Back in January, I purchased this Tilly and the Buttons‘Orla’ top pattern. It’s now September, and finally I’ve made an Orla top. The pattern was a joy to use.
I wanted to make a top with print sleeves and a solid colored torso. This cotton upholstery fabric in my stash seemed right for the torso. It was salvaged from sofa cushion covers I’d made years ago. There were worn spots on the fabric, but there were enough good areas to carve out the body of a blouse from it.
This Paris print cotton was something I simply liked when I saw it in the store, so I bought 1/2 yard for the sleeves. My plan was to make a muslin shell to test the pattern, and if things turned out well, it would be a wearable muslin.
Voila! A wearable muslin!
Where I deviated from the pattern:
Adjusted the sleeve length to a 3/4 sleeve.
Used a stand up/rolled collar instead of the pattern options.
Added a few gathers to the top of the sleeve rather than the pleat in the pattern.
The pattern suggests using lightweight drapey fabrics, but I used the heavy cotton, and I like the result.
For bicycling and night activities, I incorporated some reflective elements. I used reflective fabric for ‘hem tape’ on the sleeves. At night, the hem can be flipped out for visibility. There’s also a reflective covered button for the back closure.
A few more comments on the Orla pattern: (I’ll definitely make more ‘Orlas’.)
The pattern size measurements ran true-to-large. I’m so used to pattern measurements not working out, that I decided to make a larger size than the pattern info indicated. Well, the pattern measurements were right on this time. On the first fitting, the blouse was way too roomy. I ended up taking it in two whole sizes, and could have gone down a third size.
The front curved darts are a pretty feature, and were easy to sew. But they became a challenge when I had to downsize the garment.
(Ghastly lighting in this new selfie spot! Yikes!)
This picture was my inspiration. I saw it in a Liberty of London ad last year. Obviously, I didn’t stick close to the image. I still want to make a top similar to this. Maybe for Spring.
In August I traveled to Dallas to see a Traveling Wilbury and his Electric Light Orchestra.
As it should be, ELO’s full sound filled the huge American Airlines Center arena. The light show was the most extravagant and spectacular that I’ve seen; as it should be for a band called the ‘Electric Light Orchestra’. There was no bad seat in the house. There was no empty seat in the house, either.
My seat was in the nosebleed section, which was fine for ELO’s show only because their sound and lights filled the arena spectacularly, as I knew they would. The songs were all familiar. The entire concert was a big, fun sing-a-long with the band and 20,000+ of their biggest fans.
But as I was getting ready for the show, practical considerations won out. I was going to have to walk 1/2 mile from my lodging to the TRE transit shuttle that drops off at the concert arena. I didn’t want to make that trek both ways in a dress with wedge sandals; the return trip in the dark. So, I opted for a pair of knee-length shorts, flat sandals, and this comfortable floral blouse that I recently made and wrote about last week.
The blouse has just one reflective bit… the button in the back. So, anyone sitting behind me who tried to take a flash picture, may have gotten my button reflection instead of the stage. But who in the nosebleed section uses flash at a concert? Probably no one.
As for the concert, it was a lovely, lovely night. Everything was perfect. (Except for the guy sitting next to me, who had pulled up an ELO set list on his phone, and kept announcing what song was coming up next. Grrr.) But this guy below sure didn’t bother me. The crowd all around me was really into the show, which made it that much more fun.
For the best sampling of Jeff Lynne’s current ELO live show, I recommend the “Wembley or Bust” live CD-DVD set. I ordered it after I got home, and am quite glad I did.
Travel and lodging
The drive to Dallas for me is a straight 6-hour shot down through the middle of Oklahoma, all on Interstate-35. It’s a boring and crowded highway. There was a lot of rain in the forecast too, which I didn’t relish driving in. My solution was to drive to Oklahoma City and then take the Amtrak ‘Heartland Flyer’ the rest of the way. Turns out it is a scenic, relaxing train ride.
The night of the concert, I stayed at a hostel in Irving. This was my first-ever stay at a hostel in the US. I booked the hostel through Hostelworld. The girls’ room in the hostel slept 6. When I checked in, the three bottom bunks had already been spoken for. So this was my view from the top. 🙂
I enjoyed chatting with several fellow hostel guests, who were all passing through the DFW area for their own various reasons. I loved the hostel stay, better than a sterile, isolating hotel room. The hostel was an easy walk to and from the commuter train station, where the TRE train took me straight to the concert venue–the American Airlines Center arena.
The next day, I took the TRE back to Fort Worth, where after an afternoon of sightseeing, I boarded Amtrak for the trip back to OKC.
Here’s the ‘Heartland Flyer’ arriving in Ft. Worth to take us back to OKC.
My departing view of Ft. Worth.
Once the train was on its way, the cafe car opened.
For dinner, I ordered the spicy Buffalo chicken tenders and wine. It hit the spot. Each time I see this picture, I want that meal again.
Amtrak was also an excellent choice for the return trip, because the weather got severe as we progressed toward OKC. Strong storms, heavy rains, tornado warnings and a massive area of flash flood warnings even caused all area trains to be ordered to shut down on the track to wait for a bad cell to pass.
Our train arrived at the OKC station about 2 hours late, which meant I would be driving the rest of the way home after midnight, through flash flood warnings all the way. Instead, I did a very adult thing (for me), and got a value-priced room in OKC for the night. The storms had wreaked havoc with street lights in town. It was a dark and eerie quiet drive from the Amtrak station to the hotel.
The hotel I chose is a huge once-fabulous sprawling complex. As I was waiting my turn to check in, the old maintenance man told me stories about famous athletes and performers who had stayed there back in the day. He and the hotel were absolutely charming. The hotel lobby hints at its grand past.
The hallway leading to my room revealed that the hotel hadn’t fared so well during the storms. They’d taken on some water. Bags of concrete had been used as sandbags, doors were propped open for drying out, and carpet had been pulled and piled in the hallway. I didn’t care because I was so tired. I felt bad for the hotel.
My room was nice and comfortable for the price, but when I ventured over to the door that opens out to the courtyard, I discovered the carpet along that outside wall was wet and squishy. I didn’t care. I was tired, and I wasn’t going to need to go out that door anyway.
In the bathroom was a relic from its past as a luxury hotel–the toilet telephone. It still works.
The next morning, I got up well-rested, and drove home. There were places on the interstate where flood water had obviously been up on the road. Staying in OKC had been the right thing to do.
Now, back to the Traveling Wilburys for a moment:
A fellow music lover told me that the Wilburys had intended to keep getting together to make music from time to time, and to possibly add new members. So I’m thinking, should Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan convene the next generation of Wilburys? Who should the new band members be? Should their music follow the same style and formula as the original Wilburys? The departed original members can’t be replaced or mimicked. But do it right and their spirit will be there with the new guys. I have a few ideas of who should join Jeff and Bob and make some new Traveling Wilburys music. I’ve grouped them in threes, to keep the band at five members:
An Avett brother
Most of these are really huge stars, so why would they want to do it? Well, you don’t get much bigger than Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and a Beatle, so the standard has been set.
This floral cotton-spandex resided in my stash for several years, because I loved it so much I didn’t want to make it into something that turned out to be a disappointment. …
I finally settled on a sleeveless blouse-skirt combo, i.e., a 2-piece dress. The outfit is devoid of embellishment, and has no decorative features at all. My plan was to start with the most basic garments and add to them as necessary for aesthetics or function. To my surprise, the basic un-embellished duo became one of my favorite go-to outfits this summer.
For a pattern, I traced a simple, old linen blouse in my closet. The only change I made was to slightly indent the side seams at the waist.
The blouse slips over the head, and has a button-loop closure in the back. I used a reflective fabric covered button.
The skirt is a simple rectangle, seamed up the back, slightly tapered at the waist, with an elastic casing.
I lined the blouse and skirt with cotton percale sheet fabric. The lining is super comfortable in hot weather, and adds just a smidge more body to the garments.
This turned out to be the kind of simple outfit that sneaks up on you and becomes the thing you wear everywhere. I’ve worn this outfit when bicycling, to the office, to meet friends for dinner, and to the ballpark. I wore the blouse to a big-time concert last month with a pair of khaki shorts. (More on that to come.) The outfit basically goes anywhere. It’s been excellent for road trips and travel. This simple duo is going to end up in my personal little dress hall of fame.
Here it is with a 10+ year old hand-embroidered Putumayo sweater that I thought was inching closer to the donation box. Not anymore. It’s part of the ensemble now.
With Autumn arriving in a week, I already miss wearing this outfit. I’m considering making another version in fall colors, with simple 3/4 sleeves.