Weekend Summary

Since Friday, I’ve been dogsitting for my friend Catalina. Her dog, Frida Khalo, and I have been hanging out together in the sewing / TV room bawling our eyes out over Surprise Homecoming and  Say Yes to the Dress while discussing the debt ceiling crisis. If you’re wondering, yes. I would absolutely love a dog. But, I only want a toy breed and couldn’t  bring myself to purchase one when so many animals need homes. The small ones at the ASPCA, etc are the first to go and just about impossible to get if you don’t know someone on the inside. So, I’m satisfying myself by dogsitting. Kind of like being a grandparent and spoiling the heck out of the kid and turning them back over to the parents hopped up on candy and Frappes.

While Frida and I were spending quality time together, Liz came by to take her first stab at machine sewing a dress. You see, she used to hand sew garments when she did historical re-enactments at Ft. McHenry (home of the Star Spangled Banner (the US National Anthem) and right here in Baltimore). She’s liked my sewn garments but not enough to try sewing herself.  It was the Burda 6/2010 #123  knit sack dress that sent her over the edge. Can you stand a third version of it in one week? Clearly, I need to enter this in to the one pattern, three looks contest.

We picked out the material last week at G Street in Rockville. Can you imagine they had a Groupon? Woot! Woot! Her main concern with sewing is that she’s too much of a perfectionist. She thought it would drive her bananas if it wasn’t absolutely perfect and would get frustrated. You know what takes the frustration away? Sweet Tea Vodka while you’re sewing.

Mom. Don’t freak out about Frida on the sofa. I gave her a bath, brushed her and vacuum daily while she’s here. 

She has more material to make a second version. But, not bad for your first dress, right? We even matched motifs on the side.

I had her sew with a knit because the beginner fear of sewing with a knit boggles my mind. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you’re not told something is hard, then you won’t think it’s hard. I believe in Fearless Sewing. Then again, I only made French seams this year and still haven’t done a rolled hem.

Oh, also sews on a Kenmore 1040. She had a Wal Mart Special that jammed every third stitch. This absolutely led to her irritation with sewing. So, when I was in Tampa buying my Singer 301, I found the Kennie and brought it home for her.

Oh. She was also blown away that I took 50+ photos for one blog post.  And, got a little tired of it near the end :D I just would not let her get away.

I feel like an idiot. Stop taking pictures.

I have no more poses. Stop.

Seriously. Isn’t that enough?

C’mon!

Four Skirts in Four Days Part III: BWOF 9/2009 #121

You know, the last time I tried the skirt-a-day project was a few Memorial Day Weekends ago. That netted me three Patrones skirts I still wear (Chloe, Vero Moda, Roberto Musso). My goal is to have the 40+ skirts of Trena. Ok. Fine. I’ll settle for 10 wearable skirts for each season :)

Is it cheating that I decided to make two skirts from the same pattern during my mini-break? This #121 gather skirt from the September 2009 Burda World of Fashion magazine is just perfect for summer. I chose skirts for my break because they are good for biking to work. I can wear an athletic top with them and switch to a work blouse when I get in the office. Plus, it made me bite the bullet and start incoporating seperates into my wardrobe.

This fabric is from PR Weekend Los Angeles back in 2008 (the first version is from PR Weekend 2010 in Philly). Man. I realize I have problem fabric shopping. I never want to buy less than four yards. Then, I don’t want to just cut some of it for something like a skirt. And, I have no ability / memory to estimate the amount of fabric needed for any project. Just ask Robin. We went fabric shopping last week and I may have driven her bananas.

I am happy to report that I’ve sewn all but one of the fabrics from LA (the silk all the way to the right is uncut). Sad to say, I ruined the rainbow striped knit the first time I cut it. Booo! I *adored* that fabric. I mean, really. I’m still looking for something similar.

Can you imagine that people asked me if I actually embroidered and sewed on all the sequins? I couldn’t help but laugh. And, I was asked THREE TIMES! This skirt material is a super lightweight cotton with bronze embroidery and sequins on the border. It’s really more of a shirt / tunic weight. Which of course I didn’t consider until construction. To beef it up and make it opaque, I used the non embroidered top half as skirt lining.

The skirt is full without adding width. I shortened the skirt pattern by two inches and planned to hem the 4 cm length at the bottom. Then, I realized the skirt edge was on the selvedge. So, I’m leaving well enough alone and just hemmed the lining.

Construction was less than two hours. I was so thrilled with the ease and overall cuteness of this project. It’s interesting to see the difference between the two skirts based solely on material.

One last skirt from my mini-break to go!


Some of you have asked about my shoes lately. I am honest when I say it’s because of blog comments that I’ve been trying to buy better shoes. You guys are pretty quick to point out when my shoes don’t go with my outfits. I HATE shoe shopping. Well, I actually hate shopping. I’d rather chew glass.

The red pair of Borns are from the beginning of the season. I don’t know that they are still available. And, I overpaid for them so I’m loathe to post their price here.

The shoes in this post are from Aerosoles. I have the Gingeroot pair in grey and also in a pinkish leather. They are currently $30 on sale.

The strappy pair from the plaid silk jersey dress last week are South Role are also Aerosoles and are on sale for $30. I have them in green and tan. I would suggest going up half a size in these.

I like Aerosoles because I know my size, they are comfortable, they come in wide options, I can usually find a coupon for free shipping and there is a store near my office so they are easy / free return if I don’t like them. Hope that helps!

Tracy Reese for Sally Hansen


I’m pretty fascinated by the sponsorships / merchandising deals that designers take on. A friend who is a publicist in New York says fashion shows are incredibly expensive and can only be done with sponsorships. So, when you see that Clairol is doing hair and Loreal is doing makeup, you know who paid to put on the show.  Another extension of that is nail polish.

While I haven’t been taking photos of swatches and posting them as much (turns out my nails hate acetone. Am growing them out again), I’m still entrenched in my nail polish addiction. While most of us love the Tracy Reese for Vogue patterns, not everyone in the sewing community knows that she has also partnered with Sally Hansen. This drugstore line collaborated with Tracy Reese and Prabal Grung for the Spring / Summer 2011 collection.

You’ll notice in the store that the collection is not specifically marked ‘designer’ or ‘Tracy Reese’. There doesn’t seem to be the big ‘launch’ such as Issac Mizrahi at Target or Hello Kitty at MAC.

The designers supply Sally Hansen with new colors, catchy names and plenty of publicity during their New York fashion week shows. In exchange, Sally Hansen pays the designers a sponsorship fee and provides a team of nail technicians who give models carefully orchestrated manicures and pedicures

Wall Street Journal

Last week they were buy one get one free (BOGO) at Rite Aid drugstores. Below, I’ve paired the colors to reflect the inspiration from her Spring and Pre-Fall 2011 collections (runway photos are from Style.com). This is actually the tenth year that Tracy Reese has collaborated with Sally Hansen.

Malt is a good, old fashioned, neutral

You didn’t expect me to say ‘no’ to a pastel pink, did you? First Kiss.


I love pastels and lavenders on my nails and couldn’t resist Delphinium


My favorite by far is Barracuda. I have so many pastel blues it’s *almost* shameful


Last up is Summer Plum. It seems pretty deep and vampy for a ‘summer’ color. But, I loved the rich tones.

As I noted, I left two shades out a gray and coral. I liked the gray I saw. But, I have several grays that were close enough. And, as I have mentioned before, I personally hate coral.

There is only one display per store with two colors of each item. None of the colors are exactly unique. So you wouldn’t need to go out of your way unless you wanted to say you had the Tracy Reese collection. I will say though that the Complete Salon Manicure formulation is the longest wearing polish I have. But, again, I change mine every two to three days :)

So, there you have it. How fashion is influencing your nail polish choices!

Fun, Fun, Fun!

Trena came up to Baltimore Friday night to be my date for an Artscape party. Artscape is the largest outdoor arts festival on the east coast and is hosted right here in Baltimore.

That night, I was invited to a rooftop party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Artscape. There was a live Fantasia concert on the ground. There were SO MANY PEOPLE. They were expecting 350,000 people over the weekend.

Cocktails and food were on the roof and fireworks at a reasonable hour (I just can’t stay up late).

It was a GREAT time.


Here’s a photo of us with some of my work friends.

More importantly, Trena and I were both in the same Burda 06-2010 #123 dresses of our own making in totally differnt prints.

She went with an elegant silk jersey, and I made up this yellow and gray polyester from Philadelphia’s Jomar.

According to her, the fan fabric is just $3 a yard. So, the dress was under $10 and I have a bunch leftover.

As Trena mentions, the swayback in this is pretty significant. I took out two inches and could have taken out another 1.0 to 1.5.

This was my test run of the plaid sack dress. This first version is two inches shorter. Which is fine just as long as I don’t try to blouson it like I did the silk version.


That’s me looking for the rest of the skirt

I think this length is also a little ‘stumpier’ on me vs the plaid dress. But, the right length for a summer cocktail party with fancy people.

Overall, it was a good night. I had fun with my bestie and got to show off my town.

Pattern Review: Burda 6/2010 #123: Silk Jersey Sack Dress

Remember my obsession with this BCBG huge red, white and blue plaid print?

Well, I found a gorgeous plaid silk jersey in two colorways at A Fabric Place / Michael’s Fabric.  I knew as soon as I saw it I was powerless to resist.

Even on sale, I could only spring for two yards of each cut. This was my first time sewing with silk jersey. My serger didn’t like it. My sewing machine didn’t really like it. I wish I could sew a stretch stitch using a straight stitch foot and plate. That, would be ideal.

The pattern is Burda Magazine 6-2010-123. It’s such a wonderfully fast sew! I made it in two nights after work. So, let’s say four hours (at most). I am pretty proud of the plaid matching done on this dress. I am usually dead nervous about using plaids. I *adore* plaids. Seriously. Love everything about them. But, the matching = hives. I have several plaids for blouses that I’ve avoided making up because I start sweating at the thought of matching.

I chose this dress because it had few seams and would not be a fabric hog.

I did add one to center back to make my usual swayback adjustment.

The pattern calls for bias strips to finish the neckline. I could not be bothered. I just turned under and used my twin needles

Based on a previous version I made (Haven’t posted yet. Wearing to a party tomrrow night) I added two inches in length to make this office appropriate.

All the shaping from this dress comes from the belt. The dress is essentially a sack.

I ADORE this dress. It’s fun, sexy, and perfect for summer. But, I must warn you. I do not have the same firmness I once did and have to wear a slip with this dress. If not, it looks like squirrels are doing battle behind me when I walk.

The only problem with the plaid (and this is just apparent in photos) is that your eye has something to to ‘level’ on. So, with the blousooning, the dress can look a wee off kilter.

Overall, I’m happy. I did have several people at work say I should have worn this version for the Friday night party. But, I didn’t want to get my new silk jersey dress all yucky quite yet.

Double, Single or None?

Helloooo! I had a great weekend! Hopefully next week I can tell you a bit more about it with photos. I also started sewing a quick knit dress for a party this Friday. Trena is going to be my fabulous (and similarly dressed) date. I also FINALLY bought a Wii after a year of wanting one. Not for the exercise. I just wanted to stream Netflix into the basement when sewing.  I haven’t even bothered opening up the game that came with it, LOL. BTW, the Triangle Fire special in streaming now.

But, that’s not why I’m writing. I finished this Burda Magazine 6/2009 #104 skirt above. It’s a muted pink and cream seersucker. It’s the fourth of my Four Skirts in Four Days (I havent’ posted #3 yet). I’m not wearing it yet because I don’t have a coordinating top. I’m working on that though.

I originally envisioned this as a suit with a matching jacket from the Spring / Summer 2008 Burda Easy Fashion. But, I’m not sure what my button situation would be. Because it’s got two rows of buttons, does that limit my jacket choice?

I also like this jacket from 9/2009 Burda last year that Kristy made me absolutely crazy for. But, I’m not sure it can be worn with a two row button skirt. Especially if the buttons aren’t symetrical / aligned. And, I don’t know that this is a jacket that looks good un-buttoned.

I also wonder if this #113 jacket from the May 2011 Burda is a good compromise. I like that it’s a bit nautical too. Similar buttons, but without having to worry about button alignment when buttoned.

So, Single, Double, or no buttons on a matching jacket? I’m open to thoughts on this one, please.

Four Skirts in Four Days Part II: Burda 9-2009 #121

Gathers, box pleats and full skirts make me happy :) They are slim through my waist and full around my lower half. It’s a little retro without being comically retro. Plus, they are awesome for border prints.

I purchased this material at PR Weekend Philly. Right in the middle of my fabric fast. I rarely post fabric purchases and their prices.

But, I’m happy to report that this was just $3 a yard! Oy. This is the only cut from last year’s haul that I’ve sewn. See why I was on a fabric fast in 2010?

The fabric is made in Japan. The polka dot cotton is appliqued onto the heavy black cotton so there is no need for lining. I do want to make a black vest out of the non-border portion.


I marked the pleats in the front with marking paper, pinned them in to place and sewed them in.

I made my full seat adjustment so that my skirt didn’t ride up in the back.

I also made a swayback adjustment. And, I have finally learned that I just have to make the waist supertight for me to like it. The skirt sits where it is supposed to do and doesn’t dip in the front because it’s not snug.

I’m totally happy with this skirt! I was worried about it being juvnenille. But, I’ve decided it’s youthful :)

Seersucker Social Vest Finds A New Home

If you recall, I made the 2-2008 #116 Burda ruffle vest for the DC Seersucker Social and it was saggy in the bust and big in the waist. I over did my FBA by a good 1.5 inches.  I said I needed to find someone five inches shorter with huge tatas. Well, I did.

Meet our high school intern M.! Let me apologize now for camera phone pictures. She wore the vest to work today and it was all I had. On principle, I abhor camera phone photos for viewing any place else other than a phone. But, I digress.

I brought the vest in a few weeks ago with her in mind. She says we’re the same bust size. Considering I was able to fit a tee shirt into the vest to fill it out, I think it’s fair to say she needs to be refit for underpinnings.

How adorable is she?

I’ll be honest, this is also the first time I’ve seen her in anything that fits her upper body and she wasn’t spilling out of. And, she told me it’s the first time she’s had a shirt button in years.

I normally hate giving sewn garments to people I know. I always worry they won’t appreciate them. Or get annoyed if I don’t see them wearing it. But, here is a teenager that’s already wearing it and understands that it fits her differently than RTW. She’s been telling people it’s a ‘designer vest’. And, she doesn’t care about those wonky wonky pockets. I’m so happy it went to a good home!

Four Skirts in Four Days Part I: BWOF 4/2009 #101

Hey! How was your Fourth? Mine? I sewed like a Little Sweat Shop of Skirts. Four Skirts in Four Days my friends.

After this made Best Patterns of 2009, I knew I wanted to try this skirt out. I originally wanted to make it up in denim with loads of gold top stitching. But, denim doesn’t really work in my office. So, I decided to eek it out of the last bits of my 4/2008 safari jacket from last year. Together, they make a faux suit. I can’t say that muddy tan from head-to-toe is really my color. I am still wearing the outfit below today. I was likened to a WWII era movie star. I guess it’s the military look?

The material is a super tough denim / linen blend. It works great for work because I have nothing in the khaki neutral range. Plus, it goes well with my polka dot blouse from the 1/2008 BWOF.

I was freaked out about sizing after my first completed skirt (review to come), so I sewed this one with 1/4 inch seam allowance. Totally not needed. I ended up with almost four extra inches at the side seam! Really. I should have just made a muslin.

The skirt is unlined. The seams are all serged and top stitched. Hopefully, enough that they will not unravel.

I added a center back seam so I could make my full seat / swayback adjusment (zipper is on the side seam). Umm, I should have straightened my skirt for the photo, eh? Whoops.  For me, It’s more important so that my skirt hangs the same length front to back than to not have a center back seam. Despite adding an inch, I could still do a touch more.

Here’s the bad thing (and it’s not that my side seam is skewed. I don’t know that I care about that). It’s that I read on PR how the front band directions were confusing. So, I blindly followed someone’s tutorial. Said tutorial was not great. Or, I’m not smart. Either way, I’m too embarassed to show the hot mess that is the inside of this skirt. But, if it lasts more than three washes, I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it.

I’ve cut a second version in denim that I hope to get to this summer. And, I’m looking for a better tutorial :)