“Women’s Work”

I’ve had these garden gloves for years. I never noticed the label: Womanswork.

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I love these gloves because they fit perfectly. No wonder – Womanswork is owned by a woman and many key staff people are women and relatives of the company’s founder. (For more info, see their Website.)

Wow does the term “woman’s work” get a bad rap. I have been watching this BBC show “Victorian Slum House” (airing now in the US), one of these shows where modern people try to live in historical times, and this old guy who probably would have been dead in the 19th century is all upset because he’s stuck doing “woman’s work” – making artificial flowers to sell to milliners. He tried “man’s work” at a bell foundry and put his back out.

I felt sorry for him, because back pain is horrific. But I turned sour at his disdain for the flower-making job. It put food on the table and kept a roof over the head of his whole family of five for a week. Why, is his mind, is making a bell more important than making an ornament for a hat? Is it because a bell is big and heavy and a flower is tiny and light? Because the bell costs more? Because a bell is “manly” in some way that a flower is not?

Both iron bells and artificial flowers are fripperies in life, one might say. Not necessary. Not important. One is not inherently better than another. But all work has value. All work matters and should be treated with respect, just as all workers should be treated with dignity.

A lot of young men find themselves out of work nowadays. That’s for a lot of reasons, but one reason is because of their disdain for “women’s work.” Health care is the largest sector of the US economy, yet it’s predominantly female. So is education; except at the collegiate level, female teachers and staff outnumber men greatly. Men need to get over this idea that only certain kinds of work are worthy of them. Or, they can stand back and watch the women continue to outshine them at every turn.

Me-Made Sunday Afternoon

I toiled in the garden for three hours today and then got into major relaxation mode. My outfit is all Me-Made – the top is the Tunic with Roll-up Sleeves from Happy Homemade Sew Chic and the pants are Moji pants from Colette Patterns’ “Seamwork” magazine. 

The top is my favorite item from Happy Homemade. It has a cute front tie and tabs to roll up the sleeves. They’re unrolled here. The pants are ok. Like all Colette patterns I’ve tried, it was drafted for someone much flatter-assed than I. But I love the big pockets and the cute cuffs.

Well, I must dash – gin and on the patio awaits!

Refashioning a Sari

I started yesterday on a project to refashion a sari I bought in India in April into a dress – New Look 6498.

I soaked the sari in plain water in the washing machine, with a couple of those dye magnet sheets for company. Saris are manufactured with some starch on the fabric, so you need to soak the sari to remove the starch. I set the washing machine for no spin cycle, because the linen fabric isaris very delicate. Then, I laid the sari out in the sun in the backyard to dry. It’s pretty wrinkled in the picture, but when it dried it was perfectly unwrinkled. It only took about an hour, and now the fabric is softer and I’m assured that the bright dyes won’t run. The dye magnet sheets were a funky color, so I think they worked.

As a Me-Made May bonus, you can see me in the background in my Me-Made Brooklyn skirt from Colette Patterns “Seamwork” magazine. The skirt is made of Italian broderie anglaise (a.k.a. fancy eyelet) and underlined with Bemberg rayon so there’s no peep show.

The sari has a traditional structure of a plain side at one end – the big green border at the bottom of the photo. You’re meant to use this part of the sari to make the matching blouse to wear underneath.

At the other end is the fancy pillau, the part that drapes over the shoulder. It’s usually the most decorative part of a sari.

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The outside border is all decorated with peacocks of the same kind as on the pillau. The other border continues the floral motif. The entire body of the sari – the ivory section in the center – is decorated with gold paisleys. Also, the entire piece of fabric is woven in a lacy design, similar to how burnout lace looks. Some parts are very sheer and other parts are rather opaque, but the whole piece of fabric is remarkably airy and lightweight, which makes sense given the hot climate in India and the way the sari is pleated, wrapped and draped around the body. Altogether this is 7 yards of fabric!

The dress I chose for this project is New Look 6498, view B – the red dress in the upper right corner. I may or may not do the ruffle on the sleeve – it depends on how the layout works with the fabric. I want to use it efficiently.

New Look 6498

 

 

Me-Made in the Heat

We had central air conditioning installed in our house a couple of months ago. We went to turn it on yesterday, since the temperature suddenly shot up to 90 degrees (32 C) and guess what? No AC.

So today I am working from home and waiting for the AC guys to come fix the damn thing. LIMG_20170519_075135ucky for me, I have plenty of breezy summer me-made clothes! This is “Pinafore Dress” from Happy Homemade Sew Chic.

I made it from two panels of silk crepe, overruns from Ralph Lauren that I got at Mood Fabrics in New York. I needed a dress pattern that would have no darts or other design features to get in the way of the gorgeous Art Deco design. It was tough to cut just the same, because the design was printed at an angle. I thought about making a dress on the bias so that the design would be straight, but sewing silk crepe on the bias requires a special kind of crazy that I ain’t got.

Truth be told, this is another project that’s not as well-made as it could be. I didn’t line up the yoke and the dress as well as I could have with all the gathers along the front, so the corners jut out a bit. Also, the hem is a little wonky. Still, I made this with French seams for a pretty look inside and out, and I made best use of the design.

I intended it for a beach cover-up, not a dress, but it’s going to be 90+ again today so I need all the cool I can get.

Me-Made in the Garden

I watered plants in the garden yesterday after work, while wearing my Tunic Dress from the Japanese sewing book Happy Homemade Sew Chic.

The dress is made of Japanese double gauze, which is very airy and comfy in hot weather.

The hanging plants in the background are hops vines. We’ll harvest the hops in the fall and give the crop to friends who brew beer.

Trying “The Artist’s Way”

A lot of people think that creative genius just … happens. You’re born a genius, like Madame Curie, outshining all the men in the lab, or you’re struck with a bolt of inspiration, like Georgia O’Keeffe in the southwestern desert, or you just see the world so differently that you can’t help but be creative, like shy Emily Dickinson in her little room in Massachusetts.

Nonsense.

Genius is hard work. Creativity requires dedication. Success requires a belief in yourself, as well as a willingness to tell naysayers to go to hell.

I’m learning this as I started reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron this week as a self-improvement project. I find myself frustrated by my inability to do what I really want to do and instead I keep going on with jobs that don’t satisfy me. I throw up roadblocks to success. I allow self-doubt to creep in. I just don’t put in the work.

The book has a spiritual component that does not appeal to me, but the advice so far has provoked thought and action. I started with two central activities:

  • Morning Pages – Every morning, first thing, write three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness prose. This discipline is meant to remove cobwebs from your brain and get creative juices flowing.
  • Artist’s Date – Once a week, take a small, solo adventure somewhere for a couple of hours. This is meant to open your eyes to new experiences and unexpected connections.

Morning Pages has been interesting. Since I am comfortable with writing already, I’m not challenged to fill the three pages most mornings. After a few days of doing this, I noted how themes repeated themselves – my various aches and pains, my husband’s various actions and inactions, and the little things that set me off or please me, plus (as always) diet and food. I’m interested to see where this goes.

Yesterday I went on an Artist’s Date. For a mid-afternoon break from work, I walked from my office in Times Square down to Columbus Circle and back. I have done this a couple of times before, but I took a different route this time. I didn’t bring money or a cell phone or anything but my badge to get back into the office. I made note of anything that surprised me, such as:

  • Aggressive peddlers of bicycle rentals, including one guy who was using his job to harass women.
  • A coffee truck promoting the new “Twin Peaks” TV show. (“Damn good coffee.”)
  • A tall young man dressed all in black except for hot pink high-top sneakers.
  • A group of young people drawing some promotional thing on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • The startling green of Central Park in early spring.
  • An older man dressed in what looked like a cricket uniform.
  • So much “French” food – little bistros and quick-serve places with French names.

I didn’t immerse myself into this experience as much as I wanted to. It was my first try, OK? But I noted a few things that attracted my attention – bright colors, fattening food, and the somewhat puzzling activities of people young enough to be my children.

I am already thinking of where I want to go on next week’s “date.”