Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ladies' and Misses' Elegant Slacks

Every year my wonderful brother gives me a box of vintage patterns for Christmas- how well he knows me!
McCall 6794 is from this year's batch.
Vintage patterns have some nice details that are well worth stealing and adapting to modern patterns. For example, the pocket facings, above. This solution allows the sewist to use a lightweight fabric for the inside pocket, but with a facing of the pant fabric so the pocket fabric is not visible. Very nice. The pants have a side zipper inside the pocket treatment that I might steal borrow for a skirt.
There is one page of somewhat terse instructions that include recommendations for a hand-worked buttonhole.(Because everyone knows how to sew). They don't mention suggested fabrics because everyone knows what pants are made of.
I love old patterns and cookbooks not just for the information they put in, but for what they leave out.
Old cookbooks assume we all know how to cook, so their recipes are "reminders" of how certain dishes are made. Similarly, vintage patterns sometimes don't mention fabric types,  seam finishes, or other techniques, because they assume that all sewists will just know to do them.
  A pants pattern from 1947 also tells us that women were wearing pants for casual occasions. I'm assuming this is "casual" because the background of the illustration is somewhat "countrified". Nowadays we'd wear jeans. Fun fact: designer jeans specifically for women were introduced in the 1960's by Andre Courreges (who also invented the miniskirt, along with Mary Quant.)

P.S. Wondering what the difference is between a Ladies' and Misses' sizes. The pattern does not elaborate. Everyone must have just "known" this as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time Travel Vacations

I want to go to a place where I could wear something like these dresses. If it has to be the past, so be it. A tech company needs to devote their energies to Time Travel Vacation Packages, where we could go on vacation for a day or a week in the past. Not to change anything , just to observe. And to wear things like these dresses.

 Silk satin wedding dress, designed by Norman Hartnell, 1933, given and worn by Margaret, Duchess of Argyll. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Satin and Lace for a Princess

Lace and Satin Dress For Throwback Thursday
 I made this pretty dress for Ms. Hunting Creek's First Communion. She picked out the pattern, which has the V shaped princess-approved bodice, a full swishy skirt and little lace wing sleeves. The bodice is lace, underlined with the satin. Have you ever sewn with polyester satin? It is so slippery and slide-y and uncooperative! I had to resort to hand basting the satin to the lace for the bodice to underline it, because it just would not stay put. Once the bodice was done, then I had to hand baste the gathered skirt to the bodice and make the gathers even. I should have also underlined the skirt because I can see my hand hem in the picture,but I was working with a deadline here. Also, no one would notice but me, so the motto here was get the dress to the church on time. I had to send my husband away with his mom and the kids so I could focus on completing the hem. My mother in law (not a sewist) was driving me crazy by hovering and saying, "you'll never get this done in time! Why didn't you start earlier?Why didn't you buy a dress?"  If only she knew just how many times I had finished something just before curtain time, so to speak.
Of course, I did get it done in time - an hour to spare! almost cheating! Ms. Hunting Creek loved it so much she wore it several more times: Halloween, a school play, and of course, for Princess Dress up.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blast from the Past

Voted Most Liberated Woman of MVHS
  Why it is certainly of the utmost interest to my Gentle Readers that I was voted the Most Liberated Woman of my High School Senior Class, I'd like to point out that the most interesting thing about this picture is not that smokin' yellow sweater vest (love you, 70's!) nor the huge collar of the petroleum-based shirt, but the pants, which I made myself. I made perfectly fitting pants at age 17! I attribute this precocity to the fact that I did not know at the time that pants were difficult to make. They are Royal Blue twill, have a fly zipper, patch pockets front and back, and they matched the shirt perfectly. (Full Disclosure:the shirt is my sister's. We had a Cold War of stealing each other's clothes that was only matched in ferocity by the US and USSR. It matched the pants perfectly! What else could I do?)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Irrational Behavior

My newest class starts today:
A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior 
a fascinating new world of behavioral economics. Brace yourself to learn about the multifaceted quirks of human behavior, from the psychology of money to the effects of labor on love. Join them by going to class here and see much more than the first week’s lectures.
It's not too late to sign up - class starts today, and it is free.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gendered Quilting

modern quilt design paper shredder kevin kosbab
Quilt by Kevin Kostab courtesy Quilting Arts Magazine

Is it amusing or odd or different that men could quilt? Even though men have sewn for hundreds  of years and are well established as tailors and designers, how is it possible that quilting is considered a woman-only occupation?
Yet it must be so, because the interviewer asks the quilter::
Is there an automatic sense of community among men who sew? Have you had to overcome any prejudice from people who assume that you can't quilt well because you're a man?
Oh, Quilting Arts Magazine. Do you honestly expect your readers to believe that this quilter has encountered prejudice because he was a man? Most women are delighted when a man participates in their pastime.
Here is his polite yet also sexist reply:
K: Yeah, there's a sense of camaraderie among guys who quilt—even if it's because we share the experience of searching out the elusive men's bathroom at a quilt show
What a patronizing and mansplaining answer! Quilt shows aren't held in some weird other mirrored dimension inhabited by women only, but in convention centers, meeting halls and hotel conference rooms, where there are restrooms for all, yet paradoxically, always lines at the women’s restroom. I don’t know why he says the men’s rooms are rare. There are exactly the same number of restrooms.
I bring a different perspective to my quilts partly because I'm a man, but we male quilters all have our different styles, too. Maybe as men we don't feel that we have to make our quilts within the traditional categories, but who says a woman has to make a quilt a certain way either?
How about every person brings their own unique perspective to their art based on their own experiences, and it doesn't make any difference to art whether one is a man or a woman. Why is this even a question?
Occasionally I'll run into some prejudice—one cutting-counter attendant seemed to think I didn't know what a seam allowance was—but more often women will express that they're excited to see a man quilting. There does seem to be an undercurrent, though, of the idea that men have an easier time achieving success in quilting, however that's defined. It's probably true that being a novelty helps, but when I first started publishing designs, I also heard things like, “Oh, yes, men usually do better with that because they have more confidence.” I don't think I'm a hyper-confident macho man, (and I know a lot of women quilters who certainly aren't shrinking violets), and I'd like to think my designs have more to do with it than that. But I don't mind being a novelty if that's what it takes!
Kevin might be right when he says that men might have more confidence, but there is also a cultural factor. Studies have shown that men in traditionally female occupations often make more money starting out and rise to higher positions faster than women do. See BLS studies for comparisons of male versus female wages for the same jobs. (It has been amply documented that women get paid less than men for doing the same job.)
It’s not just the same job issue either; men get considered for promotion faster and rise more quickly than women who have equal experience. There are more male superintendents and principals, even though there are more female teachers. And at the higher levels there are more men with tenure at colleges than women and women report that they find it very difficult to get tenure, even with equal qualifications.
The lesson here is clear - if you are a man, you can succeed and thrive faster in a profession consisting mainly of women, because the way will be made clear for you. It’s not Kevin’s imagination. Quilting has long been considered the province of women, and even though quilts require a great deal of artistic ability and technique and skill, they have only fairly recently in their long history been recognized as an art form. It wasn't until a male art critic wrote about the beauty of the quilts of Gee’s Bend that quilting came to be considered an art at all by art critics. Before then it was just considered a nice womanly craft. Not an art form, because the mostly male gatekeepers of what is “art” had not yet  recognized that those quilts were art. (We'll know when it is considered art in its
own right, not just "quilt art" when quilts are hung side by side with Monets and Picassos in major museum collections, not just at Quilt Museums.)

In quilting as in all other “women’s crafts”  women don’t get the respect they deserve. It’s wonderful that Kevin says that women are delighted that a man is participating in quilting. It would be even nicer if men were equally delighted and welcoming to women doing jobs that are primarily done by men. We can make a deal. We’ll let them quilt all they want in exchange for equal pay and opportunity for all.