If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that (1) I’ve recently been taxing myself to the point of exhaustion by working as both a freelance editor and a nine-to-fiver; and (2) my partner M. and I have been together for three years now and our third anniversary occurred fairly recently. Well, M. and I had to delay our “fancy” anniversary celebration by almost a month because I was finishing up my fifth freelance assignment. I finished the assignment (thank goodness), so we were finally able to spend some time together, slow down, and appreciate each other.
As part of the celebration, we decided to take most of a whole weekend for ourselves (usually we’d spend Friday night alone and then spend Saturday night with friends). I’m glad we decided to be “selfish,” because we both realized how much we missed having a relaxing evening together. Not having work on the brain is an amazing feeling.
We spent our Friday evening at Tuscany on Taylor, an Italian restaurant in the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago. While it’s not the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to, Tuscany on Taylor is usually delicious for the price point, exudes a relaxed atmosphere that Michael and I both appreciate, and focuses on seafood (I love seafood). M. and I split bruschetta and truffle fries as our appetizers. The bruschetta was mediocre, but the truffle fries hit the right spot. For the main course, we each ordered seafood pasta dishes, which were the stars of the evening. Mine (on the left) was off of the “daily specials” menu, so I don’t remember exactly what it was called. M. ordered the penne e capesante (penne with scallops, red pepper, and extra virgin olive oil):
We left the restaurant quite full and happy.
On Saturday evening, we dined at Parson’s Chicken and Fish, in the Logan Square neighborhood. They are not quite a “fancy” establishment, but I think their fried chicken may be the best I’ve ever had. M. and I shared a plate of hush puppies and an entire skillet of chicken, a decision that we both regretted (but not really) because we usually split a skillet among four people…
Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of the fried chicken, so a close-up of the hush puppies will have to do:
For our date night at Parson’s, I wore a striped navy blue dress, which I made specifically to wear on my anniversary with M. (although I hadn’t expected our celebrations to be so delayed when I began constructing the dress). I paired it with mock garter fishnet tights, which, in tandem with the pinstripe-y nature of the dress’s fabric, gave me a bit of a late 1920s gangster vibe:
To make this dress, I altered some Burdastyle patterns, specifically the “Open Back Dress” and the “Fitted Skirt.” I paired the bodice of the dress pattern with the fitted skirt pattern, changed the neckline of the dress bodice into a halter with a tie, and attached a slanted ruffle and a horizontal ruffle to the skirt. Ruffles and frills are trending in the fashion world this year, didja know? (Although one of those ruffles was actually added to hide some puckered seaming issues…ahem.)
Here’s a close-up of the neckline, where I almost succeeded in lining up the stripes:
Overall, I was really happy with the bodice, especially the back, which I made almost no modifications to (I regret not getting M. to take a photo of the backless glory of this dress; backless dresses are my new favorite clothing item for the summer!). But the skirt needed a lot more work to fit me well, and I’m not completely sold on how the bodice and the skirt look together. The flounces are fun, but I think the bodice was too simple in comparison. Despite these notes, I do like the dress as a whole, and I’ll definitely wear it again. I just don’t think I’ll make another version of it. I will definitely reuse my modified bodice and skirt patterns, but separately from one another.
Some huge pluses: I did learn a lot from sewing this dress, and it’s the most eco-friendly garment I’ve ever completed because…*cue drumroll*…it’s made from a thrifted bedsheet! A twin-sized, made in the U. S. of A., 50% cotton and 50% polyester bedsheet, to be exact. I think I paid less than $4.00 for it. And I have leftovers! While bedsheets can be a hit or a miss when it comes to making garments, this particular fabric is sturdy, sewed up nicely, and is just stiff enough for the flounces to stand away from the body a bit (which is what I initially wanted). So, if you’re a fellow sewing hobbyist (I dare not call myself a seamstress at this point, as my skills are still sorely lacking), and you’re looking for ways to beef up your fabric stash while being environmentally conscious, may I suggest browsing your local thrift store’s linens section? Just make sure to really feel the fabric before you make a purchase and get a sense of the weight and the drape, to see if it’s right for your project (or garment sewing in general).
Back to M.’s and my evening! After dining at Parson’s, we lined up on a busy sidewalk in Wicker Park and waited for our opportunity to get inside the Violet Hour. The Violet Hour is a beautiful cocktail lounge that is modeled after the speakeasy of yore. Their cocktails are reasonably priced for the quality (about $13 a drink) and the interior is cozy and elegant. They also change up their exterior fairly often, and it’s always fun to see what they settle on for a new mural. This time it was an “advertisement” for a long-gone restaurant:
Once inside, we settled into the high-backed chairs, ordered our drinks, admired the chandeliers, and enjoyed the Violet Hour’s no cell phone policy. Instead of spending an hour looking at pictures of cute animals on the Internet (a regular occurrence between the two of us), we asked each other questions that we had never asked before and reminisced about parts of our pasts (together and separate) that we have fond memories of. And we took silly photos together (because we couldn’t completely resist the lure of technology). It was a great end to our weekend of slowing down.
I hope you have an opportunity to wind down and spend some time with a loved one this week. Cheers!
—S. (a.k.a. AMisplacedPen)
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to write about any organizations or businesses that I have mentioned. This post expresses my honest opinions.