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.

 photo file_zps479ec38f.jpg

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.

 photo file_zps65d382e7.jpg

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.

 photo file_zps3ab598f2.jpg

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.

 photo file_zps707990d0.jpg


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.

 photo file_zpsfb65dde4.jpg

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.

Coverstitch Makes Six

A few months ago I gave up on my five year old Kenmore sewing machine. The tension was always wonky and I couldn’t reliably get a nice stitch from it. I’ve been sewing on my vintage green 3/4 Kenmore (Kenny) for the last three months or so. In that time, I bought a new (to me) serger, new (to me) blind hemmer and now a brand new coverstitch. Why?

 photo file_zpsdd1ada31.jpg

I realized after conversations with two sewing friends that I have perfectly serviceable and reliable mostly metal sewing machines (this Kenmore 1040, my Singer Featherweight and my pink Morse). Those machines deserve to be sewn on. I realized I wanted to up my sewing game and have my clothes look as Ready-to-Wear as possible. I believe in having one machine that does one thing well. Rather than a machine that does a couple of things ‘fine’. I was ready to spend $$$ on one new machine. But, decided it was better spent filling out my machine arsenal.

 photo file_zps1e0f87a2.jpg

Enter, the Pacesetter, the Brother 2340CV. I despise the twin needle sewing on a machine for hemming. I hate the tunneling. I hate finding two spools of matching thread. I find on elastic, the stitches still pop out. And, I’m just about hardly ever satisfied with how it looks. The coverstitch allows me to do a nice, sturdy, RTW looking hem in minutes.  When my CS came in, I finished the hems of three dresses. I fixed two tops where the stitching had popped. Minutes it took!

So, yes. I am exploding with machines. But, this is the beauty of living by yourself and not really needing a dining room table.  I have the space :)   I now have three vintage sewing machines, a serger, blind hem and now a coverstitch. I thought about the BabyLock coverstitch since I kind of want to marry my BL serger. But, I couldn’t plunk down the $1300 they were asking for an ancillary machine. For less than half that, I got the Brother will all the offered attachments.

 photo file_zpsafbbb2f8.jpg

I decided to make my boyfriend some new boxer shorts from a Jalie pattern so I could play with my serger and the coverstitch.  These sew up so fast! And, are always appreciated.

 photo file_zps9a2e4780.jpg

I remember being in Montreal and the founders of Jalie told me I *needed* a CS.  I barely knew what one did at the time! Previously on these boxers, I had to sew three rows of zig zag at the waistband. With my Pacesetter, I just went around once and have three rows of stitches with a nicely finished inside.  My leg hems are ALMOST perfect. But, of course I didn’t take a photo of that.

 photo file_zps474b7c7b.jpg

For the leg, I removed one needle, changed  the thread colors to grey and stuck with white for the looper (easy peasy).

 photo file_zps17bd6d03.jpg

And, in more awesome news. I think all these industrial binders I bought in China (FOR TWO DOLLARS EACH) three years ago will work just fine with the coverstitch and some putty. I’m going to get hemmers (I hope!!) when I go back to China this September.

 photo file_zpsdfd445c4.jpg

Yes. I’ll be back in Shanghai and Xiamen next month.  Anyone in Shanghai the first two weeks of September? My plan is to save photos of the hemmers on my phone and show them around in the Xiamen garment district.


20130715193139629934_3806

And, on a sad note. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes for granny. That’s her with my mom and uncle as a child back in Carriacou, Grenada. My grandmother passed away on Wednesday night– two weeks after her 90th birthday. I’m so so happy we were able to celebrate her as a family while she was still alive. I’m really sad for my mom, aunts and uncles. Granny was my last living grandparent and the one I knew best. I’m happy to know she and I will always have sewing in common and that part of our family history lives on in me.

photo 1

Officiating Wedding #2

 photo file_zpsa231916f.jpg

So, I totally didn’t make a new dress to officiate my friends’ wedding on Saturday. The temps dropped and I ran out of time. But, that’s ok. I was able to wear this beautiful vintage yellow suit I bought two years ago.

 photo file_zpsb8e8dd6a.jpg

Man. I love, love, love this outfit. Also, it helps embrace my earlier decree about a Motown like vibe for the forseeable future :)

 photo file_zps7988e9a4.jpg

It’s perfect for spring since it’s a heavy polyester dress and jacket combo. Definitely too hot for summer and maybe too bright for winter. But, a low sixties, sunny day in May: perfect.

 photo file_zpsa3c32ce2.jpg

This is my second time officiating and my second time almost crying at the lectern.

These guys were my neighbors when I first moved in my house. They helped me put up my awning every season, fix broken windows, drive me to the repair shop and feed me at Thanksgiving when I couldn’t make it to my parents. When they moved to the suburbs I was worried we’d lose touch. But, we haven’t.

 photo file_zps6271a854.jpg

I was truly honored to be asked to be a part of their ceremony.

Purple Monday

Purple Fridays

Well folks. It’s time to acknowledge what really made it happen for the Baltimore Ravens this season. It was my participation in Purple Fridays. I think it’s clear to all of us, right? I mean, until I made a conscious effort to sew and dress for Purple Fridays, we weren’t making it but two rounds in to the Playoffs. Yet, the year I make THREE different Purple Friday outfits, we win the motherloving Super Bowl!!

I went the ultimate Purple Friday and bought a Raven’s jersey. It is officially the most expensive piece of clothing / the most that I’ve paid for a clothing item in my closet today. And, this isn’t even the ‘expensive’ one with embroidery!

Today is Purple Monday in Baltimore and Tuesday will be the parade and celebration. Sadly, I won’t be there. I cannot believe I  am missing out on all the action and behind the scenes stuff.  I’ve done my bit of the planning before leaving town and one last conference call today.

I’m still in snowy Michigan. Seriously  If it snowed this much in Baltimore the state would shut down for a week! I’ve been wearing my melton wool trench coat and my fur hat all week. I tried to be cute with just earmuffs, but my face was SO COLD. Thank you, Lynn for telling me to bring a hat. Because, I wouldn’t have.

I can’t believe I wan’t going to get / bring winter boots. Thank you Facebook sewing friends for setting me straight! I walked three miles in the snow today!

 

Blessings and Catching Up

Sign outside the VA Hospital in Tampa

A week ago Saturday I flew to my parent’s home outside of Tampa, Florida rather unexpectedly. There was a medical scare with my mom and I was on a plane in less than 24 hours. After a few days in the hospital, some bedside Scrabble and teaching her how my Nook works, I’m happy to report that all is seemingly well. But, I realized (again) how incredibly blessed I am with two awesome parents who are still with me.

The good thing about the trip is I got to spend a few days in the low 70s (22 C). The bad thing is, I returned to temps in Baltimore in the teens (-8.8). Dang. It didn’t even get below freezing last year!

Linus, my chihuahua, has not been doing well in the cold. When we got a few inches of snow, I realized that he just can’t walk in it. Well, he started to walk in the snow, then after five minutes begins screaming bloody murder and limping / lifting his paws. I never ever EVER thought I would be the person buying or sewing winter shoes for a dog. But, I sure did buy them like a chump.

Needless to say, he didn’t like them either. Above is a little video of his trying them out (first ten seconds is dark– skip to 15 seconds). Let me say that this was a VAST improvement. He spent the first 20 minutes outside literally in one place.

The cold snap here has been good practice for next week. I’ll be in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a few days (40 minutes outside of Detroit, MI). I have my thermals, Timberland winter boots (on clearance from Eddie Bauer!), Ukrainian fur hat and ski jacket already packed. I have tentative plans to meet up with Lynelle of You Sew Girl while I’m there. Probably lunch since I have evening plans the entire time I’m there.

Which means, I’ll be in Michigan for the Super Bowl!! I wouldn’t have planned it that way if I’d known the Ravens were going when I booked my flight.  These  tickets aren’t mine. But, aren’t they beautiful?? I watched the playoff game against the New England Patriots from Tampa with my dad.  He kept talking about what a great athlete Tom Brady was. I told him one of us was going to have to leave the room if he kept on about it. Yet, victory was ours! My Ravens watch group kept posting pictures on Facebook of the celebrations in Baltimore. I can’t believe I’ll be at a college bar in Ann Arbor when we play against San Francisco :-/

I was offered a chance to purchase tickets for the Super Bowl. But, I already had my trip planned to Ann Arbor and can’t afford $1,000 tickets plus flying in to Houston and driving five hours since the flights are sold out and scrambling for a floor to sleep on since hotels are requiring four night stays and $500 a night. That’s what my friends who are going are going through and it would have driven me bonkers and broke :)

I haven’t sewn in a few weeks and likely won’t before I leave. But, have a few planned days off for a little sewcation / house beatification around Valentine’s Day.

White House Holiday Tour

Taking a cue from Trena’s trip last year, I had an opportunity to visit the White House to see the holiday decorations set up for the Holidays. I’m saying ‘holidays’. But, really. As a friend pointed out — 45 Christmas trees and one menorah :)


I’ve been to the White House a few times over the years for work and school. But, haven’t really taken a tour for fun. So, this was a much more relaxing experience! Except, out scheduled time was 8 a.m. on a Saturday! For those who don’t know, I’m about an hour north of DC. So, I was up at 5:30 a.m. to make sure we got there on time. But, in retrospect, it’s a GREAT time to go. Plenty of parking and as the first group to go through, the crowd isn’t that bad and the three security check points go faster.

We were told before the day that cameras and photos were not allowed. I was *salty* as I had plans on making this the cover of my Christmas card this year. But, when we arrived, they said photos were allowed for the holidays! So, I snapped a few (so-so pics) with my phone.

First, we saw Bo (the Obama dog). Folks, you would have thought the President was walking on the lawn. Like, people went running to the windows and the gate to get a picture of this animal. A friend with me who won’t even pet Linus yelled like the Beatles just landed.

There is a Bo in the White House decor too. I couldn’t tell what it was made from. Maybe yarn?

I loved the White House Gingerbread House. Look at the bottom left of the white house lawn, there is a gingerbread Bo. And, can you see Santa on top of the White House? So stinking cute.

Can I tell you how in awe I was in seeing the Presidential seal?

Here is the State Dining room. They are gearing up for several holiday parties of the next few weeks.

All of the hallway arches are decked out with garland

I went with someone who has a serious admiration for the Kennedys. More so for RFK… but his photo isn’t hanging in the White House. The photo was my idea :-)

I planned to wear my finished cape. I’d been calling it the White House cape! But, we were SO LATE getting to DC that I just bolted out of the car with my wallet, keys and mobile phone (no bags allowed). I didn’t make anything I’m wearing. The top was purchased from my boss :) I think it’s Alice & Olivia with lace insets. Plaid socks to be festive :)

And, on this first day of Hanukkah, here is the menorah (and me taking the photos. heh)

I might make this an annual tradition. My mom wants to come next next year. So, it’ll be Christmas in Baltimore!

Triple Crown Second Stop: Preakness!

You know, I went to a high school where kids actually owned horses. And, I rode horses quite a bit growing up. Not like serious equestrian riding. But, more like, ‘there are horses on the military base so that’s a good actitivity’ kind of horse riding. Despite this, I’ve not really been to any horse races. This year though, I got to attend two events at Preakness. Preakness is the second race of the Triple Crown. First is the Kentucky Derby and the third is Belmont Stakes.

On Friday I was at Pimlico for Black Eyed Susan Day and the running of the Black Eyed Susan Stakes. Pimlico was decked out in pink for breast cancer awareness. Honestly, if you want the Preakness experience but about 90,000 fewer people, Friday is the day to go.

The Black Eyed Susan is the state flower and also a delicious cocktail. Apparently, there is a Belmont Breeze too. How did the Mint Julep get a lock on the racing drink category??

I copped out on both days and wore a fascinator instead of a hat. Friday was this Burda dress. You know what? I’m so ambivalent about this dress but people love it. I fear I look like I’m playing mid 50s dress up. Hmm, just went back and read my review from two years ago. Apparently, back then I thought it was more ‘church’ than ‘work’. It was kind of perfect for the day though. Vintage gentility and all that.

Oh, you see that red button? Yeah… so I biked to work on Friday for ‘Bike to Work Day’ (and got not one but TWO flat tires on the way) where I had this dress waiting for me to change into. Except a button was missing. So, I had a spare red button in my desk and just sewed it on. Let’s call it a design feature….

On Saturday  about 110,000 people came out for the Preakness. I wore this wrap dress I bought in Panama about four years ago. This is one of my favorite dresses. I like that it’s a woven wrap with a full bias skirt. I don’t like that I can’t wear it to work because of the cleavage. Note that I am actually even wearing a tank top too!  I really need to make this pattern up with a FBA. The dress below isn’t quite right for the day (a little dark and out of season), but it matched my fascinator and I’m not doing any more last minute desperation sewing / shopping.

At any rate, here are some photos of the fashions, hats and sights of the day.

The men looked awesome. Lots of seersucker and linen suits, hats, and far more cigars than needed.

There was a lot of black, yellow and white (colors in Baltimore and Maryland flags)

I bet on one local horse and it lost. So much for hometown loyalty!




It was a great two days overall and a really terrific experience.  If I get a chance to go next year, I’ll plan ahead for a great summer dress / hat combo. Or, just have a party at my house and watch the races from here :)

**I haven’t been Instagramed. Photobucket added a million great new editing options, including these vintage settings.

Dude, I Got a Dog

Hey there!

Meet Linus van Pelt

Yep. I got a dog. For reals. I was totally freaked out about it too. In the way that I panic when I think about having children. On our first night together, I got him home, walked him, fed him and then just stared at him. I just had no idea what was next, LOL. Is that what happens when you bring home a newborn?

Happily, things have been working out. Linus is three years old and already housebroken. He’s a 10 lbs Chihuahua (omg. I’m totally going to have to learn how to spell Chihuahua without relying on spell check). He was found abandoned in South Carolina, transported to a rescue here in Baltimore. He spent several months in foster care before I came along. The foster mom *cried* when she dropped him off to me.

He already knew some basic commands, he’s not a barker (well, he does bark in his sleep), not a whiner, fully housebroken and sweet, sweet, sweet.  The foster mom said (and was right) that he’s perfect for a first-time pet owner. I’ve NEVER owned a dog. I’ve thought about it off and on over the years, most recently when I dog sat Frida for a friend. You guys gave me some great advice and encouragement. So, this time I just decided I was going to do it!

I named him Linus after the Charlie Brown character (Lucy is my favorite character).

Since he’s a boy, I do not plan to fully emasculate him in frilly outfits. My friends got him this raincoat and he’s so stinking cute I can’t contain myself. He gets cold pretty easily, so sweaters are totally justified.

So, that’s my big news! I also want to say thanks to the readers who have checked in on me. I am sorry to report that outside of Linus, things are still pretty crappy over here. I haven’t been sewing (obvi) because I just don’t feel like it.  I commemorated  Easter and my birthday with a boyfriend break up. Let me tell you. Breakups are crap. But, a breakup over a birthday which  is pushing you in to the twilight years of your 30s *sucks*. Like sucks super crazy Hoover-level hard. But, it’s all good. Or, it will be in its own time. I’ve been to this dance before and these things have a way of working themselves out. Plus, each new boyfriend the last four years has been an upgrade on the previous years’ model. Who knows what’s next?  It might just mean that  Idris Elba and I have a real chance at happiness ;-).

Happy Christmas!

Yeah… a week later, LOL. 

I spent Christmas 2011 in Ohio visiting my best friend from middle school and her three daughters. You may remember when we reconnected after 20 years or when I visited them in 2010. Steph and I met in Germany when our families were stationed there. I remember bawling my eyes out on my last night in town I was so upset to be leaving her.

This year when I visited the family in Youngstown, we did the touristy thing in Cleveland.

There, I froze my pajamas off by Lake Erie.For real. FREEZING. I now know what ‘Lake Effects’ mean.

We hit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Loved every single minute of it. I love history and music and this was a perfect meld.

After four hours at the Hall of Fame, we had lunch at the West Side Market. By far my favorite public market is Pike Place in Seattle. But, this is a close second.

I couldn’t get enough of the pasta shop. Mmmm. Pasta.

I don’t have children and I’m the youngest in my family. So, I’ve never experienced the Christmas Morning Wake Up. But, with a 6, 11 and 15 year old around, my presence was requested far earlier than I would have gotten up on my own.

Christmas is seriously magical for kids. I didn’t realize that until now. All that double talk about Santa. I didn’t want to be the one to spoil the ‘secret’.

And, now I’m back home.  I’ll be doing my 2011 recap as soon as I get a new keyboard. What’s that? New keyboard? Yeah. I spilled wine on my iMac keyboard just before leaving town. It is kaput for real. A new one is coming soon and I’ll be able to update on other projects.

Union Square Cookie Tour

Trena may have the White House as part of her holiday experience. But, I’ve got Union Square and the H.L. Mencken House around the corner :-).  In addition to the Christmas Tree Farm experience, my holiday-themed weekend included the 26th annual Union Square Christmas Cookie Tour.

 Homeowners in historic Union Square open up their 19th century homes to participants. Each house bakes a different cookie too.

The neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places district. I had some serious house envy. On average, the houses are around 2500 to 3,000 sq ft, 4 bedroom / 4 bathrooms. Oy.

One homeowner said that during the 1800s there were 19 servants that worked in the home!

I didn’t take the best / most useful photos for blogging.  I was all caught up in getting cookies. Plus, it felt a little strange photographing someone’s house. But, here are a few highlights.

This house with the nutcracker collection has nine fireplaces, eight of which are in operation. The one below is in the kitchen. Can you imagine??

While some houses kept the super traditional look. Others went with a more modern decor.

Including this house that hung doors from the set of HBO’s the Wire. These were used as the fictional police department on the show.

Here’s the Christmas tree in the same house. Upside down! I didn’t know that was a thing.

More of the infamous marble steps of Baltimore.

The renovated bathrooms make me want to drool

And other homes of the more modern home were the exposed brick

If you are in the area next Christmas, I recommend you take the tour. It’s got great history, it’s fun to see how people decorate and renovate their homes and a wonderful introduction to this historic area.