Friday, June 24, 2011

Very Exciting Wordpress Things!

As mentioned in my previous post, I started a Wordpress blog...which grew, and grew, and grew. It's a very websitey sort of blog, and I'm still working on how to functionally integrate everything I want to do with it, but it definitely exists!

First and foremost, the Wordpress incarnation of Bygone Glamour is a component of, and documentation for, what was essentially my senior thesis project, my Division III at Hampshire College. Last month, I graduated with a degree in Public History and the Applied History of Needle Arts, and my Div III involved a great deal of research into various aspects of historical clothing and authentic reproduction sewing, as well as vintage-style sewing, historically-inspired sewing, and teaching. I also wrote several articles, posted on the other blog, about different aspects of my studies.

I'm now working on expanding the Wordpress blog, adding pictures, making it more functional, and starting up regular posting. So things may not be very lively around here, but I'm getting the proverbial ball rolling over there!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Which I Abandon Ship for Wordpress

Perhaps "abandon ship" is putting it a bit too strongly, but...

Since I found Wordpress to be so dynamic when creating a blog-as-website last fall for the final project in my historic preservation course, I recently decided to start building the blog/site for my Div III/thesis over there. It's still got a lot of blanks to be filled and isn't quite done, but it's coming together! Which is good, because the final meeting for my Div III - when they determine if I've passed or failed - is coming up in all of nine days.

I may still use this particular blog for things, and I find that my google/blogger account is very useful, so it won't be a full disappearing act by any means. But all the exciting Div III historical clothing research, and the things I've been sewing and will sew, and my massive annotated bibliography (actually useful, I promise!) are all over at bygoneglamour.wordpress.com now.

I'll try to remember to announce here when the site is fully presentable, in a week or so, but it will never be "complete" - part of the point is that I'm setting up something that will be easy for me to keep using in the future. I hope you'll visit, if you've found your way here.

-Ava

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Corset Progress and So Forth

On Thursday evening I announced that I was going to start posting daily....and here is my next post, very late on Saturday night. Whoops. Well, it's been a crazy, crazy couple of days, full of frantic running about trying to get things in order with my transcript and so forth in time to meet my first graduate school deadline. Not a lot going on in the department of sewing.

However! Today, vestiges of the January Term corset-making class that I taught met in my common room to make further corset progress. The three of them are all coming along nicely; they're all at least as far as constructing the linings of their final corsets. There has been a great deal of fitting along the way, and there are many, many fussy gussets to construct. But they're coming along, and I'm learning so much about corset fitting and shaping and engineering by working with so many different bodies and styles. It's been a great learning experience for me; I hope they feel the same!

After my junior corset-makers left, I went on a very important grocery shopping expeditions with two housemates and a friend, out in the genuinely horrifying weather, but fortunately, I survived the adventure. After some much-needed dinner, I finished cutting out a couple of stray gussets, and voila, my two corset mock-ups were entirely cut out! I then spend a couple hours carefully marking up each and every piece with seam lines and balance marks and all sorts of fussing.

I could only drag myself through pressing the gusset opening seam allowances back on one of them, but now I have a completed mock-up of my 1830s set of stays (that term was more commonly used than "corset," in that period). It even has a little pocket sewn in the front for a wooden mock-up busk. Unfortunately, it was after three in the morning by the time I finished putting the mock-up together, so everyone had gone to bed and there was no one to pin me into it for a fitting. Ohhh well. Once I acquire an assistant and actually do a fitting, I'll try to get some pictures, and then there will actually be evidence of what I'm doing!

In related news - to my extreme delight, I have found someone to make me a wooden busk for my 1830s stays! It will be made out of a thin piece of oak, and I just need to send a picture and dimensions - which I will be able to do as soon as I have a perfectly fitted mock-up and know the finished length. I'm so pleased! It will be wonderful to have just the right thing. He even offered to carve it with my initials!

In other Div III related news, I have decided that something I will start doing is to keep track of questions that arise along the way, particularly things I'm not likely to be able to answer readily, since I don't have ready access to original garments. Some of these questions will be included in my final documentation paper, as points of consideration for further research - this sort of thing is commonly done in scientific research, so why not in what I'm doing, which is as much experimental archaeology as anything else?

It occurred to me to do this after I started wondering today how gussets would be been typically constructed when hand-sewing. I know how to do them by machine, and obviously the same technique could be done by hand, but would it have been? This is something I wish I'd paid closer attention to when I was examining the corsets in Collections at Old Sturbridge Village. Hopefully I can get some idea of the matter by peering at photographs in museum books and online, and looking through things like The Workwoman's Guide. But it will be guessing. And that's acceptable - as long as I admit that I'm guessing, and note that it's a question for further investigation. Because part of the point of what I'm doing is to demonstrate that things can be learned from the clothing construction process. Including things that can help us better understand how women of the past constructed their clothing, and why.

One of the fascinating things I'm learning from working on corsets of different time periods is about the evolution of corset engineering through the 19th century. The hows and the whys are starting to really come together in my head, and it's exciting. I'm starting to think semi-seriously about eventually writing a book on custom-making corsets based on duct-tape draping and different "engineering" principles - how to work with the bias or avoid it, different shapes for different periods, etc. I find it frustrating that so much of what's out there about corset-making largely ignores fitting, and all basically talks about a generic, shaped panel, more-or-less 3rd quarter or the 19th century or so style, completely or largely ignoring gussets, which are extremely useful and were widely used, though of course in some periods more than others.

I'm also of the opinion that patterns are mostly counter-productive when it comes to patterns, and that working with duct tape draping, a couple of colored sharpies, and some diagrams of what you want the pieces to be roughly shaped like, is vastly superior to trying to make a standard pattern both fit your body and flatter your body. Plus, even when a pattern turns out well, your corset still ends up looking like, well, the pattern! There was so much variety in corset styles in the past, even within a single period - it's silly that most reproduction corsets look more or less the same.

Of course, I'm guessing that there's more information about this sort of thing on Foundations Revealed, but thus far I have not been able to scare up the money for a membership, unfortunately. Well, hopefully soon I'll manage it, at least for a little while. And then perhaps I won't need to do quite as much making things up as I go along....slash re-inventing the wheel.

And now, I must sleep. Updates will likely be a bit scarce this week, because I have a grad school application due on Friday that still has a great deal that needs doing, and I'll need to focus much of my time on that. But on the up side, one of the things I need to do for my application is put together a little 2-page PDF on my historical-costuming-experimental-archaeology-stuff, with - guess what! - pictures! So I will endeavor to post that here, or at least put the pictures here, as well, sometime within the week. I know, I know...this sort of blog is quite useless without pictures. I'm working on it! :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Future of My Posts

Since December, I've been intending to post on this blog more regularly, and really use it to support my Div III (short for Division III - the massive senior thesis project I'm now in the last three months of), but it keeps not happening, in large part because I'm not exactly sure how I want to go about it, and I tend to feel a great deal of pressure to do things well and thoroughly (you know, with lots of pictures and so forth). Also, I've been feeling that I should probably move things over to the new blog I set up with the same name on WordPress, which seems to be a more dynamic service than Blogger, and start linking my domain there. By which housekeeping token, I also need to be go through old posts and tidy things up, finish posting about my 1830s sewing independent study last spring, and write informational posts introducing projects, explaining what my Div III is and so forth.

Obviously, I'm overwhelming myself, so updating hasn't been happening. Therefore, I'm making a decision to slow down on worrying about the major updates, old posts, and housekeeping elements, and instead to start writing a post every day summarizing the Div III work I've done that day, and going into more detail if I've found interesting blog posts or made sewing progress - the nitty-gritty details of my harried process of arranging the various elements of my graduate school applications is probably of substantially less interest! Though at the moment, that is occupying a great deal of my time.

In these little daily posts, I'll plan on noting down specific things that I want to write about at greater length later, and linking to any relevant inspiration articles or pages. That way, it keeps track of what I'm up to, and if a faculty member I'm working with or a reader wants to see more on that topic, they can feel free to harass me to get writing! Social pressure works wonders on me.

One very exciting piece of news is that one of my housemates has given me a camera! It's in perfect working order and still has all of its bits and pieces, but she has a newer camera and hasn't used this one for years, so she very generously passed it on to me, knowing that my lack of camera has been proving a genuine hardship in the course of trying to document my work. So now it will be much easier to actually document what I've made, and even get some tutorials up! There is hope for the future!

Currently, I'm working on selecting supplies for two bonnets (late 1830s and mid 1860s), which will be ordered from three different sources (whew) via the Social Venture Fund which awarded me a grant to partially fund my Div III. My goal was to have all of my supplies purchased by the end of January, but finances and general complexity foiled that plan, so now I'm just trying to get it taken care of as soon as possible.

Also, I'm spending some time investigating various historical costuming blogs and sites for further inspiration and resources. I'm on something of a desperate hunt for historical costuming resources that are simultaneously oriented toward academic research and actual construction. I know of some, but I'm always on the hunt for more - especially for articles that relate specifically to things I'm working on, and concepts I'm interested in. So I'd love to get recommendations for more blogs, sites, and so forth. I just ran across a couple lovely ones today that I can't believe I'd never heard of today!

On which note - I'm thinking a lot about the copyright, fair use, and citation issues that are wrapped up on historical costuming. This comes up a lot for me, and I'm always uncertain how it works. Today, I ran across a very interesting article on just this subject, "Museum Photos and Taking Photos in Museums - Copyright, Fair Use, Public Domain" on American Duchess, a glorious blog I have just discovered via The Dreamstress. I'd like to look into this issue more, so I think I'll have a go at using my college's resources to get other opinions and input. Maybe someone can track down a copyright lawyer to give me input, since after all, it relates to my Div III. I'll also need to get in contact with Old Sturbridge Village to ask for permission to re-post their images from their online collection (because I've used several of their items for reproduction), and photos I took while visiting Collections there, and also to inquire about permission to post a tutorial on making a version of a needlebook in their collection - though in point of fact I'm not even entirely sure if I need permission for that last, especially since my reproduction was made only using photographs on their website, not a visit. However, I'd like to use their images, and it at least seems like good manners to ask! But if I can go in with some real information about fair use, I think it would be much easier to manage altogether. We shall see.

In sewing related news...

I have functionally finished a reproduction red wool cloak (c. mid 18th century through early 19th century), with absurd amounts of piecing and many many tiny stitches. It needs ribbons to close it at the neckline, but I need to wait until I can order silk ribbons for that, and it needs the arm slits cut, but I want to wait on that until I have the ribbon closures on, so I know exactly how the cloak actually sits while in use. The slits are literally just that, without any evidence of finishing or binding on the original - so it will finish up in no time at all once I have the ribbon! The cloak is an almost-exact reproduction of the one in the Costume Close-Up book from Colonial Williamsburg, except with more piecing, because I didn't have enough fabric, but couldn't afford to buy more and desperately wanted to go through with the project. I used a thick (coating weight) red wool flannel for the main fabric, and black silk habotai for the hood lining and front facings, both of which I already had. I drafted the pattern myself, in large part directly on the fabric with a piece of chalk, which made me feel very historical indeed. I used the fabric down to the last teeny tiny scraps, so it was extremely efficient, in a way that would have been thrifty in the 18th century (I think! It's not exactly my period of specialty), but would mystify/horrify most modern seamstresses. I enjoyed the adventure, and soon I will have a very exciting cloak to flounce about it. As soon as it has ribbons, I will arrange a photoshoot in our exceedingly snowy New England woods and post pictures. (Assuming that the Big Bad Wolf doesn't catch up to me first....ahem.)

Corsets are my big sewing project at the moment. I'm working on a set of late 1830s stays for myself, of white cotton sateen lined with white cotton twill, which will be mostly corded with just a bit of boning, which will involve some fancy whitework embroidery, and which I will most likely entirely hand-sew. Once I've figured out that tricky corsetry seam of the period, which was used on almost all of the sets of stays in Collections at OSV (oh, examining all the stays! That was wonderful), and which I simply cannot figure out from the directions in The Workwoman's Guide. It looks like a plain seam on the outside, but on the inside it has a raised ridge which is bumpy between little stitches. If I can figure this business out, I will make a video of it for posterity! Anyone have any clues?

Anyway! In the department of corsetry, I am also working on a set of early-to-mid 1860s stays for myself, which will be made of bright coral colored cotton sateen, with a simple white twill lining, and possibly also an interlining (flat-lined to the outer coral layer) of more twill, to strengthen the corset, since my figure needs substantial support. I've cut pieces for mock-ups of both of these corsets (though I missed a couple a gussets and need to go back in and cut them), based on pattern pieces I drafted from duct tape mock-ups. I discovered in the corset-making class that I taught over January Term that duct tape draping for corsets can work incredibly well, resulting in perfectly fitting corset patterns much faster than starting with a commercial pattern. The sheer variation in the human form is incredible, and commercial patterns simply can't account for it. Plus, when you do duct tape draping, you can look at the model's body and determine exactly where the seam-lines ought to be for aesthetics and shaping, and mark grainlines based on where that person needs support. It's extremely dynamic, and I'm hoping to write a series of posts, and perhaps even offer videos, on how to go through this process. It does help to have books like Norah Waugh's and Jill Salen's in order to get a sense of how the pieces of original corsets were shaped, but then you can go from there.

Rounding out my adventures in corsetry, I'll also be doing a mock-up soon of an 1870s style corset, based on a commercial pattern, because I want to explore that angle as well. This is for one of my friends, and it will be the second lavender sateen 1870s corset of my Div III! I made another, based on duct tape draping, for a different friend last semester, as part of her Halloween costume. I think that the two together, along with the corsets for myself, will present a very interesting set for comparison and contrast. I'm learning so much about corsetry, and I'll be documenting that research a few different ways, including, hopefully soon, a post with links to useful tutorials elsewhere on the internet, which I've been bookmarking for years now.

And now that I've written really rather a lot of post, full of various scattered updates, I will stop writing and go back to consulting various blogs, and actively fretting over the difficulties of my transcript, which I need to send out tomorrow for a grad school application, and which seems to still have things missing. Sigh. More panicked emails to send? Most likely!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moving Beyond Ready-to-Wear

This may seem somewhat off-topic for this blog, and since I haven't yet updated the tagline and the "about" bits and pieces, perhaps technically it is. But since a lot of what I care about, and a lot of what I study, involves looking at the flaws and weaknesses of modern/current/mainstream/western ways of living, and looking to the past (and elsewhere!) for inspiration as to how we might live better, fuller, richer, healthier, happier lives - lives that satisfy us and don't compromise on who we are - I think that, in the end, talking about the ready-to-wear market and the fashion industry and the importance of moving beyond them, is on-topic for this blog.

So I'd like to take a moment to link to this really amazing post about a really amazing project: creating an online marketplace for gender-variant clothing solutions. An inclusive community. The founder of Genderfork is asking for input, and for videos from people who want this, to try to drum up support and funding. Being quite comfortable with the gender I started out with, mine isn't a voice that this project particularly needs, but I absolutely believe in what they're doing, and I hope it can be part of something more - a future where our clothes are our own choice.

So check out A Genderplayful Marketplace, also now on tumblr, and if it sounds like you, then maybe make a video.

This is my (slightly redundant to what I've just said here) comment that I posted over there:

This concept doesn't exactly apply to me, but I think it's a fantastic idea, and I just want to throw that out there. It wouldn't benefit me personally, but it could benefit a lot of people I know, and moreover, I see something something like your genderplayful marketplace as potentially being a part of something bigger, something important.

The ready-to-wear market and the fashion industry have failed us in ways beyond counting - all of us, to one degree or another. There need to be alternatives, lots of them, to shopping at the mall, at boutiques, at off-price stores, and at couture houses. Alternatives that focus on people, rather than on the market. Alternatives that enable people to dress how they want, for who they are, regardless of sex, gender, size, or shape.

Clothes that leave people feeling not-themselves are a huge problem in the genderqueer arena, but they're a problem far beyond that as well, and I really hope that this marketplace is successful, and becomes a part of a larger movement away from consuming clothing as it is as thrown at us. Appearance, including clothing, is part of the nonverbal communication that shapes and informs our interactions as human beings - we should be able to communicate the messages that are important to us, rather than being limited by the fashion industry and its limited notions of style, fit, and identity.

I don't think a video from me - a comfortably cis-gendered woman who dresses to play up her curves and favors fluffy skirts - would quite fit your mission, but I'll do everything I can to get the word out about this to people who would benefit very personally from what you're doing. It's wonderful.


***

I know that I'm again making generalizations about the evils of ready-to-wear supremacy, but every time I think about being more specific, it gets overwhelming - there's so much to talk about, so much that needs to be discussed specifically, carefully, and accurately, that I don't want to do it halfway. But I promise! I will write a full post on the troubling (I can't say problematic; I just can't) effects of the ready-to-wear market and fashion industry. Not just an angry diatribe - I don't actually think that fashion is inherently evil, anyway - but a point-by-point critique.

For now, I'll just say this:

Imagine that it's not about money and it's not about time. Imagine you can wear anything you want. What would it look like? How would it fit? How would it feel? What would it emphasize, and what would it hide?

What would your clothes communicate to the world around you?

Are the answers to those questions, in the hypothetical world of wearing anything you want, anything like the answers to those questions in your life right now?

Whether you're non-gender-conforming, shaped differently from industry standard dress forms, dress modestly for religious reasons, or simply have a unique style that you want to share with the world - you should have the right to communicate the message of your choice through your appearance.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Which I Reappear From the Mists

Why, hello, internet. How are you doing? I have been long absent from my poor, neglected, and never-fully-fleshed-out blog, but I have been reading a great many blogs and tagging items of interest very thoroughly with Google bookmarks (I really love Google bookmarks, really a lot). I haven't been gone from you, internet, I just haven't been adding to your wisdom...at least not in a cohesive fashion. I do leave the occasional witty remark, book recommendation, thoughtful critique, or recipe review, but given that I continually overflow with notions and ideas and plans and criticisms and techniques and perhaps even wisdom, it seems to me that I ought to be collecting some of those mental overflows in one place, and oh internet - you have seen fit to provide me with blogging, so I can do just that!

Okay, I think one paragraph of addressing the internet as an entity is quite enough. Moving on.

I need to take pictures and upload pictures and go back in and write entries and edit my blog subtitle and so forth - but I will do that later. Right now, I will simply say (and then possibly go on to ramble extensively) that I have decided to actively take up blogging, and there will be more, much more. In large part, things will center on my senior thesis project, which involves studying public history specifically as regards historical costume and involving extensive sewing of reproduction clothing. First of all: public history is history for, and involving, the public, as opposed to the more strictly academic confines of the traditional discipline of history. That's what I'll be studying in graduate school after I get my bachelor's degree in May (yessssss), and on a smaller scale, it's what I'm studying now as well. I believe that public history should not only make history accessible and interesting to people, it should truly make history relevant - it should help people gain historical understanding in ways that are actually useful to them, whether on a conceptual level or a purely practical level, or, ideally, both. I think that looking at the ways in which people of the past have interacted with clothing and needle arts can be informative on both of those planes. It can even be "green" - really!

Consider: if you possess basic sewing skills and the time and willingness to use them, you can alter your clothes to fit better, alter them if you get bored of them, and alter or re-purpose thrifted or gifted clothes - all of this potentially resulting in a better fitting, more unique wardrobe, at a lower cost, which lasts longer and which takes advantage of second-hand clothing that might otherwise end up in a landfill. This is apart from the possibility of making your own clothes from scratch! By avoiding, even in part, the various pitfalls of the ready-to-wear industry and the intense consumerism that accompanies it, utilizing one's sewing skills in such a way increases the sustainability, so to speak, of one's lifestyle. I have a lot more to say on this subject, and this is merely a jotted down introduction, but I think it's important to point out that there's a great deal more to the study of historic costume, and to reproduction sewing, than "ooooh! pretty!" - though there's that too.

So, anyway, I am doing this thesis project, which involves a great deal of sewing, a great deal of research, a great deal of documenting my research for the things I sew, and some formal academic writing about the history of costume, as well as less formal writing about how historical needle arts can be tapped as a resource for green living....etcetera. (Sometimes I like spelling that out, for dramatic purposes. It's a personal failing.) My bloggitty blog will also be receiving some back-dated posts following up on last spring's 1830s sewing project, including an updated and greatly expanded annotated bibliography (of epic proportions, seriously). I didn't make it as far as sewing the dress, but I do have the fabric, and I'm planning to make it as part of my thesis project. I did finish the quilted petticoat, with the exception of attaching a waist fastening, which I need to do, because I'm in Massachusetts and it's bloody cold and I could wear the thing around, by gum!

Additionally, I expect that I will post about various other things that happen to interest me, particularly miscellaneous domestic pursuits (I love to cook and have a strange fascination with housewares), graduate school applications and plans (including occasional gleeful squealings about how I don't have to take the GREs), fabulous tutorials I have found on the internet (I Google bookmark them, carefully tagged), angry rantings about this-that-and-the-other (including both ridiculous conservatives AND ridiculous liberals!), and so forth. Occasionally, I will say shocking things, such as "I don't actually consider myself a feminist" and "Well, I decided I needed bangs, so I grabbed a pair of scissors, went into the bathroom, and cut bangs...oh, and they look fabulous, by the way." Not that the two are necessarily on par. (I promise I'll explain the feminism thing later - it's not as bad as it sounds, really.) It is likely that I will sometimes remark on the fact that my boyfriend looks like Orlando Bloom. This is because he does. No, really, I watched Pirates of the Caribbean with him recently, and it was just plain disconcerting. He is known around campus as "the guy who looks like Orlando Bloom." It's not so much that I'm gloating, it's just a rather astonishing reality of my life that I can't quite get used to, even though it's been more than a year. Oh, also: I go to weird hippie college that has its own bizarre vernacular, which I am forced to translate for the rest of the world. Probably I will get lazy and start actually saying "Div III" (which is what it is) instead of "thesis project" (which is the only way to give most people an idea of what I'm doing). Just to clarify, a bit, Div III is short for Division III, and that's three the Roman numeral, and it's a massive independent project that takes up the bulk of one's final year here, though that's only my second year, as I transferred in.

Now that you have been fairly warned - sort of - and introduced to my incredible predilection for parentheses (oh, wow - that phrase was accidentally even awesomer than intended - and I accidentally opened parenthesis to comment on it [this is getting uncomfortably meta]), I will share a few of the specific things I'm planning to post about soon(ish)...in part to remind me that I thought of them.

-Thanksgiving. I cooked an epic feast for my boyfriend and some friends, since we were all staying on campus for the holiday, and it was actually the best Thanksgiving ever. I made so much glorious food, including some small and highly amusing minor mishaps (one involving cayenne pepper), and even remembered to photograph most of it (albeit with my camera phone's rather mediocre powers). I will be sharing and linking to recipes, including the recipe for the magnificent banana cream pie that I made, which is happily available to all on the magical internet.

-Other People's Tutorials. There are many of them, but they're frustratingly hard to find when you need them. I may actually make some sort of ongoing, regularly edited post full of good ones, organized by topic. They'll skew toward vintage and vintage-inspired, though, because I read a lot of those blogs, they offer a lot of tutorials, and I think a lot of them are clever. I'll try to group them functionally, for instance putting together all the articles on things to do to make old/boring sweaters awesomer. I can think of several tutorials that do just that off the top of my head.

-Ramblings About Corsetry. Because I'm doing a lot of corset-making, I'll be teaching corset-making in January, and I'm writing an enormous research paper on the historiography of the corset. Which is to say, I spend so much time bitching about the ways in which people fundamentally misunderstand and misrepresent "the corset" that I thought I ought to turn it into actual work. I'll even be giving a guest lecture on the subject for a course in the spring! In short: the corset is not inherently a tool of torture, museum collections demonstrate that 17 inch waists were by no means common in any period, rib removal absolutely positively was not practiced during the Victorian period, and a properly fitting corset does not actually hurt to wear. Nevertheless, I am pleased to have the option of not wearing one every day without risking social ostracism. (See? It's not that I'm against feminism. I just don't like labels. And stuff.) Anyway, it's really interesting to see how academic research has used completely flawed sources (one 19th century fetish book, in particular) to make completely fallacious arguments, without any real understanding of the hows or whys of corsetry. I'll be floating some thoughts on the subject here as I work on morphing miscellaneous thoughts into a proper creature of academic research.

-My Obsession With Trader Joe's. Seriously, I love that place. OH MY GOD. It just occurred to me that there might not be a Trader Joe's in the rather rural area where I'm planning to go to graduate school (my top choice, that is)....so I stopped writing this post in order to check....and there isn't a Trader Joe's closer than 200 miles. Well, 191 miles. OH GOD WHY? This is genuinely upsetting to me. However, there is a famously awesome farmer's market, so that will have to console me. You know that stereotype that women love shoe shopping? That's how I feel about Trader Joe's. Um, sort of. Actually, as I think about it, the analogy is collapsing. Nevermind.

-Pretty Things. I love pretty things. Especially when those things are deceptively useful, and/or charmingly old-fashioned. I use a cut-crystal candy jar to hold my hair pins. (I have a lot of hair pins, and I generally shed them everywhere I go; it's my calling card.) I garnish perfectly ordinary bowls of soup that will be eaten sitting on a bed while watching a movie. I believe in the mood-lifting powers of pretty underwear, even if absolutely no one is going to see them. Despite being over-full and generally a bit (or a lot) messy, my room is perfectly color-coordinated in black and white and red. I handmade my own lampshade using cream-colored pleated chiffon, loopy gold braid trim, and shimmery dark red ribbon bows: it is magical. I also made myself a black silk velvet pincushion with a white silk organza ruffle all around. I'm really a very practical person, but I also adore pretty things.

Altogether, I am a rambly sort of creature, but I shall try to be organized, and to tag thoroughly, so things can be sifted through more easily. Also, I promise to post more pictures in future, and soon, but right now, I really need to be writing papers, so I will avoid giving myself further excuses to procrastinate. My excuse for writing this post was that it might help me sidle up on writing my papers, because it's less demanding and doesn't involve Chicago-style citations. Trying to actually write, while wrangling citations in Chicago-style, is mind-warpingly difficult, and I hate going back in later to do citations, but I suppose I'll have to. Because really, every time I think about getting back to work on a paper, I think "oh no, the citations" and my brain melts. In that very non literal way, obviously. I don't even dislike academic writing...it's something about the formatting of citations that just makes me twitchy.

Er - anyway - must write that paper now. More soon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No, Really, I've Been Productive!

I haven't been updating for the last month, due to a variety of factors, one of which being serious lack of motivation, considering that no one actually reads this blog. That and a lack of pictures with which to update - but I've at least been using my camera phone to take in progress shots, so I will put together some project posts soon.

For the 1830s project, I have:
-A pair of pockets, one of them artfully pieced, using directions from the WWG and looking at various examples - done but for needing twill tape to attach them, which I bought today
-A "bustle" of ruffled cotton jean, following directions in the WWG - done but for needing a tape threaded through the waist casing instead of cord, which I bought today
-A seashell-shaped velvet needlebook, imitating a red leather one in the OSV - done
-A black velvet pillow-shaped pincushion with a huge white organza ruffle, somewhat following directions in the WWG - done and perfectly ridiculous
-A floral striped cotton quilted petticoat imitating one in the OSV collection - partially constructed, with five rows of quilting done and lots more to go, then a waistband to attach.

Before the semester ends, I really want to make stays and a bodiced petticoat as well, because I'm hoping to make use of them this summer, as I will be interning at Old Sturbridge Village - YAY! Hopefully the costume department will be willing to let me wear my own undergarments. I doubt they issue corsets to the interpretation interns, and I really hate to wear period costume without them. In part, I admit, because the clothes are far less flatting without stays!

Times are very busy, so I'm not sure what I'll be able to complete on time, but even with only a few items done, I will still call the independent study a great success, and an amazing start on research that - let's face it - will lead to a book. I'll keep working on all of this, and will publish while I'm in grad school, or perhaps just after. I love that I'm getting to do real research on this level and with this combination of elements as, roughly, a third-year undergrad student. There's certainly something to be said for a Hampshire education.

So, that's the quick update, but there will be more soon, on the projects I've been working on (including a pattern for the pretty needlebook), the things I've bought, my research, and further plans. Oh, and on the ridiculous amounts of time I've spent scanning images from books onto my computer for a personal-use research database organized by item type - so when I go to, say, draft a pattern for a shift, I can look at ALL my examples of shifts and shift patterns and try to do the most appropriate things, while taking into account appealing stylistic variations.

Plans plans plans! And don't think I'll stop sewing just because the semester ends... ;)