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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Am I painting by number?

A couple of things have me thinking. 

First of all, and maybe folks were being polite, the comments other people made here and on Pattern Review about that red vest were more favorable than the ones I made. I am trying to expand my style edges and it feels weird. I am thinking that my after work and maybe some of my work wardrobe needs to be more arty. Like a lot of women I am trying to negotiate a maturing style that is not trying-to-hard-to-look-trendy and therefore aging, or is what I would call given-up T shirt and jeans basics. Arty style if done right seems to hit that sweet spot, which I am still trying to locate.

Then a few days ago my sister Nancy, who is tremendously creative, called and told me to go out and buy this magazine:

Now I am not a wearable art person. I am sure I am not the only one who made one of those serged, wearable art vests in the 90s that seemed like such a good idea in sewing class, but made her feel like a dingbat when she wore it (once) out in non-sewing company.  Some things we should just keep among ourselves. And I am not really a re-purposer. Yes, I also made a vest once out of men's ties too,

But I have to wonder if, like so many sewers of my generation, if I am stuck in pattern following execution and not doing enough with my creative brain. Accuracy and fit do not equate directly with self-expression. And really in this world do we get enough chances to do that?

There is some interesting work in this magazine. 

Yes, I would work on some technique - why would anyone use white thread to sew in a zipper in purple fabric? And please would someone give these girls an iron, but there is an idea here to consider and I am doing that.

Take a look at these projects and tell me what you think:

Sweater strips serged to bottom of a cardigan

The old felted sweater trick with some needle felting, interesting skirt I thought.

A lace top with tulle and decorations added as you can see, not a bad upgrade of the LBD for those occasions when everyone at the event is wearing a LBD

OK this is really clever, how smart is that strap/belt?

And me, signing off now, to go teach and try to open some young minds, and reminding myself to do the same with my own.


Texan said...

I like the lace top. But then I really like the sheer fabrics. I just bought a Vogue pattern that is neat (to me) that uses sheer material and the sleeves are large and extra long. I think it makes the hippie in me happy LOL. I seem to swing between that and very tailored. What a contrast. If I need a dress up look I go tailored. But for everyday I kinda like the jeans and boots and the more artsy tops. Then again when at home a TShirt works great LOL. mmm am I all over the place or what. I do agree as we get a bit older its a bit trickier sometimes deciding mmm can I wear this lol. What do you teach?

celkalee said...

To your subject, great minds think alike. Lets experiment. Go to your favorite public place, where all ages sit, stand or walk past. I'm thinking outdoor cafe. This is a favorite past-time of mine. While I appreciate many styles of dress I am absolutely, positively sure of a few things. No matter what the middle/past middle age lady wears, her good grooming is essential. Hair is clean and well cut, clothes are clean and pressed (yes, the old fashioned way with heat and steam) and shoes are clean and polished or generally well tended. Large patches of bare skin are not available for candid photography, a-la-Wal-Mart favorites. And posture, despite the effects of age and gravity is erect not schleppy. From there style can define that person. I know I only look presentable to me in essentially tailored pieces, traditional I guess, with an artsy scarf or jewelry. I want to be recalled for me, not what I wear. The dress you illustrate with the layers of fabric looks like a cupcake to me, but on the right person maybe not. At this age I just try not to look like a frumpy clown!

LinB said...

Interesting question. Yes, the garments you show from that magazine look "arty." I still think that the ruffled sweater dress and the felted sweater skirt would only look good on a teen-aged art student. The women near my age or older whom I would emulate -- if I could afford the clothes -- wear well-fitted, solid color sheath dresses or slacks and tunic/overblouse, with low-heeled shoes, a scarf or belt or necklace (never more than one at a time); all in natural fibers or materials. I had tons of quilting scraps donated to me, so I sewed up a bunch of color-blocked crazy print blouses to wear over solid slacks that I also sewed up. That's as arty as I dare go, at over-50. I miss my old costumes-as-daywear, but I can be honest to myself when I look in the mirror. Better sane mediocrity than Crazy Old Lady, so they won't send the Old People Police after me.

Bunny said...

I love arty, can't do it but love it. I think you could pull it off. I am too short and small and many art garments are B I G and look a little ridiculous on me. But when I see Ann Smith, the queen of arty garments, she always looks smashing. Bet she's a lot taller than me.

I really think you could pull off some of those Marcy Tilton looks. You are tall and have elegant carriage. I say give it a shot.

As far as the cupcake dress and skirt, I like them, not on me, but I like them. I find the garments in altered couture ( which is way too expensive, by the way) to look positively sloppy. They are worn sloppily and constructed sloppily. While this look might be great for Harvard Square or Berkeley, it sure won't make it up here in the Adirondacks. Our little town would label me the "crazy lady" in a heartbeat, if they haven't already. So I say go for the arty look, but not what you see in altered couture. Look to Ann Smith and Shams for great looking "artier" clothes made from patterns. I really think you would look great in these styles.

gwensews said...

I have that magazine also. I do like the black lacey deal. I find it difficult, being of "a certain age", to dress stylishly without looking matronly or worse- looking like I can't get out of the 60s.

Shelly said...

I have to agree that arty styles look great. I love them but I feel stupid if I wear them. Like Gwen, I find it difficult to dress stylishly without looking matronly or feeling like mutton dressed as lamb so to speak.

Summer Flies said...

hello... I really like reading your blog. You seem to be in my mind sometimes! I like some of the stuff in that mag but even if I used it, I wouldn't have time to make it!