Saturday, March 20, 2010

More books

I'm still doing more reading than stitching right now. I think I'm going to get back to stitching soon, though. I'm feeling the itch.

I've begun pulling books from the shelf--which means they're among my oldest books. Most never found shelf space. A few I'm passing on to my sister or sister-in-law. Others I've decided to keep. I reread this short book last weekend. I find it an enjoyable and interesting journey. I think the lesson I get is that I need to pay attention to that little inner voice.

I'm still reading this book. It's denser than I'd remembered. I don't think I actually read it before, just browsed it off and on. The focus is most definitely on ethnic textiles done by traditional peoples. I previously mentioned it here.After the country-by-country stylistic/materials survey, the author discusses symbols used in the embroideries. First by type (protection, sun) and then by religion to explain the types of symbols found on ethnic embroideries and how they evolve and abstract over time and distance.This kantha was used for weddings. Isn't it amazing? It just blows me away.Looking back at my books, I realized that I got into embroidery pretty much by way of sewing and clothing. Much of what I did early on was clothing for me and for friends. Some of my early projects included embroidery on the garment.

This is one of the first books I got. It's not large but for a long time it was the classic on ethnic clothing. (sorry for the glare, I took these before the sun came out this week.)I followed Cut My Cote with Five and Plus Five by Yvonne Porcella. She became quite an influence on my aesthetic. I always thought of her as fearless--she was doing what I wanted to be doing. Five is a book how to make five basic ethnic tops that are perfect for embellishment. Plus Five contains five "over-tops" (coats) to go over the first five. Or they can stand on their own. Also perfect for embellishment. The books are short and to the point--get the fabric and get going.She followed these two books with the following two that use the same patterns. These guide the wary into how to use the ethnic patterns--they're full of ideas about what you can do with the basic patterns. Pieced Clothing and Pieced Clothing Variations.
My problem with them has always been that these patterns are simple and striking and very versatile but they are just not made for short and wide body types. The drape wrong, they pull, they aren't flattering. And quilted clothing can be a disaster unless done really, really carefully. So, I looked (and observed and learned) and made some for friends, but never made any of this clothing for myself. I did use some of the ideas in other projects. I have a couple more of her more recent books, too. This is another of my early books that really influenced me. It features costume from the Middle and Far East from the American Museum of Natural History's collections. The book has both photographs--and by the time this was produced, more color was being used--and line drawings. I have a lot more on ethnic and other clothing, fashion, sewing, and the like. These are just my oldest that I pulled down to enjoy once again. (these are all keepers)

The clothing of an area is inextricable from the lives and work of the people wearing it, the climate, the economy, the society. Just this one small study can teach you a lot about everything about a society. Plus, it's way cool to look at.


Rachel said...

Saris look good on pretty much any figure, but apart from that, I agree some of the other styles only really flatter one body type.

Jenny Woolf said...

I do have a fondness for that ethnic stuff and the bright colours. It suits my nature more than elegant things. Cut my Cote looks great.