Sunday, February 3, 2008

My mother made me do it

My mom was obsessed with gypsies. (Okay, she was obsessed with a lot of things, but there's a point to this; bear with me). When she was a kid, in the mid-1930s, it was a normal parental threat to say, "If you stay out after dark, the gypsies might steal you." Apparently this worked with some kids. My mom, never one to follow the rules, packed up her Shirley Temple doll and a few odds and ends in a bag and sat on the curb, hoping the gypsies would come by in their caravan and take her away. They never did, but she kept hoping.

As an adult, this should have subsided into a love of hoop earrings and peasant tops, but no. When I was 8, she befriended a family of gypsies near my grade school. No caravan: they sold carpets and drove big old beat-up cars, but they were gypsies and she was entranced. So entranced that one day when they took off for their yearly wanderings, she bought their pet monkey.

A real monkey. A small, skinny, patchily bald monkey with some really unpleasant personal habits. She brought him home in a cage and put him in the kitchen, hoping my dad wouldn't notice the odor. (He was a fireman and most smells were beyond him, but trust me, he could smell monkey.) The monkey didn't last a day before it moved on to the pet store.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with sewing? Well, I never ran away to join the gypsies or bought a monkey, but I got the love of hoop earrings and peasant tops. Go figure.

So this one's for her. All the other versions of BWOF 1/08 #122 I've seen are beautiful, but solid colors. Every once in a while mom fights her way to the surface and demands colorful, sparkly, garish . . . which is why I said this top was either going to be great or scary. It truly could have gone either way, but I think this is a nice compromise between her taste (turquoise, hot pink, sequins, massive amounts of cleavage) and mine - definitely colors, but not those; cleavage, but not that much; and no sparkly bits, though I did consider a bit of discreet beading on the front.

This is also a nice save from one of my bad buying habits - too little fabric in too many colors. I fell in love with this cotton voile from Emma One Sock about 2 years ago. Couldn't make up my mind if I liked the brown or the orange better, so I bought a yard of each. A yard! What can you make with a yard, realistically? So it waited until a pattern came along that actually worked well with two colorways of the same fabric.
On to a practical reivew of this pattern: I love it. Love. It. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will make it about 2" longer, because even with a really skinny hem it hits at the wrong part of my hip/thigh, but other than that, it's great. I didn't have the too-low problem the other reviewers have had (being a little big in the shoulders is apparently good for keeping the girls out of the public eye), and I love the overall look of this. The back yoke that turns into the top of the sleeve (only brown part on the sleeve) is a really nice touch - it's almost invisible on the back, but it's the major part of the shoulder and it gives the sleeves a bit of interest. Even done in a solid color, it's interesting.
This one's definitely a winner. I was no more than halfway through when I knew it would be label-worthy.


Anonymous said...

I think it turned out really nicely. Good job. g

Kat said...

Karen, that is such a pretty top! Your monkey story is so funny. Kind of reminds me of the story my DH told me about him bringing home a duck when he was about 10 or 11. He kept it in the basement and his mother didn't know he had it until she came flying up the basement stairs one day because a duck was coming after her LOL. He had it for a year before he had to let it go. And he lived right in NYC so it's not like it was a farmhouse or anything.

Gretchen the Household Deity said...

That is lovely!!!! You know I am a fan of Colors! Prints! Mixed together! This gets my seal of approval. `-) And what a cool story about your mom!

Elaray said...

What a funny story!!! You top has it's own history - that's neat! You did a great job on a "truly unique" top – and it definitely is label-worthy!

Elaray said...

You top has it's own back story! How great is that? It's truly label-worthy!

Debbie Cook said...

Love the top! And the monkey story too.

kasizzle said...

Love the top, looks like very wearable and comfortable!