Inspiration


Seriously, I just teared up a little watching the first trailer for Captain Marvel.

[Update: It’s not just me. This is about the 5th similar reaction I’ve read today. And I haven’t been looking for them one way or another. You should see the moviestar tweet reactions.]

After forever of not having a female led super hero film were getting one. Now don’t get me wrong, I saw Wonder Woman and overall it was pretty great. In my five-year-old’s heart I’m still wearing Wonder Woman Underoos. But Wonder Woman was missing something for me that I still want.

(I swear this post fits on this blog – I will talk about costumes.)

What’s different about Captain Marvel is the one thing that took Wonder Woman down a notch for me. Diana starts her movie as sort of an adult innocent. She’s strong, brave, skilled and self-assured in those skills, which are important things to show, but she’s sheltered, trusting, demure. She does see the negative things in the world and does change and grow, but I still left the movie with that initial impression of her. As if she couldn’t be a hero without somehow apologising a little. (To be fair, I haven’t seen the later movies she’s in yet). Of course the time period the film is set in was not known for showing women being strong. That was certainly a factor. But think about how different characters like Shuri, Okoye, Wasp and Black Widow are. They are strong, fierce and unapologetic. Now the costume part. Wonder Woman’s outfit, while iconic, is still a mini skirt and strapless top. What woman doesn’t want to wear a regular bra or sports bra with her fighting uniform? And maybe not bother to shave her legs.

Captain Marvel is strong from the get go. Determined. From child to adult, she gets knocked down and keeps getting back up. The way they put those images together for the trailer was particularly effective. And by god, she’s covered by her uniform! She’s as protected as any other superhero. It will be interesting to hear how the uniform felt while shooting. Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp costume included a corset in the internal structure. Captain Marvel’s probably does too and that’s ok (Captain America’s probably does too). But what she’s wearing is functional. She can kick ass without worrying about her undies showing or having exposed skin on her chest and still look good. She can be a hero, who just happens to be a woman. That’s what I want.

It’s a small thing, but in the trailer, when the word HER becomes A HERO, that got me.

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Bogart and Bacall image restoration (1946): https://www.instagram.com/p/BcPuLxKFpmS/

As someone who loves history and participates in historical reenactment it’s a little disappointing to see many historical images. They feel drained of color, lessened, like they aren’t quite real. (Do people with color blindness feel the same way?)

I’ve seen a fair number of well colorized photos in recent years. That colorization does a lot to make the images feel more present, realistic and relatable. It brings them to life even more than black and white moving images.

Now that I’ve seen the colorized images of Mario Unger on Instagram (via BoingBoing) I’m not sure how I thought the others were so good. His images are simply stunning and full of life. I love seeing Billy Holiday mid performance, as if I was right there. There’s Ford, a group of Romani, turn off the century street scenes and Civil War soldiers, Freud, Che and a very young Frida Kahlo. And the image of this young woman, which I find particularly compelling:

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L. E. Jerome, by C. M. Bell, ca 1900

A post shared by Mario Unger (@ungermario) on

There’s a lot more to textiles than sewing costumes. If you do sew, some people may assume you dabble in or are proficient in any type of textile art: beading, embroidery, weaving, crochet, etc. Each of those things is it’s own unique and specific art and only some people are masters.

Here’s a beautiful map of Pakistan done in each area’s most famous technique:

Pakistan embroidery map 2017

Pakistan embroidery map from Generation

After a healthy smattering of posts I seem to have run out of things to talk about… Or I’ve been working diligently on gift projects I can’t yet discuss. ‘Tis the season.

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Today I’d like to share an interesting website I just stumbled on via Pinterest. It’s called Unsung Patterns: An Archaeology of Home Sewing. The image above is from this post on, of all things, corset bags. It appears to date from the 1910s or so and features an embroidery design bag. The bag itself is made from a strip of fabric 9″ x 1 1/2 yards long, folded in half and stitched on the long sides.

I must say, though I store corsets and have seen modern commercial versions of bags (usually one side is clear plastic), it never occurred to me to make one. My corsets tend to live folded into large handkerchiefs. Silly me.

Other entries on the blog feature some other unique items, including early 19-teens aprons, 1930s pirate costumes (not as bad as you might expect), a 1920s Martha Washington costume, some German patterns and a variety of early century work wear, all with a little history and background included.

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I’m rather interested in aprons right now, so this post on a 1926 “Bungalow Apron” from the New Jersey based Aladdin Apron Company (great name!), with its musings on the possibilities of women going beyond the home sewing realm into cottage industry is particularly appealing.

It’s an interesting site to peruse. Enjoy!

Emily Magone Edinburgh Skyline Scarf

Edinburgh Skyline Scarf

These scarves (and pillows) have nothing to do with historic costume (not that one couldn’t wear a lovely silk scarf in a number of different periods), but I thought they were pretty and worth a share. The artist is Emily Magone, a painter who has recently discovered silk painting. I’ve never really tried painting and certainly have only limited drawing skills, so I really appreciate someone who creates beautiful things and makes it seem effortless. I found her via a Dharma Trading artist feature. You can find her on Pinterest and from there to Etsy and other places on the net. Enjoy!

Emily Magone Red Poppy silk throw pillow

Emily Magone Red Poppy silk throw pillow

Emily Magone infinity scarf

Emily Magone infinity scarf

Couture Rani image

As I was talking about the bridal corset I’d recently made a friend who normally wouldn’t be terribly interested in fashion or historical clothing piped up to inquire about my sewing. It seems that when an Indian woman, his wife in this case, buys a sari she is only purchasing the beautiful sari skirt (I’m sure there must be another name for it, but I don’t know it yet). The matching or contrasting, midriff baring blouse does not come ready-made, but as a piece of fabric to go with the sari. Now clearly if I don’t even know what the different pieces are called, I’ve never made a sari blouse (Wikipedia’s sari page informs me that the blouse is called a choli or ravika). I’m sure someone provides ready-made choli, but this is not the standard practice.

I would love to get some beautiful sari fabrics and I’m always interested to learn about new aspects of clothing, whether that is historical, cultural or technical. Not only do choli not come ready-made, but neither do the patterns. Each woman has her own pattern(s) made custom. I’m intrigued. Further reading shows that there are many, many ways to drape a sari (great image here), depending on region and personal preference, and in a way, dressing in a sari has quite a bit in common with the wearing of a great kilt (today is National Tartan Day in the U.S., by the way). Obviously they are of very different origins and function, but I’ll leave that to you for pondering…

What I wanted to share was a site that has some stunning couture sari. The site is called Couture Rani. Check out  their blog page and particularly the images from India Fashion week 2013 for a different take on high fashion. The fabrics! The shape and movement of the clothing! The embroidery! Want! Hmmm… I think I need to start by mocking up a choli pattern…

Varun Bahl red gorgette sari Payal Singhal 2013 fashion

All images are from the Couture Rani website.

You get a pretty good view of the horse at about the one minute mark.

Gnostalgia

A Young group of “Artists” put together a steampunk trojan horse to use as a Mardi Gras float as they party their way past Rouses (A&P) through the French Quarter, New Orleans LA, Mardi Gras 2012

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