woe is me, and other saturday afternoon concerns

I can’t make it to Brooklyn General tonight, for I have a test on Tuesday and a mountain of work to do for ye olde internship.  Sadness!  You are all welcome to have a pre-pre-meet-up a the library with me, though.  I have a gigantic bottle of water and some Wheat Thins, so it’s basically a party over here.

I leave you with this, until Tuesday:

Yeah.  This happened.  Not sure what’s my recourse.  Though “Maids and Muslins” would make an excellent title for sewing-themed period erotica or romance, yes?  Get on it, reader!


Elliott Berman is having 50% off of everything for this week.  I am [sigh] abstaining.  You should not.  Half. Off. Everything.  New Yorkers can even go pick up their wares in person.

Their fabric is super duper nice; Chanel and Prada and Chloé.  Plus, they ship!  To places!  Call Eugenia and ask her.

For the uninitiated, here are a few good posts about EB: Shop the Garment District, Peter at MPB, and Sew Maris.

Other PSA: Sarai Mitnick’s silk-sewing seminar!  Tomorrow!  Mood!  Be there or be square.  I’ll be working (it), so look for me in a Hazel, wielding the sign-in clipboard.  Hopefully, I can kick my crazy silk-sewing fears.

Last one: I shall reply to your comments later on today.  I had a test last night and have to finish a gigantic p-set by Friday, so, you know, ow.

we’re all friends here; maybe that’s the problem

I used to sit on the editorial board of a student-run literary journal. There were six of us: the two breathlessly sensitive artistes (poetry and fiction) and one hardass (managing editor), plus our three guppies (editors-in-training). Guess which one I was. My comments were often met with whoops and giggles, as if I were trying to be mean. The writers and artists were never in the room, and I didn’t think we were doing anyone any favors by mincing words or instilling false hope. Rip. Off. The Bandage. There’s a frankness that I think that we owe people we respect and whose work we value. My co-editors. . .disagreed.

There’s a point here. Reader, I don’t know if we’re doing this right. Do I think that the sewing community should adopt the Charlotte Witherspoon approach to human interaction? HALL no. We all know that I’m going to end up alone, smoking mentholated cigarettes in a housecoat and rollers at the supermarket, while muttering to myself about personal space. It’s just that sometimes I wonder if we’re navigating this new social frontier as well as possible, you know?

I’m not saying that I think we’re dishonest (I say “we” because I am so totally in this bag, too), but rather that blogs tend to be obtuse when things aren’t so great. I spend my days parsing texts for greater meaning; I totally don’t want to come home and do that with blogs. What’s the difference between “The instructions were richly detailed and excellent for a beginner, but the pattern was poorly drafted,” and “The instructions were excellent, and I had to make the following adjustments: Add three inches to the sleeves, two to the hem, redraft the darts, adjust the zipper placement, lift the neckline, resize the waistband, and take in the hips. Personal preference, though”?

I bring this up because I came across a few less-than-laudatory offhand comments in some blog posts (eta: not reader comments, but the blogger’s comments about indie patterns or books)—some posts were more recent, others I found while dicking around in your archives. It was bracing, you guys. I’m no shrinking violet (uni is basically one step away from being a knife fight), but I was shocked. Now I have to wonder why. These weren’t personal comments, they weren’t offensive, they were rather direct and gently critical, but I just did not see them coming. Honestly? It was nice. Often, when I work with a pattern or book that everyone has l.o.v.e.d. but that I don’t quite get, I wonder if y’all are all better at this than I am (you are, hands down), or if there’s something that’s missing.

Maybe it’s because the sewing community is such a consciously friendly space? I have friends in the theater, and I’d never say, “The lighting was great, but I don’t think the piece gave you too much to work with. Frankly, it was not your best, but at least it’s over!” But! If I go see someone else’s performance, I feel completely comfortable being honest. This might explain why we all seem to put the kid gloves on for indie patterns but rip into the contemporary Big Four.

Here’s the thing, though: there are people on both sides of this fence. There are people in my friend’s five-minute play in some basement on the one still-dangerous block in the East Village, just as there are people in the big-budget Tennessee Williams revival. There are people who draft Big Four patterns, who answer phones, who style the shoots, and sew the clothes. Some of them read our blogs and read about how much they suck, in plain language. Granted, we don’t know the names of their cats, or that they like Motown music, or prefer green tea to black, but they’re still there, just a step out of our reach. Is distance or money why we don’t extend the same delicacy to them?

I have a HUGE test on Tuesday, yet I can’t quite shake this thought. Think of this (not proofread) post as more of a brain dump than anything.

well, this is a short one.

Hey there.  I didn’t realize it’d been so long.  How you?  (Apparently only Tami Taylor can say that.  Poppycosh! ( Paprikash.))  (We really need to take away my parentheses, no?)

I’m still trying to navigate the whole changing of the size business.  Perhaps I’ll concentrate on brushing up on my basic skills—hand-sewing and the like.  Ponder.

This was totally going to be a long post, but I had an intense day at work (well, interning) and I have to spend tomorrow writing proofs, so I figured I’d pop in for a bit.  Three weeks is a long time, after all.

I’m in bed, doing a bit of this:


Claire Shaeffer’s new book, y’all.  And. . .I’m not quite sure yet.  Plus, a few swatches from ye olde internship.  I’m debating the glittery Marc Jacobs polka dot wool crepe.  Jazz pants, anyone?  It comes in three colors.


Basil is being helpful.  On top of the refrigerator.  As one does.

Okay, I am knackered and am off to read your blog and Claire Shaeffer’s sleeve-setting tutorial.  Let the good times roll.

bare ne-cess-ities

Do you know Lisa Borgnes Giramonti’s A Bloomsbury Life?  I could practically live in it.  I find myself frequently (shamelessly) reading through her archives, again and again.

A view of LBG's house (and my favorite Clarence House wallpaper of all time), via Apartment Therapy
A snippet from LBG’s house (and my favorite Clarence House wallpaper of all time), via Apartment Therapy

The blog does a lot of things, but I think that it mostly makes me want to live well, and prompts me to think about what that really means to me.  Last night, in a fit of procrastination, I stumbled across this bit from LBG’s tea with David Netto last March:

What are your necessities?
I like the signifiers of an orderly life, none of which my wife Liz is the least bit interested in. It’s important for me to have lightbulbs in the house. And postage stamps. And pens and pads of paper. One of the nicest things she did for me recently was to go out and buy a whole mess of the exact same kind of pen — Papermate Flair felt tip — and put them in a big cup for me.

When I was twenty, I had this awesome Sarah Lawrence slob roommate.We lived in a tenement in the East Village in the same apartment where Larry Clark filmed “Kids.” I was in architecture school in Cambridge so I was only there about a week a month and I said to her, “Look, I’ll pay for 2/3 of the rent and I’ll hire a maid twice a week. In return, I would like to you to do one thing for me. Get my mail and stack it on this silver tray so it’s all oriented the same way. That’s it.”
Is it as simple as that, do you think?  I’m not sure I know what my necessities are.

so this is the problem with the internet age. also, me me me me me.

I apparently only like three colors: blue, yellow and gray.  Pinterest told me so, so it’s basically true.  Sarai has started a great conversation over at the Coletterie about Pinterest and consumerism and all that jazz.  (Go read it here.)  I have a board where I pin things that I’d like to spend four months agonizing about buying.  Naturally, it’s called “Not Buying This.”  Here’s a peek:

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 1.58.34 AM

The color!  The variety!  I know; I find it stunning, too.  I suppose I appreciate Pinterest as kind of an anthropological document.  I like knowing what I liked seventeen weeks ago and separating the fleeting interests from the long-term infatuations.  Embarrassingly, I could totally spend the evening going through someone’s pins in time order imagining what they must have been thinking that time they posted twelve healthy living recipes or all of those redecorated living rooms.

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 1.59.21 AM

What a shock!  I like scarves and shoes and sweaters, with the occasional stud.  I’ve been trying to talk myself into a pair of lace-up something-or-others, but have  yet to take the plunge.  (Not sure how well I wear the Manic Pixie Dream Girl uniform.)  Let’s compare this to my fabric pinboard:

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 2.25.31 AM

A riot of color!  Well, not quite.  Now I’m going to think about why my fabric selections are more adventurous than my wardrobe selections.  Even when I leaf through my sewing and outfit inspiration boards I get the same neutral loop.  With fabrics, the color spectrum is expanded, but I tend to stick to florals and classical designs.  Ponder.

I wonder if someone can get some sort of “What does your Pinterest account say about you?” app doohickey going.  Perhaps this is something we’ll just reserve for therapy and blog posts, yes?

The next post will have an actual dress in it, showcased on my actual body.  I had to give my mum time to recover from the last post’s photos.  (Her: [gasp of horror] Bunny, you have to take that last picture down.  Please, I’m begging you.  Me: [cackling]  Granted, my lack of shame probably means I will never have a real job or date ever again, but who needs one of those anyway?) (Oh, parentheses.  I just can’t quit you (all).)

What do you think Pinterest account says about you?  Does it say anything?  Am I just an insomniac mining for content?  Don’t answer that.

whoa now, calendar

Oh, hi there.  How are you?  It’s been a while.  December was, shall we say, not my favorite.  The fall semester brought me five colds, four ankle sprains, a constant need for Kleenex, and a compromised will to live.  (I’m kidding about that last bit.)  Then December came and brought the death illness for all of the reading days, finals week, and beyond.  I suffered, my grades suffered, and now I’m pretending it never happened.  That’s healthy, yes?  I find myself inordinately glad to say sayonara to 2012.  2013 is set to be the year of “Let’s Not Do That Again, Shall We?”

Enough with this life business and let’s talk about sewing/fashion goals.  I have them.

1. Make a dedicated sewing space.  When I’m a good girl (um, fantastic strong and independent woman—huzzah feminism), I have to spend thirty minutes unpacking and setting up my sewing things.  Mama ain’t got a whole lot of free time, so that’s not great.  When I’ve been a horrible person, I have to hunt down seam rippers in kitchens and rescue pattern pieces from my impish kittens.  Let’s not do that anymore.

2. Buy and use more patterns from independent companies.  I’m a student; therefore, most of my money goes towards things like food and $200 textbooks I only need to use twice.  I have a really hard time justifying an $18 pattern to myself when I can just wait patiently for the Simplicity sale at the Jo-Ann.  Yet, I believe in small business and independent pattern companies and keeping the spirit of sewing alive.  Sigh.  Will I drop 30 bones on the Milano cape pattern from Papercut before it gets warm out?  We’ll see.

3. Clear up my UFOs.  I have five of them—all of which were tweaked to some extent over this weekend.  One needs facings and four (four!) need closures.  I am sans machine, as my Singer sucked in ways that will become legend, and I still have not decided on a sewing machine.  I’m using my mum’s, but it leaves a lot to be desired.  Namely, uniform stitch quality, a reliable back tack, and a zipper foot.  So the closures might have to wait until I. . .

4. Buy a damn sewing machine.  I’ve been agonizing over this for months and I just need to bite the bullet and make it happen.  I thought I had narrowed it down to three machines, but then I asked the good people on Pattern Review for advice and now it looks like I’m in for a month of research and testing.  I feel so much guilt about this, though.  More on that later.

5. Buy more fabric.  Yes, you heard me (er, read me).  I’ve actually been really good about stash busting this year (not that you’ve seen very many of the results), especially cottons.  A bad rayon lining experience caused me to give up on silk, which I now have coming out of my ears, but once I get over that business, it’ll be good.  I do need to pay closer attention to how I buy fabric.  I tend to buy loads of fabric at one time and then fabric fast for months afterwards.  No bueno.  I live in New York City.  A place with a real, live garment district.  I really need to shop more often and shop with a plan.

6. Take photographs.  Sweet baby james, this is hard.  Well it isn’t.  I actually just don’t take photographs.  I’ve been known to go off on solo vacations and return with one photograph.  (“But I took that photograph for you.”)  There are whole years of my life for which there is no photographic evidence that I even existed.   I am badass and old school, like a lady Ron Swanson.  Both being in front of or behind a camera kind of make me want to ralph.  Must get over that.  On one hand, I feel like I’ve lived a better life because I haven’t had to stop press to take a selfie.  On the other, I like looking at other people’s pretty pictures.  Also, this is weird because I am 11/10 vain and have never met a mirror I don’t like.  Odd.

7. Embrace the uniform.  In the summer, I lived in these cotton capris, button-front shirts, cardigans, and flats.  In the winter, I either did a dress, cardigans, tights, and flats or stovepipe-y jeans, button-front shirts, and cardigans with my old man Merrell mules.  Sure, we had the occasional marniere, or t-shirt/cardigan combination tossed in for good measure, but I pretty much just wore what I wore and liked it.  Bully for me.  More of that, I think.

8. Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.  My mum and I constantly argue (actually, politely debate) about when it’s worth it to sew something instead of buying ready-to-wear.  I always want to sew everything; she thinks it’s a waste.  I do think that sewing certain things just won’t make my heart or budget sing.  Button-front shirts, jeans, t-shirts are on that list.

9. Buy fewer, better things.  Instead of three J. Crew cardigans, how about one from Brora or Elgin or Eric Bompard?  I don’t know how well this would work if instead of buying ten Old Navy button-front shirts, I bought one from Ann Mashburn, but how about we just take baby steps?

10. Be a better blogger.  See: photographs, sewing machine, space, and all of that jazz.  I read so many sewing blogs but I rarely, rarely comment.  I don’t spend nearly enough time taking care of my corner of the Internet or being supportive of people who are deadset inspiring.  I think I need to dedicate more time to being a productive member of the online sewing community rather than a deadbeat half-asser.

I have other general goals that aren’t quite resolutions.  I’d like to exercise more, be better at answering emails (so sorry, M!), learn how to ride a bicycle, read more books for fun, start writing creatively again, enjoy New York while I’m here again.  I’m sure these are the usual suspects.  Well I’m off to 2013 (verb).  Let’s do this, reader.

we will become silhouettes*

I have been stress shopping.  This is vastly superior to stress eating but somewhat inferior to stress posting/sewing.  I was productive when I had my Bernina rental (more on that when I have time) and when I went home for Thanksgiving (UFO seam ripping, holla!), but I haven’t had the time to really do much in these parts.  So sorry!  Even more sorry that I’m dashing this off before I go a-studyin’ and a-paper writin’ and a-readin’.  If you stop enunciating, activities become more fun and stimulating, or so my theory a-goes.

I’ve been thinking about silhouettes a lot lately.  I tend to stick to dramatically full skirts, fitted bodices, and longer hemlines.  Um, why? No seriously, I have lost any idea about why.  Maybe my mum told me I looked good in them?  Maybe I spent too much time with the New Look?  In any event, I went shopping with that outlook and found myself looking like the big top circus tent.  I did another sweep around the store and found myself grabbing things with straighter lines, just for fun.  Lo, it actually worked!

Anthropologie Skirt

(Ignore the top—I just randomly grabbed it to go with the skirt.)  (Oh, I got a haircut.  It actually is usually rather chic and jaunty and in the style of a sassy French schoolgirl, but I occasionally look like a Franciscan monk.  That, or Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men.  Oh, to have a permamirror for coiffing.)

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

See!  It’s kind of chic, though.  [source]

Madewell Dress

This dress made it home with me (on sup-ah sale).  It’s rayon, and straight, and has a self-belt.  Yet, I love it.  Mummy Seam Ripped was complaining about how dark the photograph is and how little of the dress you can see and she can kiss my grits.  Ain’t no time for photoshoots here at Seam Ripped HQ.  We’ve got finals in 11 days, plus a quiz, a test, three books to read, and two papers (one of which is in Arabic) in the interim.  So, there.  (That note was just for my mother.  You needn’t care about my workload.)

Speaking of, I should wrap this up.  I’ve been thinking about how I can translate my newfound love of straighter silhouettes into my sewing.  It seems obvious, no?  Pencil skirts, sure, but mama’s not sewing no button plackets.  Or, at least, I’m not totally sure I’ve the patience for sewing a long button placket.  Shifts and sheaths, maybe?  We shall see.  Now, I’m off to find food.

*Name that tune.  Er, band.

stuff i did while i wasn’t here

I washed a lot of silk.  I hung some of the yardage on the back of my bedroom door and some bits got stranded.  Then I used a plastic J. Crew shoe bag on the edge of the door prevent damage.  Who said I wasn’t an absolute MacGyver gangster?  Oh, yes, that would be everyone.

This photo was taken because my mum disapproved of the cardigan in the first post.  I’ve long since given up on pleasing her.  The silk was incidentally in the background and what’s better than a visual aid?  Also, I screen-capped it because I find the “Is this Charlotte Witherspoon?” bit to be endlessly amusing.  I really don’t want to know what that says about me.

I voted.  I put the sticker on my computer because it was getting fuzzies from my coat.  Then I put the knitting next to it because I was actually trying to photograph the knitting on the only undistracting background I own.  Then we got this weird photograph.  My people won.  (All that middle backstory was totally necessary.)  I’m thrilled, but sometimes I feel like we forget that you can be happy about winning without being happy that someone else lost, you know?  You don’t know?  That’s fine, reader.

I took up knitting as my stress-busting hobby.  I don’t know if I’m knitting or purling and I’m not quite sure it’s supposed to look like this.  Whatever, man.  (Yes, it is a middle-of-the-night photograph.  Nothing but the best for you, of course.)

Also, I think I got overzealous with the casting on and am actually making a really small afghan rather than a really large scarf.  Halp!  I’m considering getting some sort of diagnostic am-I-frakking-this-up knitting consultation.  Mostly because the above is four days’ worth of work.  I know.

More later, I think.  Hopefully with some sewing, once I get my iron in the mail.  (I took it home with me for Columbus weekend because I only have good ideas.)  Please forgive the typos, I require sleep.


I have a sewing schedule.  Tis marvelous.  Tis also something I drafted while procrastinating, but whatever.  It exists, it lives, I know when I get to sew.  Huzzah!  I won’t be able to actually sew until I go home this weekend.  Boo!  (Paper writing and studying oddly have to take priority.  The universe, she is cruel.)

I’ve spent this whole weekend grappling with the fact that I am not Zooey Deschanel and therefore cannot do things like, I dunno, wear Oxfords with a dress and cardigan and call it good.  Or can I?  I was trying to make a project list and get a good handle on the things I actually need for the fall (trousers and warm dresses and cardigans, oh my).  There are looks that I really want to try and color combinations I really want to experiment with, but I wonder if I’ll look absurd.  Then again, when else will I be able to have this much sartorial freedom?  My day-to-day life involves little to no physical stress, there’s no dress code, I don’t have any sort of commute.

Then again (again), I’ve never seen so many blondes and bros assembled in one place in my entire life.  Seriously.  Everyone’s style seems to bob within the same margins without very much room for outliers.  Sperrys, Jack Rogers, TOMS, The North Face, Vineyard Vines, school-branded merch, Longchamp bags, lather, rinse, repeat.  I imagine spring will bring out the Lilly and Oxford cloth shirts and maybe even the dreaded popped collar.  It’s sort of disconcerting.  No one shows up for class in pajamas, even at 8am.  I rarely see a woman not wearing at least a little makeup.  People have time to do things to their hair.  Everyone seems to be constantly exercising or in exercise clothing.  I, um, don’t do that.  Well, I have the Longchamp totes (they’re nylon and easy and I’ve been using them for a decade), but other than that I just kind of throw on whatever I find that’s semi-clean and go from there.  I go to the library instead of the gym and delude myself into thinking that walking everywhere somehow compensates for it.

I often talk to my roommate S. about this.  She mentioned that she would totally wear knee-high riding boots, but come fall everyone on campus sports them.  I almost feel damned both ways.  What’s the worse fate: Feeling obliged to throw on fleece and sandals to fit in, or going against your own style just for the sake of non-conformity?  There is, of course, a third option: Wearing what you’d like and completely ignoring what everyone else is doing.  However, isn’t that just on this side of impossible?  Style osmosis is absolutely a thing.  I’m actively afraid that I’ll get conditioned to believe that such a high concentration of sameness is normal.  I also worry about how it will impact my style (precious commodity that it is).  (That was sarcasm.)  The sameness issue spills out into areas that are beyond the scope of this here blog.

I don’t know.  This is all rather inconsequential and adolescent-sounding, isn’t it?  I don’t know why it feels so terribly important, but it does.  Blargh, maybe I just need some sort of inspiration that I’m not finding here?  Off to get a bagel and watch a math video.  (The fun, I have it.)