Belgium – Holland 2014

Now that I’ve got some of the sewing related stuff out. Here’s a final post on how the rest of the trip went.

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Before we started the bike and barge portion, we spent a day on a bike tour in Brussels. I’ve done bicycle tours in Minneapolis, Montreal and Shanghai. They really are a great way to cover a ton of ground and get an overview of the city.

Royal Palace in Brussels

Royal Palace in Brussels

The Royal Palace was open for about three weeks for tours for the year. But, we could not seem to get organized around things shutting down around 4 p.m. Thus, I missed my chance to tour the palace. A theme which continued on in the Netherlands.

The Liege waffle might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.

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I’ll also just tell you now. We had a lot of frites. I’m not that in to chocolate. I don’t think we even bought any on this trip. But, I ate waffles and fries like they were being discontinued. They say the Liege waffle has sugar in the middle. I decided it’s not sugar. It’s crack inside of them. They were that additive.

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After a day in Brussels, we headed to Bruges. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL. All I really knew about Bruges was from the movie, In Bruges. Guess what? There’s a Bernina store there! If you think the prices are high for Berninas here, the feet there would cost me 30 percent more because of the exchange rate. Ouch.

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Right-o. The bike trip began in Bruges. Our barge would sail during the day while we biked and we’d get back on board in the evening. The crew was great and the food was awesome.

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The biking was fun! I wasn’t at all prepared for it training wise, but you didn’t really need to be. That said, it was a lot harder for me now than three years ago. Jordan on the other hand thought it was easy peasy.

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We  saw castles and windmills and ate lots of cheese.

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We also visited a working dairy farm and bought more cheese than a cardiologist would approve of.

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I gasped in this room. We brought back three Gouda cheeses. We have 1.5 left…

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When we got on board our guide immediately knew our names. I asked how he knew it was us. And he said, ‘Easy. You’re the youngest people on the tour.’ Isn’t that awesome? The next person in age to me was 20 years older and they rode hard. Do you see why I can’t moan about being out of shape?? This guy below is from Australia. He’s 75. Jordan is the same age as his oldest grandson. And, he kicked our butts going up hills. He’s got the legs of a 35 year old. He’s in a bike club in Australia and has two hip replacements.. He was awesome. I tried to hook him up with Jordan’s grandmother but I suspect the distance between Melbourne and Maryland is too far.

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Along the tour we stopped in Utrecht and Antwerp before getting in to Amsterdam. Once the bike and barge portion ended in Amsterdam, we rented a flat for a few days in the Jordaan neighborhood. I got a total kick out of the name. Jordan didn’t think it was as funny as I did. I never did find him a tee shirt that said Jordaan…

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Our first day in Amsterdam we took a really fun food tour of Jordaan, the neighborhood we were staying in. We sampled all kinds of Dutch specialties including herring, Surinamese food, Dutch food (bitterballen), licorice, and Dutch apple pie.

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Sunday we hit the Van Gogh Museum and the Jewish Quarter. In the Jewish Quarter we stopped by the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish History Museum. We didn’t have enough time for my favorite museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum.

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Sunday night we saw an English language improv show with all American actors at Boom Chicago. Isn’t that amazing? American comedy in Amsterdam. And, the place was full!

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When you walk around Amsterdam, you can see in almost everyone’s window.

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Imagine how tickled I was when I saw a dress form on a canal house boat and a woman working away on her sewing machine!

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And of course, I still can’t get over ALL THE BICYCLES.IMGP1223

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It was a tremendous vacation. We chose our honeymoon in the middle of what I can only describe as the most surreal time of my life. Traveling, especially in Europe, reminds me of my mom in all the best ways. She always took us on trips and suggested places to go. Traveling was really her passion. This trip felt like closing the chapter on an emotionally complicated period and opening a door to the next phase.  The last year I’ve literally felt like the walking wounded. I didn’t realize  just how much was weighing on me.  I knew I was sad. I didn’t know I was crippled. I am honestly starting to feel like me again.

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International Internet Friends: Brussels & Holland Edition

So much of our trip’s success relied on the kindness of Internet friends!

First, sweet Katherine in Brussels offered to let us stay at her home outside of Brussels for a few nights before we headed in to Bruges to start our trip.  Imagine our car-centric surprise when she arrived with a bicycle and two adorable children to carry our luggage to her house!

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** Jordan’s not in the Army. But, he’s using my mom’s old US Army duffle which I used to use to travel all over the world. After this trip, we are so not going to travel with it overseas. Oy.

Can I tell you that these kids are the greatest?!? Like Linus, they liked Jordan better than me. He managed to do two different arts and crafts projects with them at the same time. Katherine and I were busy talking sewing machines.

IMGP0254Also, when you speak to these cuties in English, they respond in French. IT WAS SO STINKING CUTE. We’d say, ‘I don’t speak French. Anglais? Anglais?’ and they’d look at us like we were simpletons, sigh politely and and say like three words in English. Their mom speaks to them in English, but she understands their French when they respond.   You know how they say ‘Hello, Kitty’? ‘Hallo Keeety!” I wanted to die of cute overload.

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Katherine also took some time to show me how to make vegetarian dolsot bibimbap from Korea. Mmmmm. We’ve been talking about this for years!

From Katherine’s, we headed to Bruges to start our week of biking and barging from Belgium into Holland. At some point I may get myself together to actually talk about the non sewing related parts of the trip!

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After our week of biking, our clothes were so so terribly smelly. And, being American, we expected the laundromat in Amsterdam to be open all night long. Not only did the laundromat by our rented flat in close at 3:00 pm on Saturday, it wasn’t even open on Sunday. Jordan was literally out of clothes (I was washing mine as we went along. He… wasn’t). I emailed Valerie who lived in the neighborhood for suggestions of other places to try. Since we were staying in her neighborhood,  she cheerfully suggested we do it at her house. First, she saved us like 25 Euros. But, second, we got to drink wine while the laundry was running and talk to she and her husband all about Amsterdam, the neighborhood, the politics of the city and country. We’re policy geeks so loved getting to hear the un PC version of what was going on in Holland.

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The next day, she also escorted us to meet up with Hilde (on the left and Valerie on the right) and tour the Monday fabric market in Amsterdam. Did you hear that? OUT DOOR FABRIC MARKET.

Hilde came bearing gifts: A men’s issue of Knip Mode and some beautiful lace in her stash for lingerie sewing! (I thought I took a photo…)  Do you see Jordan stretching a little to improve his height? He spent a lot of trip noting women he could look in the eye and men he had to look up to. The Dutch are tall!

After touching all the fabric at the market (and buying something I didn’t take a photo of), Hilde came along with us to Rotterdam where Marta was there to give us an insiders tour. Rotterdam is a Baltimore’s Sister City. But, the city is also known for it’s modern architecture and I thought Jordan would get a kick out of it. Can you believe Marta took time off work to show us around??

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Marta was an excellent guide. She showed us all her favorite spots and sites that Rotterdam is known for.

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I think Jordan’s finally gotten used to meeting my ‘internet friends’ when we travel. I’m just really glad we had enough time and people were so generous with theirs! To be honest, I totally added an extra day to our trip just to make sure I could get my fix.

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No Store Like It: Kantje Boord

When we were trying to figure out where to honeymoon, I suggested a bike trip in France. Jordan was worried that the food portions would be too small for his American appetite and he suggested the Netherlands. He thought I might not want to go back since I’d been there three years before. But, with memories of Kantje Boord in my mind I was ALL OVER IT. We made a deposit on our trip that night and before he could change his mind.

I have to thank Sigrid for taking the time to meet with me on a work day and Valerie for offering to give me a ride to Kantje Boord. It was my second time meeting Sigrid and my first introduction to Valerie. It’s always a pleasure to meet people you have an online relationship with. YAY for the internets!

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And, let me tell you, Kantje Boord is all that I remember and more. First, it’s expanded. Second, I didn’t hyperventilate from indecision. But, I may have hugged the fabric. For those who might not know, Kantje Boord is a lingerie  focused sewing shop in Amsterdam. What makes it unique for lingerie sewing is the sheer volume of options. There are hundreds and hundreds of laces to select from.

 

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They have ALL the notions ALL in one place. You go to different walls for the strapping, for the lycra, for the little cute ribbons, for the elastics.

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When you go to the counter, the lovely shop clerk (who I totally remembered from three years ago) pulls the best tulle, lining, channeling and metal sliders for you. She makes it impossible for you to forget something. I really love making bras. But, for me it’s totally frustrating to ‘gather’ the supplies. I’m not a fabric dyer so I don’t want to be bothered with that either. The first time I went to Kantje Boord, I was totally overwhelmed. I just bought little pieces of lace and ordered the rest of the kits online. This time. I went in to buy everything I needed to sew a complete bra (minus the underwire).

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And, thank goodness for Valerie and Sigrid! I was still overwhelmed in the shop and couldn’t think straight about how much of what I needed to buy. They were the best at helping me winnow down my original stack of 12 laces to a reasonable amount.

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I weep from the beauty of it all. And, if Jordan hadn’t taken money out of my purse for his day out on his own, I would have squeezed two more kits in to here.  Considering my last three RTW bras that I bought last month were in the $60+ range, I really consider this an investment.

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I won’t be sewing these up anytime soon though. I need to work on my new bra size and order the right underwires that I now need. Plus, I’d like to clone one of my RTW bras to have a new pattern. Luckily, Jordan loved Amsterdam too. I’m thinking we’re grounded to North America for travel the next few years. But, here’s hoping for long Amsterdam layovers the next time we travel!

 

Burda 7-2014-113: Cycling / Sport Dress

We are back from our grand tour and I have so much to share about the kindness of international bloggers, lingerie fabric shopapalooza and our fantastic trip in general. But, I figured I’d start with the most sewing related, which is my cycle dress previewed before I left. I’m not sure how long cycling dresses have been around. But, it was Ann Marie from Montreal on Facebook who first suggested one to me. WHO KNEW? Plus, Claire has done all these terrific posts on making her own biking gear. I decided I wanted to wear bike dresses for this trip for a few reasons. 1. I do not look good in bike shorts. 2. I love dresses. 3. Packing is so easy!

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As soon as I saw this pattern in the July 2014 BurdaStyle I thought it was perfect. It has a short flared skirt, the zipper in the front is great for venting and I wanted to keep my shoulders covered. I’ll tell you this much, it was referred to as a tennis dress on our trip more than once! But, overall was a hit with the women in our group.  What I found amusing is that our group was dressed in serious biking gear. All bike shorts, jerseys and racing helmets.  I felt my outfits were right in the middle and I didn’t look too athletic for our 50km a day rides. And, um, I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup in 80 percent of these photos. Please, don’t judge me :)

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in Ghent, Belgium

Anywhoo, a few details.  Alterations included unpetiting the pattern and making a FBA. I made three versions for the trip. The first in blue and grey was really my muslin. It’s made from something or the other from some online store or the other. I seriously have minimal recollection.I think it’s four years old.

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This fabric was TERRIBLE for this. It’s too thin, not enough recovery and you can see my drawers. I made the back all dark grey since I thought light blue would make my rear look wide as a trailer. This fabric was a BEYOTCH to get through my Brother Coverstitch. I, um, don’t know that this version is staying in my collection.

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I also recommend adding several inches to the length if you make this one up. It’s short. Especially on a bike. The other change I made was just to use an invisible zipper at the center front instead of an exposed zip. I totally would have done one if I’d had a sport plastic style on hand. But, I didn’t.

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The other two versions were fabric from the DelMarVa blogger meet up 18 months ago. I got it from Beth who I think was planning golf clothes. I don’t remember why she gave up the ghost. But, it worked out well for me! The fabric was from FabricMart probably three years ago and some kind of wicking athletic fabric. I essentially let the amount of fabric I have dictate the print placement.

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On the reddish burgundy, the print is through the center front and center back only. Super narrow cut. I also added an inseam zipper pocket for my phone or snacks. I ran out of the print and used plain black jersey from my stash for the neck and sleeve bands.

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On the tan/ cafe au lait, the dahlia print is on the outside edges. The tan version proved to be my most popular one on Instagram.

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You’ll note I didn’t follow Burda’s suggested color blocking. Because, when you sew you don’t have to.

For all three versions, I used my coverstitch to finish. And, on the tan, I added an extra inch. I am so not well versed in my overstitch usage. This project was good for getting me to use it more. But, I notice on thin fabrics it was really stretching it out (note the neckline on the red version). But, it loved the beefier Fabric Mart knits I made the final two from (note the flat neckline on the tan version).

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I’m wearing padded shorts underneath all of them.

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I wore these dresses for the one week we were biking (washing one each night in the sink) so they were worn twice each. In the mornings I would put on my Under Armour cropped studio jacket. It also helped make it look different.

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As for the weather…It was kind of terrible some days, lol! There was one day I didn’t bike at all because it was freezing and starting to sprinkle. Me and two Brazillians stayed on board. At the end of the day, Jordan came back and said it was awful. The temps dipped below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 15 mins into the ride, cold, horizontal rain. Some of the people came back having used the lunch sandwich bags as little gloves to keep the cold and rain from their fingers. I went from feeling lazy for staying on board the barge to super smart in 22 seconds. It also was a cold snap in general with temps about 20 degrees (F)  less than they were at home and ten degrees (F) less than is normal for that time of year. We had to go to H&M our first day in town and stock up on warmer clothing. Like, fall coats. Layers I had. But, not enough long pants to keep me warm when not biking.

Overall, I REALLY like this pattern. I’m totally making it up in the winter with 3/4 sleeves in wool jersey.  The pattern needs some tweaking in the upper bust for fit (wrinkles) before I make it up for regular wear. But, as is, these are great for running, tennis, golfing and biking :-) It’s a little Star Trekie. But, I happen to really like Star Trek. And, Star Wars. And, the X-Men franchise. And, the Avengers….

Chestertown (Maryland), Camden (Maine), FitBit and Camera Strap. So, like, everything.

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No sewing, but a few photos of what I’ve been up to. Jordan is wrapping up his first of two judicial clerkships this week. When we get back from our honeymoon (squee!!) he starts his next clerkship in Annapolis. His boss was kind enough to invite us down to their home in Chestertown, Maryland two weeks ago. It was calming and beautiful.

Also, a good kick off to my three days in Camden, Maine for work. I LOVED MAINE. The summer was not too hot, the people were so friendly and the food was great. You may note a theme here. I kind of seem to like everywhere I travel, heh.

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I liked it so much I’m trying to figure out how to make Maine a small vacation next year. I would also like to go with more time to stop at the LL Bean flagship store…

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I had a tuna roll that I devoured. Lobster rolls are definitely the thing, but I don’t eat shellfish. I am totally recreating this soon.

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For our trip, I made a neck strap for my point and shoot Pentax. You should know, I am a total Pentax fangirl. My last point and shoot was a Pentax and my DSLR I use for blog photos is a Pentax

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This MX1 makes me happy because of the retro styling and it takes awesome photos. If you wait a year after cameras come out, there’s always a huge price drop. I’d get the Fuji 100 if I didn’t have to sell a kidney for it.

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For the neck strap, I sewed ribbon to the nylon strapping with my edgestitch foot. I attached the new strap to these lobster claw swivel hook thingies and connected them to the camera with key chain rings.  I used sliders to make it adjustable.  I’m both proud and ashamed that I had all the supplies to make this in my stash. I also made a wrist strap but didn’t snap a photo of it. If I were making this for a DSLR, I’d use 1.5 inch vs 1 inch wide strapping. And, if I were making this again for this camera, I might do 3/4 inch vs 1 inch. Mostly because I think the bolt snaps are a little big.


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Oh! I also got a FitBit. Am.. well.. obsessed. If you want to be FitBit friends, here’s my profile.


And, with that, I bid you adieu until we return from our European adventure :-) 

Simplicity Patterns Cabinet

Remember my interest in a pattern cabinet? Well, I found a very old one locally!

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Yesh. That’s truly a vintage Simplicity Pattern cabinet from goodness knows when. I bought it from Housewerks here in Baltimore. The guy told me it came out of an old uniform factory in the area. I wanted to haggle and bargain. He, did not.

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The outside though has seen some wear and tear. I’d love to get it blasted and powdercoat repainted. But, Jordan took delivery and he said removing the drawers was a huge PITA. And, I’ve spent enough money the last month that I can think about it another time. Plus, I’d want to keep the original SIMPLICITY there at the top. I think I could also have a new decal made.

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From looking on the inside I can see the original chocolate brown shiny paint. Which isn’t a color I would want anyway!

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So, the drawers are wonderfully split in to three sections, perfectly sized for all but McCalls and Vogue Designer of my Big Four. This also helped me pare down my traced off pattern collection. I probably pitched 30 patterns that never did work or were now way too small for me.

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There is one drawer that has a missing divider, and in there I’ve put my designer Vogue patterns and bigger envelopes like Hot Patterns.

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I also finally bought plastic baggies (thank you for the suggestions) for my Jalie and Hot Patterns. The larger Jalie are being stored in my filing cabinet. I still have two empty drawers in the cabinet. So, I’m thrilled!


Remember almost two years ago when my gravity feed iron short circuited? Well, I replaced it last month too.

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I was using my 13 year old Rowenta Sew ‘n Press (I friggin loved that iron). But, the temperature is unpredictable. And, Jordan used it to iron his suit (don’t ask. I told him not to iron suits). It scorched a few holes right into the wool blazer. So, he bought a garment steamer and I bought a new gravity feed iron.

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And, last update to the sewing room:

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I added a double (like 120) spool thread rack to my other two thread racks. If I run out of space now, I will seriously have a thread problem. I think I’m going to start buying larger Gutterman in bulk. Most of my prior thread accumulation came from trips to Panama.

McCalls 6706: Red and Khaki Pleated Skirt

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I fell in love with this full skirt striped silhouette a few years ago when it was popping up on style blogs and in stores. I even remember emailing Mood last year to see if they had a red and white stripe version.  Naturally, I took three years to find the right fabric and ID the perfect pattern.

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Fabric is from Fabric Mart. It’s a double cotton/linen blend from Marc Jacobs. Mood has something similar on their site now (narrower stripes and closer to my inspiration). And, Idle Fancy worked the Mood fabric into a dress.  Liz and Trena both thought it looked like upholstery fabric. It may well be. I think Trena was pretty wary at the thought of me wearing wide horizontal stripes. You know that sound your friend makes when she thinks you’re doing something terrible but wants to be supportive. Heh. That’s the sound she made. Like, ‘Oh. Horizontal stripes…?’

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The pattern is this great McCalls 6706 that actually has a plan for you to piece together the stripes. But, I just cut the non pieced version for my already striped fabric.

My skirt = store awning. I quite love it.

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For this pattern, I sewed down the pleats to release rather than have them open. When open, they added an extra five lbs right at my waist. And, I’m already sewing wider horizontal stripes.  Closed, they are more slimming (I mean as slimming as wide stripes on someone with with hips can be). And, while more slimming, it eats away at the wearing ease.

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I finished the hem with rayon tape (from my last Garment District trip) and my blind hemmer (invisible thread).

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I won’t call this a slam dunk. The waist is a little snug and the horizontal lines at the waist aren’t totally level. But, I’m happy to realize one inspired piece. Also, I know the stripes add width, but I LOVE stripes. And plaid. And polka dots.

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Gah. That part in my hair is super crooked! I like this skirt with my Vogue 1099  jacket from a few years ago. If you recall, I lamented I didn’t really know what to wear this with. I think it works really well with this skirt. Maybe the high waist?

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Jordan and I are still learning to work together to take blog photos.  I think there’s literally one photo of me smiling. And, he thought this below was hilarious. I was making sure my tee shirt wasn’t bunching up under my skirt.

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After wearing this skirt all day, I’m making a few changes. I’m going to lower the waist band. It sits so high that when I’m sitting down, the waist is under my bewbs. And, when I do lower the waist band, I’m going to try and level the center front a smidge more so the line is as perfectly balanced as it can be :)


And, thanks to all the good styling advice on my seersucker dress. I bought a skinny patent navy belt from Nordstrom to break up the swath of fabric and define my waist. And, rather than lower the neckline (I just would never do it)  I added a scarf (a tip I saw online for high necklines and busty women). I think it’s much better! I got several compliments on my outfit at work the second time I wore it (which are several more than I got the first time). Yay! You guys are the best.

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Finally, still no home computer and no posting from work. Editing pictures is a PITA on J.’s eight year old laptop. This is such a first world problem… My plan is a new computer come October. Yay!

Should I or Shouldn’t I? Europe Questions.

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I made up this dress for our upcoming honeymoon as a cycling dress. This is my ‘I’m going to wear it anyway’  test run. The fabric isn’t as beefy as I would like it to be. And, my other two versions from a sturdier ‘dry flex’ will fare better I think. Please ignore the Star Trek vibe. I think it’s the colors in addition to the design (which is Burdastyle 7-2014-113).

Anywho, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to cover stitch the seams. Partly for a sportier look. And, also because these serged seams are just not laying flat! I’ve never really done the ‘reverse’ / decorative three needle top stitch to show on  the outside before. The two dresses I’m working on now (which are the same) are done entirely on the sewing machine instead of the serger.

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Here are my questions:

1. Would it be too sporty looking to add the coverstitching? There are a lot of seams here. I mean, people don’t really wear bike gear in the Netherlands. But, I want something wicking, easy to wash and light to pack. Plus, we bike for one week and travel another week. So, I would like to also wear these as ‘regular’ dresses too.

2. Umm, how do I do it? Do I need wooly nylon? I think I do. What I see on my RTW jacket with this look seems thicker than thread. Do I put it in the loopers? Or in the three needles? Should I have had the seams on the outside and then done the coverstitching? Is that the way people claim their sports gear is ‘seamless’ or ‘irritation free’?

3. Should I pack rain gear? I ask because Jordan doesn’t have any and I’m not sure my rain pants from last time still fit me. All I can figure out is that weather is unpredictable in Europe.  I’m running out of weekends to sew…

4. Is saying ‘Europe Questions’ like saying ‘Questions about Africa?” If so… whoops. Please tell me though so I know for the future.

Thanks…

The Right Measure

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I no longer hate my blue and pink polka dot tunic. Why? Well, I finally broke down and got measured for new bras this weekend.
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And, my new size has made a world of difference.  I don’t think I look AS pregnant. The FBA I made fits much better now. And, with this new size there is more space between my stomach and my bust.
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I also added more shirring to try and balance out my uneven shirring. It’s still not perfect, but better (at least I think so!)

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This photo is meant to show you the shirring. Not my bust. But, as I’m between home computers and posting from a tablet, I can’t crop!! So, please forgive the bust eyeful and focus on the underbust.

Never underestimate the power of a good bra and the magic closet.

Friday Laughs: A RTW #Fail

I was recently quite taken with a whimsical Popsicle print in a dress from the Atlantic Pacific blog. I mean, I love the red, white and blue color combo and these are my favorite popsicles.

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From her July 4 post

The similar dress she pointed to was a scant 34 dollars. Yes, it’s poly. But, I super love the print. So I ordered a size large and figured I could take it in if needed.

Taking in not needed.

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Funny, right? That’s like a six inch gap. The bodice zipper is resting on the apex of my girly bits. I’m still not pregnant (nor trying to be). But, between the desperate need more length in the bodice and the stiff stiff crinoline at the bottom, it looks like a hoop skirt gone awry. I now see the teeny model wearing it looks a little pregnant too.

My mom always warned me about ordering clothes from catalogs (yeah, catalogs. I used to order from J.Crew ON THE PHONE  in college when I had the scratch. That was exactly twice.)

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This dress could not fit worse. I can’t even tell if the print is off grain. Again, this is a Large! I tried to get a 24 year old size 0 friend to take it and she ‘politely’ declined. Heh.  Maybe this is a sign to dress my age?

I think I will be turning this into a skirt….