shiny, pretty, reflux

Hi party people! My favorite greeting is very appropriate since this blog post is all about a party dress I recently made. Not too long ago, some college friends of ours got married in Chicago. About eight and a half days before the wedding, I realized that I had nothing to wear. Being a broke student, especially one working seventy hours a week on their sub-internship (medical school vocabulary for a clerkship you do during your fourth year where you basically have all the responsibilities as an intern but with more supervision/you don’t actually order any treatments on your own), I had neither money nor time to fart around doing my least favorite thing: clothes shopping. So, I decided to take the easy way out and sew my dress. If that doesn’t make sense to you – it shouldn’t! Because it doesn’t. I am a fool.

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…a DANCING fool.

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The pattern is Simplicity 1873, and the fabric is some polyester sateen stuff that I got at my cherished Textile Discount Outlet. (As the youths would say, that store = bae.) It definitely isn’t the greatest quality material, but the watercolor print just really spoke to me during one of my fever-dream shopping sessions there. So a few yards came home with me.

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I may have sewn multiple knit garments over the course of a day, but this is the first article of clothing from woven material that I made from start to finish in a less-than-24-hour period. I am very much a “let’s sew for an hour, make a mistake, put it down and come back days later” sort of person, not so much a “I’m going to sew until my eyeballs bleed” sorta gal. Unfortunately for my sanity, my work schedule prevented me from starting the project until 5PM the day before the wedding – consequently, I did what I could to save time here. First, there’s no lining – the armscyes and neckline are bias-bound. Second, I cheated on the hem and just did a straight stitch machine hem (sigh). Third, I usually sew a size ten and then fiddle with the bodice until it looks right, but this time I just sewed a straight size eight.(But I still sewed it all with French seams. Because I have no common sense.)

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Is this my best-fitted creation? Aw heck to the no. As you may have guessed by the title of this post, sewing that size eight was my downfall. It wasn’t that tight at the beginning of the evening, but after a very large rich meal full of red meat and some delicious meaty sauce type thing (clearly a foodie here), not to mention like eighty macarons because I have no dignity or restraint, the dress began to feel so tight that it ended up giving me the worst case of heartburn! I would have done unspeakable things for a couple Tums. But whatever. The night ended, I had lots of fun dancing, and I felt very shiny and pretty in spite of my terrible burps.

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taken at 4AM, after 6 hours of dancing and 5 hours of burping.

(All the nice-looking, obviously not-iPhone photos in this post were taken by Justin Barbin, a very talented photographer, NU alum, and former dorm-mate! You may also know him from his crazy bow tie style, which was recently featured on Buzzfeed.)

a gaggle of annas

Long time no talkies etc etc. I am not quite sure what I’ve been up to in the interim – still crafting a lot, but I think I’ve just been at work? Maybe? I may have also opened the Chamber of Secrets? It’s entirely likely because time is flying by so fast that I’ve gotta be possessed by Lord Voldemort’s diary or something like that. Yuk yuk. Anyway, like I said – I’ve still been crafting, but without blogging as much. I am dropping back into my corner of the internets to talk about my most favorite pattern of all time – the Anna dress from BHL. I know that I am super late to this excellent party, but I’m going to keep going with it until the cows come home.

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Anna One.

(This is a bit of a lie, Anna One is technically abandoned as a bodice muslin, in a very hideous pink and white and orange polka dot, but Anna One B is too cumbersome of a name so let’s just forget that the muslin ever happened. ANYWAY.)

I sewed this up in a wibbly wobbly stripey rayon challis from Girl Charlee. I really enjoyed working with this fabric, and when I went to the LA fabric district immediately after making this dress, I bought a ton more rayon challis. Yay! The biggest issue with this dress is the STRIPES. UGH. Another case of 2AM sewing on display right here – I wasn’t thinking, and didn’t make ANY effort to line up the stripes at all. Um. I am a fool. Anyway, this dress looks pretty darn weird because of it, but I still wear it because I love the silhouette so much and it feels so light and airy.

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my baby g is my #1 nerdy/90s throwback/annoyingly athletic accessory.

The back neckline gapes quite a bit more than the muslin did, which I attribute to a couple factors – I didn’t add the facing to the muslin, and it was significantly less drapey compared to the rayon challis. I love the thigh-high split, although I have the terrible tendency to (almost) flash my nether regions when I’m out and about walking around and I lift the skirt to step over something. Just another reason for David to be mortified constantly by me.

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For my next Anna, I used Ginger Makes’ tutorial on the Anna back neckline adjustment (so specific – lucky me!) to address the issue of shoulder gaping. I had never really made such a serious pattern modification that I felt compelled to re-trace it (hence my complete lack of preparedness/using wrapping paper as my new pattern paper). I felt so much like a grown up sewist afterward! I still went with the boatneck version, but I sewed the knee-length dress without a slit this time. The fabric I used was this very lovely floral poly crepe I found at Joann’s one day. It caught my eye as I walked by to go purchase something sensible, like zippers, and continued to catch my eye all the way to the cutting table. Ooops.

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With the back adjustment and some more new-to-me finishing techniques (I tried hand blind-stitching for the first time! SO FUN, I now want to put blind stitched hems into everything), trying out bias binding for the first time, etc. this turned out to be my most favorite garment I have ever made. It makes me feel so pretty (: I think it fits pretty well – my one complaint (to no one in particular, really) is that I always feel like I’m going to pop open the bust pleats when I sneeze. God bless my ribcage. I have worn this dress quite a few times since making it – it’s always my “today is going to be a good day, gosh darn it” dress. (In the first photo, I am pictured with my lovely family wearing the dress to my sister’s blue coat ceremony! She just started veterinary school. Yay Annie!!)

a routine

One week of MMM ’15 down! Time flies when you never leave your hobbit-hole. True to my initial me-made-May pledge, I’m NOT wearing a whole lot of me-mades, and when I am, I’m not documenting it a whole lot because let’s be honest, it’s a lot of bloomers and I’m not into showing the internet my upper thighs on the reg. However, also true to my pledge, I have been doing a LOT of sewing – two dresses down, and I’m starting a third today. My days are pretty predictable, but definitely enjoyable. I wake up, study until I go stir-crazy, then sew, and then study a little more. The studying keeps me from having marathon sewing days (which, ironically, were what I think kept me from sewing as consistently as I would have liked), and vice versa.

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In terms of my makes, which are both currently unblogged: the first one was a (sort of?) wearable muslin of the Anna dress. I had a bit of an issue with print placement (read: there was none), which was a huge brain fart on my part. It did not occur to me until I was piecing the skirt together that maybe I should have tried to line up these stupid stripes. WHATEVER. I’ll post more detailed photos of my horror later. Otherwise I am a big fan of the make, and the dress I’m starting today is another Anna! My other sewing product thus far is an infinity wrap dress that you have seen on every internet bridesmaid ever and will eventually be featured on my bridesmaids(!). More on that to come later, as well. Off to more sewing (:

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Late to the party, as per usual. But I’m here! So let’s move on. I spent a lot of time thinking about my MMM ’15 goals, mostly because I’m going to have a weird month. As I mentioned previously, I’m spending most of May studying to take Step 2 of my MD licensing exam, which means that I will be spending most of May at home alone with my cats, not wearing pants. I cannot possibly describe my own level of excitement. However, this isn’t conducive to wearing me-made garments beyond my Madeleine bloomers. For this reason, I think it would be a bit silly to make a rock-solid MMM ’15 pledge to wear me-mades all the time. However, my need for sanity in the form of sewing breaks (in addition to my constant need for more clinic clothes) means that I want to take this month to focus on getting into a groove of sewing more regularly, even when I’m busy.

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Also, when I’m not at home, I’ll be in one of two very exciting places: Champaign, Illinois, watching my excellent and intelligent sister graduate from undergrad, and Los Angeles, California, checking out the city with David and his padres to see if we could possibly live there for a few years while I do residency. Both of these trips are very thrilling, and very deserving of an excellent me-made wardrobe.

I, Ellie Ryan, of jelliefish crafts, pledge to sew for at least one hour every day of May (with the exception of the days I spend on vacation and thus away from my sewing machine). While on vacation, I will wear something me-made every day.

Ultimately, my goal is to have a couple iterations of the Anna dress (the By Hand London version, not the Frozen version) done by the end of the month. I’m toying with the idea of sewing a jazzed-up version of the Anna as a wedding dress, but I don’t want to commit to anything until I make it at least once. I’ve finished the bodice muslin.

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Since it’s already Sunday/Monday, I figured I’d do my first roundup post of MMM. I’ve surprised myself with the ease of wearing me-mades over the past few days. Hooray!

the happy haps (no. 3)

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A much delayed, but also very happy, communication of the most recent happenings in my life! When I last chitchatted at you, I had just finished neurology (hurrah) and I was on to the most medical school-esque (and probably the most difficult) of clerkships: internal medicine. It proved to be a doozy and really did a number on the past two months of my life (evidence: total lack of posting, total lack of crafting, total lack of many things). I feel like I have to confess that for the first two weeks of the clerkship, I had a literal temper tantrum every morning before I had to go to work. It was not pretty in the slightest. After having a completely undignified emotional breakdown in front of my attending one weekend, I managed to turn my ‘tude around. I don’t actually think it got any easier, but I eventually got into a groove.

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The medicine clerkship, as I previously bemoaned, was really tough, but I also learned a lot. I can manage things like GI bleeds, and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, and serious infections. I know how to talk to difficult, angry patients (hoo boy, did I get a lot of experience doing that). I can dose insulin and opioids with reasonable certainty (but don’t ask me for any drugs, har har). I have seen people who are sick, who are dying, and who deal with these things in incredibly different ways. I have spent hours trying to get venous access on a patient, and hours (and hours and hours and hours and hours) with medical records from other hospitals trying to get them to fax me pieces of paper that no one will ever read. I spent so much time with my team that it no longer feels weird or fake to call us a team, because that’s the only way to describe it. People taught me, supported me, and inspired me day in and day out, from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. And I have worked with some pretty phenomenal, inspiring women. Most of my many attendings over the past eight weeks were women, and fairly young ones at that. With a rotating cast of mostly female residents, it was really two months of #girlbossing around in the best way.

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Regardless of what the past eight weeks of work were like, the past eight weeks at home were phenomenal. David was an excellent force of goodness and magnificence and did such a great job taking care of me by doing anything from listening to my miserable ranting to prepping my lunches and dinners to getting up at 5:30 AM just to talk to me while I got ready for work. The guy is a champ. I did get to have SOME fun over the past two months, too. (Mostly thanks to David.) That fun mostly involved eating (I am a slug) or lying on top of my cats (again, I am a slug). But there were definitely bright sunny moments. My post-clerkship celebration involved a makeover at Sephora (see below, in my first-ever selfie sans cat) and visiting my excellent human of a younger sister at U of I.

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ANYWAY. This long vague introspective post about me finishing my last third-year clerkship also means something: I AM A FOURTH YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT! If it wasn’t totally obvious, I couldn’t be more excited about this. I have the month of May “off” to study and take another part of my boards (it never stops), and then I dive right back into a summer of pediatrics: PICU, my sub-internship, and electives in cards and heme-onc. But first up – some crafting!

a little addiction

I think I have a problem. Not a big one – actually, it is very small. Teeny tiny, in fact. What is it, you ask? Teeny-tiny MochiMochi!! I had been following the MochiMochiLand blog for a while and then on a whim I decided to buy the Teeny-Tiny book. (Secret: I really want to make the giant squid from the Huge and Huggable book, but I think that would be the finished object to break the camel’s (aka David’s) back in terms of apartment real estate that is devoted to knitting. Also it would scare CeeCee and Bess too much. Alas/alack – in the meantime, it’s just me and the Tinys.) Shortly after getting the book, I had the privilege of meting Anna Hrachovec at Sifu! Needless to say I was an awful shy fangirl and it was hugely embarrassing and David had to start up the conversation because I was too nervous. I am the worst person. However, she was awesome and so was Sifu.

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ANYWAY. Behold some of my Tinys! Why do I have them? No clue. What will I do with them? Probably make them into Christmas ornaments. Or construct elaborate and ridiculous dioramas and stories (living with a TV editor does have its perks – free animation services!). Or slowly amass such a collection that we’re wading through stacks of tiny gnomes and mermaids to get to the kitchen. In the end, it’ll probably be the final option.

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(Cats, which look more like mice – these were my first efforts and are admittedly a bit rough)

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One really fun way I found to make “use” of these little nuggets of cuteness is to make them into customizable tableaus and give them as gifts. My Feinberg big sib Phoebe celebrated a birthday recently, so I made her one. I knitted some gnomes (see above), flattened out some Sculpey (before I baked it, I poked holes where toothpicks could go) and glued toothpicks down onto the surface. The gnomes got impaled (sorry gnomies) and ta-da!

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Given the fact that Phoebe and I share the same passion for a) things that are a bit weird and b) signs, I thought I’d make this the gift that keeps on giving by including some blank signs. She can write on them as she chooses and put them into the gnomes’ arms. This is obviously the best way to convey any important message.

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Ultimately, someday, you know with all my copious free time and whatnot, my big dream would be to design medical knitted stuff. Obviously not as a big money-maker, because there are only so many lovely weirdos that want to knit that stuff on Ravelry, but more of as a hobby. At first I was thinking normal stuff like scarves or mitts with cool anatomical designs on them, but maybe doing knitted toys would be fun too. Welp. I’ve just bared my deepest darkest wish to the Internet! Time to make it come true?

the happy haps (no. 2)

And let me tell you, this may be the happiest of haps I have been in a while. Why? Neurology is over!*

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The shortest of months has also been one of my longest: I am getting exceedingly sick of winter. Alas, alack. On the bright side, I have a really wonderful fiancé and two very snuggly cats to make up for the slush and cold. And some really great pairs of long underpants, which I stole from David. They remind me of my Opa (a big fan of the momo hickeys, as he liked to call them), who passed away last fall, and wearing them reminds me of him and makes me happy. I also feel very cool in them and I am trying to get my cousins to help me start a fashion movement called Opacore. So far we don’t have very much momentum but with the colossal readership of this blog, I’m hoping things start to take off. In crafting news, I have been reaaaaally into making teeny tiny mochimochi lately. It’s a bit of an affliction, but at least I am putting these gnomes to work. On the other end of the crafting usefulness spectrum, I finally finished giving the bedroom a little facelift and I am slightly obsessed with it in a way that I have never been obsessed with a room. I will have real posts on both of these things soon!

*See the second-to-last photo? That’s what I’ve been studying for the past 4 weeks. My tepid enthusiasm for neurology might be better explained after that image. And the last photo? That’s my next eight weeks (internal medicine)! I’m just two months away from being done with the third year of medical school (: