Reading in My Backyard

This summer, after the removal of a vinyl pool and redwood deck that pretty much encompassed my backyard for the last 23 years, I’ve been able to plant flowers and vegetables.  I purchased tomato plants and bell pepper plants from the nursery, and the zucchini, sunflowers and zinnias were planted by seed.  It’s been a challenge keeping the birds, squirrels, raccoons and skunks from either eating the seeds or digging the plants up looking for grubs.  As of today, I’ve been quite successful in my quest…

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Zinnias

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Zinnia and Butterfly

I enjoy the process of regeneration beginning with the planting, stages of growth and the blooming of nature.  I try to focus on flowers that attract birds, bees and butterflies.

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Orange Bell Pepper

With all the physical work that goes along with planting and maintaining a garden, I decided to reap the benefits by reading a book surrounded by the ever-changing daily beauty of my garden.

Recently, in a knitting class at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, CA I overheard a conversation about slow fashion in comparison to cheap fashion.  A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post discussing a book written by Elizabeth L. Cline, entitled “Over-Dressed The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.”

Overdressed

Elizabeth L. Cline

I immediately ordered the book online because I wanted to know what was going on.  So far, I’ve read the first three chapters where Cline discusses the effects of global trade agreements on the garment industry beginning in the 1990s.  In today’s world it’s chic, practical and democratic to buy cheap fashion.  Cheap fashion fashionistas post their “shopping hauls” on YouTube and have thousands of followers.  It’s a quantity versus quality culture…a garment expected to only last a couple of times through the wash becomes “disposable.”  Cline mentions, “The wastefulness encouraged by buying cheap and chasing trends is obvious, but the hidden costs are even more galling. Disposable clothing is damaging the environment, the economy, and even our souls.”

I respect Elizabeth Cline’s non-judgmental discussion on the attraction of cheap fashion and its consumer, and she even admits to owning 354 pieces of cheap fashion clothing. After publishing the book in 2012, Cline owned 90 pieces of clothing.

As I progress through the book, I’m reminded why I began to sew again.  I grew impatient with the lack of quality fabric, zippers and buttons along with shoddy garment construction used in ready to wear garments.  At the time, I became increasingly aware of the relationship between ethical fashion, and the culture of “slow fashion” (which refers to sewing your own clothes with sustainable fabrics like wool and cotton).

I look forward to the reading the remaining chapters of this interesting book, while I enjoy communing with the many bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that visit my backyard.

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Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

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Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

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Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

 

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One Size Does Not Fit Most

On one of my recent visits to Britex in San Francisco, I learned the store was phasing out sewing patterns from the “traditional” companies like Vogue for Indie and independent designers.  I respect Britex’s attention to uniqueness and its historic reputation to stand apart from the rest, especially craft/fabric stores, but it’s sad to say good-bye.

I decided to simultaneously work with a Vogue pattern and a pattern designed by independent designer, Lois Ericson.  The written instructions for the Vogue pattern are more detailed, while the Sew and Design Pattern (Lois Ericson) is open-ended for creativity.  I believe prior sewing experience is necessary to work with any of her patterns. (Of course, there is a new generation of designers I’m looking forward to investigating, but not limited to are Colette Patterns   https://www.colettepatterns.com/ and Victory Patterns https://www.victorypatterns.com/.)

I traced the patterns onto medical pattern paper, and cut out a muslin of each pattern, and attended a garment construction class with Sally-Ann Flak.  Sally-Ann fitted the patterns to my body, and I incorporated the changes to the pieces.  Here is what I learned about my body in relation to these two patterns.

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Vogue Pattern V7883

The pants pulled down in the back because my derriere sits low and I needed to add extra fullness.  I added 1/2 inch 6 inches down from my waist by cutting and spreading the pattern piece.  The front pants piece required no alterations.  The top ended up being two sizes smaller than the pants.

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Design and Sew #321 – Suit Yourself

As with the Vogue pattern, I traced and cut a muslin of the pattern.  To begin with, the pants needed to be shortened 3 inches and the pant legs needed to be redrawn.  The crotch length on the front needed to be shortened 2 inches.  The waist on the front and back needed to be decreased by 3/8 inch.  I needed to slash and decrease the hips by 1/2 inch.  The back darts were a bit too long, so the adjustment didn’t require me to redraft the darts.  The jacket is one size smaller than the pants, and needs to be fitted.  I have a feeling the jacket needs to be one size smaller and 2 inches shorter.

Of course, the patterns are two different styles and probably is not a fair comparison, but I’m definitely developing a deeper understanding of pattern fit and alterations.  My bod is not in proportion.  The top of my body is two sizes smaller than the lower portion of my body with one hip higher than the other, and my hips tilt forward.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to delve into the world of fashion design, and I believe now is the right time.  Staring in August, I plan on exploring the Fashion Design and Merchandising Department at Canada College in Redwood City, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

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Slow Fashion

BY KATRINA RODABAUGH // There are few books I can wholeheartedly recommend the way I can recommend Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion to anyone interested in sustainable fashion. That’s right, anyone. I first came across this book by Elizabeth L. Cline when I heard her interviewed on NPR a few years ago. I promptly bought […]

via Slow Fashion Citizen: Elizabeth L. Cline — Fringe Association

For all of those interested in slow fashion, this blog post offers some interesting observations along with recommended reading on the subject.

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Backyard Playground

Since the drought has officially been declared over, I decided to plant a garden this year. Not such an easy endeavor… Well, I discovered this morning, raccoons were busy last night digging up my sunflowers and zinnias.  This really hurts because I pulled weeds, amended the soil and carefully planted the seeds according to the directions on the package.  At first, the birds were eating the sunflower seeds, but I was able to outsmart the birds by covering the top of the location with netting.  I suspect the raccoons are searching for the booty buried by the blue jays.  The blue jays are busy taking dry cat food pieces from the cat’s bowl when he’s not looking.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

The wild life does not seem to be interested in the zucchini nor the crookneck squash.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Here are the first tomatoes of Summer 2017.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

A garden is not complete without a ladybug or

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

spider.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

 

 

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Summer Stitches

As the mercury rises, it’s time to pull out my summer clothes.  Looking in my closet, I realize, “I don’t have anything to wear.”  I use to spend more time at the shopping mall, but now I’m embracing “slow fashion for the home sewist.”  For a definition and interesting article about slow fashion, read this article by Kate Fletcher.   http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/clothing/269245/slow_fashion.html

Well, time to set up my sewing machine and re-discover the many hidden gems in my stash of fabric.  I do recall purchasing a few yards of cotton canvas fabric designed by Yoko Saito a couple of years ago at, A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland, CA. After purchasing the fabric, I discovered Ms. Saito is an internationally known quilt artist, and I also own one of her books.  What a coincidence!

Across the store,  a bolt of fabric caught my eye.  I noticed the fabric because of the color, but most of all the modern look with a vintage appeal of vases on fabric and the simple intersection of lines drawn on the vases. The sales person mentioned, “perhaps the fabric would suit kitchen curtains.”  I had another idea…

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McCall’s Pattern M6739

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Now I have something to wear with my green purse.

 

 

 

 

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Flower Power

An article in the May 21, 2017, New York Times Style Magazine by Charlotte DiCarcaci, mentions for Fall, designers “have embraced Morris’s (William Morris) florid flora-on-flora ethos with a vengeance” inspired by the influences of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, especially Rosetti and the architectural talent of Philip Webb.  Philip Webb, a major player in the Arts & Crafts movement built the infamous Red House where Morris combined floral wallpapers and textiles influencing 19th-century aesthetics.   After reading the short two paragraph article in the New York Times Style Magazine, I wanted to know a little bit more about Morris’s Red House and its floral aesthetic.  The exercise prompted me to take stock in the many floral bouquets found in my fabric collection, Liberty cotton, Italian cotton and Swiss.

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At the same time, I reminisced about one of my favorite French Symbolist painters Odilon Redon, (b. April 22, 1840, Bordeaux France, d. July 6 1916, Paris France) and his Ophelia, 1900-1905.

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Along the way,  I discovered British painter, Sir John Everett Millais (b. June 8, 1829, Southhampton, UK, d. August 13, 1896, Kensington, London, UK).  Millais was identified with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.  It took Millais, eleven hours a day, six days a week for a five month period to paint his Ophelia, 1851-1852.  According to my limited research, this painting detailed the flora and landscape along the banks of the Hogsmill River in Surrey near Tolworth.   In fact, Barbara Webb, a resident of Old Malden solved the mystery location of the painting.  The following is an interesting article detailing the event.   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/7863332/Mystery-of-location-of-Millais-Ophelia-solved.html

John Everett Millais

Location:  Tate Gallery, London

I find the connection between William Shakeseare’s description of Ophelia’s garland and the  “language of flowers” or sometimes called floriography interesting.  The red poppy found in Millais’s Ophelia symbolizes sleep and death.

The language of flowers is a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers.  During the Victorian Era, messages were encoded in bouquets. An online article by Romie Stott, dated August 15, 2016, compares Victorian flower language as a pre-digital version of emoji. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-flowerobsessed-victorians-encoded-messages-in-bouquets

Here are some recent photographs I captured while in San Francisco at the Conservatory of Flowers.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

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Photo Credit: Mary Lou Fall (The “corpse flower” – titan arum)

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall (The “bat flower” – tacca chantrieri)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collecting Inspiration

This year for my birthday, I celebrated at the beach.  Two days of listening to the pounding surf, as I hiked through sand brought in from the storms of 2017, while hunting for sea glass. The first day was windy and cold.

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The second day on the sand was gorgeous, but there was not an abundance of sea glass.  I decided to focus on rocks with holes, lines and texture as my found objects.  (I always check for signage regarding removing objects from the beach).

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Rock Beads ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

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Lines, Intersections and Texture ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

My birthday celebration would not be complete without reservations at Cafe Rio in Rio Del Mar.

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Photo Credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Mango Salsa atop Swordfish resting on shaved Brussel Sprouts and Rice was delicious, but of course, I saved room for dessert.

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Photo credit:  Mary Lou Fall

Words cannot express the intense flavor of this dessert.  As Tess Flanders expressed in 1911, “Use a picture.  It’s worth a thousand words.”

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Photo credit: ©2017 Mary Lou Fall

The end to a perfect evening and birthday.

 

 

 

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