Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Meet Me In Masada Shorts

I have never been what you might call a typical young traveler. I’m not really interested in clubbing, the local bar scene, or feeling the vibe. I don’t do things spontaneously, I don’t just “see where the night will take me”, instead I plan, I scheme and I make little schedules and I honestly truly love doing that, I really enjoy it, I get so much pleasure out of anticipation. And I like museums, I seek them out, I reveal in dusty rooms of art and archaeology, in architectural tours and city walks, in churches, mosques and temples (depending on the country, of course).  And I like old stuff. Really old stuff. Take for example, Tel Aviv. What’s in Tel Aviv? Well, not much, really. It’s a fresh faced baby of a city, all done in poured concrete and Middle-East-Does-Bauhaus movement and it’s, frankly, rather boring. Well, I mean, it has night life, student life, and a huge population, but other then all that, it’s boring. Jaffa, the oldest part of the city, was a popular port for thousands of years, but now it’s in disarray, filled with crumbling buildings and falling arches. Surrounded by walls created by the Ottoman Empire in it’s once beneficent glory, Jaffa now sits sadly in the shadow of Tel Aviv, staring out onto the Medditeranian, reminiscing about when it once ruled the waves. So while the other people on my trip whined about how little time we got to spend in Tel Aviv, I was relieved to leave. New construction makes me face itch.

But old stuff? Old stuff floats my boat. And no where did my jaw drop as constantly and delightedly as Jerusalem, but I have to tell you, Masada came close.

Masada is a cliff, essentially, very near to the Dead Sea, South of Jerusalem. It’s located on the edge of the Eastern Desert, so the climate is less then merciful, and it’s the site of King Herod’s summer palace (for when the winters of Northern Israel are just too much to take). It was also the last stronghold of the Jewish rebels who fought the Romans in the first Jewish War (66-73 CE). Having lost Jerusalem and witnessed the destruction of the Second Temple (which is, incidently, were the Dome of the Rock sits today),  a handful of rebels under Eleazar ben Yair, also known as the Sicarii Rebels, held out against Roman troops led by Titus Flavius (son of Vespasian, who would eventually become emperor of Rome) for over a year until the Romans finally broke through the thick walls of the citadel. When they entered the little city they found 960 bodies. Only 7 of the people living in Masada chose not to commit suicide at the thought of becoming Roman slaves.  Isn’t history amazing? See, who needs clubs when you have ruins!

You can read about all this in observer/historian Josepheus’ account, The Jewish War, or you can just cheat and watch the movie, it’s your call.

Enough about the past. Check out my awesome shorts!

Spoiler Alert: This photo was actually taken in Tel Aviv

I made these using a pattern from the 40’s, which is actually rather appropriate because in the 40’s young people flocked to Masada as an inspirational site of Jewish heroism in the face of oppression. It wasn’t excavated properly until the 60’s. Thank goodness it never rains there, because how else would all those objects have survived?

Here I am at the Bethlehem Border

The pattern is Simplicity 2017 from the 1940’s. I bought it on Etsy from SewingWithMissDandy and I absolutely love the pattern. I plan on making it again, maybe in navy, but for my trip through the desert and back in time, I thought that a tan linen would be my best bet. They are extremely comfortable and I have to say, I love the high waist, I think it makes them look more formal and dressy. You have to be careful what you wear on top, though, because the fabric can bunch and make your stomach look more sizable then it is, a fate I don’t know if I entirely avoided. Sigh. The only change I made to the pattern was the addition of a zipper, rather then snap fasteners. Linen was an excellent choice for Israel. Of course,  the shorts winkled like hell, but I steamed them in the shower and that seemed to help, and I blended right in with the environment, don’t you think?

Of course, not a single one of these photos actually comes from Masada. Sigh. The best laid plans….

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Filed under Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The Too Hot For Tzfat Skirt

I’m sure you’ve noticed my complete absence from the internet lately and wondered at it. Oh, you haven’t? Yeah, well, THANKS, glad to know you CARE. But just in case you really did spare me the slightest thought, I’m happy to inform you that I haven’t been sewing for the past two weeks because I’ve been in, wait for it, Israel! That’s right, I visited the Holy Land, I prayed at the Western Wall, I saw the Sea of Gailee, and most importantly, I ate my weight in shwarma. Oh, and I forced strangers to photograph me. Like you do. But while the other people on my Birthright trip (if you don’t know what Birthright is clearly you don’t know enough Jews. Meet some more Jews, and learn about Birthright here, it’s neat!) wanted photos in front of monuments and vistas, I was all about the outfits, and why, do you ask? Because I made most of them, of course! Or at least a few choice pieces. So let’s start with a skirt many months in the making, my Too Hot for Tzaft Skirt.

First things first. What the hell is Tzfat? Well, it’s a town in Israel, North of the Sea of Gailee, East of Haifa, South of the Lebanese border and West of the Golan Heights. It’s an extremely popular tourist destination for a number of reasons. Number 1, it’s the birthplace of Jewish Mysticism, or Kabbalah. Ignore whatever Madonna tells you and you will probably have a better understanding of Kabbalah, as much as anyone can, it’s call Mysticism for a reason. Number 2, Tzfat is an artist colony, filled with little studios and art galleries and hippies who moved to Israel in the 60’s to smoke hash and sell tchachkies. Number 3, it’s really very pretty.

And hot. It’s very hot. But there is also a sizable Hassidic community in Tzfat (though, truth be told, it’s Israel, were is there NOT a sizable Hassidic community?), so it behooves any tourist interested in visiting the holy sites to dress modestly. Which is hard, because, um, did I mention it’s very hot in Tzfat? But I made it work, because I am a rock star, and because I know how to use a sewing machine.


See? Knees and shoulders demurely covered. Sure, there’s more collarbone then is preferred in such situations, but you can’t have everything. The skirt? I adore.

It’s a self drafted full gathered skirt to which I added a high shaped waistband. I really liked Colette Pattern’s ginger skirt waistband option that came to a point, so I decided to try and re-create it.

The fabric is an organic cotton from Cloud9 Fabric’s Cut Out and Keep Collection. I just adored the print, it’s positively Attic!

Of course, Tzfat is a little young for the reference, but I just let that go.

I look right at home, right? Well, to be honest, that photo is actually in Jerusalem, but hey, I had to repeat outfits, it was a ten day trip!

Here I am, drinking my first of many coffee flavored slushis. They really don’t get iced coffee there, they just make a milkshake with caffeine and call it a day.

As it turned out, it was just cool enough for Tzfat, and perfect for Philadelphia. Just like me….

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Filed under Clothing, Fabric, Sewing