Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ugly Fabric?

The New Normal for me consists of staying home on weekends, cooking, sewing, preparing for the work week and maybe cleaning. Extravagant spending seems to be out these days even for those who can afford it, but for a person like me it is just careless. Luckily I can find joy in the simple things like trying new recipes and putting together a new outfit with fabric from the clearance shelf or my extensive fabric stash.

I have almost always been attracted to fabric, first for doll clothes, then clothes for me, and eventually for quilts and home decorating. (Why buy curtains when you can make exactly what you want to fit any window?) My mother was a sewer and used to drag me to fabric stores. As a little kid I found this excruciatingly boring, but when she started buying me inexpensive remnants for doll dressmaking experiments, I began to be very interested in the stuff. If I had a size 8 model I'd show you some of the masterpiece outfits I made from challenging Vogue Patterns in the 1980s, the era of Dynasty. And now that I have figured out how to fit my middle-aged shape I'm at it again. it's fun.

Recently, I've started watching Project Runway. A friend convinced me to try the show, and I wondered why I hadn't already gotten hooked by it. I'm hooked on it now, and although I never learned to sew without a pattern, I sense the need to take risks. Look at this fabric:

Hideously ugly or out-of-this world cool? I am not sure. My mother bought me this piece, about two yards, at Fabricland. (This is the North Plainfield fabric store I mention in the wedding post below, where I found the scrumptious midnight blue silk for a dressy dress.) I had to have this gaudy fabric and I think Mom was nervous and repulsed by my attraction to it. She was going to make something for me--I don't remember what--but I think couldn't bring herself to do it. Months after she passed away, I found it in with her sewing stuff. Somewhat surprised that she hadn't found a new home for it somewhere far away, I took the fabric home. Roughly forty years later, I'm still not sure if it is hideously ugly or way cool. It is sloshing around in my washing machine now to get rid of its musty smell, and after about 45 minutes in my dryer with a Bounce sheet it's going to become a skirt. Or a jumper.

If you see me walking around wearing such a garment, remember this little blogpost and see if you can decide whether it is hideous or cool. (The skirt I mean--that's the risk. I know the story's cool.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Colors of a Wedding

I went to a wedding Saturday. That night, waiting to fall asleep, I reflected on the colors of the day, something the poet and author Frances Mayes does as she travels, and I've noticed myself doing often. It hadn't only been me noticing colors--my confrere and I had been noticing the colors all day.

First was my dress. I chose the fabric for its delicious texture and rich midnight blue (according to my long-lost Crayola box). My shape demands more of a matronly muumuu style than a flirty cocktail dress, so I think the texture must have interest. As I put the dress parts together and the edges frayed a little, I realized that the fibers were black and fuzzy (warp) and electric blue and shiny (weft). Together, they made a fabric that was bright royal blue in sunlight and dark midnight blue under clouds and ceilings. This meant the dress only matched my bright royal blue brocade purse (shaped like a Chinese take-out container) some of the time.

I walked through green to meet my confrere at two o'clock: his green lawn, leafy green trees, and potted plants all illuminated by the bright September sun. An umbrella of green wisteria extended his front porch roof. He took care with his colors, too: the light brown of his suit was repeated in the light blue of his shirt and tie to create a perfect summer look without resorting to the more casual seersucker or khaki. (I have some classy friends.)

There were many hues of purple, violet, orchid at the church ceremony. The bridesmaids' dresses were what I think I remember Crayola calls mulberry, a reddish purple. The bride's mother wore a shade of purple more like eggplant or aubergine. Purples, pinks and blues in many textures seemed to be the most popular choices for the guests' frocks: strapless, one-shoulder, sheaths and gowns. My confrere and I agreed to dislike one (only one) dress. It was a flat sapphire blue, merely smooth satin with none of the all-important texture so many of the others wore. I had rejected this kind of fabric repeatedly while I searched through fabric stores. With no texture, the eye is drawn to the seams and lines of the garment (the waist, princess seams defining the bodice, the sleeves or armholes), and frequently these are unflattering.

Deep plum defined the reception. The tablecloths puddled on the floor and the napkins too fine to really use matched the darkest hue in the orchids that were everywhere. Young ladies in jewel-tone dresses posed for photos on the terrace with the Lake Nockamixon as a backdrop. The lake changed from bright azure to to sapphire and then disappeared into the darkness as the inside moved from late summer sunlight to warm candlelight. Tiny green and white lights dotted the lake like nonpareils to mark the locations of boats.

The most striking colors of the day were, of course, the bride's honey-gold hair, worn loose, and the exquisite cream-colored lace of her veil and gown. Looking like a fairy tale princess, her train had a magical, graceful drape and movement. She radiated deep joy and happiness as she moved through the colors of her long-anticipated day.