Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shedding some light on the Living Room

So we've been in our house for over three years now, and every now and then we get a burst of energy and get some stuff down, but the list is very, very long!  Our living room is in a sad state at the moment, with a raw drywall wall that has been there about a year at this point, and a new hole in the ceiling due to a plumbing leak in our upstairs bathroom.  We'll probably end up hiring someone to do a bunch of drywall repairs around the house at some point, but until then, live with them we will.  (ugh). 

One issue that I can tackle though is lighting.  One of the joys of a hundred year old house is crappy electrical systems, part of which is that we have very few overhead lights in the house, with none in the living room or any of the bedrooms.  I've had a ramshackle combination of table and floor lamps in the living room, but I wasn't super happy with them, so I'm coming up with a Plan (capitalization is intentional, it's that important)!

This is the current set-up:

The issue is that we only have task lighting, and it's just not working.  I bought the black double-sconce a while ago from Urban Outfitters, which I do like, but is not quite right for the living room.  I think it will work much better as much needed task lighting in the attic, so it will move up there once I get replacements.  A couple of people recommended lights with white lampshades, to provide diffused light in the room, which is exactly what it was missing.

Another issue with the room is that there is no entry lighting.  That's the front door on the left of the photo, which goes back to the stairs and the coat closet, all which have no lighting.  Eventually, John will probably add a ceiling light at the door, but that will be probably in a year or so, so temporary measures are in order.

I came up with a vague idea of a plan, and have a few lamps on order, so we'll see how it goes!  The current idea is to do a simple wall swing light where the double-sconce currently is, and the big debate there is to do a dark bronze/black or brass finish (both quite affordable options from Target):

We have very little metal anywhere in the house, I've realized, and our dining room light fixture (very visible from the living room) is the dark bronze color, so I thought it might tie in well.  The black double-sconce is so stark though, so I'm not sure.  We will be painting the walls at some point, but they will be a very very pale turquoise color, almost white, so not too different than the warm white they currently are.

Diagonally from that corner is our Eames lounger in a corner (older picture, but you get the idea):

I think that corner is a great place to do a hanging pendant.  I was initially thinking just a simple white drum lampshade, but then I realized I wanted to amp it up a notch.  I found a really cool pendant, also from Target, but I'm worried it will not provide enough light:

I went back to my old standby,, and found this kinda interesting light, but it's on the small side (the shade is only 7" in diameter):

I just looked back through my home posts on my blog, and found this post where I was talking about copper lights, and now I've gone down a rabbit hole on Etsy looking at vintage copper pendants.

What do you think - any favorite contenders?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A skirt throughout the years

I made this tweed skirt 3 years ago, and I love it still!  It doesn't get a ton of wear these days, which is why I wanted to include it in my fall 10x10, to mix things up a bit and revive it a bit.  Let's just say I struggled this morning though, in what to wear with it.  I originally had it all planned out to wear it with my white tee and orange sweater, but the three pieces together looked awful (totally wrong proportions).  I instead switched the tops out for a green cami and the same cardigan in black and liked it better, but it still isn't great.  I took a look back at a few photos from when I previously wore it, and fun fact, I used to dress up so much more!  It's crazy to look back at my wardrobe from just a few years ago.  Going from daily trips to the office to weekly (if that) has really done a number on dumbing down my wardrobe.

Today's struggle (I went with the open cardigan, but still not happy with it):


Basically the one thing I do love about this outfit is the color palette.  The tweed skirt screams fall to me, but I can have my comfortable black as a neutral, and moss green, which is turning into one of my favorites.  I am not a fan of the proportions though - the shoes cut off my legs horribly, and the cardigan is baggy in the wrong places and too cropped for my liking.  As many times as I have to go through this, I should finally just admit I don't like cropped, shapeless cardigans!

A few oldies from 2014 (apparently I really like to wear this skirt with green):

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fall 10x10 Challenge!

I've done the 10x10 challenge a few times now (Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, and Summer 2017), and was debating not doing it this time around, but gave in at the last minute!  I ended up folloiwng the summer challenge pretty loosely, but stuck to a palette of black and white.  This time around I wanted to incorporate more fall colors, since the temperature isn't very fall-like, but I want some fall in my life!

I went with 9 items of clothing (I ended up taking out the red tee from the photo), and left out shoes so  I could be more flexible with them.  My picks are:

  • 2 pairs of pants (straight jeans and tan skinny pants)
  • 1 skirt (tweed mini skirt made by me)
  • 1 cardigan (orange cropped v-neck)
  • 5 shirts (white tee, yellow/white striped tee, black/white striped tee, black/yellow tee, black sweater tank)

I'm not sure I'm in love with the cardigan shape, as I tend to like longer cardigans, so I'm hoping to either figure out how to wear it or decide to get rid of it.  I also tend to not wear tan/camel, but I always love it on other people.  I want to figure out how to make it work for me over the course of this experiment.

I've been posting photos on Instagram (@lmcwethy), but I'll probably do a few round-up posts here as well.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall Sewing - Sweater Vest Dress Inspiration

I've been dancing around doing fall wardrobe planning, and instead just getting random isolated ideas.  Hey, it's sort of worked for me for years, so I'll stick with it!  I recently watched the show LA Frock Stars on Amazon, which is about a vintage store in LA, and I immediately perused their website.  I can't stomach the price tags on the vast majority of it, but it's great inspiration!

Prime example - this fabulous sweater vest/dress at a cool $695.  While I love the color objectively, it's not a good color for me, so I've been plotting out how to reinterpret it.

I bought this blue knit, which I think will work well, but it's on the lighter-weight side, so I might end up doubling the fabric.

I've been thinking about all the different ways I can wear it, including as a dress, and as a vest.  I've been toying slightly with the idea of making it so I could wear it either front or back, so I could wear it as a dress with a low button-down back.  The only hiccup with that way is that I would have to leave off the pockets (or at least make them inseam pockets, not patch), but I think they add so much to the vest!  What are your thoughts, pockets or no?

Fall Sewing - Bohemian Dress Inspiration

I don't know what is up with my sewing mojo these days -  I struggled so much with what I wanted to do with my white dress, and now I'm having a similar conundrum over another dress.  Maybe it's just that I don't wear a lot of dresses?  Anyway, I have a wedding to attend in late October and my anniversary is early October, so I was thinking about sewing up a dress to do double-duty.  I have vague ideas of doing a short flowy bohemian dress, and I bought this gorgeous fabric from Emma One Sock to do so with:

I was thinking also that a lot of my sewing lately has been for very event specific things, so I was hoping to make it on the more casual side of the spectrum, so I could wear it for general life as well (because it wasn't already a tricky enough decision for me).  Anywho, I put together a little inspiration pinterest board, but I still struggling to narrow it down!  Anything stick out to you?

Some general ideas I'm musing on how to put together:

  • Deep v-neck
  • Interesting gathering around the bust area 
  • High waist vs. no waist
  • 3/4 length sleeves with gathered cuff, maybe a tie?
  • Somewhat fitted a-line skirt vs. gathered, ruffled skirt 

Side note #1:  How do people make such nice pictures of their pinterest boards?  Mine looks like crap.

Side note #2:  I somehow managed to forget about Burda patterns when I was figuring out my white dress.  While scrolling through, I found patterns that fit almost every dress I was thinking about, which would have saved me just a touch of time!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fall Sewing - Floral Pencil Dress

A few weeks ago I started this dress, which was a super quick sew.  I "drafted" the pattern (I always hesitate on such a simple thing, but I did do it from scratch), which was just a simple knit tank pencil dress with contrasting neck and arm bands.

It was complete except for the hem, and Saturday morning I quickly finished that up so I could wear it to a bridal shower that afternoon!  The body was all sewn up using my serger, but I just did a zigzag stitch for the hem.  Someday I'll get a coverstitch machine, but for now, that's my preferred knit hem method (I don't like fussing with a double-needle, even though it looks better).  


The best kind of sewing - quick and easy, but looks fabulous!  Eddie always likes to photo bomb, so of course I have to add one in with him.  Also, I really should wear 5" heels more often - check out my calf definition!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My mad dash to a pop-up gala

For the second year in a row, I attended a pop-up gala that my town puts on every year, where everyone wears white, it's a secret location that you have to walk to while bringing your tables, chairs, real dishes and silverwear, dinner, drinks, flowers, candles, everything.  It's a complete knock-off of the Dinner En Blanc idea, if you're familiar with it, just less pretentious.  It sounds kind of silly and like a lot of work, but it is really fun.  Anyway, last year I thought about making a dress, but ended up going shopping a day or two before.  This year I was determined to either buy a dress or make a dress with plenty of time to spare, but like usual, I ended up waiting until the last minute.  I actually bought fabric a month in advance, but it sat there and stared at me for a month.  The week before, I spend an absurd amount of time looking at Pinterest trying to get inspired, but I just couldn't make up my mind!  I even tried to frame it as a Project Runway challenge in my brain to motivate myself.  Needless to say, I would be awful on that show because I don't work well under pressure.  A few potentials I came up with are below, and you can see the run the gamut.

Part of my struggle was the temperature.  Last year it was super hot (I think it was still like 95 degrees when we went home at 11 p.m.), but this year the high for the day was in the low 70s with the low in the 50s.  I didn't want to be too cold, and all the pictures of white dresses I was looking at were soooo summery, when I'm really feeling fall now.  I finally settled on doing a modified Marilyn Monroe dress like the first picture.  I started with the new Esteem dress pattern from Cali Faye, which funnily enough is based on the second to last dress above. 

I played around with the pattern pieces a bit to try to turn it from a princess seam bodice to a gathered v-neck, and in the process, realized I was basically designing the wedding dress that my mom rejected as being too casual and I ended up returning


At this point, I was starting to get nervous about time (I started sewing at 6 p.m. on Friday for an event at 7 p.m. on Saturday), so I scrapped using the Esteem pattern, because I was worried about fitting the bodice properly with the crossing pieces in the back.  Instead, I just made it a halter.  Tying things up in a bow is a great way to get everything tight enough!

At that point, I just started playing around with pieces on my dress form and making it work!  The fabric I bought at JoAnn Fabrics, and it was a very lightweight poly satin something or other.  Since I was definitely not going to get away with a bra, I wanted to make sure the top was supportive enough, so I used a heavier weight cotton to line both the cups and the waist band.  I did not do any ruching with the lining, but unfortunately you can see my darts through the top layer a bit on the cups, and the waistband is a touch too big, so you can see some vertical folds.  Oops.  I also didn't have a white or near white invisible zipper, so I had to use a regular cream zipper.  Not my finest work, but hey, the dress closes and it's not terrible.  I am pretty proud of how nicely the insides turned out though - all seams are enclosed except for the skirt side seams, and I did a tight zigzag stitch on the seam allowance because the fabric frays like none other (not enough time to switch out the black thread on my serger!).  I also zig-zagged the tie edges and the hem, just for speediness.  

I finished it up with 4 hours to spare, just enough time to whip up some gelato!  Without further ado, here is the completed dress and a few fun photos of the evening. 



Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer 10x10 Challenge - day 2 & new Summer top!

You may have noticed I've fallen off the bandwagon on documenting my summer 10x10 challenge, and spoiler alert, I kinda fell off in real life too.  There was a lot going on with life, including a stressful weekend which had a canceled trip to go to a funeral, so I'm giving myself a bit of a pass on that one.  

Day 2 was another work from home/errands day, so I broke out the top I rushed to sew up and my favorite distressed jeans.  John claims I'm too old for them, but I just think it's smart to have ventilation when it's hot outside!  I also recently got the plastic Birkenstock sandals and I'm in love.  They are like a slightly fancier version of flip flops, and super comfy.  

Details on the top!  I've had this light-weight seersucker for at least a year or two and I kept changing my mind what I wanted to make with it.  I came across this picture on Pinterest, and decided it was perfect:

I didn't notice until I was underway that it's actually a picture of a baby dress - oh well!  I think it turned out pretty cute.  I completely winged the pattern by starting with the bib portion, which was doubled up with the fold along the top, and then gathered a trapezoid for the bottom front.  I basically did the same total shape for the back, just extended to account for the front wrap-around.  Totally clear, right?  I enclosed the gathered seam in the two layers of the bib and french seamed the sides, so the insides are all pretty.  Add some bias tape to finish the armholes and straps, and voila!  It does stretch out a bit as I wear it, so I may end up shortening the straps, but all in all, a successful make!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer 10x10 Challenge - day 1

I kept it simple for day 1 of the Summer 10x10 challenge (Monday).  It was a work from home kind of day, and I don't think I left the house all day.

Outfit:  black twist-front tee, distressed jeans

Thoughts:  I recently bought this black tee because I wanted a black tee with a tad more interest than a basic tee.  I've worn it a bunch already, as it helps elevate my everyday look while still being super comfy!

Summer 10x10 Challenge!

I've done this a few times now, but I'm currently participating in the #summer10x10 challenge hosted by Style Bee and Un-Fancy.  The basic idea here is to take 10 items of clothing and wear only them for 10 days, and there can be a lot of reasons for doing so.  I'm mostly just bored with my summer wardrobe so far, and want to be more intentional about, so no big overarching goals this time around.  I noticed as I started pulling things together I was going more neutral than usual, so I decided to stick with it and only do black/white/a touch a denim this time around.  These are very common colors for me, but I don't usually go that long without some color in there as well, so it will be interesting to see how it goes!

I'm technically on day 3, and doing well so far!  I'll probably do a couple of posts along the way with my daily photos and any general thoughts along the way.  Have you ever considered doing a challenge like this?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Polka dots, flowers, and birds, oh my!

I bought this fabulous reversible jacquard fabric from Emma One Sock a year ago, and have been debating what to make with it ever since.  I debated a skirt, a tank top, and a reversible cami dress, but I eventually settled on a simple shift dress, which would be perfect for the two weddings in three weeks that I just wrapped up.

I ran across the picture below on Pinterest, and of course I can't find any info on it now, but it was a designer dress from the 60s, and I loved the simple shape.

I started with the bodice pattern of the Burda Style stretch slip dress, which I modified by straightening out the top and leaving out the back darts.  For the skirt, I just did two rectangles with deep pleats lined up with the bust darts.  In the inspiration photo, the pleats are actually lined up with the sheer panels, which are lined up with the outside of the straps.  Because I wasn't doing the sheer panels, it didn't look as intentional to do the pleats there, and the shape was a bit better moving them in as well.  I added in-seam pockets, so I didn't have to deal with a purse - I always add pockets when possible!  This was also a last minute sewing project, in true Laura form, and I finished it up a couple of hours before we left for the first wedding.  I did have an excuse though, as I was working on a special project for the bride earlier that week. :)

While I love how it came out, the pleats have the unintended consequence of making me look at least 7-8 months pregnant.  Not ideal.  As long as I stand up perfectly straight, it's good, but in all the pictures where I was at the end of the line of people leaning over, yeah, not so much.  I'm debating either cutting it off as is into a tank top, or taking it apart and making a super simple cami out of it (a la Odgen Cami).  What do you think?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Sewing - Shorts (by accident)!

I've gotten bad about posting lately again, but I managed to take some photos of my most recent make this weekend, so figured I would get it up on the ol' blog!  I've been wanting some loose, light-weight cropped pants for the New Jersey summer that has descended upon us, so I figured I would finally break out this fabric that I got from Britex Fabrics years ago, and could never decide what I wanted to do with.  Amazingly enough, they still have the fabric, which is great, because I could not remember what it was made out of at all.  I thought it might be polyester, and it turns out indeed it is a stretch polyester crepe.  I'm not a huge fan of polyester, but I really loved the fabric, so I got it anyway!  I still have some left, so I may make a matching Ogden cami as well.

I had just done some minor alterations to my never-blogged Sallie jumpsuit (adjusted the waist elastic and rehemmed), and realized that the pattern would work perfectly with the fabric.  Unfortunately, when I was figuring out the fabric layout, I made a stupid mistake, and they ended up shorter than I wanted, so after I finished them, I decided to just cut them off into long shorts.  They are a little more sporty looking than I was originally going for that way, but they needed to be about 6-9" longer than I originally cut them out to work properly.

Other pattern adjustments - obviously I left off the top. :)  I am always fiddling a bit with the rise on my jumpsuit version, which is weird since I'm short, but I wanted to have a lower rise on the shorts. My initial plan was just to shorten the rise and add an elastic waistband casing on top, to preserve the pockets.  They were still a little too high of a rise though, because I didn't want to mess with the pockets too much, so I ended up doing an interior facing for the elastic, which worked out very well.  I could have done with a touch more room through the hips though, as my fabric wasn't quite as stretchy as the pattern called for, so the pockets are a bit smushed.  I may eventually take them out.  All in all though, a good addition to my summer wardrobe!

And while not directly sewing related, I do want to share a few photos from my day on Saturday.  We went to Innisfree Garden in New York, and it was so lovely!