its whats on the inside that counts

wow... its already december! is this giving anyone else anxiety attacks? i feel like my life has been going in double time recently, but i guess thats just the time of the year...

well true to my word i've been spending every ounce of my time not filled with other obligations (work, commuting to work, sleeping, eating, parties and events **siiigghhhh** my life is so hard) voraciously re-watching lost and obsessively hand sewing. i think i fellstitch in my sleep...

i have a confession... i've never tailored anything before. i'm such a newbie! and for some reason i decided to follow claire schaeffer's instructions in her book couture sewing techniques - which if any of you have read you know that the instructions on tailoring are extensive, sometimes cryptic, and involve language like "spank it briskly with a clapper" (exsqueeze me?! claire please! this is a family blog... sorta).

the idea of tailoring is really appealing to me, though - through an interior structure of fabrics, tapes and stitches you're basically shaping and molding the fabric to the body. but, for a first-timer, doing this on your own can lead to some ... um ... less-than-family-friendly interior dialogue. i thought i would share with you some of the revelations, frustrations, and wtf?!?!? thoughts that have passed through my head with this recent sewing project:

1) wool. when they say "use a cool dry iron" they aren't kidding. that shit is like shrinky dinks! and we all know that what shrinky dinks do best is shrink....

2) prewashing wool suiting and goat hair canvas (purchased from this lovely lady) made my apartment smell like a barnyard. as a matter of fact - it made the whole floor of my building smell like a herd of sheep. sheep farts really...

3) i machine quilted together my cotton underlining and the hair canvas interfacing. i made neat little 1 inch squares that followed the grain line. upon reflection i think this was an absolutely useless step and i do not recommend it. but it looks fancy. and it was a great way to use up my half-finished spools of thread and random colored bobbins....

4) is pad stitching supposed to be neat or not? claire recommends "staggering" ones padstitching to avoid ridges. well i staggered - and that shit looks gnarly.

5) when following claire schaeffer's instructions - if i'm not really sure what i'm supposed to be doing i just hold my iron and my jacket pieces like they do in the picture for a few seconds, move it around a little (heat optional) and consider that step done.

6) after steaming my collar i let it dry out while pinned around my tailors ham. this kind of made my tailors ham look like a dumpy lounge singer.

7) taping the roll line and the front edge of the jacket is kind of like magic. and when magic happens i like to boast about it to my husband ("look! see how this lapel hangs straight?" "uh huh...." " and see how this one curves around the body?" "yeah..." "thats, like, totally a couture trick....." ) he's incredibly kind and always acts really impressed. best. audience. ever.

8) i think my cat knows something i don't and has been attempting to sabotage this little red jacket every chance he gets...

in conclusion - i have to admit that i'm very nervous about this jacket. i'm hoping that all the little weirdnesses work themselves out in the next few steps. i'm pretty relieved to be done with the majority of the hand sewing at this point - at least until i get to the lining.

speaking of the lining - i'm having a hard time determining what sort of print i want to use on the inside.... is leopard print too much??



on slowness

it is no secret that i am a rather slow paced person. early on when we were dating, my husband would call me ( in all lovingness, i'm sure) "tortuga sal". i talk slow, i eat slow, and i walk slow (though i prefer to think of it as sauntering or sashaying). i'd rather walk than run, sit rather than walk, and lay down rather than sit. some people call this "lazy" - i just call this "taking my time".

but what i've never understood is why this is such a bad thing? whats the big deal with speed? in sewing, there are certain moments that require us to slow down - to take our time and focus on the details. these are the moments that i relish. i love hand sewing. its an incredible treat for me to sit down with some music or (i'll be honest) a trashy tv show, a needle and thread and just focus on making even stitches.

slowness seems to be a bit of a "thing" nowadays. there's the "slow food movement" and i've even heard the term "slow fashion" being thrown around. i came to sewing through my love of fashion - or as i think of it - my passion for shmashion - a passion for well made, beautiful fitting, detail oriented clothes that well exceeds my wallet - but not my ability. i've never considered that making my own clothes could be a political act - a turn away from fast consumerism. because for me - slow is just how i go.

i get a bit of extra time off this week for the thanksgiving holiday here in the states. you can bet i will be filling it as much as possible doing the above - lovingly working my hand stitches as i tailor the jacket i'm working on - at a snails pace.

if you celebrate thanksgiving - i wish you a lovely holiday.

and guys - slow down.



inspiration for the cold that never comes

i'm not really sure what sort of lifestyle would render it possible for me to dress like this - but whatever it is... i want it. "swedish ranch hand" perhaps? "post-apocalyptic gypsy"? "mongolian sheep herder socialite"?

i just don't know.

but what i do know is that in another life i lived in a place that had cold weather. and when that cold weather hit i seriously contemplated wrapping my duvet around me, belting it, and calling it a day. maybe i'd throw on some super stylish clogs too.

but in all seriousness (sorta) its no secret that i love a little bit of drama in my looks, and there is just something about draped and layered fabric that has a certain theatricality to it. can you imagine the billowing that happens when the wind blows? when she walks? gasp! what a silhouette!

you can bet that when if the cold weather ever comes to my part of texas i will start eyeing up my navajo throw. and i suggest you do the same.



on the table

just some peeks at whats been happening on my sewing table. i often get so caught up in envisioning the final outcome, that i forget that whats happening along the way is pretty important too.



versatile blogger award!!

i was incredibly flattered the other day when i discovered that stephanie of stoutysews tagged me with a "most versatile blogger" award. thank you stephanie! i'm always slightly bewildered when i find out people actually read this blog!

so now i have to reveal seven of my most top secret secrets! get ready for some truly enlightening information....

1) i'm 26. ha! bet you didn't see that one coming!

2) my husband and i have a dog, lucille, and a cat, mister muscles. lucille is one of the sweetest, most well behaved dogs ever, but she is really my husband's dog. she was part of his life before i met him, and lucille will never let me forget it. we acquired mister muscles on our drive down to texas a little over two years ago. he's pretty good at knocking things off shelves, giving a major stink-eye, making weird gremlin noises at odd hours of the night and, you know, being a cat.

3) after much deliberation i have finally come to the conclusion that my favorite flavor of jam is marmalade. wait. does that count as jam?

4) i am an aries (pisces cusp). my chinese zodiac is an ox. a wood ox to be precise. i'm not really sure what any of this means. i don't follow my horoscope. but i'm pretty sure its all true.

5) i have a really hard time saying the name wichita (as in wichita, kansas). every time it comes up in conversation (it happens more often than you would think!) i have to pause and tell myself "its wichitaw, sallie, not wicheetah". but i do think that if it was wicheetah i'd probably want to live there. food for thought citizens of wichita, food. for. thought.

6) i once got so scared in a haunted house that i ran out the emergency exit. it turned all the lights on inside the haunted house. a zombie followed me outside to make sure i was okay. looking back on this i probably should have been way more embarrassed than i was. i was, like, 18.

7) ohmygodiloooovvveeeeharrypotttteeerrrrr! i really don't think this needs any explanation. i mean, i'm practically a wizard....

and that, dear friends, is seven useless facts about me. my favorite person. that was really fun, by the way. i like making lists.

and now i get to pass this little blog award on to others! i'm pretty sure i'm the last person to find out about... everything - so these are by no means new blogs. in fact these ladies have all been around longer than i have, they're just "new to me" blogs! if you've already been tagged by this, no hard feelings, okay?



for your viewing pleasure: shoe + art

so since i already spilled the beans on my rachel comey obsession i thought i'd just ride this lovefest for a bit longer. while the clothes set my heart a-pitter-pattering, my devotion is really to the shoes.

a fellow comey lover once told me that rachel studied sculpture before she began designing clothes. this struck a major chord with me, and also made total sense. her designs are incredibly sculptural - with just the right combination of toughness, timelessness, elegance and awkwardness. perhaps not the combination most people would look for in a shoe, but for me they possess something just slightly off which makes me want to keep looking at them. if ever i could make a case for adding a bit of artistry to an outfit it is in ones choice of footwear. basically i'm saying, quit being a pansy and put some sculptures on your feet!

after a trip to the philadelphia museum of art this past summer (seriously one of my favorite musuems, and its not just my philly pride thats talking...) i came away with brancusi on the brain. constantine brancusi was never one of my favorite artists. its always amazing to me when you can look at something you've seen a million times, read about and studied, and yet all of a sudden its like you're seeing it with fresh eyes. this is what happened with brancusi. its like a light went on and something i had always glossed over came into focus. i just can't get over those forms (i know... nerd alert...)

perhaps its a bit of a stretch to make a connection between rachel comey shoes and brancusi sculptures - but i don't think so. the restrained palette, the references to classicism, the elegance and awkwardness...the stacking!

all rachel comey shoes via solestruck, brancusi images via the pma, here, and here.




happy halloween everyone! i obviously dressed up as a totally awesome street walker... wait... thats not right... to tell you the truth i've always pretty much sucked it at the whole halloween costume thing. as a matter of fact, someone asked me what i was going to be this year and i said "a ghost..." a ghost!?!? i mean, how lame can you get?!

we have been having the most beautiful weather here in galveston! after a bit of rain it finally cooled down just a smidgen to make it a bit more comfortable. that being said, i had a really hard time wrapping my head around the fact that my family in the northeast just got snowed on! snow?! in october? as homesick as i get sometimes, i will never, ever miss winter. good riddance!

these are my clovers from colette patterns. as i mentioned in this post, i wanted to make my clovers to resemble these jeans from madewell. the amount of adjustments i made to the pattern were quite heavy. i spent about one weekend just slicing and dicing up the pattern, first to get an idea of fit, and then again to turn them into the denim trousers you see before you. i made three muslins for these pants because i wanted to get the fit just so. i have to say that as far as pants patterns go, these were a dream to make, and even a dream to adjust. in the end, i'm pretty happy with the result and will definitely be making these bad boys (or some version) again.

the top is rachel comey for vogue patterns (v1247). so... um.. i'm kinda a die hard rachel comey fan. like, i'd totally rock a foam finger for her. i once tried on one of her dresses and almost convinced myself that $800 was a reasonable amount to pay for a dress, for no occasion. i luckily had enough stamina to walk out of the store, telling myself that i should think it over, and it will be there tomorrow. i think i suffered under some delusion that i could actually afford the dress until i made it home. to my hovel. then i gave myself a good hard slap.

so you can imagine that i damn near fell out of my chair and had a litter of kittens right there on the spot when i saw that rachel comey did a small line of patterns for vogue. diy rachel comey??!??! be still my foolish heart! i snatched those babies up like i was a professional snatcher. a pattern snatcher, that is.

this top was not without its peculiarities. the whole bottom is pieced together and cut on the bias. frankly i've never been great with working on the bias. however i let this little dude hang out over night and fortunately i seemed to avoid some of the craziness (an entirely twisted dress) that has happened to me in the past. i wanted to make this top out of a silk print, but wouldn't you know, unless you're a crazy hologram clown, they don't really make silk prints for you. i will spare you my rant on the ugliness of the fabric prints that are available to me. okay just a small rant... who is buying all this florescent paisley??!?!? who, dammit?!

so i decided to stick with a basic ivory silk crepe de chine and let the lines do the talking...

my wonderful husband took these photos for me today. which means several things... first, i'm way more smiley than i am on my own. second, i get shy rocking my top model poses (you know what i mean...) and third, i get some amazing shots like this one...

oh! and thats two more for the fall palette challenge. that brings my total up to... 4. good thing it doesn't look like fall is coming anytime soon...



weird beauty

(pardon the weird lines in this photo, it has come to my attention that my camera is possessed)

does anyone remember those articles in teen vogue or glamour or whatever that featured interesting diy beauty remedies? like "for cheap, easy summer highlights spray a mixture of chamomile tea and lemon juice on your hair" or "to make your own body scrub mix sugar, honey, and olive oil" ? did anyone ever try them?

i tried them all. i've put (on separate occasions) avocado, egg, olive oil and vinegar in my hair - as well as the above mentioned chamomile tea and lemon juice combo. i've put vitamin e capsules, asprin, preparation h, toothpaste, beets, baking soda and (again) olive oil on my face. i've sat with my elbows in lemons and laid cucumber slices on my eyes. i've received weird looks from family members, roommates and boyfriends for storing little bowls and vials of my concoctions in the refrigerator.

i love a self-made spa moment. i love home beauty remedies. the ones i love best are the ones that work really well. and i have found a few that work really well for me.

one of my current favorites is a yogurt facial. this sounds, and is pretty disgusting, and if it wasn't for my history of putting weird edibles on my face i probably wouldn't have tried it. but try it i did, and i gotta say, i kinda lurve it. this is a pore tightening, skin clearing, softening and brightening mask. the lactic acid in the yogurt exfoliates skin without the use of harsh scrubbers or particles that can scratch skin. the yogurt and honey are also moisturizing and honey is an anti-microbial that prevents the spread of bacteria. lemon juice and/or strawberries lighten marks like acne scars. after i use this mask i always feel that my complexion looks a bit brighter and healthier (at least for a day or two!)

making a yogurt mask is cheap, easy, and i usually have all the ingredients on hand because, lets face it, this isn't too far off from what i eat for breakfast every morning. i use a spoonful of full fat or 2% greek yogurt. we make our own because we're cheap we're fancy. i add a dollop of honey and a squeeze of lemon. if i have them on hand i might mash up 1/2 a strawberry. then i sit with this on my face for awhile. write a blog post, like i'm doing right now. and generally look like this...

i like to do this on days when my husband isn't home so he doesn't wonder why i'm putting my breakfast on my face. i don't like explanations, and i don't want him to worry for my sanity. plus while this little mask dries you kinda look like freddy kruger....



my favorite color is rainbow: grey is so much more than grey

in my ultimate wisdom i have decided that it is time for another "my favorite color is rainbow". the past week and a half really bit the big one. i had big plans (i always have big plans) but then lady life decided to pay me a visit. i really wish she would check my day planner (i don't keep a day planner) and my bank account (i don't keep a bank account. only a loose floorboard. and a shotgun.) before she decides to pull a fast one on me.

so perhaps it is in that spirit that i bring you this "my favorite color is rainbow". gentles and ladymen, please give it up for none other than the humble, the elusive, the overlooked, the misunderstood, the confusing to spell... grey.

i like it with the e not the a.

grey is a color that often gets confused for a non-color, but there is so much hue in grey. just try to find the perfect grey and you'll find yourself stumbling upon purples and blues, browns and greens... i've even spotted yellow in there. grey is an elusive, slippery, complex color. but when its right, its oh so right. welcome to the wonderful, confusing, and rich world of grey.

for more grey images and to see sources, please visit here.


sailor knots

after the marathon that was sewing my bombshell dress i was really feeling the need for something easy breezy lemon squeezy. in my mind, that means its time to sew a knit. some people get pretty freaked out by sewing with knits, and i can see why. they're stretchy, they require special machinery or tools - and sergers are scary. however you can't beat a knit top for comfort. and more importantly, its so easy to fudge sewing a knit!!

this little striped top started out as burdastyle 09/2011 striped top however after i basted it together in my size it was just.... really unflattering. so unflattering that i didn't even keep it on long enough to get a picture. so i did what any self respecting sewer would do and i rolled it in a ball and stashed it in a drawer.

i kept hoping that divine inspiration would strike and i'd know what to do with my striped top. i even spent some time searching anthropologie's website - the queen of quirky/cute knitwear. after some deliberation i decided to just make what i had work and started by lowering, and widening the neckline a good three inches. then i exaggerated the dolman sleeves because, while some people might dislike the dolman, i just can't get enough of that saggy armpit look! i shortened the sleeve and added ties - which i really debated but i think they gave the top just a touch of cute. i also narrowed the torso to further exaggerate the fit. all this was done fairly blindly - which is why i love sewing with knits - you just fake it till you make it. so yeah, total 360 from my bombshell dress.

you may remember from this post that one of my goals for my fall palette wardrobe was to sew a striped top. well friends, here it is in all its glory and we have officially completed one two garments for the fall palette challenge!

in closing, i'll leave you with this...



hello, bombshell

oh. hello there. (to be said in your most seductive voice)

perhaps you were beginning to get the idea that all my talk about sewing, and the fall palette challenge was really just that, talk. well you're probably right obviously you're wrong! i finally (and i can't tell you just how sincerely i mean that "finally") get to reveal what i've been working on since... oh... august!!! i kid you not. this little number here has taken me a whole two months to complete. and she is a pretty little number, isn't she?

this is my bombshell dress (why, yes, i have added a little bombshell button on the side there). back in august i decided to take gertie's online course at craftsy.com. the lovely, and talented gretchen hirsch walked you through making this dress, and then some. we used a burda pattern, that came with the course, and then gertie took it allllll to another level. i made two, count them two! muslins for this dress (i rarely make one, and i probably should have made three!) this little lovely is underlined, padded, boned, and then lined again - with a good amount of that work being done by hand. thats right! i said by hand!

and you know what... i loved every minute of it. i learned so much from this course. i probably went a bit overboard with the "couture touches" because i also happened to be reading claire schaeffer's book "couture sewing techniques" at the same time. the two created quite a heady combination and i often found myself at 11pm saying "well why can't i sew the whole skirt by hand?! let me just perfect my backstitch..."

i decided to use a marc jacobs fabric i found from mood. the fabric is offwhite with a woven red, blue, and purple floral design. its quite a heavy fabric, and probably not ideal for this project. it made gathering the skirt in the front pretty difficult, but in the end i don't regret my decision at all. the dress feels really substantial, and the print fits the sort of sweet 60's wiggle dress look i wanted.

this dress makes me feel like a gajillion bucks. from this point on, i plan on making all my clothing with a substantial amount of boning and padding. just kidding! and hey, though it was not officially on my list for the fall palette challenge... it is fall... and these colors do fit my palette....

woohoo! totally made one item for my fall palette!!! go me!


my new shoes

when i buy something new - its kind of a big deal, to me at least. i usually hem and haw for months, putting things into virtual shopping carts, seeing the total with shipping and then flaking out. so when something actually makes it to my door, i consider it a triumph.

ever since my new worifshofer shoes arrived my husband has been giving my feet the sort of look he usually reserves for small children who are acting weird. you know, like, " oh honey... you are special..." looks. which has my once confident shoe purchase a little, um, deflated.

i first saw a pair of worifshofer shoes sitting by the front door of a friends house. upon declaring how cute they were, said friend replied, "oh yeah! i got them off this website, endless.com. they have alllll the good granny shoes". i later saw another friend wearing the slip on variety. i asked her about them and she declared them the. most. comfortable. shoes.

i opted for the lace-up, sling-back style. double trouble! i thought they had sort of a quirky style to them that i really liked. kinda 70's, kinda punk, whole lotta golden girls, and arch support! sold. i'm sure all these recommendations should have prepared me for my husbands concerned looks at my choice of footwear. but i didn't think they were that orthopedic looking!

i'm finding myself reliving a sartorial situation i have been in a number of times throughout my life. like the time i bought this pink high-waisted skirt from a thrift store. when i wore it around my family for the first time it garnered some weird looks, especially when i announced that it was the exact same brand my grandmother favors! isn't that funny? i then went on to say how it had this great, comfortable, elastic waistband... then there was the time that i went out to a bar with my brother and his friends. before we left my brother gave me a withering up and down look and asked if that was what i was wearing? "that" referred to yet another high waisted skirt, a cardigan, scarf and heels! he put a fraternal hand on my shoulder and said "sallie, you're a really pretty girl. why do you have to dress like an old lady?"

there are many other instances of this sort of thing in my life (high waisted pants, loafers, short haircuts, lace...) and it leaves me wondering if, fashion wise, i've missed my mark. have i somehow bypassed the "sexy librarian" look and just landed at "librarian"? are my new shoes granny chic? or just granny granny? at least this isn't a blog about my bunions.... yet.

but there is even toe support!
sigh.... granny or no, i love my new shoes.



my favorite color is rainbow: i like pink

ladies and gentleman, cats and kittens, theres a new feature on this blog. in "my favorite color is rainbow" i will engage in a genuine lovefest with a certain slice of the chromatic spectrum. and yes, there will be haiku's, because no lovefest is complete without a haiku. i hope this feature will be an inspiration to look at, because it was certainly fun to gather the images.

so without further adieu, please let me introduce.... the color pink.

pink really needs no introduction. it is a fitting first choice for my first "my favorite color is rainbow" feature because i have had a long standing love affair with this color. who doesn't? it is the color of love affairs...

you can find additional pink images, plus all the sources here.