Refashioning a Sari

I started yesterday on a project to refashion a sari I bought in India in April into a dress – New Look 6498.

I soaked the sari in plain water in the washing machine, with a couple of those dye magnet sheets for company. Saris are manufactured with some starch on the fabric, so you need to soak the sari to remove the starch. I set the washing machine for no spin cycle, because the linen fabric isaris very delicate. Then, I laid the sari out in the sun in the backyard to dry. It’s pretty wrinkled in the picture, but when it dried it was perfectly unwrinkled. It only took about an hour, and now the fabric is softer and I’m assured that the bright dyes won’t run. The dye magnet sheets were a funky color, so I think they worked.

As a Me-Made May bonus, you can see me in the background in my Me-Made Brooklyn skirt from Colette Patterns “Seamwork” magazine. The skirt is made of Italian broderie anglaise (a.k.a. fancy eyelet) and underlined with Bemberg rayon so there’s no peep show.

The sari has a traditional structure of a plain side at one end – the big green border at the bottom of the photo. You’re meant to use this part of the sari to make the matching blouse to wear underneath.

At the other end is the fancy pillau, the part that drapes over the shoulder. It’s usually the most decorative part of a sari.


The outside border is all decorated with peacocks of the same kind as on the pillau. The other border continues the floral motif. The entire body of the sari – the ivory section in the center – is decorated with gold paisleys. Also, the entire piece of fabric is woven in a lacy design, similar to how burnout lace looks. Some parts are very sheer and other parts are rather opaque, but the whole piece of fabric is remarkably airy and lightweight, which makes sense given the hot climate in India and the way the sari is pleated, wrapped and draped around the body. Altogether this is 7 yards of fabric!

The dress I chose for this project is New Look 6498, view B – the red dress in the upper right corner. I may or may not do the ruffle on the sleeve – it depends on how the layout works with the fabric. I want to use it efficiently.

New Look 6498




Me-Made in the Heat

We had central air conditioning installed in our house a couple of months ago. We went to turn it on yesterday, since the temperature suddenly shot up to 90 degrees (32 C) and guess what? No AC.

So today I am working from home and waiting for the AC guys to come fix the damn thing. LIMG_20170519_075135ucky for me, I have plenty of breezy summer me-made clothes! This is “Pinafore Dress” from Happy Homemade Sew Chic.

I made it from two panels of silk crepe, overruns from Ralph Lauren that I got at Mood Fabrics in New York. I needed a dress pattern that would have no darts or other design features to get in the way of the gorgeous Art Deco design. It was tough to cut just the same, because the design was printed at an angle. I thought about making a dress on the bias so that the design would be straight, but sewing silk crepe on the bias requires a special kind of crazy that I ain’t got.

Truth be told, this is another project that’s not as well-made as it could be. I didn’t line up the yoke and the dress as well as I could have with all the gathers along the front, so the corners jut out a bit. Also, the hem is a little wonky. Still, I made this with French seams for a pretty look inside and out, and I made best use of the design.

I intended it for a beach cover-up, not a dress, but it’s going to be 90+ again today so I need all the cool I can get.

Me-Made in the Garden

I watered plants in the garden yesterday after work, while wearing my Tunic Dress from the Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic.

The dress is made of Japanese double gauze, which is very airy and comfy in hot weather.

The hanging plants in the background are hops vines. We’ll harvest the hops in the fall and give the crop to friends who brew beer.

Trying “The Artist’s Way”

A lot of people think that creative genius just … happens. You’re born a genius, like Madame Curie, outshining all the men in the lab, or you’re struck with a bolt of inspiration, like Georgia O’Keeffe in the southwestern desert, or you just see the world so differently that you can’t help but be creative, like shy Emily Dickinson in her little room in Massachusetts.


Genius is hard work. Creativity requires dedication. Success requires a belief in yourself, as well as a willingness to tell naysayers to go to hell.

I’m learning this as I started reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron this week as a self-improvement project. I find myself frustrated by my inability to do what I really want to do and instead I keep going on with jobs that don’t satisfy me. I throw up roadblocks to success. I allow self-doubt to creep in. I just don’t put in the work.

The book has a spiritual component that does not appeal to me, but the advice so far has provoked thought and action. I started with two central activities:

  • Morning Pages – Every morning, first thing, write three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness prose. This discipline is meant to remove cobwebs from your brain and get creative juices flowing.
  • Artist’s Date – Once a week, take a small, solo adventure somewhere for a couple of hours. This is meant to open your eyes to new experiences and unexpected connections.

Morning Pages has been interesting. Since I am comfortable with writing already, I’m not challenged to fill the three pages most mornings. After a few days of doing this, I noted how themes repeated themselves – my various aches and pains, my husband’s various actions and inactions, and the little things that set me off or please me, plus (as always) diet and food. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Yesterday I went on an Artist’s Date. For a mid-afternoon break from work, I walked from my office in Times Square down to Columbus Circle and back. I have done this a couple of times before, but I took a different route this time. I didn’t bring money or a cell phone or anything but my badge to get back into the office. I made note of anything that surprised me, such as:

  • Aggressive peddlers of bicycle rentals, including one guy who was using his job to harass women.
  • A coffee truck promoting the new “Twin Peaks” TV show. (“Damn good coffee.”)
  • A tall young man dressed all in black except for hot pink high-top sneakers.
  • A group of young people drawing some promotional thing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • The startling green of Central Park in early spring.
  • An older man dressed in what looked like a cricket uniform.
  • So much “French” food – little bistros and quick-serve places with French names.

I didn’t immerse myself into this experience as much as I wanted to. It was my first try, OK? But I noted a few things that attracted my attention – bright colors, fattening food, and the somewhat puzzling activities of people young enough to be my children.

I am already thinking of where I want to go on next week’s “date.”



You made it! Admit it!

If someone complements you on a Me-Made garment, do you admit, acknowledge or otherwise disclose that you made it? I am of two minds about this, but in the spirit of Me-Made May, I figured I’d ‘fess up.

At the hairdresser’s Friday I wore my red Simplicity 8174 moto jacket and carried the matching red tote bag from Burda 2562 (OOP).  I never use these two items together. Matchy matchy matchy. And a bit homemade-y too. But I just grabbed them because I was running late, without a second thought.

When I arrived, the receptionist noted my outfit and complemented me on it. “Thanks,” I said. I paused for a few breaths. And then I said, “I sewed this myself.”


Yes, I sewed this myself. It’s a thing people do. It’s not crazy (OK, not THAT crazy)… I took off the jacket so she could see the pretty silk lining and all. My hairdresser and a couple of others got wind of this and came over to look. I got lots more complements, spiced with a dash of disbelief.

Then the woman who runs the boutique next door to the salon came in for some reason. This lady has nice stuff in her shop, and I buy things there on occasion. She really looked over the jacket, with a knowing eye.

“I know someone you should meet,” she said, “if you’re interested in taking this further.”

“What do you mean, taking this further?” I asked.

She sells jackets from an area designer who has her own line of officewear blazers for women. The blazers come in several cuts and fabric types to complement various figures and budgets. I explained that this was just a commercial pattern, nothing I drafted myself. No matter, the boutique owner said. She took down my name and number and said she’d call if her designer friend was interested.

Who knows? Nothing will probably come of it, but maybe something will. At least I got it out there into the universe. Yes, I make my own clothes, and yes, they’re fabulous!

Me-Made Evening at the Theater

My husband and I and went to a play last night. It’s a new musical by Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. While the play was just so-so, my outfit was fabulous, if I do say so my me-made self.outfit1.jpg

The top is a raglan-sleeve blouse from Simplicity 1202 and the skirt is Simplicity 8058, a Cynthia Rowley design. The blouse was made as directed, except that I lengthened it 1 inch and omitted the keyhole back closure (I can slip this over my head easily). The skirt was iffy. This is a “wearable muslin” version I whipped up in some cheap poly ponte knit. I love the color but not the hand of this stuff – it’s scratchy and just crummy. I lengthened it and omitted the tabs at the waist buttons because they just looked like crap every time I made them – two never came out the same. I topped this with a RTW dolman-sleeve duster.