Friday, December 30, 2016

Travel Wardrobe Review and Massive Catch-up Post

I haven't blogged for almost a month, so I have a lot of catching up to do!


Paris Wardrobe Review


I've been meaning to write a travel wardrobe review since returning from Europe, but it took me a long time to pull this post together. This was the first time I created a cohesive wardrobe for travel and I learned a lot. Margy was a great resource—I studied her past travel wardrobe posts and asked her many questions. Thanks so much, Margy!

Strategy: Because global weather is so unpredictable these days and, last year the first fall Tilton trip experienced hot weather, both Margy and I decided to plan for layers. We didn't want any of the layers to be heavy, so no wool coats or jackets. As it turned out, the weather was quite chilly (often in the 30°F to 40°F range) so some wool would have been fine! But I started buying my fabrics in December and sewing in January, so it's impossible to know what the weather will be like in November!

Colors: One of the first fabrics I purchased, for my Minoru coat, decided the overall color scheme of black, teal, and cobalt. I had a lot of fun pulling together potential fabrics! For the core wardrobe, I wanted two coats that followed a similar color scheme, even though they'd never be worn together, so they didn't have to "go together." I found the teal paisley brocade for the Lisette coat in NYC last July—it added green to the mix. These two pieces then dictated all of the other fabrics, garments, and accessories in the wardrobe.

At the Palais Royal

Trip recap: I went to Europe for over 3 weeks in late October, returning in the middle of November. I spent 8 nights in Munich and just over 2 weeks in Paris. The Munich trip was for work, so jeans and tees would have been sufficient, but I don't like wearing tees out of the house. (I prefer using tees for sleep shirts.) I packed one pair of jeans that were worn only in Munich.

Silhouette: When I re-read Margy's post on her Portugal travel wardrobe, I realized that I needed to stick to one silhouette. My go-to uniform is a sheath dress, tunic, or long top over leggings. I also wear long skirts occasionally, combined with a shorter, closer-fitting top and a shorter jacket or topper. However, I knew that sticking with the dress/tunic+leggings silhouette would result in a more cohesive travel wardrobe. And I did. Mostly.

Biggest overall mistake: I packed TOO much! Way too much! Sheesh, what a rookie error. Oh well. You'll find more details below.

Note that I took pics of the garments as they came out of the suitcase, so some are rather wrinkled, or in need of laundering. Sorry about that.

While this post mostly focuses on what I packed, this post also shows items that I purchased while traveling that went into immediate rotation.

So let's go!

Tunics and Tops

I packed two wool tunic dresses, which I wore constantly, with leggings. I also packed several black tees from Uniqlo—a turtleneck, v-neck, and scoop neck. (Only the v-neck is pictured.) I wore these with my short black skirt and leggings. I also packed three Presto tops, but it was too many—one or two would have been enough. I wore these either with the jeans (in Munich) or a black skirt+leggings.

Biggest mistake: Too many Presto tops. I love my Presto tops and wear them all the time, so it was hard to resist.

By the way, mostly my tops weren't seen. They were covered up by vests, jackets, and coats. This was a big reason I wanted to bring more outerwear—that is what most people will be looking at. It's also why I'm very comfortable wearing a "column of black" to support my over layers.

In the Trippen store in Paris

A chilly day in Munich


I packed several pair of black HeatTech leggings from Uniqlo. (Only one is pictured.) I used to make my own leggings, and still do if the fabric is interesting, but I like Uniqlo's leggings and I see no reason to make black leggings when I can buy good ones. I packed one pair of jeans, which I wore a few times in Munich with a Presto top. I also packed my short black wool skirt, which I wore many times. Both my skirt and tunic are made from the same black wool doubleknit and are starting to pill. I wear both frequently, so it's time to start thinking about replacing them.

Biggest mistake: At the last minute, I threw in a pair of Eileen Fisher black harem pants (bottom right). I love these pants, but they didn't follow the same silhouette as everything else, so they didn't work with the other pieces. These were never worn.

In the flea market, thinking about purchasing this wonderful handmade "boro" shawl from Africa. I was also chatting with this lovely woman who frequently visits Paris.
I did buy it. :)


I am a fairly recent convert to vests, but I LOVE THEM. My biggest wardrobe regret, besides packing too much, was in not bringing more vests! In fact, I'm still kicking myself that I didn't think to bring this one:

I wore these vests constantly, which is rather ironic because I was originally lukewarm about both. I feel that the giant gathered pockets on the vest on the left aren't particularly flattering, but I loved wearing it! The other vest, on the right, has a wobbly zipper that drives me nuts. The pockets, which feature a secret internal pocket, worked well. I love the fabric in the vest on the right, but it's pilling badly. The pilling, coupled with the wobbly zipper, means that I will be retiring this soon.

Biggest mistake: Not bringing another vest or two for more variety.

Ordering lunch in the Marais. Pic by Margy

I can't remember the circumstances of this pic

Jackets, Coats, and Raincoat

My favorite category!

As I mentioned before, I wanted to bring two coats. I also wanted to bring two jackets. You can see that my pic shows three coats. I purchased the black coat in the top row (center) in Paris and it's one of my favorite purchases! I wear it frequently. I also loved wearing my teal reptile moto jacket in the second row (left). The other jacket is my black Babette jacket (right) that I purchased for $25 years ago at the Babette warehouse sale. (Sadly her company has closed.) I love that black jacket, but I wore it zero times in Paris—I should have left it at home! I guess I just didn't want to wear ALL black! (I wear it mostly with non-black pants and long skirts.)

You'll also see two ponchos. I purchased the poncho on the left from Ruti and I made the second one. I packed the Ruti poncho in my carry-on to use as a blanket, but I didn't need it. In fact, I don't think I wore it at all, though I love it. I wore the other poncho a few times when it was very cold, over my Minoru.

And then we come to the raincoat. It rained a lot while in Europe, so a raincoat was necessary, but... I hate this raincoat! The fabric wrinkles like crazy and I hate the wobbly zipper. It's interesting to note that both this zipper, and the wobbly zipper in the vest, are from Botani. I am wondering if Botani zippers have a greater tendency to be wobbly? I don't seem to have this problem with other brands of zippers... I have already gotten rid of this raincoat.

By the way, the patterns for all of jackets, coats, and vests were selected with layering in mind. I wanted collars/necklines that would layer well. I was happy with all garments in this regard.

Biggest mistake: Packing too many jackets and ponchos, and a disappointing raincoat.

My first ever view of the Seine! Pic by Margy

Enjoying the Rodin sculpture outside the Orangerie. Pic by Marcy Tilton

Headwear, Umbrella, and Purse

I packed three hats: the wool teal hat in the upper left, purchased from England on eBay, the black rain hat in the second row, purchased from England on Etsy, and the jaunty grey Fedora in the third row that I purchased locally some years ago. I purchased the top-right hat in Paris, which features thick wire that you can shape. I knitted the wool "tendril" hat on the plane while traveling to Munich—it came in quite handy!

I wore all of these hats, however, I decided about a week into the trip that the Fedora wasn't particularly flattering. In fact, I deliberately left it behind in Paris.

I purchased the umbrella on Amazon and I wish it had been a bit more compact, though I love the colors.

The purse is FABULOUS! Prior to the trip, I had two Jenni Chan purses that I liked, but BOTH fell to pieces—the lining just shredded. Margy recommended the High Way brand, so I ordered one in teal. Margy owns several of these purses; some she's had for over 20 years and they've held up beautifully. I LOVE this purse! It's lightweight, has loads of pockets, and you can toss it into the washer. I plan to eventually get another in a different color to wear with my red and black outfits. In areas that were a bit sketch, like the Paris flea market, I wore it turned so the pockets faced my body. I still use this purse most every day.

Biggest mistake: Bringing an unflattering hat and a not-so-compact umbrella

Wandering around the English Garden in Munich

Ruth and I fabric shopping in the Monmartre. Pic by Margy

Ordering lunch. Pic by Margy

Wearing my newly knitted tendril hat while wandering through a park in Munich

Scarves and Jewelry

Oh my gosh. This is where I really overpacked! I took to heart that advice that you should bring lots of accessories because they can make your outfits more varied, but I went overboard! This pic doesn't even show everything that I packed, though it includes accessories I purchased on the trip that went into immediate rotation.

Of the three scarves in the upper left, I wore the silk burnout scarf (on the left) only in Munich. It was too lightweight for the chilly weather. The "string" knotted scarf (middle) is great, but I don't think I ever wore it. The gorgeous wool scarf (on the right) was in constant rotation. I wore it all of the time. I purchased it on my first day in Paris and it quickly became a core piece. I wore the "weird metal thingie cowl" (upper right) a couple times, but I should have left it at home. It's fairly heavy and not worth carting around for such minimal wear. I wore the striped infinity cowl a couple times but, to be honest, I could have left it at home.

I purchased the Daum glass necklace (third row, left) in the Paris flea market and I wore that a lot! I had lots of great jewelry, both packed and purchased, but one of my favorite piece was purchased at a thrift shop in the Marais—the neck piece featuring a curtain of silver chains in the 5th row (left). I love this and wear it frequently!

Biggest mistake: Overpacking scarves and jewelry!!! After returning from Paris, I purchased a hanging jewelry case that has larger pockets than your normal jewelry case since much of my jewelry is bulky. From here on out, if it doesn't fit in that case, it doesn't go!

Enjoying the Stravinksy fountain in the Pompadour plaza. Pic by Margy

Enjoying the impressionist paintings at the Musée d'Orsay. Pic by Anne


My other favorite category! And, of course, leggings are a perfect backdrop for boots and fun footwear.

I packed four pair of shoes/boots. I wore the blue over-the-knee boots in the upper left on the airplane, in both directions. They are very comfy. The upper right pic features my beloved Trippen "Salt" boots in the "Petrol" color. OMG, I should buy a second pair of these as I love them so much and wear them all the time.

The lower right shows the Cole Haan rain shoes that I purchased on eBay. In an effort to save money, I purchased some not-so-expensive rain boots on Zappos, but they were a TORTURE on my feet. I returned them and looked to eBay for Cole Haan rain boots, on Margy's recommendation. These rain shoes are AMAZINGLY comfortable and cost less than the painful boots from Zappos. It rained a lot in Paris and Munich, so they were worth bringing.

The shoes in the lower left were my basic black shoes, by Fly London. The pair just above were the Trippen Dream boots that I purchased in Munich. These went into immediate rotation and are one of my favorite pair of Trippens! (Along with my Salts...)

Biggest mistake: I should have taken fewer boots, especially since I purchased some in Europe. I wore the Fly London wedge shoes the least, so I'd leave them home.

Photographing the fountain in the Palais Royal. Pic by Margy

Miscellaneous: Bras and Laundry

For years I've been wearing the Dream Tisha (I think it's called) bra by Le Mystère. It features molded seamless cups and it's not pretty, but it supports. While in Paris, several in our group took the opportunity to buy new bras and, on learning that some of these stores specialize in large sizes, I finally broke down. It was a rushed purchase, but I ended up with two very pretty bras and I love them!!!

I plan to do a separate post on bras, so I won't say too much more here, but it is nice wearing a pretty and supportive bra!

Margy recommended bringing a clothesline and Eucalan for hand washing unmentionables. I ended up not needing the hanging line, as both hotel rooms provided them. I found, on Amazon, these little packets of Eucalan. Of course you can also decant Eucalan into a travel container, but I liked these disposable packets.

I definitely made some mistakes packing for this trip, and this review will help prevent me from repeating the same mistakes in future because... I would forget otherwise. I know from watching Margy that it can take many trips to perfect a travel wardrobe, but I'm willing to practice. ;)

Pic by Marcy Tilton

Florence in 2017!

I am psyched because I have planned my next trip!

Next June I am traveling to Florence as part of a "History of Italian Fashion" class at Cañada College. I don't think the class is completely filled yet, so if you are interested in 2 weeks in Florence next June, check it out! You must be able to attend two mandatory Saturday classes at Cañada College—one in April and one in May—so it is most relevant to locals, or folks who can easily get to Redwood City, CA for those days. If you are interested, contact Ronda Chaney, the head of the Fashion department at Cañada, and the teacher who leads the trip (and teaches the class).

I have several friends who took this trip (and class) last year and loved it! I heard that some would go again if it were allowed, but it's not. I couldn't do both Florence and Paris in 2016, so I'm grateful they are running it again!

I've purchased one of the recommended texts for the class, Italian Glamour by Enrico Quinto and Paolo Tinarelli. I've been so busy drooling over some of the gorgeous garments that I have yet to read the text.

I have already started plans for a hot weather travel wardrobe. I am not that great with hot weather but, for Florence, I'll suck it up!

P.S. And, speaking of Italy, Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, died as I was writing this post. (I've been working on it for awhile.) By all accounts Franca was a warm, creative, talented, brave-and-sometimes-controversial editor who nurtured young designers. She will be missed.

Greedy Gift Grab

Every December I get together with some local sewing friends for a holiday celebration.

The big event at this celebration (besides the food), is a "Greedy Gift Grab", though we now refer to it as "Thieving Elves." I'm sure you know what these games are like: you bring a gift, every one gets a number (this year selected from a Project Runway style button bag), and you take turns either opening a gift, or stealing an already opened gift. It's a hoot and a half, and I always try to bring a gift that (hopefully) more than one person will want because it's so much fun to watch the thieving.

This year I brought two zippered, etched, brandy snifters. These glasses are amusing: the zipper pull swings freely, but the teeth are painted on. The glass outside of the open zipper is etched. These come in a variety of cocktail styles—martini, brandy, wine, shots, and so on. There's even an ice bucket and a pitcher. Several stores sell them, but you can find them on Amazon. (Though, to be honest, these would be pretty easy to replicate using glass etching liquid and paint.)

I was rather proud of this bow!

I am not a naturally gifted gift wrapper. I don't enjoy wrapping gifts, but I always take special care with this gift. (Under the theory that an attractively wrapped gift is opened sooner.) This year I purchased a beautiful box at JoAnn's and some wire edged glitter ribbon. I used this video to make a giant bow:

What did I receive?

I was lucky enough to bring home a set of 14 pattern weights made from large washers wrapped with ribbon.

They came nestled in a box that is perfect for storage.

And I have been using them!

These were made by Sue, who first got the idea from Pinterest, but has since made many sets and has perfected the technique. Here are a few tips that she's shared:

  • Purchase galvanized metal washers from a hardware store. Sue buys several sizes.
  • Glue two washers together for the large washers, and three for the small washers. Sue uses a glue similar to E6000, though I don't remember the exact brand.
  • Once the glue has dried, wrap the washers with lengths of ribbon.
  • Apply fabric glue to the end of the ribbon (she uses Liquid Stitch), and secure with straight pins.
  • Let the glue dry overnight and remove the pins the next day.

Thanks for my beautiful pattern weights, Sue!

If you are interested, see all of my previous Greedy Gift Grab posts.

P.S. I recently learned that some people refer to this game as the "Chinese Gift Exchange." Please don't! It's a slur as the term originated from the belief that Chinese gifts were cr*p. This term needs to go the way of the Dodo bird.

Christmas 2016

Panoramic pic taken by DD1

You may remember that I celebrate Christmas with my daughters on Christmas Eve. Each year I look for something fun and different to do and an interesting place to stay. It must be local, because they spend Christmas Day with my former in-laws in Marin.

Fairmont Ghiradelli lobby

View from the terrace

This year I decided that we would have the "San Francisco tourist" experience. I booked a room (actually a one-room apartment) at the Fairmont Heritage Hotel at Ghiradelli Square. Wow, this place is nice! (And pricey, too.) I specifically wanted a kitchen so we could prepare our traditional Christmas Eve meal. I booked a one-bedroom with a view of the bay, since the 2-bedrooms were substantially more money. The sofa in the living room is a sofa bed, so two large beds were sufficient for the three of us.

One of two fire pits at the Fairmont that burn all night

DD2 and DD1 at the fire pit

Walking along Fisherman's Wharf

I wonder what the backstory was with this Ghostbuster-style ambulance

The Maritime Museum (it's free!)

The lamp from a lighthouse

Patronizing a street artist

DD1 playing with selfies while Art is happening. ;)

Voila! No, it doesn't really look much like us but it's a fun memento.

We arrived early to make the most of the experience. We left our luggage with the concierge until we could check in, and the van with the valet. We played tourist in the Ghiradelli/Fisherman's Wharf area, but we also prepared our traditional meal, so we were able to have it both ways. Our activities included riding (hanging off) the Hyde Street cable car to Union Square and back after dark (the city lights were amazing!), watching a great street band in Union Square, having our images drawn by a street artist, visiting the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park's Visitor Center, having a late-night hot chocolate at the Ghiradelli cafe (no line at 10:30pm!), welcoming Christmas morning at midnight around the fire pit, preparing our own meal, and Christmas brunch at Lori's (50's style) Diner. The views from the hotel were amazing and the sky that day was gorgeous, creating beautiful lighting.

Preparing for Christmas Eve dinner. You can see that the kitchen and dining room are quite nice. Heck, the whole place is quite nice. The bathroom is huge.

Hanging off the Hyde Street cable car

In Union Square

Watching a street band play Mustang Sally with lots of soul and joy

Waiting for the cable car at 10pm on Christmas Eve—almost no line!
Note how DD1 has requisitioned my scarf to use as a belt. Both of us dislike how so many coats these days lack any closures! She's also wearing my new gloves, a Christmas gift from her to me that somehow landed on HER fingers.

Here it comes!

DD2 and DD1 hanging off the cable car on the way back to Ghiradelli Square

Late at night, the Ghiradelli Cafe is still open and there are few people about. Our room is on the second floor just behind that tree.

Welcoming Christmas at 1am at the fire pit

On Christmas day, after the kids went off to celebrate Christmas with the other side of the family, I climbed into bed and spent the day sleeping, eating leftovers, and binge watching mystery programs on Acorn. A perfect holiday!

Christmas brunch at Lori's Diner

I love planning Christmas Eve and my birthday celebration in July, and I already have ideas for next year. ;)

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs and so appropriate this year!

Collage Jewelry Class

One of my favorite jewelry designers is Winnie van der Rijn of Eccentric Designs. I've bought several pieces from her, including this lovely necklace that I bought two years ago at Artistry in Fashion:

Winnie is offering a two-day class on how to make this sort of collaged necklace, on January 21st and 22nd. I've signed up! I believe she has more openings, in case you are interested.

I should mention that she chose this date months ago, long before the Women's March was planned for January 21st. I've been collecting bits and pieces for months.

Sew + Tell

Recently, the folks from the Oliver + S site contacted me and asked if they could feature two of my recent projects on their blog. The Oliver + S line was created by Leisl Gibson, who also creates the Lisette patterns for Butterick.

You can read those posts here and here. You can also check out all of the Sew + Tell series.

Eye Candy: Clad In

Have you run across Clad In yet?

I was recently searching for a particular brand, color, and size of a shoe and I stumbled across Clad In, thanks to Google search. And, WOW, I was amazed by this site!

They carry wonderful brands of merchandise, from jewelry to shoes to clothes. At the time I wrote this post, all of the pictured items were available for sale.

Their footwear brands include Trippens, Fly London, Papucei, and Uma.

Shadow pictures at San Sulpice

Their clothing lines include Spirithouse, Elemente Clemente, Ray Harris, Studio Rundholz (a favorite), Banana Blue, and Stella Carakasi. They also sell Sleevey Wonders!

Their jewelry lines include Jianhui London, Annemieke Broenink, Jill Saltzman, Monies, and Uli Rapp.

Their prices aren't cheap, though they currently have a lot of items on sale, and they offer free shipping if you spend over $200. They have two brick and mortar boutiques in the north east that I will check out if I'm ever in the area. I have joined their mailing list but have not been bombarded with emails. In fact, I haven't received any emails from them yet.

So whether you buy (I purchased a pair of Fly Londons, on sale, and a Sleevey Wonder), or just browse the site for its eye candy, check it out!

Miscellaneous (plus photos)

So, I've been doing a little bit of sewing, but not much. I've admired a Style Arc pattern for some time, the Andrea vest, but I was concerned it wouldn't work with my bust.

But I really loved it.

I bought the downloadable PDF that prints as a single sheet ($12) and emailed it to FedEx to print it out ($17). Because I was not certain, I made a muslin. It's a beautiful pattern but, unfortunately, it didn't work on me, as I suspected. I would have to omit the lapel and do more pattern hacking than I wanted, so I stopped there. But, before making the muslin, I had fun playing "Pin the Bust Dart on Shams":

I've also cut out another simple tunic dress using a sweater knit—I'll get a lot of wear out of that.

Mostly I've been organizing, decluttering, sleeping, taking pics of holiday lights, meeting with friends, writing this blog post and... waiting out the end of 2016. I was so sad when Carrie Fisher suddenly died, and so young. She was only three years older than I am and I've admired and identified with her since I was a teenager. Fans have set up a small memorial outside of Lucasfilm in the Presidio in San Francisco:

Here are some recent photos.

Commuting to work in downtown SF this month

Commuting to work in Mountain View on the upper deck of the corporate bus. The sunrises have been amazing recently

It's been awhile since I've visited the sewing room at work—it's part of the Maker Space in Mountain View. I was nearby and thought I'd check it out. I never sew at work, but volunteers offer classes after hours—it's a nice resource!

I took a walk in Golden Gate park with an old work friend and we had lunch at the de Young Cafe. This safety pin sculpture is nearby

A painting by DD1 (who never paints)

DD1 and her cousin celebrating Christmas

Christmas decorations at 64 Castro Street

64 Castro St

64 Castro St

Upside-down Christmas tree in the dome of Westfield Mall in Union Square

In Union Square, the Macy's window display includes a rotating Pug in a Christmas outfit. When I saw this, I had just come from Britex where I got to pet Kirby the Britex Pug. Pugs are so darned cute!

The "Tom & Jerry" house at 3652 21st St

3652 21st St

3652 21st St

3652 21st St

3652 21st St

3652 21st St

I didn't make this video, but it gives you an idea of the Tom & Jerry house

I used the 2016 best nine app to generate my best nine pics on Instagram in 2016

That was fun, so I did the same for 2015 using the 2015 best nine app

I made a couple trips up to Twin Peaks to enjoy the lights. Our December nights have been crisp and clear.

Here's hoping (so much hope) for a better 2017. Happy New Year!