Ms. Cleaver Goes to Washington (Days 2&3: Nat'l Mall)



Day Two in DC began with brunch at Afterwords Cafe, which is, I am told, an Institution. I was leaning toward sweet, so I got the French toast. Excepting blah scrambled eggs, the food was good and the service was quick and excellent. I also appreciated the complimentary orange juice.

Escalator at Dupont

Suitably fortified for the morning, I walked a block to the Dupont Circle Metro station, which has the longest escalator I'd ever seen  - seriously. I found the DC Metro to be very user-friendly and and efficient. The fares do change by destination and time of day, but $5 was more than sufficient to get me to the Mall and back again.

Washington Monument

I came out at the Smithsonian station to a large crowd of people participating in an Epilepsy Charity Walk. One of the things that becomes quickly apparent is that the National Mall is equally a gathering place for locals and tourists. Throughout the day I encountered as many local joggers, kite fliers, and Frisbee players as I did international tourists with cameras.

The Mall itself is a very beautiful and, at times, very emotional place to wander.

Washington Monument

I started my tour of the monuments at the impossible to miss Washington Monument. It's hard to grasp the scale of it without standing right next to it. I checked for tickets to enter the inside, but by the time I reached the ticket stand (around 9:45ish) they were sold out for the day. I didn't mind one way or the other, so I continued my way west toward the Lincoln Memorial.

Kites on the Nat'l Mall

Located between the Washington and Lincoln Monuments is the relatively new World War II Memorial, which was for me the most striking, and emotional, of all the monuments.

WWII Memorial

The monument is ringed with a series of bas-relief panels depicting various scenes, a family listening at the radio, soldiers in the pacific forests, nurses tending to the wounded, etc. The sculptures did an amazing job showing emotion on all the faces. I'll admit as I went from panel to panel I began to cry.

WWII Memorial

The back center features the "price of freedom" wall, with one gold star for every 100 lives lost in the wall.  This combined with the panels puts a real human perspective on the war.

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Next up was the Lincoln Memorial. With the Lincoln (and Vietnam) Memorial, my experience was akin to seeing American Gothic in a museum - it's cool, but the imagery is so familiar, its hard to see it as anything other than the image.  The one surprise was the pennies people left on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in memoriam.

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

It was the memorials I was most unfamiliar with (WWII, Korea) that held the biggest impact. I think that impact was furthered by the fact that I knew people who had fought in those wars, whereas I didn't know anyone who had fought in Vietnam.  The life-sized sculptures at the Korea Monument in particular made it easy to image my father-in-law among them.

Korea Memorial

After the emotion of the war memorials, it was a nice change of pace to the beauty of the Tidal Basin and its 2,000 blooming cherry trees located mostly between the FDR and Jefferson Memorials.

Cherry Blossoms


Cherry Blossoms

Blazer: J. Crew Outlet

Sweater:Manu, made by me

Shawlette:Ishbel, made by me

Cherry Blossom Pin: FDR Memorial Gift Shop

Denim Skirt: Old

Boots: Naturalizers

Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms and Bridge

Jefferson Memorial

After I visited the Jefferson Memorial I worked my back to the Washington Monument, completing a five-mile loop of the major monuments. By this point my feet were killing me. I thought my boots were comfy, but not comfy enough for five miles. But the walking wasn't done yet - I only had one free day in DC, so I had to see more.

National Mall Walking Tour.jpg

After an encouraging phone call to Mr. Cleaver back at the home front, I pushed on Eastward to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I enjoyed both the pop-culture-y bits like Julia Child's kitchen and the ruby slipper, as well more educationa exhibits like Science in American Life.

Sam & Friends

Julia's Kitchen

Ruby Slippers


Exhibits on American reactions to Atomic Energy and the Labor movement seemed especially timely in light of recent political events.

The American Twins

I was excited to discover the gallery of First Lady inaugural ball gowns at the museum and thought of how striking it was to see Michelle Obama's dark-skinned mannequin after rows and rows of white mannequins just a few exhibits away from a sit-in lunch counter.

Michelle Obama

After several hours at the American History Museum, I went to the far end of the mall to satisfy my geek leanings at the Air and Space Museum - unfortunately I only had about 30 minutes to do a whirlwind tour do to some dinner plans, but it was well worth it.

Air & Space

Gemini IV

Air & Space

Air & Space

My last day in DC was mostly spent at my conference (I tried to look very work-y).

Looking Work-y

Dress: Notary Dress, made by me.

Scarf: Vintage, purchased at Ferdinand.

Fortunately, I had five hours between the end of the conference and my flight time, so I got so see the one thing I missed the day before - the Capitol.


Unfortunately, my coworker and I were too late for the tour, but we went to our Senators' office in the Russell building and got passes to the Gallery, which was very cool. Even cooler, I got to witness a roll-call vote for the confirmation of a NY District Court Judge.

Senate Gallery Pass

All in all, it was a very satisfying first trip to Washington D.C. I'd love to go back and spent more time there with Mr. Cleaver, particularly at the other Smithsonian museums.

For a listing of all the places I visited, check out the Google Map of my Trip, with all the locations mentioned here and in yesterday's post.

Mike & Maggie Get Married


I didn't mention it in the last post, but the reason the Notary Dress is named the Notary Dress is because I made for a very special purpose, to officiate Mike & Maggie's wedding this past Saturday. The knitting readers may know these two from Mike's touching Ravelry proposal.


The wedding was held on the Artist's Covered Bridge in Newry in Western Maine.

We gathered on the bridge Friday afternoon for the rehearsal. It was my first time officiating a wedding, so I was a bit nervous, but once we got all the parties there, it went pretty smoothly.

They're Trusting Me with This?


Afterwards, Mr. Cleaver and I got to join everyone for a delicious rehearsal dinner, prepared by Maggie's father, who has convinced me that I will someday need to own a meat smoker.

The wedding day arrived, warm and sunny.

The knitting contingent arrived early. IMGP9527.JPG

And while the day of the wedding was beautiful, the bride was even lovelier





Officially got them married!!


Now off to the party!!


Congrats you two - you make a wonderful couple!!


(And a special thanks to Mr. Cleaver for the photos)

Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

The Notary Dress

Notary Dress

This weekend I finished my "Notary Dress" I showed a peek of last week. It's made of a navy blue wool/poly blend with an Egyptian cotton lining in the sleeves and bodice. The pattern is McCall's M5972 View A, but I've made a number of changes.


M5972 View A

I've been wanting a classic navy blue dress for a while, and I picked the pattern for a number of reasons:

  • The class silhouette. The straight skirt in particular, was different from anything else in my full-skirted closet.
  • The open yoke. I knew I wanted to add some horizontal pleating to the yoke of the dress, so I selected a pattern where I wouldn't have to deal with moving any darts or seams.
  • Wide neckline. I wanted a boatneck, which I find very flattering. From the envelope illustration this appeared to be a fit but in reality it was more of a wide scoop.
  • On a side note, when it comes to patterns from the major publishers, my preference goes Vogue, McCall's, then Butterick. I've worked with Burdastyle patterns, but never a Burda one.  Maybe I need to branch out?


( If you're curious, the necklace, which I love, was purchased at the most recent Picnic fair, but the artist, Kriya, also has an Esty shop.)

So in terms of modifications, I made a ton. My go-to guide to design modifications is Adele P. Margolis's Make Your Own Dress Patterns. For fitting modifications, I use Fit for Real People.

  • As with all commercial patterns, I cut out the pattern on different size lines for the bodice and skirt to match the envelope measurements, smoothing the lines with a french curve.
  • I redrafted the neckline as a boatneck.
  • During the tissue fitting (Gertie has a great series on tissue fitting that I highly recommend), I took a wedge out of the center front, to make the neckline lie flat and so the center of the pattern lined up on my center. I also rolled the shoulder seam forward about a 1/2 inch, which is typical for me.
  • The bodice fitted, I cut out the lining and then went back to the pattern piece and added my three horizontal pleats. Each pleat is about an inch wide, with an inch folded under, so I added two inches at each pleat point. I will mention that once I got it on my body, I had to refold the top pleat some to get it to lie flat. I also blind-stitched the pleats downs.
  • Raised the waist seam an inch or so to match my natural waistline.
  • Added cap sleeves. I used the "sport sleeve" instructions from Margolis' book. Basically, I traced the armhole and then made a few muslins that I based into the actual dress until the fit was right.
  • Because I added the sleeve, it made the side zipper a little difficult. If I had been smart, I would have added a seam allowance to the back and moved the zipper there. As it is, there's no closure, I just pull the dress on over my head, which works, but is not ideal. Actually getting it on is fine, getting the dress off is a little more difficult.
  • I ended up slimming the extra I had cut into the skirt at the hips, so a smoother silhouette.

So after all that, how do I think it turned out?? Hmmm....

Notary Dress

I give it my official seal of approval. (Seriously, I love this dress!!)

Notary Seal of Approval

Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly

Coming Attractions

Just when you though she didn't sew anymore, coming soon to a blog near you: The Notary Dress, in the world's most lint-attracting fabric,  just a zipper and a hem (and some hand-finishing) away!

The Lady Grey Sew-Along: My first attempt at a coat!! (But first to find some fabric for the muslin...)

Lady Grey Fabric

Print Friendly and PDF Follow
follow us in feedly