Posts filed in: Clothes

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Another day, another hippie dress. Not like I don't have fourteen other things I should be doing. There is so much hand sewing on these things. The bodice lining is stitched in by hand, along with the entire hem, and the sleeve hems. Two entire afternoons of hand sewing. Good thing I like — love — that sort of thing. Especially because we have a new sofa. With the chaise lounge thing. Best invention ever. Except you can't get out of it. Literally; it tilts backwards (need wedge). Finally, we have enough seating. Comfortable seating. It's not the nicest sofa in world — kind of scratchy (compared to our old microfiber one), and from Ikea (it's the Kivik). But it's kind of frumpy in a way that is really appealing to me right now. We are very hard on our furniture. We wear it out. It serves us well, but we live hard on it. Now I have three offices: the studio, the office, and the chaise lounge.

My first hippie dress was Bloomsbury. My second one (which I guess I never took a picture of), Hefeweizen. This one, guest lecturer in medieval studies at Reed College. Last night I was thinking the next/fourth one would be Sigur Ros groupie but then I changed my mind to Joanna Newsom groupie (because I was watching her on TV last night [it was TiVo-ed], and took a picture of the TV). I wore the second one to the mall the other day. I took my extraordinary, luminous niece/goddaughter shopping for some school clothes. I got some interesting looks while wearing the dress. I think some people thought I was on my way to my handmade-soap booth at the Oktoberfest. Cool!!! Or about to serve them a hot pretzel and a pitcher. I said to Andy that I thought it might be a bit too "bar maid." He said, "You say that like it's a bad thing!"

There was a barbecue with lovely new friends, there was more curried soup, there are now eggplants in the garden, there was brown sugar–banana ice cream good grief. There has been almost no reading. I thought this was going to be my summer of reading and it's been my summer of no reading. I don't know what the problem is. I picked everything up and put everything down. And then I fell asleep. Summer kind of wears me out, I think. It was good to have the long weekend of lazy. I think I needed that.

The best part of this summer were the afternoons we spent sitting in the river on our chairs together, watching the rapids and the hawks. I think of those afternoons every day. I hope there's a chance to go back one more time before it gets cool. I really, really, really, really enjoyed those afternoons.


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Hello! How are you? We are sleeeeeeepy puppies around here. I can't seem to get up and do anything productive thank goodness. I am having a wonderful day.

One of my dreams came true on Sunday night when the boys played "Tales of Coming News" at Edgefield. I apologize to anyone standing near me because I sang every word as loud as I could (we were standing right next to the speakers). The show was just awesome. It was our fourth year and fifth time seeing the Avett Brothers. The Crystal Ballroom show a couple of years ago (or maybe it was last summer?) was so great, but I have to agree with the people on the fanboards that Sunday night's setlist at Edgefield was epic. I can't say enough about how much I (we) love this band. In thinking about it, this song is probably more of a fans' song than a song that will make you fall in love with the band if you've never heard of them before. (They're repertoire is enormous, so you will find something.) But if you click on the video (and thank you again for sending it to me, Kari, and thank you marysstikal for posting it originally), be warned there's a guy in crowd who in the first few seconds of the video drops the f-bomb about five times in a row at the top of his lungs when he hears the opening notes he is so excited. I completely understand this.


All of those fabrics were from JoAnn's! All on sale, too! Two more new dresses for me. I am desperate for some fall clothes. I almost never buy clothes for myself but lately I want to. I've got new tights but now I need some clothes to go with them.

I love this book. A girl can dream.

I was thinking about fall colors. Stereotypical fall colors — that is, crispy golds and jewel-like reds and shocking oranges — are not really the fall colors I see out my windows. Here, our fall colors are dusky plums and russet reds and heathery grays and blue-ish greens. Not quite as brown and muted as winter's sunless, mossy, piney, muddy colors. But still somewhat dimmer, duller than classic, sassy red, or crackling-bright orange, or blazing yellow. Sunset-lit and smudged. We have these smoky-coated plums on the table. I picked some up off the street the other day while we were out walking in the neighborhood; a tree had dropped an entire branch in the road and there were piles of them all over the place, yellowy-blue, not quite ripe. I couldn't believe how beautiful they were. I put as many as I could fit into my coffee cup to take home. We have a plum tree (two actually) but the plums are nothing like these. (I wish they were like these.) I will take a macro picture of them so we can see them better.

I think I like fall. I think it's the shortest, and, in its own way, the most precious season in the Northwest. I hear a lot of people say that about summertime here, that it's the shortest and most precious season. But for me, the season I yearn for and try to hold on to is definitely fall. (Once the rains start, that's winter.) Andy is a summertime person. He really tries to stretch it out as long as possible. We have brilliant conversations about September:

Me: "That [whatever it is we happen to be talking about] will be in the fall, in September."
Him: "That's not fall, that's still summer."
Me: "September is fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."
Me: "No, it's fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."
Me: "No, it's fall."
Him: "No, it's summer."

I really can't tell you how many times we have had this conversation. We must like it.

He has a point. September sometimes feels as hot as July here. I sit in the hot wind and the fried up grass, holding my tights and my clogs, and hope the temperature will drop like a stone.

Summer Sweetness

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August has a glow. There was twilight birdsong all around us in the field. I cried in the sunset. My sister's visit has been wonderful. The world spins and spins. The flowers. The nights. The years.


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I finished my dress today and I just love it. The vast majority of things I try to make for myself look totally horrideous, which is why I hardly ever try to make anything for myself. But I love this (though I had to fuss with the pattern quite a bit). I used mostly cotton lawn, except for the bodice front/back which is regular quilting-cotton-weight. I apologize, but I don't really know what the fabrics are named or remember where I got them (but mostly all locally, and I have a decent size collection of Liberty Tana Lawn from local and various on-line sources). I just collect fabric whenever I see something I like, and am useless with the details. This dress is made mostly of rectangles or versions of rectangles. It's all very floaty and light, with lots of folds and drapes and gathers everywhere. Rather Vanessa Bell–ish, I thought.

The Sigur Ros show at Edgefield last night was exquisite. We have been big fans for many years but this was our first time seeing them live. Lovely, gentle, amazing people. The evening just couldn't have been more beautiful.

The garden is entering the late-summer phase. I think I'm supposed to be thinking about fall/winter planting. I replanted beets and kale already. Maybe I'll plant more beets where the potatoes were . . . ? Half of my butternut squash blossoms fell off, and a bunch of the leaves. A couple of the other little squashes just shrivelled up into little puckered things. Wah. :(

It's a quiet day here. Bright and breezy and we have no plans. Wonder of wonders. I shudder with pure delight.

Summer Swell

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Dude, did you see my garden potatoes? I AM PSYCHED.

Tonight, curried potato, corn, and shrimp chowder. And it's finally cooled off so we can make the choco cake. I'll write out the recipes when I get a sec.

You know how when your one sister goes out to lunch with your other sister for the afternoon and you should be doing some chores that you've been blowing off while you're home alone but instead you decide to make an Afghani nomad dress? So weird when that happens, I know.

Weekend at the Lake House

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Weekend at the Lake House

A Shirt for Andy Paulson

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PATTERN: McCall's M6044
FABRIC: Some sort of homespun plaid, from Fabric Depot

Thank you ever and oh so much for all the book love!!! That made me very happy! I received an advance copy of the book yesterday and it is always so magical to see it all actually printed and put together. I am very excited about it. It is so good to be at this point!

In honor of embroidery, I started and finished embroidering a teensy patch I had planned for this shirt I made for Andy for his birthday. You might have noticed him wearing the shirt on his birthday and last weekend. (It's so dark out again today that these photos are a little soft, I'm afraid.) I am so glad that he likes it, and it fits him perfectly. I made it a little large because I didn't take the time to pre-shrink the fabric before I cut and stitched it up (yikes!). So the original shirt was quite large. After washing and drying it shrank (sp?) quite a bit, and came out just the way he likes it (phew — though it would have been easy to take it in, as the underarm seam and the side seam are the same, and continuous).

Remember that one time when we counted up how many different plaid shirts Andy had? He is still wearing all the same shirts, and has maybe branched out a little (Wilco t-shirt, OCMS t-shirt, I think the Dinosaur Jr. t-shirt finally fell apart, Pickathon sweatshirt) but not much. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could actually make a shirt that he would like. I knew it would have to have snaps and not buttons, for one thing, and I had never actually seen snaps at the fabric store. Turns out, I'd just never looked — they are there (back by the other snaps, of course!) and they are AWESOME. Soooooooooo much easier than making all of those button holes and sewing on buttons. Fun, too, because you use a hammer. (Make sure you get the snap-setting "kit," though, and don't try to line them up yourself with a spool and all that — well, at least this is what the fabric-store lady told me and I believe — worked for me, at least.)


Anyway, shirts can be kind of fiddly, I've always thought. I've made Andy a few, but hadn't done one in a very long time (though I kept promising). I think my sewing has improved with all the baby-clothes sewing I've been doing. This came together so easily I kept being amazed — but honestly, I think it was just kind of a relief to work with pieces that weren't Lilliputian, for once. A lot easier! I was so happy with how it came out, and I think he really likes it, because he wears it on all his days off, so that makes me very happy. He's out golfing in it right now.

To make the tag, I resized a photo from our birthday-day in the Gorge and added some text in a font (called Cursive Standard) that actually looks a little bit like my handwriting (on a good day). I printed it out on my ink-jet printer on printer-ready fabric. The photo will definitely fade as it gets washed, but oh well. He knows what it is a picture of. I embroidered the words with one strand of embroidery floss and the teensiest tiniest stitches I have ever done. I will admit that this took almost as long as making the entire shirt from start to finish. But so worth it. 'Cause the tag is my favorite part.


Happy birthday, my love. xo 

English Dept. Bridal Fashion Show Sunday

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My endlessly talented and very dear friend Elizabeth Dye designed and made these enchanting dresses and styled these gorgeous photos (all taken by Lisa Warninger; I'm not sure who the model is but gosh is she pretty, too).


Elizabeth owns The English Dept., one of Portland's loveliest dress shops. They are having their annual bridal fashion show Sunday. All these beautiful dresses in one place. I've known Elizabeth for ten years now and she has always been a huge inspiration to me.


I took a photo of her wearing this same dress (and holding something embroidered) in her shop for my new book. I still love it so much. Elizabeth, you are amazing.

Navy Skirty (WIP #1)

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Navy skirty, pretty cute. It's baby-wale corduroy, very soft, with topstitching done by hand with six strands of tan embroidery floss. Cool folky buttons which you can't really see very well. This is Simplicity pattern 2758, view E. Ish. Longer. Skinnier waistband since I misread the instructions and only cut one instead of two of fabric, and by the end of Wednesday afternoon was too lazy to go back and unfold the extra fabric and recut it and do it the right way. So I just folded it over twice and made it skinnier. Fine. Next one I'll put the pockets on lower. A lot lower. Love the pleat, though. Taking photos of a navy-blue skirt is like taking photos of a black doggie: Light absorbers. (The other stuff in the photo is all thrifted. This is the wall of the dining room [which is as dark as a cave today].) Susan asked how I keep track of where I am in each WIP and I thought, "Oh, yeah! I should do that!" So I guess that is the answer: I just push things aside and then pick them up months later in confusion: "What is this? Oh . . . yeah . . . that [vague, dawning memory seeping in, no notes or indications where to pick up, general frustration with self and lazy habits, etc.]."

While I was making this: Ding-dong! The UPS man dropped off this skirt from Boden, almost exactly the same shape. With cable tights and boots: a winter uniform. Now for somewhere to go! Not today though: I am tiiiiired. Long week. Feel like ordering curry, getting under a pile of pets, and watching a movie tonight. What are your favorite movies that take place in contemporary London? Like really take place in London, where you can see London and the city feels integral to the movie? Kind of like Love, Actually or About a Boy. I love both of those. I have been meaning to ask this for a while! Thank you!

Works in Progress

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(Crochet hook case made by my dear friend Megan, though she is no longer making them.)

1. Midnight blue corduroy skirt with pockets and running stitches FINISHED

2. Olive-green weird corduroy skirt with pockets and running stitches

3. Rust colored corduroy skirt with you guessed it

4. Pink and purple striped socks

5. Peach, brown, and cream Fair Isle socks

6. Blue, brown, and cream Fair Isle socks (no relation)

7. Blue Fair Isle sweater  FINISHED

8. Pink Fair Isle sweater FINISHED

9. Crocheted smocked baby dress

10. Stripey wristwarmers (smaller) FINISHED

11. Three Autumnhouse pillows (like Summerhouse Pillows but for winter) SCRAPPED

12. Christmas present for someone related to me that reads this blog FINISHED

13. Christmas present for someone else related to me that reads this blog FINISHED

14. Christmas present for someone else related to me that doesn't read this blog but who is getting the same thing as the other two so I still can't say FINISHED

15. Other family Christmas presents I haven't decided on yet SCRAPPED

16. Andy's Christmas present

17. Book

Too much. Something's gotta give. These are not all for Christmas — it's just a list of everything that I have started. But still.

The other night Andy came upstairs and said, "Violet's in your yarn bowl.

Me [pausing]: "My what?"

He [enunciating]: "Your yarn bowl. Go down and see."

So I went down there.


Oh. Violet's in my yarn bowl.

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at