Browse Tag by sew
Fashion

Working With My Hands

First, it must be said, that the prospect of posing for photos can be difficult for me. You’ll have to bear with me as I try to come to terms with that bizarre bashfulness. I don’t know what I’m doing.

I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art with Will to catch the Alex Katz exhibit right before it was over and, thankfully, I could squeeze it in.

My knowledge of the art world lies mainly in 20th century french art, so an American artist of the pop art movement wasn’t exactly in my repertoire. I’m beyond happy that I went, as his pieces are beautiful and the exhibit flowed to best show his work as it evolved.

paper flowers
Wildflowers in Vase c.1954-55 Collage with cut and watercolored paper  27.9 x 21.3 inches

I saw Matisse in him (some flatter looking portraits of his muse Ada in colorful palettes, some paper collages of bright coloring) and some strange elements of Pollock (dripping paint, Katz is said to have studied Pollock intently despite rejecting abstractism), among others. At one point, a man who came up to me and Will said “that one on the right reminds me of Renoir when they eat in the grass” and then he pointed to a farther portrait saying “she’s the new Mona Lisa.” It was strange having someone ignite a conversation like that and it reminded me how rare and, bizarrely, how nice it is.

Alex Katz, Black Suit (Ada) 1958 Oil on linen 48 x 32 inches

We were particularly drawn to a portrait of Ada (again, his wife and muse) that seemed to be burning from within. The portraits had a strange quality of existing and not existing, of feeling real but uncannily void.

Knowing little to nothing about Katz beforehand made me a little apprehensive at first (I’m the kind of person who dives into research before I do anything) but it proved to be rewarding. There was enough context for me to suddenly see the conversation Katz was having with other moments in art and that is, in my opinion, really ridiculously amazing.

 


 

If you have a sort of specialized disdain for artspeak, this is the section that you would probably enjoy more.

This is where Claire tells you about clothing choices.

I made a dress in my last semester of college, as I had suddenly decided sewing was something I needed to know (I had a stinging guilt about writing about clothing and knowing squat about why it was couture.) This dress, however ill-fitting or rudimentarily produced, is a point of pride for me and I finally got the guts to wear it when I went to see Katz. Seemed vintage pop-art enough.

lime green paisley dress

And here it is, in all its bright green glory. I wanted to make something interesting out of the choices I was given in class, so I went with the 60s shift complete with a tie belt. It’s a simple cotton with a cool slit in the back and a boat neck.

You should know it took me weeks to produce this. And don’t even get me started on that zipper. But it sure felt good to finish, to claim that I had made it with my own hands.

At the end of college, I needed a skill that required my hands and a tangible result.

I want to make more things and I’ve found that I have plenty of ideas now for cutting up, repurposing, and stitching up things I would have disregarded. I hope to show you more of these projects in the future, as I try to figure out how to further personalize what I own. We’re all obsessed with self-expression anyway, might as well tailor it (literally) to you.

Claire laughing with green dress on
Laughing off the fear at Cleveland Museum of Art.

 

I am glad you all enjoyed the last post so much, even if you simply glanced (it’s why I add so many pictures) and I hope you like this one too. Please comment what you want to see or maybe something you’ve always wanted to know, should a suggestion come to you.

I’m figuring this whole style blogging thing out and honestly it took me a long time to do it because I never felt ready or that I knew what I was doing, but after researching Katz I found this quote which is as much an encouragement as it is an affirmation that we’re all okay.

“If you know what you’re doing, you’re doing dull stuff.” 

 

Bisous,

Fashion

Why I Sew

I asked my roommate to borrow a sewing kit earlier this year—a button on my coat had fallen loose—and found myself utterly shocked when she produced one.

She is a rarity among my generation. Most of us hardly sew buttons or over holes and tears these days. We simply throw the piece of clothing away. So removed are we from the ways in which our outfits are produced that we see no value in understanding their make. What if we did? I hypothesize a number of results from this awareness:

  1. Less money expenditure.

  2. Increased clothing quality.

  3. Increased attractiveness.

To make my case, as I flounder in my sewing sprint course, attempting a straight stitch that doesn’t stray a millimeter away every once and awhile, I cannot confidently say that making your own clothing is less expensive. As the cost of fabric, thread, a machine, needles, notions, the pattern, and whatever else you may need is not a cheap buy.

However I can say that knowing how a garment is produced drastically changes the way in which you view your clothes—recognizing one hem over another means that some of the horrible work you’ve accepted before is no longer acceptable. After all, if it’s obvious when a garment is a slipshod job versus a more solid one. What does this mean? You’ll buy the good stuff (and there’s less of it flying around.)

 

sewing-machine-vintage

The other magical benefit to buying well-made (and therefore more expensive in general) clothing is that it makes you far more attractive. Why? These clothes tend to be more tailored and, if you so choose, you can tailor your clothing or get it tailored. Both of these options cost some more money and more skill, but they absolutely elevate your look.

Sewing is one of those dusty, domestic skills that not many people see as necessary these days—why should they when new clothes are waiting by the bucketful? Today is not the day of darning socks; it’s the “see now buy now” era. If we understood the blueprints and methods of making clothing, how much it really, truly takes to make a simple dress, would we be so blasé about sewing? Would we buy eight pairs of jeans just because they were super cheap?

In the interest of budget, in the pursuit of knowledge, and out of respect for the art, I am learning to sew. Maybe, in a few weeks or so, I won’t look at my closet the same way and that favored garment of mine will no longer be a mystery, but a map of making.

Bisous,

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