Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Confessions of a Scissor Phobic

It's confession time, kittens.

I haven't finished my Chantilly dress. To be honest, I haven't even started it. Not because I'm intimidated by the pattern or because I haven't been in the mood to sew. I haven't started it, because I haven't even cut it out yet.

You see, I hate cutting out pattern pieces. I firmly believe every sewist has a step of the process he or she dreads the most. Some people may loath hemming, while others do everything they can not to put in a zipper. For me, the ironing, pinning, and lining up grainlines have become the seventh circle of sewing hell. If there were a service that allowed me to send in my patterns and chosen fabric, then they would ship it back to me all cut out, I would be a happy camper. The charge could be exorbitant and I'd still probably use it.

If I want to sew something, that's just it - I want to sew it. I don't want to sit on a floor for two hours, pinning tissue to fabric and getting a cramp in my back. Even watching Veronica Mars doesn't help pass the time. I can't properly concentrate on the damaged, but oddly noble Logan Echols while leaned over a cutting board. It's a quandary. To sew, one must have fabric pieces, after all.

No doubt, I would feel better if I had a rotary mat. Despite owning a rotary cutter, I'm still cutting things out the old fashioned way: pinning and scissoring. It's really difficult for me to splurge on a $100+ mat, when I could be buying fabric and patterns instead. Or, at least, saving up for my other big ticket sewing lusts, a dress form and a serger. I'm rather hoping JoAnns or Hancock will have a drastic sale on them at some nebulous future date. Or, miraculously, that one will pop up on Craigslist.

So, there you have it. My secret sewing shame. Tonight, I'm planning on lining up a wildly interesting audiobook and giving in to the dreaded scissors. If only the Chantilly didn't have so many pieces...

Do you have a sewing phobia? Is there one part of the process that you would happily choose to eat worms rather than go through ever again?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pattern Musings: Colette Chantilly

This past weekend, I was hit with a mild case of the plague. Consequently, I've been more inclined to look pitiful while watching Veronica Mars than return to my sewing table. Now that I'm starting to feel like a normal person again, it's time to get back on track. Instead of sewing my final planned garment of the Colette Spring Palette Challenge, I'm opting for one of my bonus projects - the Colette Chantilly dress.

For the fabric, I've chosen a lovely blue & white floral cotton from Gorgeous Fabrics. It's actually the same fabric I used for the Sencha blouse, only in a different palette. I have a bit of a thing for small floral prints and this fabric has the added bonus of a lovely drape. It should work really well with all the flowing gathers of this pattern.

Because Colette patterns are standard RTW sizing, I don't have any fitting alterations planned. My measurements line up exactly with Colette's size chart and they are drafted for bigger bust cups. It's such a refreshing change! Now if only Sarai & Co. would release more of their lovely designs soon...

Have you sewn up a Colette Chantilly dress yet? Do you have any suggestions for someone about to dive into the pattern for the first time?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Girl With the Violet Eyes

The incomparable Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning at the age of 79. Originally, my plan was to write an eloquent post on her life and legacy. I can't do it. There's nothing I can say about Taylor that you don't already know or hasn't been said 1000 times before.

Whether it was pulling her own on screen against Paul Newman in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (my personal favorite movie of all time) or romping through her much-publicized romantic life, she always did it with panache. Elizabeth Taylor was quite a woman. Today, the world is a little less fabulous for her loss.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Unsolicited Opinions on Size and Fashion

This weekend, I had an interesting conversation with my mother. Early Sunday morning, she was flipping through the latest edition of O Magazine (one of our joint guilty pleasures) and spotted a spread of women breaking so-called "white" rules. It wasn't the (totally true) assertion that white clothes after Labor Day are fine that caught her eye. It was the models themselves. They were of all different sizes - petite, tall and slim, curvaceous, and every shape in between. Each one was completely lovely in her own right and looked spectacular in the styled outfits.

My mother, being a mother, shared this revelation with the purpose of encouraging me to look into plus-size modeling. Our exchange went - more or less - as follows...
  • Mom: "...and then I thought, Mary is prettier than any of them! And we know how photogenic you are. Maybe you need a third career, darling."
  • Me: (crazy, horrified laughter) "Mom, don't you think you're a little biased? Also, I'm pretty know...with the writing and medical school and all."
  • Mom: "True. But women want to see models who are shaped like them in magazines and I thought you would just be perfect."
After discussing the specifics of why exactly her dear daughter will never be a model (only 5'8'', 25 is a bit old to start, and totally not looking anything like Crystal Renn among the chief arguments), we talked about the real interesting point of the O spread. We do want to see women like us in magazines and advertisements. While I love my subscriptions to Vogue and Elle, it's rare that I actually look at the fashion ads. I flick past them with little interest, because seriously, what do I care what a six-foot, size-zero model looks like wearing that designer lace dress? It's not going to look like that on me. If I stopped and lusted after it, I'd just have to contemplate whether it would be flattering to my body type. Then, I would probably remember that said designer's line only goes up to size 8. When a fashion spread grabs my attention, it's because of artistic merit or vintage styling.

Even while shopping online, it's rare that I actually pay attention to the model wearing the outfit. I look at fabric, design shape, and price, because that's what will actually get me to buy something. Or, rather, that's how I used to feel.

Serendipitous to the timing of this conversation, I've been haunting the Talbots online store lately. Not because the clothes are great (which they are - I love the new direction they've taken), but because I was totally bowled over by one of their latest ad campaigns. They're in the process of revamping their "Talbots Woman" line of plus-sizes clothing and part of that has been hiring actual size 12+ models to display their clothes. As a cross-over size, I've never bought anything from the Woman line, but the front-page picture was enough for me to click through.

There was this gorgeous woman - tall, blonde, and totally bombshell curvy - wearing Talbots clothes. She looked like a goddess. It was a simple outfit: chambray Oxford shirt, brown belt, and a daisy lace white skirt. It was identical to an outfit I'd seen on the main Talbots site weeks before and dismissed, not thinking the straight skirt would flatter my hips. But modeled on a woman my shape? Totally changed my mind. I wanted the entire outfit and I wanted it right that second. What's more, I then clicked through every single outfit in the store, seeing if they had her wearing anything else I liked.

Thus is the magic of target marketing. When the average American woman is a size 14, doesn't it reason that the fashion industry would benefit by including models who are not so glaringly opposite of that size? This has been a bit of a hot topic in recent years, with the rising careers of models like Crystal Renn and Tara Lynn. These women have not been sidelined to the "plus-sized" stores, but featured in major runway shows and magazine spreads. Admittedly, a lot of the attention surrounding them has been precisely because they are so novel. Size 12 women rarely, if ever, walk major runway shows. In a fashion world where thin is so required that even traditional models are smoothed and shrunk through photo editing, average-sized women, no matter how stunningly gorgeous they may be, have become an aberration.

Honestly, this is part of the reason I started sewing. So many clothes I lust after are not only out of my price range, but out of my size range. Even at major retailers, like Anthropologie, it's not at all uncommon for sizing to stop at a 10. I can't tell you how many times I've fallen in love with a dress in-store, only to find out I've been sized out of purchasing it. All too many women take this occurrence as a sign that there is something wrong with their shapes. Frankly, that's crap. As someone in the medical field, I'm a big evangelist of the maxim that both health and beauty come in many sizes. Why should I have to crash diet just to shrink into someone else's view of normal? I'm a size 12/14. What's more, I'm totally okay with that.

So, I threw up my hands and decided that if designers weren't making the clothing I wanted, I'd have to do it myself. One of the things I've come to love about the online sewing community is that sewing bloggers do come in all shapes and sizes. You can see a new pattern on my 5'8'', curvy frame, but also on someone who's 4'10'' and delicately-formed. Because, fashion may have size expectations, but style does not. Here's hoping the former starts to take some cues from the latter, agreed?

Post Notes: It should be said that plus-sized fashion is similarly, if not as extremely, biased as well. Models do tend to be in the smaller range of plus sizes (and I would even argue that a 12 shouldn't be categorized as plus at all). What's more, there's not a place in the market for women of middle sizes - sixes, eights, and tens - to be featured. It's all-or-nothing with fashion, when it comes to highlighting larger sizes. But that's a post for another day, or else I'll ramble on longer, until this post becomes book length. No one wants that.

Also: The balloon picture? Credit to my wonderful, wildly talented friend Sarah Romohr of Sincerely Sarah Photography in Austin. I had fun playing dress-up for an hour last summer, so she could test out some techniques. She even managed to make me look not crazy ridiculous in front of a camera, which takes some skill. If you need photography in Austin, she's amazing! (And you may suspect me of a bias, as we've been friends for a decade, but I'm not alone. People go gaga over her work.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Pretty: 3.20.11

This weekend's dose of pretty is brought to us by Elle magazine. Emma Roberts, one of my personal favorite young Hollywood fashion inspirations, was shot in a vaguely retro auto-meets-art spread called "Ticket to Ride."

Makes you want to take a summer road trip, doesn't it? (It also makes me want to have the Roberts family bone structure, for that matter!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mlle Marie Va Au Musée: Simplicity 2215

Cynthia Rowley is a genius, kittens. Did we ever doubt it? Her line of patterns for Simplicity is at once fashion-forward and delightfully classic. In every pattern envelope, there is room to skew both ways, depending on the sewer's personal tastes.

Her newest, Simplicity 2215, is no exception. The patterns seem simple - a shirtdress, then a skirt and shirt made from the separated dress. But, of course, nothing from Rowley is ever truly simple. The envelope itself suggests room to spice things up - deconstructed modern trims, bold fabric choices - but the pattern pieces themselves are also a cut above the normal Simplicity fare. For my first 2215 project, I chose the skirt. As I mentioned in my musings post, I've been lusting after a similar ready-to-wear piece from Talbot's, the Champs-Élysées skirt. Indigo is in my spring palette for the Colette challenge and this pattern seemed like a fairly-straightforward recreation of that classic pleated silhouette. I was mistaken. It is so much better.

The skirt pattern ended up being that brilliant Rowley mix of classic and modern. You see, the pleats and folds are actually asymmetrical. Unlike normal skirts, where the pleats typically all go toward the center and are of uniform width, each pleat in 2215 is an individual. Some face toward the center, while others double back toward the side, forming subtle box pleats. They all vary in width, as well, creating interest and depth in this seemingly simple pattern. This difference may not be noticeable to the common eye, but it made me a bit giddy. I live for surprising pattern details.

All this gushing is not to say there weren't some tricky parts. Namely, the side invisible zipper and pockets double threat. This was my first time inserting pockets when dealing with a side zipper. While the Simplicity instructions were remarkably clear, I still ended up sewing the left pocket shut my first time through. There's only so much one can visualize, you know? Right sides have to be together, the zipper has to be upside down, etc. It gets a little muddy. (Full disclosure: I was also a little distracted by the Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Did you know he crash landed in the Libyan desert and that was his inspiration for The Little Prince?) Luckily, it was a snap to take out the stitches and resew the zipper to the correct pocket side.

Another slight issue revolved around pretty details I added, then had to cover up. I've decided to give up on fusible interfacing, unless absolutely necessary, and instead underlined the waistband with some leftover rose print pique from my first Miss Rose dress. It looked absolutely adorable. Then, of course, the pattern told me to fold over the waistband - effectively hiding the pretty. My fault, for not reading through the entire pattern directions, but still a bit disappointing. Similarly, I decided to use navy flexi-lace hem facing to do the hem. It also turned out well - a very cute detail that I will be returning to in the future - but in the end I wanted to take a bit more length off, so I had to fold it under. Once more, hiding the pretty. Luckily, I made the pockets of of the rose pique, so there are still some fun details lingering!

Overall, this is a wonderful pattern. Made up in a stretch indigo denim, it's an almost exact replica of the RTW inspiration skirt. This is a pattern that we'll definitely be seeing again, as I have grand plans to buy some cheery spring poplins and have a whole rainbow of pleated full skirts.

Things I Changed:
  • Made the pockets from contrasting printed fabric.
  • Made the pockets from the Colette Crepe dress, as I find that channel pocket design lays flatter against the body. That's it! No other alterations were necessary. Don't you love skirt patterns?
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • When I make the poplin versions of 2215, I will probably double the waistband width. I tend to like slightly wider waistbands, so that my hourglass figure is clearly visible. The waistband of 2215 ends up being about one-and-a-half inches, so a little on the narrow side for my liking.
  • Add length and take a deeper hem. This is a personal thing. I just really like how sumptuous wide hems are and how floaty they make skirts.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • The invisible zipper/pocket conundrum. It's a bit confusing to visualize how this pieces together, so my major advice is this: sew the zipper to the side of the pocket that is in line with the skirt side. I originally sewed it to the side that Simplicity says\ to turn under, because that's how the diagram looked. Yeah, that sews the pocket shut. Sew to the long side, whatever you do!
  • When making the pleats on the skirt, have the pattern piece handy. While I did properly mark the pleat directions, it was nice to have the little arrows to look at on the piece telling me what to do, as they do switch it up a lot.
Fabric Used:
  • Stretch indigo denim from Hancock's - $9.99/yard.
Outfit Details:
  • Skirt: 2215 made by me! Hooray!
  • Shirt: white lace shirt by Merona from Target
  • Cardigan: blue lace detail cardigan by Merona from Target (I freaking love their cardigans right now - so many great embellishment and details. Also, no one would guess it's from Target. Even better.)
  • Shoes: brown Fiddle Bow wedges by Clarks (Which I love. Not only are they adorable, but they are super comfortable. I now own them in not one, but three colors.)
Completely Superfluous Picture of Remy, Who Really Wanted To Be Involved In This Shoot:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sláinte, Miss Rose! : Simplicity 2209

Happy St. Patrick's Day, lovelies! Seems the perfect time to finally post pictures of my mint Simplicity Lisette 2209 dress, don't you think? Idle Fancy needs a little Irish today, even if my ancestors are all Swedish farmers and - embarrassing on this particular day - English aristocrats.

I've been wearing the heck out of this dress since the beginning of March. The pique, from Hancock's once more, is of wonderful quality and is a joy to wear. So much so that I may have given in and invested in 3 yards of some baby pink pique from the same line. You know, just maybe. It would be nice to say that I plan to make something new with it, but - let's be honest - I need another 2209 in my life.

I love, love, love this pattern. You probably already noticed that from previous version though, so onto the pictures!

Note: Looking for construction details on Simplicity 2209? Check out the post on my original rose print version of this dress. I give all the nitty gritty details, as well as alterations I made.

The Sounds of Sewing

Last night, I put the finishing touches on my Champs-Élysées skirt (Simplicity 2215). Hooray! What makes it even better is that I didn't mean to finish it so quickly. I've had it cut out for a week now, but just started construction on Tuesday night. Yesterday, after dinner with one of my favorite people, I sat down just to finish the waistband. I had a good book to read (Dog Gone It by Spencer Quinn), so I wasn't really in the mood to sew for more than an hour.

Three hours later, the skirt was complete.

Often, when I'm writing, time passes like that - so quickly that hours have passed in what seem like minutes. My mother, an artist, has always called it "being in your right brain." It's that creative force taking over, leaving the logical time-keeping parts of our brains to twiddle metaphorical thumbs. Not going to lie, that rarely happens to me when sewing. All those little details to keep straight usually make it impossible for me to have a proper creative bliss out. Last night, I wasn't in my right brain...I was just listening to a really awesome podcast.

There's my big sewing secret. Part of the fun of constructing a garment is that I can plug in my headphones and listen to the latest episode of Stuff You Missed In History Class. I'm totally addicted to Sarah and Deblina's discussions of history's best stories. While sewing, TV is out of the question, since I can't focus on the screen while folding pleats. If I'm hand-sewing, you can bet I'm in front of a BBC period drama, but at my machine? The set is off. Music is the logical solution, but as much as I love it, I crave something more stimulating while sewing.

Podcasts are perfect. Delightful, interesting discussions and programs in small digestible time frames. My favorites are the whole line of How Stuff Works offerings, with History Class being my absolute go-to. Part of what made sewing up the crazy dress from crazytown bearable was that I listened an entire series on the Bourbons while doing it.

This another one of those idiosyncrasies that comes with a creative pursuit. In my mind, the personal rituals surrounding the creativity are just as interesting to talk about as the awesome dresses that result. It's another one of those everyone-is-so-gloriously-different sort of things. What do you do while sewing? Do you crave silence only broken by the hum of your machine or do you listen to 80's punk at full volume?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weekend Pretty: 3.12.11

Deciding on this week's edition of Weekend Pretty was tough, friends. With Paris Fashion Week Fall 2011 ending, it should have been easy. Pick my favorite collection and cruise, right? One would think. Unfortunately, my favorite collection ended up being the Galliano show...designed by the same man whose recent actions and voiced opinions actually make me ill to think about.

There has been much debate around the internet about this collection. Essentially: Can you separate artist from art? I don't pretend to know the right answer to that. What I do know is that John Galliano was not the only one working on this collection or his final Dior one. There were assistants, designers, artists, none of whom deserve the same condemnation as their boss.

To that end, I'm still posting the Galliano collection. It has a vintage romanticism that is right up my alley, taking obvious inspiration from my favorite decade - the 1920's. There's something so delightfully old Hollywood about the whole show. Despite the ugliness of its namesake, the clothes themselves are gorgeous, indeed - for whatever that's worth.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lovely Lisette: A Discussion

I am a Lisette convert. It's obvious from my last post that these patterns make me go weak in the knees. What's odd about this, however, is that I seem to be one of the few bloggers who fell in love with the patterns, before realizing they were designed by Liesl Gibson. When the Simplicity Spring 2011 catalog came out, I searched for the designer info to no avail. Yet, everyone seems to be clued in! It's as if there was some great secret of the sewers society. Or, more likely, I just don't read as many blogs as I should.

If you have a little one in your life, you're probably familiar with Ms. Gibson's delightful line of children's patterns, Oliver + S. If you don't have a wee person to sew for, you're probably just familiar with wishing her patterns came in adult sizes too. That's how I felt, anyway! Which makes it even stranger that I was so out of the loop on the Lisette designer. I just knew there was something special about this pattern line. it turns out, it's not just a pattern line.

There are fabrics, as well, friends. Remember all those lovely, colorful fabrics on the Lisette pattern envelopes? They can now be ours. Originally, when I saw the patterns, I thought they had used quilting fabrics. After all, you can't find bright, wonderful cotton lawn or twill just anywhere. Liesl & Co. must have thought of this, because JoAnn's - a store that previously made me shudder from their lack of good quality apparel fabric - stocks the full line of Lisette fabrics. Even better, they're having a temporary 40% off online sale of them right now. Personally, I have my eye one the blue dotted cotton lawn and the gold medallion twill.

For the first time in recent memory, a designer has made it possible to exactly replicate the looks she had in mind. What's more, this also marks another interesting occurrence: An indie pattern designer making her designs available to a larger population, through partnering with one of the Big 4 companies. It shows a great deal of savvy on the parts of both Ms. Gibson and Simplicity. Solely from the hits Idle Fancy has received from people searching for Lisette patterns, it's obvious the line is going to be a success. More and more women, of all ages, have picked up sewing in recent years. With the changing demographics of the industry, it's refreshing to see pattern companies and designers responding to the similarly changing customer desires. And - selfishly - I hope Lisette sticks around for awhile, if only so my closet fills up with these designs!

Not going to lie, I can't quite remember what my point was when I started writing this blog. It's just so nice to see things in this industry evolving before my eyes. I've only been seriously sewing for six months, yet already there are so many new designers and new resources for the modern seamstress. Every line, including the Big 4 main designs, speak to different individual styles. My classic aesthetic tends to lead me to Simplicity and Colette offerings, but I'm always amazed at how well other people filter their sensibilities through the different lines. Out of curiosity, what is your personal favorite line of patterns?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Miss Rose Feels A Bit Narcissistic : Simplicity 2209

I'm in love, kittens.

Simplicity 2209 and I have come to an understanding. She will keep being fabulous in every fabric available and I shall go about proclaiming my adoration from every (virtual) mountaintop. For a long time, I've wished for a simple, but interesting, sundress pattern - a cut above the traditional bodice and gathered skirt, but easy enough to sew up in a few hours.

Simplicity 2209 is both of those things.

I ended up loving most everything about this pattern. The crossover darts on the bodice elevate it from the normal sundress fare, while the subtlety pleated skirt is both classic and flattering. The Lisette line for Simplicity is brand new, but the designs are all equally cute. 2209 in particular ends up being a refreshingly young - but not fashion victim trendy - dress, with endless possibility for embellishment and creative alterations. It's hard not to love a pattern that ends up being this cute!

My favorite part of this pattern, however, is the required yardage. That sounds odd, but it's lovely to sew up a dress with just two-and-a-half yards of fabric. That, combined with how flattering the design is, means this really is a dress I'll sew up in a few iterations. In fact, I already have - when I needed something cute and green last weekend for the Dallas Irish Festival, I snagged some green pique and sewed up a second, equally cute, version of 2209. Pictures of that will be forthcoming, as soon as I wash the travel wrinkles from it!

All this gushing is not to say I didn't make some pattern changes. In the plans for this dress, there is meant to be a zipper on the left side. Unfortunately, my love of pockets trumped my need to follow directions. I have no problem with pull-over designs, so I omitted the zipper altogether and added pockets on each side - grabbing the pattern pieces from the Colette Crepe dress, my favorite pocket shape yet. If I were to keep the zipper in, I would simply shift it from the side to the back bodice. As it is designed, the back bodice is one piece, but it would a breeze to turn it into two pieces and add a zipper in the center.

Additionally, I also did some bodice adjustments. Once again, I did anything I could to avoid an FBA on this pattern. Because of the overlapping bodice darts, it seemed like too much of a headache. Traditionalist sewers are probably cringing and my lackadaisical approach to alterations. Alas, I'm probably ever fated to be a renegade seamstress. In this case, my solution was to shorten the darts by two inches. The front darts are a bit odd, not going to lie. They don't come to a point like classic darts, but are rather more like large tucks. This made shortening them a cinch - there's no rotation or retracing to worry about. My other slight alteration was to adjust the armscye a bit, as there was some gaping without the FBA. In this case, I just did a bit of gathering, not even noticeable, to make it hug the body closer.

Construction-wise, this dress was such an easy project. There are four darts in total - the two overlapping on the front bodice and two traditionally shaped ones on the back bodice. The skirt is a divinely flattering A-line, with four small pleats in the front and four in the back. The dress is unlined, finished instead with neckline facings and bias tape at the arm-holes. These finish-outs contribute to the swiftness of construction. Aside from cutting, it took me no more than three hours to complete. One couldn't ask for a better quick sewing project!

As always, I've compiled a few tips and suggestions, if you also plan try this pattern. And, really, you must. It's completely divine, all around.

Things I Changed:
  • Omitted the side zipper, in favor of adding pockets. As I said before, it would be an easy switch to move the zipper to the back, if you want to keep it in. This dress just screams for pockets, so they're a wonderful design addition.
  • Adjustments for a full-bust: shortened the front darts by two inches and gathered the armscyes to prevent gaping.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Omit the facings and bias tape, in favor of a lining. The next time I make 2209, I'm going to draft a lining for the bodice, as the facings are a bit annoying - as all facings are. The bias binding is a brilliant finish for the armholes, but I do prefer the clean look of a lining. I'll be using a more costly fabric for the next version, so I'll take the time to add this more professional finish.
  • Add embellishments. With such a simple pattern, there are really a mind-boggling number of ways one could add a personal touch. For me, I'm planning on adding piping and possibly a neckline bow to my next version.
Tricky Steps and Suggestions:
  • This really is an absurdly easy pattern, but the overlapping darts could cause a bit of trouble. Marking the darts and the center lines well is a must, so they line up correctly once sewn. Honestly, however, this shouldn't be too much of a tricky step. Simplicity has outdone itself making an interesting, but sewer-friendly pattern. You shouldn't have too much trouble with any step!
Supplies Used:
  • White Pique from Hancock Fabrics
  • Navy Rose Print Pique from Hancock Fabrics

ADDENDUM: Want more 2209 pictures? Check out my post of the mint green version of this dress.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pattern Musings: Simplicity 2215

Next up on the roster: Simplicity 2215, the newest Cynthia Rowley pattern. I love every part of this pattern - the dress, shirt, and skirt. However, for my first 2215 project I'm going to be practical and make up something that's missing from my wardrobe. Namely, a denim skirt. I go through denim skirts like the cast of Psych goes through pineapples. My current go-to incarnation is a pencil skirt I bought from GAP in 2008. What used to be indigo is now a blah blue. It's time for a change.

The inspiration for this came from the Champs-Élysées skirt currently on sale at Talbots. It's a full-skirted denim skirt that makes me feel all swoony inside. Is there anything more romantic and summery than a full skirt? Making it up in a denim is a wonderful modern twist on a Grace Kelly classic. I am so, so excited about making this skirt. If it works out, you can expect a lot more of these. I'm thinking a whole slew of them in cheery sherbet-colored poplins.

Edit: Want to see the finished skirt? Check out my finished project post!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Excercise Pretty: Can It Be Done?

The weekend of two dresses was a success! I need to finish the hems on both, then I'll be posting reviews of the patterns and pictures. For today, my mind is on less adorable outfits - namely, gym clothes.

So, I recently joined a studio here in Austin that specializes in dancey fitness classes - zumba, belly-dancing, hip-hop, street jazz, burlesque, and the like. It's like Heaven on Earth for me, a girl who spent her formative years bouncing around on stage in spandex and toe shoes. The only problem: eight years of higher education plus two dress sizes later and I now wouldn't be caught dead donning some of those former dance outfits.

That reticence would be fine, if what I now own was working out alright. It's not. Going to a traditional gym is one thing - t-shirts and shorts work fine - but there are mirrors in this place, lovelies. Everywhere! How can I concentrate on my toe point, when I'm thinking that I look frumpy? This is not a problem I remember having in high school, when at least two of my eight classes were spent in a dance studio. Aging has made exercising in front of mirrors a harrowing experience.

As much as I hate to be one of those vain women who primps before a workout, something must be done. I need pretty workout gear. Stat.

Right now, I'm leaning toward investing in some leotards - this adorable one on Amazon even has a sweetheart neckline - and looser fitting yoga capris. However, I need input! What do you wear when working out, oh fashion-minded friends? Are you a purist in sweatpants and old t-shirts, or do you have a secret source for cute and functional threads?