MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Waves of Work / Waves of Pleasure

Waves of Work / Waves of Pleasure Sewing Machine Art

This installment of Making It, Ourselves feels very different from the last one (about my Bellows cardigan). The Bellows post came at the end of a 2-month-long process. Today’s is the result of just an afternoon of labor. Partly, that’s the difference between knitting and sewing. But also it’s the difference between a garment that I hope to wear for ages and a piece of quiet art that doesn’t need to fit any particular dimensions; it just needs to serve as a little reminder, a little tribute to the 19th-century seamstresses whose bodies were exploited and exhausted—and sometimes excited by the immoral rhythms of their sewing machines. (<– See last month’s History Project for more on that.) So, what I’ve made is not a perfect example of master sewing (not even close!), but it’ll hang on my wall and send out a reminding wave whenever I pass by.

When I thought about what might constitute a fitting homage to the excited seamstresses, I knew that it would have to be created using my sewing machine (obvs) and that its design would be based on rhythm and repetition. A wave motif seemed appropriate, as it satisfied the rhythmic-and-repetitive requirement and also could capture the back-and-forth surges of the act of sewing (especially as it would have been strenuously enacted on those first sewing machines). Additionally, I had the metaphorical meanings of a wave in mind—the experience of “waves” of pain or “waves” of pleasure. With these ideas in mind, I gathered my materials and set to work. Continue reading MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Waves of Work / Waves of Pleasure

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MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Bellows Cardigan

Bellows Cardigan FO Front Brooklyn Tweed

I wish there were a font to convey my smile as I type this edition of Making It, Ourselves—you know how you can hear if the person on the other end of the phone is smiling? Well, I can’t help but grin from ear to ear when I talk about my Bellows Cardigan.

It’s been done for a few days, and I’ve worn it in public a couple of times so far. I’d like to say that I take a demure “oh, this old thing?” attitude when people compliment my sweater, but it’s more like, “HEY EVERYONE CHECK OUT MY SWEATER I MADE IT AHHHH!” Sorry, everyone—I’m pretty excited. There’s nothing quite like seeing something through, from the first glimmer to the final product. Continue reading MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Bellows Cardigan

MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Dianna Walla’s Aspen Socks/Warmers

For the second project in our “Making It, Ourselves” series—our series of DIY projects inspired by history—we look back to Dr. Gustav Jaeger and his animal-fiber philosophy. He and his adherents claimed that all dress should be not only practical but healthful, which for him meant clothing made purely of wool, camel, mohair or other animal material. (For the full post, see our Brief History of Long Underwear from back in February.) Inspired by the Jaeger story and its reverberations in the Rational Dress Movement of the same era, I set off to create my own animal-based garment to insulate, ventilate, regulate, circulate, and uhh de-fluxionate(?) my body. I found just the garment in Dianna Walla’s Aspen Socks. Continue reading MAKING IT, OURSELVES: Dianna Walla’s Aspen Socks/Warmers

MAKING IT, OURSELVES: The Alice Footstool

 

Centered Petit Point Needlework DIY Upholstery StoolBehold! The first Fiber Archive DIY project is officially finished! Inspired by Alice B. Toklas and Pablo Picasso’s upholstery collaboration in the late 1920s, our new embroidered footstool is a testament to both Toklas’s steadfastness and Picasso’s whimsicality.

As discussed in the Toklas X Picasso HISTORY PROJECT post, our gal Toklas attended to her domestic tasks, many of which involved fiber craft, with the same care and vigor that Picasso or Gertrude Stein, her partner, devoted to their art. (Toklas was even known to stitch Stein’s famous line “Rose is a rose is a rose” onto Stein’s handkerchiefs). This particular collaboration between the artists began with Toklas’s desire to transfer an avant-garde masterpiece—Picasso’s guitar painting—into a petit-point footstool. Clearly viewing her and Stein’s everyday living space as an extension of their artistic life, Toklas transformed a lowly footstool into high art. The stool was soon followed by the even more ambitious Louis XV upholstered chairs, one covered in the playful floral/hand design and the other in bold lines and color blocking. Continue reading MAKING IT, OURSELVES: The Alice Footstool