Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcome 2012!

Happy New Year! 2011 has been a full and busy year, and I am looking forward to 2012. I know it will be a better year. I know it because I am in a better place now than I was 1 year ago.
I haven't written out resolutions for the New Year, but I probably will before Monday is over. I have not done so in the past. It feels like setting yourself up to fail. But this year, I am feeling more optimistic. I feel better able to face what comes and keep things in perspective. But of course, time will be the test.
I have been baking today. I made coffee cake to have with brunch.

Menu: Scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, coffee cake, cantaloupe, red reedless grapes, coffee and juice.
Next: 4 loaves of bread to get through the week. I use the "Bread 101" recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker's cookbook (awesome). I'll share it sometime as it is not on the (awesome)website.And finally, I baked these rolls, which are the Honey Wheat Rolls, recently featured in the blog on the KAF website. I'd be providing links, but for some reason I can't today, as I can't get my cursor to select text for linking...sigh.
We had the rolls with our New Year's Eve dinner: Glazed Ham, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole (you know the one), tossed salad, and Holiday Eggnog (on the EggBeaters website).
I made one other special item, but I won't be serving it until tomorrow, and I'm still not sure if it will all come together, so I'll post about it with pictures, if it works.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Home Cooking

When I was in jr. high school, I got my first very own magazine subscription. I paid for it myself with babysitting money. I think it cost $2 for 12 monthly issues. I hesitate to name it. Since it is no longer in publication, the title is now being used by a publisher for what I can only describe as filth. I found this out by Googling to see if it was still around (or at least if there was any account of it on the web. (So don't bother to Google it...) I did find out that it was put out by Scholastic Books. It was called "co-ed", and I find a few issues for sale on etsy. There is an issue available with Donny and Marie on the cover, and with a poster of Shaun Cassidy inside! And there are dozens on ebay.One feature I habitually passed by was the recipes. But if I was particularly bored and looking for some more entertainment from an issue, I would go through it again, page by page. One time, I looked at the recipes, and discovered an interesting aspect. They featured recipes from foreign countries. I think the first one I took notice of was for Christopsomo, a traditional Greek Christmas bread. For some reason, this intrigued me, and I wanted to try making it. My mother was always baking bread, so raising and kneading a yeast dough didn't seem too daunting. Mum responded enthusiastically to my giving it a try, and agreed to get the needed ingredients for the coming weekend, (and be on standby for assistance). Waiting for the weekend, I looked at back issues and discovered that they too had recipes from other countries. I chose a German Sauerbraten recipe and suddenly had a menu for a meal for the family for Saturday night. I think it came out okay, as far as I remember. Mum still calls it to mind as "the time you made dinner for the family". That says it all right there, that I wasn't often in the kitchen, beyond washing dishes after supper. There was a glitch, though. The sauerbraten recipe required slow cooking in a sealed pot for a few hours. I had to make a flour and water paste to make a seal around the edge of the lid, to keep the steam in, I guess. I don't know if I did something wrong, but the paste became like cement, and my brother had to use a flat-head screwdriver like a chisel, and a hammer to get it open and in the process, put a chip in the lid of my mother's bean-pot.

Mum made a pot of baked beans about every week or two -- after all this is New England, and when the beanpot wasn't in use, it became a cookie jar. The first thing after school, we would check for cookies in the beanpot. Mum kept up a regular rotation of molasses (my fave), oatmeal raisin, and Toll House cookies. With a glass of cold goats' milk......mmmmmmmm. We raised goats and my brother and I took turns milking twice a day. Sometimes the cookies had a faint taste of apple. They stay fresher, moister in the cookie jar, if you place a small potato or apple in the bottom. Mum always used a small MacIntosh apple.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm always thinking about something. And sometimes I'm thinking that what I'm thinking might be the beginning of a good blog post.

When I finally sit my tired self down in the evening, I find the thought of trying to type out my thoughts, coaxing them into eloquent expression too daunting. And yet, all day long, they are bubbling, roiling, persistent in their desire to be developed from embryonic ideas into formed essays, like an op-ed piece Because to me, even the most trivial thought is like a tiny piece of an infinite jigsaw puzzle, unique to me, and representing who I am and how I interpret the mysteries of our world and our place in it. So, I'm going to try something a little different to try and capture the cool fresh running water of brilliance bubbling up from the fount of my brain in clay pots, discrete aliquots of moist refreshment delivered into the parched void of my blog.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Acquired Taste

I did not really learn to cook much in my childhood. I knew how to fry an egg, make American Chop Suey or Shepherd's Pie, or fry burgers or hot dogs. I could bake cookies or brownies or cake. I could make pancakes or French toast. That was pretty much it. Come to think of it, it still is...... I don't remember exactly enjoying it. Come to think of it, I still don't, much. I remember some dismal failures. No, really dismal. Come to think of it, one was just last week. We won't go into it. When I was a little girl, I used to read all my mother's magazines. I wanted to be a Breck girl. Everything in the magazines my mother read was so wholesome, and happy. The sun always shone, and the homes were neat, orderly and very attractive. She got Woman's Day, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and McCall's. I liked McCall's the best. If you're roughly my age, you probably know why. Oh, come on, it was the Betsy McCall paper dolls in the back, silly. She had the best adventures and travelled places, and had great clothes and a Dachshund. I don't know what I saw in the rest of the magazines, mostly fashions and hair and makeup, I guess. I looked at the home dec features, but was completely uninterested in the cooking stuff. I would even read the advice columns and Heloise's Hints. But not the recipes. I could not wait until Mum came home from the grocery store, to see if she had picked up another mag. Sometimes she even bought me a "Jack and Jill" magazine. Did anybody ever read those? Add ImageOur town had a supermarket called Fernandes', located in a strip mall with a dry cleaner, drug store, liquor store, hardware store, and a barber (yes, like Floyd). There was a lunch counter at the front of Fernandes', with stools with seats that spun. (Mum always made you stop and get down and come with me.) There were donuts and cakes and pies on cake stands with glass domes. The waitresses wore polyester uniforms of "Harvest Gold" with white aprons, white nurses's shoes and bouffant hairdos. The coffee cups were that ubiquitous heavy-thick white ceramic -- Buffalo China. The cashiers had similar "Harvest Gold" smock coats over their clothes, but the same bouffants and sometimes cats-eye glasses. No one left the house without lipstick. The bag boys wore bow ties and aprons and put your frozen foods in thick brown paper bags to insulate it on the drive home (2.5 miles!), and pushed your cart out to your station wagon, unloaded it and took it back inside for you. My mother always wrote a check in her neat handwriting, sometimes with the purple pen she had from selling Fashion Two-Twenty cosmetics. That was grocery shopping and magazines in my childhood. Tune in for more tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Color Me Tickled Pink!

Do you know what this is? It is the exact shade of turquoise that the color experts declared as the color of the year 2010. (Who knew? No doubt more people than I count, it's just that I wasn't one of them. Well, thanks to GertieLink, this year, I am in the know. No more color obscurity (colora obscura?) for me. Color me informed! This year's Pantone color is none other than the lovely honeysuckle. And if you relish poetic colorful word pictures, you should go to their website and read the press release, where the text gives real meaning to the choice of this color for 2011. (And if you find that this topic and fashion interests you, they also intorduce the Fall 2011 fashion palette!)
Here is the official swatch:
I also recently discovered that on, the fabric details include the closest Pantone shade. This is especially good if you don't trust your monitor, and therefore shy away from buying fabrics online. We have a Pantone catalog at work, and I might just have to borrow it to work out what shades of fabric I have in my inventory. It would sure make coordinating less of a hit-or-miss deal.
How many of you can remember when it was popular to: have your colors "done"? This was usually done by a consultant who helped you characterize your personal coloring, and learn what hues and shades were the most flattering colors to wear, both in your clothes and in your makeup. I never had it done, but I am very easily categorized: I am a "Summer", fair hair, fair skin, blue eyes, and so I look best in pastels , and in general, colors with a blue-ish hue. I admit I haven't studied the prescribed colors exhaustively. It's just that I've been on the planet long enough to have accidentally observed that certain colors are really more flattering than others on me. As it turns out, I really like the way coral colors look on me, and also almost any shade of green. Most blues are fine, but it's when they have a little green in them that they really pop. I think it's because my eyes are not a clear crystal blue, but have just a hint of amber, and with my skin's natural tendency to pink up, sometimes they look almost green. I think I may be the only woman in America who doesn't wear much black -- instead my go-to color is navy blue, but I recently determined that it should be a taupe or a medium charcoal gray.

Here are 4 fabrics I recently purchased. The ribbed one on the left is a true taupe. The next one looks very much like it, and looked definitely brown-y taupe online, but was called gray! I find that in very bright sunlight, it looks gray, but in any lower light, it looks taupe, go figure. I adore the aqua print - it looks a little like a Japanese print, maybe it is? And I love turquoise with coral.That coral is a rayon knit with a "slub" texture.
I forgot about lime green! I really like lime green, which came as a surprise to me when I realized it. I think I had kind of ignored it since it was more yellow, but somehow it is still a flattering color for me. The fabrics below mainly showcase my affinity for sage green. But I really didn't get accurate colors -- it just looks so gray here. The print knit photo'd well, though. I will be cutting that out for another top like the one on the dressform the other day.The fabric on the left and on the lower right are good bottom weight fabrics , destined for skirts or slacks. The upper right one is a crinkle knit with eyelet embroidery, like broderie d'anglaise. Now, that one at bottom center is really deceiving. I really am going to try to get a better pic, real close up. It's really pretty. It looks like it is woven with yellow fibers in one direction, and green in the other. It is destined to be a pencil skirt.
The print below is a risk purchase gone wrong. This is one that doesn't look that great online, but you think that it must look better "in person". Alas, it does not. I haven't given up yet though, I will nurture it along. But I will definitely try it for a pattern that I really just need to try a "muslin" for, you know kind of like a blind date, no expectations, no emotional investment, and therefore no real disappointment if it doesn't really work out. (Who am I kidding....anyone?) The burgundy knit next to it was a failed attempt to find some plum fabric, in an effort to provide the prodigal print an environment in which she could shine. My point being that, in the event I make a garment from this print, and the pattern and the fabric are a success, then I will need to wear it with something, but I think it will be with something in sage in that event.
And I will close with the first picture of myself. As I have mentioned, I am a bit camera-shy, but this shot gives you some idea of the pale skin that I am trying not to overwhelm, and how nice coral can look alongside. This is a very fine-gauge cotton cardigan (3/4-sleeve) that I just picked up at the LLBean outlet store in Freeport. They were having a 30% off everything in the store sale, and I brought it home for $20! The scarf is a large square of silk hand-hemmed - a friend brought it back from a trip to India. At the time, I didn't wear any of the colors - she knew better than I did what I should be wearing!

Do you select your wardrobe pieces according to a color palette? Do most of the things in your closet go together, so you can mix and match new combinations at a moment's notice? I'm not fully there yet, but I do like to get a lot of mileage out of my separates.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Tuesday

Some of my favorite bloggers will sometimes post in random list format. I think I will try that...
1. I have loooots of new fabric.
2. I have taken pictures of some of it.
3. The pictures didn't come out as well as I had expected, after my little camera-use breakthrough. My exposure and resolution look better, but the colors just don't read the way they look in real life. I need more work on adjusting them in the editing phase. But then I wonder if my monitor is way off, or the camera reading the colors funny. I need to take my card and view my pics on somebody else's computer.....
4. I keep buying fabric.
5. I haven't cut out any more patterns.
6. I have plenty of patterns.
7. I still don't have a reliable dressform. I really do think I will ask Becky to help me make a duct tape dummy. When she gets back from Fla. Where it isn't snowing, as she has reminded me by postcard. (Here, it hasn't snowed since yesterday...)
8. My left hand hurts. I have had a swollen, sore and aching MCP joint of my 3rd digit since shortly after I started crocheting the darned filet edging. I was resisting concluding that it was the crocheting, but I can no longer live in denial. I am taking two Aleve 2x/day just to be minimally functional.
9. I can't knit either, see #8.
10. I was trying to knit up a swatch for a pattern from A Stitch in Time. I had to stop because of the pain in my left hand! And the numbness and tingling consistent with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Darn!
11. I think it'll be a while before I can knit or crochet.
12. In the meantime, I should post pictures of my off-color fabrics and my very-long-but-not-yet-long-enough filet edging.
13. I practically crash my laptop every time I try to upload photos.
14. Tonight, Sean has a Championship hockey game. At 8:20pm. On a school night. Hockey is so insane. It wasn't my idea, really.
15. So I won't be doing battle with my laptop tonight.
16. The sun is shining and melting snow today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nesting Instinct

It's snowing like crazy outside, and to remind me that Spring will come, (it always does, right?), I was drawn to a charming blog on the right column of a charming blog. I was visiting one of my favorites: Fabric, Paper, Thread, and amidst drooling over her "high tea" tablescape, my eye was caught by her blog list, which had a pic of a darling purse needlebook. So I clicked and found myself intrigued by the Spring publication of Amy Powers' "inspired ideas" magazine. There are so many adorable little projects! There must be a half dozen of them that I am itching to try! Probably the first I will try is the one above, Nesting Instinct. I have experienced real nesting tendencies, and perhaps that's why I, like so many people am enchanted by birds' nests. Heck, I am just enchanted by birds, aren't you? I should try photo'ing the 2 natural nests I have. And the aforementioned purse needlebook is nothing less than darling. I love the idea of a pretty little needlebook, but I don't have one, nor have I ever made one, but it's definitely on the list-in-my-head. That and a biscornu. What's on your fantasy list?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Figuratively Speaking, Part 2

Despite my desire to wear retro-inspired clothing, I know that much of the styles won't flatter my particular figure. Since my goal is to dress attractively, working with my figure and not against it, one of the first types of garments I'll be making is tunic-length knit tops, chosen to fit and flatter! In my next post, I'll feature some of the fabrics and patterns I've purchased. I am approaching my initial attempts as experimental. I'll be trying to work out the patterns, techniques and fabrics which work best for me.
In the meantime, I will show you a little bit from my first attempt, as well as my first unsuccessful try at purchasing a dressform.

The first top I tried is a Vogue Pattern, #8469. It claims to be "Very Easy", and for the most part it is. This pattern features an adjustable bust according to your cup size. Perfect for me! Most patterns are proportioned for a B-cup bustline. This is defined by taking two measurements: one at your upper chest, above your breasts, just under your arms and the other at the fullest part of your bust. If you have a 2" difference, that is a B-cup, 3" is a C-cup , etc. To give you a window into my world of fit issues, my measurement difference is 9". That's right, 9 inches. Makes my upper back ache just thinking about it.
TMI? Anyhoo .... with this pattern, each cup size has its own pattern piece and so I laid the c-cup pattern piece over the D-cup pattern piece, and saw where and how much the increases were and using the D-cup pattern piece, I cut out pieces that were enlarged a little in the right places. If I had taken pictures, I could show you where and how much, but for now you'll just have to take my word, that I lengthened the bodice piece about 1" from the shoulder down over the bust point, and graded that in to about 1/2" at the center front and down to zero at the side seam. I also increase the width of the bodice front by 1/2" at each side.
This pattern is a good choice for me, in that it fits close in under the bust, instead of the letting the girth of my bust define how wide I look all the way down. It also has a dolman/kimono sleeve, which also helps. Not that I am inclined to make this up in a striped fabric, but if I did, I think I would place the stripes horizontally on the bodice/sleeve pattern pieces and vertically on the torso/skirt pieces. The pattern even shows this made up color-blocked, which would be especially good for someone who wanted to accentuate a smaller bust (lighter color), and minimize a fuller waist (darker color). I bought this fabric @ in mid-January. It only needs a yard and a half to make this top, so this custom-fit top cost me a whopping $8.97. That's not counting the pkg of bias tape used to face the neckline, the cost of thread. Shipping was free because my total purchase came over $35.00.
Now, about the dressform. Yes, she looks lovely modeling my new top. BUT, she's headed back to Atlanta. I just got her on Friday, and I've been considering her deficiencies and I have decided that I can't live with them. I bought her at Atlanta Thread Supply, online, when they had a free shipping day. She is a Dritz, "My Double", size Medium. On paper, the Medium will dial up to my measurements. By on paper, I mean the measurements given in the catalog and online. However, when she arrived and I tried to adjust her to "double"me, I discovered that the label on the outside of the box, gave different measurement ranges (slightly smaller), but smaller enough not to work for me. (The next size up is too big, at least on paper, there is very little overlap in sizes.) As it was, she would be too small in the bust, but I figured she could wear one of my bras, stuffed. (Oh My!)
You have to dial until the ruler guide reveals the measurement you are aiming for -- you do this gradually on all 4 sides, tedious. Then you discover that it gets very difficult to turn the wheel and that the ruler guide does not have markings all the way up to the measurements that are printed on the box! The final insult came when the plastic threaded rod in the middle of the upper back gave way and stripped itself, causing the back left side to collapse back in to the starting point. It wouldn't even hold in place at a measurement well within the box-indicated range. I will be returning this dress-form to ATS, and the question in my mind is should I try to use the next size up? What is stopping me, is that the next size up, which is referred to as "Plus-Size" has a minimum waist-and-hip measurement that is slightly larger than I am. But on the other hand, maybe the listing in the catalog and online is incorrect for that size too.
Since I am very focused on fit, and cannot count on cutting out a pattern as printed and sewing it up without alterations, I am continuing to consider my options. I haven't abandoned the idea of making one of those duct-tape dummies. Have you ever done that? How did it work out for you?

Fly-by Posting

If you were at all interested in my post a few days ago about the lovely movie star designs of the mid-20th century, you must read this post on the Colette Patterns blog.....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Developing the Rules of the Game

In wardrobing myself, I have a lot of things to think about:
1. My age
2. My size
3. My figure type
4. My lifestyle
5. Our climate
6. My budget
7. My tastes

In considering my age, at 48 years old, there are definitely styles out there, which are too "young". And sadly, as much as I could let my imagination run away with me, and completely make-myself-over into a 1940's Hollywood starlet, I have to accept that the only ones who can really get away with that are urban twenty-somethings. This is where fashions described with terms like: "interpretation" and "influenced by" can come in. And frankly, that takes more work, more judgment. I can't rely on a direct-copy approach, like I'm creating a costume. I must carefully decide which elements of the era are the ones which hold the greatest appeal, and work those into the here and now. For instance, I like the sweet, feminine shapes of the 1940's, but I don't have the tiny waistline that makes everything from that era look its best. Every blouse, every "jumper" (sweater), nipped in at the waist. With separates, every top was tucked into the bottom, revealing the slimness of the waistline, and most dresses were tailored in at the waist, and often, belted. I can borrow the necklines and sleeve and collar details, but I am more likely to put them on tops which are long, almost tunic-length, so as not to emphasize my large mid-section. No belts or tucking in at the waistband for me. I can borrow color palettes, even repro prints. I have a large bosom, and so high, small collars (of which we see a lot of in the 1950's) don't work for me. I do best to borrow from the 1920's and 1930's when you saw more deep vees and scooped or square necklines. Part of what I like so much about dressing in 1st half of the 20th century, was the femininity of the lingerie and accessories. To be sure, it was certainly more fussy, but I have to admit, there are things I like about taking that kind of care, and I do like to be ladylike. The careful choice of foundation undergarments, pretty lacy slips, embroidered handkerchiefs. As a very young child in the late 1960's, I had a blue linen lined Easter coat, matched to my dress. I wore it with little white gloves and a white straw hat with a blue ribbon. I had little white nylon ankle socks and black patent-leather Mary Janes. So prim!
Considering my size now, once again, I find myself betwixt-and-between. I am taller-than-average, but shorter-than-tall. Much of my height is in my torso, and not so much in the length of my arms and legs. Much of my "Plus-size"d-ness resides in my bosom and torso, and not so much in my hips. I am an "apple" and not a "pear". I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the majority of plus-sized ladies are pears and carry their excess in the hips and thighs, and I definitely find this to be how most plus-sized clothing is proportioned.
Which brings me to my figure-type. When looking at pattern recommendations, I am definitely the inverted triangle. I look best in roomy tops and trim, lean bottoms. A dolman sleeve top, covering the waist and high-hip area, and a pencil skirt, will show off my legs, and cover the upper bulk. I look best with darker colors on top and paler/brighter on the bottom, to visually balance my proportions. I can use large prints to break up the large expanse on top visually.
This presents a little challenge for my complexion as I am very fair in coloring and look best in pastels. And so, I do best to have pastel details around the neckline of a dark fabric. Like a layered collar, or a scarf tied at the neck. I look best with a long line down the middle, like a rectangular scarf, tied once low on my upper chest, mimicking the shape of a deep vee-neck. Likewise, if I wear a pendant necklace, it should be rather bold and on a long, bold chain.
My lifestyle: I work full-time in an office with mostly guys (engineering-types), and with minimal contact with the public, so I don't have an external expectation of dressing attractively. But I've worked there long enough to realize that I need to dress nicely for myself, and that it cheers me up in my lonely little cubicle. In my free time, I try to dress for church on Sundays (although there is a wide range of acceptable dress there). Most of my other public appearances are in the grocery store and going to hockey games (just try expressing your fashion aesthetic in the bleachers of a cold, dark smelly hockey rink!), from November to sometime in March, and baseball and lacrosse games in the Springtime, football games in the Fall. Now mind you, I use the term "Springtime" loosely. Here in Maine, we have had to delay Little League Opening Day, because there was still a foot of snow on the ballfield. Most years, the kids have had their pre-season practices on paved parking-lot surfaces, because the fields were either still under snow, or the recently-melted snow had left mud not yet dried. Even if the fields are bare, the temperatures often require sweaters and/or jackets until well into June. I admit to a rather barren cultural life. While raising children, my husband and I have rarely gone out to dinner or concerts, or theater. And children, or no children, we rarely go to the movies, as my husband is freakishly tall, and can hardly sit in most movie-theater seats -- no place to put his knees! So, considering climate concerns, I usually have to dress warm! And during the transitions of Spring and Fall, here in Maine, we dress more like Winter. So I need sweaters, and I wear layers and turtlenecks and tights and boots....
In this economy, need I really comment on the budgetary constraints on my wardrobe? I don't mind too much really, because I have never been one who is interested in having the latest fashions, I never buy any expensive designs, and even if I were inclined to, it would be a huge challenge to find things in my size! Also, part of my admiration for the 1940's is an interest in the impact of WWII and how people had to ration and do without. (Maybe that's why they had such slim waistlines!) I like the idea of being frugal; it just seems to be more responsible not to be wasteful with the blessings we have been given.
And finally, my tastes, I like "classics", and feminine frills, good fabrics, silk scarves and pearl necklaces. I like hand-knit sweaters, crocheted edging and lavender cologne. I try to stand with good posture and walk gracefully. I like an outfit to be well-coordinated, and suited to the activity.
So, given allllll the above considerations, I have my work cut out for me. What about you? How do you deal with the problem of clothing yourself?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Figuratively Speaking, Part 1

Once upon a time, there was a young lady with a lovely figure. She was blessed with an ample bosom, a trim waist and slender hips. She was tallish, though, and always complained that shopping for clothing was frustrating because frequently the garments sized for her girth were too short for her. She had no patience for her friends complaining of having to take up hems, because that was far easier to accomodate than trying to squeeze out an extra inch or more from stingy hems. Fortunately for her, her mother taught her to sew, and she rather enjoyed poring over pattern books and perusing through bolts of fabric for just the right colors and weights. She made blouses, slacks, skirts, prom dresses, and eventually a few bridesmaid dresses. Her father gave her a sewing machine one year, and she took it with her to college, where she found very little sewing time, but she hauled it out for mending, simple alterations, and the occasional creation for a costume party. In the years that followed, her figure, ahem, filled out a little, and now her proportions were more suited to off-the-rack garments. Her sewing machine went with her everywhere, but saw very little action until she needed it for simple home dec projects and her children needed Halloween costumes.
As the years went by, the lady would catch glimpses of herself in mirrors, and frown at her aging and spreading figure, and how her attire appeared frumpy, tired, and utterly defeated. She gradually admitted to herself that her vanity was affronted by the images looking back at her in mirrors. Determined to improve her appearance, she undertook various inadequate efforts to lose weight and tone her shape. She reasoned that regardless of the figure she was dressing, her wardrobe needed not only updating, but curating. Her first directed forays shopping for appropriate garments were entirely discouraging. To her dismay, her quest for elegant, well-fitted clothes forced her to face that the figure she had been camouflaging in her husband's jeans and stetchy knits was no longer proportional. She had come to demand a standard of fit which simply could not be met by the clothing found on store racks. Her eye now sought clean lines and would no longer tolerate bags, wrinkles, or uncomfortable binding. No doubt, she could no longer afford the garments such accomodation, given the bags and wrinkles and gray hairs that already sacrificed the starting canvas. From now on, the garments, mustn't merely cover and keep warm. They could not be indifferent to their station. They must perform! They must flatter! They must delight the eye! Every quality would now be under scrutiny. They would be judged for their fabric, and how the cut suited her figure. They must drape beautifully, and hold up to laundering without shrinking or fading. She began to disdain shoddy construction techniques, uninspired shapes, and indiscriminate finishing details. For a long time, she was discouraged. but gradually came to consider the possibility of making her own things again.
And this is where we find her now. At the edge of a new adventure, no longer discouraged, nor disgusted with the overweight and aging body she had to clothe. Her creativity had been awakened. She got out her old sewing machine, learned how to clean and oil it, and reviewed the stitches it could perform. She also set up the serger she had bought on an impulse years ago, but had never used, had never even learned how to use it.
And certainly, dear reader, you have long since figured out that our heroine is none other than myself! And as today's title post implies, there will be more installments to come detailing my progress. This is a bit of an imposing commitment for me (not the doing, but the posting), as I am, as I have previously suggested a bit shy about posting pictures of myself. I am overweight, and vain about my appearance, but my desire to enjoy this process all the further by documenting it will likely triumph over my embarassment! That, and again, reminding myself that there only 2 categories of people who will read this blog: 1) People who know me and therefore already know what I look like; and 2) People who don't know me and don't really care what I look like. And still when you add the totals of the 2 categories together, it may not even be in the double digits!
So, stay tuned....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Something exciting happened today....

I was at work and some pictures were needed of a machine part that had damage. Nobody could get a good shot, and it came to my turn to try. I needed to take a close-up of something, showing good detail. Oh yeah, and it was in low light. The dig cam available was a Nikon CoolPix - basically the same one I use at home. Now, anyone who peruses my blog will see that I have not mastered my camera. Long have I tucked my users manual in my bag when I think I might have some time to look through it and learn what my cam can do. Hah. Have read almost nothing. Today, however, someone was depending on me to take the time to figure it out and get some good shots. And I did! It felt sooooo good!
So now, I wish I were at home this afternoon and could test my new photo skills in the lovely afternoon sunshine.
There are certain obstacles to blogging, many of which I am sure are obvious: Lack of time, lack of inspiration, and in my case, lack of photos. Blogging is such a sharing activity and the type of people who might read what I have to say are likely to be visual-crafty types. I know the blogs I return to are invariably well-photo'd. (Now that I consider that assertion, I realize that isn't entirely true...if a blog is really well-written, it doesn't have pictures every single time, and I will still come back over and over.) But when you are trying to share a project you've done, it is way more interesting if you have attempted a little photo-journalism. I often have had a blog post idea, but didn't buckle down to it, because of the daunting photo task it deserved. And really, have you tried uploading photos on blogger. Very challenging. I keep thinking that I must being doing it in a naive, cumbersome way, and that bloggers who are more techno-savvy than I must be doing something really cool and snappy that I don't know about. Then I remember, that I have run across bloggers who have left blogger b/c the picture capabilities are so inadequate. Hmmm....should I research this more?
I have new things I want to show off: I have dusted off my sewing machine, set-up the never-used serger that I have had for years, and finally sort-of learned how to use it, bought way too much fabric and a few patterns, and a dressform, whom I have named in true blogging sewist fashion. (In case you're not familiar, there is a movement afoot among people who sew to refer to oneself as a "sewist" as opposed to a "sewer", as "sewer" (pronounced "sow-er") is after all spelled the same as "sewer" (pronounced "soo-er"), and I think you'll agree with me when I opine, "Ick!".
Another obstacle to my photojournalism however is sheer vanity. I am shy about posting pictures of myself (say, modelling a new garment), not because of a fear of revealing any identifying characteristics, just vain and perturbed by looking merely mortal and not young and fresh and like a super-model. (I mean, after all, what if I have a bad hair day? Or the lighting is unflattering, or I look as big as I really am? I just have to channel Jamie Lee Curtis' honesty and courage!) Any shots I come up with will be humbling, no doubt. But I've been giving myself a pep-talk and will be overcoming this reticence. Then I have to remember how few people actually read this blog, and get over myself already.
But since I have no fresh eye candy yet to share with you, I have harvested a little crop around the internet, reflecting back to my last post.
First of all, let's review my references to beautiful fashions in classic film in my last post.
1. Claudette Colbert's wedding gown in "It Happened One Night."
The 1930's movie stars had the loveliest bias-cut silk gowns. The beauty was in the shimmer and shapeliness. (I have a photo of Jean Harlow I'll post another time. Stunning.)
2. Still looking for a good photo of Joan Fountaine in her sensible tweeds in the Alfred Hitchcock film "Suspicion" with Cary Grant. You know how Al loved to have his blonde leading ladies well-dressed. (Oooh! That reminds me -- maybe I can get a shot of Grace Kelly in the red lace number in "Dial M for Murder"!) I have "Suspicion" on DVD. I think for my next trick I shall learn to capture screenshots from my DVDs.....
3. Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy as "Sabrina"
Hum "Isn't It Romantic?", close your eyes and consider swaying in William Holden's arms wearing this gown. An intoxicating image, non? No champagne necessary.....
4. Rita Hayworth as "Gilda" alludes to a striptease, but doesn't do one while singing "Blame it on Mame". What a performance....
5. Marilyn Monroe sings "Diamond's are a Girl's Best Friend" in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".
A direct descendant from Rita Hayworth's Gilda? I think it's indisputable.
6. Marilyn again, this time in beaded silk as the showgirl, opposite Laurence Olivier (!) in "The Prince and the Showgirl".7. Grace Kelly: This little montage is from Hitchcock's "Rear Window", in which she co-starred with James (Jimmy) Stewart. And this barely scratches the surface.....Somehow, she even looks chic lounging in cuffed-up jeans, a big-shirt and loafers -- wish I did!
And now for the musicals, The Musicals!!!!
8.Here is Deborah Kerr, looking simultaneously demure and alluring, all decolletage and hair-down, in an informal pose....(As Anna in "The King and I")
Just a simple daygown, looks like it might be handkerchief-weight linen with appliqued floral motifs.And here is the gorgeous, opulent ballgown.9. Next is Audrey Hepburn, as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady". I wrote about her before and showed her beautiful Josephine-esque ballgown. More to my liking is this "simple" little number Eliza wore the morning after the ball (I think). For my coloring, I would wear it in a pale Tiffany blue, or apricot blush....More famous is the snappy little number she introduced, turning heads, at the Ascot Races.10. The lovely Leslie Caron, breathtaking as "Gigi". I so covet this ultrafeminine lace shirtwaist. And you really must have your hair up, with slightly mussed ringlets....Before her tutelage as a courtesan, when just an "awkward" schoolgirl. (I should be so awkward.....)And the duckling emerges as a swan.... (Which reminds me to find a pic of Grace Kelly playing a princess in "The Swan")11. Judy Garland, in "Meet Me in St. Louis" Wonderful Gibson Girl style costumes, with vibrant colors -- no doubt carefully approved by Vincente Minelli's artistic eye.
12. And Judy in "The Harvey Girls"
I looked, but didn't find a pic of the stiffly-starched white aprons of the Harvey Girls' service uniforms.
And I looked but didn't find Betty Grable in "Mother Wore Tights", so here's a shot of Betty with MM and Lauren Bacall, whom I have yet to mention, but really you know I want to show her in her New-Look style wasp-waisted houndstooth check suit she wore in "To Have and Have Not."

That's all for now, folks.....I didn't even touch on Gone With the Wind, mainly because everyone knows Scarlett's wardrobe had some of the best movie costumes ever, and can call them to mind effortlessly. But seriously, wasn't her most gorgeous the deep red one she wore to Melanie's party when gossip had scandalized her reputation, and Rhett was furious with her and made her go alone? Vivian Leigh defined something in that dress, and I'd be scared to name it!