Trends in Reflective: Color Block Dress

I really love color block dresses. I love the concept of color blocking, because it’s a fun way to make basic garments more interesting, and because I love color, it’s the perfect way to combine my favorite color combinations. I’ve made color block stuff before, like this sweatshirt, and there are a few other patterns I’d still love to try.

I don’t remember which I saw first this summer – the McCalls 7160 dress pattern or the Boden Alice Ponte Dress (in Lupin Multi). As much as I love the Boden dress, the McCalls pattern offered an opportunity to make my own color blocked dress, and to coordinate the colors with things I’m making or already own. I added the pattern to my Fall 2015 Capsule Collection.

Boden Alice Ponte Dress in Lupin Multi

Boden Alice Ponte Dress in Lupin Multi (Image from Boden Website)

It took me a while to hunt down the fabric I wanted online, since it sold out at initially, but I eventually assembled navy, burgundy and heathered lavender knits. Then I decided to use the new camo print reflective fabric I recently purchased for the reflective bias in the skirt seam. It’s more flexible than the silver 3M reflective fabric, and less bright, so it won’t be so “in our face” obvious. Color Block 5 Color Block 6The front and back pieces of the skirt, before they get put together. The lavender and the navy look really great together, don’t they?

Last Friday I had some minor dental surgery, so while I waited for the feeling came back to my mouth, I cut out this dress and got it started. I had decided to lengthen the waist, since my waist is a bit longer than most patterns are designed for, so that took some extra time. And making the reflective bias wasn’t quick either. Notice in the above photo how the reflectivity isn’t uniform (pun not intended! Camo – uniform – get it?!)? Maybe if I’d made the bias wider, more of the fabric, and therefore the reflectivity, would show.

The dress went together pretty easily, and I was able to wear it to the Kennedy Center Saturday night. (In retrospect, going to the symphony after surgery wasn’t the best idea – thankfully the swelling in my face isn’t that noticeable, and there isn’t any bruising!) After lengthening the waist, I didn’t like the look, and how low it felt, so I shortened it up a bit in the waist seam. My initial thought, when I tried it on, was that it makes me look frumpy. It pulls on over the head, so the bodice is a bit loose, for some wiggle room. I prefer a slimmer fit with a full skirt. But after adding heels and some fancy jewelry and my fab new navy blue faux leather moto jacket from my Stitch Fix subscription, I feel less frumpy. And I love the swing of a full circle, don’t you?

As our weather begins to feel like fall, and forecasts show overnight lows in the 40s and 50s, I’ve been checking out shirts in my wardrobe that can go under this dress.Two different denim shirts and a variety of striped turtlenecks, plus my Boden soldiers print shirt from last year, mean I have plenty of options for this dress. Color Block 2 Color Block 8This is the first garment off my Fall Capsule Collection list that I can check off. I’ve made a few other pieces, including my Antique Blouse and a recently-finished, un-blogged-about skirt, but this is off the official list. I’m trying hard not to deviate from it.

Fall outfit in my office - the Antique Blouse (Butterick 5610) and the brick red corduroy skirt (McCalls 6361)

Fall outfit in my office -my Antique Blouse (Butterick 5610) and the brick red corduroy skirt (McCalls 6361), which I’m pretty pleased with, even if I didn’t understand the directions for the zipper…

I am deviating from my list one more time, however. I’m completely in love with this word-print lightweight stretch denim. I’ve got a quirky reflective detail idea up my sleeve with this one, but in case it doesn’t turn out, I don’t want to say anything.

A-line skirt, on the way!

A-line skirt, on the way!

And I am making skirts for two friends. I normally dislike sewing for other people, as something never seems to go quite right, but one is a fairly easy foldover waist knit skirt, and the other, well, she wanted the Star Wars fabric, and I couldn’t resist!

But I guess I can take a breather and get some important life stuff done first. Do you obsess over sewing projects, and neglect all else to work on them incessantly? If so, I’ll feel better. It’s hard to not sew when there is so much fun stuff to create!

"The Age of Elizabeth" at the Kennedy Center

“The Age of Elizabeth” at the Kennedy Center

Corduroy Christmas Skirt

My latest skirt looks nothing like Christmas, no holly and ivy, no red and green, no angels and snowflakes, or any of the other things that one normally associates with Christmas. But I finished making it on Christmas Day, so in my mind it will always be known as the Christmas Skirt.

Christmas Skirt_1I fell in love with this corduroy at JoAnn Fabrics earlier this fall, and just bought two yards without knowing what pattern I’d want to make it into. I wanted to make something easy and casual, and, inspired by this Express ad, decided to split the skirt to add the reflective piping in the middle, rather than on the hem.

I love this skirt, and okay, I love the jacket too...

I love this skirt, and okay, I love the jacket too…

I’d also been lusting after a Boden skirt, and studied the measurements of it, which helped me decide that all I would do with this fabric was stitch the selvedges together (it was 54″ wide, so that gave my hips wiggle room) and add an elastic waistband.

Inspiration for my skirt and outfit - they say imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

Boden inspiration for my skirt and outfit – they say imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

I carefully sketched out my pattern, but opted against adding a lining and pockets. I really wanted something quick and easy.

Pattern drafting at it's finest!

Pattern drafting at it’s finest!

I added three rows of 1/2″ elastic for the waistband, and ended up making a very deep hem, which turned out to be pretty unelegant on the backside. Actually, the front isn’t that great either, don’t look too closely. Christmas Skirt_2 Christmas Skirt_3I really love how it turned out, and have worn it several times since Christmas. I’d like to take it to New York next weekend when The Mechanic and I go up for a quick weekend trip, but I’m not sure it’s quite warm enough (I don’t have tall black boots, which it would need to be warmer). I did wear add snow boots and leg warmers on Monday, when I wore it to work. You know how New York is – much more fashionable than functional! We’ll see. But yay, a fun new skirt!

Bundled up and reflective! Legwarmers, skirt, Vespertine belt and scarf.

Bundled up and reflective! Legwarmers, skirt, Vespertine belt and scarf.

Many thanks again to zigzagmags for her mad photo skillz during an especially cold and windy outdoor photoshoot!

Bird Brained

While I should be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, or trying to get in a new year’s bike ride, as many of my neighboring bike friends are,  I am obsessing over shopping.

It’s been a bird-themed fashion holiday season – for some reason, everything I’ve acquired lately has had at least one bird on it. There’s the Boden sweater I’d wanted for ages, that I purchased with a gift card; the Macy’s sweater I got for Christmas (which is very similar, yet different); the Alex & Ani bracelet I bought myself after buying so many bracelets as Christmas gifts for others; and the Macy’s blouse I just bought yesterday while shopping with an out-of-town guest. Four items in about three weeks, all with birds.

Boden Heritage Hummingbird Sweater

Boden Heritage Hummingbird Sweater

Macy's Maison Jules Birds Sweater (they remind me of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper)

Macy’s Maison Jules Birds Sweater (they remind me of one of my favorite artists, Charley Harper)

Alex & Ani swan bracelet

Alex & Ani swan bracelet (it signifies Grace-Partnership-Love and seemed like a good engagement present to myself)

Macy's Bird Print shirt (I don't like the silly knot in front and will most likely be modifying the hem soon)

Macy’s Bird Print shirt (I don’t like the silly knot in front and will most likely be modifying the hem soon)

This fine feathered haul will have to last me for a while, since I have to pay for a wedding and honeymoon in the next few months. But I realized I will be in Europe this summer,  and I will be able to do some great shopping there. I think I can restrain myself for the next six months, knowing I will have different opportunity to find some fun stuff. Yippee! (I can do this… I can not shop for six months…)





Bicycle Fashion History Repeating

I love this vintage bicycle ad:

And I love the fact that it reminds me of this current Boden ad:

The two ads make me want to rush out and buy A-line skirts and short-sleeved sweaters, neither of which I (shockingly) actually own. Both girls look so chic and easy and sporty, n’est-ce pas?

I want to be like them! Of course, they clearly aren’t on their way somewhere specific, like work, requiring baskets and/or panniers, bags, helmets, locks, and so on – but let’s live the fantasy for a while, shall we?


Fall Fashion Fantasies

It’s September, and you know what that means – the September Vogue!

September 2012 Vogue

Technically, this arrived on my doorstep (literally – it doesn’t fit in my tiny apartment mailbox) in August, but I haven’t had time until this week to peruse all 916 pages. I was surprised at the ads with bicycles in them – okay, only a few, but still, compared to a few years ago?

Longchamp has a 4-page ad featuring a tandem bike!

An ad for Target’s Kirna Zabete capsule collection

Between this, and the huge stack of catalogs that arrived this week, I’m obsessed with fall clothing.

My wish lists always fall into two categories, but this year I have a third. The first category is always the fantasy clothing, the stuff in the ads, pure design, something I would never wear even if I could afford it. Okay, I might wear it…

Haider Ackermann Fall Winter 2012

John Galliano Fall Winter 2012

Alexander McQueen Resort 2013


If it was Ralph Lauren, I would wear it. I’ve always loved his tweeds and country roots. His fall collection was is clearly inspired by “Downton Abbey,” and is totally the kind of stuff I love.

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012 (not Downton Abbey but I love this!)

The second category is stuff that is more in reach – J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Boden, Garnet Hill, Jack Wills, Lands End, Ann Taylor Loft. I love these companies, and make my wish list from them.

Boden (yep, with a bike!)

J. Crew Liberty of London Shirt

L L Bean Signature Camo Print Dress

Clearly I’m obsessed with dresses and skirts this fall! And tweed – I always want tweed blazers and the perfect corduroy pants. From this list, I zero in on the few things I consider Must Haves, and try to figure out how to work them into my existing wardrobe.

This fall I’m adding a new category – bicycle fashion! There are several things on this list, some practical, and some not. Practical means I’m already thinking about biking to work in really cold weather, so gloves, and a non-vented helmet. Not really practical are the new Merrells I want but can’t really justify… and the cute stuff at Terry, like the cute Sharrows sweatshirt.

Terry Sharrows Sweatshirt (this would be so much cuter if it was reflective!)

Regardless of what I end up getting, I always create a look board. I have a bulletin board where I cut out magazine and catalog images I like and pin up. It reminds me at the least that I can mix up what I have to create the looks I like. Like everyone else, I get stuck in a rut sometimes, so it’s good to have a reminder to shake things up!

My inspiration board – with athletic and travel images as well, it basically focuses everything I love

I’m sure that I will be sharing items from my lists in the future, as I agonize over which items I really truly want and need. What sort of things do you want for the fall?