Friday, May 9, 2014

Finished Object: Spring Tunic using Simplicity 2365

I love this make!  Technically speaking, it's not my best work.  I haven't had much time to sew lately, so the skills are a bit rusty.  But the fabric is so happy and soft!  It's like wearing a spring day. :)

I sewed the tunic version (version A of Simplicity 2365), but I shortened it by about 4 inches.  In fact, I imagine I shortened it to be the length of version B.  I sewed on the sleeve tabs, but ultimately I left off the buttons because I can't see myself ever rolling and pinning up the sleeves.



I can see myself making another version of this.  I quite like the mandarin collar and I did a better job making this one than I did with the last one (Simplicity 2339).


I didn't originally plan on pairing it with these pants (as I had intended this fabric to become a dress!) but I'm glad that they work together because I don't have much to match with these green trews.

Not much to add, technically or style-wise.  I put some buttons in the middle, just for fun.  The fabric is a bit transparent, so a camisole underneath is advised. :)


As you may have noticed,  I'm not participating in Me-Made-May this year.  I don't have enough me-mades in my wardrobe to be able to manage something every day.  And honestly even a fun challenge like this is too much on my plate right now!  But I'm enjoying following what everybody else is doing and hopefully I'll be back on the wagon next year. 

One parting shot...


I hope everyone's enjoying some sunshine - have a nice weekend!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

St. Fargeau

Warning: this is not sewing related!  This is me geeking out and reminiscing.

My master's thesis back in graduate school was an analysis of La Grande Mademoiselle's (Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans) memoirs.  An essential part of that analysis was about how she created her persona: via texts, via physical representations (portraits, etc.) and via estate-building.  Well, I finally got to visit the chateau that she is most associated with during her exile: St. Fargeau.

While the castle suffered during the Revolution and then afterward, through neglect, it was renovated in the late 70's and early 80's.  It's privately owned and still suffers from a lack of funding, but it's definitely better than it was 40 years ago.

Montpensier transformed what was essentially a medieval defensive castle into a neo-classical 17th beauty.  Here are some photos of the outside, with its large park in the back:



The inside needs more love.  Nonetheless, here are some shots (with a before and after renovation), plus an extract of Mme. de Sévigné's witty letter about Montpensier's supposed marriage:


There were many, many representations of La Grande Mademoiselle around the castle, in various degrees of preservation.  Because these were essential to my master's thesis, I made a little collage of these too:


However, the portrait which was the key to my analysis is not here.  It's at Versailles.  Here's a link.  And here's the portrait:


And, because I'm a dork, here we are together:


Happy Easter everybody!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nothing to Say

Do you ever go through those times when you feel like you just have nothing to say?  Or, more accurately, nothing worthy to say?  Well, that has been the case for me for months and months now.  But I've been inspired by other bloggers' blues (and their public struggles against it) and decided to just write a post, even if the post doesn't interest anyone but myself.

It's MY freakin' blog, right?!?  Throat clearing noise.  Anyhow, moving on.

So I've recently been reading The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt, which I would describe as a philosophical socioeconomic treatise.  Maybe I just made that sound really boring.  It's not; it's fascinating.  I believe it was originally published in 1958 and some of the things she wrote seem ahead of their time for 1958.  But then what do I know, I wasn't alive in 1958.

For example, she writes, with my comment in parentheses:

"the spare time of the animal laborans [i.e., humans] is never spent in anything but consumption, and the more time left to him, the greedier and more craving his appetites.  That these appetites become more sophisticated, so that consumption is no longer restricted to the necessities but, on the contrary, mainly concentrates on the superfluities of life, does not change the character of this society, but harbors the grave danger that eventually no object of the world will be safe from consumption and annihilation through consumption.
    The rather uncomfortable truth of the matter is that the triumph the modern world has achieved over necessity is due to the emancipation of labor, that is, to the fact that the animal laborans was permitted to occupy the public realm; and yet, as long as the animal laborans remains in possession of it, there can be no true public realm, but only private activities displayed in the open."

Like this blog. 

But the reason I quote this part - from her section on labor - is that it seems extremely relevant, not only to blogging, but also to the consumer awareness (and inherent consumption) that is part of the maker revolution of which seamstresses, etc. are a part.

I generally try to avoid doing this kind of thing on my blog because I feel like I'll seem pretentious.  But today, I say, f*ck it, I am pretentious, there are worse things.  And I think her ideas are worth quoting.

Also, quite fascinating, is her discussion of the root for the word object.  Apparently it is a derivative of the Latin verb obicere, meaning "something thrown" or "put against".  So inherent in the word is the idea of standing against something, or withstanding time and/or forces, pressures, etc.  She talks about humans defining themselves against objects.  Our rapidly declining (dying) bodies being contrasted against objects which can and do outlast us.  And defining who we are via these objects, i.e. establishing meaning in the fact that I use this object (brand, whatever) over another object.  That this object can then stand in for me as a place marker. 

I realize that those aren't new ideas, but still, I enjoy the visceral reminder that we humans are creating those objects and the meanings attached to those objects and that all of it is just sorta improvised.  I find it beautiful and tragic at the same time.  We are so imaginative and self-deluding. 

But the other part of that quote, that there is "no true public realm," has to do with political power structures and civil liberties, I believe.  Who has access to what, who participates in what decisions, etc.  And if we are chiefly concerned with trying to create some kind of immortality with objects - or prolong our life cycle (consumption) as much as possible - we are focused primarily on the self and less on the social.  I'm working with the definition that political structures are there to regulate how people interact with other people (and governments with other governments).  So our (previously) private, personal relationships with objects (and perhaps, but not necessarily, with the creation of those objects) becomes more important than our interactions with other, equally dying, people. 

Or that we interact with other people via the object, again, giving some kind of precedence to the object.  Subordinating our social behavior to the forms dictated by the object.  Social networking, anyone? 

Anyhow, that's just me thinking out loud.  And using an object to deliver my thoughts via a specific social platform. ;)  Any thoughts?

And because they say no blog post without a photo shall there be, here's a photo:


One of my objects, on which I had advanced quite considerably, and decided to rip out.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Anouk by Victory Patterns

The Anouk by Victory Patterns: this shirt has been finished for at least a month.  I've just been waiting for some sunshine to peek its head so that I could take photos.

I made version 2, the tunic.  I cut the bust along the 35 1/2 cm. pattern because the finished size is 37 1/2 cm, which is my size.  I perhaps could have gone up a size because it is tight across the shoulders and upper back.  Although I think next time I'll use the same size and simply take out less fabric with the back pin tucks.

I paired a white, embroidered fabric that I got from my friend Indira with an Alexander Henry fabric called Oxford Butterfly.  I think it's a cotton lawn from the Fulham Road collection.  And I used vintage buttons that I bought on Etsy.

I am definitely making more versions of this.  I'd like to make the dress, both with and without sleeves.  And I'd like another version of the tunic.  I guess you could say that I'm pretty happy with the pattern!


The overall effect is a little more prairie girl than I was going for.  I played it up deliberately here for the pics, with my cowboy boots.  But I had originally thought the result would be more sophisticated.  Still, I like it.  I've already worn it nearly once a week since I finished it.  I normally pair it with a belt, as above, because otherwise I think it makes me look pregnant.  I included a picture in the collage, just so you can see the difference.

As far as technical remarks, I don't really have any.  I think the pattern is well-drafted and the instructions are well-written.  I'm a fan of the brand and I got myself several patterns for Christmas: the Ava and the Nicola.  But honestly I love all the patterns!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Burda Jacket Finally Finished (okay, well, almost)!

My Burda Austrian-style jacket has been nearly finished for some time.  I held off on the finishing touches because the jacket simply didn't fit me and I didn't see much point in putting in the work.  But then I had the bright idea that the jacket might fit my boss, so I showed it to her, and she liked it.  So, yay, motivation for finishing!

I had several button choices to offer her, and she chose the more subtle ones.  I think she made an excellent choice.

Here's the jacket on the table at work (all pics taken with my cell phone):


And here's my boss modelling it:


It definitely fits her better than me.  I do to need to add some finishing touches to the sleeves so that she can turn them up and button them close.

And I need to reattach the non-functional buttons on the right-side (facing).  They are all just slightly off.

Speaking of buttons, here's a close-up:


I have some other finished projects too; I've just been waiting for it to stop raining (for at least a month!) so that I can take pictures. :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sewing in Progress

The clock is running down...one day left before it's BACK TO WORK!  So I got serious about doing some sewing. 

First I made a muslin for a Sencha blouse (from Colette Patterns).  And good thing I did because it was a simply horrible silhouette on me.  This is not a pattern drafted for A-cuppers with pot bellies.  Too bad, it's a lovely design.

So I then I turned to another indie pattern: Anouk by Victory Patterns.  I'd like a new blouse, please!


With time running out, I didn't have time to muslin and to do it before Monday, so I took a risk and cut directly into my fashion fabric.  Crossing my fingers!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Knitting Change of Plans

Vacation time means knitting time.  I had started the Bubble Cable Dolman sweater, only to realize I wasn't going to have enough yarn.  But that was the only yarn I brought with me to Alsace and I certainly wasn't going to waste my knitting time, so I took a page from Birgitte at Indigo Orchid and decided to knit a February Pullover

Of course, I don't quite have the appropriate needles, so I'm starting with the sleeves.  That may not be the smartest decision ever, but I'm working with what I have!  Anyhow, I hope it works out because I've been rather productive these last few days.  Here's what I've managed to do so far, working both sleeves at the same time on circular needles:


I'm using the leftover Cheval Blanc yarn that I used on my Renaissance Basket Stitch Cardigan.  This will be a pullover and not a cardigan, and in a pretty different stitch configuration, so I figure no one will notice it's the same yarn. :)

Hoping everyone is enjoying the holidays - I'll see you in 2014!!