Sunday, May 17, 2009

when work is fun

The new sewing machine arrived last weekend allowing me to finish the scarves I'd been painting in the meanwhile. It's so smooth the next thing I did was go shopping for fabric to make myself some new clothes.. just a few things that will allow me to not have to wear more when I go outside in summer than I do on the average winter day. I'm not so shy as all that but I have become more prudent as I've aged about what's showing when I'm in public. Short skirts require I wear stockings and see through ones mean wearing a slip. Skirts with no waistbands sitting near my navel tend to swing around backwards or sideways whenever I walk and I don't like that. Neither do I like the short skirts that are too short and long ones that are too long. I'm pretty much average in height among the women I know and a 35" long skirt comes close to dragging on the ground and is certain to get caught under the wheels of my chair at work. I've missed serious injury or accidental disrobing more than once while scooting across my office.

Long ago I got a summer job as a model in a bridal/evening gown shop in Toronto. At 5'4" I was too short for runway work and was smaller than the size 8 required for catalog/magazine work. Even though it was flattering to be considered attractive enough to get dressed up for customers, my favorite part was spending time with the chief seamstress in the basement workrooms. She was French and had worked with Balenciaga in Paris for many years. She could look at the measurements of someone she'd never seen and make a perfect dress for her. The summer job turned into evenings and weekends for a year while I speed learned couture, enthralled and happy to learn everything that lovely woman was inclined to teach. Even though I'd already learned to sew she made me unafraid of seeing and cutting.

For years afterward I designed and made all my own clothes and some for friends too. I didn't like what was available then and now I can't afford the things of quality I might like to wear. Besides, I hate fashion when it's geared toward 20 year olds. I haven't been that age in nearly 40 years and there's no going back. Now I've learned to paint silk and there's a beautiful little jacket I have in mind as a project but I'll make it first in a less flashy fabric for daily use.

I'll try not to overdo all this but it's nice to rediscover an enthusiasm I thought was gone for good.. and all because of a little sewing machine that can do tricks and runs smooth as silk. Isn't she pretty?

In case you wondered these are the new scarves just finished although I still haven't figured out how to photograph their nearly 9 foot length. I suppose I could go out to the woods and wrap them around trees and bushes but it doesn't sound like fun.


René Wing said...

I wish I could learn from you what you learned from that woman... I would like to sew my own clothes too. I watched a film today, The Snow Walker, a young Inuit woman does much sewing of animal hides. Such beautiful scarves, and nearly blankets!

The Crow said...

I love the colors in your scarves, Susan. The silk fabric is luminescent and that adds to the very pretty!


Liberality said...

I love long skirts but there are definitely some drawbacks to wearing them to the office.

caught under the wheels of my chair at work. I've missed serious injury or accidental disrobing more than once while scooting across my office

I've done that a time or two myself. I still wear long skirts but when I sit at my desk I make sure to gather up the material and keep it out of the wheels way. :~)

Seraphine said...

i can honestly say i've never accidentally disrobed while scooting across my office.
as to the scarves, i hate saying wow. but it's rather the first thing out of my mouth. holding the word would probably cause an exchange od drool.
perchance, try wearing the scarf instead of enlisting the help of a tree!
do you have room for a mannequin?

linda said...

oh those scarves are amazing, you ever do anything smaller, like three feet instead of nine, for summer? I love that pinky one although I love them make me want to buy a sewing machine and start sewing again too!!


susan said...

rene - There are some very good books around these days that remove the fear of sewing, especially simple things like skirts. However, I did some hand sewing with glove leather once and didn't like it.. too much like skin.

the crow - I use charmeuse almost exclusively just for that reason. The scarves are fairly light weight but the little bags are made from the thickest I can find.

liberality - The longest ones I wear anymore are about 6" above my ankles. Have you ever had a wrap around one come untied? That's fun too.

sera - I might be able to find a spot for a mannequin if I painted it first and called it a sculpture. I'm glad you like the scarves :-)

linda - I've made some smaller ones but they weren't dramatic or luxurious enough for my taste. Except for the hottest days they're good pretty much year round.

yellowdog granny said...

holy shit!...I have a sewing machine almost identical to yours..i've had it since thanksgiving and still dont know how to fill the bobbin and thread it from the bottom...i haven't sewn in 40+ going soon as i learn how to use it..i wish i had my old pedal sewing ..i could sew with..

susan said...

ydg - Welcome! A post I did earlier in the month was about my 42 yr old machine finally giving up the ghost. Strangely enough, this one in essence isn't that much different. I really didn't want one of those newfangled computerized models :-)

La Belette Rouge said...

OMG, you are a woman of soooo many talents. Have you ever made a cravat for Crow? I think he'd look brilliant in one.

Spadoman said...

I'm certainly not much of a fashion critic, but if I turn my head to look, I must have noticed something. Pretty much is the way clothes are worn that catches my eye. I find all sorts of things attractive.

Glad you are enjoying the new machine. The enthusiasm is great, isn't it? I have had the same feelings about my works since I moved and have room to spread out my stuff.

So, you "paint" the material? Then sew it into scarves? Who knew, (I said I didn't know anything about fashion).

What about that flag? E-mail if interested. Nylon would be good! Simple design. Of course I'll pay what it warrants. Let me know.


Mary Ellen said...

I've always had a lot of respect for those who have the patience to sew. The only time I was put in front of a sewing machine was when I was in Home Ec in high school. My friend and I sneaked into the classroom one morning and removed all the needles in the machines so we wouldn't have to sew that day...kind of tells you what a brat I was, and how much I feared "the machine".

Mary Ellen said...

Shoot...forgot to add, your work is beautiful. I love the colors in your scarves, they're incredible. :-)

Randal Graves said...

Yes, the colors in your scarves are amazing. Let me know when you start making black t-shirts. ;-)

Lover of Life said...

Wow! Those scarves are beautiful! Your talent amazes me.

I have always been able to sew simple things - but not clothes. I'm ready to learn though. I'm really interested in what type of sewing machine you bought.

I am signed up for a knitting class at the end of the month. Maybe I should take a sewing class...

susan said...

belette - I'm just a very old woman. Crow will wear his cravat for you when next he dons his smoking jacket :-)

spadoman - I got into silk painting a few years ago, my main pastime besides drawing and painting watercolors. A problem that still recurs is not having either enough time or space for all the things I'd like to do. Maybe some day..

nunley - You must have had a pretty lame teacher if she wasn't able to replace those in a hurry :-) Glad you like the scarves.

randal - I really like the minimalist approach. You should see the white ones!

lol - Making skirts is pretty simple and I'm sure you'd have fun too. I bought a Euro-Pro 7500XH Craft and Sew which is very cool. Knitting one would be harder :-)

Seraphine said...

somehow, i'm guessing
if you painted a mannequin,
it would be magically
a beautiful sculpture.

gfid said...

it's snowing here again... on May 18th.. if i had suicidal tendencies, i'd be in trouble just now. . far from normal, even here. so i came by to bask in the warm glow of those luscious scarves. i'll just go get mine and wrap it around my neck, and i'll feel a little better.

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