Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Show(er) Me Anna!

I had originally planned to wear By Hand London's Anna dress to our first wedding of the season outside of Atlanta.  Life happened (do I sound like a broken record yet?) and the dress didn't get finished in time.

It turned out to be perfect for my first bridal shower (ever!).  Admittedly, I felt a little sheepish attending a city chic event in $4/yard poly from Kashi's treasure chest.  Sheepishness turned to pure pride when the discriminating hostess complimented me on my dress.  Quite the ego boost, thank you very much.

With the bride!

I selected the round neckline and opted for no leg slit.  I changed the back pattern pieces to a deep V.  The bodice is underlined in silk organza and fully lined in a coordinating hot pink bemberg. All skirt pieces are french seamed.  That's 14 maxi length french seams to be exact.  28 if you count the first botched attempt to line up the bodice pleats with the skirt seams.  (Not that anyone is counting!)


This dress was NOT an easy sew for me.  There were several 2 am sessions with my trusty seam ripper due to a domino effect of mistakes. I won't go into it...Ain't NOBODY got time for THAT!  

In spite of making a perfect fitting muslin beforehand, the dress is still too large in the bodice. While disappointing, I am happy I figured this out at this wearable muslin stage.

Deep V back.  

I tried the following new (to me) techniques on the Show(er) Me Anna:
  • Narrow hem on bemberg lining
  • fell stitch to attach bodice lining to bodice skirt from the right side
  • Inserting a zipper into a french seam
Note on the narrow hem:  I stitched a guiding line 1/8 inch from the cut edge all around the dress.  I never removed this guiding line.  Using that guiding line, I folded the fabric on itself 2x (double-folded edge) so that the raw edge was encased in the hem and the original 1/8 stitching line was now along the upper fold of the hem.  Ultimately, this made for a 1/4 inch hem, though it looks like only 1/8 from the outside.  From there I sewed the hem in place. It turned out perfect!

My biggest takeaway from the "Show(er) Me Anna" is to make a wearable muslin before cutting into nice fabric! Stay tuned for the improved blue lace "Andover Anna," which I wore to the wedding this past weekend.    

Dining Around the City

Several goodies since the start of summer:

La Mirabelle is pure nostalgie for me and it happens to be a stone's throw from our apartment.    The menu includes many of the French classics that my Mom made for dinner parties in the 90s (coquilles St. Jacques, oeufs a la neige) and adapted into healthier versions for weeknight family dinners (poulet a l'estragon, creme caramel).  All of the servers are 70+ and don't hesitate to offer unsolicited opinions as all (old) French ladies do.  If you want Julia Childs' cooking and don't want to clean the dishes or hop on a plane, this is the place to go!

Gotham West Market
This grown up food court recently opened on the ground floor of one of the high rise apartment buildings on 11th avenue. It markets itself to tenants as an alternative to grocery shopping.  (???) With a large party of 7 and more on the way, this was perfect for a casual Saturday dinner.  I selected a cold ramen soup from Ivan's Ramen Shop  and finished off with some fabulous Ample Hills ice cream for dessert.  Gotham West is a bit in no-man's land out on 11th ave, but I would go again!

When my parents are in town I always look for a continental restaurant in Gramercy/West Village. These are my Dad's "old stomping grounds" and he loves to go back. Maialino fit the bill for Dad-approved location and food.  Situated on the ground floor of the Gramercy Park Hotel, this Danny Meyer restaurant bills itself as a Roman style trattoria.  The chef has managed to retain the familial integrity of recipes like bucatini all'amatriciana and tonnarelli a cacio e pepe while transforming them into refined restaurant fare.  I am not sure how he does it because those are some pretty basic budget-friendly pastas!  The space is great--much like an idealized farm house with buckets of fresh sunflowers, checkered table linens, ironwork, etc.

This West Village favorite finally moved to the Upper West Side.   The risottos (20+ on the menu) are perfectly creamy while still properly al dente.  I love the no-fuss atmosphere and affordable prices.

The bridal shower was at Chef Tom Colicchio's private event space at RiverPark -- a glass cube overlooking the East River.  The luncheon menu was farm-to-table fare:  perfect fried chicken and waffles, zingy bloody marys, ricotta and rhubarb toasts, and mignardises for dessert.

Buttermilk Channel
We were in Red Hook for a show so decided to try out this Carroll Gardens favorite. The food was a bit too heavy for me (my entrée salad was dripping in lamb fat), but it was a great evening. We closed down the restaurant at 1am after making friends with the couple sitting next to us.  They graciously treated us to champagne and dessert and we chatted for over an hour and a half about the Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision, NY real estate (favorite topic of NYers), and everything under the sun!  All the while watching a rat scurry back and forth on the sidewalk.  A true NYC evening. ;)

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