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Midland, Texas, United States
I write. I make stuff.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

As Simple As Simple Can Be

I mean, really. No tricky nothing. No set-in sleeves, no facings, no measuring. No nothing. The challenge for me was to see if I could create a simple, easy, comfortable garment that I love and love to wear, one that I think is fabulous, not some quick-n-easy Piece o' Crap. You know, like those wraps you can make from Velcro and a bath towel. Not like those.

The other part of the challenge, for me, was to continue the weeding out process to get rid of more of the stuff I *didn't* make, seeing if I can get to a place where everything in the closet except the core stuff (t-shirts, jeans, jersey dresses from Dharma Trading) is something made by me, my own design.

Why? No outward reason: I'm not going to start a line of clothing or sell stuff or make stuff for other people. It just seems like something I want to do, a place I'd like to be, completely free of the constraints of other people's ideas about what women should wear, or older women or Women in The US or Women in Midland or Women of a Certain Class or Age or whatever. I hate the clothes I see that are supposed to be "appropriate" or desirable or whatever for women over 50. Most of them are designed to hide all the body parts we're supposed to hate, meaning that they're big and shapeless and designed to disguise what we don't like rather than celebrate what we do: comfort, color, functionality.

So these, this apron and this duster, fit on the shoulders so they stay in place. The dusters don't have long sleeves because those always get wet when you're washing your hands after cleaning out a litter box. They're not ankle length so they won't trip you when you're going up or down stairs. They have pockets that are big enough and sturdy enough to carry whatever you need, from tissues to keys to your phone to a tiny kitten or puppy you're trying to smuggle into the house. Not that I would know anything about that. You can carry snacks in there. A paperback book. You could leave the house and get on the train and ride into the city for a day trip and not need anything more than a apron and a duster and a pair of comfortable shoes. I've been wearing them over ancient cropped stretch jeans and various t-shirts and tanks. I wear Keen's sandals with dyed foot socks, and I feel ready for anything. I could switch out the jeans for dyed cotton leggings and go to a wedding or something.

Plus they're flowy and fluttery, and I love flowy and fluttery. Also sparkly, so at some point I'll probably add beads to some of them. You saw the one with the purple silk velvet rose.

Another thing: I didn't pay full price for any of this linen. Most I got on clearance; some was half off.

OK. Here we go. These first two are made of lightweight slubby pin-striped linen from Joann's, bought with a coupon. I bought blue, grey, and purple, just to see what I could do with them, and then The EGE and I were at Dillard's getting his cologne when I saw these caps.  They fit and were groovy; they're men's XL, which I can hardly ever find in something I like. They were on the clearance table, so I thought they were about $8 each. Alas, they were misplaced and not on sale, but by then I had to have them. Only later did I realize that the blue and the grey go perfectly with the fabric I'd already bought. Obviously this is like winning the lottery for me.
 I love this part, below. I discovered that the part I cut out in the middle of the back, between the straps, is perfect for making a pocket that holds my cheater glasses. This discovery made me very happy, as you can imagine.
 Below that center part looks really wide, but it starts out narrow: I fold the edge under twice and stitch, which opens up that space.
 These  hit right above the knee, with the tails hanging down longer but not long enough to drag the ground or get stepped on when you're climbing stairs (ask me how I know that's something that will happen if you don't plan for it).
 Here's the grey.

 Here's the purple. It's not nearly bright enough for me, but I couldn't resist the way it frayed into purple and a really light purplish grey. I had some silk rayon velvet that worked perfectly for the binding.
Binding around the front edge and neck is not purely decorative, by the way: it gives it some stability and helps it stay in place better when you're wearing it. I hate—and refuse to wear—stuff that needs to be adjusted constantly.

 Then some $1.99 a yard linen. It was a pale, insipid green, and very stiff, and just generally the kind of thing you'd bypass. I bought it all (like 4 yards) and dyed it. It's horribly shed-y, and one of these days I'll sit out on the porch and pick off all the ugly little bits of fluff. The lint roller won't work; sticky tape won't work. I can shave them off with the clothes shaver, but that's kind of a waste since they're not attached; they're just sticky. I could put it on Ricë and use a lint brush, I guess.
 I had some green silk ribbon salvaged from a skirt and top set. I laboriously removed it and ironed it and rolled it up, knowing someday it would be just what I needed.
 The floss is #3 perle cotton, hand dyed from I'm going to put a hook and eye on all of these to fasten when I'm walking a lot to keep the top closed.

 A break for a photo of our front yard, taken from the porch while I was taking a drink of coffee before the next shots below.
 This was some very stiff, very ugly pale yellow linen. I said I'd buy the rest of the bolt if they'd sell it to me for $1.99 a yard, so they did. It's also very fuzzy and will have to be worked with, but I love how it dyed up. this first is Deep Orange with a little red, and I made it into an apron and a duster.

 Then this is just Deep Orange, maybe with a little Golden Yellow, I think. I used the orange-red for the pockets. I have some silk velvet ribbon dyed orange that I'll used for the binding on this one, below. For the reddish orange one, I have some burgundy silk velvet ribbon that looks really good.

All this silk velvet ribbon is fabric I cut on the bias. Some was given to me and dyed; some was salvaged from various garments and cut into ribbon. I did *not* buy any of it as hand-dyed silk velvet ribbon. Good lord, no.

 Then the last one, from linen that wasn't on clearance but was on sale. It was a textured weave pale lilac linen, and I wanted to see what it would be like once it was laundered. I dyed it Grape with a dash of Raspberry, and I love the deep rich color.

 The weave reminds me of a summer bedspread, for some reason. Soft and drapey. Also horribly fuzzy, so it will have to be picked, too. That's OK; there are plenty of summer hours on the porch for that kind of stuff. I have some bilious acid green silk velvet I dyed (silk velvet is actually only18% silk, with the rest (82%) rayon), and I have discovered that the Chartreuse dye I use doesn't work well on tree fibers: rayon and bamboo. It works on cotton and linen, but the bamboo socks I dyed are just mostly a bilious yellowish, as is the silk/rayon ribbon. But when I put it with this purple, somehow it works.
Next is doing the binding on the newest dusters, and then we'll see what's next. I want to get to a place where I'm not even making any new clothes but am, instead, working with those I already have.

And again, thank you all so much for your notes of support. It feels right, deleting all the past posts. I'm sorry if it inconvenienced anyone, but to me it's like getting rid of all those old journals: I don't have any interest in the past and don't like the idea of it being there behind me, trailing around like some kind of burden. Getting rid of 40 years worth of journals was amazingly freeing, and getting rid of all those old posts feels the same to me. I'm not going to keep to any kind of a schedule because I'd get all anal-retentive about it, but I'm going to try to post about stuff that might be interesting. I put short things on Facebook at least several times a week, and I try to show photos of what I'm working on: it's easier there because I can take a photo with my phone and upload it instantly.  Thank you all so, so much for coming by, and I hope there's something here that inspires you! XO

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not So Simple

I really wasn't trying to get everyone to tell me how fabulous I am and how I shouldn't quit blogging. In fact, that gets to part of the root of my problem right there: I've come to realize that blogging, by its very nature (public journaling) is ego driven. It's me, me, me look at me! It's about imagining that you're special and have things worth other people taking time out of their lives to read. I hardly ever read the old posts, but when I did, I usually cringed, especially during the years I was trying to flog one of the books, something that you have to do as part of your agreement with your publisher but that so often comes off as rude, buy-my-stuff-becasue-you-know-me marketing. I can't even say how tired and dismayed I am by the whole marketing branding culture, the selfies and the self promotion and the idea that everyone is a star. It literally makes me want to lie down on the floor (the floor out here is concrete, and it's cool, and sometimes it seems so inviting, never mind that it's as hard as a rock and lying on it is about as comfortable as wearing stilettos).

The other thing was that, years ago, I wrote about other people, people we haven't seen or heard from in years. A few people have complained at being mentioned or shown in videos, and I totally get that and am always embarrassed that I didn't think of that at the time (even though it wasn't hateful or mocking). I tried, a while back, to go in and find those posts and delete them all, but it was overwhelming and impossible (without taking days of reading those old cringe-inducing posts), and I gave up.

I started just to delete the blog, but I realized I need it. Before there was blogging, I was writing True-Life Stories and illustrating them with rubber stamped images and taking them to Kinko's to be copied and sending them out through the (gasp!) Real Mail to everyone who was patient enough to be my correspondent. I write. I tell stories. I need that. I HAVE to do that. If I didn't have an outlet for that, I'd be putting the cats in straightjackets and lining them up along the couch and forcing them to listen to me explain about the life of aliens in Prehistoric Manhattan, a place where dinosaurs could step from borough to borough in one step.

So I'm going to keep it, and I apologize for paring it down so thoroughly, but I had to do that, to get rid of that niggling sense that there were things that shouldn't have been there (stories involving other people) and things I never wanted to read again (stories from my mother's last month, when she was in hospitals and incoherent). I don't remember many things, and I don't dwell on the past, and I don't like it when someone mentions to me something I said or wrote years ago about something sad or unpleasant, something I wouldn't otherwise remember. I don't like coming across notes or letters from people who are gone, reminders that perhaps their lives could have been better if I'd worked harder or done more or—see? You know how it goes.

I'm going to be more mindful of my ego's intrusion. I'm going to be less hard on myself when I go for days or weeks without posting something, although I hope that without the pressure of that morass of old posts in there, it will seem fresh. My favorite part of this is absolutely when one of y'all tells me, maybe not in a comment but in an email or in person, that I showed how I did something and it inspired you to do something you wanted to do but had been putting off, or something that suddenly seems doable. I love that. I love the idea that we can inspire each other (to paint a room or go for a walk or dance in the dirt or make clothes from scratch or set off on a day trip across the desert) to try new stuff. I LOVE that.

So I'm looking forward to a new adventure. More of the same things, but fresh, without the burden of the past and without, we hope, any idea in the back of my head that what I think and say and do is any more important than what anyone else thinks or says or does. Except Ted Cruz. Even when you're thinking about cleaning your toenails, your thoughts are more important than those of Ted Cruz. Remember that.

Thanks for being here. The cats thank you, too.


Monday, April 20, 2015


I started to do a post about how I was going to delete this blog, about how it had been ten years and I was tired of thinking I have anything vital to add to the cacophony of online advice/opinions/rants/chatter. And then I realized I could just delete all the old posts and leave it at that.

As I simplify, I come more and more to the realization that my opinions are just that: my opinions. What I do is not earth-shattering, and I have no interest in Being Relevant or being On Trend, a term that makes my teeth ache. But because I feel it's important for me to try to inspire people just to do stuff and try stuff and have a great life, I'll keep this for now. We'll see how it goes, as I have less interest in pontificating and more interest in being and doing. I just wish you all could come hang out with me and we could pass around ideas and sit and stitch and be inspired without all the weird online crap of marketing and self-promotion and me, me, me.

Right now I'm going to go and comb barf out of Clarice's fur. That's what's important right now.

I do love you all, and I will try to be inspirational without being too self-involved. XO