Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: fashion and sewing, Oh for pete's sake, responsible adult
I mentioned before that I’ve bartered sewing services for desserts. This week’s offering: 2 coconut cream pies. You know, the kind of tall ones with the toasted coconut on top? Yeah, those. 2 of them. I have in my possession 2 coconut cream pies. One for me and one to share. You think I’m kidding? I am not.
Now, I know coconut isn’t everyone’s thing. It is, however, definitely my thing. Fry stuff in coconut oil? Oh HECK Yeah. Unsweetened coconut flakes on the baked plantains or in the Thai curry? Well, YEAH! Mmm…coconut.
See, the sewing project keeps getting more elaborate. I’m fixing to add some 20 more rows of ruffles, and a waistband, and a fancy shoulder flower thing with sparkle stuff (which is quite a coup because the One Who Will Wear The Dress is apparently allergic to All Things Glitter and yet, there we are!) not to mention this whole project is crazy fun and on top of all that…PIE!
So now there’s a pie on the table and I am wondering how soon is too soon to eat a piece. It’s 10 am. I do like a sweet and a cup of coffee around 1. Do I show Presbyterian Restraint and wait until then? Or do I…y’know…give the pie a Test Drive…to make sure it’s really good and doesn’t just LOOK good. It would be a public service, and I am all about servanthood. Or something.
It’s raining today, and is predicted to do so all week long. I like that! Rainy days mean productivity. The sound of of rain, heard through an open window, is the sound of whispers encouraging creativity and focus. It’s Time. That fabric which sat on the shelf for 6 months, awaiting inspiration, gave a little chirp last week, and my mind said “AHA!” Originally it was purchased with the intention of a skirt and vest sort of thing. I have a pattern for a 1900′s era skirt- 7 gored with a kick pleat, and a same-period woman’s vest-double breasted with 20 tiny buttons, very fitted. The fabric was purchased with those in mind but something didn’t quite sit well. It is an outfit I would have worn cheerfully 25 years and 75 pounds ago. Now tho, I’d look like Lilly Langtry desperately holding on to the last tattered vestiges of her youth. I believe in aging gracefully, and sincerely want to look like a well dressed 47 year old woman, and not a 47 year old pretending she was 22. There is something sad about that, to me. Undignified,even. I can manage lack of dignity quite well, thankyouverymuch, without having to dress the part.
So last Sunday, the decision was made to Do Something With That Fabric. 5 yards of tropic weight Valentino wool,charcoal grey. Breathtakingly expensive…more than I’d ever spent on anything-fabric or ready made. This was the source of the indecision. What if I didn’t get it right? I have, however, 3 dresses made from a particular pattern. Every time I wear one of those dresses (a classic tailored button up dress. A-line skirt, no gathers or fluffy stuff),I am complimented. Who doesn’t like being complimented on what they’re wearing? For someone who was told endlessly as a teenager “You dress weird”, getting a compliment is like sunshine and fertilizer.
So, the dress was cut out last week. I am confident with the pattern, I know how it fits, how it goes together, AND….there’s a dozen vintage black glass buttons to go down the front. Mom gave me her extensive button collection last year, and I spent a solid week sorting them, putting together the sets, and so on. There are a few sets that will have to have something made JUST so I can use them- they’re that cool.
Anyway, after cutting the dress out, a nasty cold came to visit. So sewing was put off. Now, tho, there’s only a cough left, inspiration has arrived, and motivation in the form of rain on the roof and a day free of obligations (Until 1:30, when the 12 year old daughter of a friend will show up for a sewing lesson). Boz Scaggs station on Pandora, cool breeze through a barely opened window…I am looking forward to this day! I’ll take a picture of the dress when it’s finished.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: fashion and sewing, Home and hearth, Projects, Spouse
But you would too.
So, I had this problem. The only half-decent place I had for cutting out clothes and such was the dining table. Now, it’s a lovely table, and it’s very wide and long so there’s all kinds of room, I mean this table is like North and South Dakota put together in one spot…huge! What I like about it is the width, wide enough to lay out…well anyway, you get the point. It’s a nice big table. However…
It’s a tad low. Just right for pulling up a chair and eating, or playing cards, or whatever. Notsomuch for standing at and cutting stuff out. That bend-over thing necessary to do the work was…painful. Nearly debilitating if a lot had to be done. I’d cut something out, and it it involved more than about 45 minutes of work, I’d have to spend the next couple of hours in the chair with a heating pad on my lower back, a soothing cup of tea by my side and an episode of Ballykissangel on the tube. (I recommend that show…look it up. Netflix and Amazon both have it). And tylenol.
Anyway, Terry, observant and generous man that he is, noticed the problem. He has also been uncommonly cheerful due to an assortment of MASSIVE changes at work- those mysterious ones I’ve barely eluded to, but will explain hopefully after the first of the year. His good cheer and a blastingly thorough cleanup and organization of his woodshop resulted in a dramatic upswing in creativity, and he wanted to make something that he could do quickly, for encouragement to get his woodworking mojo back.
Well, I’d say it worked because O people, he fixed my problem in a fantastically effective way, that has me positively giggly and as soon as I am mentally 100% it will get used most enthusiastically, as the fabric and patterns have arrived from the designer and people, I’ve got a wedding dress to make.
Behold, my new Folding Cutting Table, Feast your eyes on it’s wonderfulness and stuff.
The legs swing out to hold up the top, and swing back in, with the leaves folding down to make this neat package that fits nicely in the closet, or a corner of the room (currently occupied by a small Christmas tree.) It is entirely his own design, not something from a magazine.
Filed under: Holidays!, Hooray!, oh you self indulgent hussy! | Tags: fashion and sewing, Oversharing, responsible adult
I see 2 styles of shoppers- hunters and gatherers.
Hunters go in knowing exactly what they want, find it and buy it whether it’s on sale or not, then leave. At the risk of being sexist, this is how most men shop. Except Terry. He has a bit of the hunter in him,as he will essentially know what he’s after and get that, but he also likes to see what’s on sale, and maybe get a couple of those as well.
Women tend to be gatherers, ambling around looking for what’s interesting and maybe getting one, but not without first going into TJMaxx to see if they have something similar for 1/4 the price,and also wandering into Bath and Body Works because they are likely having a sale and Moonlight Path is yummy and I’m almost out and Oh look! The Christmas scents are available now I wonder if they have a peppermint thing, I love peppermint and it doesn’t give me an allergic reaction the way the cinnamon stuff does…oh aren’t the candle sleeves pretty this year, I really like the snowflake ones. That reminds me, I need to see if Williams-Sonoma has snowflake cookie cutters that are different from the 127 snowflake I already have.
However, I am not a gatherer. I actually kind of despise shopping. The last time I gathered was when the car was in the shop and the shuttle dropped me at the mall…and suddenly there was 5 hours to kill. Honestly, it was kind of excruciating, but I made the best of it. The mall had a Bass Pro Shop,so there were guns to look at, and crossbows, and smokers. Also an AJ Moore, with the Martha Stewart line of glitters (yes. guns and glitter. I am a well rounded woman). Upon wandering into Dillard’s (a somewhat high end department store…not Nordstrom, but not JC Penney either) and perusing ladies underthings, I was nearly tackled by a young woman with a tape measure around her neck. She informed me that she was a representative of some (very expensive) “ladies foundation garment company” (bras) and she was of the opinion that I probably needed a proper fitting. She was more polite than that, but that was the essence of it. Having never had a proper fitting (even though at one point my husband worked for Vanity Fair and their designers) and also having several hours to kill, I thought “why not” and got a proper fitting. Imagine my surprise at being told “all wrong” with what I thought I was, and then she put a proper one on and I was like “day-um” and promptly bought a (very comfortable, and stunningly-for me- expensive) bra. I felt like I should,since she’d just spent the better part of an hour measuring and letting me try things on and showing how to adjust etc, plus her skills made The Girls look better than they had in years and years and years we’re talking along the lines of 20 of years.
That was the only time I’d gathered. I didn’t like it but it was better than sitting in the waiting room of a car dealership. Last time I did that I came home with a new car, so I think being at the mall was a better deal, expensive bra and all.
Today, I hunted. I wanted some black shoes, of a specific style, and a couple of peppermint things to make the house smell nice.
You see, my mother in law told the boys she thought our house smelled bad, and while I can normally blow stuff off like that (typically our house smells of whatever’s cooking- beef stew or fresh bread,etc), for some reason that really got under my skin, and since then I have felt very insecure about it, even though friends have said that the house smells fine.
So, a tour of the shoe store revealed no shoes like I wanted. That took 5 minutes. So I went into Belk, internally wincing because they are kind of expensive BUT, a SALE was going on and they had the exact shoes I was looking for.
The sales guy said “you were very low maintenance, I’m giving you an extra 10% off.” He had just dealt with a woman who had no idea what she wanted and also argued with him about her shoe size…she insisted it was 6 and he was pretty sure it was more like an 8, and she griped because none of the shoes were comfortable…etc. All that took maybe 10 minutes. Because they were ON SALE, I had enough left to go to Bath and Body Works for the peppermint candles, and that took 5 minutes so I was in and out of the mall in 20 minutes, feeling very smug at my hunting abilities.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: fashion and sewing, Home and hearth, Projects, Spouse
The new sewing room is almost done! We spent Sunday moving the furniture in, and hanging pictures, and loading the shelves, and throwing away stuff that was on the shelves because I didn’t want to throw it away but would likely never use it for anything. That was cathartic.
Now that everything is in place, I see that there’s room for a cutting table. Currently I use the dining table, but it is a bit low and causes back pain, so I can’t take the time to cut out a whole bunch of stuff at a time-which is my preferred method. SO! I thought some kind of drop-leaf thing, but was not satisfied because even that would be taking up a lot of space. When this issue was brought before the resident woodworker/creative idea guy (Terry), he said “AHA…I know Just The Thing.” Only he’ll make it pretty, to match the furniture in there, with drop leaves instead of a removable top. How cool is that?!
I’ll get some pictures up soon, once all the stuff is in place.
Filed under: Dewicate feewings, Dream a little dream, family, I feel so smart!, kids | Tags: Dreams, fashion and sewing, responsible adult, sewing
I have been a housewife for 25 years.
When I was a child, I dreamed of various things. I wanted to be a physician- a neurologist or maybe a psychiatrist, then decided no, the sight of blood made me faint . I wanted to be a fashion designer, then decided no, I didn’t like the culture associated with it. I decided be be a housewife, even when the culture of the time (late 1970′s, early ’80′s) said things like “you’ve come a long way, baby” and “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan”. I still held on to the dream of working in fashion, because I loved it. I loved taking a plain piece of fabric and making it into something that flatters a person, makes them look interesting and fits them well. I still do.
Every now and then I read a website called Secret Regrets. Often on this site, someone’s regret will be about having allowed their dreams to fall to the wayside. I kind of know the feeling, but I also want to shake them, because they will indicate that their age is something I consider very young- 25 or 30. They seem so full of despair because they think they are stuck where they are and will never be able to dream or pursue a passion ever again. Are you ever too old to do what you really want to do?
I am a housewife. I have 4 children and a husband and a big grubby house and too many pets that shed everywhere. My children are mostly grown, save one who’s 13 and he likes to think he’s grown until he doesn’t, and needs a hug. However, none of them require around-the-clock care and they are all capable of feeding themselves. I want to tell young mothers who fear their dreams have all disappeared into diaper pails and minivans that it is temporary. I know how it felt to set everything aside and tend to the needs of others. I know the frustration and angst of forgetting my own desires and aspirations for the sake of other people. I also know it does not have to be forever.
I used to love to sew. I mean really, really love it. I designed and made one-of-a-kind historically accurate clothing for reenactors. I made square dance outfits for husband and wife dance teams. I even made a square dance wedding dress that went to a national dance. I made my own patterns, worked off drawings and photographs and paintings…I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING and I was very, very good at it.
Then children started happening. And happening, and kept on happening. I loved my kids but there was no time for creating. No one to sew for others because we moved, and moved, and moved. I didn’t resent it, it was the way things were and resentment would just just make me…y’know…resentful. Eventually the babies turned into toddlers and little kids and there was a bit more time for creativity, but no room for sewing. So I cooked, and learned to sculpt small things (which could be done on the dining table, and cleaned up quickly), and garden. Creativity was necessary. The times I was unable to create, I became depressed, sad, and lonely. Terry recognized this and kept me supplied with materials and time (as best he could).
I still wanted to sew, but it was frustrating to go to a fabric store, and wind up spending $50+ on materials to make one blouse I could buy for $15, so that didn’t happen anymore. For many years I didn’t sew at all. It felt like that dream was dead and gone.
Then the kids were (sometimes it seemed suddenly, sometimes it seemed to take forever) grown. Then paying $50 for the stuff to make a blouse was no longer out of the question. I still kind of balk at it, but all it takes is going to the store, even Dillard’s or Belk, where supposedly the Good Stuff is found, and seeing the poor quality of the clothes there, to know that what I make is far, far better and no longer does $50 for a blouse seem ridiculous.
Now. it feels like perhaps a dream is fixing to grow. I have no desire to be a designer. There is no interest inside in having to market a product, hoof it around to stores and hope someone likes it enough to buy it. I don’t want to look for a production facility to make 1000 of them. The logistics of all that do not appeal one single bit.
But…there is a designer. I met him through a friend who is also a designer. My friend makes heirloom children’s clothing and he (the designer) wants her and me to make stuff for him to hoof around to stores and show and take orders. This is kind of exciting.
Now, my typical pessimistic (I call it realistic) self expects that we will make the 3 dresses he wants and that will be the end of it. However, there is potential for more. If he really likes what we do for him, and wants us to continue working for him…where could that go? I have a dream about that (will I get to go to a fashion show and work backstage?), but it’s just a fantasy right now.
The thing is (and I guess this is the point), I am 47 years old, and getting to work on a dream I had 25 years ago, and had to set aside. I thought it was over, packed up in mothballs and forgotten about. However, with the encouragement and cheers of this family I’ve taken care of, the dream seems to be out of mothballs and is hung up in the sunshine to air out and look at. Maybe that is all that will come of it, I don’t know. But there it is.
If I can do it, anyone can.
Filed under: *eep!, Awesomeness, friends IRL, Hooray!, I feel so smart!, In The Southland | Tags: Being Southern, fashion and sewing
Ok this is going to be FUN!
We met with the designer yesterday. His name is CJ Bryant and he does all sorts of things,not just wedding dresses, but that’s what he won Best New Designer for at a show in Charleston. He is working on a web page so when that’s up I’ll post a link to it. What’s funny is that the stuff he wants us to make is COMPLETELY different from the stuff he had in the show.
Bless his heart. He’s a young fellow, just starting out, and I really think Peaches and I can be a big help for him. He has some great ideas but needed a little bit of guidance on materials and laces and construction technique. However, he’s a smart fellow, caught on quick, and I think he will do VERY well in the future.
His dress ideas are…well… beautiful and very unique…not the typical Satin-sequins-make-the-bride-look-like-a-tart/cupcake sort of thing. He wants to make them from cotton sateen, with fine vintage cotton laces and tulles. He is looking to appeal to a non-typical bride who wants an heirloom quality dress, which is where Peaches comes in with her sewing and embellishment expertise. I will do the construction of the main part of the dress, and she makes it unique and beautiful.
When we started with the discussions, I threw out there that I would NOT work with charmeuse or chiffon. Then when he pulled out his drawings, I noticed on the notes that he was considering charmeuse for one of them. When we began discussing the construction materials, he said “well, I was thinking charmeuse but I guess I’ll revise that.” I apologized, then that working with that stuff was something you had to do all the time to be good at it, and I did not, so would be uncomfortable with risking his investment in the fabric with my potential screw ups. We then agreed that it would be really pretty out of a cotton sateen. Colors were discussed, Peaches was pushing for ecru, he stuck to his guns (Proud of him!!) for white.
We also discussed production work, and since he is leaning hard toward couture pieces rather than production work, we are both happy. If he wanted production, he’s wind up with cheaper materials and assembly-line type clothing. Peaches didn’t want her stuff being made into that, and I was not thrilled about the idea of churning out dress after dress…BORING. BUT, he said no,he wants his stuff to be known for quality, and to be the kind of a thing a bride would want handed down. With the proper materials, a well made dress will last for generations. His styles are also the type of thing that could be handed down, as they are not ‘trendy’ at all.
So, we are going to get started on this quite soon!
So, this whole sewing thing…I’ve been doing a lot of it, including some work for a friend who does couture stuff. There are certain aspects she dislikes enough that she contracts it out to me, because I’ll do most anything except sewing with chiffon. Or charmeuse. Ok occasionally charmeuse but only for BIG amounts of money.
Anyway…she was contacted by an award winning wedding designer (Best New SomethingSomething Somewhere) who wants to contract to her to do some stuff, because what she does is the type of stuff he wants done…only what she does is children’s wear and what he wants is adults wear and she doesn’t do adults…but I do. So…she and I are going to meet with him about doing couture wedding dresses. I don’t do embellishments, but she does, so as a team we can do what he’s wanting. AND his designs are completely different from all the stuff you see these days, but still very lovely and wedding-y, but completely different…
How about them apples?
I am not naming names until we’ve met with him and a decision is made. However, I’ve seen the stuff from his shows and the drawings he sent to us, and it’s pretty stuff. What’s funny is that one of his designs is…my wedding dress. The one I designed based on a photograph from the 1920′s, and Mom and I made. His has more embellishments, but it’s the same slim fitting tea length dress with shoulder flanges and a dagged lace hem. I am chuckling to myself and trying to decide if I am going to tell him that, or let him go on thinking it’s a brand new original idea. Or maybe he’ll say outright that he got the idea from a 1920′s photograph. who knows. we’ll see.
The whole thing amuses me. I don’t need the income, and am picky enough about what I do that I might just say no thanks. On the other hand, it might be fun to have something I’ve made on a fashion runway.
He’s going to be coming here Saturday to meet with us. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Filed under: family, I feel so smart!, oh you self indulgent hussy!, childhood, Dream a little dream | Tags: fashion and sewing, perspective, Projects, responsible adult, Spouse
I got another skirt put together yesterday. I have now made so many of these skirts I can do it in my sleep, which is kind of nice.
You see, clothes and I have always had something of a…well, not a very good relationship. I was raised with the philosophy of “less is more”. Growing up, I had a small dresser, and was only allowed enough clothes that could fit into it, plus 2 or 3 dresses to hang in the closet. Since my closet was the default Storage Closet, there wasn’t much room in it. I also had 2 or 3 pair of shoes. Mom tried to let me have more, but Dad would veto that, by asking “doesn’t she already have a skirt (or church shoes, or a white shirt).
That philosophy stuck with me all through adulthood. why would I need more than one pair of jeans, or one white shirt, or one skirt?
Then one day, not that long ago, it occurred to me that…maybe…it would be ok if…I had…(REALLY?!) more than one skirt. Or one pair of jeans, or one white shirt. And, it’s ok to have…y’know…NICE ones.
Not only that, I don’t have to SHARE my CLOSET with ANYONE and not only that if I need a bigger dresser TERRY WILL BUILD ONE.
So all Summer long I’ve been making skirts. All sorts of skirts out of a pattern I love that fits well and looks good. It’s an 8 panel skirt that buttons up the front and I can make it long out of something lightweight or short out of something sturdier or mid-length out of a classic seersucker. I can use pretty sunflower shaped metal buttons or plain wooden buttons or navy blue buttons the same color as the cloth or WHATEVER I WANT and there’s no Dad there to say “are you sure that’s practical? Why do you want more than one? Those buttons are a little unusual,why do you want to attract attention to yourself like that?”
AND…I bought lovely soft lawn fabric (a very thin and fine cotton that is amazing in this Southern heat) in a variety of ladylike prints (I never wear prints. They scare me.) to make blouses go with the various colors of skirts. I HAVE OUTFITS. WITH PRINTS. Prints really are pretty, aren’t they…
I never have outfits. Normally I buy the most neutral things possible, mix-and-matchable, because when you only have 1 or 2 skirts and 1 pair of jeans and 1 pair of khakis, you have to make sure everything goes with everything else. And if all you wear is demin and a white shirt, no one ever accuses you of always wearing the same thing because they don’t even notice what you’re wearing.
But now I have OUTFITS. The blue skirt with the sunflower shaped metal buttons had a lovely print lawn blouse with small flowers in it the same shape as the buttons on the skirt. The navy blue skirt has another lawn blouse (I love that stuff! It’s like wearing nothing only you’re not wearing nothing!) with a bit of navy in the print. On the sewing table is still another lawn print, totally different from the other 2, with several colors that will not only go with the 2 aformentioned skirts, but also 2 more in the plans, including a RED one. I never wear red! It’s scary! I hear my father’s voice when he said “Why are you wearing that color? You’ll attract attention to yourself. Why do you want to do that?” He said that the first time I wore a hot pink shirt I’d bought with babysitting money.(I was 13) It was a plain styled button up shirt, very conservative, only VERY bright pink. I loved it until he said that. When I told Terry that story (he has asked why I don’t wear more bright colors), he was appalled and immediately went out and bought the brightest turquoise dress I’d ever seen…which I loved and wore for years. Since then he has always encouraged me to wear strong colors, and every now and then I will, when I’m feeling very brave.
So, now there are 8 skirts (WOT!? EIGHT?!) hanging in the closet, and 2 of them are WHITE! 4 of them are BLUE! And a SEERSUCKER one! There is fabric for a RED ONE and a GREEN ONE and a KHAKI ONE, and before you know it there will be options all over the place!
So self indulgent.
I am not, and have never been, the type of woman who can really put an outfit together. I do not have The Knack. Yes, about once every 3 or 4 years, something magic will happen (Coldwater Creek catalog) and an outfit will appear, then I’ll have An Outfit, and because it’s so magical and unique like some sort of fashion unicorn, I’ll wear it until it is no longer stylish because it is a Successful Outfit, and also that once-in-a-blue-moon fashion hiccup.
I am working on that. It would be nice if there were more than one Real Outfit in the closet. Boy, does it take a lot of work, tho.
Shopping for clothes, the actual going into a store, trying stuff on, all that? I hate that. I hate mirrors, I despise the stuff that is currently ‘stylish’, and the cheap quality of anything, even in the Good Stores like Talbot’s or Dillard’s. Finding something that fits right is as tricky as finding..well..that unicorn.
And this is where I am incredibly grateful to Mom, who convinced Dad, back in 1975, that I needed sewing lessons. Thanks Mom!
Because now, I can make what I like. Style and fashion be damned.
So, now I am working on putting together some Outfits for Fall and Winter. The aformentioned GailK (see previous post) carries a huge selection of worsted wool suiting, the stuff you see very expensive men’s suits made from (preposition ending of a sentence!!), for not much, considering the quality of the fabric. I am going to make a suit. A skirt (street length) and a vest, in charcoal worsted wool with black velvet trim, and a white handkerchief linen blouse. Also, a dark cherry red coat, lined with some vibrant print (view C- the white one). Because I want to, and can. I actually kind of love tailoring, as opposed to simply sewing stuff. The care and attention to detail in tailoring is akin to architecture. There’s also plans for an assortment of shirts and blouses to go with the large number of skirts in the closet.
All this, of course, will be in between paying sewing orders, which are happening in ways that haven’t happened since I was in college (and paid 2 quarters of tuition by making Square Dancing outfits and reenactor’s costumes).
I guess the point is that I’ve finally figured out My Style, which is never The Style, but now I’m old enough to Not Care. Now off to find some shoes to go with the suit…
Maybe these?(yes, I know they’re dance shoes…do you know how COMFORTABLE dance shoes are?)