Monday, September 29, 2014

One from the vault

I've been cleaning out a lot lately.  The amount of aunt and previous homeowner clutter started to get to me, and then I realized how much of what was bothering me was actually mine.

So I started cleaning out that, too.

Boxes have gone to the thrift store.  And that's just the stuff that I can't list on Etsy, or cut up into more interesting things.

I pulled this out tonight, and spent a half hour ironing and swearing at it, and remembering both fondly and with horror how long it took me to make this.

This was made about 20 years ago for a costume ball.  I went with my closest friend (who was dressed as Marie Antoinette), and another friend of ours.  He wore black leather, and not much else.  We entered the costume competition as "Two Dead Queens and a Live One."  We didn't win, but our friend got a few dates out of it, and I had a guy ask if he could wear my dress.

Sleeves with faux pearls and fabric roses;
shoulders and waist are outlined in
drapery cord, with gold roses, gold braid
and two kinds of lace.
This is so far past my wearing that I can't even get it on my dress form.  I remember it being a bit of a squeeze at the time (even with that oh-so-historical back zipper), but it wouldn't go on the form at all.

I made the mistake of trying to get it on me and got stuck.  Like really stuck, and no one was home to get me out of the dress.  Not that I would have asked -- I would have rather torn it trying to get out than ask for such humiliating assistance!

I can't remember how long this took to make, but it was every night in front of the TV, and portions of it went to work with me - especially when I was hand sewing on the ropes of faux pearls to the sleeves.

Looking at it now, I wish my sewing skills had been better then.  But on the other hand, if the work was as good as the idea behind it, I'd have a really hard time letting it go.

A few detail shots, just because I'm still proud of it.  And for the right size 6(ish) person, it's available here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Next Sunday!

How great is the poster for next Sunday's 6 month anniversary bash out at the Cynwyd Station Cafe?  

If you' re local, or anywhere near, you should check this place out -- great coffee, tea, pastries and homemade ice cream, floats, milkshakes, you name it.  And lots of lovely things to see and buy.  Including mine.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Social History

Believe it or not, I'm still cleaning out stuff from my aunt's apartment.  Considering how many carloads went to the thrift store, and how much more just went straight into the trash (and you know how I feel about throwing things away!), there is still a metric shit ton of this stuff.

I didn't keep a lot of her books.  Most of them were either "old people" books (staying young, prescription drug interactions, vitamins, healthy cooking), saccharine book club romance novels, and random religious tracts given to her by visits that she was too polite to refuse (she had 6 family bibles; I think that was enough even for her).

I kept a few, this being one of them.  I know Edith Head as a Hollywood costume designer, and I'm not particularly surprised that she wrote a book, but this is a serious piece of social history, in addition to a book about clothes.

Check out the heading on Chapter 2:  "How to Dress to Get a Man . . . and Keep Him."  

Actually, a lot of the advice (other than that man-getting bit) is still pretty spot on.  

And I love the illustrations.  If you want your own piece of social history, it's available here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Watercolor Dress

I did something unusual today.  I finished a project . . . for myself.

I started this dress about a month ago, and I've been meaning to get it done before summer is completely over and I have no use at all for a maxi-length linen dress.

So today's technically the first day of fall, but since it's supposed to be in the 80s tomorrow, I'm wearing this bad girl to work before I can't.

The pattern is Tessuti's downloadable Eva dress pattern, available here.  I've made a few of their patterns, and while they tend toward the oversized-fits-most-without-too-much-tweaking, I do like this one.

I've not been big on the maxi dress trend, mostly because they all seem to be nothing but cleavage and skirt.  Now I've been known to put the girls on a plate a time or two (or ten), but the style just does nothing for me personally, at least on me.  Plus, being short, I tend to feel really squat in that much skirt.

Somehow, a dress that's less fitted all over doesn't make me feel short at all.  Here's Tessuti's description, which is easier than me reinventing the wheel and saying basically the same thing.   "This loose summer dress has a bodice that sits sat high waist and a paneled skirt with side pockets.  It can be made up in either a short-sleeved or sleeveless version.  The Eva Dress is designed as an oversized garment which makes it fantastically comfortable and cool addition to your summer wardrobe."

Yes to all that, but a few points they didn't mention -- for some reason, they want you to cut bias binding for the neckline, sleeve hems and skirt hem.  I did it for the neckline, because it seemed neater, but I saw no reason to go to that much extra effort for hems, especially when linen has enough flexibility to accommodate the minor curve of the skirt hem.  Also, the "paneled skirt" they mention is one of my favorite bits -- it's an upper skirt and a lower, skirt, and the upper flares out at the bottom, while the lower is wider at the top and narrows toward the hem.  It gives an interesting effect when it's on, and doesn't look at all saggy.  Check out the line drawing on Tessuti's site if my explanation doesn't make any sense.

Pluses with this pattern:  quick and easy, unless you put it down for a few weeks, like I did.  Pattern pieces that all line up, even with a fluid fabric like linen.  Inseam pockets that hang well and don't show at all.

Fabric is 100% linen picked up as a remnant at London Textiles.  I loved all the colors; I just wish they had been arranged differently on the remnant so that I could have used the aqua at the top instead.  Also, wish I'd been able to pattern match better on that aqua-to-green segment.  But I couldn't, and oh, well.  It's a summer dress, I like it as it is and summer's nearly over.

I'll try to get a photo of it on me tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yipes, Stripes

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to play with stripes.  I've made striped dresses and tops for myself, and a striped shirt for Mario where I cut the fabric and stitched it back together to make chevrons.  Because why not?  (It took wine, that stripe matching, but is that a bad thing?)

Recently I found a sweater at the thrift store in an alarming combination of red-orange, purple, dark brown and tan stripes.  Wide stripes.  Narrow stripes.  Loud, strident stripes.

It was a man's sweater.  Extra large.

Even after felting, it was still pretty big.

It's now four felted knit critters, mixed in with some solid red-orange wool left over from another project.  (Can't believe the color match).

And yes, I matched the stripes.  I particularly like the stripe match when you look at him from the rear, although the front view of his face does enhance his cross-eyed appeal.

This little guy is available here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Downton Abbey: All Hail the Dowager Countess

Really, who doesn't love Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham?

Almost as much as her barbed comments do I love her faded Edwardian grandeur.  Not for her Shirley MacLaine's 1920s furs and plumes and mutton-dressed-as-lamb.

Oh, no.  Violet had her day, and she's still wearing its clothes.  And its hats.  My god, that woman's hats.

Let's just have a little Dowager Countess, shall we, as we wait for season 5 to start.  In freaking January.

All I can say, Julian Fellowes, is no one had better die this season.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Those who run in

Everyone sees through the lens of their own experience.  For me, after the intiial shock and horror of what happened, I thought about the extra deaths.  I won't say unnecessary deaths, because every death that day should not have happened, but my dad was a fireman, after all.  I think about the (mostly) men who responded as they always do when that bell goes off, and who ran into those buildings, while everyone else was doing their best to run out.  And some of whom, because this is what they do, probably had idiot grins on their faces because they took a certain joy in their job. 

My dad was one of those crazy, heroic men, and I know if he'd been alive in 2001, he would have been hitching up to NYC with a busload of other firemen and first responders, spending days on that pile with a shovel, leaning against that iconic tangle of metal, waitling to see if there were any more survivors down there.  Not resting until all of their own were brought out. 

It somehow made it worse that it was such a beautiful fucking day.  

Remembering everyone who lost their lives, or lost someone, on that day 13 years ago.  But especially remembering those who run in while others are running out. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Go West

In less than two weeks, it'll be the fall edition of Go West! Craft Fest, which is  hands down the best of my fall events.  I love Woodlands Cemetery anyway, I go walking there all the time.  So does the rest of the neighborhood, so it has a great built-in customer base, it's near all forms of public transportation and it's just a great place to spend some time.  If you're in the area, please stop by!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Creativity, time and the lack thereof

Author Elizabeth Gilbert recently tweeted this: "Traditionally, women have always made their art out of stolen materials and stolen time. They made art 1) to beautify, 2) to not go mad."

She expanded on this on her website, and on Facebook, referring to a blog entry she read, which ralked about the tweet quoted above.

"She [the blog author] was writing in response to something I said in an interview, about how women have always made their art using stolen time and stolen materials. (An example I always give is the traditional art of quilting — an art form which women have always made in borrowed moments, using literal rags...and what do they make out of that compressed time, and those lousy materials?  Masterpieces of singular beauty.) The time that women have traditionally been given for themselves and for their creativity has never been perfect. It is still not perfect. Yet somehow, generation after generation, women have found ways to be creative, anyhow. (They have to, or they will lose their minds.) They gather the rags and the dregs, and they stitch it together into something amazing. Is it the ideal environment in which to creative? No. But they make it work. "

 Go here for the whole entry, which is well worth the read.

What do you think?  Do you have enough time to create?  Do you make time, or filch it from other things you're supposed to be doing?  What's your biggest obstacle?