Sunday 24 April 2011

The greatest time of all year

I'd love to write a nice Easter post, but I'm leaving soon... we have planned a hiking trip near Brno for tomorrow (which is a holiday in CR - while Great Friday isn't, phew).
So just... yes, it's sunny. Almost too sunny. The church was full of children. We stayed afterwards, talking to people, till 12 o'clock... Lilacs are starting to bloom, I smelled them.
It's life. Living. Being able to live. Oh my.

Monday 18 April 2011

My Miss Barbora hat

I've been admiring these floppy hats for some time. Actually, it's easily traceable back to January 2010, when I saw Play It Again, Sam - Diane Keaton wears a fine specimen of the kind there... And then they started popping up everywhere. Like, you know, The Sartorialist. I've been on a one-eyed lookout for one ever since I found a 19th century one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
And now I have one! It's my birthday/Christmas gift from my friend, which I got yesterday - we're a bit behind, but I don't mind getting my gifts around Easter at all. Thanks, B. :-)
Miss Barbora is a character in the most popular Czech book, Saturnin. It was written in 1942 or so, but it's set in sort of a timeless floating bubble, so many people assume it takes place in 1920s or 30s, and I would, too, were it not for a little mention of dim-out. Miss Barbora is the book's narrator's sporty, spirited, elegant love interest. When father saw my new hat, he said I would need the proper clothes to wear with it, and when I asked what he had in mind, he said "I don't know, something like what Miss Barbora would wear."

This is what I wanted to wear on Saturday and did not. With the hat, because, wow, it matches the dress perfectly!
The dress is from clothes exchange, apparently homemade (by a skilled seamstress) or custom-made, because there's no tag in it and no indication that there ever was one.
The blouse is my sister's. The best thing to go with that dress (which is a bit indecent for my comfort on its own), but, as father also noticed, still not quite perfect. I think I'll take heed of his advice that it needs something short-sleeved, and will try to make myself a short-sleeved version of my sister's blouse. Anyway, thanks, Marta, for allowing me to borrow it. :-) The neckline is perfect for the dress. It's Indian, cotton, embroidered white on white. And it has a bit of a peasant feel about it, worn under the dress this way, it would need something crisper. I seriously think these floppy hats need to be paired with something crisp to look really good.
The belt has a history. It was made by my Wonderful Crafty Grandma, for my mom, as part of my mom's dancing lessons dress. That puts it back into, most probably, 1972. The dress to go with it looks quite that date, too. It's been long lost, until mom somehow discovered the dress, with the belt and the short skirt of its first incarnation, tucked away somewhere at grandma's place. It must have been put away right after she came home from the dance, because it smelled of sweat and there were mudstains on it... Anyway, I finally got around to washing it (by hand) - the mudstains did not go completely yet, but the belt is good for wearing, so I tried it with this blue dress and liked the effect.

And now the big question... do you think I could wear this to a wedding? Should I try to make the blouse to go with it in a month's time, when I have other things to make, and am not even sure I have the proper material? I think I want to, but would like to know what others think... I still have another option.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Wearing a flower on Flower Sunday

That's Palm Sunday for you English speaking folk. And you're probably right; but in Czech, it's Flower Sunday.

There's a flower pin in my hair. Trust me. I just managed to turn myself to the other side for the photo, so you can't see much of it. But it's there.

Obviously, this is just a little variation on an outfit you've seen before, but it features a) a bag (Avon... from clothes exchange) b) a shawl (thrifted) - that you haven't seen yet. And the flower pin. (I bought the shawl this week. It's silvery blue-grey, 70 % cotton, 30% silk.)

It's what I wore to the theatre yesterday in the end. Minus the shawl, plus the other hairpin (it started falling apart a bit, so I left it out today). I wanted to wear something else (I'll show you tomorrow, I think), but that was a bit too summery for the colder weather we've got recently. So I wanted to keep warm and turned to the tried and trued Blueberry skirt outfit. And used the flower pins I made for my graduation ball. I'm rather surprised that I do not wear them more often...

There's certainly a reason why Easter is celebrated in Spring... on the northern hemisphere there's a reason, that is. I'm not sure about the South... For most years in my life, Easter Sunday was sunny and full of hope, so now my small hope is that this year's will be, too. Yesterday morning, I walked home from my aunt's in a village several kilometers away from my hometown (where I spent the night at her & mom's request, to be an adult presence for my cousins while aunt was away, just in case). It was so beautiful, almost glittery, and I felt so happy, I just had to sing. I started with Antonín Dvořák's rendition of Psalm 23... until I realised, to my shame, that I could not remember the words. :P So I switched to other songs, but that one's still playing in my head. It's too beautiful to forget just because I happened to forget the words for an instance.

Friday 8 April 2011

Non-sewing news

I finally planted the seeds. Left: basil; right: parsley. Hopefully. And cut a little bit of wood, and got a blister on my finger, stupid. And forgot to send my entry into the Thrifty 15 Challenge. But you will still get to see the results of my styling game, because in the process I came up with a nice outfit to wear when I go to theatre with my friend next Saturday. Only it did not fit into the budget.

Tuesday 5 April 2011


I went to the Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum in Brno on Friday. The entrance was free this weekend (lucky me!). I forgot to ask about their photography policy. I hope it's possible to take photos there, for when I go there next, because they have one of the loveliest 1840s dresses I've ever seen. Well, the only one I've ever seen in real life and not just on a picture, which makes for a lovely dress in and of itself. :-)

I got inspired and drew a sketch of my idea for the kacabajka and the OUATITW blouse. It's kind of my re-imagination of the 1848 Czech national costume... not entirely period correct, but in the same spirit. A 21st century Czech national costume, so to say.
It's just a quick and rather messy sketch I made on a train, but for such, not bad at all. :D

EDIT: I added the Research tag, for my comments below.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Is RTW clothing made by machines?

This is not a kind of matter I would normally address... neither here nor offline. My discussion of ready-to-wear clothing usually ends at the problems of style, price or fit (mostly fit).

I'm not venturing into the tricky issues of sweatshops and production of clothes, because A) there are people who know much more about the matter and can write better about it (such as the fantastic lady behind Fashion Incubator, or Outi Pyy), and B) in relation to sweatshops, this is one of the things I prefer doing something about instead of talking about. Because of A), it's much easier for me to buy second-hand and make my own clothes (preferably from second-hand fabric) and occasionally buy ethical (hopefully) new clothing than to try to convince others to do that. I don't study clothing design or production, I study languages and am happy studying languages.

But an off-hand, surprising remark by no one else but my own father recently made me realise that most people around me might have no idea what I've been talking about above.

Seriously and honestly, did you think the clothing you buy in shops is made by machines?

Well, if you did, you were wrong. There are machines working along the way, but ultimately, it is people who put it together.

Just like anything else as far as I know.

And because it was father who made me think about it, I'll show you on an example of his own area of knowledge and interest.

All photos in this post were taken by me in LOSTR a.s. (recently renamed to Legios a.s.), a factory in Louny, Czech Republic, that makes and repairs railway carriages and locomotives. It was on their day for public, when you could go virtually everywhere in the factory and see how they work. My father went there because - well, because it's his area of expertise and greatest hobby. I went there because I love the atmosphere of these old industrial buildings, and because my great-grandfather on my mother's side worked there.

This is the new building, where they have a laser-cutting machine for components (which I stupidly did not take a photo of). These are steel plates waiting to be cut into "pattern pieces".

And this is one of the things these "pattern pieces" are put together into. As far as I remember, these will eventually become part of carriage/locomotive underframes.

Something like these, I imagine.
I did not take photos of the workers. I felt shy doing that. But you can see people working in a video on the company's site: here.

See what I'm hinting at? There are machines that can do part of the work. There are laser-cutting machines (I hear they sometimes use them in clothing production, too) and there are machines that help in putting the components together (sewing machines, anyone? ;-), but ultimately there are people operating the machines and putting the components together in a sensible manner. And that, my dear readers, is exactly what happens in clothing production.

Which is why there's all that talk about fair wages and sweatshops, and all that jazz, going on around the internet. I imagine people who are putting together carriages and locomotives have a very responsible job, and wages to go with it. Somehow, that does not apply to many other areas of production.

It probably helps when you are a hobby seamstress: you know what it takes. When you're someone interested in locomotives, or deep ocean dwelling creatures, or whatever, the odds are you never even had a reason to think about this issue...

And that's it from me. I don't know any interesting behind-the-scenes details about clothing (or locomotives) production. I just wanted to point out the principle, for people who do not think about it.

(And to give sort of an explanation to people who do not understand why I wear second-hand clothing and bother making my own. One of the explanations possible.)

Friday 1 April 2011

A shoutout for a fellow costumer...

And a more experienced one, and more businesslike in mind. But still a fellow costumer.

American Duchess started a line of historical shoes with a fabulous dyeable silk 18th century pair (for modern feet).

You can pre-order them on her new site, - if there are at least 100 pre-orders, they'll go into production. So if you want this pair of shoes and have the money, rush to pre-order! The pre-order lasts till April 22nd.

I won't set an example. I don't have the money and have no excuse for silk 18th century shoes. I'm saving for a holiday in Latvia and Estonia. But I think from now on I'm also saving for either the leather pair or the Regency slippers that are promised to come if this first pair manages to make it past pre-orders... because I do have an excuse for Regency slippers, and because the type of heel you can see on these shoes here is the most comfortable I can imagine, and I could use a leather pair like that to wear with my skirts and dresses.