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Packing… is insane.  Going through years of accumulated crap is on one hand frustrating (it never ends!) and on the other hand entertaining. I packed up my stash yesterday and finally cut off all of those little hangy bits from my remnants that would only be good for making a single spaghetti strap for a kid’s dress. (You’d be surprised how quickly those little hangy bits pile up.) There were a couple of secret thrills (Hey! I didn’t know I had more of this blue-gray plaid wool! There’s enough here for a skirt!) and a whole lot of “Ugh, what was I thinking??” But more on that in a sec.

Trena recently wrote an interesting post about the emotionally difficult task of parting with your own hand-sewn garments. Well, let’s just say that my past is a lot more embarrassing than Trena’s and a LOT easier to part with. Like many sewers, my sewing history has two main chapters.  The part where I start sewing as a kid and continue doing crafty projects and occasional kludgy garments, and then the part during which I decide I’m going to learn to sew properly and make things that I would actually wear as Real Clothes. What I’m about to show you all comes from the first chapter, circa 2003.

I call this collection “Misguided Attempts at Vintage Patterns and DIY Tango Outfits.” Please excuse my just-out-of-the-shower hair and the fact that I didn’t feel like pressing these clothes for their pre-Goodwill trip photo shoot.

First up- partial circle skirt in dark navy with white print.  Actually nothing horrible about this except that it’s really not the sort of thing I’d wear.

Another 1950s pattern frumpified. this one in periwinkle.  This one actually has boning and a side zip which makes me think that maybe I knew more than I think I did. I put this one on and Dan exclaimed, “Ooh! Pretty!” Sometimes I don’t get that guy.

A 1950’s slip pattern done in Swiss dot. Check out the amazing fit on that upper bodice. Yuck!

And another 1950s dress pattern in white cotton with sky blue flowers.  I have to say, by complete coincidence this one actually fits well and it has pretty shoulder ties and a cute ruching detail at the bust. And it’s rather delightfully twirly.  I may keep this one.

Moving onto the more “contemporary” portion of the collection, we have a one shouldered cherry print top (to be fair, I made this as the top half of a tankini *shudder*. I didn’t actually wear it out as a normal top. By coincidence I had a purchased bikini in this exact same print.) The Britney-esque stretch velvet bootleg hipster pants are also a relic of the same era, albeit a purchased one.

And finally, to be completely honest, I did make a one-shoulder top that I did wear out. This one for going tango dancing.  It’s so awesome that I think you need to see it from two angles:

The fabric on this top is an atrocity. It’s practically skin-toned and the red rose print looks like veins.  But I will confess that I sometimes think about pulling this pattern out again and doing a two-sleeved version in all black for my ever increasingly infrequent tango outings.  That crazy slit sleeve was sort of awesomely dramatic for gliding around the dance floor.

And now back to the subject of culling the stash. Yesterday I met Tanit-Isis for an all-too-brief hot chocolate once again.  As you know, The Selfish Seamstress is incapable of affection towards other human beings.  But if she could like people, she would certainly like Tanit-Isis. Not only is she incredibly fun to talk to, but she is the universal accepter of fabric.  There was no fabric too horrible or ugly in the Selfish Seamstress’s collection that Tanit-Isis wouldn’t take it! Acid green and violet iridescent slinky something?  Yep! Mint green polyester georgette?  Tanit-Isis is all over that. A partially cut up fake fur coat? She’ll take it! Vera Wang navy jacquard taffeta? Wait a sec, how’d that get in there?  Dammit.

So readers, if you’ve got fabric to get rid of, send it over to Tanit-Isis. That lady will take anything.  And the Selfish Seamstress has a soft spot for people who like to take things.

Well, based on my recent query as to what to blog about while new sewing projects go on hiatus, the response seemed to be an overwhelming, “Blather on about whatever!” And so I shall, time permitting. You may be sorry later!

I’m thinking about what knitting project to take on (there are many long plane rides in my immediate future, and I will be separated from my beloved Husqvarna for weeks- agony!) I’ve decided that I’m going to try my hand at what is sure  to be the controversial Carlos Miele sweater, pictured above, assuming I can find appropriate yarn for it that doesn’t break the bank. Love it or hate it?  Let the debate begin!

Here’s what it looks like in context:

I’m already picturing it with my Vogue 1051 alice + olivia pants!

I’m not a great knitter. My skills are intermediate at best and they certainly haven’t improved since I realized how much faster sewing is in terms of time to a lovely completed garment. And I think I’ve learned that it’s best to stick with sleeveless sweater patterns, or at least patterns for which the sleeves are not knit separately, because once I knit the first sleeve, I’m often too bored to knit the second sleeve. This would explain why I have so many unfinished one-sleeve sweaters.  (A corollary to this would explain the existence of single hand-knit socks lying around my house.) In truth I’m a much more skilled crocheter, having been at it for 27 years now, but I rarely find patterns for crocheted garments that I really like and my house is not in need of doilies at this time.

For those of you who do like the Carlos Miele sweater and are capable of deciphering German knitting patterns, you can find the pattern available for free download from Für Sie magazine.

The Selfish Seamstress has been in a culling and cleaning frenzy as of late, but has still managed to find a few minutes here and there to finish The Last Dress for Now.  Admittedly, the inside finishing job on this one is a bit on the weak side. But it’s either that or pile yet another unfinished object into the big box of unfinished objects!

I used Simplicity 9482, which I had had for probably some 7 or 8 years.  It’s one of those “2 Hour” pattersn, but I think two hours is a bit of a lowball if you want to do a decent job.  I changed the shape of the skirt to flare a little bit more (the pattern is really a little more tunic-like than dress-like) and took it in quite a bit as it’s not really that fitted. I also widened the sash and used the collar, which is not part of the dress view.

The fabric is a ponte di roma I got from Fabric Mart.  It claims to be 100% nylon, which I normally wouldn’t go for, but I was seduced by the print, and at $1.99 a yard, it seemed silly to pass up and it was selling quickly. Fortunately it feels like any other rayon and poly blend ponte knit so it’s not gross against my skin and it doesn’t look too bandage-y.

This pattern has no center back seam or waist seam, so the back is just one big slab with a bit of shaping to it.  As a result, there’s a little pooling in the back above the sash. I don’t think it’ll keep me from wearing it though:

And that’s it for now. No more new sewing projects until after the move.  Until then, just finishing unfinished stuff if I have time. Or maybe making something new if I can’t resist :)

Thank you, Russian Burda! A mere two weeks after the September BurdaMag preview showed up on the German Burda website, the October preview is already available on the Russian site. Extra bonus- the Russian site has even more photos from the upcoming Burda Easy Fashion, which I mentioned yesterday.

First up, 10.2010. For some reason, the photos from this issue strike me as even less decipherable than usual. I’m not sure if this is because the photos aren’t showing the garments off well, or if because this month’s garments are just tending towards the baggy side. Case in point:

I can’t tell you a thing about this coat other than that I think the fabric is pretty and I’m curious to see more.  Same goes for this jacket:

The shorts are also a pattern. I’m not a shorts-wearing person, but I am really liking the combination of fabric colors and textures that Burda is using here, so I might take some inspiration from that.

If people buy this issue, I think this dress is going to have a LOT to do with it:

From what I can make out, there’s a lot to love about this dress- the interesting neckline and bodice, the cap sleeves, and the skirt that seems to meet the waist flat at the front but pleated or gathered over the hips? Burda’s choice of delicious raspberry fabric combined with twirling just makes it that much more irresistible. Who doesn’t love a good twirling dress? I’ve been trying to refrain from making party clothes. I’ve got too many of them, they don’t get worn enough, and let’s face it, the Selfish Seamstress never gets invited to parties because she always picks fights with other guests and eats more than her fair share of cake. But I’m thinking that the bodice and sleeves of this dress combined with a pencil or slim tulip skirt in a soft menswear suiting might be great for work. Perhaps a dainty little contrasting pleated linen panel across the base of the neckline too. Tempting.

The issue is not without some weirdness. I love a good artistic raw edge, but I think some of the garments take this a bit too far to the point that they look … unfinished. For example this jacket reminds me of nothing so much as what my own jackets look like when I’m about 2/3 of the way through sewing them:

This is the point in jacket-making when I start to worry that maybe the pattern was not a good idea for me, maybe I’ve got the fit all wrong, and maybe it isn’t going to be as chic as I thought. And then I add the collar, try it on, pin it closed and realize that it’s going to be okay. I kind of want them to take that next step with this jacket.

Another piece of weirdness?

Hmmmm. I feel like this one should have red tabs on the bottom that you can pull down on and tubes on either side that you can blow into to inflate the vest in the unlikely event of a water landing. But a soft and cuddly one.

But the most exciting thing for me about the upcoming issue is… the return of designer patterns! For those of you who are newer to Burda, Burda used to offer patterns from high end designers. You could mail away a little coupon with some postage fees (if you lived in Germany), and they would send you the designer pattern in an envelope. Then for a while they switched to just including the pattern in the magazine along with all the other patterns and (my impression at least) going with lesser-known designers. Then they did away with the designer patterns altogether and switched to featuring a pattern inspired by celebrity outfits that you could download from the website for a fee (this was my least favorite.) I don’t know if they’re doing away with the celebrity download thing, but it certainly looks like the designer patterns are back, for this issue at least, with a jacket and skirt from Karl Lagerfeld!

Again, the photo isn’t showing me quite as much as I wish it would, but it looks very interesting so far, especially the soft yet architectural jacket. And the model and I have the same legs, so I assume the cuffed skirt should work out just fine :)

And, as I mentioned, there are also more pictures on the Russian site for the Easy Fashion preview. And how’s this for pretty?

Yay for super early previews! Let’s all give a Большое спасибо to Burda Russia!

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet up with fellow sewing blogger Tanit-Isis. I’d been stalking checking out her blog and her gorgeously edgy creations for a while, and was delighted to find that we are practically neighbors. That makes it easier to stalk in person meet up for hot chocolate. And so we did. We also went and bought matching issues of Burda.

It was so fun quizzing her about personal details chatting about sewing that I was completely obsessed distracted, and neglected to get dozens of photos a photo with her. So I was thinking, I should write a blog post about meeting up, but how lame is it to post about a meetup when you don’t have a photo of said meetup?  Then I thought, “Aha!  I will just Photoshop myself into a picture with her!” Because that’s not creepy at all. Especially not when you do it like this:

Reconstruction of the Selfish Seamstress's meetup with Tanit-Isis, as recalled by the Selfish Seamstress

For those of you who haven’t already spent time enviously perusing her blog, her creations are sleek, dark, and feminine, and about as far from from homemade-looking that you can imagine. (Warning though- she’s a former model and she looks it. No doofy, awkward poses for the camera- prepare to feel a slight twinge of inferiority.)

Just a couple of examples of her sewing- her Jalie jeans with the clever detailing at the calf:

Her JJ blouse that makes me want my own black JJ blouse:

Her striped denim Kasia skirt (seriously, where is she getting these awesome fabrics? We live in the same city, and it’s a bit of a fabric shopping wasteland):

And her lovely flowy retro dress:

In all seriousness, if you haven’t checked out Tanit-Isis’s witty blog and her beautiful sewing (both for herself and for her kids, for those of you who are into that sort of thing), go have a look, and I think you’ll understand why I am a really scary person you should never meet up with in real life fan.

Phew!  In answer to the question of whether the new Burda EAZY magazine was intended to replace the beloved semi-annual Burda Easy Fashion, we now have our answer: No. The preview for Easy Fashion is up, and it’s no EAZY.

I haven’t sewn anything from recent issues of Easy Fashion, but I always get very excited about it. It’s such a rare occurrence that I wait for it in anticipation like a greedy child waits for Christmas. (And as you can imagine, I was the greediest of greedy children.) I was really excited flipping through it at first- I think the styling for this issue is especially cute:

Cute outfit and now I really want a plaid circle skirt. Granted, I don’t need pattern to make a circle skirt with a waistband, but I think the cardigan pattern is included as well, and I wouldn’t mind one of those.

The more I look through it though, the more I realize that it doesn’t contain any sewing patterns that I actually want to make, tempting as the issue as a whole is. They definitely found my weakness for leopard print, even though I don’t need a skirt that reveals my bumcrack from below:

Styling can’t save this look though – bustier + denim vest + fascinator + crimped hair… I know the 80’s are back, but this is a bit too much “bad girls in prison dancing in a music video” for me:

There is a nice parka pattern which would be a useful pattern to have in the arsenal, but personally I don’t get too excited about sewing outdoorsy stuff. Looks cozy though, right?

It looks like they’re taking their crafts cues from big sister BurdaMag this time around with the accesories:

Yikes!  That one’s a shame because I think that one could probably do some cute aftermarket glove modification that would look stylish rather than hot glue gun nutso. But worse still:

I know pompoms are fun to make and all, but I think even the model here is trying to caution you against leaving the house like this!

All in all, the issue looks like it’s got a couple of cute patterns though I doubt I’d end up sewing any of them. But maybe the full preview will have more to tempt me. After all, I’ll have easy access to it soon!

The Selfish Seamstress is officially unemployed. Surprisingly, this is not because she was dismissed on account of her attitude problem and inability to get along with others. No, nerdy little Selfish decided to change universities, abandon the igloo in which she currently lives, and head back to Europe where she can alienate and irritate a whole new set of academics. She is now in between the two jobs and in the stressful throes of culling and organizing, neither of which she is any good at. Selfish’s delightful mancessory Dan also has found exciting employment in their soon-to-be place of residence as well, and Sasa is blissfully unaware that she will be shoved into a bag and transported within the next few weeks.

As you can imagine, sewing time is going to slow to a drip, if not disappear altogether for a while. At the moment I’m working on what I’m referring to as “The Last Dress… for Now.” Made from the graphic print black and white ponte di roma that my parents hauled up to me last week using a very modified version of the Simplicity 9482 wrap dress (probably out of print, as I’ve had this pattern for about 7 years and it’s kind of not that great). Here it is in its half-finished state, looking a bit sad and droopy on its hanger:

I was going to use my beloved modified Vogue 8379 pattern, but after playing around with the fabric, I decided that the double pleats in the the Vogue bodice would detract from the strong, straight, diagonal elements of the print. I really wanted to minimize the details to keep the print as uninterrupted as possible. So I dug out the old Simplicity pattern, which is so minimalist it’s practically a bathrobe pattern. Although I graded it down to a 4, the dress has some largeness issues at the moment that have to be fixed. But other than that, I think it’s working out decently well and I’m pretty sure that this is the dress that this print was destined for.

After The Last Dress… for Now though, my plan is to not start any new projects until after the move. If I do have sewing time, I’ll finish up stuff that I started a while ago and never completed.  (That’s the plan at least. But you never know with the capricious Selfish Seamstress. She could at any point decide that she needs a new coat RIGHT NOW.)

Even after the move, it will take a while before my machine, patterns, stash, tools, and notions arrive in Europe. That leaves me with the small matter of what to do in the meantime with the online bucket of whining that I call a blog during the coming hectic and sewing-impoverished weeks (possibly months). What do you think?  Go on a blogging hiatus? Switch to being a knitting and crochet blog for the time being? Rant about all things sewing-related without actually sewing? All haiku all the time? Get by on hand sewing? I feel like I should keep it up in some fashion, especially since I don’t have any Real Life friends so you’re the closest thing that I’ve got. So, what do you want to read? No promises, of course ;)

Tell me again
Why you think that MY sewing
Should save YOU money?

Check out the Selfish Seamstress Store for haiku goodies- proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Don’t get me wrong- a nice long weekend in the mountains with the parents and the in-laws is nothing to complain about. But if anyone can find something to complain about, it’s the Selfish Seamstress. After all, lovely wildflower hikes, spectacular waterfalls, and paddling out into the middle of a turquoise glacial lake can’t compare to freakin’ sewing the second sleeve onto Camicia No. 9 and being done with it already!

Fortunately I managed to sneak in a tiny bit of sewing time before bed last night. Ta-da! Here is Camicia #9 from the May 2010 issue of La Mia Boutique:

Although it looks as though I’m making my usual “Elaine Can’t Model for Squat” face, this time I was actually watching a hawk that was circling my balcony.

Here it is, shown with my new-and-already-beloved Vogue 1051 alice + olivia pants:

You may recall Camicia No. 9 from some time back, when I got annoyed with the crazy sleeves, and then put it aside for a while after getting distracted by other projects. As you can see, I abandoned the sleeves that LMB intended and replaced them with sleeve variation A from McCall’s 6035. From a design perspective, I think this sleeve harmonizes nicely with the ruching at the front bust of Camicia No. 9.

I’ve been getting a ton of mileage out of the 3 meters of plum poplin that I bought several months ago- from Dan’s Valentine shirt to the Burda tux dress, and now Camicia No. 9. The Selfish Seamstress prides herself on her mad economical pattern layout skills. In fact, the Selfish Seamstress prides herself on pretty much everything. Did I mention that I finally trimmed my nails this weekend?  Go me. Anyway, there’s probably even enough poplin left for a dainty sleeveless top. But at this point, the first chill of autumn is in the air and as you can perhaps tell, and I’m already all over my “back to school” autumn sewing.

How about you?  Are you starting up on autumn sewing yet?  Or still stuck on summer?  Oooh, or in the southern hemisphere, gearing up for spring sewing?

As if things couldn’t get busier here in Selfish Land, the Selfish Seamstress’s parents arrived in town last night for a weeklong visit.  For those who have been keeping track, that means that both Mommy Selfish and Daddy Selfish are in town, as well as the future Selfish Mother-in-Law, and the future Selfish Father-in-Law. This is a lot of parents all at once. And not a lot of sewing time.

You may be wondering what sort of horrible selfish people must have to join forces in order to spawn something as wickedly selfish as the Selfish Seamstress. Surely many have asked, “What must her parents be like??” Well, it may surprise you to know that the Selfish Seamstress’s parents are actually remarkably generous and unselfish people. This allows them to be more easily taken advantage of by their selfish daughter. (From a genetic standpoint, it seems likely that there was some sort of selfish mutation that led to me being the way I am, as my sisters were raised in the same environment and failed to manifest or develop any particularly selfish traits.)

Case in point, they very kindly lugged a whole suitcase full of fabric on their trip.  Not the little roll-aboard kind either, but a bona fide suitcase, almost large enough to fit Selfish herself. Obviously you are not interested in the suitcase, but its contents:

Now, lest you think that my parents are actually so generous as to BUY a suitcase’s worth of fabric for me, I should state that I selected and paid for these items myself. I simply had them shipped to my parents’ house because it is cheaper to do so and I figured I could sucker them into transporting them for me. Evil plan successfully executed. And yes, before you doubt me, the Selfish Seamstress could probably have suckered her Unselfish Parents into buying her a ton of fabric, but she trusts no one’s taste but her own. And so she raided some recent fabulous sales at Fabric Mart and

Top row from right to left: 50/50 wool silk blend flannel suiting in black with a faint gray woven pinstripe; super lightweight gray tropical weight wool with a faint stripe, heathered brown tropical weight wool with a brushed finish, smooth and drapey cool brown tropical weight suiting, charcoal gray tropical suiting with a twill weave

Middle row from left to right: Rich teal wool coating (actually from The Wool Connection), deep inky blue stretch denim slightly streaky, dark gray stretch denim

Bottom row from left to right: black and white graphic print ponte di roma (this claims to be nylon, but it feels more like a poly-rayon. It’s not the nicest texture, but I fell for the print, and at $1.95 a yard, it seemed to be asking for a trip in my shopping cart), silver gray swimwear fabric (this one is wooow really shiny. Not a foil, thank goodness, but so much more reflective than I expected.)

And for all you  fabric pr0n lovers, here are so close ups, color adjusted for better accuracy:

Oh, yeah, and they also brought me shoes.

Yay!  As I had hypothesized (and have now proven with a sample size n=1), wide leg pants do not turn petite women into stumps when correctly proportioned! My Vogue 1051 alice+olivia pants are done and I am celebrating by staring at them endlessly in the mirror. Plus- double whammy bonus- it turns out that cuffs don’t turn me into a stump either, despite conventional wisdom that short women should avoid cuffed trousers. It’s kind of great always being right about everything.

Well, I was off on one thing. Despite having made a muslin, when I sewed these up in the fashion fabric, the waistband ended up with some odd diagonal wrinkles in the front. It fit around my waist, but didn’t sit right. You’ll recall that the Selfish Seamstress lacks waist definition which means that she’s got a disproportionately ginormous waist by pattern sizing standards. Here’s the original waistband, and you can see that it tapers in quite a bit from the hip to waist, which the Selfish Seamstress does not:

So I traced the waistband did a little slash and spread to edit the pieces:

Normally I would have traced the slashed pieces onto other paper, but since I spread the slashes open only slightly, I just used some Scotch tape to hold everything in place. You can see here the resulting difference in the waist edge and curvature:

It looks minor, but altogether it added close to an inch to the waist circumference, which was enough to yield a good fit.  And here’s the final waistband garment laid flat so you can see how much less tapered it is than the original

And yay! So flowy!

There are two tiny problems that are not going to stop me from wearing these all the time. First, I used a cream colored stretch cotton sateen remnant for the waistband facing (the pattern prescribes silk satin, and you can imagine how much of that I have lying around in my very practical stash). This peeks a tiny bit if you catch it at certain angles:

I may open out part of the waistband and add a tiny wool facing to the facing to fix it. A facing facing if you will. But I’m not terribly troubled by it. Nor am I troubled by the fact that the outlines of the back pockets show a bit through the fabric.  The wool is so soft and comfy that it definitely feels better against my skin than a lining.

I haven’t got the buttons on the back pockets because I haven’t picked them out yet :)

I think it’s wide-leg love for your Selfish Seamstress. It doesn’t hurt that every time I tried them on while fitting them, Dan would look at me with a startled expression and exclaim, “You look so tall!” I guess that’s why I pay him the big bucks to be my arm candy.

If I haven’t sold you on making your own Vogue 1051 pants yet, here’s one last pitch:

This is so much more fun in wide-leg pants than skinnies.

Things are going to get a little bit slow here in Selfish Seamstress Land (not officially a country, but it should be!) as the (future) in-laws have arrived in town for a weeklong visit. Fortunately for me, I adore my in-laws. I realize this must come as a shock since after all 1) they’re in-laws and 2) the Selfish Seamstress doesn’t really have the capacity to adore anyone but herself and her cat. So perhaps I just adore them to frustrate you with my contrariness. In fact, there may even be a chance that I’m halfway through knitting a handbag for my wonderful (future) mother-in-law just to disappoint you. Maybe.

Anyway, readers, sewing time is scarce now, and progress on the Vogue 1051 alice + olivia pants is temporarily on hold. But they are just inches from being done and looking gooooood so far. They’re lending credence to my theory that short women can indeed wear wide leg pants if they are proportioned correctly. So fellow munchkin-sized ladies, listen to ME and not your silly fashion magazines that try to tell you otherwise!

Speaking of long-held but shaky conventional fashion wisdom, I have a gripe that’s been simmering in my mind for a while now about seasonal color analysis and I want to gripe it all over you. Seasonal color analysis, for those of you who haven’t run into it yet, is based on the idea that you can determine what colors are most flattering on you based on your coloring- usually some combination of hair color, skin tone, and eye color, with hair color being the most mandatory across different ways of doing the analysis. Based on your coloring, you fall into one of four categories – Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter. Each category has recommended colors or color families that supposedly flatter you and, either explicitly or implicitly, colors that should be avoided.

Now, I completely buy the UNDERLYING CONCEPT. Certain skin tones and hair colors work well with certain garment colors and poorly with others (particularly when worn near the face) – I’m on board with this much. What gets me steamed, however, is the way in which most of the analyses and categorizations are done. I’ve looked at several websites for color analysis and they get detailed and subtle about some skin and hair tones- are you cool ash blonde? Honey blonde? Strawberry blonde? Is your hair light brown? Medium brown? Dark brown?  Cool or warm brown? Is your skin porcelain? Ivory? Peach? Warm beige? Olive?

Well, guess what.  If your hair is black, according to any analysis that I have seen, you are a winter. Now, let’s think about this for a second. Based on black hair alone (winter also includes some other hair colors), that winter category is going to contain the vast majority of people of Asian descent, the vast majority of people of ethnic African descent, the majority of Middle Easterners, the majority of Latinos, most Native Americans, most Australian aboriginals, a large number of European caucasians from countries such as Greece, Italy,  Russia, and Spain, and a whole slew of other people besides. Now, I’m no expert on global demographics or population statistics, but I’m going guess very conservatively that people with black hair constitute more than half the world’s population. (And yes, I know there are exceptions, but don’t go bringing up the fact that you know an Indian woman who has beautiful natural red hair or a lovely blonde Puerto Rican as some sort of counterexample intended to prove that black hair isn’t actually that common. That would be what we call “flawed logic.”) So basically we’re talking about the majority of the world’s population supposedly only looking good in one quadrant of the color season spectrum, and the remaining cool blond/honey blond/light brown/chestnut brown/redhead folks sharing the other three quarters (not to mention that some of them also fall into the winter category)? I DON’T THINK SO.

The Selfish Seamstress has been labeled a “winter” more times than she can count by ladies who caution her not to wear off-white or brown in slavish adherence to a color categorization that is clearly flawed when it comes to her more-than-half of the population. (And besides, that’s obviously a load of crap because as we all know, the Selfish Seamstress looks awesome in EVERYTHING.) To take it to a point of extreme skepticism, I even suspect that the black-haired “winters” that the originators of color season analysis had in mind were not the beautiful ebony haired women of Ethiopia, Korea, Columbia, or Pakistan, but rather the raven-tressed Snow White type, with the rest of us tossed into that bin as an afterthought.

If you haven’t already figured out the rather sensitive point that I’m trying to make, I’ll just put it out there baldly- this system fails for women of color because it fails to acknowledge that women of color themselves are a spectrum, rather than a bunch of people who can be easily lumped into a single point on the spectrum. And I’m not just being pouty and pulling some “oppressed minority” BS. Even if I look at my own cousins, all of whom, like me, are of Asian descent, I can tell you that we all have black hair and we all look good in different colors. Some of them look lovely in pastels and some can really pull off brights. Some of us look good in rich, deep colors, and *gasp* some of us DON’T look good in black. What can possibly account for this variation?  The fact that not all black-haired women have the same skin color.

And if it seems silly to suggest that any sort of system intended to offer generalizations should account for the comparatively small variations in skin tone among one Asian-American woman’s cousins, then let bump it up a notch and ask you this- what analysis method worth its salt would take women as varied in coloring and appearance as me, Reethi, Erica, Tany, Cidell, SusanMeli88a, Ariel, Angela, and Carolyn and try to tell us that we all should stick to the same colors simply because we all have black hair? And meanwhile the analysis methods very considerately acknowledge the differences between Ms. Light Chestnut and Ms. Medium Chestnut by suggesting entirely different palettes for each? Pfffffffffffffffft. Let alone the social and racial implications of a system that puts me and most of the rest of the world into a box labeled “Other,” the system simply doesn’t work.

Like I said, I think there’s merit to the underlying idea that one can systematically provide useful color guidelines based on variation in skin tone and hair color. But seasonal color analysis is seriously weak if you aren’t Ms. Strawberry Blonde & Co., and I can’t take an analysis seriously if it doesn’t take me seriously. After all, I look fabulous in brown.

So don’t call me a winter.

On Thursday I went to my usual evening dance class to find that the regular Afro-funk teacher was out and we had a substitute who happened to be a waacking and voguing dancer and a member of the dance crew House of Dangerkat (pictured above.) Both of these types of dance are underground club dances, inspired by fashion poses and historically most popular in the gay club scene. If you’ve heard of voguing, you probably know it from its mainstream surfacing in the early 90s when Madonna released the song “Vogue,” about the dance. Waacking, with its origins in the West Coast, bears some similarity voguing (from the East Coast) with waacking being somewhat looser and more fluid in style, and vogueing having an exaggerated sharpness to it. I won’t pretend to be experts on either- this is about the extent of my knowledge of these dances and for all I know, it could be inaccurate as well.

Apparently vogueing and waacking are making a big comeback now on account of lots of mainstream artists like Beyoncé and Lady Gaga using moves from the dances in a lot of their choreography, so you’re starting to see classes cropping up for them. All I can say is it’s a great workout and SO FUN!! And if you love dance and fashion, what a great way to combine them. It’s certainly not for everyone as it’s pretty extreme stuff, but channeling your inner model, doing dance steps based on runway walking and exaggerated magazine poses, working your attitude, while getting your daily dose of cardio?  Win, win, win!

A couple of neat fun facts- the dance crews are typically called “House of ____” in homage to couture houses like “House of Dior.” Also they don’t have “battles” like they do in hip hop or breakdancing- instead, a voguing battle is called a “ball.” And who wouldn’t rather go to a ball than to a battle? How awesome!

Also, the costumes would be sooo fun to make, albeit less than practical for everyday wear. Check out a clip of House of Dangerkat performing at Hotel de Ville in Paris.  (The woman who taught my class is the one in the bright pink pants and super exaggerated Gaultier-style cone bra.)

I’m definitely going to try to find ways to supplement my dance diet with a little more of this :)

Selfish Readers, as you know, the Selfish Seamstress was born with a hard, sawdust-filled pincushion in her ribcage where her heart should have been, and as a result her emotions typically range on a scale from peevishness to rage with touches of schadenfreud. But every once in a while something comes along that is so amazingly, touchingly beautiful that even she can’t help but be moved to ice water tears and a weird twitching of the muscles at the corners of her mouth, somewhat akin to smiling. This is one such instance.

The other day, I received an email from devoted reader Rachel, which related a truly heartwarming tale of selfish seamstressing so lovely, inspirational, and triumphant that it has the makings of a Lifetime original movie. Below is the message I received from this brave heroine. I think you’ll find yourself on your feet and cheering along with me.


Dear Selfish Seamstress,

First of all, I love your blog.

Second, the real reason I’m emailing you – I had a “what would selfish
seamstress do?” moment and had to share it.

I work in a restaurant and my next-door neighbor happens to be a co-worker.  He thinks we’re friends while I view him as simply someone I work with.  He works the opposite shift I do so I rarely ever see him (I work early AM and he works afternoon/evenings) but one morning I come in to work and he is still there.  He makes some awkward chit-chat and then brings up how his chef pants are too long for him.  I’m in the zone and trying to plan out my day, which has had a wrench thrown into it by someone still being in the kitchen when I’m supposed to have it to myself.  I say something like “That sucks,” and go about my business. (Side note: whenever my chef pants are a little too long I simply roll the waistband over once and ta da, problem solved.  Why this option has never occurred to him, I have no idea…)

Then the following exchange took place.

Lame-o guy: “So, you have a sewing machine, right?”
Me: “Yes.”
LG: “Can you hem pants?”
Me: “Yes, but I don’t like to do it.”
LG: “Oh, well would you hem my pants?”

(At this point he’s been all up in my business for about an hour and I
desperately want him to leave me in peace.  Which route to take?  Say yes in
hopes that he’ll leave or say no and be a complete bitch and hope that he’ll get
the hint and leave?

Me: (WWSSD?)  “What’s in it for me?”
LG: “I dunno, whatever you want I guess.” (Said with a slight sexual induendo)
Me: “Oh well when you put it that way, no I will not hem your pants.”
LG: “What!?  Why not?”
Me: “You have nothing I want and I already said that I don’t like hemming
pants.  Now please go home and leave me to work in peace.”
LG: “Why do you hate me?”
Me: “Find someone else to do your hemming.”

-end of conversation-

So in conclusion I would like to thank you for teaching me your selfish ways.
Seriously, without your blog on my mind I probably would have just said yes and done it begrudgingly.  Now I have the power of selfishness on my side and I can spend my time sewing stuff for me and don’t have to dread hemming LG’s pants.

Thanks again!


Rachel, you are an inspiration to the selfish sewing community, and I applaud your bravery and your fearlessness in standing up for what you believe in. And while I appreciate that you credit me in getting through this amazing ordeal, I can say from the bottom of my pincushion that this kind of spirit, strength and badass smackdown ability cannot be learned- it’s part of your soul. Bravo, Rachel, bravo! Soldier on and keep on spreading the word. Readers, can we please get a “Woot!” for Rachel and her touching story of triumph?

Has anyone else got an amazing story to share of a would-be exploiter shown the door?  Share!

Ok, and just like that, after yesterday’s appearance of the September early preview and my subsequent descent into crazitude, the full preview of BurdaMag for September is online. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand their schedule. I’m still not crazy about the folklore stuff, even now that I can see what the garments really look like. One or two are okay. But there seem to be some good patterns in the issue for chic classics.

This is my favorite- it’s simple, but the lines look good, and I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for python print:

And there are the trenchcoats. Again, I’m waiting to see the technical drawing for this one to see if it’s actually got some shaping to it, but so far it appears to be the most sleek-and-simultaneously-classic trench that I’ve ever seen from Burda, even though they tend to put out trench patterns every few months. (Actually, the python print is probably a variant of the same pattern.)

Leather jacket, another garment that looks like it’s got good lines:

And the houndstooth coat is indeed cute, though I’d probably add a collar to it if I were to make it. As one who sews coats often, coats with this shape of neckline and no collar remind me of what my coats look like when I’m 3/4 done with them:

Cute basic skirt could be great for the office:

And cute not-so-basic skirt, also great for the office (I’d shorten it to knee length for my figure):

Also, cute plus size jacket- the skinny self fabric belt is such a nice touch:

Have a look for yourselves. As anticipated, the September issue does tread into crazy territory with some garments, but I think it could be a worthwhile one to have in the arsenal.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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