in the name of love

First thing: I’ve never been super into Valentine’s Day. It’s not a holiday (do we even call it a holiday?) Ty and I have ever really cared about, but after realizing last year how much I love looking at and wearing red I’ll take any excuse to whip up something pretty and crimson. (I do like a lot of the Valentine’s candy though, and I can crush some chocolate covered strawberries.) My birthday is in January, so I usually got a little something that was Valentine’s inspired when I was growing up. One year when I was in middle school, my parents gave me a pair of pajama pants with little red hearts all over them. They were cotton and so soft, and they had a red grosgrain ribbon drawstring. I loved and wore those jammies for years until there were too many holes and frayed edges to go on. I’m not sure why I didn’t remember those pajama pants until a couple days ago, but had I been more on top of things I would have made myself a pair out of this fabric – but this top will do just fine. In fact, it’s so loose and comfy that it almost doubles as loungewear, and I do have some fabric left over, so maybe pajama shorts are in order. (Seriously, why didn’t I think of that sooner?)

When I decided to make a couple quick and easy projects for Valentine’s Day, I liked the idea of using this pattern. I’ve made it a couple times before, and it’s comfortable and very, very easy to sew. (It came together in a couple of hours the other day. Super quick.) I’m not usually a big fan of novelty prints, but this poplin was just too fun to pass up. I think it will look great as a swimsuit cover up this summer or paired with linen pants or denim shorts.

This pattern calls for two rows of elastic in the neckline, but I omitted the top row. I was aiming for the delicate ruffle it created by leaving out the top row of elastic, and it doesn’t impact the fit at all. I opted for hemmed sleeves instead of an elastic finish, just in the interest of keeping things loose and billowy. And, I gave it a go, but off-the-shoulder simply does not look good on me. I was hoping I would love it, but when I put this blouse on and tried it, I was disappointed. Plus, this way is more comfortable, and I never have to worry about the sleeves popping up off my arms. (Surely I’m not the only one who has experienced this and got bored with it real quick?!)

I had three projects planned for this post but as has been the case lately with the remodel going on, I just ran out of time before I could finish the third piece. The funny part is that it’s a really, really easy skirt! No biggie – it will be in Friday’s post. The other piece in today’s post is somewhat of a re-fashion. (Or maybe it’s just a save? A fix? A do-over?) Re-fashioning is this whole big thing, and there’s a big community of folks turning thrift store clothes into wearable, trendy pieces. My dabble into this concept is similar, except I’m using my own garment. Back in college, I spent a couple weeks in Europe the summer before graduation studying fashion forecasting. It was a quick trip (one week in London, one week in Paris), but of course I managed to find some wonderful fabric shops while I was there. (So yes, my habit of fabric shopping everywhere I go goes back years.) The day before we were supposed to leave Paris, a few of us decided to spend our free afternoon walking what felt like the entire city to this tiny fabric shop one of us had found. I can’t remember the name of it or where it was, but it was magical. It was small, probably the smallest shop I’ve ever been in, and it was packed floor to ceiling with designer fabrics. I was immediately drawn to this fabric, a red silk gazar. Gazar is like a double, or 2-ply, organza – it shares a lot of those characteristics, it’s just a little weightier and more opaque than organza. It’s one of the most special fabrics I’ve ever worked with, but it does require a little extra patience, because it has a tendency to shift around. It’s a very voluminous fabric, so it does well in designs with some oomph like full skirts or ballgowns. It would also make a great top with big statement sleeves.

I originally used this fabric on a project during my senior year. The assignment was to design something dramatic, and to think about the details in a non-traditional way. There had to be a collar, set in sleeves, some type of closure, and the garment had to be fully lined. I came up with something like a dress but not, like a coat but not. We ended up calling it the Opera Coat. The collar extended to the back, along with a row of non-functional but pretty fabric covered buttons. There were snaps in the front, and a fabric covered belt. It had a dropped waist and puff, 3/4 sleeves and it was fully lined.

These pictures are from the very first shoot we did in college. So, keep in that in mind – no one was a pro! (Also, I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find pictures of the back. If they eventually show up, I’ll add them.)

You know that box of unfinished or discarded projects we all have? Usually hidden in the attic or at the back of a closet somewhere? Yeah, I’m guilty of that too. I have a storage tub with a bunch of college projects in it, and every time we moved and I saw this project I always thought it was such a waste that it was living in a box. The fabric is too special, and the color is too pretty. So late last year I decided to save it. It was riddled with mistakes (I think I interfaced the sleeves – why, Emily, why?), and there was absolutely no way I’d wear it as it was. I removed the bodice, chopped off the skirt, cut a waistband, added a zipper, and dropped in a lining – and now it’s something I will wear. And this skirt is a perfect example of how gazar drapes: I am not wearing a petticoat. Gazar has natural volume and movement, and when it’s gathered it really goes to town.

The buttons down the back in the original version are very interesting, and I knew I wanted to keep that detail. There was a lady in California who had a small business making custom covered buttons and belts, and that’s how these came to be. I think she had an ad in Threads magazine or something (I can’t remember how we discovered her), but a bunch of us sent her fabric to have buttons and belts made for various projects. The buttons and belt are what makes this skirt special to me, but silk gazar is not necessarily the best option for things like that. Over time, the edges have worn and faded slightly, but oddly I kind of like that. It’s like piece of vintage clothing, which is kind of endearing and special. I’m wearing my embellished blouse with this skirt, and you’ll see it again on Friday. I am absolutely giddy about that blouse!

I’ve been working on this skirt off and on for a couple of months now, and I’m really, really glad I finished it. It’s not an everyday skirt, but it will absolutely get more wear now than it would have otherwise. It’s a fun reminder of a special time in my life and also how far I’ve come since then.

Now, about my last post. I want to say just a couple things about it, and then we’re never wasting another second worrying about it. I think I was more bothered by the whole thing than I thought, which is why I was so moved to address it. The fact of the matter is that I should have taken the high road and ignored it completely. After that post went live, I felt uncomfortable and icky for a few days. Here’s the thing: it will never, ever be the case that everyone likes you or supports you or thinks you’re doing good work – no matter who you are or what you’re doing. So, don’t worry about it. Instead, focus on the things that are worthwhile and meaningful and make you happy. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation where a group of catty, gossipy people are saying things about you, be better than me. Do better and react better than I did, and just rise above it.

If I reached other folks out there encouraged them by talking about it, great. But I think more than anything, I contributed to the ugliness, and only added fuel to the fire. So there will be no more of that in this space. We’re going to move on, and go back to what we’re here for, and that is to share information, encourage each other, and enjoy the craft of sewing and designing. So on this day of love, let me apologize for a brief walk through the gutters, and tell you that a great lesson has been learned. Let’s just be nice to each other, what you do say?! I greatly appreciate all of your comments, and I also heard from some of you via email, and I’m thankful for those notes too. Thank you.

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3 I will be back on Friday with more finished pieces from the black and white collection. I’m glad it’s almost finished, because I have more than moved on (in my mind) to spring and all the vivid, fresh colors.


P.S. A quick-ish, unrelated life update. The remodel continues, but we finally have running water again in the kitchen. Backsplashes are being installed as I type this, and floors are going in next week. A few of our light fixtures are being delivered today, and I’m really excited to see those. Still tons of work to do, but we’re getting closer to the finish line with every passing day.

The crazy part is that this is just phase one of this whole thing. The master bathroom is a complete and total disaster, so we’ll be ripping it out and fixing it next year. So even once the kitchen is finished, we won’t actually be ready to relax in this house as it is. But, one thing at a time. I’m so excited to see this kitchen when it’s finished!

One of the comments on the striped jacket post was from Sarah May (hey, Sarah!), and she very sweetly mentioned Olivia. Some of you have mentioned her or asked how we’re doing since she died in October, and I can’t quite put into words how touched I am by that. I miss that little dog every single day. After trying to distract myself for the first few weeks after we put her down and ultimately having a bit of a breakdown because I suppressed my grief about it, I feel better about it these days. I’m not even remotely ready to get another dog though. Harrison is quite enough for now, and he’s doing just fine. He’s lazy and funny and cute, and we love him.

Ty and I had to swing by the flooring place a couple weeks ago to pick our baseboards, and the shop owner was there with her dog. I forgot my coffee in the truck, so Ty went into the showroom before I did. When I walked in I saw him crouched down petting a dog. In front of him sat the most darling little lab mix with coloring and big brown eyes just like Olivia. She had the sweetest face and cute little floppy ears, and had sat down in front of him and given him her paw. Lots of dogs are trained to do that, and our Olivia was one of them. The moment I saw that dog I completely lost my composure and started I crying. Big, uncontrollable Texas-sized sobs.

You know how dogs sense our emotions? Some can be very comforting in a situation like that, and this dog’s reaction to my overwhelming sadness was both heartbreaking and comforting. She all but climbed into my lap and nuzzled her face into my neck and licked my face. Harry, bless his heart, doesn’t really do that. He’s much more interested in his next meal or chasing the deer out of the back yard. He also loves a good nap on the balcony.

All of that to say that I’m still dealing with the loss of Olivia, but I know we’ll welcome another dog into our family one day. I just have to get past wanting another one because I want it to be her, not because I want to enjoy a new puppy that has their own personality. I’ll get there. In the meantime, we have a house to finish, and garments to sew!


  1. Sarah may | 16th Feb 18

    Emily, a beautiful skirt and I love the embellished shirt. I have the vogue shirt pattern and made it once a few years ago as the bow version but it is on my list for this year again. Another beautifully written blog – my London sized tears can’t quite match your uncontrolled Texan sobs but roll down my cheeks none the less. As a dog mummy I understand. Take care of yourself.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Sarah, I was so touched by your words. Thank you for not only reading this blog but also for taking the time to leave a message. I have a bad habit of reading each one but not always responding (I’m working on it!), but I wanted you to know that I appreciate your kindness. <3

  2. Lynda | 15th Feb 18

    Your designs are gorgeous and I love the red skirt. It is absolutely stunning!
    So sorry for your loss, it is very hard when we lose our fur babies. I was the same way when I lost my cat and it took me almost a year before I was ready to get another cat. You will know when the time is right and you see the right dog. Thanks for all the tips you give us.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Thank you for the kind words. The tough part for me has been working through the grief, and the only other person who truly understands it is Ty because he loved Olivia as much as I did. In an strange way, writing about it from time to time on this blog is comforting. Thank you for the comment – I love that red skirt too. It’s a sentimental piece, and I’m so glad I invested the time into saving it! <3

  3. La Vonda C | 15th Feb 18

    That **SKIRT***!! Those **SHOES**!!! Happy Kissing Shirt! All wonderful, absolutely wonderful. And, yes, sad tears for our little sweethearts that are no longer with us. We love you & are glad you are here, you bring joy into our creative spaces & we can’t wait to see what you do next.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      This comment made me smile SO BIG! Thank you so much! You always leave the most thoughtful messages to my posts, and I appreciate each and every one. And you’ll never believe where I got those red shoes: Ross! I found them a couple years ago for $30 or something, and I knew they would come in handy one day. Ha! Have a wonderful weekend! <3 <3

  4. Virginia Page | 15th Feb 18

    Emily, I meant aesthetic.

  5. Virginia Page | 15th Feb 18

    Emily, we lost our sweet Prince(Pom) about four months ago, I miss him every day. I absolutely love your makes and design esthetic. Please make a tutorial on how you line garments/patterns that do not include a lining. Using B5030 would be amazing. You are such an inspiration. Thank you!

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Hi, Virginia! Thank you so much for the feedback! I’ve gotten a request for that very thing a number of times, so I think I will have to address it soon. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sending you a virtual hug, because I know the pain you feel. Thinking of you! <3

  6. Carmil Mullaney | 15th Feb 18

    I am inspired every time I read this blog!!! Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day while sporting your festive blouse.
    LOVE the red skirt/ re- imagined dress. I actually really liked the dress, but can see why you wanted to revamp. The color, the fabric (at least what I can get a sense of from a computer screen), the buttons– gorgeous. That specific shade of red is my favorite of all reds. I have a 15-20 year old pashmina scarf that is the same shade, and I love wearing it. You have re-inspired me to specifically look for fabric in- “THAT RED” across the coming year.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Yaaaayyyy! I am so happy to read that! Go red, mama! I tell you, I was a dummy for being afraid of “that red” for as long as I was. It’s so stunning and flattering! It’s hard to find “that red” too, so we have to jump on every opportunity to use it, right?! Your pashmina sounds divine! Thank you for the comment!

  7. Maureen Blair | 15th Feb 18

    Hi Emily, I love your blog and your exquisitely made clothes, especially on the inside. I have never seen that kind of finishing on the inside of garments and will try to improve my skills.
    I just wanted to say how sorry I was to hear about Olivia and that you must give yourself time to mourn her properly and are quite right not to even consider another dog until you have completed that process. So many people get another dog straight away and compare the animals to each other unfairly.

    I think our faithful pets deserve to be remembered and missed when they have given us so much..

    Take care.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Maureen, I so appreciate your message. Thank you. <3

  8. Kim Price | 14th Feb 18

    Such a cool skirt you have made from.tour fabulous dress! So nice you can enjoy that special fabric and buttons again. You inspire me sooo much ,you will never know. I purchased some fabric today to see for myself again. I’m actually excited. I understand how our dear pets reach our hearts, I too would love to have another and would expect it to be just like my cini mini, you are wise to wait.they certainly do have their own personalities!

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      Kim, I am so touched by this! Keep sewing, mama, keep sewing! And please keep me posted – I would love to know how your project turns out.

      You’re so right – it’s incredible how each pet has his or her own personality. That’s what makes them special! <3

  9. Gena Harakal | 14th Feb 18

    The bold red skirt is gorgeous! Go ahead an make the lounge shorts. What a cute pj set that would be. I remember a service in NYC that would create covered buttons and belts. Those little touches scream haute couture and style.

    • Emily | 17th Feb 18

      I agree, yes! The more I look at that top, the more I think I need to make some shorts and possibly make a different top. That’s the perfect thing for that fabric! I’ll bet there’s so many great places in NYC for custom buttons, etc. You’re right, it’s so stylish and unique – all things I strive for in sewing. Thank you for this and the other thoughtful comments you’ve left. And thank you for reading! <3

  10. Chloe | 14th Feb 18

    Fantastic skirt with a great backstory! Those buttons are something special – custom covered buttons like that are few and far between these days. Enjoy wearing a bit of your history, and happy V day!

  11. leisa | 14th Feb 18

    Gorgeous skirt! I love it’s history and back story, definitely special 🙂

  12. Brittany | 14th Feb 18

    I don’t even know where to start!! From the gorgeous opera coat to stunning skirt, off-the-shoulder top, and white button up!! Everything is just beautiful! I can not wait until Friday!

  13. Juanita Lane | 14th Feb 18

    The red skirt,just gorgeous! And the shirt is whimsical and fun

  14. PsychicSewerKathleen | 14th Feb 18

    Another beautiful garment! Your skirt is SO lovely and suits you so perfectly with those red shoes! Gorgeous. I love the buttons 🙂

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