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!)

15 June 2012

TSC Spotlight On: Gorgeous Grandmas

For this post, instead of discussing a fashion/costuming trend I think is interesting, I'm instead going to be talking about two interesting characters: these fine (grand)mamas.

It will probably be no surprise to anyone, I think, that one of my favorite Cry-Baby characters is Ramona Ricketts, Cry-Baby and Pepper's wild grandmother, auto parts fence, proprietress of Turkey Point, Iggy Pop's movie wife(!), and all-'round rockabilly elder. She's got a brilliant attitude and zany outlook, not to mention brilliant dress sense:

I can't tell you how big an effort it was to convince myself I would get next to no use out of my very own hunting decoy cap,

especially as a person who has been known to wear both of these in public:

Ramona is wild, and fierce, and I love her. But what might come as more of a surprise is that characterwise, one of the women that surpasses her in my estimation is her square counterpart: Allison's grandmother, Mrs. Vernon-Williams, remarkable on account not of her style, particularly, but of her spirit.

Mrs. Vernon-Williams might share Ramona's love for extravagant headgear,

but as the film begins they've got little else in common. Mrs. V-W is the square to end all squares, a grand lady, head of the charm school--she forbids Allison from speaking to Cry-Baby, "can hardly imagine what [the drapes] consider music," and delivers an alarmist speech to the charm school talent show audience about the dangers of juvenile delinquents that concludes in some truly absurd advice ("I want you to silently repeat to yourself the four B's...beauty, brains, breeding, bounty!")

Slowly, though, emboldened by her discovery that "the Walker boy...is at least polite," she comes to a new understanding of the goods and bads of the teenage social scene and the world beyond, eventually urging her granddaughter to "choose the man who loves [her] the most"--Cry-Baby--over the mean but square and reliable Baldwin, who attempts to woo Allison with the pitch, "we'll get married, and live in suburbia!"

Many characters in this film undergo a reversal of fortune, what with the drapes' eventual triumph over the formerly dominant squares, but Mrs. Vernon-Williams far outstrips everyone else with the degree to which she undergoes personal, character-built change. Over the course of the movie she truly changes her opinions and her outlook in a way the other characters don't. She genuinely becomes more tolerant, accepting and pleasant as she goes...

...and THAT'S why I love her.

'Sides, no one can say she isn't any fun:

13 June 2012

Cry-Baby Cover Story: "Teardrops Are Falling"

While I'm working on my third That's Sew Cinematic garment, I think it's time for another Cover Story installment from the movie!

This scene is such a joy, from Willem Dafoe's hilarious prison-guard routine at the start, to the hilarious visual moments throughout--where does the cigar box guitar come from? What's with that bunk-on-wheels-zoom-effect?--to the song itself. "Teardrops Are Falling" was, like "Sh-Boom," originally recorded elsewhere, though: by Harlem's own Five Wings:

I don't really have much to expand on, here. The two versions are pretty different, and both pretty cool. I guess you could get back on the "black root/white fruit" thing here, but I feel as if "featured in a movie starring a white guy 35 years after original release" is a slightly different thing? Or maybe I'm just swayed in my sympathies by Johnny Depp:

11 June 2012

TSC #2: The "Jukebox Jivin' " Skirt

I finished it! I finished it! My second That's Sew Cinematic piece, delayed by my own shoddy night-sewing* and C's visit over the weekend, is finally done.

*I am trying really hard to make a "Nightswimming" pun here, but it's not happening! Better REM fans than I, help!

It's a skirt, and hewing to the "awesomely dressed extras" bit I was on about the other day, it's worn in the film by a character who has no name. Dupree's girlfriend wears this pink skirt with the knee-level flounce at the Juxebox Jamboree:

I made my version up in a slightly lighter shade--and, after several abortive attempts at the knife pleats I think her skirt features, opted to gather the flounce instead.

Not sure what is going on with my body parts in this photo? This seemed like a fun pose while I was doing it. It shows how the flounce at the bottom fans out though.

The skirt is based on the skirt portion of Vogue 8184 (dear God I love that pattern!), pegged at the bottom, with an added waistband and of course the added bit from knee to hem. It's got an invisible side zip and a button at the waist.

This whole entry is somewhat unenthusiastic sounding, I know, but to be honest I am pretty sick of this skirt. I do like how it came out looking, but I have to emphasize just how much of a pain in the butt it was to sew. Things just kept going wrong! The base pattern for the skirt is one that usually fits me straight out of the box, but it seemed I couldn't do enough fitting. I completely failed to make decent looking knife pleats, and even after giving up on that had to detach and redo the gathering twice. There are still a couple points where the side seams pull weirdly:

I know it's crazy to expect perfection, but I have nowhere near enough perspective to tell whether I'm nitpicking or whether this guy's actually unacceptable; I'm still so frustrated with it that every single tiny thing seems damning. Planning to put it away for a week or two and then pull it back out to see if a) it feels any better, and if not b) there's anything else I can do to fix it up.

Overall, verdict: eh. Hopefully item number three will outshine number two by far!

07 June 2012

TSC #2 Setbacks and Sneak Peeks

So I was planning to post my second garment for That's So Cinematic today, but late-tired sewing last night ended up equalling careless sewing, and I have a very misshapen seam that's leaving the skirt in question with some big saggy patches...and one I only discovered after I had already pulled out the basting stitches on the gathered edge involved(!)

Instead of a finished garment and photoset, then, I'm offering this sneak peek of what I'll have to show you soon:

I've also got a bit of fitting to sort out--somehow, in the week and a bit the skirt's been mouldering around my room, I've managed to shrink measurably? Which is cool, I guess, except for possible issues of clothing alteration.

Happy Thursday/weekend, dear Internet. I've the afternoon off work as I am picking up C at the airport for a weekend visit before she scampers off to her summer job down the Cape. It promises to be pretty out--I hope it is where y'all are too!

03 June 2012



this afternoon I switched up the e-mail address/Google account associated with my blog! I have the same name and all but the account attached is different. I don't know if this is going to be a problem or not (I've already had one or two moments o' confusion), but just FYI, if something is weird with my account or identity, that is probably why!

Tag Sale Scores

Yesterday I spent the morning helping out with the annual Tag Sale at the historical society. It was a load of fun and even though it was raining like crazy plenty of people came out! I didn't get any pictures during the sale, because I was running about, but I took a few snaps on Friday while things were mid-setup:

For some reason I put my camera on the "pinhole" filter/setting/whatever while I took these?

The sale was held in the upstairs hall at the society headquarters. I helped one of the more swamped tables for a while, then spent the latter part of the sale downstairs in the gift shop, ringing stuff up and prepping things for next week's tours at the house museum.

Of course there was no way I was getting out of there without any new oldthings. The woman I was helping sell gave me a handful of things as a thank-you,

and I picked up some awesome stuff from other tables,

but the coolest thing I found (though those pins are a close second! I am really excited about those pins!) was this photo collection:

That's a full photograph album in the bottom corner. The album itself is badly damaged, but the photos within it are in pretty great condition (as are those loose ones) and it's a real treasure trove. A number of the same folks recurring (my boss and I were trying to come up with a biographical narrative for the girl whose album it seems to be while we did office work later in the day!), plenty of full-body shots of people--ie, lots of pictures of different clothes in different contexts, yay)--absolutely brilliant. The album photos are dated between 1918 and 1925.  I'm definitely going to scan in some of the photos and talk more about 'em later, because there's so much there, there's no way I could cover it now.

And in the category of Things I Wasn't Expecting to Find at the Historical Society: a kajillion pop-punk and ska cds! One of the tables had a big "free" box next to it full of CDs and records--its owners' son had left them all behind when he left for college, and apparently didn't want them anymore. I did, though!

Have a wonderful rest of Sunday, folks! Coming Post Attractions: my second TSC garment, an Ode to Trashpicking, possibly more Tales from the Archives, and DEFINITELY a resumption of my TSC-induced Cry-Baby tunnel-vision. Get psyched!

02 June 2012

TSC Spotlight On: Well-Dressed Extras

So the other day, posting about Allison's wardrobe (that's right, folks, after a brief intermission we are back on the Cry-Baby tip), I talked a little about the task, in costume design, of establishing a major character through her appearance. But what about the big picture: using costuming to establish the feel of an entire world, or at least a larger group?

OH fantasy Fifties...even separated by barbed wire in front of the juvie building, everyone's looking sharp.

Crowd costumes, or how the extras are dressed, is another costume design factor I find really interesting, for two reasons. First, it's so ultimately ignorable and yet so important in establishing the identity of the people onscreen--including the principals, of course, because having a clear idea of who the main characters' peers and friends and fellow-citizens are affects how we interpret them. Second, because extras are so often a part of the "background" of a scene, meant to be sensed but not specifically seen, clothing crowds and walk-ons is half costuming, half set design, in a way.

As far as establishing identity goes, let's take a look at the same drape/square distinction we were looking at before. It's not necessarily a dramatic, unbridgeable divide; contrary, actually, to the principles I was talking so big about in the last Spotlight post, we see drape girls in full skirts,

 (on the left--the better to jive in!)

square girls in bright colors,

 We know this girl is a square because about two seconds earlier Wanda is intimidating/scaring the crap out of her in line. The dress is high-necked and modest in shape, but look at that red!

and so on. But even on a spectrum, rather than in dichotomous groups, you get a clear idea of who exactly these groups we're dealing with are.

The squares, versus

the drapes.

(By the way: I set the photos to this size for slightly easier pageloading, but if you click through to the full photo view you can make them bigger. Since extras are, of course, often not front an' center, it's a little hard to see the details of the garments otherwise!)

The other thing is that Cry-Baby's extras just have really great clothes, some of 'em:

 Those orange pants! They almost make me like pants!

She was standing so, so awkwardly in every screencap, but the girl on the left has a great blouse on.

All three of these ladies are absolutely killing it.

 I had trouble finding square clothes I liked as much, because mostly the primary square girls you see are Allison's co-talent show chicks and I am not the biggest fan of those bouffanty prom dress type gowns. But I like this woman's dress, what I can see of it,

and she's tiny (try clicking to fullscreen the picture?) but the girl running to join the Shame Parade--what an awesome circle skirt, with the color spectrum stripes!

And now for more Turkey Point action: Lenora's buddy on the left has a great swimsuit!

I talked about this girl in passing in my last post; I really just think her, like, two point five seconds of screentime are hilarious. But also: bathing cap!