Sunday, August 24, 2014

sewing fo: not-a-gum-drop skirt

Because this summer is a dreadfully slow making summer, I waited til my last few weeks at home to finish a skirt. Even though I've had the fabric since December. Even though it's basically the most beginner of beginner skirts. It's like page one of the how to sew clothes book. Makes me a little ashamed of myself because I've been sewing for years. I want to be making fantastic wonderful creations, but that's not really what I'm making, apparently.

All this simplicity really does let that gorgeous fabric shine. After all, it's the star here!. It was a Christmas gift from a very good friend, and it's some of the most beautiful fabric I've ever laid my hands on. It's beautifully soft and fluid with this deep, rich color and that border! So elegant. And it is that beautiful, not-to-be-harmed border that led to the gathered skirt. That and a lot of Call the Midwife making me desperate for a longer, very full skirt. Almost a dirndl skirt, right?

I wanted it very full, so I gathered this enormous swath of fabric into the waistband, which is the only advanced part of the skirt. I made what is, according to my mom's sewing book, a couture waistband, with three layers: the actual fabric with interfacing, the lining with interfacing, and then the lining by itself to cover up this whole mess. That soft, drapey main fabric would have led to a very rolly waistband without some major stabilizing and all the interfacing and layering that the couture waistband required really gave the support it needed.

Actually, I've been terrified of gathered skirts for years, which really is stupid. It's not really a fear of gathering or something; I'm just worried about them looking funny on me, either like My First Skirt! or as if my lower body from the waist down was shaped like a gum drop. Looking at the pictures now and having worn it a few times, I know how not gum drop-y this skirt is, but while making it I kept asking my mom and sisters what they thought about it.

Honestly the only time it looks gum drop-like is when twirling. But how many times do I do that on a daily basis? (Answer: regularly. But I'll just deal.) On the whole, it's a really lovely skirt, though one trip through the wash, and it's starting to pill a little, so I'll have to be super careful to avoid another episode of ruin-the-thing-I-just-made.

Anyway, off to get ready for the first day of school tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

end of summer things

Even though I'm eagerly awaiting autumn and those gorgeous trees, realistically, early August is hardly the end of summer. We still have half of the true season. But with my plane ride back to the land of schoolbooks and independent living rapidly approaching, it feels like the end of summer. Earlier, I talked here about Call the Midwife, chocolate, DIY, and my tendency to read blogs like magazines as my newfound summer obsessions. This is a little bit more of what I've been up to and into recently.
  • This summer I've really been loving a clean, minimalist-meets-feminine aesthetic, like Shop Ruche or Lovely Friend. I did a little bit of redecorating around here, and it was largely inspired by reading these truly elegant blogs!
  • Digital housecleaning: I've been going through my little online corners to tidy up what's there, especially my Pinterest boards. If it's not an inspiration anymore, why is it there?
  • I really want to try my hand at pattern drafting! This guide by Madalynne really seems like it's going to be a big help.
  • Watching Doctor Who on Netflix with my little brother - I love Clara!
  •  I love the new Under Armor ad with Misty Copeland. She's such a beautiful dancer, she almost makes me cry.
  • In the search for good small space/apartment/I-don't-have-a-dresser-anymore DIYs, I found this tutorial on Spoonflower for how to make hanging closet shelves. Maybe I should collect some of my favorite tutorials here?
I hope you're having a fantastic end of summer! Have you found anything inspiring or intriguing recently, either in the real world or in your Internet perusals?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

sewing fo: a (kind of) practical bag

Oh, what a gloriously unproductive summer. To think, at this time last year, I had a couple of projects in the air. This year, I've barely finished a make-up bag thus far. To be fair, I do have a part-time job working with kids. High energy, never-not-moving, 3-12 years old kids.

I've been wanting to make a make-up bag, 'cos until now my make-up has resided in a quart-size plastic bag. Super convenient for TSA, except for the fact that it's ugly and falling apart. I made this with some inspiration from The Dancer's Book of Ballet Crafts, but I drafted the pattern myself, if you can call 6 rectangles of differing size a pattern.

The outer fabric is left over swiss dot cotton print from this dress-ish tunic thing. I had to piece a lot because I didn't have very much left over, but I'm telling myself that the extra seams add structure and shape to a fairly simple pile of rectangles. The lining is that pretty cobalt blue poly-satin leftover most recently from this unnecessary semi-formal, that was fashioned from leftovers from my senior prom dress. The fabric that won't just disappear. Do you have one of those in your stash?

The inside corners are a little funky and the lining turned out bigger than the exterior, but some odd little pleats later and you can't really tell. It's just our little secret.

It's pretty small, but I don't have a lot of makeup (most of my makeup was acquired for the stage and therefore never gets worn except for performances), so it's perfect for me. And even something small and creative counts as being creative!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

summer things

There are a few things that I really don’t like. I usually try to offset them with things that I like a lot. Example: green beans and chocolate desserts (though not at the same time). Despite having grown up in the land of two seasons, warm and hot, I really hate summer. I hate the heat; I hate the inside temperatures that can reach 90 degrees when the swamp coolers become inefficient and fail to really provide some cooling. I really am trying to appreciate the summertime, because I would hope to enjoy all the seasons, but it’s a struggle.

So I’m accompanying it with things I like:

...daydream sewing: I want to make a Gabriola skirt and Simplicity 1587 (mainly because I have the pattern).

…running through the sprinklers and getting soaking wet

...reading beautiful blogs: right now, I'm slowly wandering through The Clothes Horse. Rebecca has a style that is so, so lovely, and she's inspiring my dream fall style (gotta get to sewing!)

....Call the Midwife in all its late fifties glory

…squares of dark chocolate as a reward for not complaining too much

…wearing pretty sundresses because they make me feel better about the triple digit temperatures

…reading recipe after recipe that requires heat, in fond memory of the time when it wasn’t too hot to cook--like this kale pizza Emma made or these pumpkin cupcakes from Sally. I miss pumpkin.

…cherry popsicles that paint my lips red

...doo wop and musicals and what my brother calls "hipster music"

...playing interior decorator in my head. I love these curtains!

…dreaming about that first snap of fall, when the mornings go from being a brief respite from the heat to being a crisp, cool herald of things to come.

I hope your summer so far has been filled with popsicles and sundresses and swimming and whatever sort of summer loveliness floats your boat. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 30, 2014

fo: procrastination sweater

What do you do when you give up wasteful internet for Lent? You knit a sweater, obviously.

Traditional Lisa looking-at-the-floor pose.

True story.
Knitting this sweater was my choice method of procrastinating, seeing as reading blogs and looking at recipes online were off-limits. Then I had a whole month of tech week after tech week during which I would do tech and dress rehearsals for a show, perform the show, and then immediately start tech rehearsal for the next show, which gave me plenty of backstage down time. So I had even more time to knit.(Read: I spent every single day for an entire month at the theatre, often from 5pm to almost midnight. I. Did. Not. Sleep.) Joys of being a dance major!

Serious face. Not sure why it sounded like a good idea.

The pattern was Julie Crawford’s Velvet Morning, which during the knitting process, I constantly called either Winter Night or Velvet Night. I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, and though I can’t say for sure (not having washed it several times) I’m quite impressed with KnitPicks quality. On the other sweater I knit with wool (a pre-blog letter sweater), I had pills the day I blocked it. KnitPicks, like with my previous poor felted sweater, is proving to be something I really, really like.

My only complaint is that with my apparently quite dramatic pear-shape, this sweater will never come close to closing over my hips (you can see how it kinda hopelessly hangs at my sides once it gets a little past my waist). True, it’s meant to be worn casually (but intentionally and therefore fashionably) open, but I wish the two edges had the capability of meeting, so that they didn’t feel left out or something. There’s nothing worse than left out hems, ya know?


However, the best part is how beautiful and truly well designed that colorwork is. It’s my first colorwork project, so there might be some extra tightness in my floats to blame for that snug fit over my derrière, but overall the pattern is so gorgeous, I never would care. I love it to bits, and I know I’ll be snuggling in this sweater when it’s finally winter again because I never actually produce garments that are appropriate for the season or my life.


Okay, I kinda lied earlier. My second (and rather minor) complaint is the collar. I wore it like a shawl collar here, but it really kinda attacks my neck when worn naturally. I’d even added V-neck shaping to make it fit a little better. Ah, c’est la vie. You win some, you lose some. 


I ravelled it here, if you're looking for more pictures or just want to look at a more exact details about how much yarn I used (oh, the joy of extra yarn/the pain of over-ordering and spending more money).

Happy Friday! Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

learning to fly

What with my birthday and the end of my sophomore year in the past month, I've had several moments when I realized that I am, in fact, halfway through college and halfway to being on the other side of the classroom and becoming something of an adult. But I think it was in reading Grace's beautiful post about finishing up her second year of college that really made me think about what this halfway point means to me. There's been joy and pain, laughter and tears, learning and many, many late nights (and therefore a few wake-me-up lattes), love and loss, faith and independence, and so much growth. I feel sometimes like a kindergartener who woke up and suddenly had an apartment and a degree plan and responsibility, like a fledgling who doesn't yet know how to fly, but has to. I'm not who I was in high school anymore--I've learned too much to be completely that girl again--but I haven't magically gained knowledge of adulthood and maturity and paying bills and taxes and social skills. But it feels a little like all this growth happened when I wasn't looking and now I don't quite know what to do with all of it. 

This next year, I want to grow into my wings and to feel more at ease with the idea of gaining maturity, even if I don't feel very mature. After years of running on a ballet studio schedule, with our final recital as the school year ended, June feels like the time for a new beginning. I know she's in me, a more confident Lisa, happy in her adulthood, instead of feeling surprised by it, the Lisa I'll become. My goals are like me: a little silly, a little practical, but mostly curious and yearning to be more comfortable in the person I'm growing to be. I want to explore a little and stretch my wings and find her.

Monday, January 27, 2014

fo: magic switch-y dance-y dress

forgive me for the messy room

As a sidenote: do you ever see that girl in the cafe or the library who's got headphones in and a serious shoulder dance going as she mouths the lyrics to some song? Yeah, that would be me. The music in question might be show tunes or Shakira or indie stuff (often the show tunes--oh, to be on Broadway! All the world's a stage though, right, so it's totally fine, right?). But keeping it to the shoulder wiggle and the silent singing at least keeps it from full-out taking over the whole place and belting. Which is a good thing, right?

Anyways...the dress. which you might actually care about, as opposed to my true confessions about singing in public. I used these two tutorials by Sew Like My Mom to make this dress during Thanksgiving break as a dance costume for a couple of shows. It's a great basic dance costume because A. you can change it every show if you want to be indecisive (I sure as heck did) and B. it's so easy to move in! I loved my costume. Bonus points for following what a professor told me about good dance costumes for a piece: it looks expensive.

apparently my new game is don't look at the camera

I stayed at school over break and therefore was still over a 1000 miles away from my sewing machine. So this entire dress was hand-sewn. I searched a little bit for instructions for how to do a stretch stitch by hand. A couple (more like half a season) of Breaking Pointe later, I had a dress. It's only three seams (the way I did it at least), so it didn't feel like that much work to hand sew it. Actually, it was a lot of fun! I really like handsewing. It's relaxing.

I basically took pictures of all the ways I know how to tie it. I'm not super creative about it, especially because I have relatively high standards for modesty when it comes to how I dress.

wait! I do know where the camera is!

Yep, we've come to the end of my four different stylings. I'm not very exciting. Do you have any suggestions for tying this thing in more creative ways that are still fairly covering? I'm too shy to do strapless, but I'm trying to experiment with how to look like a cool person in this.
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