‘splain this to me

This’ll be a quick one, as I am exhausted.  (Just handed in my last two papers for this session.  Woot!  I have written forty pages since Saturday.  Go me?  Poor me?  The jury’s still out.)

In an effort to relax, I’ve decided to digitally organize my stash.  Expert enabler and generally awesome person, Meredith, mentioned using Evernote.  Never occurred to me, believe it or not.  Anyway!   I’m matching fabrics to patterns and getting all nerdily organized (before being colossally disappointed once the fall semester rolls around and I realize I’ve got everything but time).  I can’t wait to hit Jo-Ann with my fall pattern list.  Before my dreams get totally crushed, I generally like to confirm that I have enough yardage for the pattern.

Say hello to organizational superiority.

I have encountered a roadblock.  Behold!  The deeply confusing yardage chart for Vogue 8901.

Vogue 8901 Yardage, View A

I’m finally getting in the practice of FBAs.  My high bust measurement is about 32-33″, depending on the day, and my full bust is 40-41″, which puts me at a 10-12 starting point.  My waist measurement puts me in a different stratosphere (three cheers for my gastrointestinal system!).  I have 2.78 yards of fabric that is 56″ wide.  How screwed am I, exactly?  Is the leap between the 14 and the 16 a cutting layout thing or what?

This is the Vogue sketch, shamelessly lifted from the Vogue website.

Novita from Very Purple Person made one, and I am now emotionally attached to the idea of it.  Go look.  Hers is super cute and involves pineapples.

Oh, here is the fabric:

Carolina Herrera Pink Splatter Check

Yeah.  Do we all remember that Pee Wee Herman episode?  If you love fruit salad so much, why don’t you maaaaarry it?  This fabric and I are pretty close to that.  I’m pretending I can wear it to class with a brown belt, navy cardigan, tights, and flats.  Let me alone with this delusion!  Also, this not effing up of the silk crepe de Chine delusion, but we’ll worry about that later.

Last night, I was photographing and cataloging the fabric.  Clive climbed on my bed, did a double take, sniffed the fabric, kneaded it, then decided it’s where he’d prefer to sleep.  He rejects cotton and wool, but has a thing for silk.  Fine, cat.  Fine.  I’ve been trying to institute a cat sheet policy, so that I can spend less of my life vacuuming (you can see a peek of it in the photo).  It’s obviously been going well.

Cats, y'all.
Cats, y’all.

A quick admin note: I’m messing around with themes in an attempt to find something that is functional and attractive.  I cannot figure out how to get the font smaller.  Oy.  I will eventually take the plunge and get all designy and shit, but I have no idea what I want this space to look like.  Clean?  Not cluttered?  Less dreadful than usual?

In any event, opinions are welcome on this most eventful post!  I’m rolling my eyes, reader.

a palette emerges

Hey, y’all. Long time no. . .forget about it. If you’ve had the grave misfortune of following me on Twitter, being my barista at Bouchon, or standing next to me on a subway platform, you know I’ve been neck-deep in tests for the past decade six weeks.  It’s been real, as they say.  Anyway, I go back to Washington on Wednesday/Thursday and start another batch of classes the Monday after that, so I’ll hold off on the grand declarations of being back, etc.  It is nice to see you, puppyface.

I finished my last final last night (crossing fingers and toes), and, naturally, celebrated by buying fabric this morning.  The sainted Kashi has a cat (well, his neighbors do), and if you, like me, go anywhere where there’s an animal, you should stop by and say hello.  (I swear, Eric at Mood is really on to something with that fluff bucket Swatch.)

Drunk on my newfound free-ish time, I decided to lay out my summer projects.  I sense a theme, you guys.

Fabric Stack
I’ll totally tell you where all this is from. And, no, I did not buy them in one swoop; I only bought three this morning. That last sentence was for my mother.

One of these things looks exactly like every other thing in the stack.  Do you remember the movie 500 Days of Summer?  Zooey Deschanel looks fantastic in it, and I remember reading the costume designer saying that they made a conscious decision to dress Zooey’s character in blue throughout the film.  The pieces were a mix of mall stores and vintage, and I think the restrained color palette made her wardrobe seem a lot more put-together and chic than it otherwise would have.  Then again, this wasn’t really a conscious decision for me.  Maybe I’m just in a blue mood?

I owe you my Meringue, my hemmed Hazel, my trouser-fitting stories (the horror!), some fabric ogling and whole bunch of other stuff.  Also, we’re going to try our hand at democracy here at Seam Ripped Central.

Oh!  Before I jet off (to buy buttons for my seventy shirtwaist dresses), would you like to meet Clementine Bug Witherspoon?


I know that everyone says this about their adopted street pigeons, but I think she’s the very best.  Also, look at how clever her parents were, making that nest.  Who knew pigeons could operate document shredders?

Onward, with purpose.


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.

the things i do for sewing, man

I went to G Street Fabrics last Friday.  Actually, I went on a Rockville odyssey that involved G Street Fabrics last Friday.  The Falls Church store is way closer, but their rental machine was out, so I had to go to Maryland.  (That is, their machine was out until they called me as I was on my way to Rockville, to let me know it had been returned.  Facepalm.)

I suppose the first thing I should tell you is that I got slapped in the face with a bus door. G Street Rockville is two buses and a train ride away from campus and I got slapped in the face in the home stretch.  See, I was running to catch the bus and turned the corner to board as the driver was closing the doors.  That was my introduction to Rockville.  Charmed, I was!  Then I got lost in a sea of strip malls on the .7-mile hike from bus stop to store.  I like to pretend that it’s because I’m a New Yorker and not because I’m an idiot.  Just go with it.  Finally, after finding a kindly man and his dog on Hoya Street (waiting to find Saxa Road, obviously), I found G Street.

Fun fact: There is a gym above G Street Fabrics but underneath its sign.  Isn’t that confusing?  Just for me?  Awesome.

As I was waiting for them to resurrect the rental form I found this beauty:

An Ascher polished cotton.  Gorgeous print, fabulous colors, $30/yd.  I died.  I am actually writing this from beyond the grave.  It is Ghost Charlotte, I hope you don’t mind.  I will never ever complain about the prices at Paron ever again, amen.  G Street has another $30 cotton that actually costs $5/yd a Fabrics for Less, $4 if you bring my baller mom with you.  I never knew I was a whiny cheapskate until I started sewing.  (I understand why it costs more, I just don’t like it.)

In an uncharacteristic move, I made my way to the discount section in the back, where everything is $2.97/yd.  Much better.  Mama doesn’t dig for fabric, as a rule, but I emerged from the polyester haze with this beauty:

Uneven because it’s on my bed, but isn’t it pretty?  I think I might be alone there.  The woman who cut it out for me looked doubtful.  Hell, I’m having second thoughts.  It’s a heavy-ish canvas with a bit of body.  I thought it would make a nice pencil skirt, but I’m wondering if I can overcome the stiffness and whip up a pleated A-line skirt.  Doubtful, but windmill tilting is the best part of being a beginner.

Nobody puts Bernina in a corner.  Unless it’s getting late and your roommates probably need to relcaim the postage stamp-sized dining table, then maybe.  The 1001 is lovely and just hums along like a dream, even though I think she’s about twenty years old.

Oh, and I muslined the Colette Meringue skirt in a lovely cotton from none other than Kashi.  This is an excellent picture of it, obviously.   The scallops look like fangs, despite my best notchery, so I’m thinking I might follow this tutorial on my next go (which, erm, should be happening right now).

is there a twelve-step for silk addiction?

Metro Textiles strikes again, and I have almost no idea what I’ll do with the whole haul of it.  Well, I do, but I’m always mortally afraid of ​not having enough fabric for any given application.  I also scarcely own any lining fabric.  Whoops.  I have to go back out on Monday (my aunt messed up one of her fabrics), so hopefully I’ll rectify the lining situation.

I feel like I go through fabric stages.  I buy tons of fabrics for shirt dresses, then retro fit-and-flares, then cropped trousers, then jackets.  I need to branch out.  Then I start thinking, “How many shirt dresses can I possibly own?”  Then I descend into a spiral of self-doubt.  It never ends well, reader.

I wasn’t sure about the fabric on the bottom.  Then Kashi told me to hold it up to myself like a dress.  He took a picture.  What do you know, it worked!  Excellent salesman, him.​


​Hmph.  It feels like I bought much more fabric than this.  I also got an extra yard of a fabric I already have (an orange and green Milly silk print) so that I could eek out a dress if I want to.

I think I might look like a middle-aged suburban secretary (not administrative assistant) in the lower navy-and-black fabric.  Who says that’s a bad thing?  Did you watch Project Runway?  No stylish women wear navy or chiffon.

I’m off to breathe deeply into a paper bag and try to launder some silk.  I own more silk than I do cotton, yet I’m deathly afraid of touching it.  I just need to remind myself that dry-cleaning is so terribly bad for the environment and aren’t I as granola as granola can be (no, otherwise I would have thrifted all of the above).  Then I think of water spots, shrinkage, loss of hand, the horrors!​  Let’s end on that up note.

on a jet plane

Mark your calendars, ladies and gents​.  I’m taking this dog and pony show to WordPress on 26 August.  A little birdie told me that things are as sucky on the reader end as they have been in the editing interface, and Aretha does not appreciate that level of inconvenience.  New digs shall be located at seamrippedblog.wordpress.com.  I’m still trying to figure out if I consider WordPress to be The Man (not to be confused with Da Man), but hey.

Onward to fabric-related things.  Do you know when people consume large quantities of drugs then wake up with a random tattoo and possibly some sort of water-borne disease?  I think that may be what happened to me this week.  I got paid then I made it rain like, um, someone who does that.  I’m sharing because I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my fabric.  I’ll take a cue from Mimi and just say that I am going to be inspired by my fabric.  That’s it; inspired.  Also I sort of secretly hope that you’ll get inspired and go buy some of it.  Y’all, things are not looking too rosy in my dear old District.  I wish there were something I could do besides buying fabric.

Onward!  I spent my whole summer doing a (fabulous) internship where all I got to do was handle fabric.  Specifically, really luscious, high-quality fabric.  Then I would proceed to get paid in fabric.  So I would go in thinking that I would buy, say, wool for a jacket.  Then I’d spend two days touching nothing but exquisite cashmere double cloth coating.  Then I would die.  I think I got this fabric specifically so that I could mortify my mother:

This is organza and the pattern is actually woven raffia.  I know, right?  My mama hates it, my cats want to eat it, it refuses to fold so I’ve had to keep it rolled up and in a shipping tube.  It’s the fabric hellion of the lot.  I’ve never seen anything like it and knew that I would regret not getting it.​  Original plan was some sort of shirt dress with a full skirt and no buttons.  Now I don’t know.  I just keep staring at it.  I think it stares back.

Do you notice that you buy different colors in fabric than you do in ready-to-wear?  I hate orange with my skin tone, but I buy so much orange fabric it hurts.  Is it because designers unload their orange fabrics to stores; therefore, I don’t have to see very much orange ready-made clothing, but encounter gobs of beautiful orange fabrics?  Maybe?

Want to hear a stalky story?  I was reading the lovely Bimble and Pimble and she was showing fabric photographs from her trip to New York.  I saw this, it saw me, the rest is history.  Also, Bimble and Pimble does roller derby, which means that she has likely elbowed someone in the throat (or at least wears a badass helmet and skates).  If that doesn’t say fabulous taste, then I don’t know what does.​

I have no earthly idea what I’ll do with it, though.

Meg at Mood Fabrics had mentioned in a blogpost (or maybe in one of those Mood emails?) that she was going to make a pair of brocade trousers.  I fell in love with the idea.  Then she made them.  Then I went absolutely wild about it.  I got the last bit on a particular bolt and am just shy of 1.5 yards of this.  Does that translate into a killer pair of brocade crops or absolute disappointment?

When I saw this fabric on the website, I wasn’t sure what to think of it.  I remember it from the OdlR runway.  I remember loving its application (it was a skirt with a weird ombre effect grading from violet to the above).  I just didn’t love it as a fabric.  It is listed simply as a silk blend, and mama don’t buy no poly.  Then I found it on the bolt in the warehouse.  It’s not silk and poly but wool and silk Mikado.  The background isn’t cream but the palest jade color.  It shall be a dress.  (Sensing a theme?)  I just don’t know what kind.

So here’s what drew me to this silk: the bright green bits are woven onto the base while the navy and pale blue are printed on top.  I found it so cool.  Shirtdress with buttons on top and a plain full skirt on the bottom.  Short-ish sleeves.  I only just realized that his would require me to a) launder silk and b) match a plaid.  (One day we will talk about my mortal fear of laundering silk after, of all things, a rayon incident.)​

Jacket lined with organza.  Boring, right?  Well, sort of not.  I didn’t know what to make of this boucle until I saw it up close.  It’s mostly wool with this really interesting polka-dotted poly mesh ribbon woven through.  It’s going to be a beast to cut, I sense.

So that’s basically what I got at work this summer, save for three yards of navy cashmere suiting that’s destined to be a hacking jacket.  Twas an amazing experience, and I’ll be sure to think of it every time I wear whatever I make out of this stuff.

Let me know if you find fabric-sharing obnoxious.  I love it when other people do it (for I am nosy and stalkerish and will totally go buy what you bought), but understand how it could be considered a bit. . .much.  On Monday I shall show you my Metro haul and then I shall vow to never buy fabric again (or not buy fabric until I make at least [insert a ridiculous number here] garments).​  I’m not a big stasher, so this influx of material is giving me hives.

39th Street Convert

​Is there anything quite like losing a blogpost to really get the blood boiling?  Actually, yes, there probably is.  So, one more time for the cheap seats in the back, we have your humble host performing “relatively inconsequential prose that you could frankly live without. . .preposition check!”

I had rather long day.  It was fabulous.  My aunt is a chain store refugee and I don’t think she’s too keen on the District yet.  I have to explain to her than quilting cotton < garment cotton < Italian-made garment cotton < garment cotton of angels and saints (i.e. one Mr de la Renta, swoon).

The absolute worst thing about having a blog is that no matter how short your memory is, you’ve got a written record to back it up.  My mum treated me to a fabric splurge, so the two-cut promise was shot.  It was shot at Metro Textiles, home of the nicest man on the face of the planet, but shot nonetheless.  (More on that tomorrow, with photos and all that jazz.)​  For now, we have to talk about how I was absolutely, positively charmed by Chic Fabrics and Fabric/s for Less.  (Both of which are owned by the same super-nice man.  He has a mustache.  Need I say more?)  (Parentheses!)

It all started with a specific fabric.  Doesn’t it always?  Three or four months ago I stumbled across a lovely Ascher print online.  See, before I go into Paron, I stalk manhattanfabrics.com because, um, they are exactly the same place.  For serious.  The “warehouse” is in Paron’s basement.   Anyway, I found it, it found me, it was $16.50 a yard.  Ouch.  That’s pretty dear for cotton poplin.  Nice cotton poplin, but cotton poplin nonetheless.

Gertie made a dress out of the yellow colorway and another out of a kind of similar pink.  Each day, I would waffle back and forth between yellow and white.  Finally, today I woke up with the intention of buying three yards of the white and calling it quits.  Decisions, man.  They are empowering.​

So I was browsing the wares at Fabric/s for Less, trying not to die under an avalanche of linens, when my mum told me to come quickly because she found a fabric that she knew I would love.  You sense where this is going, don’t you?

(Huff.  Squarespace is being a beast tonight.  This image refused to resize.  Pretend it is of a dignified size, will you?  Also, see if you can spot my pajamas.  Banner day here at Seam Ripped Central.)

Anyhoo, you haven’t heard the best part.  I got them for $4/yd.  I got eight yards total for less than I would have paid for two at Paron.  I have spent my whole career biased against 39th Street because the racks at B&J are just so dignified and everyone at Paron is so friendly and Mood has such a gorgeous selection.  I feared I didn’t have the Turkish bazaar attitude required to dig and negotiate.  My mama does, as this fabric was originally $5 a yard.  (For the record, I am kind of anti-negotiating in the Garment District as the area is struggling.  For the other record, every single person who walked into Fabrics for Less negotiated.  The owner told me that he expects it.)​

Think about all the money you free up when you have savings so big.  Hell, I could make a dress and insert hand-picked RiRi zippers and line it in the finest batiste.  I could buy Rit dye and color said batiste to match or contrast or do whatever the heck I want it to do.  It would still clock in at less than I would have paid elsewhere.  Isn’t that something to think about?​

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I think that every store in the Garment District has its place and deserves our business.  Mood is like Macy’s, an egalitarian flagship.  B&J is like Bergdorf’s, hoity of the toit.  Paron I have a hard time categorizing.  Some of my most exquisite fabrics come from them.​  Were I not with the Ladies Who Hunt (for Bargains), I would have spent an hour ogling their chillingly beautiful silk prints.  Hmm.  I love them, but I obviously have to widen my net.

Anyway.  I have to be up early as I am moving next Thursday and am still in the throes of packing.  Everyone is pitching in.​

I give up on image resizing.  Squarespace can kiss my grits.​  Also, there is a better way to blur out my address, but I am plum ready to pass out.

(Okay, this one is totally post-Squarespace updated and from Labor Day weekend.  Whatever.  He’s in my suitcase for crying out loud.)  I have turned into one of those parents who constantly post updates on their children.  Lo siento.​  A muslin update is the horizon, does that compensate for it?  Not at all?  Fine.


1. ​Today was the last day of my internship.  I get (got?) paid in fabric, which is just as awesome as it sounds.  I’m sitting here making moony-eyes with a Carolina Herrera silk organza that has a herringbone-ish raffia pattern (I know!).  I can’t decide if I want to have its babies or attempt to mainline it.  Either way, I don’t think it’s going to end well.  

I’m having this grand to-show-or-not-to-show debate with myself.  I love (love) seeing other people’s fabrics, but when I get stuff that’s not dirt cheap, it feels awkward.  You know?  You don’t know?  You think I’m agonizing over something completely inconsequential?  I agree.

2. Tomorrow, I’m heading out with my mum and aunt and shepherding them around the Garment District.  I’ve vowed to purchase no more than two cuts of fabric.  We’re going to 10+ stores.  Commence paper-bag breathing.  Have you ever shown someone you love around your favorite places?  Both of them sew (to varying degrees of success) and I really hope that they like my wee district.  Hell, I’ll be glad if they like it more than they like Jo-Ann.  (Though you have to drag me out of Jo-Ann.)

3. I should be transcribing one my interviews with a fabulous professor who is an author, blogger, and fellow cat-person.  Holla!  (I reserve all of my hollas for cats and fellow Singhs, obvs.)​  Instead, I am lying on my heating pad and scribbling this off.  Brilliant.

4. I had a beautiful day.  Then the torrential rainfall came.  The aforementioned CH organza got a bit wet and part of it caught a case of the uglies (the raffia came a bit undone—wah!), I ducked into Chipotle to wrap it up like a baby and grab some dinner.  Of course, the Chipotle bag got wet on the street and the burrito fell out.  Onto the wet NYC sidewalk.  Other of course, I totally came home, baked it, and ate it.  Now I shall go to sleep wondering if I baked off the hepatitis it undoubtedly got from the sidewalk.  There was totally foil on it.  That makes it better, right?​

​5. The need for more personal projects and self-taken photos is obvious.  How easily I’ve slipped into naked consumerist territory because I’m too mortified to post my wadder-heavy round-up.

6. Drunk on fabric and last-day love, I slipped and fell while going into my building.  As a professional slipper and faller, ain’t no thing.  However, I was totally surprised by how many women stopped to look in on me.  I landed in a cross-legged sitting position with nary a bruise.  I stayed down because the worst thing you can do is rush back up again on a wet surface.  Trust.  It’s a recipe for a second fall.  One woman stayed to converse with me.  I tried to shoo her away but she was a Concerned Citizen (capital-Cs) and insisted that I get up and try to walk on it.  A second woman who didn’t even see me fall freaked the eff OUT.  I think she thought I was pregnant and fell hard enough to eject a fetus.  (Um, no.  No on both counts.)  Would I stop and look in on someone who fell?  I wonder.  A cute guy let me know I dropped my burrito and almost picked it up for me.  Who says New Yorkers aren’t nice?

Off to sleep, as I have to get up at dawn’s first blush.  Goody!​  This is totally not a sewing blog anymore.  Was it ever?

Palette, Revisted

I went to B&J yesterday (well, the day before).  I always feel extremely comfortable there, and I know this is not the usual experience for other sewers.  Well, the staff doesn’t really seem invested in my presence or, really, my well-being as a person.  They just kind of pop in when you need them, and otherwise find other crap to do.  This is not the case at, say, Metro or Mood where the staff member/s fall over themselves to help you and make it clear that they’re at your disposal.  I don’t really feel intimidated or like an imposition when I just walk into B&J to wander around and grope for inspiration.  Make sense?

Reader, I had what can only be described as a cascading series of mild episodes there.  It started out with tweed and coatings, as it always does.  Harris tweed, virgin wool, cashmere blends, Scottish and Italian and so soft I could weep.  I found myself saying, “Holy shit,” fairly constantly throughout.  I usually like to pretend that I am far too much of a lady for that sort of thing, and have never actually heard of those two words strung together, but whoops!  I had the sort of experience that I thought was reserved for televangelist programs and backwoods shamans.  The fabric spoke to me, y’all.  Granted, the fabric that summoned the choir of angels was a $210 a yard silk mikado, and the band played through Giupere lace and Swiss embroidered cottons, but still.  Beautiful, it was.​

Now you’re looking at the title and you’re looking at this post wondering where the hell it’s all going (I’ve tossed all pretense of decency out the window, obviously).  I saw a herringbone Harris tweed that would make the elbow-patched riding jacket​ of my dreams, dove gray virgin wool prime for a shawl-collar coat, and such beautiful yellow silk and cotton and wool that I had to stop in my tracks.  Let’s not even talk about the camel hair, reader.  That won’t end well.  It got me to thinking about my palette challenge.  Could I get away with camel, dove gray, white, and yellow?  Is it possible?  You see, there’s no navy in it, and that’s pretty much against my religion.​  Aretha wears navy constantly.

I started groping around the Internet trying to find a way to make it all happen.​

Source: vogue.com via Charlotte on Pinterest

Preetma Singh looks smashing in her Dries van Noten coat and Derek Lam dress, no?  My obsession with her blog (Working Girl, Esq) and her style is another topic for another day.  (Short version: People named Singh, holla!  I’m half a Singh, so I’m a full-on believer in representing for we the Smiths of India.  Also, she looks daring and impeccably pretty much all the time.  Love.)

Source: vogue.com via Charlotte on Pinterest


Claiborne Swanson Frank in that herringbone/horn/elbow-patch wonderland.  I used to be unsure of how I felt about her, inasmuch as you can be unsure about your feelings of someone you’ve never met but whose work you encounter frequently.  I have decided that as a fellow boot-wearer I totally approve.  Obviously, she needed that.​

Source: vogue.com via Charlotte on Pinterest

LSD’s style makes me happy.  Her yellow sweater makes me happier.  I don’t know how to knit, but let’s pretend that it’s a gorgeous yellow coat or something, shall we?  Gorgeous yellow silk shells for everyone!

You see, I’m not sure that this works, though.  Even if between now and February I make a short camel coat, herringbone blazer, dove gray coat and dress, a handful of pencil skirts and cropped pants, a blouse, and some plain silk shells, I still wouldn’t be meeting my yearly goals.  What of the bottle-green leather pencil skirt of doom?  The lace cocktail dress?  All of the navy stuff ever on the face of the planet?!  I’m still sans machine as I’ve been waffling (1008/530, 530/1008, rinse, repeat).  Aren’t First World problems the best sort?