Interviewing for a Job During the Apocalypse

Some days it feels hard to plan for the future amidst the hurricanes, floods, shootings, and now ash falling from the sky. Yet here I am in my interview dress as the sky turns dark with smoke. Sometimes you just have to put on your fancy pants and make it work.

Pattern: BurdaStyle's Folded Dress 02/2012 #110B
Fabric: 1.5 yds stretch cotton sateen
Cost: $14

Luckily we are not in any threat from the fire but, as you can see, the air down here has been thick with smoke. My heart goes out to all those affected by so many recent events.

This dress was originally intended as my graduation dress, but other events actually prevented me from finishing it on time. Without a deadline, I took the time to really tweak the pattern and I LOVE the fit on this one. It is not overfitted but seems to hang just right on the body, with the hem and waist parallel to the ground and no bunching or pulling. Perfect for when you need to look perfectly put together.

The dress is adapted from this Burda pattern, which originally had an asymmetrical wrap front. I chose instead to mirror the front pieces and I like the simple look of this dress with the print. I like the skirt length and high square neckline, which are more office appropriate. Funny story, but it is actually from the "Stop Traffic" collection, and my master's thesis was on racial disparities in traffic stops. Sometimes the stars align! (Just not in time for me to finish it for graduation.)

It also has something every working woman needs - pockets! This dress also pairs well with the blazer I made with Beth. She probably thought my color choice was a bit boring, but I wear this all the time as it goes with everything! If you're looking to learn from the jacket queen herself, she is teaching a jacket essentials course in Berkeley next month!

I would probably tell you more about this dress except I really did wear it to an interview today - 3 hours with 7 people in 4 different sessions! I am off to drink some tea, as it's either the talking or the smoke that is bothering my throat.

Hope you are staying safe out there!

Jean Dress

Pattern: frankenpattern with Sewaholic's Granville Shirt
Fabric: 2 yds medium-lightweight denim
Cost: I honestly don't remember on this one!

I have had this dress on my sewing list for ages. But when I bought the fabric in the fall, the weather had already started to cool. Then last summer was a cold one. Finally, this summer's trip and a week at my mom's house before we left gave me the push I needed to sew this up. And it got a ton of wear!

I am an incessant pattern mixer, so this dress is a combination of the Granville top, a traced RTW dress, and sleeveless pattern from my stash. My mom looks at me like I'm crazy when I lay them all out on my fabric and start piecing things together. But I figure, why buy a new pattern when you have all the pieces you need?

The dress is shown here in beautiful Prague, with a view of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle in the background. Truly an amazing city! The dress was a versatile travel piece because the denim didn't wrinkle as much after time in the suitcase, and it could be easily layered with the tops I brought. The day these pictures were taken it was HOT, but I also wore it frequently with striped tees underneath.

Here are the details:

The only thing I might do is flip the elastic casing down instead of up, as right now it sits just a tad too high.

We are finally back home and settled into our place, so I will have some new sewing to share soon! I've got an especially exciting project lined up that I hope to share shortly. 

Fall Sewing Plans

Packing up my closet at the beginning of this summer (we rented our place out while we were gone), I had a bit of a clothing crisis. I realized I really could do without the majority of my wardrobe. Next month when we head back, I'm seriously rethinking if I will put everything back or just pare down and start over.

Of course, there are some things I miss (especially my pants!), but a lot of the tops I have are disintegrating or ugly or just not fitting right. There are a lot of wearable muslins in there (hello four versions of the Granville shirt!) and some tops made from poor quality fabric that don't look that great after a few washes. Plus some things I've picked up at clothing swaps that were more experimental than permanent.

So I've spent this summer dreaming about some new things to add to my wardrobe. I'm giving button down shirts for work a bit of a break and focusing instead on knits to go with my Lazo trousers. I'm also hoping to make some shirts (and dresses!) that are more suitable for fun, and will feel special when I pull them out on a Friday night. Here are some things that have been on my mind:

First Row: 

  • Simplicity 8425 - I snapped a pic of a woman wearing a dress like this in Amsterdam - a deep V with a choker collar. Then I promptly saw several other women in the same thing. I think it's a fun take on the choker trend and a little bit sexy with that low neckline. 
  • McCall's 7429 - I have been missing a slim fitting jersey dress in my wardrobe, and I love the knot detail on this one. Burda might have a variation of this, too. 
  • Vogue 1126 - When I went shopping last month, I wanted a feminine, floral wrap dress. It's not a wrap dress, but I might pull this pattern out of my stash and see how I feel about the ruffle. 
  • New Look 6488 - I have resisted the sleeve/cold shoulder/whatever-you-want-to-call-it trend long enough. I am in love with this dress and very much wish I had it right now. 

Second Row:
  • Loose-fitting collared shirt - I've had some lace-ish fabric in my stash for quite some time now and I think I've finally figured out what to do with it. I will probably modify some existing pattern I have for this. 
  • TNT Top Pattern - I still need some basic knit tops for work, and a boatneck would be just dandy. 
  • TNT Pants Pattern - These tartan trousers from the Tessuti blog have me drooling. 

Bottom Row: 
  • BurdaStyle Blouse 3/2012 - I've been meaning to try this one out from my stash, and I have a scrap of silk that might work in a sleeveless style.
  • TBD Cape Top - I have been obsessed with this cape style shirt from Victoria Beckham for ages and think I may be finally close to figuring out how to draft my own.
  • DP Studio LE 600 - Another top idea I've been obsessed with, and finally found the right pattern for. It's a top that looks like it has an origami tie folded in! Too on the nose for a work place? We'll see. 

As I was dreaming up this post, I realized I had written another inspiration post from a fabric haul a while back. I wondered if I had even made anything from it, and actually surprised myself to discover that I had sewn up 3 of the 7, cut a 4th one out, and used the fabric from the 5th thing to make something else. Pretty good! Three of those items even made it into my suitcase for traveling, so they have gotten a lot of wear. We'll see if this new batch of ideas holds my interest when I get back in September.

Flashback: Vegas Neons

Pattern: Very modified Madalynne Noelle Bralette with high-waisted Ohhh Lulu Grace panties
Fabric: 1 yd of swimsuit lycra
Cost: $15

This month I went swimming in the Danube, but rewind back to May and I wore this little number in Vegas! Don't ask me how we ended up in Vegas so close to our big trip (and Vegas isn't even my jam!), and also how I ended up at a Punk Rock Bowling festival (ha!), but there I was and with a new bathing suit for the occasion. Thankfully we sewists can sew our own rather than shelling out $$ for a new one! 

I took the opportunity to experiment with some new-to-me styles. I had wanted to try out the high-waisted bikini, so I raised the waistline on the Ohhh Lulu Grace panties and gave them a go. They are fairly comfortable and work well in the water, though I might play with the height next time - lower perhaps? They seem to obscure the waist a bit. 

I also concocted this splashy top, starting with the Madalynne Noelle bralette. I made mine with halter ties rather than a racer back. Many of her patterns are meant to be pullover, which I find a bit hard to get on and off. Instead, I divided the strap across the back into two and secured with bathing suit hooks. 

Both fabrics are from Fabric Outlet/Cali Fabrics in SF, which always have a wide array of anything I could possibly need.

This suit is definitely worn best poolside with friends, where it tolerates lounging and water slides equally well.

Later that night, I also wore the top with a skirt out to the music festival. It was fun, but bathing suits are definitely not meant to be worn for that long!

Hope you are staying cool this summer, wherever you are!

Fast Fashion Shopping in Vienna

Ahoy! We have just left Vienna where it was hot! Unlike the rest of our trip (Amsterdam, Munich, and now Prague) where we had cooler days, Vienna was in the heat of summer. For a week there, it made me completely second-guess my entire packing list. Forget the comfy jeans that were perfect for bike riding in the Netherlands, or the turtle neck for long walks in Englischer garden, all I wanted was girly dresses, frilly shirts, and breezy skirts. And not the ones I had packed, either.

So maybe it was the hot weather, or maybe it was the fact that I haven't been able to sew any clothes since we left the states in early June, but I finally caved and went shopping. Readers, this is something I haven't done in years! But I was really itching for a new flirty dress, and seeing all the European fashions made me want some new clothes in a bad way. Plus, there is something exhilarating to finally allowing yourself some fast fashion and re-entering the retail world of cheap shops to see what they had. A guilty pleasure if you will. I promised myself I wouldn't be too picky on stitching and fit, just buy something that looked good and was nice in the heat. I was actually pretty excited to have a look. 

Well, as you can guess I was sorely disappointed. While Zara and H&M were crammed full of heaping piles of clothes over several floors in two locations (yes, each company had two stores on the same shopping street), I struggled to find what I was looking for. First, in the year of the sleeve, I found that many of the blouses and dresses for sale had long sleeves, which was unacceptable in this heat. And even the shorter garments were made of thick polyester and synthetic materials that just didn't seem breathable. When I finally found a store that did have some things to my taste (Mango, I think it was?), the fit on each of the nine garments I tried on was atrocious! Wrap dresses that were loose on top but so tight and short on the bottom that the shape was completely distorted. Shirts that were too short, with darts pointing at all the wrong things. And don't get me started on rompers, which are hard to fit in the best of circumstances!

Unfortunately for me also is that I am stubborn. Determined to not go home empty handed, my simple shopping trip turned into a whole day affair. The pedometer on my phone says I walked 13 miles that day if you count the mile and a half to and from downtown and the dog walk I took that morning. So what did I find?

My first purchase was a simple princess-seamed spaghetti strap dress with a gathered skirt (here). In plain black, it is not the most exciting purchase ever and it didn't even have any trendy details, but I like that it was fitted through the bodice and made me feel good. Plus, with an elasticized back and adjustable straps, the fit was pretty spot on. To make sure I got the best one, I flipped through all the dresses in my size and chose the one with the best neckline stitching (some were pretty wonky). 

Next, I was on the lookout for a skirt. This would help stretch the rest of my wardrobe, as I could pair it with some of the shirts and tanks I had packed. I found a single pink pleated skirt on a table of wadded up clothes at Zara that seemed to fit the bill (seen here). It was girly and a bit out of my style range, which is exactly what I wanted. Plus, with an elasticized waist I knew, again, that this one would fit. 

Finally, I picked up a simple floral camisole to pair with the skirt or some of my jeans (pictured in a blurry tourist shot below). Again, making my wardrobe stretch. Out of both stores, they were all sold out of my size, so I picked up one size bigger (it is meant to be a loose top anyway), and knotted the straps in the back to make it sit right. I had really wanted to try a cold shoulder or off the shoulder trend for fun, but alas it was not meant to be. 

I think I paid around $35 Euros for everything, which certainly is an advantage to fast fashion. (If you are wondering how we even afford to spend three months traveling abroad, Mr. Made and I spend about half our time working remotely, and rented out our place back home for some additional income.) 

Overall I am quite happy with my purchases. While sewing is all about dreaming up designs, shopping is about the hunt, combing through stores and piles of clothes until you find what you are looking for. I understand why some people love it and others hate it. For my part, I was only semi-successful but hey, I was also a bit rusty. I think for the time being I'll retreat to dreaming up designs on my Pinterest board. 

Of course, when I got home I noticed that the seam on the princess seam dress that I had bought had popped right near the apex. Because I looked through the dresses in my size for the one with the best neckline stitching, I hadn't tried this particular one on, and therefore not noticed the defect. Luckily, a little hand sewing and it was successfully repaired. I guess I can't help myself. 

P.S. It does get a bit lonely traveling, so if any Prague readers would like to invite me along to their sewing group or know of any stores offering up their machines or classes, I'd be very interested! We will be around for the month! The lovely Anneloes was kind enough to show me around Amsterdam and it was so nice to meet a new friend in a new country.  
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