excuse me while I talk about my underwear.

I’ve been sewing a lot of lingerie lately. My life is kind of a series of small possessions–I play host to a revolving door of obsessive interests, immersing in one after another, always centered on an axis of making *something* with a nostalgic eye cast backward in history. My hoarding of pattern catalogs and sewing ephemera *may* be giving way to hoarding of lingerie materials, which in my mind, marks some kind of progress because it’s more about the action of the crafting and the enjoyment of the moment while creating the thing than it is about possession of a thing. We’ll see.

I’m trying to move more into making than owning, more about enjoyment of the process than collecting (but I still love you, bookshelf!). I find trying to sew beautiful things to be a therapeutic exertion of will over a sometimes ugly reality. Politics has me hand-wringing? Grab my lace. Worried about antartic ice sheets? Turn off a few more light bulbs and grab my lace. Focus on the lace. The Western world seems to be both far better than it has been in the last few millenia, in terms of civil rights, gay rights, the standing of women and children, literacy, information access, medicine. Yet in terms of scaled economic injustice and systems of exploitation of labor, climate change, pollution, the island of plastic in the pacific, mercury in and acidification and warming of the oceans, species extinctions, the disappearance of the middle class, the disappearance of privacy, the uncertain future of jobs in a time of automation, it is arguably worse and far more complex than I think most human brains are evolved to be able to grapple with. I don’t know any answers. But in an often ugly, screaming world, I am trying to quietly make what beauty I can. I make lace things. I make lunches. I make babies and make love and make breakfast magic out of 3oz of leftover steak, three eggs and last night’s soggy skinned baked potato. I make scribbles. I make crude jokes. I make my grandma laugh. (Since she watched Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones, there’s not much that phases her. <3) That’s often all I feel I have the efficacy in this world to do.

Anyway…I’ve sewn Cloth Habit’s wonderful Harriet pattern at least 10x since I bought it.

17265840_1930846020476535_754337784939937792_n

As it was, without modification, the cup placement was slightly narrow for my rather broad boob placement, as to be expected with any pattern I sew. Yet because my shape is shallow up top, the upper cup was sagging sad and empty, as most bras have for me forever. Not the fault of the pattern, just natural variation in human anatomy. (It is a peeve of mine when people complain about patterns not fitting their bodies precisely, especially when it comes to breast shape, when it would be so utterly and obviously impossible for any pattern maker to account for the bajillion types of bodies and mass distribution in existence.) So I tried tweaking the pieces by taking the C cup as a baseline / wireline / cup to cradle joining point and overlaying the B and A size pieces as guides to taper down to the projection of a B cup at the apex and the A cup at the top. Not sure if this was the most efficient way to do this. In fact, it surely wasn’t. But it gave me something that works. I’ve struggled for a few months with the relationship of the wire to the pattern and cup shape, but I think it’s starting to make more sense and really come together for me now. There are a few great blog entries on this topic on bramakingblog.com that were helpful for me.

17334125_262283604225128_413021780513390592_n

17265569_884816068327887_2521088344679514112_n

17126592_420084094998317_7506524165256511488_n

17439096_379261855792342_336682383254224896_n

After about 10 iterations, I wanted to try something else–specifically, something less pokey in the side boob. Since I need a wire for a bigger cup size than my actual projection, and I have wide boobs on a short torso, I often feel like the wires that fit me are way too long. Demi wires are a great answer to this problem, so I worked some more on a self drafted bra pattern with a different shape. I’ve been trying to up my technical game by working on enclosing all the seams in my bras (there’s a post on doing just that on the Watson pattern on the TailorMadeBlog that got me started on this). So I tried one attempt with a full band.

17662330_634252816766161_3269715218980143104_n

17587435_390372281339967_4557884865780908032_n

Then I reworked my pattern as a partial band bra for shallow demi wires and ended up with this.

17596669_1888032454812658_4997340181431320576_n

17596517_183875235456215_6889366695152975872_n

Considering some minor tweaks and fabric variations for this. Happy Sunday!

Advertisements

Free Vintage Inspiration: 20s Era Dennison Halloween and Party Booklets

I have a thing for vintage costume catalogs. I just love the idea of people having galas and dressing up to socialize; there just isn’t enough of that these days.

bowiedance
Still waiting on my invite.
No, seriously, guys. Give me the poisoned peach.
No, seriously, guys. Give me the poisoned peach.
Still waiting. Why are there no creepy masquerade balls in my life!??
Still waiting. Why are there no creepy masquerade balls with David Bowie as the musical entertainment in my life!??

It is interesting, though, how some people bemoan contemporary Halloween as merely an excuse for people to wear skimpy things and get attention. But old catalogs I see seem to allow for more skin and more leeway in terms of socially acceptable dress (women in PANTS in the 20s?!) even back in the early 20th century. The issue of dress and pervasive sexuality in our culture is a complicated one, but I have a feeling that even when people barely even showed calves, those calves were probably viewed with the same sexual fervor that, hmm, say, Kim Kardashian’s implanted butt is today. I tend to think that human drives and fears and aspirations and perversions remain largely unchanged through history, though we tend to look toward the past as if those people were completely different than we are–and toward the future generation as morally worse than us, change as bad, social mores as crumbling. And yet we as a civilization have managed to not yet fall apart after millennia of supposedly worsening moral depravity. Hopefully some of our biases have been stripped away in terms of gender and race over the last hundred years, but I think sometimes we as a culture collectively pat ourselves on the back far too soon–as if we’ve fixed those complicated social justice problems. (Arguments about the irrelevance of feminism in our time now that it has “completed its goals” come to mind. Ha. HA! Or cultural appropriation and fashion, the outrage over the Redskins being asked to change their mascot to, you know, maybe not a highly offensive caricature.) But…rants make me tired these days. In the echo chamber of social media, the world is flooded with loudly broadcast opinions. We have maybe enough of that. But not enough of Dennison’s ephemera!!

Apparently Dennison put out these sweet little booklets starting in the late 1900s or early 1910s, most of which are now stupid expensive collectibles or reprint editions. But archive.org has three of them! They are mostly full of household decorating tips, party planning and crafts, etc, but there are some amazing illustrations and costumes in them too!

Exhibit A: Dennison’s Bogie Book from 192o. It can be downloaded (here).


bogie2a

bogie2b

Exhibit B: Dennison’s Gala Book, 1922, can be downloaded (here).

gala1 gala2a gala2b gala3

Exhibit C: Dennison’s Party Book, 1922, can be downloaded (here) Admittedly I am unclear on the difference between a gala and a party…probably a matter of scale/formality?

partybook1a
That guy’s hat looks like something out of Eyes Wide Shut. Creepy.

partybook partybook1b