Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Put The Lime In The Coconut Outfit

Why, when we are young, are we taught that it is wrong to be a copy cat? This is clearly nonsense. Isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Isn’t imitation in fact the basis of our early childhood development? We learn by watching and imitating others. We learn to speak by listening and repeating. We learn to walk by watching people do it. I personally as a child observed my older brother in all things and aimed to  be just like him. This has yet to actually happen, but it did help me jump from the bottle to a glass with no sippie-cup required, so, hey, come on, obviously some part of that was valid.

I understand that the deeply held need for individuality and uniqueness can often feel at war with a generally imposed sense of conformity, of social instruction and expectation. But imitating someone else doesn’t mean you are trying to be like everyone else. Hell, sometimes it just means you like a shade of lipstick or admire someone’s reading tastes. In an age where information is rapidly shared, we, or at least the people I know, still have the impetus to declare themselves as the first, the originator, the conquistador of a trend or article or idea. Well, here is the thing about conquistadors. The places they discovered already had occupants. Just because they all died of Spanish flu and smallpox doesn’t mean they weren’t real. And before the Aztecs there were the Olmecs, and before them, someone we don’t even know about because the Olmecs were total jerks and wanted to set the trend, not just follow it. GOD. The OLMECS. COME ON. With their giant heads and their lost civilization. What dweebs.

Anyway, putting ancient Mexican history aside (how many sewing blogs have you read that on lately?) I just think its a little silly that we idolize, and teach our children to idolize, an impossible standard that leaves us unable to appreciate the value of copying others as we get older. And honestly, copying other people has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that word, and replace it with something more positive, shall we? Let’s call copying inspiration. After all, no copy is equal to the original in every way, it holds it’s makers mark in some way, even if they don’t want it to. So let’s be inspired, that’s a good thing, right? After all, as Picasso once said, Bad Artists Copy, Good Artists Steal.

In sewing, we copy all the time. I do it especially when I’m making something for someone else, because most of what people ask me to make or want me to make is a duplicate of something they love and wish they had more of. So my mom has this little adorable linen top and pants set which she bought at a store in San Juan which no longer exists. I call this her little Papaya outfit.  It’s papaya colored (duh), loose, comfortable, kind of like a 20’s or 30’s style lounge suit, something she only wears in Puerto Rico. She likes it a lot, and I figured, it can’t be THAT hard to copy, er, be inspired by! So I made her another one. Boom. Only this time, it’s a little Lime outfit. And it’s awesome.

LIC4I used a lightweight finely woven linen I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, when I was still buying fabric. Sniff. I miss those days. Soon, soon! I said through October! I can do it!

LIC2

The top is a modified Tiny Pocket Tank, which a button front. I finished it with store-bought bias tape. It was easy as all hell.

LIC3The pants are a modified pajama pant pattern which I added a waistband and pleats to, to make them a little more formalish. The waistband has elastic, though, after all, it’s a lounge suit!

LIC6My mother wore this outfit reading on our green roof and sipping white wine, so she declared it an excellent duplicate of the original suit, which had been used for literally the selfsame purposes.

LIC1Isn’t my mom gorgeous? I’m actually quite proud of this simple outfit, it’s a great pleasure to be able to make something for someone you love and know that it’s exactly what they want. Not too bad for a copy-cat, eh?

Speaking of cats, my mom and I enjoy feeding the many stray cats of Old San Juan when we come down there. Here she is, in another one of my creations, a simple elastic waist skirt. Elastic waist goes really well with the Caribbean, guys, it accommodates a LOT of rice and beans and rum. Just sayin’.

LIC7See, these cats don’t mind copying each other! And neither do I.

 

 

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Simplicity Patterns, Travel

The Vacation Sleep Pajamas

I’m a firm believer in the fact that there are many kinds of sleep. I’m not a light sleeper, a fact that makes Mr. Struggle green with envy, as he is, and can often describe the many things that happened during the night including horrific storms, police sirens, and my own verbal mumblings (because apparently I’m talkative even in my sleep, who would have thought?) but I do sleep differently in different places on earth. I always sleep well, for example, if I’ve gotten to spend any amount of time in the ocean. Something about the waves helps soothe me and I drop right off, dreaming of the water. I never sleep well before a flight, no matter what time of day or night it is. And I usually enjoy sleep somehow less when I’m on vacation, because I often wake up with the troubling feeling that I’m missing something. Why do I travel if I’m just going to sleep the whole time? I always feel that if I sleep deeply and for a long time somewhere else it was a waste of a trip. I am aware that this might be a little neurotic, but hey, neurotic and I are old friends from way back.

That being said, I’ve had a stressful fall so far with many a night of less sleep than I would like, (which, by the way, is a lot of sleep, sleeping is the best, people who can live on four or five hours of sleep amazing me, I feel like they are the waking dead) so on our recent trip to Austin I was determined to be less worried about seeing all the sights (which I have in fact seen before, I’ve been to Austin) and allow myself to enjoy the deep sleep that only meals made entirely of smoked meat can give you. Letting the scent of brisket and the comfort of the south soothe me, I slept deeply in our lovely Airbnb, and woke each day refreshed. Why can’t I have that at home? I think I finally achieved this elusive Vacation Sleep so many have described to me, and while I do credit Texas with some of that, some of that might have been my new pajamas.

So I have made, and never documented, something like 10 Grainline Patterns Tiny Pocket Tanks. I have never included the pocket. What can I say, I’m a rebel. I don’t know why I don’t blog about these, I guess because they seem so damn simple? Which I love, by the way, but somehow I feel weird talking about the stuff that is super duper easy for me to make, it’s like asking for a congratulations when I toast a piece of bread. Nevertheless, here we go, Tiny Pocket Tank. Love this pattern. Love it. But it IS awfully simple, so I decided to spice it up a bit for my vacation pajamas and used this tutorial to guide me. The result was perfect for warm nights in Austin, I’m not going to lie to you:

VS1See, from the front it’s all normal blah whatever. BUT FROM THE BACK?

VS4I’m kind of holding it in place here so my bra, which I wore just for these photos (I don’t sleep in a bra that’s weird) wouldn’t show. This split is VERY splity. I would make this less splity for daywear, real talk.

How do we feel, collectively, about the split-back top trend? I think I like it, but then sometimes I don’t. It’s like that friend you make in college who seems super fun and always finds the good booze at parties and makes you have ice cream for breakfast and wants to travel around Europe and be bohemian and challenge expectations but also will totally hook up with your ex-boyfriend and you forgive her a lot because she seems so cool and awesome with her bangles and her starfish tattoo which means regeneration or some crap but sometimes she leaves you feeling like there is something wrong with you for having feelings. You know that friend? This top might be that friend. I can’t tell.

VS2

That being said, it’s great to sleep in! I used a vintage pajama pant pattern for the shorts, I can’t remember the number I’m sorry but it’s a Simplicity from the 1960’s which I have altered beyond recognition.

VS6The fabric I got on ebay a year ago, and as I’m trying to hold off buying anything new until November, I was happy to be able to use this.

VS3This split back thing is, I must admit, rather brilliant when you are sleeping in a warm place. It’s airy without being too bare for me. So maybe that college friend IS good for something….

VS5That’s how I feel after so much lovely sleep and, of course, excellent food! Plus, I dragged Mr. Struggle to an art museum, so, you know, perfect trip, really.

VS7Back at home, Cadfael was overjoyed to see us. Can’t you tell?

I have two more summery posts, which is insanely lame, as it’s October and I’m ready to document cold-weather clothing. Never fear! That’s coming too.

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Filed under Clothing, Grainline Patterns, Sewing, Simplicity Patterns, Travel, Vintage