Tag Archives: meet-up

NYC Part 2: Touring the McCall Pattern Company

25 Aug

Ok, y’all, time for part 2 of my NYC journey – touring the offices of the McCall Pattern Company! Whoop whoop!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Before I get too far into this post, there are a couple of things I’d like to address, as I’ve had some emails and comments about this:
– The McCall Pattern Company did NOT fly me into NY to visit their offices. Umm… I wish? I paid for my plane ticket all by myself, sorry!
– I did not come to NY specifically to visit The McCall Pattern Company – I was here to teach a workshop at Workroom Social. As soon as I announced my impending visit, I was emailed by Meg from McCall’s and offered an invite to tour the offices while I was there.
– Meg is the new Social Media Pro at McCall’s. If you’ve talked to anyone from McCall via Twitter, Instagram, their blog, etc – you were likely talking to Meg. I personally have known Meg for a couple of years now – well before she went into working for McCall’s – which is why she reached out to me to visit while I was in the city. Much to some the butthurt anonymous commentary on my blog, McCall doesn’t have a grand scheme of shutting me down (I mean, let’s be real you guys – I’m not hurting their sales when I post commentaries. There are a WHOLE lot of other sewists out there who don’t read my blog/don’t read blogs/don’t care about my opinion on Koos Van Den Akker. They still buy the patterns – some of the traffic coming directly from my blog. So there’s that.). They simply wanted to reach out and let me see the company, so, (in their own words) that when I’m talking my shit, at least I’m getting the facts straight ;)
– I’m sure there are people who are thinking about what a sellout I am right now. That’s totally fine. You do you! I got over that whole ~sooo underground anti-coporation~ shit when I was like 17. DGAF.

With all that being said – OMG! Longtime dream – accomplished! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to lurk around the offices of this pattern company (as much as I poke fun at them, it doesn’t excuse the fact that we are still talking about dream job territory here. Nevermind that I’m not a patternmaker in any sense of the imagination, nor do I plan to become one), so this was an absolute treat for me! Full disclosure – I went into the offices with every intention of taking lots of photos (hence my phone in my hand in, well, every picture haha. Wish that dress had some pockets!), but since I never end up doing what I planned, all the photos you see in this post were taking by Meg. Thanks, Meg!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I got the grand tour, you guys – I saw every department, met sooo many people (except the CEO, who was unfortunately in a meeting when I arrived. Oh well! Next time!), and a few of them even knew who I was! So crazy!

One of the biggest things I learned was just how freakin’ small this company is! Sure, they had a hell of a lot more employees than any of the indie designers we know and love – but it’s not like there are thousands of them, scattered across the world in giant corporate offices, with a big fat CEO smoking a cigar in his silk bed jacket and laughing all the way to the bank (I mean, I know I just said I never actually met the CEO but I’m just gonna ASSUME here, you guys). Everything is done in-house in NYC – they produce the patterns for McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, Kwik Sew, and even do Vogue Pattern Magazine. Each individual department is very small – some only having a couple of employees at most. It’s also one of those companies where everyone is basically family, which I just think is really nice and feels good to be around. Everyone was extremely friendly and clearly very happy to be there.

There are a LOT of rooms and departments – the fabric library (where they keep zillions of swatches, plus buttons and trims and notions and, oh god, it was heaven in there), drafting, dressmaking, customer service, in-house photography (complete with racks of clothing and even more racks of shoes aieeee), etc etc. All in all, I think I was there for about 3 hours – flitting around, chatting everyone up, getting all grabby hands on the various fabrics (and apologizing every few minutes. Forreal, my mom hates shopping with me because I’m incapable of not touching things. This is why I hate museums and love flea markets, haha).

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour
Checking out the fabric room and perusing the samples was one of my favorite parts. Sooo much eye-candy!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

This look of wide-eyed wonderment was pretty much plastered to my face the entire time I was in there, ha!

Another highlight of my tour was getting to finally meet the famed Vogue Pattern Designer, Carlos Correa (I didn’t get a photo with him, but you can see him chatting about some of the designer pieces in this McCall blog post). The very first thing he said to me was, “I LOVE YOUR BLOG!” hahahahaa!! Apparently, he reads it and loves the pattern round-ups (and I reckon he’s reading it right now, so HI CARLOS!). I spent a long time in his office, talking about the pattern and their styling vs how they look in real life, and saw some of the new designs for next season as well. I can’t say much about those, but what I can say is I kept going, “Oooh! I want one of those!” haha!

McCall Pattern Company Tour

I also stopped in the Vogue Pattern Magazine offices, to chat with the Editor and LURK THOSE DESIGNER DRESSES.

Did you know that the outfits on the Vogue American Designer pattern envelopes are actual designer garments? That was news to me! Take Vogue 1409, the Saber-Toothed Tiger dress, for instance. This dress literally came from the Donna Karan Collection – and McCall’s based the pattern off it, then used the actual dress in the photoshoot. It wasn’t sewn by them, nor did they choose the fabric (since it’s from Donna Karan). If you look inside, you’ll see all the tags – including the original price tag. This is much better explained on the McCall Pattern Blog, but that’s the general gist.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

With that being said, the next order of business was to try on the $10,000 Ralph Rucci coat.

Me: If it fits, that means I get to keep it, right?
Everyone else: lolololololol

Damn, that thing was a work of ART! I know I hated on the arm holes at one point (that’s such a random thing to hate on, ha), but seeing it in person absolutely made me change my mind (and I still think it looks weird on the envelope photo, maybe it’s just the way the model is standing?). The inside is amazing – all bound seams and even some hand stitches! Apparently there’s a whole Pinterest board for lurking the inside of the designer garments, so we can all drool from far away.

After that, it was obviously time to play dress-up. Because, duh.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

In another Ralph Rucci original (pattern is Vogue 1404), featuring the wind machine ;) Also, those shoes are like 4 sizes too big.

McCall Pattern Company Tour
McCall Pattern Company Tour

Obviously I had to try on the Guy Laroche purple nightmare (that is actually silk chaurmeuse) (pattern is Vogue 1416. The sleeves were cracking me up to no end.

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Hahaha!
(side note: holy shit I need to touch up my hair color)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ughhh WANT THIS COAT (pattern is Vogue 1419)

I had an amazing time visiting the offices and meeting all the wonderful people who work so hard to produce all these patterns (whether you personally love them or not, I think we can all agree that the sheer amount of patterns they put out every year is quite impressive!). I did bring up some personal beefs – the excessive ease, the styling situation – as I feel like these are areas that do need some improvement. My opinions were definitely heard, and some things were already in the process of being addressed before I even brought them up, thanks to customer feedback. The McCall Pattern Company is absolutely interested in what the consumer has to say, and they’re making a huge effort to reach out to the online sewing community and bridge that gap. I know it’s really easy to hate on the ~big guy~ for just being there (especially when it’s a faceless corporation), but at the end of the day – I want to support the sewing community and it’s future! I’m absolutely invested in doing whatever I can to bring home sewists more options, and that includes supporting the Big 4. It was such a treat to visit the offices and get to know the people who make things happen there.

If you have a question or a complaint about a pattern from the McCall Pattern Company – contact them! They don’t know there is a problem unless you tell them, and their customer service department is extremely dedicated when it comes to helping. Follow their blog to learn more about the company, Like their Facebook page, lurk their Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to reach out and chat them up if you have a comment or concern. I’d love to see the gap close between the Big 4 and Indie pattern companies – I mean, we’re all in this for the love of sewing, right?

McCall Pattern Company Tour
(me hanging in the styling room. I was told to pretend I was fixing my hair – I promise I don’t sit at every available mirror and preen, haha! Although my hair did look really good that day. Minus the whole I need-to-redye-it situation)

Now, I can’t stop thinking about that Ralph Rucci coat…
So, like, if I paint it... I have to sew it, right? ❤️
I am definitely going to sew the shit out of that pattern. Just need to find my perfect red wool.

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Completed: The Tye-Die Moneta (+ announcements)

11 Aug

Good morning, y’all! I have a couple announcements to make today, and I also have this dress I made a couple weeks ago, so I’m just going to kill two birds with one stone and combine them into the same post-

Tie-Dye Moneta

First up: The Dress

This is another rendition of the Colette Moneta, in a very un-Colette finished dress because this baby is TIE-DYE! Landon kind of hates it; I think he thinks it looks tacky. Whatever!

I actually bought the fabric like that (I’m not at the point of tie-dying my own clothes… yet.) – it’s this cotton/viscose jersey from Mood Fabrics. The colors and style are pretty much unlike anything I EVER wear, so I’m not sure why I was so drawn to it – but I was! I originally had this earmarked for a maxi dress, but I realized it would make a pretty cool short dress with all those dyed stripes.

Tie-Dye Moneta
Tie-Dye Moneta

As far as Monetas go, this one is pretty bastardized. I don’t know if I can even call it a Moneta-proper, because I changed so much of the pattern. The bodice and skirt are Moneta, but I scooped the neckline using the Lady Skater neckline as a guide and added a neck binding. I started with the short sleeves included in the Moneta, but they were all kinds of wrong – too long, too loose (they kind of look like tshirt sleeves) – so I cut them until they were capped and hemmed them a second time.

Tie-Dye Moneta

Speaking of hemming, I broke my twin needle halfway through the skirt of this, so the second half is a zigzag hem. Haha! Whatever, it’s a comfy knit dress. Ain’t no one gonna look at my hem – right?

Tie-Dye Moneta

I realy like how the tie-dye colorblocking (and stripe matching!) turned out! I tried to keep the white away from my waist, and the yellow away from my face. The overall effect turned out pretty cool, though, it’s almost dip-dyed :)

Tie-Dye Moneta

Well, that’s enough of that! Now I’ve got some housekeeping to attend to -

NEW YORK MEET-UP: I’m gonna be in NYC this week! Yay! I’m teaching a pants making class at Workroom Social this weekend, and I’ll be trolling around the city this Friday beforehand! To my extreme delight, my homegirl Heather Lou (yes, THAT Heather Lou!) is gonna be lurking in the city THE SAME WEEKEND, so we have got some fabric shopping and hanging to take care of it! I plan on hitting up the Garment District around 3pm on Friday 8/15, and then finding a spot to chill in Bryant Park around 7 or 7:30 (whenever we get kicked out of the Garment District, I guess). I’m open to anyone who wants to join for hang-time, so lemme know if you’d like to stop by! Send me an email and I’ll keep you updated on the deets :)

OTHER CLASSES: I just confirmed that I’ll be teaching again at Watkins College of Arm, Design & Film in the fall! I have two classes this year – Intro to Fashion Sewing (9 weeks, Tuesdays) and Intro to Sewing Knits (6 weeks, Thursdays). Any local Nashvillians who are interested in attending should check out the full catalog and can register here.

THE SEWING PARTY: Finally – I’ll be teaching an online class at The Sewing Party! Don’t know what The Sewing Party is all about? From their website:
The Sewing Party Logo
“The Sewing Party” is the first ever online-all-day DIY event in history!

On November 8, 2014, thousands of DIY-ers will gather for a fun-filled day of sewing and crafting classes taught online by leading bloggers and educational experts. It’s all about Connecting. Crafting. And Creating.

Attendees will have access to more than 30 online classes available on the day of the event and for an additional 90 days. There is truly something for everyone! Classes include home décor, fashion sewing, quilting and upcycling, crafting, costume design, techniques for turning your craft into an entrepreneurial venture, and more!

Space is limited and likely to fill up fast! For just $40, “The Sewing Party” participants can attend classes; chat with participants from across the country; interact with top bloggers and educational experts who are teaching; and explore the latest crafting and sewing tips, techniques and products in our marketplace.

This upcoming event is going to be SO FUN, omg! I’ve signed up to teach a class on inserting zippers (both lapped and invisible) so if you’ve ever wanted a little help with getting those perfect zips (or maybe you’re just curious to see how I am on film – I know I am! Curious and TERRIFIED haha!), you should definitely come join my class! There are lots of cool classes to check out during the event – a few being taught by some of my favorite bloggers and friends, including Jennifer, Madalynne, and Devon. I seriously can’t wait! November cannot come soon enough, that’s for sure :)

I guess that’s it! Have a great Monday, everyone!

A Weekend in NYC

20 Mar

After a whirlwind of a weekend in NYC (landing in on Friday evening and rolling out Monday afternoon – whew!), I’m happy to report that I’m back home in one piece. Minus the piece of my broken heart that I left with Clare. Sob! But maybe I should back up a little…

Fair warning: this is a word-heavy, stolen-picture-heavy post. Feel free to scroll by – or at least to the bottom, to check out who won the giveaway! Sorry if this sounds super rushed – we cancelled our internet (in search of a new provider) and I’m trying to publish before it turns off! ~living on the edge~ and all that.

It’s been exactly over a year since the last time I visited NYC and I think it was just in time – I’ve used up nearly all my fabric, time to buy moreeee!! For this round, I shacked up with Clare in the tiniest little studio apartment I’ve ever seen, in East Village across the street from Big Gay Ice Cream (and before you ask – we didn’t get any gay ice cream. It was WAY too cold!). Neither of us had been before, but we both fell in love with the area, especially all the punk stores that made us feel old and nostalgic (not to mention kind of hilarious at how the styles NEVER EVER change. Seriously! Brands and styles that I wore 10+ years ago… that were already old as hell, even back then. Oh, punk. So punk.). The apartment was fabulous, except when our “neighbor” decided to throw a several-hour long party on one night that ended up with me laying awake, listening to some chick blather on about convection ovens until the wee hours of the morning. But, don’t worry – we woke up bright and early the following morning, and made sure to turn the TV (you know, the one that was attached directly to his wall) up nice and loud for a couple of hours :)

Our first meet-up happened right after I landed and made my way from the airport to our pad, dropped my stuff off, and dipped right back out. We had planned to get tacos & margaritas with a handful of ladies, and per usual, I made sure we were a good hour late (what? Don’t look at me like that – navigating the subway with a giant suitcase during rush hour is hard). I sat at the end of the table with Jennifer & Betsy, and an endless supply of margaritas ;) (although I hear there was some talk of fat quarter challenges at the opposite end – I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that conversastion, ha!).

post-dinner group

A few of our party had already peaced out by the time Carolyn convinced a rando to take this photo, but here’s a portion of the group! Look at my creepy skeleton hands, HA!

Most everyone went home afterwards, but the real badasses of the group (me, Jennifer, Lucinda & Fleur) stuck it out for another round of drinks at some fancy winebar with a creepy bathroom. Which was WAY more awesome than it sounds, ha! I love meeting up with big groups, but I also like these little smaller sets because it gives me more of a chance to actually talk to people one-on-one and have a proper conversation.

Saturday morning, Clare & I headed out to Devra’s for a pre-meetup brunch. We were only a couple miles away, so we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous morning and walk (and only made it about half an hour late ;)). Brunch was, per usual, fucking amazing – and although someone forgot the coffee (cough cough), Devra did make sure that we ate off paper plates this go ’round, so no dishes were broken this year :)

INSTAFRANZ  @oonaballoona @wwndw
Me with Marcy & Lisette

me!
Oh, yeah, my hair is blue now! :)

Marcy & Trice
Marcy & Trice

Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer
Amanda, Lisette & Jennifer

Amity, Nette & Kelli
Amity, Wanette & Kelli

Kelli & Peter
Peter & Kelli (in case you were wondering… her hair really looks that good in real life. Clare & I were amazed and a little jealous).

After brunch, we walked down toward the Garment District – only about a half hour late! No biggie! Ha! GUYS, I swear… I actually am pretty prompt and on-time for the most part. I HATE waiting on late people, so I try not to ever be that person. However, something about NY just makes me late for every freaking thing I try to do. Thankfully, the group didn’t get started without us – everyone was waiting patiently in the lobby at Mood Fabrics, and we were able to ride the elevators up together in a couple trips.

Should have taken this before half the meet-up left haha. Oh well! Successful day!!  (ps ladies pls tag yourselves )

This is only a portion of the crew! Didn’t think to get a group shot before we released the hounds into Mood, boo, so about half the people left before this picture was taken. Of course, I also didn’t realize that Mood closes at 4 on Saturdays… and since we all arrived after 1, that didn’t leave much time to get around the rest of the Garment District! We barreled through Mood and wreaked some serious havok on the lines in that store – I think at one point it stretched all the way to the back by the bathroom! Although I spent most of my chatting up new friends via meet-up, freaking out over the gorgeous silk button hole twist that Madalynne brought for everyone (who brings that sort of stuff to pass out at a meet-up? Maddie, that’s who!), and kicking it with my favorite Mood Dude, George. Seriously, y’all. George is awesome.

We managed to make a quick pit stop at Pacific Trimming before they closed, grabbed a bite at Ben’s Diner across the street, and posed with our favorite tailor on the street corner.

Just being adorable with @clareyszabo

The rest of the weekend, Clare and I trolled around the city with whoever we could convince to join us – Amity, Trice, Devra & Sonja. We ended up going to the Garment District three days in a row – yes, there are totally shops open on Sunday, woohoo! – where I was finally able to meet my self-imposed fabric quota. Also, we totally tourist’d it up at places like FAO Schwarz (for the live toy soldiers), Tiffany’s (for the sparklies) & Saks 5th Ave (for lurking inside the designer duds – oh yes we did).

stole these from Clareeeee

@clareyszabo and I hanging with our new BFF #toysoldiermark

stole these from Clareeeee
This may be my favorite picture from the weekend. We dipped into Chic Fabrics and made BFFz with the owner, Sam. BFFz as in we are now planning a pool party at his house on Long Island, and Clare started snapping selfies that I tried to photobomb. Sam was awesome. Almost as awesome as the fabric I bought from his store :P

One thing I would have LOVED to do while I was around, had I been given a little more time (and perhaps the weather been a bit more cooperative), was to check out the tours at Seek. I reeeeeally wanted to do the NY Garment District Tour (or, hell, all their public tours sound pretty amazing. I’m dying to try that Fifth Ave department store history tour!), but it just wasn’t in the cards for this trip, due to weather and time restraints. I’ve had a few people ask for suggestions on places to visit in NY (from a tourist’s perspective), so that would definitely be the first thing at the top of my list to check out (psst! Want a discount? Use the code LLADY!). Next time I go, I am DEFINITELY getting signed up for at least one tour!

Another thing I was sad to miss was checking out Workroom Social – especially after a full night of getting my gab on with Jennifer! Again, I do want to plan a trip back in the summer, so hopefully we can make it happen!

I reckon y’all wanna see what I came home with though, huh?

fabric haul
Here’s the whole lot of fabric! I was pretty good this time around and spent a lot less than I did last year (also, hoping this can convince me to come back later this summer to restock, YES). Mostly cottons and knits, although there are a couple of pieces of silk in there.

Most everything came from Mood Fabrics, with a few exceptions-
– the chambray, plaid, and china silk came from Chic Fabrics (225 W 39th St # 11, New York, NY 10018) (our beloved Sam! GO SEE HIM and buy up allll the china silk like I did!)
– the grey/black/rust stripes and aqua with black polka dots came from Metro Textiles (Carolyn has a recent review on this place. It is really awesome to dig through, the prices are great, and I LOVED Kashi. Love love loved him. Go find him and tell him I sent you! I would have loved to spend a million hours in that store, pawing through fabrics, but we were on quite a time constraint by the time we managed to get in there.)
– the navy/white wide stripes and navy/white polka dots came from… I think Fabrics for Less? I honestly don’t remember, because I didn’t fall in love with anyone there, ha!

trims!
I also bought a few trims from Pacific Trimming. Rib knit – one with GOLD SPARKLY STRIPES, and one white stripes – and my first Riri zipper! That shit cost me $15, by the way. It better be as epic as everyone talks about.

OMG
Also from Pacific Trimming, this amazing American Flag elastic. I… what?

Speaking of Carolyn, she was kind enough to let Clare & I stash our giant stacks of luggage (I had one of those suitcases that was big enough for me to fit inside, plus an overstuffed duffel bag. All full of fabric, haha!) in her office on our last day, so we could pop back to the Garment District and get a quick Guinness before I had to leave for the airport. Carolyn mentions on her blog that she works in corporate, and she is NOT kidding – that office was corporate and swanky as hell! They had to take photos of us to even let us in, and then she gave us a tour and I don’t think we closed our mouths the entire time. And, of course, Carolyn was impeccably dressed – in handmade. Also, I just adore Carolyn. She’s like my mama bird of the sewing world ♥

One last celebration with my babez @clareyszabo

All in all, I had an amazing time. Clare was a wonderful traveling partner who felt the same way I did about every decision we encountered – whether or not we needed more coffee (always), if we felt up to walking instead of taking the subway (hell yeah we did!) and if the Garment District warranted just oneeeeee more trip before we left (what do you think?). She even brought me presents all the way from London – soo many teas, and a gorgeous African print wax fabric that I’m kind of afraid to cut into (see it in the haul photo? Bottom right!). I really did feel like I was leaving a tiny piece of my heart back there when I had to finally go home. Which just means I better haul my ass over to London, STAT!

As far as meet-ups, I’m so glad I was able to squeeze in soo many in the short time I was there (and bummed that a couple that we planned weren’t able to pan out). Everyone says this, all the time, but it’s really awesome getting to meet up with people who share the same interests as you and are happy to hear you drone on about your fitting adjustments and offer advice. Also: having met up with lots of bloggers across all channels, I gotta say – sewists are the nicest ones in the bunch, across the board! In these meet-ups, I never feel like I’m competing for a chance to talk (you know those people who you can tell are just waiting for a dip in the conversation so they can butt in and take over? Yep. Not a sewist trait, at least not with the ones I’ve met!) or carrying on about something that’s really obvious no one gives a shit about. Everyone is polite, encouraging, and happy to let you try on their jacket if you are interested in the pattern (ask Clare about that bomber jacket. I about stole it right off of her, ha!). Ohh, and we all tip well :) If you’re thinking about joining a meet-up in your area – DO IT. So much fun, so many new friends and new blogs to follow! The best part is when you can pick out who is wearing what pattern – I think there were, what, 4 Minorus at our meet-up? Too bad I left mine at home!

Oh yeah, I went there ❤️
So, anyway… New York, I ♥ U. I’ll be back, yes indeed.

One more thing – the book+pattern giveaway! Um, WOW you guys – I cannot believe the enormous response that blew my email up all week. Y’all must really love you some sewing textbooks, that’s all I have to say about that!

But, like all good things – this has got to come to an end, so let’s pull up a winner. Ding ding, who’s the lucky number?

winner1

winner2

That would be Sam L! Woohoo, congratulations! I’ll be in touch to get you your book & pattern :) I think you’ll find this book very helpful for learning all the techniques that come with making pants :)

Thanks to everyone who entered! I really really wish I had a copy of this book to give to ALL of y’all – but unfortunately, I only got one :(. If you are interested, you can purchase the book here on Amazon. As a side note (and perhaps this is better suited for a discussion post, maybe?), I noticed that an overwhelming majority of commenters seemed to be really terrified of sewing button holes and zippers. I’m going to let you in on a my top tip for learning new things: just try it! Who cares if your first attempt ends up to be total crap (err… maybe try on a scrap first, so it can truly be nbd, ha!)? That’s why we hide things at the bottom of the trash can :) Almost everything I’ve learned – seriously, everything – came from studying sewing books and tireless googling. Practicing is really the only way you can get better at something, and you need a healthy dose of fearlessness to realize that it’s really not so bad once you get going. You got this!!

Whew, that was long! Ok, I’m outta here! Have a great week of the week, everyone! :)

My Trip to Chicago!

7 Oct

Oops, I meant to write this post last week. Oh well, better late than never, right? :)

So, Chicago! While I was only there for a very short time (came in Friday night, left Monday afternoon), I obviously had a fabulous time – and managed to squeeze in a lot of awesome. Which, squeezing in awesome is what vacation is all about, yeah?

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I rode the Megabus from Nashville to Chicago – god bless, that shit is cheap! And not much longer than actually driving myself (without the hassle of driving, or dealing with a car when I got there. YUSSS). Megabus is awesome.

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I stayed with my friends Eliza and Brett, who were fabulous hosts (the kind who agree to do all the awful touristy things I wanted to do, like take pictures at the Bean and walk around the Viagra Triangle so I could touch the window to the Bentley dealership. It’s the little things). This picture was taken in the living room of their condo. Can we say SWANK? I felt so fancy all weekend.

Don't worry, we bought plenty of designer fabrics today @ddisciplines @itsmseliza111 @makizysews @grainlinestudio @GinaGemmel @megthegrand @zilredloh

My first order of business was to get my ass back to Vogue Fabrics to restock my dwindling fabric stash and raid their remnant section. Back up, my first order of business was to meet up with some lovely Chicago sewists at Heartland Cafe for a leisurely brunch before we descended into madness. Heartland Cafe was pretty awesome, in case you were wondering.

Vogue was, as to be expected, totally wonderful and totally overwhelming. I didn’t actually come with a set list (as my definite plans for sewing currently use up most of my stash), but I still managed to leave with a couple bags full of fabrics. Thanks to everyone who was able to come out for my impromptu meet-up! From left to right, we have Mari, my hostess with the mostess Eliza, Debbie, Jen, Gina, Meg, meeee (duh), and Liz. Such a great group, love you ladiessss!

I will save you from a boring touristy-recap post and instead go straight to the next day, Sunday – when we went to the Textile Discount Outlet! I had been meaning to visit this place when I was in Chicago last year, but it’s not open on Saturdays (lolwut), so it missed our meet-up day. Eliza, bless her, was more than willing to escort me around for fabric shopping, so I was pretty excited to experience the holy grail of cheapie fabrics in this city.

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Here I was dazzled by the wall of sequins…

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And also dazzled by a zipper that was not only taller than me (let’s be real, I’m 5’2″… everything is taller than me :P), it was also taller than Eliza! In hindsight, totally should have bought that zipper.

Fabric shopping part 2 was intense @ddisciplines @GinaGemmel @Tresbienmichell @itsmseliza111

The meet-up crew was smaller this day (Eliza is taking the picture), and still just as great! Mari & Gina tolerated me for a second day, and Michelle joined us! I really wish I had thought to sneak a picture of Gina’s shirt, btw – she was wearing a Renfrew and that V was fucking perfect. We were all admiring it, ha!

Suprisingly, I actually managed to spend more money at Textile than I did at Vogue (despite Textile being a bit cheaper). I also experienced a bit of a disconnect when I looked at prices too long – at first, $14/yard seems pretty legit (“Oh! That’s about what I’m used to paying!”), until you start getting overwhelmed with $3/yard options and then suddenly, anything over $8/yard seems like highway robbery. Anyone else get like that?

And then I took a fashion illustration class with @itsmseliza111 & @ddisciplines

Anyway, after Textile, Eliza & Mari went with me to take a short (2 hour, very informal) fashion illustration class. I gotta give Mari full credit for tracking that shit down and convincing me to go (and Eliza for agreeing to go with me! I told ya, best hostess!) – it was AWESOME. I never knew fashion illustration was something I’d get really into, but I got REALLY into it and look at my first little illustrated lady! Ahh!! Don’t worry, I’ve already gone to the art store and stocked up on watercolors and fancy paper. Anyone got a fashion illustration book they are looking to sell? ;)

A few random highlights from my trip-

Untitled

Found a gold velvet couch, fell in love.

Untitled

Walked to the Navy Pier, was somewhat underwhelmed UNTIL I DISCOVERED THE SWING RIDE.

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My roommate for the weekend :D

Bunny bomb

Who totally made himself at home on my fabric haul. The stash in general is uneventful enough where I don’t think they require individual pictures (lots of knits – sweatshirt, tissue, and sweater knits, I mean – a couple solid wools, wool-blend plaid, some lining, mehhh) – except I do want to point out that the upper right corner is a little pile of suede-backed faux sherpa (whyyyy?! WHY NOT, that’s what I said!!) and I also got a little chunk of leather (below the sherpa). I have no idea what I will do with either of these, gimme suggestions if you got ‘em!

I love Chicago and I was so happy to have a chance to travel up there for a short weekend fabric-shopping spree. Thanks to everyone who made it out to a meet-up, and for those who couldn’t – I’ll be back. Promise! I love this city!

Now if only New York & LA would cost $50 to visit ;)

I leave you with this -

Untitled

Landon sent this to me over the weekend. Amelia always sits there when either of us are showering and waits for us to get out. She’s such a creep.

I start my new job today!! Wish me luck :) Also, side note, but did you remember to enter the Draping giveaway? It closes on Wednesday!

My Trip To NYC!

14 Mar

I’m baaaack!! Hope y’all have a big ol’ Lauren-shaped hole in your hearts that needs filling, because this is about to be a super long post, filled with lots of pictures that I mostly stole from other people’s blogs. What can I say – I was too busy ~enjoying the moment~ to be bothered to take pictures. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself ;) Rather than break this up into a bunch of posts, I’m just going to do one megapost so it’ll be easy to skip if you’re not interested!

Sonja kindly offered to let me crash on her couch while I was in town, so that’s where I stayed the majority of the week (a couple days were spent visiting some old Nashville friends up in Ossining. I took the train by myself and everything – so proud, you have no idea ha). Sonja was a GREAT hostess – with some of the cutest, no, THE cutest pugs ever! I would now like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my new girlfriend, her name is Peggy and she’s the cuddliest darling in the world:
Peg the Pug
LOOK AT THAT FACE. LOOK AT IT.

After an afternoon of eating cookies and lurking dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, we met up with some of the in-town Mood Sewing Network bloggers for dinner and drinks. I had a few people ask me this, so I just want to clarify – Mood didn’t have anything to do with my NYC trip. I mean, duh, fabric shopping was a big huge giant to-do at the top of the list… but I planned and paid for the trip on my own accord. Once that was set in action, Oona actually handled most of the meeting up deetz, including the Mood dinner. Honestly, I would have been totally lost and probably flailing in the dark somewhere if it hadn’t been for her and Sonja taking control of the plans. Thanks, ladiez!

Mood Dinner
Meeting Sonja and Oona made me feel like I was part an epic trio. I feel like I talked about this nonstop during my trip, but it’s so cool to meet people ~in person~ and realize that they are even more awesome than you guessed from reading their blogs. That’s how I felt about everyone I met. I don’t think I stopped the smiling the whole time I was there (and still smiling now, fyi!)

Mood Dinner
Meg from Mood joined us, as well as Carolyn (who I was super excited to meet!)

Mood Dinner
Peter showed up too!

Friday morning, I woke up bright and early to…
Snowwww!!
SNOOOWWWWWW!!!
Southerners will understand my delight. Snow! That sticks! And the whole city didn’t shut down! Such novelty!

Friday was the first day I spent fabric shopping – what started out as a pizza and spandex date ended up a 7 hour shopping spree, no lie! We started out just me, Sonja and Oona, then after lunch we added Peter and Carolyn for my first foray into Mood.

What can I say about the garment district? In one word, it is OVERWHELMING. The stores go on forever, all selling completely different stuff, and the prices vary wildly. There are specialized notion stores, stores for different types of fabric, stores that seem like they should be the same thing but aren’t (Spandex House, Spandex World). Some of the places I went in were cheeeeeap. Although, to be fair, Mood is pretty cheap compared to the prices I pay here in Nashville. Most of what I bought cost at least half of what I’m used to… some were even cheaper. I’m just going to say this right now: I bought a lot of fabric. Like… well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Anyway, the employees in Mood were so so great – every time I pulled out a bolt that I wanted, someone was standing behind me ready to drag it to my pile. The customer service in that place is great, I never felt like I had to track down someone for swatches or help finding something. Especially George. I loved George, he was my favorite!

First experience at Mood
Here is my first ~Mood Experience~. See? Overwhelmed in the best way possible. So glad I brought a detailed shopping list!

Saturday was meet-up day! I was SO EXCITED for this shit, I barely slept and actually woke up at 6:50A (woof… I don’t even get up that early to go to work!). But first, before meeting up at Mood for round #2, a boozy brunch was in order. Devra hosted at her seriously gorgeous/fancypants pad, where the champagne and coffee flowed freely (although not together, ew) and her badass cat kept jumping into my lap and we were BFFs within 5 minutes. Also brunchin’ with us was Wanett, Christine, and again Sonja/Oona/Peter.

Brunch meet-up

Brunch- Oona
Also within 5 minutes was Oona breaking a plate. She was smiling at me right before it happened, which means this is also partially my fault. SORRY DEVRA.

Brunch- swap+awesome cat
We also had a mini-swap, in which the cat showed us just how much of a badass he was by making himself at home right in the middle of the pile while everyone was digging.

Indiana Jones, the most awesome cat ever
GOD, I love that cat ♥♥♥

After we finished, I realized I was running late TO MY OWN FUCKING MEET-UP and hightailed it to Mood.

Big meet-up at Mood
And look at how many people showed up!! Awww!! You guys!!!!!
We took names and blogs and Oona shared the list with me when I got home (see what I mean about getting nothing done without her?!) – of course, this was after we spent about an hour in Mood, so I may have missed someone who slipped out early. Speak up if you don’t see your name here; I want to lurk aaaaall of you guys!
Gaby, Carly, Lee, Charlotte, Devra, Cindy, Janice, Allie, Lisette, Kim, Meredith, Kayleigh, Sonja, Oona, Rosie, Wanett, Shelley and Christine. Whew!!

We spent a good chunk of time in Mood, split into cackling packs and talking each other into buying fabrics (I like to think I’m very good at peer pressure but Carolyn proved on Friday that she has that shit down to an ART). Post-Mood, we ventured further into the Garment District to check out a few stores… specifically, Pacific Trimming, Chic Fabrics, and Fabrics for Less. Guys, if you have not shopped these stores… I have three words for you: $10 Wool Coating. ACK OMG.

We ended the meet-up at Houndstooth Pub, which we discovered when we tried to go to Stitch and realized they were closed. Houndstooth pub seemed like a good substitution – I mean, it being named after a fabric and all :) Although I feel kind of bad for the bar having to accommodate our enormous group on a moment’s notice – they were good sports about it! Also, the food was amazing.

Thanks again to everyone who was able to make it out to the meet-up – I’m so bummed that I didn’t have time to talk to everyone one-on-one, which means obviously there will need to be a round 2 in the future :) I really enjoyed getting to meet other sewists and I just love fabric shopping with people who actually get excited about that shit, ha! Y’all are the best!!

HOLD UP THOUGH because my trip is not over yet!!

Flea market
I woke up bright and early (too early… damn Daylight Savings Time. Wait, no, I actually love you) Sunday morning and took the train solo to meet with Devra, Wanett and Peter at the Chelsea flea market. I’m actually super proud of myself for getting there – considering I don’t understand how that public transportation shit works at all. I didn’t buy anything at the flea, but I had a lot of fun looking at all the stuff and gawking over some of the prices (guys… come to Nashville. I’ll show you my flea and you shall weep.).

Flea market - with Kenneth King (!!!)
We did run into Kenneth King, though! Holy shit, I was so starstruck!! He’s so funny and a great storyteller – and that jacket is way way way more amazing than any picture could convey. Trust me.

Ok, one more surprise star-studded meet-up…
Sunday night meet-up
Yep, that would be Karen, just dropping into NY the same weekend I was there! What are the odds!?!?

I don’t even remember where we ate, except that I had a lamb burger and the dessert was amazing and the girl sitting at the table next to us kept giving us the stink-eye. She was clearly on an awkward date, sux 2 b her. Karen is just as sweet as you would expect from her blog – and that accent! GOD why don’t I have an accent like that!?

My trip actually wrapped up on Tuesday, and I rolled back into Nashville late Tuesday night (my flights kept getting delayed waaah and LaGuardia airport sorta sucks, there I said it). I actually left the city on Sunday night, stayed with friends Monday & Tuesday in Ossining. I did go back into the city on Monday, to check out Soho and Chinatown… and also make a third trip back to the Garment District. Whoops.

Oh, I guess you wanna see the spoils, huh?

Fabric spoils, the whole lot
Here it is in a big giant pile on my sewing room floor. SO MUCH FABRIC, it barely fit in my suitcase (and spare duffel bag) haha. I actually spent most of the day yesterday prewashing it all and reorganizing my sewing room. I have plans for every single piece I bought.

Here are some individual pictures, collaged as not to overwhelm this already huge post! Almost everything is from Mood, anything that isn’t is indicated in parenthesis.
Fabric spoils, 1
Starting at top left: chambray, lightweight non-stretch denim, medium-weight linen from Marc Jacobs (confession: I chased this bolt around Mood on Saturday, as it switched dozens of hands. I have really exciting plans for it too, although I can’t tell you right this second!), striped ponte knit, striped cotton sateen (the colors look black, but they are navy and white), french terry, lightweight red wool crepe, yellow wool crepe (Carolyn talked me into both of these wool crepes… I was resistant because I live in such a warm climate – it’ll be 70* this weekend, ugh – but that woman could talk me into anything. Also, I’m really glad I bought them and I can’t stop touching them and admiring how lovely the colors are), swimsuit fabrics (Spandex House- the stripes are navy and white, and that weird underwear-looking shit in the background is the lining).

Fabric spoils, 2
Starting at top left: red seersucker (this was intended for my 2013 Sewlution, but upon further inspection I have realized the fabric is quite stretchy, so it might not work for it’s intended purpose. I will, however, find a use for it!!), red floral voile (Chic Fabrics), floral print swiss dot, leopard ponte knit, mint and red cotton jersey (Fabrics for Less), tiny bows Betsy Johnson silk (also from Fabrics for Less – I looove that guy, go buy his fabrics!), hot pink wool coating (Chic Fabrics), polka dot cotton batiste, gingham.

Fabric spoils, 3
Starting at top left: plaid seersucker (Oh god, I don’t remember where this is from… help? Was it Fabrics for Less??), assorted chiffons (from the swap), white cotton twill/brown lightweight corduroy (from the swap), bemberg linings and cotton batiste.

YEP.

Yarn
A big chunk of Sonja’s yarn destashing also went straight into my suitcase… check it out!

So that’s my trip to New York! Thanks again to everyone who made this trip so fucking amazing – Sonja, Oona, Meg, Carolyn, Peter, Devra, Wanett & Karen for taking me out/showing me around, and every single one of y’all who came out for the meet-up. It really means a lot to me and I look forward to more meet-ups in the future. Hopefully some more in New York (must go back!!), but hey, if you’re ever in Nashville… holler at me :)

Before I dump out of here, I have a few more things I wanted to mention!
– I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining a slew of talented ladies for Miss P‘s Refashioner’s Challenge. I remember watching the challenge unfold last year and loving all the makes that came out… and now it’s my turn!! Yay!!
– My girl Mari just started a new pattern line and is currently trying to raise funds for it! You can donate to the Kickstarter Campaign here. The first pattern up is a pullover hoodie – with pockets in the back so you can keep your hands warm while wrapping your arm around someone. GENIUS. The new goal is $1640, which will enable her to produce actual printed patterns. And she’s SO CLOSE. Please, donate if you can!
– I just found out yesterday that on July 1, my beloved Google Reader will be no more. First of all: Fuck you, Google. Second of all: Does anyone have reader suggestions that are similar to the look/feel of the gReader (I mean, other than Bloglovin)? Ughhh I’m so lost. Third of all: Now I guess is the time to claim my blog on Bloglovin, so following me there is an option!
– Speaking of RSS feeds, I had a few people tell me over the weekend that they were having trouble getting the Mood Sewing Network to show up in feeds. I had the same problem in the beginning – which meant I didn’t read the blog, since I’m not about to click back to something every and and see if maaaybe there is an update, you know? Anyway, I talked to the Mood staff about it and they helpfully pointed out that you need to click on the RSS button near the top-right corner, and copy that address into your subscription bar. I tested it in my reader and it worked like a charm, so I thought there might be other people who would want to know the solution too!
– And one last little Mood tidbit – I got a small shout-out in this month’s issue of Threads. AMAZING. Check it out – that’s my name in print, omgomgomg!!
Look! That's my name!!

Ok, I think that’s it! Thanks for hanging in there and letting me gush about my trip :)

Revisiting the Fabiani Coat – and I Hit The Holy Grail

30 Jan

Guys. Remember when I made this coat last year?
Coat front
This is Vogue 2925, which is one of them special designer patterns from the 70s. The pattern is really wonderful – the instructions include light tailoring, with the pad stitching and the fancy interfacing and back stay and all that good stuff. I spent about a month working on the coat, from the muslin to the finishing touches – truly a labor of love. Sadly, I haven’t worn it much this year because I’ve lost weight and it doesn’t fit me as well as it did. But, ugh, whatever about that, that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that I got an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who actually made the coat when the pattern was originally released in the 70s. AND she lives in Nashville. AND she wanted to meet up.

!!!

WOULD I???

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

How many times have we looked at vintage patterns and thought, “I’d love to know who made that, for what purpose, and what fabric they used.” How excited do we get when we find little scraps of fabric or newspaper clippings in the pattern envelopes, offering a little hint to the pattern’s previous life? I don’t know about y’all, but my favorite part about vintage stuff is learning the history behind the people who previously owned them. So to say that I was excited to get to hash this stuff out in real time is a bit of an understatement.

Karen, the original owner/maker of the pattern, agreed to let me take some pictures of the coat and share some information about making it. We met up at Bread & Company on Sunday afternoon and ended up chatting for over 2 hours – about all kinds of stuff, not just sewing! Although sewing stuff came up too :) We brought our coats and showed them off, compared sewing notes and talked about our fabric and finishing choices. You know, basically sewer’s heaven :) The pictures of Karen above were taken in 1973 – she made the entire outfit (pants and top included) for a sewing contest. Although she didn’t win (which surprised me – but hold up, bc I got pictures of the winners too ahaha), she did win the regionals and got a Singer Genie sewing machine out of it.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The coat really is a thing of beauty – I think it’s waaaay better than mine, for sure! Karen said she spent an entire summer working on it for her tailoring class, and the workmanship is just amazing. So much detail and care went into everything – all the way down to how the buttons are sewn on.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at that beautiful top stitching!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!
I love how she added piping between the lining and the coating – as well as the fabric covered snaps.

Fabiani coat - the original!

Fabiani coat - the original!

Karen also brought the pattern envelopes, as well as swatches for all the garments she made. Sadly, the coat is the only piece that still exists, but between the pattern envelopes, swatches, and those 8×10 photos, you can get a pretty good idea of how the entire outfit turned out.

Fabiani coat - the original!
Here’s the coat – with swatches for coating (which cost $25/yard in 1973! Ouch!), lining, interlining, and the horsehair interfacing.

Fabiani coat - the original!
The turtleneck, and the knit fabric.

Fabiani coat - the original!
And the pantssss!! MAN, I wish these pants still existed!!!

After seeing all this stuff (and rubbing my hands all over the coat, bc SHIT), I was really curious to see who won the contest! It would have to be something amazing to win out over a hand-tailored, wool designer coat, you know?

The winners were separated by age groups – Karen was 17 at the time, so here are the people who beat her out:
Fabiani coat - the original!
WHY OH WHY did they not include the pattern numbers?! I need that Heidi-esque Vogue coat!!

Fabiani coat - the original!
Look at the age bracket for these winners – 13-15??? How…?

CFabiani coat - the original!IMG0021
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR, THERE WAS A 10-12 BRACKET.
How many 10 year olds do you know who can make a suit set? Or a hooded coat?? Mind blown over here.

And here’s the best part-
Fabiani coat - the original!
Karen let me try on the coat!! Ahhhahahaha, so awesome! It actually fits better than mine does, yeah?

Fabiani coat - the original!
Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of us both wearing our coats :)

So yeah, that was a pretty cool way to spend a Sunday! I just love how sewing and blogging can bring people together like that. I had a wonderful time meeting with Karen and talking shop – and trying on that coat! Oh oh, she even gave me a copy of Seventeen magazine from 1976… I’ve been flipping through it over the past few days, and the advertisements alone are just amazing. I may have some post some pictures of that, too, there are even ones for sewing patterns :) Big thanks to Karen – for emailing me, for meeting up with me, and for letting me post these pictures on my blog so we could all enjoy them!

In other news, I just wanted to give y’all a heads up about a Kickstarter that my best friend, Morgan, is raising money for right now. You may or may not remember my talking about when she joined the Peace Corps and moved to Macedonia – which was hard on all of us (but duh, especially me because I need my bestie ;) ). She accomplished a lot in the year that she was there – in addition to teaching English, she opened a dance studio and taught dance camp. She is back in the US now, but she wants to return to the ‘donia and teach another dance camp this summer, hence the purpose of raising the funds. You can read more about the cause here, and contribute to the Kickstarter here – backing starts at $1. ONE DOLLAR, PEOPLE.

And in case you were wondering how the hell this relates to this here sewing blog (other than the fact that Morgan is my Life Partner and such as), I have been promised Macedonian fabrics. Here is the piece she bought me last year (it’s still waiting to be sewn; haven’t found the perfect pattern yet!), the softest, most beautiful cotton dream fabric. And obviously I need more. So let’s pull those dollars out and help me get more of that fabric. I mean, shucks. I might even get her to buy two pieces an host an awesome giveaway!

Oh, and Morgan also promised a video teaching us how to curse in Macedonian. So there’s that, too ;)

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