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.


…a DANCING fool.

IMG_1713 - Version 2

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.


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.)


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.


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.)


alright meow

Do I look like a cat to you, boy? Am I jumping around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree? Am I drinking milk from a saucer? Do you see me eating mice?

Okay. That gets me every time. ANYWAY. Another sewing project completed!  This is Simplicity 2258 in that lovely Lizzy House Catnap fabric that I picked up at the Needle Shop a few months ago.


This project was originally supposed to be done in time for my birthday, but you know how things happen (“things” being very upsetting booboos that make you squawk around the house and then promptly wedge the thing into a corner, out of your sight, until seeing it doesn’t make your eyelid twitch anymore). What happened to this lovely dress, you ask?  Well, you see. I have had this pen. I really liked writing with this pen – I liked the ink, and it had a little light on the tip that made it very convenient for clerkship. There was one problem with said pen. Every so often, it would glob out a big fat ink booger. This happened fairly infrequently, and like 100% of the time it did happen, the ink booger just ended up on my hand because I am a lefty and that is my lot in life. But one day, one fateful day as I studied for my Pediatrics shelf, unbeknownst to me, said pen globbed out a big ol’ ink booger right onto my desk.  Very shortly afterward I decided it was time for a sewing break, so I pulled my dress out onto the desk, and… you know where this is going. TRAGEDY!!!! Even worse, I didn’t notice until I had already ironed over the damned spot. Then I saw it – a small (but not insignificantly small) ink blob front and center at the top of the skirt. My reaction was not unlike this. Needless to say, I immediately threw that pen away with relish.


I was pretty stumped as to how to deal with this issue (not enough fabric left to cut a big new skirt panel, too poor to justify buying more fabric just because I’m a dumbass), but of course my amazing mom came up with an answer. Why not just shorten the skirt at the waistband?  The blob was only about 2 inches down from the edge of the fabric – I could definitely shorten the skirt by that much, be judicious about hemming, and still probably get away with wearing it to clerkship!  “Genius idea, Mom!” I said, and then I promptly put the damn thing away and forgot about it until just a few days ago.


The fix was very quick and now I am so satisfied with the result. I blogged about making the bodice here, and talked about how the princess seams went infinitely much smoother this time around.  I self-lined the bodice instead of doing facings (I hate when those things pop out of the armhole), which went very smoothly. The only gnarly (in a bad way) part of the dress for me was the armbands – the first time around with the dress, I chalked their awfulness to me f’ing it up, but this time I am beginning to think that the armbands just were not drafted with my shoulders in mind. Overall, I’m so happy with this make and I’ll definitely be wearing it over and over again.

tee bee tee

I’m doing the Internet right, right?

As I sport more of my makes during MMM, I uncovered one that I made before this blog was even a twinkle in my eye – the first dress I ever made, and also coincidentally my first ever independently made object!  When my mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas, she gave me the very solid piece of advice that I should choose a relatively simple dress pattern, some fabric I liked (but didn’t like too much) and just dive right in.  So I picked Simplicity 2588 and a pink-and-tan batik print, and then began my trial by fire.  The result was actually surprisingly good! Some parts are weirdly puckered in places, and I refuse to look at the lapped zipper for fear of getting irrationally angry with myself (invisible zips 4eva), and I may have shed a few tears over the princess seams, but I really like this dress!  It fit pretty well (well, four sizes below my recommended size on the pattern envelope fit pretty well) with no modifications, something that definitely hasn’t always happened for me.


Here’s the dress in its just-finished glory, more than two full years ago. Ugh, time flies. There is my icky old undergrad apartment kitchen in Evanston, and I cannot believe how much hair used to be attached to my head. Ahh I sound old! I guess I can’t even do a “cool youth” Internet hastaggy thing without sounding like a nostalgic old lady. Newspapers and milkmen and walking to school uphill both ways in the snow!  Get off my lawn. The end.

skirting the issue

There is no issue. I just like puns.

Actually, that’s a lie. The issue is that I don’t have enough professional clothes to meet my growing need.  I do have one skirt, but there is nothing professional about reaching up your skirt in public to pull the lining down from where it has come to rest in a bunch around your butt cheeks. I figured it was time to make a skirt that I could wear that would, you know, actually fit without any major wardrobe malfunctions.

Instead of going the pencil skirt route, I decided to go for lots of luxurious pleats a la Simplicity 1873. Actually, exactly a la Simplicity 1873 – I used the pattern for the skirt pieces and just added a waistband. I did have some troubles when it finally came to sewing the waistband down on the wrong side of the dress.  I have a very standard sewing machine, with very standard needles, and this skirt brought them to (and past) the limits of which they were capable.  There were just so many thick pleats on pleats on pleats, and then adding four layers of waistband fabric to sew through created quite a workout for my poor needles. I first had to change one after it became impossibly dull, promptly broke a second needle immediately after inserting it (whoops), and then finally made it across the waist with bated breath on the third try. Ugh. Lesson learned.


Needle mutilation aside, I am very happy with how it turned out, and just in time for me to wear to school today!  As shown below, it’s quite twirly (not that I’ll be doing any twirling in the hospital).  Not shown below: the photo David snapped immediately afterward, in which I accidentally twirled right into the door.


a product of my sewing frenzy

Hi all.  Remember how I basically fell off the face of the internetty earth for two weeks?  It was because I haven’t yet fully mastered the art of balancing blogging with making things for the blog.  Here’s something I actually managed to make (in FIVE DAYS, which is just record time for me) – Simplicity 1873!  Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo, but David and I are terrible at remembering to take photos of ourselves.  It looks a bit wrinkly, but that’s what happens after a very sweaty dinner + cab ride and a few glasses of wine.

reunion1Even though it gave me some trouble, I loved this pattern.  Since the fabric I chose to use was the nicest fabric I had ever purchased (and I only had JUST enough to make the dress), I decided to make a muslin of the bodice first just to check the fit.  I was really pleased I had done that because the original size was too small for me to have zipped and still breathe. Feeling very clever and proactive, I cut out a size larger around the waist only to discover that the bodice was now comically large on me.  I ended up taking it in quite a bit and also shortening the shoulder straps considerably because the bust darts were quite saggy for my shorter torso.  Conclusion? I need a dress form.

All struggles aside, I was so happy with this dress.  The cotton sateen was a delight to sew and I am now resisting the urge to break my nonexistent bank and buy all the sateen I can get my hands on.  I’ll definitely be using this pattern again – possibly the bodice pattern + a modified skirt pattern to recreate one of my all-time favorite Mad Men dresses: Peggy’s peekaboo pleat dress.

replenishing my pajama stock

One of the very few bonuses to never exercising is that you can use all of your “work out” clothes as pajamas.  Before I started going to the gym regularly, I was in this situation.  I had an endless supply of comfy exercise/lounge clothes that could easily double as pajamas, and vice versa (of course, I only used them as PJ’s).  Then I started working out, and I started actually using those clothes for their real purpose – sweating and moving.  All of a sudden, I didn’t want to wear gym clothes to bed; and when I got more “serious” exercise gear, I tossed my ratty old ambiguous pajama/workout stuff.  Here I am two years later with a dearth of pajamas.  I actually still wear the child size 12 SpongeBob Squarepants boxer shorts my mom sewed for me in junior high.  While I do love SpongeBob’s print cotton antics, I thought it might be time for some cute new pajama shorts. The other day, I made myself a pair of bloomers from Colette! I loved how fun and feminine the pattern was (also the fact that it was free. The free part was pretty essential).  The pattern was really easy and I love the waistband.


One last thing!  I’ve started the pre-washing, ironing and cutting-out process for two dresses – eeeee!!!  I’ll be doing Simplicity 1873 in a cotton sateen print and Simplicity 1880 in light blue poly crepe.  I know it’s a tall and probably highly unrealistic order, but I’m going to try and get both done before school starts (ha). I’m attending a wedding in August and it would be nice to have a selection of homemade dresses to choose from when I go. (:   I really wish I had a big workspace with which to cut out enormous amounts of fabric – I might actually use one of the big conference tables in the med school library.  Hopefully that won’t be the weirdest thing anyone has ever done in there, but it’s probably pretty close.