La Grande Rentrée

Seems like just yesterday my life was filled with warm sunshine, apéros au bord du Rhône, and trail running.

Then I blinked and suddenly it’s the beginning of November. The warm weather has almost entirely disappeared and we’re gearing up to leave France in just 40 days. Where does the time go, guys?

We packed a lot into the past few months with trips to Paris, London, Belgium, Normandy, Paris, Paris, and Scotland. We’ve had friends and family visit us and share in our Lyonnais life.

It’s been magical.

But now it’s time to tie up loose ends, eat as many baguettes as humanly possible, settle accounts, sell furniture, book tickets back to North America, and say goodbye to our amazing friends here. Oh and, find a job! Sigh.

I feel like I need to squeeze every last drop out of this amazing experience before it’s over.

More on the process of leaving France coming up (eventually).

Coveting… Maje Winter 2013

It’s pretty rare that I can walk into a store and decide that I want to put every last article of clothing on my dream wardrobe wishlist.

But that was certainly the case when I walked into Maje a few weeks ago to check out their new collection in person. I still live by my new shopping rules and don’t buy anything that I think I could potentially sew myself. So trust me when I say the rules absolutely do not apply to the Maje Winter 2013 line. I was bowled over by the quality of the fabrics in this collection, the seaming and craftsmanship, and all the amazing little details that really make each piece pop. And the collection is cohesive, tight. Each piece is over the top chic. And really, really pretty.

If I could only pick a handful of pieces to come home with me, it would be these:

(Ignore the ghastly boots)

And for a little break from black… a gold lamé sweatshirt!

I recently read an interview with Donatella Versace where she says her wardrobe must-have or qu’il faut avoir is a pair of noir escarpins en cuir – black leather pumps. I love these ones with talons mi-hauteur and the little gold accents at the heel. Il m’avais craqué!

(Psst: A certain Hollywood A-lister has the above jacket. It’s really lovely)

And last but definitely not least…

I had a major coup de coeur over these suede booties with gold stacked heels. Gold accents are really popular in France right now (and maybe North America, I don’t know), but few lines have been able to pull them off without looking cheap. The photo really doesn’t do them justice. The suede is soft and supple, and there are gold zippers going up both sides. And they’re made in Italy. By proper shoemakers. Sigh.

This collection really embodies the style of fashionable French women – classic, simple, modern, mildly sporty, but still very feminine. And heaps of black.

If only money grew on trees!

Maje has over 150 stores in France and abroad. There are two stores in NYC (where I’ll be for Christmas!) and some items from the line are available on Net-a-Porter

Images via

Sew: The First Dress (2)

This is the story of how an easy one-day sewing project turned into ten days of aggravation, pin pricks, and tears…as told in 3 parts. To start at the beginning of the saga, click here. It’s riveting stuff, people.

PART 2 – The importance of following the pattern, maddening stripes, cutting the fabric

After giving the fabric a good launder, we were ready to start the project. I headed over to Sarah’s full of optimism and verve. Guys, I really believed that by the end of that day I would have a brag-worthy new frock to skip around town in!

We started by cutting out the pattern*, based on my measurements, and then laying it out on the fabric.

Now here’s where things got tricky. I had it in my head that I wanted a 50’s style full skirt that would require more gathers than what was indicated in the original pattern. In order to achieve this I decided that we needed to add an extra 8 inches of material to the skirt portion of the pattern. This is me, novice dressmaker, modifying the pattern:

Lesson learned: When embarking on your first sewing project, don’t muck around with the pattern. Follow the instructions to the letter so that you don’t end up with a franken-dress. I should note here that Sarah was never fully on-board with my decision to do this. I think she knew in her heart it would end in disaster and tears, but all the same wanted to let me try.

So in addition to ignoring the fabric recommendations and modifying the pattern, I also had to deal with matching up the stripes. No small feat for a novice dressmaker! Luckily for me, Sarah had dealt with patterns before and is generally a much more detail-oriented person. She was able to lay out the pattern on the fabric to ensure that the stripes would line up.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: stripes are hard to work with. Anything with a pattern is hard to work with. They’re complicated and mildly enraging to pull off with any degree of success. And are not advised for those who lack a certain patience for details. Comme moi.

Once we had everything laid out, it was time to cut the fabric. This was the only time the weight of the material was a bonus. It wasn’t thin and slippery, we were able to cut everything with precision. Once all the pieces were cut, it was time to call it a day. Even though we didn’t get the dress finished that day, I think we had fun. We certainly consumed a lot of diet coke and candy.

The moral of the story here is that novice dressmakers should probably just follow the pattern provided and not attempt dramatic modifications until they have at least a couple of projects under their belts. Oh and, avoid wide patterns like stripes or dots or, well, anything really when you’re starting out. Keep it simple with solids!

Coming up… putting it together, the dreaded zipper, and final results.

* I’ve come to learn that it’s better to make a copy of the original pattern on kraft paper and modify the copy. Then you’ll always have the original and another version that can be altered for you. We didn’t do that, but I’m not sure Sarah will be interested in making this dress again. Ever.