next week my maternal grandma, leona (or lee lee, as my grandfather - last picture - used to call her) turns 90. an achievement indeed.

familial traits are funny things. i certainly look like a strange mixture of my mom and dad, but most of my family agrees that the person i really resemble is my grandma.  i'm pretty sure i'm the only one that inherited her nose (although i come by some pretty strong nose genes from all sides of my family! we're nosey people, i guess!) and we both have the ability to give a look that can stop a child from misbehaving halfway across a restaurant! in other words, no one is left in doubt of our displeasure! after my last set of pictures on this blog my mom even commented that i pose like my grandma! i'd like to think i've inherited her legs, which last time i checked are still just as svelte of ankle as they are in these pictures.

i remember the first time i came upon these photos of her and my grandfather when i was teen. i was pretty obsessed with classic movies from the 30's, 40's and 50's.  katherine hepburn was my idol. when i saw these pictures of my grandma - most of them taken to send to my grandfather while he was away in the navy during world war two - i thought she looked like she had just stepped out of one of those movies! i still think she looks like a movie star.

my grandma was also quite the skilled seamstress, making many of her own clothes (like lots of women during that time) and even some of my mom and aunt's clothing. my sister had borrowed her old kenmore sewing machine a couple years ago to sew curtains for her apartment and after using it a few times had pronounced it broken.  this past christmas we pulled that old machine out to see what was what and it turns out it had just been threaded wrong! my grandma, at 89 years old, after not touching a sewing machine for decades, showed us all up by deftly threading her machine and setting it right without missing a beat!

but whether she was sewing her clothes or buying them from a store, my grandma always had, and still has, a great  eye for fashion and quality - a trait that, unlike her sewing skills, she did  pass down to the women in her family.

i'll be gone all next week visiting my family and getting ready for my grandma's surprise birthday party (don't worry - i didn't spoil the surprise! she still shakes her head wonderingly anytime anyone mentions "the internet" and she probably thinks a "blog" is a minor, but unfortunate skin disease) so the blog will be quiet(er) than usual.  when i get back i get to enjoy the thrill of packing up and moving apartments - a task i'll be happy not to do again for quite some time! so needless to say things may be a bit dead around here. but i'll try to get everything back up and running as soon as i can! plus i'll have a whole new sewing room (all to myself!) at our new apartment so i'll be excited to break it in.

hope you all have a good couple of weeks (can you believe its almost august?!?!)




what have i done to deserve this? i mean... i'm a good person... i pay my taxes. i don't talk ill of the dead. i only tell the good kind of lies... sure there's that affection for astrology and crystals - but that's mostly all a joke... 

perhaps this seems a bit overly dramatic. let me explain. i'm working on another pair of jeans. a white pair. in all respects this pair is exactly the same as the last pair except that they're white. but i tell you this now... not a single step in sewing this pair has gone right! i sewed the fly closed - twice (i was even following my own stinking tutorial!) i've broken or bent three - three twin needles (the first one i threw away in a fit of rage so the evidence does not exist to show you) i managed to get the fabric sucked down so far into the feed dogs i literally had to take apart my machine to get it out. there was this moment where my ironing board decided to collapse on me and i did this really weird slow dance with it to prevent the hot iron falling and burning me half to death. even when i decided i needed to take a break and eat some lunch i totally lost my shit on a container of arugula. pms much....

anyway... if these jeans make it to the other side unscathed - we'll both be different people (or... umm... pants...)

so, you know, just in case you thought it was only you that had totally bizarro accidents happen to you while sewing...its not...


update: i just sewed the back yoke's on backwards. i am officially done for the day. 


nick's dress


gosh! the weather has been so dreary here lately that this late afternoon sunshine left me feeling slightly giddy. like someone just told me i got to have chocolate for dinner...

i'm calling this dress "nick's dress" even though it would probably be more appropriately known as simplicity 1880, or perhaps the "2-in-1 dress" or hell even "sunni's dress".  because this dress is, obviously, all those things. but i'm going to call it "nick's dress" because my husband picked out the fabric, and because he likes it. iron clad reasoning. 


i have to admit that i don't usually consider myself a purple person - actually i believe this dress stands alone as the one and only purple item in my closet. but while at a fabric store in houston - when we were picking out fabric for my husband's shirt - i mentioned that i wanted fabric to make some easy summer dresses. we happened to be standing by the bolts of linen and i believe i lazily stroked one and said "linen might be nice...or maybe a lawn..." and my husband, sensing what i'm sure was about to be an endless back and forth and hemming and hawing that could, really, last hours, grabbed this slubby purple number and said "how about this?!! this would look really good on you!" and you know what... i agreed. so good eye, nick. i know you just picked it to get me out of the store faster, but it just may be my new favorite color.


this dress is a little different for me. it may not look like it, but its far more vintage-y than what i would normally wear. you see i have a long standing struggle with vintage and retro styles. i love them, but they don't always love me (can i get a hell yeah from any other thick waisted sisters out there who can feel my pain??!?!) but this dress didn't seem so literally vintage and i do love me a wrap dress (even a faux wrap - as the case may be) and maybe, really, this was all in my head anyway...

so i made the damn dress. i lurked sunni's sew-along in the most lurky-lurksome ways and made the damn dress. the construction is so thoroughly covered in the sew-along i won't go into any of it here, but i made a straight size 10 without making a muslin (eek!! totally living on the edge over here at sallieoh...) i had measured all the pattern pieces before hand and had an inkling that the waist might be a smidgen tight (see above, re: thick waisted) and lo and behold! it was. but only a smidgen. so i sewed each of the side seams at the waist with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and tapered it back to 5/8 inch. the waist is still snug, but not in an uncomfortable way. just in a squish-you-in-to-make-you-look-like-you-have-curves sort of way.  i'd like to make this dress again (because despite all my bitching, i really really love it) and when i do i'll make sure to add 1/2 an inch to the waist in the flat pattern.

i never noticed that weird wrinkle above the zipper until i looked at these photos! doh! also - can you tell which foot no longer has a big toenail?

the only snag i hit during construction was with the zipper. i installed this pretty little purple invisible zipper and it was weirdly hard to get in (a problem i don't normally have) and then when i went to zip it up the zipper pull got stuck at the waist seam (what is it about waists today?) and i pulled and pulled and pulled and broke the effing thing off!! so pissed. however i gave myself a break and then groped through my stingy notions stash and found a long ass white invisible zipper i had probably got for some forgotten project and put that guy in there figuring, hey, its invisible. and it is. except for the pull (and where it gets a bit tight at the waist but lets just ignore that for the sake of my vanity) so now it looks like i got some armpit jewels. its all the rage...

ignore that part where the bias binding doesn't meet the waist. just ignore it!

i got a little crazy in the notions aisle of jo-ann's searching for hemming tricks and bias binding for the neckline. and by crazy i mean i bought something in a contrasting color! holy beans! she's lost her mind! i had just enough fabric to cut out the dress minus facings so bias binding around the neck was my only option. i don't have a lot of experience hemming this circle-y of a skirt and i think i didn't want to fiddle around with a narrow hem (and the resulting burnt fingers) so i bought some hem lace in the same teal color as my binding and hand stitched it down, which didn't take as long as i feared it would. i rather like the prettiness it lends to the inside. 

i wore this dress to a recent opening at my gallery and felt like quite the lady all night. even the part where i was shoving my face with barbeque. total lady.  but this story doesn't have a completely happy ending. i'm very sad to report that the little citrine crystal necklace i'm wearing in these pictures met its demise while bending over my tripod (and catching the necklace on something and jerking my head up quickly. i can't tell you how many necklaces have died this way). this makes me very sad because, while i don't really really believe that crystals have powers or anything - there was something about this one that gave me a certain energy... 

and now that you all think i'm a crazy i'll say goodbye. i'm going to go have chocolate for dinner. 



well look what the cat dragged in...

if you happen to pick up the august/september issue of vogue patterns you may see a familiar face on page 9!

robin denning, of a little sewing, and the new editor of vogue patterns contacted me awhile ago to see if i would like to have my rachel comey for vogue patterns top, v1247 (click here for the original post), featured in the upcoming edition's "what are you sewing". and boy did i ever!! this was such exciting news to me - i was completely floored! and of course said yes in all sorts of dorkasaurus ways! 

well a good bit of time passed and my very own issue arrived in the mail and not only did i get the thrill of seeing this here mug in print - but i had the added thrill of seeing that i was also the winner of a one-year subscription to vogue patterns! yes please!!!! doublefistpumphighfivekaratechopkick!!!!

i am so excited for robin and her new career venture, not only because i think she'll be fantastic, but also because its just so very inspiring to see someone's passion and love of sewing move from the basement or extra bedroom or whatever corner of the house its shoved, and come out into the limelight and take center stage. 

so congratulations again, robin! and thank you so much for thinking of me. i am delighted to be a part of the magazine, and can't wait to get my paws on upcoming issues of vogue patterns!!


oh and p.s - for those of you that asked about my shoes in the last post - they are by anniel. i picked mine up on sale from my favorite store in houston, leap, but according to polyvore they seem to be sold at various locations across the internet. it looks like the prices are all over the place right now, so you could probably pick them up for a good deal if you do a bit of hunting! good luck!