Video killed the radio star

One of the questions that always bugs the modern is, “when did we stop dressing properly?”  My dad had the answer for this one, he said it started when TV came along.  At that point, our fellow humans were no longer our entertainment source, the box in our living room was.   He says he can remember the change, and how quickly it began.

I’m not on a rant about entertainment and socialization, because I use my glowing boxes as much as the next person.  But it’s interesting…. and what interests me is the division in our society between the Viewer and the Viewed, and how it’s crept into so many parts of our lives.

One of the things that I get when I go out in a long, full skirt is someone coming up to my shyly to compliment me on my “dress”.  That’s nice, of course… but when I say, as I do, that the skirt is very simple to make and she could have one, I get a demurral – as if the woman couldn’t possibly have permission to wander around in a pretty skirt of her own.  That bothers me.   You want this, you find this beautiful, there’s nothing outside your head stopping you from having it… and you won’t reach out.  Why?

We’ve made ourselves smaller.

There was a book I read once, a sci-fi comedy, and much of it was set in a world where there were athletes and fans, and the two groups had divided so long ago that they’d genetically drifted.  The fans were either bone thin or obese, and the athletes were solid muscle, built like trucks*.   One, of course, cannot possibly see that if one looks around today… -cough-

The Beautiful People *are* pretty – and we photoshop them to become even more so.  But what about the “normal” person next to us?  Have you ever looked around?  There are plenty of normies who are very attractive, and could be part of the Beautiful Crew if only they had the right support staff.  (Hair, makeup, coach, dietician, tailor, etc).  We all know that the Beautiful People have this set of tools… but we don’t internalize that.

Because they are to be seen, and we are not.

Every part of their lives is up for scrutiny.  They ‘belong’ to all of us, in a weird way.  Their lives form the community in our heads that we lost when we came inside to circle around the glowing boxes.

Community is formed by what you circle up around.   It is shaped by the seeing and being seen.  Small towns had parades and church picnics and fourth of July parties … and they were small enough you were actually viewable, not just viewed.

Being crammed into huge cities reduces community, as it increases anonymity.  Yes, the old cities, that weren’t driveable, they had community, but it was community in neighborhoods, which functioned like a small town.  Probably even more community, as a neighborhood in which you must walk everywhere forces you to participate in the daily parade.

We are invisible.  We walk from our houses to our cars, and sit in those steel boxes until we get to our jobs.  We work – and work is where we’re “real people”, no wonder everyone defines you by what you do – and then we get back in the steel boxes and come home.  Other than running errands, and participating in entertainment, we stay in our concrete boxes.  Sometimes we go to other concrete boxes to perform functions like exercise or worship.  And in those concrete boxes, we exist.  But we aren’t real, outside in the world.  We don’t have a constant identity that travels with us from box to box, because we are performing such different functions in each box.  And the visible enclosure encourages mental enclosure.   The boxes are disposable, by the way – we can always find new boxes to enter, and we can leave behind the last like a fallen chrysalis.  Anonymity is ours, forever for the taking.

And yet we are desperate to be known… and not.  So, we take instagram photos and show off the best parts of our lives, inviting folks to look at one tiny piece of us but not know us.   I want you to know me!  But I don’t want you to judge me.  So, see this little bit, and “like” it, and go on.  Allow me to feel real, and let me go back to sitting on my couch in my bathrobe.  My ratty bathrobe, because no one will ever see me… and I don’t care about seeing myself, because I’m not really real without someone to see.

We’ve lost the stimulation of conversation, of belonging to a group, of daily intercourse with others.  We’ve lost the pleasure in the parade, and being part of a whole.   We replace that with fandoms, food, and pile entertainment upon entertainment in the vain hopes of no longer being bored.

Because we’re bored and tired and blah.

We don’t create, because again – creation is for those who have mastered it, not for those who are coming up.  (And so few of us will come up the right way, working through all the not-showy tasks in order to learn the skills for showy ones.  Let’s not even get into the time, money, and effort required to become skilled.  Yes, craftsmanship is for nearly everyone – but not everyone understands that “instant” isn’t part of the equation).

I’m starting to think that life lived inside a concrete box isn’t really life at all…


More later, still chewing.



*Myth Directions, by Robert Asprin


Invisibility killed beauty


This is a bit rough, bear with me while I process my thoughts.

I think one of the bars to beauty is that we are completely unused to being publicly visible.  We aren’t used to other humans seeing us, excepting in our professional guises, whatever those are.  We don’t have a visual language for “not-at-work” clothing, except the sexy stuff one wears to clubs and such for that brief moment in one’s life.

We’ve divided the world into those who are to be viewed and those who are to be the viewers.  We feel unworthy of being one of the Viewed – “I’m not ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille”.  Much as we don’t see ourselves as being active if we’re not athletes, we don’t give ourselves permission to create unless we have the skills of a master craftsperson, we don’t dance unless we’re Misty Copeland… we don’t want to be seen unless we’re On.   And then we’re probably taking selfies.  Everything has become virtual, only real if it’s on a screen.

We’re only On at work or on special occasions.  This may be a good chunk of the reason none of us have anything to wear – we honestly don’t.  Because we’re trying to be invisible most of the time, for those times when we want to look decent but not like we’re going to the office, we don’t even know where to start.

We’re uncomfortable being seen.  Male gaze gets the brunt of accusation – but the female gaze is no kinder.  And our own gaze is the least kind of all.

And because of this desire to be invisible, we dress invisibly.  We wear t-shirts and jeans and leggings and sweatshirts nearly to the exclusion of all else.  Except, of course, when we’re On.  Of course those things are comfortable, but they’re not *that* much more comfortable than beautiful clothing.

It makes us feel shy and silly and young to be seen.  We don’t know how to own our own existence.

More later.


I look like a box of chocolates

So, when you start dialing things up towards being “noticeable” sometimes you have to sit back, look at yourself and laugh.

Anyone for a big pink bow?



But really – this is my “look” and I can’t truly overdo it.  Sweet and natural.

Probably I’m the only one who’s amused, but I soo am.  🙂

There’s a psychological thing, where you reveal more of your personality than you’re used to, and it’s a little weird.   I’m going this direction, aiming to dial it up to 11… so, you’re going to see more extreme Hearthishness.  (I’d say this was about a 7 on the Crazy Hearthie Scale).

Palette Cleansers

I made this yesterday afternoon.  These take me 2-3 hours to do.  I forget that, how easy they are.   They’re not super flattering because of the total lack of waistline, but they are comfortable and you can’t get a prettier neckline.   I wear them tucked in anyhow.

I used remnants of the swiss dot from my last dress.



I made these a couple of weeks ago.  If you didn’t grow up in the nineties, making a choker is ridiculously easy.  You get a pair of hook and eyes, and you sew them neatly to a ribbon the length of your neck.


Neatly is key, of course, as is measuring properly.


Together they took around an hour, mostly because I sewed the green flowers down onto the blue ribbon for the second one.

No one needs to be told that these are for my 13yo, not me, right?  😀

Pinstripe Pain


Just another shirt in the closet…  I made some changes to the sleeve, per DH.  He said that other than collar and cuffs, the RL aqua shirt fit quite well.  Three more shirtings to go, we’ll hope this one or the next really nails that fit to the wall.

But OY.  I have learned my lesson about 1/16″  plain pinstripe… DON’T!  It visually distorted for me, especially when I used the florescent lights in my patio work area.   My eyes, my head… not fun.

Next up, a quick palette cleanser for yours truly, and I think I might make myself a skirt.  I have an experiment… 😀

Girly Gertie Dress

My 13yo daughter has been feeling down, so I offered to make her a dress.  I took her to the BMV website and said, “pick anything!”.   She picked Butterick 6484, a dropped waist dress a la Gertie.


She asked that I make it in lavender with lace.  Some days, I think that whole “emo” thing is wearing off…. 😉


So, now my daughter has a dressy dress to take her through the holiday season.  I made her a matching choker.   (The purple ribbon is velvet – I wish I knew where to source velvet ribbon, this was in the ASG “take it” pile).

The up-close:



And the far away:


Not too many notes on the making – it’s linen/rayon in the main, and the eyelet is a cotton/poly.  The inner skirt lining is cotton.  It does have a bit of a petticoat with tulle to hold the bottom of the skirt up.  (The skirt is a simple gathered rectangle, so that you’re able to use border prints).  The bodice is self-lined.  I added the lace at the top of the bodice, and the beading lace with ribbon.

I’m pretty proud of this make, it’s done (and finished) well.   It fits well, would fit better if the girl would stand up straight, but 13yo…

Fitting: Muslin/Toile vs. Fitting Shell

This is for Magistra…

On sewing blogs, one often hears about doing a sample garment, and that garment is called either a “muslin” or a “toile” depending on how French one is feeling that day.  It’s a quick check to make sure everything fits and lines up as it should before cutting into the good fabric.

I nearly ALWAYS muslin my clothes, I have a non-standard body shape in all the directions.  But certainly if I were going to make something nice, I’d be sure to make a quick sample in old sheets or cheapest fabric (I almost never use actual muslin) to make sure everything was **perfect** first.  You don’t usually mess with the facings or niceties of finishing with most muslins – for the really grand items, like jackets, I might do that, but not for basics.

Here’s a picture of me muslining something (I used an old pillowcase):


What’s a fitting shell? A fitting shell is a VERY UGLY garment, usually sewn in gingham (so as to show the vertical/horizontal lines) that takes this a step farther.  Instead of being oriented to a particular, properly styled, garment, the fitting shell is a jewel-necked, straight-skirted, long sleeved garment entirely intended to point out where fitting changes are typically going to need to be done on other garments.  If you do a really awesome fitting shell and have the right information (I have a book…) you can design your own, custom-fit garments.

Now, the cool thing about a pencil skirt is that it’s such a simple garment you can make the fit perfect very easily.  The big thing to look at is where your hips are widest, as opposed to the hips on the pattern.  So, you can lengthen/shorten your darts (and maybe hip seams) as appropriate.    This is also a good time to figure out how much taper you like on your skirt (and whether or not that will require a back-vent) as well as set a hem length.  VERY simple changes!

My hips (as an example) are high – most of my “hip” is actually belly.  So a 7″ dart is my go-to.  You’ll be surprised what difference this makes.

How do you make a regular skirt into a fitting shell?  Just sew the side seams (in junk fabric) then pin out the dart and sew it.  When it’s perfect… it’s perfect.

That’s basically how you fit, with some details about “start here for best results”.  You take out fabric where you don’t need it, you add it where you do.

Hope this helped!