Bodice Muslins and Black Tie Weddings

I used to read about women who had a range of clothes in their closet for the different weights they were at. I’d never quite understood that because my weight was fairly consistent. I mean, I would go up in size, but didn’t yo-yo. Right now, I am definitely in a place where 50 percent of my wardrobe doesn’t fit me. I don’t love it. But, I don’t hate myself for it either.

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That said, this left me with a bit of dilemma this sewing weekend. I started on a 2007 Burda pattern that I’m making up for a ‘picnic wedding’ in upstate New York at the end of the month. Now, the old me sewed a 38 with a 1/2  inch FBA. Umm, no.

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The current me, after  FOUR muslins, seems to need a 40 with a 1.25 inch FBA. Heavens.

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Above is the 40 with a .75 inch fba (and the darts lowered and angled differently). I went ahead and added another .5  inch to my pattern because of pulling side seam *only* at the bust and some drag lines at the waist pointing to my bust apex. I didn’t muslin that one. So, let’s hope I don’t have saggy bodice when I’m done!

I’d rather have a dress that fits right ‘now’ than feel uncomfortable in something that’s just too snug and hopeful it will fit later.

So, which body do you sew for? The one you have now? Or the one you kind of want to have back?

Other weekend notes. Black Tie wedding was this weekend. This was the second of two black tie events that prompted J. to just buy a tuxedo instead of renting one twice. I’m still wearing a RTW dress. After these last two formal outings. I don’t know that I’m going to ‘bother’ sewing a formal dress again. I’ve made three formal dresses myself. And, the only home sewn formal dress I’ve come close to getting the same number of compliments as I do in RTW is this silver one. And, I put in a TON OF TIME for a dress that I only wore once.

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I hope to wear my two formals at least two more times. But, for the level of effort vs amount of wear, I’m going to have to go with the under $200 formal on sale rather then making one.  And, I’ll be honest, my RTW formalwear has details and fabric that I can’t do nor afford. And, because I CAN sew, it’s easy for me to make simple alterations to have a custom look. Maybe this will change later on in life. But, for now, it’s not worth it to me to sew these kinds of clothes anymore. What about you? Do you always sew your formals or do buy them?

 

Never Say Never. Dress Into a Skirt.

I’ve always said that I ‘sew’.  I don’t ‘refashion’.  When I went to Florida to visit my dad, one goal to was organize my mom’s personal items. My dad was just. not. ready.  But, he was good about me taking any mementos I wanted. So, I went ahead and selected a few items from her closet that I wanted to preserve in some way. It was remarkable to go through her things because an unbelievable amount were either items I bought for her when I worked retail, clothes I made specifically for her, altered for her or clothes for myself that she got when they no longer fit me. She was always happy and excited for any of them. So, there were a great number of memories in her  closet.

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Inow have this fairly sizable stack of clothing that belongs to her that I don’t want to just give away (won’t fit me because she was teeny). But, I also don’t want to be a hoarder! That leaves me with a bit of refashioning to do. Never, say never. Refashioning these items will allow me to keep the memories of the garment, but still get use of them.

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This dress I made six years ago in 2008 (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO??)  I loved this dress!! But, it was before I knew to make a FBA. And, I couldn’t wear it with my strapless bra which made me my ‘real’ size vs smushing me in. So, I gave it to my mom who wore it to church with a little jacket. I always loved this fabric from my trip to Ghana and worked *really* hard on the dress: silk organza underlining, motif matching, pieced waistband, hand picked zipper — the works!

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So, I’ve turned it into a skirt! I removed the bodice, redistributed the pleats and added a narrow waistband. I can’t tell you how much I love the Perfect Waist Maker by  Dritz (below). Perfect for making interfaced straight waistbands. I need to buy it by the roll.

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Now, the fabric is back in my life, I get to remember my mom, and I have a new skirt.

I sewed like I was single over Mother’s Day weekend. I sent J. to his parent’s house and sewed, sewed, sewed with Linus at my side. Which means, I have three (!!) completed projects — all previewed on my Instagram and to be worn on my Memorial Day vacay to Minneapolis. Love the colors of this knit dress!

Belated Answer to Wedding Dress Question

I see now it’s been nearly a month since I last posted. I’ve not been sewing. I’ve worked a little on Jordan’s jacket and gotten some good feedback from Robin on it too. I’m going to see my Dad and help him arrange some things the first weekend of May and have spent an inordinate amount of time on the Tampa Bay craigslist looking for used Berninas. The prices are easily hundreds less than they are in the Baltimore area. Feel free to give me your thoughts on the old Bernina 830, 930 and 1130 if you have or had one of those machines. There’s a 1130 in Brooksville (where my dad is) that I’m partial to (automatic buttonholes). But, I won’t be there for another month.

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We had our 180 person wedding reception a couple weeks ago and I did not wear my wedding dress. I wanted to. But, umm, well. It just didn’t fit. Here’s the thing, pre-wedding I was traveling to China, stressed out and purposefully dieting to lose a few creeper pounds. And the end of last year and the beginning of this, I was engaged in a grief spiral that was best soothed with wine, french fries and Otterbein cookies. I tried on the wedding dress and Jordan said, ‘You’re not going to be happy with this this.’ And he was right. I wasn’t.

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So, I wore the cream dress from the rehearsal dinner that I had made in China.

It’s a beautiful guipure lace and a copy of a Valentino dress. That weekend of trying on dresses and finding that most didn’t fit was a good wake up call for me. I’ve cut out weeknight wine, processed food, refined sugar, treats, snacks etc. I’ve also started exercising again (I’d gotten off track due to a sprained ankle, pulled back muscle, a bout with the flu, two infections — honestly, my body kind of shut down mid December and has only started to cooperate the last two weeks). I’m pretty good now. It was just a bad few months. The party was a lovely start to this next phase.

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My dad  (above left) came in to town. He was kind of the life of the party. He’s talking about getting on to Facebook. Which means I will likely need to get off.

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My inlaws who threw the party (Ugh. I look a little like a stuffed sausage)

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This dress has a side zipper. I asked for that so the lace motif in the back was maintained. But, it is a beyotch to get in an out of.

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And you all know my bestie Trena. Plus Lisette, Robin and two other ‘internet sewing friends’ who don’t have blogs (Shirley and Elizabeth — who is also a neighbor!) were able to come. That’s the nice thing about having ‘just’ a reception. We were able to invite WAY more people than say to ‘just’ a wedding.

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All in all a wonderful wonderful time. We had friends and family from all over (New York, Chicago, DC) come in to town. That’s my oldest brother and my neice with me above.  It was a little overwhelming and a whirlwind. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Oh! In honor of going old school and ordering an actual wedding album last week, I made a gif (below). I cannot express to you how proud I am of accomplishing this. The gif I mean.

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Even though I ‘own’ all my photos I still got a photographer’s album.  One of my fondest memories as a kid was going through my parent’s wedding album and asking them questions about people and what was going on. Plus, this way I can force everyone who comes over to look at my photos.

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We’re visiting Jordan’s brother in NY soon. I need fabric for a black tie dress event at the end of the April, tuxedo vest fabric for Jordan for the same event (buying a tux was expensive enough) and a second black tie dress for middle of May. Pray for sewing inspiration and good fabric finds. I am terrible fabric shopping under time constraints. Or, when people are watching / waiting on me. Never mind two dudes in the garment district.

OK. Back to the 30 thank you cards I still owe!

2013: The Year In Which I Sewed the Least

For the first time in seven years of blogging, I have no year end recap. I haven’t sewn this little since I was in college. This year was an emotional roller coaster. From the Ravens winning the Superbowl, taking a new job, getting engaged then married within seven weeks to losing my mom within three months of her diagnosis and the Ravens not even making the playoffs for the first time in like five years.  I’m feeling kind of… battered to be honest.

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Over the weekend my friend Liz came over and we started folding fabric. And folded. And folded. While what is on the shelves represents about three bins of fabric, you can see I have many more to go (and two aren’t even pictured)! I’m going to need to buy a second shelf shelf about three feet wide from Costco/ Sam’s Club. And convince Jordan that folding is fun.

Oh, I was in NY for work yesterday and bought a some necktie material at Mood. Yes, I’m going to make neckties again :-)  But, I managed to leave $75 worth of fabric on the train!! After several frantic calls  (starting at 12:30 a.m.) to Amtrak’s lost and found in DC, Baltimore and New York, my bag turned up! Trena’s going to swing by Union Station in Washington and get it for me. I’m considering this my Christmas miracle.

Anywhoo. My dad is here visiting for the holidays and we’re off to the movies then drinks with friends and dinner with more friends. I can’t believe how much my life has changed from this time last year. And, who knows that 2014 has to offer? I’m hoping many more weekends at home with my sewing machine.

Happy New Year my friends.

“I Am At Peace”

There are many things I want to tell you about my mom. About how she bought me my first sewing machine. How she avidly read my blog and encouraged my writing. How I called her at least once a day. How she remembered information about my friends and would ask about them individually.  There’s the way she would call me from Korea in the middle of the night to ask me how to double space her documents in Word. Or, wake me up on church morning to do her makeup or curl her hair. There’s also that point in my life when she started seeking my advice — while continuing to give hers.

But, I am so very afraid of not being able to fully capture how remarkable she is and how very much I will miss her that I hesitate to say more than, she was my best friend.

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Thanksgiving, 2011

We lost her this week and my heart is literally broken. I’ve posted her obituary here. My mom, ever the planner, wrote the bulk of it herself.

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April 2011

This time last year, we were talking about her visiting this Christmas to go to the seasonal decorations at the White House. My mom always said, “Tomorrow isn’t promised to you.” She was right.

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New South Wales, Australia

When  she told me her diagnosis, I broke down in hysterical tears and told her how much I loved her. She told me she accepted what would come next and  said, “I am at peace.”

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My friends, time is a precious gift. I am so thankful I could say good bye.

The Last Wedding Post (I promise)

We got our wedding professional proofs yesterday. And, I am so thrilled I can’t sit still. I hope you can stand one last wedding related post.  And, if you can’t, I don’t blame you. I have been there. Bored off my rocker. I did poll two sewing/ internet friends and they said it was acceptable for me to do one last wedding post.

Here’s the slideshow the photographer made. And, below, one I’m working on for our post-wedding party next month. I needed to do a separate slideshow with more family photos included. It is obviously not as good as our photographer’s. Because, she’s amazing. If you need a photographer in the Tampa Bay area, I can’t recommend her enough.

I’ve been asked how we pulled off a wedding in six weeks. The answer is internet shopping and friends. We could not have done it without our friends and family.  A very talented photographer friend of mine told me years ago that expensive weddings are great to photograph because they have lots of details and are pretty. So, I was determined to (not spend a ton of money) make sure there were plenty of details to photograph.

I also got over the idea of having a timeless wedding per se. It doesn’t exist. Your wedding is of the moment because it’s what is happening to you at that moment and captured on memory card forever. I fully expect these to look dated in a few years. I chuckle now when I look at my parent’s album from the 70s or photos from the 80s. There are totally trends in wedding photography.

Finally, when you have 20 people, you can kind of do whatever you want. We used a pop-up wedding company that set up the wedding site. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner. Easy peasy and really really perfect. I was low stress and high happiness.

I just wanted to share some quick details from the wedding that made it really special.

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It’s Veteran’s Day here in the US so I’ll start with a photo of my mom.  I am wearing the pearl necklace she gave me for my 30th birthday. The headband is an eBay find. My earrings match my ring and were a gift from our officiant and my dear dear friend. My ring is a vintage piece that he picked out with the help of my friend Liz. I had nothing to do with it other than saying, ‘I don’t want a diamond’.

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These shoes were the devil.  Pretty, right? Evil. I wore them about five minutes (no, seriously. Five minutes) before I switched to a more comfortable pair. Who knew flats could make your feet burn like fire? Thank you Zappos for taking them back!

We chose to have an interfaith wedding since neither of us are converting and our religions are mutually important to both of us. My father walked me down the aisle instead of both my parents. We recited both Christian vows and Jewish vows and had readings from both the new and old testament. There were prayers in English and Hebrew. And, our Jewish officiant, who is an internet ordained minister, spoke about the role of marriage and the church. We also had a chuppa, Jordan wore a talit, broke glass, we signed a ketubbah (designed by an artist friend of Jordan’s) and the men in his family wore kippahs. I love that our service reflected both our religions and cultures. I’m Caribbean and he’s a nice German Jewish boy :-)

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Jordan wore his father’s prayer shawl. We talked about using his late grandfather’s, but it was already framed. And I got him the Baltimore Raven’s yarmulke as a gift. The buttonaires are from Etsy.

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As are these menus and program fans. Both are from Etsy.

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The fans were a total wash. It wasn’t warm, it was super breezy. No one needed a program. But, they look really good in photos.

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Kind of the same for our invitations. By the time I mailed these, everyone coming already knew about the wedding. But, I wanted an invitation for framing. And, again, they look good in photos. You’d be horrified to know how much 10 nice invitations cost. I can’t fathom sending 100 of these!

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We hired a steel drummer who played Caribbean music for the ceremony as a nod to my West Indian roots. TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Before we walked down the aisle, my dad was singing to me and we were dancing to the calypso. It was g-r-e-a-t.

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My flowers were just ok. I wanted to upgrade from the included package, but couldn’t stomach $210 for flowers. Isn’t that bananas?? I added pins to personalize them.

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The US flag for my parents who are immigrants. The Baltimore city flag because that’s where we met. And, my sorority pin since none of my sorors could be there that day.

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Here are the plaques Liz made in action.

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And, here is the ‘Besheret’ banner she made too. Besheret is a running joke between he and I. It’s the name of the blessings column in the Baltimore Jewish Times. It was my faux dream to get featured in Besheret when I worked for a Jewish organization. Don’t think I won’t still submit it now!

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Our cake topper is really fun. Also from Etsy. Liz sent me the link while in China and I just plugged in the information to customize. She even added the headband!  The cake was a gift from my friend Julia. I was so exhausted by the fast planning that I emailed her from China. I was hysterical. I just wanted a cake and everything was crazy expensive (like $200+ for a GROCERY STORE CAKE) and they were asking me questions that I just didn’t care about (colors, flavor, fondant, etc.) She swooped in, ordered the cake and had it ready for us day of. Truly, a lifesaver.

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This figurines were the cake topper for Jordan’s German great-grandparent’s wedding. His grandmother brought it down from Maryland for us. Sadly, we won’t be eating cake for our one-year anniversary. We managed to leave it all in the freezer of the hotel :-( Sigh.

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I also brought these vintage cameras to Florida from home. You know what? I bought these in Australia with my mom! Heh. Again, more props to work with.

I also hired someone to do my makeup in Florida. Obviously, since I have never looked so good in my life, it was worth it. I found her through wedding vendor reviews. And, Google found us our amazing photographer.

So, that’s it. I promise. Last wedding post :-)

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Pancreatic Cancer is one of the most challenging diseases physicians face today because it responds poorly to treatment and quickly spreads to surrounding organs. This is why November is so important: to raise awareness around early detection and prevention as well as highlight current research to help find a cure for pancreatic cancer. from here

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Prime Rib

Saturday night I went to dinner at Baltimore’s Prime Rib. We were celebrating our one-year dativersary.  I actually made a dress to wear for this date. But, it’s kind of ‘fallish’ (maple leaves/dark purple) and I never get to wear this dress I had made in China. I’ll have to post my new dress later this week.

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I had some sea bass that was so delicious I just about licked my plate. I wanted to take the little potato skins, curl up into a ball and make one a little hammock for me.

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And, somehow, between the wine and before dessert, this happened. Better yet, the band was playing one of my favorite sounds, What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong!

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Somehow, I’ve beat the stats as a late 30s, college-educated black woman (otherwise known as the group “least likely to marry”) and have found  the love of my life. I don’t know how this happened but I’m thankful :)

We told our parents that night and tried to text and call close friends the next morning. I did a terrible job of that.  Umm, also, my *hand* hurts from stretching out my fingers and staring at my ring. I had to take ibuprofen and use a heat pad last night.

Ohhh!! My secret/private Pinterest board is about to be SUPER public!!

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And, in true modern social media fashion, we are Facebook official. Which, of course, makes it totally real.

Black Eyelet in Action

So, I didn’t post photos of myself in the black eyelet dress before because, well. I cannot find my tripod. For real. I have no idea where it is. I also could not tell you the last time I’ve used it since I’ve been low sewing and employing the photography skills of my friend and BF. So, when I was ready to do a photo shoot last week, it was nowhere to be found. At anyrate,  I wore the dress this previous weekend while back in Brooklyn and my cousin took a few shots on my point and shoot.

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I apologize for my wrinkles. This was after sitting for three hours. I have to say, I REALLY like this dress. It’s flattering and sophisticated. It hit just the right notes and I’ll be able to wear it for ages to come.

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One of my sleeves is a little off grain. They fall a bit differently. The eyelet is a nice way to elevate the dress too.

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I have this Danielle Nicole bag in two colors. I love it. Vegan and less than $100 dollars. Below, I borrowed my aunt’s pearls which set off nicely against the black.

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In other news, I got to see my cousins again plus some. One flew in from Australia and another from Florida. And, thanks to you, my readers, I got to be all knowledgeable and explain first cousins and first cousins once removed. I also figured out another ‘relative’ that was always around is in fact my third cousin!! In the photo below I’m wearing Burda 5-2009-122 made in Feb. 2012.

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I will also point out that there are about five first cousins  and two first cousins once removed missing here…

A few years ago I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s home. It was her immediate family of mom, dad, brother, a few aunts and uncles and their kids. We all fit at ONE table!! I was wondering where all the cousins were, lol. I mean, doesn’t everyone have 20+ cousins? No? Ok. Just checking.