Monday 20 December 2010

And peace on earth...

This is not an explicitly Christmas-related tradition, but it's connected, as you will see.

Once upon a time (most probably in 2001), my sister asked for a story for her birthday. "So that it is beautiful."
I used an idea that'd been lurking in my head for some time and started writing that story on the remaining empty pages in an old school notebook. (And that's from where I deduce it was in 2001, because the notebook was for the schoolterm 1999/2000).
I filled eight more notebooks with the story. And I finished it about three years after that particular birthday.
But every time I wrote a considerably long part, we sat down on one of our beds in the evening, and I read to her what I had written.
It is her story. Written by me, and very much mine; but written for her, and five of the characters in it are her own.
I missed writing it after I had finished. A lot. I still miss it. There are many silly parts and many mistakes now that I read it after the years, but overall it's a very good story, filled with things I like and would like others to know and like. The characters are very important to me, too.

Reading it as I was writing it was one of the traditions connected to it, but soon another one was born - as I did not finish the story for the birthday, or for the Christmas afterwards, not even for other birthdays and Christmases, I started giving my sister illustrations to the story instead.
The first two were made, I guess, before we had scanner. So I cannot show you, and given the quality of the pictures (compared to the latter ones), I guess that's a good thing.

This is, I believe, the third illustration I've made for my sister. Showcasing two of my favourite characters - the main character, Vladyka, a 15-year-old boy who's discovering there's more to the world than he thought, in the front, and his new adult friend and advisor Joshua in the back. Admiring the pure blue skies and musing about purity.

(I kind of want Vladyka's t-shirt.)

This is the last one so far. "Smelling the Spring". Vladyka and a number of his friends on a spring hike, enjoying the pleasant weather.

I actually started this whole post because of a part of the story I re-read last night...

Vladyka comes back from the pre-Christmas celebration with his new Christian friends and finds only his elder sister at home.They lead a more serious conversation than usual, which leads to them sealing a peace of arms - they had been fighting and teasing each other a lot before.

"...You're going back to the religion of your ancestros, bro."
"Parents are not at home, are they?"
"You wouldn't be talking like this otherwise."
"No, they're not."


"Hey, what's that you're wearing on your neck?"
"I got that from Kněžna."
"Isn't it? It's a fish. The symbol of the first Christians, and Christians on the whole."
"I thought that was the cross."
"Well, that too. This was kind of a camouflage. It's ICHTHYS or something in Greek - like an abbreviation for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. Kind of a confession of faith."
"Yours, too?"
"Mine, too."
"Bro, we've always been arguing and fighting, haven't we?"
Vladyka graciously remained silent.
"We've been stupid. Do you want peace?"
They shaked hands, thoroughly and earnestly.
"Wait, we have to drink to that," sister had an idea - oh, wait, sister Kateřina had an idea. She has a name, too. "There's some wine left."
"Hey, I'm not of age yet!"
"Doesn't matter. It's just a little bit, look."
Vladyka admitted he can't get drunk by that amount. He got another idea and cut a slice of bread.
"Bread and wine..." Katka said. "That reminds me of something."
"That's the Communion," Vladyka explained.
Katka's brow frowned in thought. Then it finally clicked into place.
"Well, but I'm not Christian."
"And I'm not baptised yet. I don't mean it as seriously as in church anyway. More like a symbol." He broke the slice of bread into two and gave her one half. She didvided the wine into two glasses.
"So - to our peace. Let it last," she said. "Until death."
"Even further," Vladyka dared.
"You Christians are crazy," she concluded.

A full table

Every year before Christmas, children from a congregation in Prague play their Christmas pageant in my congregation.
This year, there were really many of them.

After the play, we went to the adjoining tower where there's always something to drink or even eat.
It was foggy and very beautiful. (Unfortunately, for a reason my camera's been making rather fuzzy and grainy photos recently.)

There was a lot to eat this time.

"It seems Protestants all over the world are the same," said my sister who's spent considerable part of the year in Latvia. "They're always eating."

Saturday 18 December 2010

Good pair of woolen mittens

Few things are better in winter than a good pair of woolen mittens/gloves.

This pretty pair I got from my sister a week ago (I had birthday last week). She had bought them on a market in Riga, Latvia.

They're probably knitted on a machine, but otherwise this type of mittens is apparently traditional in Latvia (and other northern countries). Although maybe usually in more earthy colours. My sister picked these blue ones for me, because blue suits me better.

I love how bright they are - they pop out among the blacks most people wear in winter around these parts! Plus they have two layers and are really just luxurious...

These are handmade by my grandma. I got them... years ago. Which would explain why they wore through at one thumb:

I bought woolen yarn in the same colour and carefully strengthened the worn-through thumb and sewed the hole together. So hopefully they'll last for many more years.

I personally haven't got to this level of knitting yet - although I'm already able to make fingerless mittens, even with the thumb. On the five sock needles.
But if you cannot knit on five sock needles, you can quite easily cheat around that:

I wanted to make a pair for a lady I occasionally buy magazines from in the street. I had noticed she didn't have any gloves. But last time I got a glimpse of her, she had already been provided with a good pair of gloves, so this joyful aqua pair of fingerless mittens will go to somebody else.

Friday 10 December 2010

The Grace Kelly book arrived!

Just a quick happy note. I don't have time for a detailled post. And won't have for some time. Busy weekend!
The dresses are pretty pretty.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

What's this "Farmgirl" stuff?

I did not manage to participate in Atlanta's Historical Costume Inspiration Festival, so I'll participate in Margery's Yuletide Farmgirl Festival. This one does not require having anything finished by a date. Just a blog post or more of them. That is much more manageable.

I've actually always lived in a town. So technically and practically I'm not a farmgirl; but deep down inside, in my roots, there is a bit of one. As T.G. Masaryk said in 1920s or 1930s, all Czech people have farmer blood. I'm a bit more removed in time from it, but it still is there. I'm still a bit of a Wallachian sheep herder - I have more tolerance for milk than is usual in adults; I actually need it - or Western-Bohemian fruit-grower. I'd definitely be hapless on a farm at first (I'm awfully impractical), but I'd get into it. I think.

It would be nice if I could finish the unfinished workdress by the time of the festival, but I doubt I'd manage that. It would be nice, because it's a workdress, even rural in inspiration, and it has wintry colours. But to be finished, it still requires several steps, including a high amount of handsewn eyelets. So no, I don't think I'll manage it. But I hope I'll manage it till Christmas. We'll see.

I bought a wide tape for underlining the openings that will be laced. (I hope this makes sense...) That thread/thin yarn is meant for sewing it there, because I cannot get proper thread in the light blue colour. Not cotton thread, at least, and polyester is not allowed anywhere near this dress! I know cotton is not very period either, but at least it's natural fibre - and because I'm working with a cotton fabric in the first place, the whole thing will be cotton. Except for the eyelets. I already have buttonhole silk in the perfect colour! I bought it some time ago on sale, just because I knew it was my kind of colour - even before I got the fabric. Stashing has its advantages.

I bought six meters of that tape, far more than I need for the dress. Because it's my kind of colour and I might need it again.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

I'm continually proven wrong

I wrote that I was not fond of Edwardian clothes.

I'm not fond of the general Edwardian silhouette. I'm not very fond of the blouses and that stuff.

But dresses? Aww.

In a proper Dreamstress Rate the Dress fashion, this dress gets a full 10 from me, and deserves nothing less.

(Dress courtesy of the Rijksmuseum.)

Also, the loveliest of the wedding dresses in the UPM is Edwardian, but you'll still have to wait for photos of it. I haven't gotten around to properly editing them yet.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

It's giveaway time at Sense & Sensibility

Jennie Chancey of Sense & Sensibility is giving away interesting books... this time it's a book about the dresses of Grace Kelly by V&A museum.

She asks that we write a blog post about our favourite pattern from her collection for a chance to win it. So this is the post, and also a post to make you aware of the giveaways if you are not. The prizes are great!

So: My favourite pattern - one I don't own - is the Elegant Lady's Closet pattern. Do I have to explain why? I guess I do: Regency! Different necklines! Grande aissettes assiettes (or at least an indication thereof)! Aww.

(For new readers who don't know my obsession with grande aissettes and have no idea what I'm talking about: look at the way the sleeves are set in in the back. The big armholes. I think the correct term for that is grande aissette.)

P.S. I won the book. I feel unreal. I promise I'll share (as far as that is possible with copyrights, you know).

Wednesday 27 October 2010

The current state of the blue-grey medieval workdress

I feel like I should post something and prove that I'm alive, so here's the current state of the blue-grey medieval workdress. With one panel still not fully sewn in, and waiting for two more godets in the back (at the sides; I cut the original back side pattern pieces into two for them to better fit on the fabric - they were tapering out too sharply). But, and that makes me happy, with all the finished seams really finished. I knew that I'd be bored to death if I were to finish them after the whole thing was sewn, so I carefully folded and sewed down the seam allowances individually at each seam when I sewed it. I strongly recommend this practice for handsewing. It makes life easier (finishing the seams when the pattern pieces are freshly sewn in, without the bulk of fabric getting in the way) and the sewing more varied.

It hangs weird in the photos, but that's because I just quickly pinned it on with six pins, three at each side, over my full pleated houseskirt. So it's very likely to look much better when it is truly finished.

I also somehow - as a result of bad pattern marking, I think - managed to cut the back side pieces longer than necessary. Good that I did not cut them short!

I already have the upper sleeves. Including the tape for tying on the lower sleeves.

Anything else to say about it? Yes. As you can clearly see, I did not manage to finish it in time for the Historical Costume Inspiration Festival. The Greenland Gown site (which, mind you, I did not really follow as to the fitting technique) claims you can sew it in about 7 hours. I knew that could not be true. I forgot that the site also calculated all the finishing tasks, though. That seems much more realistic than I thought. Except that I am finishing the seams throughout, so all that calculation does not really apply to me. I don't know how long it took me so far, as I sewed every now and then...

Thursday 23 September 2010

Polonez - Pan Tadeusz

I love this film.
This scene, the stork, always gives me a lump in my throat. I can't help it. I've been to Lithuania. I've seen the storks.

Sunday 19 September 2010

"Certain things are incommunicable, especially in certain places"

Said a man about to go to a pub.
We had, along with some other people from our congregation, been through a presentation on old Arameic, Hebrew and Phoenician writings - that is, old legal agreements, inscriptions on the Samaritan temple (did you know there still are Samaritans today?) and something written on a sherd of a Phoenician jug found in Egypt. We had listened to the man who reads them, compares them, dates them in accordance with other texts from the eras, based on the writing and the language. We had leafed through a thick book he wrote on the subject, in French, and the yet unpublished book he wrote on the subject, in English. We had learned that one of the legal documents had apparently belonged to a son of a person in the book of Nehemiah. We had learned that the man had got a medal for his achievements (I forgot / did not quite get what kind of medal it was, and whether it was French or Czech or what). And while we walked home - or, as it turned out, me home and my temporary companion to the pub - we both agreed that, wow, that man must be really good at languages.
So I asked my companion something along the lines of whether he was now going to the pub to share the experience, and he said what became the title of this post.

And it made me wonder.

Because, sure, certain things are hard to communicate, especially in certain places.
But I know of a certain minister and of a certain pub, where certain things are being communicated on regular basis. And the place is often crowded.
So, maybe... it's possible.
But I don't know how to do it.
So I'm at least posting about it on my blog, where I originally did not want to post about it because it's a sewing blog. But I guess the fact that this is a sewing blog should not mean it should only be dedicated to sewing, just like a pub does not necessarily have to be dedicated only to drinking.
And I'm free to say "God gave that man amazing gifts."
There you go.

(If you're wondering what's going on in the Blu-grey Medieval Workdress land - well, it could be summed up into "I sewed".)

Sunday 12 September 2010

More glass

I didn't show you all the glass in the last post about UPM.

There were these modern beaded metal figures of uncertain purpose:

There was also this presentation of beads and marbles made with different techniques:

(Look at the ladybug in left bottom bowl!)

And these fun crazy animals:

Saturday 11 September 2010

Two sleeves and a tape

I've made two sleeves in two days. Not bad, especially considering I also managed to go to IKEA and buy myself a DVD shelf and five bowls for baking, and putting some of my DVDs into the shelf, and some other things...
Maybe I managed it because I took the sewing with me and sewed on train and metro.
They're not completely finished yet, actually, because I want to sew twill tape along the hems (already started), for tying on the optional undersleeves. I do not have enough of this blue-grey fabric, so the side panels and the undersleeves will be made out of the light blue one, but I might be able to squeeze a pair out of the remnants of the blue-grey fabric as well. So, the sleeves are not completely finished, and can't be, because I do not have enough of the narrow white tape I'm using for it. I'll have to buy more. Much more, it's a useful thing to have around.
But in the stash, I also found tape (not twill) in EXACTLY the same colour as the blue-grey fabric. As if they were made in the same factory, the same day.
I'm going to bind the armscyes with this tape. If I have some left (which is uncertain), I'll also reinforce the shoulder seams with it. For other reinforcing and binding and finishing, there are the selvedges.

Also, I love the medieval method of sewing with running stitches - even with making a backstitch every once in a while and turning the edges under for more non-ravelling safety, it goes so quick! Much better than the handstitched garments I've made so far... Most probably also because this fabric - satin weave, not very tightly woven - is very easy to sew.

I'm already in love with this dress. I hope it will live up to its promises.

Thursday 9 September 2010

Bohemian glass

More photos from the UPM. A bit of outbranching from this blog's general theme, but not so much after all.

So, you've heard of Bohemian glass, haven't you? Bohemian glass beads, right? And all the shops with glass in Prague.
When you live in the Czech Republic, this is not so much of a phenomenon, I suppose unless you live in one of the towns where glass is made. In your everyday life, you do not have much time for contemplating the mastery of your country's glassmakers.

But even if you are a foreigner who doesn't know much about my country outside of this and beer, even if you go to Prague to see the mastery, I believe you rarely get to see the real mastery. As is usual with things that are better known with tourists than the local people.
The local people get to know the mastery when they go to the UPM. So do the tourists when they manage to figure out there is such thing like the UPM.

All this lofty talk because right now there's an exhibition of the glassmaking school in Železný Brod in the UPM. Till September 19th.

Most of the modern things in there are robust and huge. I'm not fond of robust and huge glass - even though I can't deny it's interesting and all - I'm more into the subtle kind. So I did not take many photos of the exhibition, even though photography was allowed there, so if I felt like it, I could take loads and loads and it would be completely legal even if my photography sticker fell off my arm.

I did take photos of some modern glass jewellery, mostly because it was strangely interesting. All of this was huge, too, and the rings in particular seemed awfully uncomfortable for wearing. I only took photos of the less huge things.

These pins are very pretty, and also very much like syringes.

These are less suspicious, but I'm afraid they'd still make huge holes in your clothes. Unless they're meant for hats or something. I'm not sure of this, because I started taking photos of the descriptions a bit later.

These are men's brooches.

These two beaded necklaces are not bad. Or maybe they are. I'm undecided.

The subtlest rings I found there. If sticking the Czech flag to a ring is the subtlest...

I was talking about mastery, wasn't I?

Silver and glass/silver and enamel brooches from 1940s. Made by students.

These kinetic birds were fun!

A fun twisted modern idea: Glass breakfast.

Virtues. Amazing.

White Horse, Two-Headed Dragon, 1960s. The horse is one of the most marvelous glass statues I've ever seen... it's otherworldly.

But the REAL, and I mean REAL mastery is upstairs in the permanent exhibition. And it was made in the 17th and 18th century.
Unfortunately, at that time my hands were apparently already a bit shaky after all the photos I'd taken before, so the photos are fuzzy. You'll have to go to Prague and see for yourselves!

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Conquer of the UPM!

I think I've just broken a photographing record. I've taken 483 photos over the course of 2 hours.

That's because the Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum in Prague (The Museum of Decorative Arts; aka UPM) offers free entrance every Tuesday between 5 and 7 PM. So I took advantage of it, went there and paid the photographing fee which would normally be a bit too much for me in addition to the entrance fee. And then, equipped with a little sticker with a camera on my left arm, I photographed like a mad dog. (Supposing a mad dog can photograph.)

When I came back, father told me that it took him two days to take that amount of photos in Liepaja. Liepaja is a city in Latvia and sort of his personal Mekka. So you get an idea what a crazy feat I've just conducted.

Note to potential UPM photographers: Do not wear corduroy. I had a corduroy jacket and had to remove it, because the sticker would not stick to it.
Also, bear in mind that you're not allowed to have any kind of luggage at you. Not even a very small bag. You have to wear everything you wish to keep in your pockets (I kept my mobile phone, with the sound muted, to keep trace of time). You can carry a camera, but only with that paid-for sticker, naturally. You have to keep your luggage in cloakroom lockers.

The museum's not just full of pretty things, it's very pretty itself:

And to show you a little bit of the pretty things in there...

Clogs by Baťa, 1938-45. "Wood, leather, cotton straps, twisted cord."

Corset bodice (i.e. stays, I suppose), mid 18th century, French patterned silk and linen, made in Bohemia.

Bodice of printed muslin, 1840s-50s, Bohemia. It's situated in a drawer which you're supposed to pull out yourself. That's why it's upside down on the photo.
There are many many of those drawers in the room dedicated to clothes and cloths. Most of it is fabric or lace, and I did not photograph most of them, because there was simply too much of them and I feared that I would not have time for the other interesting things. And I was quite right.

But in spite of all the pretty clothes, my favourite item is actually this - two curtains designed by the Czech surrealist artist Toyen (Marie Čermínová by real name). If the UPM ever (which is unlikely) issues shower curtains with the print on right, I'm totally buying one, even with a museum price. Also, I'd love me some bedding with the print on the left. *sigh*

I second-guessed myself, and now I've got Medieval Sleeve Nr. 5

It's simpler. It might eat up more fabric, which is not even sure. But it's simple. Therefore, I'm going to use it on the final silk version. I'm still not sure what I'm using on the blue workdress, where I'm limited by fabric width (100 cm).

This is the pattern layout, the way it's going to be cut out of a 24 x 40 cm rectangle of fabric.

In reality, the two smaller pieces will be on the other side of the big one. The weird polygon goes to the bottom, situated the same way it is on the layout. The triangular gusset goes into the space between the other two, flipped upside down.

The main purpose of Nr. 5 - outside of being simpler - is this:

I thought, hey, this thing is almost grande-aissetted, what if I use this as a base for my Regency dress as well, and save myself some of the mocking-up trouble for that dress?
So I united all the three pieces of Nr. 3b-Something, and got Nr. 4, which was very, very fine, but not entirely.
So I played around it a bit more, used the back gusset again, and thus arrived to Nr. 5. Where I end. Now for real. If I go on, it will be to Regency Sleeve Nr. 1.

Medieval Sleeve Nr. 3bSomething - a diagram

OK, so the sleeve I finally arrived at is really confusing. I mean, it sort of confuses even me. Why am I even bothering with such a strange sleeve?
And how on earth does it go together?

This is how:

And the why... there are several.

1: I like the look of it. I like the way it looks completely different from any modern clothes. Come on, that triangular gusset in the back is cute!
2: It fits just like I want it to fit. Close, tight, yet comfortable.
3: It saves me fabric. Seriously. I experimented with moving the back seam to the underarm and uniting the main sleeve with the back gusset. On paper, regardless of grainlines and such, just to see if it's possible. It's almost 4 cm wider and about 2 cm higher (because of the change in angles).
With the sleeve in three pieces and a back seam, the main piece is narrower AND the sides are collinear and orthogonal to the hem. I should be able to cut both the main piece and the back gusset out of an approx. 32 x 22 cm rectangle of fabric. The united piece would eat a 36 x 24 rectangle, and there would be more odd remnants. (The underarm gusset is an additional piece, in both cases.)

That's obvious enough. Phew. I needed to sort this out and convince myself that I'm not crazy...

Monday 6 September 2010

Phew! I've got it!

This is Medieval Sleeve Nr. "I lost count".
More precisely, this is Medieval Sleeve Nr. 3-b-"I lost count of the underarm gussets".
It looks rather weird.
But it works.

The triangular gusset goes to the back seam, as seen previously. The other gusset is the final underarm gusset and goes from the very pointy point at right up to the bend at upper right-to-middle. That bend itself is there because of the changes I made to the front armscye.
(And do not worry if you got lost. In flat form, I can barely wrap my head around it myself. That's probably why it took me so many attempts.)
To provide you better understanding, here's the much more - at least for a modern seamstress/tailor - intuitive Medieval Sleeve Nr. 1b:

The width in both cases is the same - 29 cm. So is the back seam gusset, 9 x 9 x 9 cm. The difference is in the height of the sleeve cap and its additional width which results from the changes to the front armscye. I think it's kind of what happens in the back of the Irish Moy Bog Gown - a milder version of it; except that in my sleeve it happens in the front. (There's a pattern for the Moy Bog gown on this site, under "Undergowns".)

I have no idea if this construction of mine is period-correct or not. But it works. And that's most important.