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.



a bit of randomness

when we were planning our wedding i thought i was being very clever by cutting up my fabric scraps to turn into a bunting. "self," i said, "you are so smart to make use of your unwanted fabric this way!"

that is until after the wedding, when i was left with a bag of, albeit much smaller, but nonetheless, scraps. theres a little sappy sallie in there somewhere that just can't bear to throw them all out, even more so after their participation in our very special day. thats when * i * began to think of quilting with them.

please. the thought of quilting is about as appealing to me as doing my taxes. guh. but that stupid little sappy sallie has me convinced that this will be something i'll cherish forever and want to give my grandchildren.

my original idea for a design involved some complicated circular starburst thing that would radiate out and... i know i know i'll just stop there! so you can see why i haven't even attempted this yet? that is until i stumbled upon this today:

it was, like, the greatest "a ha!" moment i've had in a long time. half my work is already done! i know the whole bunting thing is a fad that will probably be gone before i can say "wedding season", but this little quilt design makes it look somewhat timeless. something i won't mind seeing on our bed, or thrown over the back of a couch, or even folded neatly on a shelf...

for years to come.


*editors update: after reading this, my husband loudly cleared his throat and said "you thought of making a quilt?" yeah, yeah, yeah. it wasn't my idea at all - totally his. you win, husband, you win.


in the meantime...

things are crazy, but then they are always crazy, aren't they? i am still waiting for my fabric samples to arrive from mood. did irene flood their warehouses or something? if thats the case then i understand. i'm just getting a bit twitchy about this slow progression of sewing. i'm also waiting on the mail in order to finish the, uh, rather large project i've been working on for the past - hum, month and a half. and to make matters worse, my sewing hours the past two weeks have been pretty few and far between. but such is life, no?

so while we're waiting, lets do a bit of planning? isn't there some saying about "good planning makes...well thought out... plans...?" or something to that effect? well whatever, thats what we're going for here.

Clover by Colette Patterns

remember these? in this post i talked about the reasons i am drawn to this pattern, the most important reason being that this pattern looks perfectly adaptable to whatever my dreams pants may be. when i shop for patterns i usually look for things that i can use as a base. something that i can tailor to fit my proportions, and then use almost like a pattern block (a simple set of patterns drafted using your own measurements) for future projects. now i could just make my own pattern block - but why do that when colette patterns does it for me?

my inspiration for the pants i would like to make for my fall palette challenge come from this little pair that is available from madewell.

Chimney jeans from Madewell

now i could buy these jeans for a pretty $110.00 big ones. but i say "why buy what you can turn into a major pain-in-the-ass project that sucks up way more than $110 worth of your time?" see my logic? no. well i don't either. all i know is that $110 outright hurts me a lot more than $110 in materials spaced out over the course of a month. did i lose you? my apologies. lets get back to brass tacks....

looking at the details of these pants, there are some pretty notable differences. lets start with the big one... the fly - or as the case may be - lack of fly!

you will note that the madewell jeans on the left sport a rather typical center front zip fly, with a not-as-typical tab closure at the waistband. our colette's on the right, however, simply have a center front seam, with an invisible zipper sewn into the side seam. this makes for more of a dressy 'trouser' look, and also makes them easier to sew. for anyone who has ever tried sewing a zip fly you know they can kind of be jerks until you figure out whats going on. so why am i opting for the jerky option? because i'm a glutton for punishment i take every opportunity i can to perfect new techniques. see what i did there?

to draft the zip fly i plan on frankensteining my patterns. taking the fly from one pattern and basically grafting it to the colette pattern. that should work, right?

now lets look at these pockets. the madewell jeans have more of a trouser pocket. i'm not really sure what its called, but for our purposes we'll call it "the side slash pocket". that makes it sound pretty cool. you will note in the photo above of the colette pattern that they have placed the pockets rather discreetly underneath the waistband. i think this is a really pretty touch, and something i will probably do on a future pair of pants, but for these i'd like to go for more of that masculine/feminine look that madewell does so well. to achieve this look i'll re-draw the side seam of the front pant from about hip height up to the waistband, and then create a separate pocket piece that will be sewn into the side seam. that last sentence may not make sense to you, but don't worry, it made sense to me, and thats whats really important here.

now lets have a look at the tush...

hellooo ladies...
once again, the colette pattern is pocket free, while our madewell friends are sporting some welt pockets back there. welt pockets are easy enough to add to any pattern, and while they take some time to get all the measurements in there, they really aren't too difficult. what is key, to any pocket on the rear, is placement. as we all know pocket placement can make your butt look bigger, smaller, more shapely, etc. etc. etc. notice how the madewell pockets are placed higher on the rear, right where the darts end. did you notice? good. me too. on the first pair of pants i ever made the welt pockets accidentally ended up somewhere on my thighs. it looked like little mouths were on my legs. lesson. learned.

and one final thing to note:

the folks over at madewell.com very kindly made this little "fit" guide for me. all the better for me to copy their design! thanks madewell! you can bet your panties i've made a note of that little "11 1/2" leg opening". noted aaaaaand noted. if there's one thing i will not abide it is a 11 3/4" leg opening. i will not abide it!

now that that little scheming session is done, i guess its back to waiting on the old mail system, eh? come ooonnnn mood fabrics! you're killing me here!!!



summer forever

there is an inch and a half thick vogue sitting on my coffee table. most of it is full of ads for fall 2011 fashions. many blogs are featuring advice on 'transitional dressing'. my other life at the art gallery is gearing up for fall shows and art fairs. even i'm trying to strategically plan my sewing and future wardrobe for when the weather turns slightly cooler. i know its september. i know we've gone back to school, or entered the busy season, or whatever. i know labor day is long gone.

but on my little balcony i can hear seagulls. there is a cruise ship at the end of my street. i still have a tan, and the beach looked beautiful today. lets not rush this season for once. even if we're only in this place for one year, i'd like to be able to look back on it as the year of eternal summer.

this is one of the first dresses i ever made. when i made it i was so proud that i drafted the princess seams and i thought it fit beautifully. now my critical eye can see just how poorly its constructed, and how ill fitting it really is. but despite this, its still one of my favorite dresses. i love the 60's cotton print, the simple silhouette. it is, in my mind, the perfect summer dress.




reader request.

if you have a sister, you are among the lucky ones. if you have a big sister, you're really lucky. if your big sister is also beautiful and kind, if you could steal her much cooler clothes, learned all your makeup tricks from her, if she offered to braid your hair, and is generally your biggest fan, then you already know how lucky you are. if your big sister also happens to be the hardest working mother of four children under the age of 3 you know, and still finds time to ichat with you and visit your blog, then we should probably meet, because we might be the same person.

i'm not under any delusions that anyone reads this blog besides myself, my husband, my sister, and occasionally my mom, and so i feel perfectly at liberty to tailor a post directly to one reader in particular.

in an email response to my post introducing my fall palette, my sister, in all her wisdom, wondered at what makeup, accessories, and nail polish one would pair with these looks. i guess i hadn't really thought of it, because, well i live with myself and i know that my makeup, accessorizing, and nail polish routines are rudimentary at best, and completely lacking most often. i'm not going to pretend that i'm all cool and low maintenance and like, "who me? i just roll out of bed this way..." because that would be very far from the truth, and my other reader, my husband, could call me out on it, to my face!

so very briefly, i'll give you the reality. i've been way more into skincare than makeup lately. in an effort to normalize my misbehaving skin i've sort of laid off the makeup routine - and maybe its my beachy atmosphere, but i feel this is working for me. i typically stick to some concealer, a little blush and mascara. as for my nails, well i always feel that nail polish is one of those places that you can go a little crazy - especially on your toes.

but in my fantasy life, things are a bit more glamorous. of course i wouldn't constantly be at war with my skin, and it would just be perfect. all the time. like my fall palette, i would use bold colors to accent an otherwise natural look.

emily weiss of into the gloss

i like the power an orange-y red lip gives to a clean face - plus the fiery shade is a nice update on the classic red lip look. on days when i'm not feeling so.... lippy, i'd probably fall back on the always classic nude lip. since a lot of my look is sort of 60's inspired, the orange and nude lip are particularly fitting.

NARS Heat Wave
NARS Honolulu Honey

when it comes to nailpolish, i believe that matching and restraint are for people i hope to never meet. once again, in reality my hands don't get much attention - i just like to keep my nails a little longer, rounded, and clean. but my toes i try to change once a week or (we're talking reality here) once every two weeks. but the fantasy me? she'd be all about the manicure. and like i said, matching is not a priority here. i don't care how classic my wardrobe may be, in nail polish i am always drawn to the most complex colors out there. and for that, i think chanel does it best. not that i've ever actually owned chanel nail polish, but from what i can tell they make the most interesting colors.


the real me is particularly lacking in the accessories department. i own one purse - and i'll only replace it once it starts to fall apart. i do, however, really like jewelry. unfortunately my tastes and my finances don't often agree - like, ever - so the real me only owns a few fun jewelry pieces that i keep on heavy rotation. until i get sick of them, and then they get no rotation. but the fantasy me would not have such silly problems like budgeting and could afford to spend surplus cash on fun accessories.

Top: The Vamoose Bottom: Of a Kind

I like the idea of pairing jewelry with natural elements and indigenous designs with a more classic, buttoned up wardrobe. it keeps things feeling a bit looser and free and picks up on the more bohemian aspects of my dream self wardrobe.

and those, are my thoughts on makeup, nails, and accessories. well for now at least... trust me, i could go on. but i think instead i will focus my attention back to sewing.



here's the lineup

its been pretty difficult for me to think about a fall wardrobe. post september 1st the internet exploded with autumn inspirations and lookbooks - and while so many of these are truly lovely to look at, it just can't change the fact that i plan on going to the beach well into october - november if i can push it. and no matter how you slice it - there is really only one appropriate attire at the beach (pssst! its a swimsuit!) and it has summer written all over its tiny little face.

lucky (?) for me i also have a job. and having a job in texas means you will be exposed to numbing air conditioning. the kind that turns your fingernails blue. true story. like, everyday of my life. and so i take layering my clothing, not just as a nifty fad, but as a daily necessity of climate survival. i call it bipolar dressing. it takes a crafty person to dress for 90+ degree heat outside, and 60- inside.

and this is where i found the holes in my wardrobe that i'm trying to fill - beginning with the fall palette challenge. i own two blazers. i won't tell you how many times i wear them - or how frequently they get washed. lets just say, the numbers are disproportionate. for me blazers are the perfect bipolar option. you can throw them over just about anything and immediately up the old internal temperature, yet still look put together in a work environment.

so it was really a no brainer for me to decide to make a blazer for the fall. since both of my other blazers are nice, normal, neutral colors i thought it would be good to make one that could carry some punch. like i said in my last post, i love bright, orangey reds. particularly up next to my face. this might sound like a difficult - or strong - color to wear, but it really works with my complexion and helps keep things interesting. for this blazer i decided to use burda's sweatshirt sportscoat. i really love the idea of this more structured silhouette made out of an ultra comfy wool jersey.

it was a bit serendipitous that colette patterns released this pants pattern, clover, just in time for fall. perhaps those lovely ladies over at colette know that most of us are walking around in ill fitting trous? anyway, i'm a pants lady. i like to wear pants. well i like to wear skirts too, but i find myself reaching for pants more often than not. but the crazy thing is - i really don't own that many pants. and those i do either never fit, or for whatever reason, don't fit now. so this project has been on my list for quite awhile. i'm excited about the clover pattern because it looks like a super basic pattern that i can really tailor to fit my figure, and i can use it as a base for other pants designs. i plan on making these in a dark denim.

this one i really debated over. i definitely wanted this challenge to focus more on separates that could be mixed and matched and integrated into my current wardrobe. but some days a good dress just makes so much sense. i thought colette's peony was just simply lovely, and like the clover pattern, so easily adaptable. i'm having a hard time focusing on a fabric for this dress. i think, given that so much of the year is warm here in texas, its wise for me to make this dress in something like a silk crepe de chine. but what to choose! i think a shift dress like this would look great in a graphic print, or a classic polka dot. i'm also tempted to make it out of a bold blue (also a great compliment for my complexion). but i could also see a version of this for colder months in a great jewel toned double knit... i have some decisions to make...

ever since i saw these looks on brook&lyn i've been totally taken with the ease of these draped tops. i can see them working over fitted trouser, as a dress, under a blazer, tucked into a skirt. its basically my dream shirt. i would make these out of a soft rayon jersey in pale beige's and pinks - colors that i really think go with everything. for this one i will most likely draft my own pattern.

this one is pretty basic. and pretty versatile. i already own a navy striped shirt - but it has seen better days. this is also a pattern that i could probably draft myself, but figure i'll go with the burdastyle striped top pattern because i was intrigued by the possibility of the stripe design making chevrons on the sleeves. i think it will add a bit of visual interest to an otherwise simple shirt (don't get me wrong. i loooooove me some stripes. at one point, i bought so many my wardrobe was bloated with them and i had to go on a stripe diet. but i think the time has come for stripes... again).

and finally, we have the midi skirt. i can't tell you how many days i stare discontentedly into the depths of my closet and think "if only i had a perfect skirt to wear..." these days "perfect skirt" would describe anything mid-calf length, blushy-beige in color and with a slight 70's romantic feel. you see, my skirt options are pretty pitiful. as i said, i'm more of a pants lady, and when the time does come for me to fem it up, i usually go the dress route. hence, no skirt buying/making and sadly, no skirt wearing. but no matter the indoor or outdoor climate, when i think of fall, i invariably have some mental image of a camel colored a-line skirt paired with tall boots. i haven't quite decided if i'll go the a-line route, or go for a more 60's pencil-skirt look, but regardless, i feel more than equip to draft up a pattern for this skirt.

so there you have it! i plan on making a grand total of ... 6 items! i feel this is pretty doable. especially since i haven't given myself a deadline! ha!

i'm currently waiting on a package from mood fabrics full of fabric swatches for me to pick from. one of the annoying things about this move for me has been the switch to relying on internet sources for my fabrics. whenever i think this though, a small voice pops up in my head and says "but sallie, you commute to houston everyday. surely you could just stop at the fabric store...?" and to that i say, "voice, you get to hide out in my head all day, me, i have to actually live my day. and at the end of it, i want to go home."

and so it is with great difficulty i have begun buying my fabrics primarily online. but luckily i can order swatches for 75 cents a pop from mood, and i can feel away before i buy.