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Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Look 6722: Surplice Jersey Dress

In between making lots of baby and birthday gifts, I've been trying to figure out what I'd like to make for me. I had planned on jumping right into stuff for fall and winter, but since it's still in the high 90s here and warm weather should stick around for another month or so, I though I'd tackle a knit dress that would be a transition piece from summer to fall. Something that I could pair with flat sandals for summer and tall boots and a sweater for fall. This New Look jersey dress pattern looked like it would be a good option.
I found a poly jersey at Michael Levine that was a nice mix of summer and fall, too - dark brown background with a magenta and purple print that was vaguely tribal. Perfect! I cut it out last weekend and worked on it a little each night for the next few days. Once the bodice was complete, I thought that it might actually be as cute as I was hoping, but once I attached the skirt, I realized that the fit was a bit off. I am still working out my sizing for patterns and I managed to cut this a size too large. Hmph. Instead of being quite snug around the bodice, it was a little loose, which made the skirt larger around my ribcage than I was expecting. Add to that the suggested length for the skirt and it all felt a bit dowdy, especially with sandals.
I really, really didn't want to have another dud on my hands, so I started playing with it, to see what I could do to make it cute. Long story short, I hemmed it to above my knees, paired it with my Whiskey colored riding boots, added some junky jewelry and all of the sudden, it became really cute!

I tend to like the look of loose mini dresses in stores that are paired with funky shoes or boots, but they're always too short or too tight. This dress, on the other hand, gives a similar look but is proportionally more comfortable for me. Even though I still think it looks a bit odd with my flat sandals, I absolutely love it with my boots. LOVE IT! I wore this outfit on Thursday for a 16 hour day and I was incredibly comfortable and felt really confident and current. The look garnered lots of compliments at the office, which is always a nice plus.
I really like how the color of the boots compliments the colors in the dress. I think I'll be rocking this look a few more times before the cooler weather really sets in. :)

As for the boots - yeah, they really are perfect. Like I mentioned, I wore them for a 16 hour day on Thursday and I swear, they were as comfy as my workout shoes. Especially impressive seeing as how it was the first day that I wore them out of the house. I'm sooo getting the Mahogany pair, too. I really am going to live in them this fall and winter. Hehehe.

Weekend Recap

**This is a couple of weeks late, but I'm just not getting around to uploading the appropriate pictures. Oops.**

After last year's Anniversary Dinner Bonanza, this year's celebration was much more subdued. The plan was to celebrate our anniversary with a homemade steak dinner and a bottle of good wine from our Napa Trip on Friday, the 11th. However, things didn't quite work out as planned.

I realized earlier in the week that I had likely either pulled/torn my intercostal muscles or cracked/broken a rib on my left side from all the coughing over the past month. By Friday afternoon, the pain was so bad that I was starting to have trouble taking in a full breath without wincing. Not good. I thought I'd swing by urgent care to try and get some drugs to deal with the pain and maybe see if they could tell me exactly what was going on in there. The front office staff were so sweet, but explained that it'd be an hour wait. No problem. I eventually got ushered back to see the doctor, which is when the crazy began. The nurse taking my information couldn't figure out why I was back in urgent care and not with my primary doctor (um, can't see him for two weeks). She also couldn't seem to understand that I had been diagnosed with pertussis, by the urgent care doctor and that yes, I already had my results, thank you.

By the time the doctor came back I was in a ton of pain and emotionally, I was just spent. Like, no fuel left in the tank. I'm usually very assertive with doctors (it was the only way to get them to test for pertussis in the first place after the doctor told me "adults don't get it unless there is an outbreak" - yeah right), but on Friday I was a little weakling and didn't have it in me to hash it out. The doctor was a total asshat - asked me "well, how did you even get pertussis?" (WTF?! What kind of question is that?!), told me that "young people don't break ribs so an x-ray is just a waste of time!" and barely took two seconds to examine me. He wrote up a quick pain meds prescription and tossed it to me with a minimum of explanation. Thanks a lot jerk! I finally got back out to my car and had a good ugly cry because I was so pissed at being brushed off, at not being my own best advocate and for being in even more pain from the crying. I was a hot mess.

Thankfully, my father-in-law is a pharmacist and between talking to him and the nice lady that filled my prescriptions at my local pharmacy, I calmed down and started to feel a bit better. As for having a nice relaxing dinner? Yeah, it wasn't gonna happen. Instead, we had Baja Fresh and watched football while toasting our anniversary. Nice, but not nearly the night that we had planned. :(

Saturday saw Jim up before dawn to go play golf with Dubber, while I met up with his wife, Girlie, for manis and pedis. I hadn't seen her in a long time so it was good to catch up on everything. In the afternoon, we all met back up at their house to watch the UCLA game and cheer the Bruins on to victory. Yay!

After the game, we headed home to watch more football and finally have that steak dinner I hadn't been able to cook the night before. An unfortunate side effect of still having this cough is that wine currently tastes like battery acid to me. Seriously, it's depressing. So, instead of sharing a bottle from Napa, Jim had some from our cheapy stash while I downed lovely water. For dessert, we had homemade creme brulee made by yours truly. Happy Anniversary to us.

Sunday was a lazy day at home. Jim is beyond thrilled for football to be back and for us to resume our lazy Sundays sitting at home, eating snack foods, him watching the games while doing some work and me keeping one eye on the games while I also read/straighten the house/do laundry/sew, etc. I wanted to make some extra special snacks for the first Sunday of regular NFL games, so I opted for 7 layer dip and Boneless Baked Buffalo Strips. To cap off the day of "healthy" eating, we ended the night with hot dogs and bratwursts. Wheee!

My ribs were starting to feel a bit better, but then I reirritated it this past Sunday night and I feel like I'm about back to square one. I'm alternating between Vicodin at night and extra-strength Ibuprofin during the day, but they don't do much more than take the edge off the pain. I guess I should be glad that it gets rid of the stabbing and burning feeling. Ugh. I'm really frustrated with everything, to say the least. The cough is slowly leaving, but I'm still having enough coughing fits to make getting rid of the rib pain difficult. If anyone is keeping count, it'll be 7 weeks on Monday that I've had this. I really hope that I'm back to normal soon, but my guess is it's going to be another several weeks before I get there.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The perfect boots

I love wearing tall boots during the fall and winter but have trouble finding pairs that are a good fit. I'm to a point where I don't even worry about cost all that much, I'm just looking for something that is cute, classic and comfortable. Oh, and did I mention that I have a 9 narrow foot, a fairly skinny ankle and a larger calf? Yeah, makes it real easy to find boots. ::eyeroll::

I have a couple pairs of heeled tall boots that are okay, but for the past two years I've been obsessed with finding tall, flat boots that I would rock at both work and play with girly skirts and dresses. My initial preference was something that was totally flat with no embellishments, but after a year of searching high and low and coming up empty-handed, I realized that was unrealistic. I then revised my search to find a classic pair of flat riding boots with minimal embellishment. Since I have such a hard time finding boots in general, I wanted to make sure it was classic enough to last for several seasons. Earlier this month, I found something that I liked, but as with most shoes, until I try them on, it's a crapshoot. Oh, but I hit the Holy Grail with this one! Have a look:
They're narrow through the foot, fitted through the ankle and then widen enough at the calf that they zip up easily and cause no skin spillage over the top. And they are sooooo comfy!! They are pretty much my dream boots that I thought I'd never find. And you all are going to cry when you hear where they're from - freaking Talbots of all places! I realize they're not the trendiest store out there, but they consistently carry narrow widths and they tend to fit me well. Obviously, this is no exception.

I have the Whiskey and Black ones living in my closet and I have a feeling the Mahogany ones will be there soon enough. Sure, I'd love to be able to buy different varieties of this style of boot instead of 3 of the exact same one, but seeing as how it took me 2 years to find this boot, I'm not holding my breath for finding others that fit this well and meet all of my style requirements any time soon.

I know so many people have trouble finding tall boots that will fit calves that are larger than a toothpick, so this is definitely a store to keep in mind. I also wanted to post about these pretties as they'll be making lots of appearances in future sewing posts. Almost all of my fall/winter sewing projects are skirts and dresses that are intended to be worn with boots or booties as I plan on living in them for the rest this year and into the next. I'm behind on posting my sewing stuff (will catch up this weekend), but I'm rocking the Whiskey boots today with a short knit dress I just finshed up last night and I feel damn cute and my feet are so very happy! :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Since being bit by the sewing bug, I've become addicted to Pattern Review. It's a really lovely site that covers all things sewing - pattern reviews, message boards, articles on sewing related goodies, and a bunch of other fun stuff. I already have a stash of patterns that I've picked up during Joann's sales and I love browsing the site to see what other sewers have created with the patterns I'm drawn to - the successes, the tips for making the garment better for others that will make it, design ideas that I wouldn't have thought of on my own, etc. Many of the reviewers link back to their blogs and I've amassed quite a list of sewing blogs in my Google Reader.

I've been reading through older entries in their blogs and I find that I am so completely inspired by these women. The beautiful clothes they make are a huge part of it, but I'm also so happy to find a whole group of women from all walks of life out there that are into all things creative. Party planning, knitting, photography, decorating, cooking and a whole host of other creative hobbies and outlets are represented alongside sewing. They're mothers and daughters, stay at home moms and happily sans kids, single and married, here in the US and living abroad. It's gonna sound silly, but I just feel at home reading these blogs. I'm going to be adding a list of my sewing peeps to my sidebar soon, just in case any of you are feeling the need for some inspiration in your creative endeavors.

All of these warm fuzzies are doing nothing for keeping my list of sewing projects reasonable, though. I see so many things that I want to make and not enough time to do it. I have at least 5-6 projects going right now with dozens waiting in the wings. My fabric and pattern stash are growing at incredible rates, but I can't say I'm all that upset by this. Heh. Thankfully, Jim is being a good sport and not commenting (much) on all the crazy.


Between my fashion intervention with Diabolina and starting to sew, I find that my head is bursting with fashion and accessory ideas, especially for the upcoming fall season, and I'm having trouble keeping it all straight. Since I can't sketch to save my life, something that is quite sad to me, I've started tearing out things that I like from catalogues and magazines and will start putting them in a book that I can reference later. I never thought I'd be one to do an inspiration book, but I'm pretty excited at the prospect of it. I think it'll be a nice way of keeping all my ideas in one place and will free up some much needed brain space for other things.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

4 years and counting

I could not have been blessed with a more loving, wonderful man to call my husband. I love you Jim. Happy Anniversary!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Butterick 3782 Infant Dress

Ah, the barage of babies doesn't seem to be letting up! Between upcoming baby showers and birthday parties, there are a lot of kid events in my future. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to try and make a little outfit for my former co-worker's baby. I could practice my sewing skills and if all went well, I'd have a cute dress to give to my friend for her daughter. If it crashed and burned, Baby Gap is thankfully down the street. ;)

I picked up this pattern because I thought it would be fairly simple (ha!) and it was a cute design. I particularly liked the little ruffle on the bodice and the two box pleats at the front of the skirt. After reading one of the pattern reviews , the reviewer suggested it would be particularly cute with a denim bodice and a printed cotton skirt. I totally agreed, and that became the inspiration for the dress.
When my friend found out she was having a girl she told me that I could now go crazy with pink. Sweet of her, but I know that is so not her style. I wanted a funky print for the skirt that would pair well with the dark demin bodice I was planning to use. After scouring Michael Levine, I found this slightly retro orange and sky blue print that was perfect. I then opted for plain sky blue cotton for the diaper cover.

I really love how this dress turned out! Fun, funky and still a little bit girly. The bias tape around the neck and arms were a pain to put in at first, but it will obviously be easier the next time around. I also really like how the orange top-stitching resembles actual demin topstitching thread, which I think gives it a more RTW look that I was expecting.

I like the look of the demin and printed cotton so much, that I have a second version of this dress already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. That one is for another friend and her daughter and since I know she is all about pink, the print for the skirt definitely reflects that. :)

My first wadder

It was bound to happen at some point - a project wouldn't work out as planned. Le sigh. I took a 3 hour class this weekend during which, I would complete a pair of boxer shorts. The pattern was for guys boxers, but I wasn't deterred. I figured they would still make a cute pair of sleep shorts for me and if it worked well, then I'd give it another go and try to make a pair for Jim. I picked out a cute quilting cotton and off to class I went.

I was right in between sizes, so I went with what the instructor suggested, even though I thought it might be too big. I had earlier went with my gut on a different project and was totally wrong, so I ignored my better judgement. Guess what - they're too big. Wah wah.

However, there are a couple of upsides to this. First, I did learn how to sew a pair of men's style boxer shorts the same way ready-to-wear (RTW) boxers are made. I'm excited to try a pair for Jim some time soon - could make a fun stocking stuffer if they work well, especially if they're in a funky print. Second, while I was ordering the men's pattern, I smartly also picked up the women's version of sleep boxers, which looking at the sizing, appears that it will be a better fit for me. I'll try that pattern out soon. I may even re-purchase the same printed cotton to make them up because I like it so much.

And now for a potential upside to one of my readers! While this project is a wadder for me, the shorts themselves are still sewn fairly well and would likely be totally wearable and cute on the right person. So, if you think they would work for you and you'd like to have them, they're all yours! I'll send them to the first person that requests them as soon as I finish the last leg hem. If there are no takers, then they are off to Goodwill.


Per the Kwik Sew pattern, these should fit someone with a waist measurement 36-38 in. and a hip measurement 43-45 in. Keep in mind that the sizing is for men, so it's a little different than typical women's measurements.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

4 day weekend here I come! and a PSA

Every so often, my regular Friday off coincides with a Monday holiday giving me a lovely, unplanned 4 day weekend. Happily, this weekend is one of them! I'm dropping Jim off tomorrow morning at Noah's so his friends can pick him up and head to Vegas for their fantasy football draft - he won't be back until Sunday. We'll have breakfast before he goes and then the rest of the weekend is all me time. :) I'm going to get a pedicure, swing by the local Farmer's Market to get some goodies for gazpacho and I might even try my hand at some homemade bread. But, what I'm most looking forward to is 4 days of sewing. I have a private lesson tomorrow afternoon to learn how to add a lining to a wool skirt and a group class on boxer shorts on Sunday. In between those, I have a stack of other projects calling my name and an ipod full of tunes to keep me company. I'm so very excited!!

Illness update: Talked to the nurse at urgent care today and whadaya know, I'm a probable pertussis case. Wheeee! :/ Day 24 and I'm still coughing all night, though things have definitely improved in the past few days - I can taste my food again and I don't feel like I've been run over by a mack truck any more. The smoke and ash from the fires raging above us aren't helping matters, but what can you do. I'm hoping that within the next few weeks I should start feeling more and more like myself. I'm even going to try a weights class this weekend to see how it goes and to try and start building my strength back up.

And here is where I get on my soapbox:

Please, please, please vaccinate your children! I think I had a "mild" adult form of this disease and it has completely knocked me on my ass. For young kids and babies, severe complications and even death can occur. It's frightening for me, an adult, to not be able to breathe during the coughing fits, but for a child it can be much more than scary. This is not like a mild cold or flu bug that your body will shake off after a few days. I can't imagine watching a child with this - the vomiting while coughing, turning blue from not breathing, etc. :( This is a nasty little bug and there is a reason a vaccine was developed for it.

And for everyone, please talk to your doctor about getting the Tdap booster shot - this covers diptheria, pertussis and tetanus. Additional information can be found here. Immunity to pertussis wanes as you get older - pertussis appears to be on the rise and teens and adults are the reservoirs. Not only can the booster prevent you from getting sick (I can't stress enough that you DO NOT WANT THIS BUG!), but it could prevent you from getting it and passing it along to a young child.

I'll step off my soapbox now, but please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about this. After the past month, it's something that has become extremely important to me and I hope to all of you, too.