When a Sewist Buys a Halloween Costume

Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it. –Cady, Mean Girls

You know what I discovered when I decided to buy my Halloween costume? Men’s costumes are goofy or scary and  female adult costumes are geared to make you look sexy.

Originally, I thought I would make a costume. I had a zillion ideas but simply no time to crank one out. So, I decided to buy mine.


I checked out local costume shops and the internet and discovered something totally interesting. Only 10 percent of the costumes were for men.


50 percent for grown women and the rest are for kids.


I’d never really looked for a costume as an adult so I was totally surprised.


And, definitely not work appropriate. When I was in my early 20s I wore a friend’s high school cheerleading uniform. That was about the last time I really got dressed up.


Online, outside of costumes shops women’s costumes were on adult themed web sites.

Wanna see my Halloween costume from this year? You know where I got it? The ‘gift shop’ at an adult store near my office. Sounds gross? The same costume was on sale on-line for $20 more than I paid. It was also the one with the longest skirt and I felt comfortable in.

 I went as the Baltimore Grand Prix to a Halloween party on Saturday night. My date work a grey tee-shirt and wrapped himself in chicken wire and went as a Race Wall. Totally clever. But, no photos. Maybe tonight from handing out candy!


See, no judgement on my part for going a little sexy at Halloween. I mean really. I’m so conservative in the way I dress it’s nice to have one night where I can be a little more out there. I don’t think this is any shorter than what my mom wore in the 60s🙂

It was suggested by a few friends that I ‘pad my bra and wear fishnets. I decided to ignore both bits of advice.

Finally, these two posts on blogging have me thinking. The first is by Mimi G. She says a lot of what I think about blogging (and highlights why I’m not posting a photo of myself in my Halloween costume). In annoyance a few weeks ago I drafted a post titled Haterade and Malcontents. But, I’ll let her post speak for me too (hopefully she doesn’t mind).

The other is by Karen of Did You Make That on looking like yourself on your blog. I’ll answer the question now. I generally look in real life how I look on my blog. I take photos before work so that’s how I look on that day. But, the photos on my blog are the very best versions of me. By the time I get to work, my clothes are wrinkled, my skin is shiny and I’m definitely not wearing lipstick🙂

Kid’s Pajamas / Pyjamas

I’m home from work today because of the ‘frankenstorm’ called Hurricane Sandy. That gave me some extra time to finish the children’s pajamas (made from a 10/2006 and 12/2007 Burda). But, with Joann fabric closed, I couldn’t go back for another yard of material to fix the back of the sleepers before the mom needs them. I emailed her and explained and she was pretty gracious.


Let me be clear. If these were for me, I couldn’t care less. But, when you are making for other people, you want it to look as nice or better than what one could get from a store. Thank you for the sympathy and the laughs in your comments.

As I mentioned, my friend is surprising her kids with a trip to Disney. I think they are aged 10, 5 and 8 months.


Sigh. Again, these things happen! I’ll ask for a photo with them on. But, she may not be a fan of her children on social media.

Overall, these were super easy (other than the operator error and being short on material). I remember now why these are such a great beginner project.

I haven’t been to Disney World in 25 years. Maybe I should suggest that the next time I visit my parents in Tampa.

As for the storm. My only real fear is my basement flooding  (edited to add: Crap. Basement is flooding. I’m glad I moved my fabric! I bought a Wet Vac last year for Hurricane Irene and there wasn’t a drop of water in the basement. As long as I have power, I’ll keep it dry. I vaguely regret not getting the free sandbags the City was giving away). I  have a gas stove and gas heat / water heater if I were to lose power. But, a flooding basement is a colossal PITA. I moved my fabric to higher ground and charged my e-reader. I’m set.

Linus on the other hand. We had a walk this morning that was more of me dragging him along for 20 mins in the cold and rain. He had no interest in doing his business (edited to add: Ummm, dog owners. I cannot make this dog ‘go’. It’s been 18 hours. And now I don’t want to go outside.) I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like when it snows…

Directional Prints


Doh! That’s what they mean by ‘directional prints’

Yeah. I’m making three pairs of kids pyjamas for a friend. She’s surprising her children with a trip to Disney world the day after Halloween.

Two of the three pairs I cut look like this. I’ll need to go out and buy another yard of material. What’s worse, is I’ve already bought four additional yards because what she gave to me wasn’t enough.

Oh, well. Every day is a school day.

Re-Ruching Vogue 1252

Thank you for all your sympathy in taking out the stretch stitches. I’m just happy I’m not sewing this knit on my serger! Thank goodness I am a political nerd. I turned on the US Presdidential debates and sat down with my seam ripper. A cramped hand and a final debate later the dress was taken apart. Here’s a quick post on how I took the width out of the front bodice and back bodice pieces for my Tracy Reese ruched dress.

I saw that Amanda took 1.5 inches from the front. When I pulled my bodice front that much, it still wasn’t ruching. So I took three inches out the front by folding out 1.5 inches along the ‘fold’ line of the pattern (piece 7) which is center front. For the front drape, I shortened it by one inch — mostly toward the bottom / skirt portion. Probably a hair too much. But, it looked pretty good when I tried it on.

You’ll see now on the dressfrom that  the bodice is still not super ruchy, but, it doesn’t hang down at center front any more.

For the back, I got overzealous and took two inches out of each back section for a total of four inches gone. Total ruching and snug. Luckily, the lining is thick so I won’t have back fat🙂

Here’s the original again: Big Diff

I think I’ll finish up in the next week. There is quite a bit more lining to install plus a FOUR piece skirt to construct. I don’t think I’ve ever had two mid-construction posts on non-black tie dresses — nevermind a knit. Heh.

Oh, I need a zipper too. I hope Joann’s carries nice bold metal zippers. I ordered my last one online for my purple friday dress and the shipping was high but the zippers were gorgeous.

In Progress: Vogue 1252, Tracy Reese Ruched Dress

I’ve been toying around with the idea of sewing Tracy Reese’s Vogue 1252 dress for a while now. I love all the draping, ruching and the fitted bodice. But, I was scared to make the FBA to about four different pattern pieces. And, I detest gathering. Like really really detest it. Yet, I still wanted to make this dress.

You ever have a project that you start to regret as soon as you start cutting it? Yeah. That’s me and this dress.

I decided to sew this in the ONLY animal print I have every purchased and will likely ever own. I so do not care for animal prints on me. Even now, it still has a Golden Girls vibe to me. But, it was on the sale table at G Street, I had a Groupon and I thought I would try to sex up my look a bit.


The first problem, I barely had enough material. This is my second Vogue pattern this year where I seemed to not have enough material. And this is despite meticulously following the layout and cutting directions.

Problem #2: I was a wuss and decided not to make an FBA. See, I figured I was sewing a 14 (one size larger than I need) and it was stretch fabric. So, between being a size too big and a knit, I thought it would work. I just couldn’t bring myself to alter the myriad of pattern pieces. Heck. I didn’t even make a swayback adjustment! It’s like I’m setting myself up for failure here.


Problem #3: There are 18 pattern pieces. Holy. Cow. They were spread everywhere in my sewing basement. I couldn’t let Linus in the basement because he always manages to sleep, step or scratch himself on any and every pattern piece laying about. So, while cutting, I got to listen to him whining at the top of stairs, outside the door begging to come in.


Problem #4: I hate marking patterns. It’s true. I find Big 4 patterns so fidly with their ‘little circle, big circle, triangle, square etc. I just want you to tell me to stop sewing before the seamline. Sigh.


Problem #5: As other reviewers have noted, this is the kind of dress you can’t get a sense of until it’s done.


So, what’s really wrong now? Well, I have to take most of the dress apart. As you can see, there is no ruching in the midsection and barely any ruching in the drape. I need to take it apart and cut about two inches off the sides.

You can also see it hangs super low at center front. When I tried the the bodice on, it’s about 1.5 inches longer in this section.

I think the pattern is good. But, without knowing how much stretch and drape is needed, it’s impossible to know how your knit will react. I suspect I should have sewn a 12 in a super stable knit, instead of the this lycra.

Ugh. So, that’s my week. Unpicking four seams of stretch stitch. Hopefully my next post is a completed dress🙂


Purple Fridays: Simplicity 2568

In Baltimore, we wear purple for our American football team the Baltimore Ravens on Fridays. Why? Well, they mostly play on Sunday and Purple Fridays are a way to show pride and support in the team. Did I mention my house is right behind the old Memorial Stadium?

Every Friday of football season is PURPLE FRIDAY!!!! Proudly wear your purple to work or school to support the Ravens! — Ravenstown


I get called out on my lack of purple during football season. It’s really almost embarrassing in my particular office. I promised myself this was the year I’d have my Purple Friday dress. And, just like it was meant to be, Mood Fabrics sent me this aubergine double twill as a sample of the fall season. And, as you can see, fall is here. Someone should rake these leaves *cough*.

Yes, double twill cotton. The material is 100 percent cotton and very dense. It would make a great jacket, or a mod like dress with structure (oh, you know, like this one…). I’ve never sewn or seen anything like this before. But, it pre-washed well (and lightened a bit in color) and sews in the awesome way that natural fibers do.


I was unsure what to make with the material and decided to paw through my pattern stash. I stumbled across Simplicity 2568 and declared View B “perfect”. I was really worried this dress would be shapeless on me. But, I think it’s flattering and the fabric is perfect!

Because the material is prone to fraying, I did serge every single piece.


I went with black and golden brass zippers to stay with the Baltimore Ravens theme.


The pockets sew into the side seam. So, if you are grading the skirt out at all, make sure you make the same alteration to the pocket. Ask me how I know…


Yo! First time with an exposed zipper! The great thing about this material is it was able to support a pretty substantial zipper.


Because of the stiffer hand, I didn’t need interfacing in the collar like the pattern suggested. It also doesn’t wrinkle much despite being 100 percent cotton.

I love this dress! I got a dozen compliments the first time I wore it to the office. Because it’s cotton I can wear it during the summer. But, because it’s a nice dense cotton, it’s also fall appropriate.


I do not play. Purple dress. Purple eye shadow. Purple glasses.

So, there’s my first Purple Friday Dress. I have a second one planned (about three garments from now) in an amazing stretch wool I got last weekend at Mood.


Go Ravens!

The material for this dress was purchased from Mood Fabrics using an allowance provided to me by the Mood Sewing Network

On Lace

So, I know nothing about lace. I just know that when all the lace outfits started appearing on the runway a few years ago I wanted one. But, I couldn’t find the kind of laces I was interested in. Something super textural — nothing  flat like lingerie lace. But, something that looked like my grandmother would have made.

This time at Mood I spent a minute actually looking at the laces I was drawn too. And, I left drooling and kind of wistful.

Wistful, because this is the kind of lace I want to sew with soon.

Drooling, because this stuff was out of control beautiful. And, none of it is on their website.

One last point. I’ve never thought of lace as older or aging. Sometimes it can remind me of the dollies my grandmother crocheted and dipped in starch. But, this lace. Sigh.  This lace makes me want to have tea at lunch and wear fascinators to church.

While I was there, I saw Susan Khalje is teaching a course at Mood on working with lace, probably based on on her 2006 Threads article, Amazing Lace. If I lived closer, I would definitely sign up.

Online Worth/Mainbocher Exhibit

My second museum visit on this jaunt to NYC was a trip to the  Museum of the City of New York (MCNY). I was able to walk through Central Park (how have I never done that before??) and to the museum. Ooh. And after walked a few more blocks into Harlem and had chicken and waffles at Amy Ruth’s with friends (how have I never done that before??). Chicken and waffles. They had a whole menu of *just* waffles.  The baked mac and cheese was the truth. But, I digress…. A few years ago I missed out on the MCNY textile and jewelry exhibit, Notorious and Notable: 20th Century Women of Style. For a history geek it was a fun (and comparatively at $10 admission) inexpensive museum to visit.

While they had no textile exhibits this year, they’ve put a great deal online with their Charles Worth and Mainbocher collection. I’ve become fairly interested in Charles Worth since visiting the Met / Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibit and Philadelphia Museum of Art backstage tour for PR Weekend.

MCNY currently has an online exhibit highlighting both designers.

Worth, 1900s, Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

Man. This stuff is luxe. It does remind me of the Age of Innocence. In the novel, Wharton writes that you wouldn’t wear your Charles Worth dresses from Paris for at least two seasons. To wear the latest fashion was considered vulgar.

Old Mrs. Baxter Pennilow, who did everything handsomely, used to import twelve a year, two velvet, two satin, two silk, and the other six of poplin and the finest cashmere. It was a standing order, and as she was ill for two years before she died they found forty-eight Worth dresses that had never been taken out of tissue paper; and when the girls left off their mourning they were able to wear the first lot at the Symphony concerts without looking in advance of the fashion.”

— Age of Innocence

I *wish*.

Ivy Style: The Museum at FIT

While in New York on Saturday, I made a special trip up to the Museum at FIT to check out two exhibits. The first was the Ivy Style exhibit and the second  are highlights of their permanent collection.

Gah. What a great value the Museum at FIT has in that it’s F-R-E-E.

What did I think? I loved both exhibits for different reasons. The Ivy Style is a little insular in its view.

Ivy Style celebrates one of the most enduring clothing styles of the 20th century. It examines the “Ivy League Look,” which began during the early years of the century on the quads and in the libraries of elite, all-male, American universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and especially Princeton. — from the website

I saw my friend Jon shortly after visiting this exhibit. He went to Princeton and I told him he should check out the exhibit. But, as an early 40s, straight, Jewish male obsessed with the Giants, he said it sounded ‘dumb’. heh.

Yes, Ivy style means WASPY, wealthy, American style that was only worn by the elite for many years. The donations come from names like Muffy, Rockefeller and Forbes. It’s a slice of Americana that as a child of immigrants I’ve only observed from afar and in books. Personally, I would have been curious to see how the Ivy Style was interpreted / trickled down at the Howards and Morehouses and Spellmans or state schools across the country.

The selections from the permanent collection I had to fly through. But, what can I say. I wanted to grab entire dressforms fully clothed and dash out the building.

If you can go, I recommend both.

Dinner in the City

I’m back in New York for the weekend.  And, because I’ve watched too many late night news programs about people who post on Facebook and Twitter about travelling only to have their homes ransacked while travelling, I’ll add that  I’ve got a male dog sitter,  born and bred in Baltimore who is totally in to P90X staying at my place. He and Linus can *take* you🙂 There mom, feel better?

Right o. I took the bus up to New York to have dinner with some of the Mood Sewing Network Bloggers. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who says, ‘Oh. I’m having dinner in the city tonight.’  Heh. Specifically, I met up with  Oonaballoona ,  Ms. Carolyn and Meg from Mood. I’ve met dear Meg and Carolyn more times than I can count, but this my first time on the dance floor with Ms. Balloona. Can I just say, she had me at ‘musical theater’.  How can you not love someone who knows all the word to Miss Celie’s Pants  from the Color Purple on cue.

They picked this gorgeous tapas restaurant in Chelsea. After walking through the restaurant to be seated, it took me a minute to realize I was outside!

I don’t often post photos of food. But, can we talk about the beauty that is dessert? I am so not in to chocolate. It’s just ok. But, you put something creamy, tart and sweet in front of me and I’m about ready to start licking the plate.

I saw something lovely at Mood but will post more on that later.  And, I think I want to go back tomorrow (if I can talk my traveling companion in to it).

Why? Because I left this silk behind

And this brocade

Do you know the challenges of going through three floors of Mood in less than one hour? It’s like a dog at the faucet jut trying to get a drink. And, as discussed, I’m not good when overwhelmed with choice.

I did see Swatch… but he was having none of me

For now, I’m off to bed *yawns*.

Because on Saturday I’m heading to the Museum at FIT. Not only are they showing highlights from their collection, they have a second exhibit on Ivy League (preppy) style. I may enter fashion nirvana.