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Archive for October 27th, 2008

Mid-Project on the Ballet Tee

Monday, October 27th, 2008

ballettopbeforeripping.jpgI started the Ballet Tee to have a quick project. I did finish it in a day and a few hours but I decided I wanted it to become something it had not been intended to be. (It was designed as a very short, cropped top, and now I want mine to be a tunic.)

Since I’m on my own from this point on, I have to figure out how many inches I want the piece to measure around my hips. In the bodice, it is much smaller than my body and it stretches to fit. This is good, it looks as it was intended.

My hips are curvy though small… I am grateful. I also have a curvy belly as women are intended to have… it’s small, but this society does not want to notice it, period.

(For the record, I was not always this size. In 1977 I was on Weight Watchers. In 1980 I lost something in the ballpark of 55-70 pounds through a lifestyle change rather than a diet, and it has mostly stayed off. I am grateful.)

I need to increase the piece beyond merely the measurement difference between my waist and hips. I need to increase until there is wiggle room, which is called “wearing ease” in fashion design.

I did not want the front hem to dip at an angle any further, so on my first attempt I increased only at the hips from about belly-button level and below. I unintentionally made the “skirt” cling to my belly curve, and determined that would not be wearable.

So I pulled out the needles, and I went around the garment inserting the needle in the last row of knitting that I felt was correct (see top photo, taken in terrible lighting, at that point). Then I ripped/frogged it and made a nice big fat ball of yarn with the resulting mess.

I started back on knitting the skirt part. I again increased at the sides/hip, but also kept increasing at the front line. I stopped increasing in the back, because I hballettophiplength16.jpgave no curve there until much further down… this is where my back is relatively flat.

I have not recovered all the yarn that I ripped yet, but I’m about 3 rounds from finishing it up. I still have more yarn after that point, which I think I probably will use. My favorite sweaters are really long, so longer will probably be better. I can’t know until I give it a shot, in any case.

Right now it’s a longish top, not all the way to tunic yet. I’m happy with the shape it’s taking now, though. It has enough ease around the belly/hips that it looks decent for wearing in any public I choose. Score!

If I ran out of yarn right now, I would like the top. I’d have to wear it with a skirt, though… and I prefer to wear it over snug-fitting cotton/lycra leggings, almost tights, for winter weather.

If I can get it long enough for that (aiming for length to provide modesty), I will surely wear it a lot this winter. I picture it in my mind over a turtleneck and with knee-high or thigh-high legwarmers.

Not done, but you might as well see the photos I have at this point. Both images are pretty blurry, but the bottom one at least is about right in color.

Project Gutenberg: Woman as Decoration by Emily Burbank, 1917

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Oh, wow. Diana found a good one, on Project Gutenberg.

Woman as Decoration, by Emily Burbank

This is a book mostly about clothing styles, put up for the world to see. It was web-published through Project Gutenberg, including photo scans of illustrative plates. Images of women back to Queen Elizabeth (I) and especially at the end, styles of 1916 and 1917 (just before irenecastle25.jpgthe bulk of my favorite vocal music was written). The book is in the public domain, and how lucky that is for us!

I particularly love the photos of “Mrs. Conde’ Nast” which really foreshadow flapper attire (including a photo of a fortuny tea gown), and the photos of “Mrs. Vernon Castle.” Irene Castle was a dancer who with her husband influenced fashion, musical styles, dancing styles, and had a great influence on popular culture outside of NYC in the years 1912-1918.

The Castles were important in the Ragtime culture, and danced the Turkey Trot, the Grizzly Bear (scandalous), the Tango, Foxtrot and many others. She bobbed her hair ten years before flappers made the style commonplace.

The photo here is Irene Castle in an impulsive moment in front of the camera. Wonderful, no? Woman as decoration, for sure.

But I digress. There are never enough photographs for me, in any book. However, for a book of 1917, this one has some real gems. And the talk about recognizing the line of a garment and knowing which lines flatter the self, is modern. She speaks of finding lines that transcend fashion and fad. Those ideas are good in any age… even 90 years after the words were written.

I’m grateful for access to this book. Perhaps you’d like to check it out yourself.