17 July 2012

Forgotten Buckles and the "Bastille Birthday" Skirt

EYEYEYEYEYEYEY! When I was going on and on about all my lovely gifts last night, apparently I missed something! I was clearing the section of my desk this morning where I'd dumped all the things from my parcels and I found this:


I don't see it in the photos Sue took of the giveaway haul, so I'm thinking it's probably from Kerry, but I'm not sure. Ladies, if you see this, which of you gave me these sweet buckles? Thanks, at any rate!

Now onto the other exciting news: I actually finished a sewing project!


I made a skirt to wear going out on my birthday night (as I've mentioned before, I love "occasion sewing"); E took some photos of me in it, which came out wicked blurry,

Here I am, out in the world, on the streets of Williamsburg! See, I DO leave my room occasionally!

and then I took a couple boring hanger ones so y'all can see the print on the fabric.

 "When three hens go to the country, the first goes in front, the second follows the first, and the third comes last."

I picked this fabric for two reasons. One, I bought it at the fabric store across the street from K and E's Astoria apartment last time I visited, back in February, and thought it'd be nice to "bring it home," so to speak; two, my birthday is la fete de Bastille, the French Independence Day, and I thought the red-white-blue print and French text would be appropriate for what was a jupe de Bastille as much as a birthday skirt.

The skirt almost didn't materialize, though, because guess what happened while I was panicsewing the evening before my trip (yeah, yeah, I know)? My (mother's) machine spazzed out! There is something (non-obvious, not solvable by simply adjusting) wrong with the thread tension that I, uh, didn't have time to fix. But after a slight freakout I realised something: I had a five-hour bus ride, and surely some time once I'd arrived and E and K's, to figure things out! I sewed the zipper, affixed the gathers to the waistband and folded over and secured it, hemmed the skirt, and applied the hooks and eyes at the waist all by hand.

This is obvious in some  places,


but overall I'm fairly proud of myself. The stitches are solid, and it all looks fine on the outside, so--that's all that really matters, right?

Birthday Presents and Postal Bounty

It's been a while, hasn't it, O Internet? I have had a crazy couple weeks since last we spoke. Work has been crazy, I've had a lot to do at the archive, I am getting mouth surgery, and this past weekend I globetrotted again!

I spent the weekend in New York visiting my friends K and E, who I love dearly and see seldom. I had a great time, we went on fun adventures, E gave me rockin' sidebangs, and they sent me home with a pile o' presents for my birthday (it was Saturday),

 All awesome on the giftin' front!

including two pulp novels (one old, one reprinted) for the collection, gold and leopard ducttape with which to build the world's most epic wallet, a bunch of headbands and hairclips (and yes, that IS LipSmackers brand scented glitter nail polish (with enclosed holographic nail decals that I forgot to put in the photo)), and these two pieces of jewelry handmade by K, who needs to tell me whether she has an Etsy store yet or if that is just dreamtalk, so I can link it here if it exists:

 World's coolest cuff bracelet

A pendant, of wire and beads strung over a seashell

I made a skirt for my birthday night (as I've mentioned before, I have a weakness for "occasion sewing"), but as I still need to photograph it I will post about that process later! Plus, I brought my "One of the Gang" Jacket from That's Sew Cinematic and I cannot overestimate how much swaggering through Penn Station in it made me feel like the baddest of asses (also, overheated, but that hardly matters when such unholy awesomeness is at stake, right?)

Going to work today was rough, and dull, in comparison to the weekend jaunt, but not all was sadness and doom! I got home this evening to the lovely surprise of not just one but two parcels waiting for me--from two of lovely you!

The first was my Summer Sewing Swap parcel from Kerry over at Kestrel Finds and Makes. I was overcome before I even started opening things in this one, it was so adorably wrapped up:

Purple polkadot ribbon? PERFECT. I have a new hairbow before I even open the package

But the stuff inside was even awesomer!

 Even the card is cute!

That fabric is a gem--nice weight, soft and drapey, and I'm a sucker for both a) red tones and b) a good geometric or tribal-ish print, and my only question now is what kind of dress exactly it is going to turn into! And the yarn is almost exactly my favorite shade of purple. Check the lovely thistles embroidered here, for a bit of local Scottish color:

...that stood a-GAINST him, proud Edward's AR-my, and sent him HOOOOOME-ward, to think a-GAIN.

These two patterns are both going in my "please sew me up!" pile:


The second parcel was from Sue at Sewin' Steady, and contained the prize I'd won in a giveaway she hosted a week or so ago. I was running around like a chicken-with-cut-off head at the time and never wrote about winning or my excitement about it, but I won, and I was/am excited! This parcel's contents were also gold:

 I like how you can tell my knee is weighing down/slanting the mattress on the bottom left.

Again, red! And I have a weakness for old notions. I love the seam binding with the enclosed bobbin of matching thread! As for the buttons, C loves to "organize"/play with my button collection and I'm sure she will be gratified to have some new charges for the menagerie (assuming I don't use them before she gets her hands on 'em; I have some button-heavy projects on the slate and they're all so pretty!)

I think the thing in this assemblage I got the most excited about was the set of pinking shears:

  Fine quality! Unconditionally guaranteed!

Cool, eh?

So thanks, everybody in this post, for givin' me stuff and makin' my life a fun place to be! Errybody else, check out Kerry and Sue's blogs and give them lots of craftlove, because they are awesome people who deserve plenty of it.

05 July 2012

Canada Day, America Day, Way too Much Fun

Good (very early) morning, everyone! I've had a great time the last five days or so, and I hope you have too! Are you ready for a little life update? Yeah? Yeah!

The rest of my Canada Day weekend in Montreal was a great time. I saw plenty more friends; had a sweet picnic in Parc Lafontaine; went to a crazy block party in an alley in the Plateau with live music, art projects, and a dress-up costume box at the entrance; and ate bacon poutine, Romados roast chicken, and diner breakfasts galore. Canada Day itself our tribe actually hopped on four wheels

 V was very excited about the afternoon's Euro Cup victory by Spain and made sure we were advertising our Hispanophilia on the way out of town

and headed off the island to Shawbridge, where clan band the Argyles (accompanied by pals--including my former roommate M!--AlexeiMartov) kicked off a cross-Canada tour with a house show/party. It was a great time; we hung out, made and ate chili and pear crumble, drank beers, listened to the guys play some tunes, stayed up to watch the sun rise. I surrendered my camera to V for the night, knowing I'd forget about it the second the music started anyway; she had a lot of fun with my camera settings, and despite the drunk-picture-blur the photos came out actually really cool looking:




I'd yammer on about their tour dates for the benefit of those of y'all who are Canadian, but I don't actually know them and my Internet skills are failing me! The boys of the Argyles are blogging the tour, though, so check 'em out!

I got back in to Boston at eight A. M. on Tuesday and immediately headed to work/class...oof. After that I spent the evening at the historical society setting up our exhibit for Independence Day; since the headquarters/archive building is right in town square, toward the end of the parade route, we opened up for the morning/early afternoon and set up a mini-exhibit of wartime artifacts from our collection, dating mostly from the Revolutionary and War of 1812 periods. A and I presented the objects and answered questions for visitors. I only got one snap of the exhibit setup,


but I did manage a few of the parade itself when I slipped away to watch:

Folks lined up to watch across the street (our town square is really quaint, guys...)

We sent out a sign for the Historic House Tour,


and I was excited to see the Old Boston Road Base Ball League, who play baseball according to late-19th century rules (and have a game on Saturday co-hosted by my historical society, if anyone in the Boston area is interested! 3pm at Derby Academy in Hingham).


One of my favorite groups in the parade every year is the Kazoo Band, who march in Groucho glasses playing patriotic favorites on their kazoos. It's fun to watch and, I imagine, even more fun to do, and it speaks to a good attitude and sense of fun in town, I think.


Then we had the vintage car procession. I'm not sure what happened between the midcentury cars


and the old military vehicles/trucks (like this army ambulance),


as I was called back inside to the exhibit for a time.  But I got back out in time to see the WELLS FARGO WAGON and have the relevant song stuck in my head all day:


30 June 2012

TSC #4.5, Wrap-Up, and Thoughts

Greetings from Montreal! I am there, staying with friends for the weekend to celebrate a) Canada Day and b) the inexplicable day off work I have Monday. I'll probably be radio silent for the rest of that period (and possibly through Independence Day, depending how efficiently we get our mini-exhibit at the archive installed for Wednesday morning), but I wanted to drop in with a few things before I disappeared:

a) I didn't manage to finish it (my indecisive packing style slayed me Thursday night and yesterday morning) but here's a shot of my latest That's Sew Cinematic garment-in-progress:


It's Lenora's bathing suit from the first scene at Turkey Point; more thoughts on that, and photographs thereof, when I finish! Which brings me to:

b) Today is the last official day of That's Sew Cinematic, I guess? I haven't completed all my planned garments, which is no surprise considering when I started. I am a little disappointed, just because I am working so hard at developing skills with follow-through and trying to learn my way out of the planning fallacy, etc., but honestly I'm not too worried about it. After a week or two off to focus on some other projects I have lined up, I'm planning to get right back to the remaining projects.

Let's look at what I did finish, though, shall we?

There's the "Bad Girl Beauty Makeover" Top,


the "Jukebox Jivin'" Skirt,


and the "One of the Gang" Jacket.


Despite some of my fratchetty commentary in the posts linked above, I think I'm actually pretty satisfied with how all three pieces turned out. Hopefully I experience a sense of similar well-being when I get through the other three!

c) One of the reasons I am okay with not quite completing my goals for That's Sew Cinematic is the extent to which that shortfall is because of other fun, interesting projects I was involved in over the past six weeks. I made a Licorice and a first-draft Hazel for Sew Colette versions 1 and 2.0, am putting together a package for Kestrel's Summer Sewing Swap (which I need to mail, like, as soon as I get back from Montreal! Egads), and started (selectively/one might even say half-assedly, really) following along with the Sew Weekly. And over the past few weeks, the grade-nine-esque love of stenciling I rekindled with a couple of those projects has taken me over completely! I've made a tee shirt for my friend A,


tops for myself with the Tank Girl and Tsunami Bomb logos (because if I'm going to revert to my angry 14 year old punk ways, why not go whole hog),


and the logo for another friend's band, The This Many Boyfriends Club (go listen to them! Or something, they're great),


as well as a few other things that are still in progress. 

d) I made an exciting purchase the other day! Did y'all know that What Katie Did, the vintage repro lingerie folks, have an Ebay clearance store? I didn't, but I certainly do now! I bought a few things from it the other day, and they were so (comparatively) cheap! I recommend going over there and checking out what they've got in (over)stock.

This was especially exciting because the package arrived in the mail two days ago, along with a letter from a pen-pal that had a spring of beautiful smelling dried lavender from her garden, and it was basically the best postal day in history:


Whew, I wrote more than I was expecting there! More when I'm no longer a houseguest, guys (though since M is still asleep it hardly matters what I'm doing with my time); have a great Canada Day, if you're here, and a sweet Independence Day, if you're there and I don't get back online in time!

25 June 2012

Cry-Baby Cover Story: "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane"

As we head into the final week of That's Sew Cinematic, I figured I'd toss y'all another Cover Story from the film! We're back to Baldwin and the Whiffles for this one, a version of "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" sung in the film to shame Allison after her night of drapey adventure at the Jukebox Jamboree (song is from roughly 5:00 to 7:00):



(Sidenote: the moment on the balcony that comes at the end of this song is one of the parts of the film that makes me love Mrs. Vernon-Wiliams so very much. She's faced here not only with Allison's disobedience and "inappropriate" behavior in associating with drapes, but also massive public embarrassment and scandal--Baldwin has brought the entire town down to see him make Allison capitulate, it seems--should her granddaughter stick to her guns. And yet, even as Allison turns to race downstairs, she cautions, "You don't have to decide today! Give your heart a chance to think!" There is no better indication that she truly has her granddaughter's best interests at heart--and that she is learning to expand the possible manifestations of those interests.)

Like the previous Whiffles song we've talked about, it's a multiple-cover! This one actually even more so: the song had been recorded by a number of musicians including Dean Martin and Ray Charles. Here's the former (with AMAZING video):




And here's a 1955 version sung by Dorothy Collins:



You might have noticed something a little different in tone, there! When Baldwin and his Whiffles use the song to try and shame Allison, they omit the original's central joke. And it has kind of a funny reflection on the situation--instead of being the story of a woman of scandal, it's the story of a terrible misunderstanding about who's innocent and good, which in the film is sustained on the squares' part right through the end.

24 June 2012

TSC #4: The "One of the Gang" Jacket

Happy Sunday, dear Internet! Just wanted to drop a line and report on my most recent finish for That's Sew Cinematic.

Extra-attentive (or, like me, extra-anal) readers may notice that this entry is marked "TSC #4" where, in fact, I have only shown you two other garments for this sewalong. Guess what, guys? I was about a step and a half away from finishing my last item (the grandma-inspired one tied to the last Spotlight post) when I, uh, lost it somewhere in my sewing corner! I finished this project and was holding on to it figuring I'd find and finish the other and post about them together--but since it's been several days now and I clearly have not found the motivation/time/impetus to scour through my possessions, I figure I ought to just get on with things for now.

So without further delay or faffing about: the "One of the Gang" Jacket!


This is not a home-sewn jacket! Like a number of my projects lately, it's  a bit of a low-key undertaking--a stencil rather than a sewing job; I intended to find a leather or faux-leather jacket to stencil onto, which item I was sure as hell not going to try and make myself (for both skill and expense reasons; better to just go to the secondhand store). Nothing turned out quite right (not to mention, I already have a biker-cut jacket, did I really need another?), but I did find this bomber jacket in a pile in my wardrobe, and figured it'd do.



It's, of course, my Cry-Baby jacket (because I guess I am now a Cry-Baby girl):


I'm not sure, actually, how I feel about the overall look here (it IS evenly stencilled across the back; the hook it's hanging on veers sorta crooked so it's at an angle). I thought making the stencil much bigger would look odd, but I'm reconsidering now; the empty expanse left isn't the best. I think what I'm going to do is draw an image or something to stencil on and fill in the back, once I'm done Cinematicking...

(And because it's the best place I can think to pop it in: here's a whole bunch of photos of real-life cute 50s gang boys and their super cool looking ladyfriends, courtesy of How to Be a Retronaut)

22 June 2012

Photos (Finally!) and the Joys of Trashpickin'

Hey Internet, remember a couple weeks ago, when I picked up a beautiful vintage photo album at the archive's tag sale and promised to share the photos with you? And then never did?

Well, I've finally gotten on it! I scanned the first handful of pictures in the other day:


The thing was, though, I wasn't sure about the best method of delivery. While for the most part I like Blogger, it really is better structured for longer posts, lots of text, and most importantly, lots of original content. Posting up batches of photos that, with any given lot, I might not necessarily have much to write up about seemed like...not really what this site was designed for. And while Flickr is, obviously, a straight-up photo-sharing site, I'm really only starting to get into using it, and it didn't seem right either. I mean, I didn't take these photos.


SO what I did instead, o Internet, was this: I started a Tumblr. For this it seemed like the perfect platform: easy sharing (through that crazy reblogging feature), a really simple interface and tagging/search thing, and though it's a blogging system (so I can upload photos gradually and post them as new entries), it's much less structured for heavy text and original content than Blogger feels to me like it is?


The Tumblr is called "Young Folks in Old Photos" (another link! yay!) and I'm planning to keep scanning the photos from the album in and posting them there, with any attributive information I can find/figure out (some of the photos have dates and locations written on; some I can just figure out where they were taken, because I grew up around the same towns/coastline) and anything else I think of to say about a given photo/set.

I'm also hoping, as I go along, to start incorporating some "out of the album" photos I have collected from elsewhere, and I made a submit feature, so if anyone has orphaned vintage photos they'd like to put out into the world, submit 'em and I'll (probably) post them up!

Now, since I've denied my best history find lately to this blog, here's a consolation prize: 50s newspaper ads!

I was up in the archive the other day after a group of older volunteers had been in loading new accessions and organizing the research room. In addition to finding the 30s yearbooks I mentioned last week (and which I will get around to putting up someday soon I promise!), I found one other goody...in the recycling bin!


This chunk of newspaper had been taped around some other object that had been put into the archive, and whoever had unwrapped it had decided to throw it out. Never one to be ashamed of a lil' trashpicking, I pulled it out and discovered


it was from 1957! And enough of it was intact to show some truly awesome ads:





I think that last one is my favorite. They're in horrid condition--they were being used as wrapping paper in a storage box, I mean, really--but to me that almost makes it more exciting/precious a find, reflecting on how close the piece came to being swept away in the day's recycling before I found it. Is that absurd?

So, uh, yeah, folks! Check out my New Adventures in Tumbling! Enjoy your Friday/weekend! Spend the day wishing you had an "Ice Box Instant Manhattan," like I undoubtedly will...

21 June 2012

Wrapup: Live Music and Hazel Thoughts

Hey folks! I was planning on having a That's Sew Cinematic piece to show y'all but then instead of coming home last night and having sewing time after dinner I went to a show! The Summer of Ska tour was in Boston last night and I had an amazing time. Big D and the Kids Table, Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish are all bands I've loved for a bunch of my life; hearing them play is like a reminder of age twelve or thirteen when every single show was exhilarating just because you were out of the house, hangin' with the punk kids, listening to musicians and audience alike yell loud. I had a crew at the show, so we stuck together and danced our feet off, too, which I always love--danced my way into exhausted dehydration really, was gasping on the train home (whoops). All in all, a great night!

Not to mention: my first public wearing of the muslin/first attempt/whatever you want to call my not-final-version of my Hazel sundress! I took some pictures when I finished it the other day:

Yes, that blue is the craaazyvibrant fabric from my Licorice! Fluorescent Colette dress bodices FOREVER is apparently my new mantra...

I made two changes--the criscross straps and a side instead of back zipper. It held up relatively well at the show--the straps shifted around annoyingly while I was dancing, but that's par for the course. And I got compliments! Of course I'm still not thrilled with the misalignment at the side zip,



but I know how to fix that next time (I'm pretty sure it happened because of the VERY hack off-the-cuff way I took in the back bodice).

Have a great Thursday, everybody! Maybe someday I will actually post about all the things I've been promising to tell you about.

18 June 2012

Sew Weekly ENGAGE!

Hello from beyond the weekend! I had a great one, folks. My high school reunion was Saturday, which was crazy! And weird. But I'm glad I went.

I'm sure most of y'all in the sewing blog world are on top of the Sew Weekly by now (if not, click link! Check out. Is cool). I've been creeping on it for months and months now, but never participated in any of the challenges. That all ended two weeks ago, though! I've decided to start trying to do at least some of them.

I think what has kept me so hesitant for a while was the nightmare commitment it felt like it involved--an openended pledge to sew a dress or outfit or whatever a week? And I've been trying to develop discipline and followthrough with regards to my self-commitments, which adds extra pressure on the success of the venture. So I'm doing two things:

a) I'm starting slow, projectwise. Especially over the next month or so when I am mired in the web of sewalongs and projects to which I have overcommitted myself, the things I make will be small. As you'll see in a second, my past two projects have been an embellishment for an existing garment and a refashion. I want to take this less as "check out my perfectly turned out new garment I am a wunderkind" and more in the spirit of "make stuff, be creative, act in community." I think I'll stay on the refashion tip for the most part--I have such a pile of imperfect clothes, and no excuse not to dive in.

b) I am giving myself permission to wimp out a reasonable amount of the time. This one's tricky, since allowing myself to renege on a standing commitment sort of enables the type of weaselly, nonproductive flake-tendencies I am attempting to train myself out of in 2012. I do plan to keep up almost week for week--but it would be unreasonable to imprison myself in an ironclad weekly commitment, and just plain silly to keep myself from participating at all on account of my own fear about self-imposed deadlines. Maybe I can give myself a week off a month or something? I'll think about it.

With that out of the way, let's take a look at what I've done so far! I've written posts about both items over at the Sew Weekly; I think I'll probably keep doing that, and bring the posts over here if I make something I'm especially proud or excited about. But we'll see!

First up: the Diamond Jubilee challenge!


Instead of making a royal look, I decided to memorialise the Sex Pistols' trip down the River Thames during the Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977. I made this back patch out of an orphaned flannel shirt and a contact-paper stencil. Here it is pinned to a jacket (not the one it's staying on, which is--eek!--lost in a friend's basement right now):



For last week's Television Challenge, I picked Buffy for my inspiration and married the fine minds behind the Buffyoutfits tumblr's obsession with Xander's Hawaiian shirt collection and the very large men's Hawaiian shirt mouldering in my refashion pile


 to make a nifty shirt for summer (nifty? Why did I say nifty? Do people say that? It's such a strange word):


SO that's what I've been up to! Further That's Sew Cinematic instalments on the way, as well as updates on my Hazel for Sew Colette 2.0 and some photos and history chat from the archives (I snagged a bunch of shots of the 30s highschool yearbooks at work last week in celebration of my reunion and then never blogged about them, so you'll hopefully be hearing from me on that count!)