Closing in on a few FOs

I confess, knitting and sewing time has been scarce for the past six weeks or so. I’m just really over-scheduled right now. It’s temporary, thank goodness, and I can already see the end of this cycle starting to manifest. I like being busy and arrange my life to keep it that way, but sometimes I overdo it just a wee bit.

So this has slowed down the knitting and sewing progress, but it hasn’t stopped it altogether. Today, I finished this mesh tunic.


I’m really pleased with how it turned out. This is Butterick 5954, a highly rated pattern that made the “Best of 2014” list at Sewing Pattern Review. I can see why. The cut is perfect. It’s loose and fluid without being baggy, and that’s a tough line to toe. I did add a FBA to the pattern front, but other than that, it was the only pattern adjustment. I didn’t even narrow the shoulders, though I would likely do it if I sewed this pattern again. (I will sew this pattern again. Without question.)

This is view B of the pattern, a fairly plain tunic shape with a lot of flare at the hem. There’s another view with overlapped fronts and a cowl neck that many, many sewists have made.

Butterick 5954

It’s pretty, and I like it quite a lot. I keep wanting to make it, but I’m hesitant because I think all that fabric would overwhelm me. I’m pretty self-conscious right now about the weight I gained last fall during my illness, and I think adding a lot of fabric onto my too-heavy (for now) figure would practically guarantee that I never wear the top. But I’ve got the all-clear from my doctor to shed that weight — a work in progress right now, and the hours in the gym every day are definitely contributing to my over-scheduling issue these days. But if it means I can get back into my regular size and make this top, maybe in a floaty, sheer chiffon, then it will be worth it. I keep seeing it in a citrus-y bright color, sheer and light, and very summery. It doesn’t look very summery in that tweedy knit pictured, but that’s how I want to do it.

Speaking of sheer fabrics, this whole project came about because I scanned the “new arrivals” page at Mood Fabrics and spotted this knitted mesh.


That’s a bonded mesh knit, two layers of knitted fabric that are joined with a double-knitting technique in various places across the knitting rows. It’s very, very soft, like the softest t-shirt jersey. I snapped this photo of a scrap left after cutting, but you can get a closer look at it on Mood’s product page (link). This fabric comes in a lot of colors, and I debated far too long between the spearmint, white, and black before going with black. It’s sort of my default color.

I’ve worked with other bonded/layered knits before, but this one was comparatively easy to handle. It was stable enough to stay where you put it and grip the straight pins, but soft enough to roll easily at the hems. I debated doing a hand-rolled hem on this, in fact, because a hand-rolled hem will always be softer than a machine-rolled hem. But then I thought that bit of hardness from the machine-rolled hem might help support the flare down at the hem, and it seems to be working as expected. I’m glad I opted for the machine-rolled hem, but when I make it again (maybe in this bright blue crinkle chiffon? hmm…) I would definitely consider a hand-rolled hem to keep the chiffon floaty.

In any case, I can already tell I’ll wear this a lot. It’s the perfect thing to throw on over a tank/tee and leggings/jeans on a summer day when the air conditioner is going to be blasting wherever I go. And in the transitional season we’re in now, when it could be 70F or it could be 50F — roll the dice! — this mesh is just the right weight to stay comfortable. As an added bonus, the texture of the mesh looks great with these Steve Madden booties I bought a few months back. See the quilting detail on the leather?


The shape of that quilting mimics the mesh pretty closely, which is just one of those little details that makes me feel like I might be doing something right. Also, you can’t go wrong with black heeled boots or booties, right? It doesn’t seem to matter how many pairs I already own — when I see a perfect pair like these, I have to snap them up. I especially love the inside of these boots.


It just has the vaguest whiff of Alexander McQueen’s Highland Rape collection. Remember that one? Genius. These boots are, of course, not as splendid or shocking as that collection was, but the secret glimpse of plaid inside the rather tough, edgy boots always makes me remember the mood and tone of that collection. I really do love these boots. ::happy sigh::

Have you made any new pieces for the transitional weather?





Storage Questions

Now that my closet is empty, I would like to be smarter about the way I refill it. I’m a pretty tidy, organized person in real life, and my closet tends to reflect that. But there are a couple of trouble spots, so here are the questions I’m trying to solve now.

1. What is the best way to store scarves? I have probably 70 or 80 light silk scarves that currently live in clear plastic shoe boxes, organized more or less according to color. I also have knitted scarves in a separate storage box. These are bulkier and harder to store. I’m not crazy about these storage boxes because they’re hard to get in and out of the closet and, even though clear, I end up digging and mussing while searching for the one scarf I can never seem to find.

2. What is the best way to store necklaces and earrings? Right now, my necklaces are looped over the corner of a mirror, where they are in a predictable tangle. My earrings are in crystal boxes in a jumble that makes finding two of the same almost impossible.

3. How do you store boots, booties, and platform heels too large to fit into shoe bags? I’ve been on a buying kick with footwear lately, and none of my five new pairs of winter shoes will fit into my hanging shoe bags.

Okay, so here’s the new skirt

Nothing special — I just happened to wear the new skirt yesterday and thought I would post a photo to replace the hanger shot from last week. I love the way this skirt wears and feels, but it needs a lining or a slip. Despite being a smoother-than-average cotton ribbing, it kept sticking to my tights.


I bought the sweater last week at Carson’s. They’re having the Goodwill sale now, and believe me, I have clothes to donate and trade for discount coupons. This sweater in red was just interesting enough to come home with me — plain enough for everyday wear, but that fringed cowl elevates it from being just another sweater. Sweaters and tops are a fairly safe purchase right now because I think I’m about as small as I’m going to get up there. With only eight pounds left to lose, and with my hips and legs still fairly, um, generous in proportion to the rest of me, I suspect most of the last eight pounds will come from this hips down. My mouth to god’s ears, right?

I also bought these great Vince Camuto booties last week. I think Vince Camuto is about the most interesting label in the mid-range department stores these days. He’s sharp and urban and sleek, and he’s never dull or basic. I like to put a bit of pizzazz into shoes, bags, jewelry, and other accessories because it’s an easy way to change the overall look of a simple garment, and I think these boots with black tights do the job here, adding a whiff of a city vibe. Imagine this skirt instead with a close-fitting tee, bare legs, and kitten heels, and it’s easy to see how the accessories make a big difference.


Yes, I know, the fashion magazines have taken to calling this style shoeties instead of booties, but really. I have my limits. Shoeties is an awful word and shall never again be typed by my fingers. But I do still really like this pair. They’re perfect for fall, the silver buckles and zips add a little shine, and the heel height is super comfy. Plus they’re right on trend — I think all I really need now are knee boots and snow boots, and I’ll be in pretty good shape for footwear heading into the cold dark months.

Do you have your eyes on any particular items to freshen up your fall wardrobe? What will you add to your closet soon?


Today’s outfit

This particular outfit has become one of my go-to summer outfits, but it won’t be for much longer. Blame the fit.


terrible selfie, yikes

The skirt is made from white jersey and it has an elastic waistband, so it is about as comfy as yoga pants. You can see from the photo it’s no longer a straight skirt (as it should be), but a sort of full, gathered, used-to-be-straight skirt. That’s because I bought it around 20 pounds ago, and it’s really getting too big to keep wearing. It’s a 12, and I typically wear an 8 now, sometimes a 6.

The short-sleeved sweater is a navy knitted thing with dolman sleeves. Dolman sleeves were created by the devil to make us all look lumpy and shapeless and enormous above the waist, but I thought the mesh lace was sheer enough to counteract the awful dolman shaping. It’s probably not, and it’s also starting to get big on me. I won’t be sad to relinquish this piece even though I wear it a lot right now.

Usually, I wear this with a bright red lipstick and some red sandals, but today I was carrying a red bag, and red sandals plus red bag is too matchy matchy. So I wore my new Vince Camuto silver metallic thong sandals.


Please ignore the toenail weirdness on the left foot. I’m a runner, and toenail weirdness happens to runners. I usually try to keep the toenails covered in a solid polish to hide any weird discolorations or other anomalies there, but the one thing polish doesn’t cover is a fallen-off nail. Eh. It will grow back eventually, and then I can polish that toe properly again.

Meanwhile, I love these shoes with any casual look. They’re the first pair of flats I’ve bought (other than athletic shoes and hiking shoes) since my shoe size went down, and the silver metallic snakeskin finish feels pretty sexy for a flat sandal. The polish is OPI Haven’t The Foggiest from their San Francisco collection. Their polish is durable enough to survive even the abuse I give my poor tootsies, so I tend to wear nothing but OPI. I went through at least eight or ten different colors this summer before I tried this one, and now I’m hooked. This is the only color I want to wear right now. The silver metallic is right on trend, and it has a way of picking up a tint from whatever I’m wearing. Black pants turns it slightly pewterish, and my magenta skirt makes it gleam almost like the reflection of a stoplight in a puddle at night. Love it.

What is your go-to polish color these days?



Shoe-aholics Unite!

I had one of those $10 off coupons from DSW — I swear, they should send me these coupons every week. They would get all my money right now, as I rebuild my shoe wardrobe. I can’t let those coupons expire without using them. In this case, I walked out with two pairs of suede platform sandals for the fall.

The first is Helara from BCBG, a steal at under $50. I’m a big fan of this brand. Their shoes always feel more comfortable than you might expect, given the height of the heel. I love the little zippers in the back and the almost bootie-like collar around the ankle. I expect these to be in heavy rotation come September.



The second is Amelie from Michael Antonio, a brand that is new to me. I have been on the hunt for cobalt blue heels that can move from casual to cocktails pretty easily, and these seemed perfect for that. The silver buckles clinched the deal.


How perfect is that blue? I love a colored shoe with a neutral outfit. I can imagine getting a lot of wear out of these. I’m already wondering how they’ll look with half the things in my meager closet.

Here’s a question for all of you. Because of the platform and heel height, neither of these shoes will fit in my hanging shoe bags. I guess I’ll store them in their boxes in the closet, but do you have a better system? How do you store your bigger shoes and boots?


Little Feet

When we gain or lose weight, we know that our waistbands might get tighter or our shirts might gap at the button band. But if your weight changes a lot, as mine did from the thyroid problem, your feet can also change sizes. I’m thrilled to report that I’m back in my proper shoe size. This means buying all new shoes — such a hardship! *grin*

But the best part is that I can wear heels again. I lived in heels before my thyroid broke. Two inches was an everyday kind of walking-around shoe, and three inches was more likely. Four inches? You bet, especially for dates with tall men. So it’s probably no surprise that the first shoes I bought were all heels and platforms. As soon as I realized I could wear heels in a 7.5 again, I darted to DSW and splurged on some celebration heels.

These were the very first pair I bought, four-inch lace-ups with a sturdy stacked heel and just the right vibe to wear with jeans and pants.


I love these shoes so much I can’t even stand it. I’ve always been a big fan of this kind of oxford-with-heels shoe, and the meshy pierced leather puts an extra smile on my face. Right after that trip to DSW for these, I ended up at the outlet mall with a friend, where I found these Naturalizers for almost no money. Honestly, I think they were around twelve or thirteen dollars. And in my three favorite shades of gray, gray, and gray? Yeah, they had to come home with me.


They almost look like booties when you wear them. They’re suede, not summer shoes, and I was only able to wear them twice before the weather shifted. Rainy spring is not so good for suede! But I will wear these frequently in the fall, and I can’t wait. Despite the four-inch heel, these are about as comfortable as sneakers, the kind of heels you really can walk in all day.

Then, when the suede had to go into hibernation until fall, I went back to DSW for two pairs of summer sandals. I wear these black ones almost every day now.


The cork platforms are so lightweight! And I love the gladiator look to the straps. Even though these are about 3.5″ in heel height, the platform makes them feel like they’re about two inches, easy enough for shopping all day. The only thing I don’t like about these shoes is the brass buckle — I’m a silver/pewter girl — but I think the buckle is almost invisible here. I found a similar pair in white by a different maker.


I’m not ordinarily a big fan of white shoes, not even for summer. White shoes tend to look old-ladyish to me, especially if the white has any kind of shine to it. But this is a flat white leather, and the cork sole balances it out enough to keep it looking fresh instead of fussy. I wear these pretty frequently, too, and even wore them for a spontaneous afternoon at the mall last week. By the end of the afternoon, my feet were a touch tired, but really, not as bad as you would think. A sturdy platform is so much kinder to the feet than a spiky stiletto, even at nearly four inches.

I think these shoes overall reflect my personal style better than anything else I’ve posted so far. They all have just a whiff of that urban edge that I am so drawn to, and almost everything else I’ve posted so far has been super casual, everyday sorts of clothes, even a bit on the sweet side. I do like the sweet things, too, but I think they work best when there’s a bit of toughness thrown into the mix. These shoes help with that.

On a scale from edgy to sweet, where does your personal style fall?