200 or less and I admit I’ve never actually looked at my numbers so I went digging around in my Feedburner account. It didn’t help much with follower numbers, which seems to change from week to week (Feedburner averages how many times blog is viewed per day in readers) but I was totally geeking out looking at all the statistics. Apparently I have nothing on the geekdom that seems to land on this site. Namely Battlestar and Tricia Heifer fans. Over 90% of the hits on this site relate to my Number 6 Dress. I’m sure by linking that in here yet again I’m in danger of attracting even more of these hits, and if you are here because of that, Go Battlestar!

Although these days I’m more of a Fringe fan, and I’m praying they get one more season because this show is just warming up. Instead of Cylons, we get three versions of each character, who cross alternate universes to talk to themselves. Self, meet self. Fun. It’s not much to talk about in the clothes department but I do like The Observers’ hat style.

And now part of the game is to pass the award on to five more bloggers. I think I’ll make it six. I kinda like finding rarefied corners of the interwebs, don’t you?

The Thinks. Well, this might be cheating, but this is a blog by my dearest friend Han Stoney. She’s a lovely illustrator and rabid book reader and I appreciate her observations on art and life.

Pattern Vault. Sarah does elegant research into fashion history and the media behind Vogue Designer patterns. I confess I was the first in line to buy a few from her collection of Alexander McQueen for Givenchy patterns.

Blooms Fabric Obsession. It always helps me to follow stylish Aussie sewists… they teach me how to be funky yet relaxed in a hot climate. And remind me that I need to be living near a beach.

Fool For Fabric. I kinda stalk this blog. I want to be her when I grow up. And in 10 years if I’m not living near a beach, I should be living in Northern California. (Near a beach.)

Sallieoh. All around lovely blog on color and sewing and fashion and food. I think I felt better about my Rachel Comey shoe collection after discovering her!

A Good Wardrobe. Liz is designing, patternmaking and crafting her own wardrobe. And she lives in my favorite city in North America. (Near an ocean… am I sensing a theme here?)


Finally, a Fur Coat!

My husband and I are pretty much exact opposites when it comes to photographs. I like still, very non-moving and exacting perspectives and can spend hours fiddling with the camera controls. He often just sets things to auto at all times of day and thinks mostly about composition. He’s kind enough to remember that I want photos that give at least some level perspective of the physical plane because hey, this is also a sewing blog and I want the zipper in focus and folks like details. And I need at least a few where I’m not vortexing into that graffiti.

But I’m definitely not complaining. Derek is enthusiastic about most of what I make and wear and likes making art out of it. It took us a few days to figure out which setting would be best and on top of that we’ve been traveling (which meant that I was totally sewing my coat until the 11th hour before getting on a plane).

We finally found a fun location earlier this week and the sun was kind enough to be lingering behind some light cloud cover. Still, black is hard to get. And the wind was nuts!

The beautiful hair knot I’d managed kept tumbling down left and right and so I just gave up on the hair. I am in desperate need of a haircut anyway. (If pictures could speak, you’d be hearing me saying “my bangs are driving me nuts!” over and over.)

No matter the weather difficulties or the hair anxieties, he encourages me to come out of my shell and show my face to the camera.

But yes! Le coat is done. And it feels good. And I adore it! I’ve already worn it four times because the weather got cold enough. It’s a great feeling to want to wear this and not to abandon it out of sheer boredom from familiarity. I’m still feeling a bit sad that my Lady Grey and white silk blazer, two other labored jacket projects from the last year or so, aren’t getting the wear they deserve. In defense, the Lady Grey was an experiment and I still haven’t figured out how to make its silhouette work with the rest of my clothes.

Speaking of which, although I feared the cocoon silhouette might be a bit much, it works amazingly with some of my basic every day clothes. I tried a few different outfits underneath and most of what worked were shapes that stuck toward the streamlined and narrow, especially from the hem down. If it was a top and jeans they had to be narrow and the top hitting somewhere near my hips. A dress with lots of pleats and drapes looked overdone, but another one with stripes and a columnar look was perfect.

View from the back:

If you’ve been following along my coat process, you might remember I planned to shorten the sleeves, which I did by about an inch and a half. On the muslin they were just a smidge above the wrist but I think it’s better at this “hip” length. I’d also originally intended to use leather strips down the each side of the front zipper. This proved to be more than I wanted to do. It took some careful sewing to enclose the zipper in the leather facings and I didn’t want to push my luck by adding one more leather seam. Anyway, I kinda like that the front closure is just a hint of gold teeth shining through. Simple.

The coat is fully lined in a stretch polyester lining that actually ended up giving it some needed weight and structure, so in the end it’s quite warm and not as drapey as I thought it’d be. I think I’m getting the hang of this lining thing. After learning to draft one for Sherry’s RTW Sew-along, I went back over my notes and adapted it for raglan sleeves.

This was such a fun project to throw myself into and I’m so glad y’all have followed along! (Here’s a link to all my previous entries about the coat, if you’re interested.) The leather adventures may not be over, either. I’ve got some ideas for all those leftover scraps but that is for another day!