I was a teen 1987-1993, and fully into a punk/‘alternative’ aesthetic. Docs, shaved head, op shop clothes, etcetera. I started making my own clothes when I was about 22, because I couldn’t find what I wanted in shops. These days I make almost all my own clothes.
It’s been interesting to learn about pattern drafting and fitting techniques and applying them to my own aesthetic. Much of which is informed by the practical requirements of lindy hop.
As a seamstress, I’m really inspired by independent designers, but I really pine for the skills of high end fashion. Most of which are about making things by hand. It’s DIY (very 90s), but with the power and budget of high end fashion industry. And I’m always struggling to avoid bullshit gender norms.
I’m very inspired by Kenneth King’s approach to fit and mechanical skills (he’s all about comfort, and fitting/cutting to flatter all bodies), and the Black American women sewers on instagram, who are all about COLOUR and confidence, and a non-m/s body shape.
Of course I’m excited by contemporary African fashion design (Thebe Magugu from South Africa, Tufafifi from Nigeria, etc). Inspired by tradition, but with modern sensibilities and politics.
And I’m a serious fan of contemporary Aboriginal Australian fabric design and printing (Australian Indigenous Fashion is a great source for this stuff).
I like artists like Peggy Noland, who makes huge, saturated colour models. Her work with Wacky Wacko is right up my alley: bold colours, confronting images (tampons! Body hair! Condoms! Gay!), men in frocks, fat chicks in tight mini skirts.
The irony is that by the time I have leet sewing and construction skills, I’ll be way old.
I have wondered a couple of times lately, ‘Should I worry about bring ‘ridiculous’ for dressing like this at my age?’ I usually tell myself not to be silly.
(pic by Hillary Mercer of course)
Something I’m really interested in at the moment is how to dress/dance on stage as an older, fatter woman. I’m experimenting with things like creating discomfort in the audience: revealing cellulite thighs, getting a skirt caught in my knickers, a too-tight bodice, an exposed bountiful bosom
I can feel the audience wriggling in their seat, and i really enjoy the way it fucks up the gender norms of the lindy hop world: skinny young white women with long limbs and long hair and no boobs. If you’re in a comp, people _have_ to watch you. They’re not allowed to look away. Cellulite or no.
Dancers like Sing Lim, with her fully sick sense of fashion, are my inspiration: be bold. Be clear.
This idea of discomforting the viewer is part of a punk aesthetic: piercings, torn clothes, spikes, and acidic colours. It’s also part of my feminist praxis: discomfort a male gaze. Disrupt a gendered norm. Enjoy it. I like using this as a tool in my sewing as well. I love power clashing, bold colour palettes, and mixing full, flowing sleeves with fierce colours and silhouettes. And as an older woman, who society is busy telling should be invisible, I’m beginning to really enjoy wearing clothes that demand attention. The difference now, is that my practical construction skills have increased. I know how to cut a woven fabric so that it fits as comfortably as a knit. I’m also a fan of complex construction techniques, using traditional techniques to make weirdarse garments.
This sort of blouse is very now in lindy hopping circles. Gorgeous foofy sleeves ending just below the elbow so you can really bring your hand game. And buttons in the back. I love buttons down the back, as they leave the front nice and clear. But for dancing… not good. Because the lead’s hand and arm are continually moving against this part of your back. And the obvious result is popped buttons.
Here’s my fashion advice (remember it, as I’m not going to do this very often): sew up the back seam by hand, so the buttons become faux buttons. Make sure you leave the top one open so you can get your head in and out.
Note: this might make the blouse a bit tight for getting on and off, so you might actually go with a side-seam zip instead/as well as.
If you do go this method for a comp or fancy dance, do your hair after you put the shirt on, and you might consider a hairdressing cape to cover your clothes and stop bits of hair going all over your nice shirt.
I also sew up the front of button-up-front blouses and shirts because my enormous bosom explodes them open when I dance. It’s actually more to do with the shirts not fitting properly across the back as well as the front, but my sewing is PERFECT and I won’t hear a word against it.
Right. That’s it. This is the last fashion advice from me. Except for buymoreleggings (especially Australian ones) and wear them to train in because they are awesome.
Doing some repairs to a bunny that was mauled by a (usually) very lovely goggy. Had to redo the head and the bottom half of the ears. Then gave it all a wash so the stitches and tension would be a bit more even (the older stuff was a bit more stretched). Next stop: facial reconstruction surgery. And new shoe laces.
The rain has eased a bit, and Brisbane is recovering. Slowly. Here in Sydney the weather turned mild, but the humidity increased, and we’ve had drizzles of rain off and on every other day.
I’ve been crocheting like a crazy person (you can see some of the amigurumi I’ve been doing here) and watching lots of Jane Austen television, mostly because I have a dentist’s appointment tomorrow, and I’m beginning to get really scared. No real reason for all that fear, but since I had that horrible root canal I’ve had dentist fear. So I’m doing lots of crocheting and watching lots of television, occupying my brain entirely so I can’t think of anything else. During the other parts of the day I’m exercising obsessively, which is helping with anxiety.
I’m also doing job applications, which sucks. The pgrad diploma I did last year didn’t actually teach me anything useful about cataloguing or library routines, which is the stuff they actually want in new employees. This shits me no end. But I’ll keep doing the applications, and try to get better at writing my CV. I’m rubbish at it.
In other news, the neighbour has gotten a cat, which she lets out during the day, and which has taken to harassing the birds in the gardens. I have taken up the hose and become cRaZy Cat Watering Lady. I fucking hate the way cats kill everything. I particularly hate it that someone in a block like this has an outside cat kills all the birds that the rest of us enjoy in our shared gardens.
I DJed a set the other night that didn’t go very well. I had lots of excuses: the dancers had been dancing to too much live rock and roll music and that had screwed their lindy hop. The rest of us had been dancing to too many good jazz bands and that had spoilt us for recorded music. It was hot and humid. I was out of practice.
But buggered if I actually know why I did an ordinary job. I didn’t feel connected. I haven’t really practiced DJing properly in ages, and, to be honest, I’m much preferring dancing these days. I’d really rather be dancing like a fool than sitting on my arse, fussing over music while other people get to dance. Time to have a break, I think.
This is turning into a dreary post, isn’t it? I hadn’t meant it to be. But I guess things are a bit frustrating round here. I really need some sort of job or something. I think I’m going to go into the library next week and do some hardcore discography work. I have lots of music that I’ve bought from emusic which just has one artist’s name and a date that may or may not be accurate. And I need to tidy it all up.
Otherwise, I’m involved in the usual round of DJ coordinating gigs (MSF in Melbourne later this year for a start) and I’m helping a friend run his irregular late night dance gig, which is going to be lots of fun.
I’ve also finally gotten the Big Apple choreography under control. Now I need to really make it good. That means learning the trickier transitions and getting the arms right. And doing proper, clear, performance-ready weight changes and shapes. So it stops looking like a bunch of jiggling on the spot and starts becoming a series of complex, dynamic shapes and contrasting movements that’re actually fun to look at. This also means videoing myself dancing and then watching it over and over til I figure out what’s going on and how I can improve it. This, once again, is quite satisfying for ob-con girl.
I don’t really have much else to write about, so this is going to have to be a boring summary of my boring days, all framed by some fairly dreary self-pity. Sorry about that.
I am trying to improve my drawing, so have been taking requests and illustrating friends’ tweets. This is Basil (friends’ companion who usually lives over at Sorrow at Sills Bend) with mandarin peel.
It is winter, here, and mandarins are in season in a major way. I ate so many at MSF I gave myself a rash. My favourites are Honey Murcotts, but they’re harder to find than the ubiquitous, people’s favourite Imperial. The Murcott has a stronger, more orangey flavour and scent and isn’t as loose in its skin as the Imperial.
Basil is an internet rockstar.
I’ve been making popup cards. It got a bit fiddly and annoying, eventually, and I ran out of card long before I actually made cards for all the people I had on my list.
I’ve also uploaded (finally) some popups from the last time I did some popup work, which was about a million years ago. Last year… no, 2007 perhaps. Sheesh.
If you’re following me on twitter, you’ve seen all these before. But it’s nice to have them in my (poor, neglected) blog as well.
terracotta floor tiles
I am nuts for the idea of these tiles atm. They are made of terracotta and they’re hexagonal. Click the linky if you want to read more.
I have also started thinking about door handles.
I’ve never even considered these things before. And we have had to get some housey type things in a hurry. Choosing paint was rushed (but really, there’s no choice beyond ‘classic white’ for a small flat that has dark bits). I could perhaps have chosen a stain for the buttery yellow, knotty pine wood floors we’ve just had done in a clear satin water based finish.
I am still humming and hawing over painting the woodwork white. I’d like to get this shit done before we move in. But then, I should probably go slow on this stuff so I don’t screw things up.
We will also need to get a glazier in to fix a stupidly ‘mended’ window. And I need to get the dodgy painters in to do one room (the hall over the stairs – the ceiling is >5m and it’s over the _stairs_.)
After a while, we’ll redo the bathroom (which is really quite important) and then the kitchen (which is less important, but assumed greater importance when we discovered a leak this week).
And then I want to get the space under the stairs made into cupboards or large, pull out drawers. And I want to open out the ‘wall’ which edges the stair case into think palings or even just leaving it open (and dangerous!). And we will really need some built in bookshelves in the lounge room (we’ll cover an entire wall with them).
I like the thought of doing all this stuff. We are doing the painting ourselves, though we got a dood in to finish the floors (I’ll let you know what sort of job he did. He’s very nice, but you never can tell.) We’ll get a plumber to do the plumbing stuff, and a proper tiler to tile because those are jobs you don’t want to have to live with if you fuck up. But we’ve discovered we quite like doing this renovation stuff. The Squeeze is concerned he’ll like it too much and we’ll be renovating everything, forever.
So, in order of priority, I should be thinking about:
– the woodwork round the doors, etc
– getting all the locks changed, including the window locks. Years as a rental property mean that there are definitely dozens of copies of the keys floating about. So we need new ones.
– the bathroom. I have no idea on this one. We have a good iron bath and a decent toilet bowl, but we need to rip out the shitty shower unit ASAP and the vanity is screwed. It’s a tiny room, and very poorly laid out, so we’ll need to really think carefully about how we do it. I’d like to keep the bath as it’s in very good nick, and I had thought about putting the shower over the bath, but that’s not always a good idea, and not great for re-sale. We’ll need lots of new tiles and possibly need the ceiling sorted as it does open out into the attic space under the roof. Nice and bright but also DIRTY.
– the kitchen. It needs redoing entirely.
– the built in bookshelves and other assorted fitting and joining and random acts of carpentry. I need a good cabinet maker, I think.
Here’s a little round up: Western Swing is ME.
I am currently in love with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. This is in preparation for the Hot Club of Cowtown tour next month. I saw them in the UK (at the Marlborough Jazz Fest) in 2004, and they were freakin’ GREAT. The next week I saw Casey McGill’s band at a dance camp and they told me that their bass player had absconded for the HCCT. I’m not sure whether that’s a tragedy or an awesomey. Bad foot is still ME.
My foot is still bung. I have been to see a podiatrist to strapped me up. That helped the first time, but not the second time. I am also doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in my calves/shin to help out my plantar fascia (ie so it’s not overloaded). I am down to get orthotics next week, but they mightn’t work. Basically, these fibroids in my foot are never going to go away and they can’t be cut out. So I’m looking at pain management and impact reduction. I danced two half dances on the last weekend and it HURT. The problem is not so much the impact (which hurts and hurts normally), but the fact that there’s pivoting and my foot actually twists when we do lots of turns and things. That’s where the pain is at. It sucked to find out how much it still hurt, but at least I know where I’m at. Though I think I’d have preferred to continue in blissful (and hopeful) ignorance. If I can’t dance again, I’m really not sure what I’m going to do. If it’s not lindy hop, it could have been something else – I come from a long line of dancing, lumbering folk, and I can’t fight my DNA. Perhaps I’ll learn an instrument. Any suggestions? Maybe the drums? Bass? I did a lot of singing at school, but that was a long time ago. Allergies are GO.
I am having trouble breathing and my ear is all glued up. Again. Still, I’ve had much less trouble with my health since I moved to Sydney, so I’m certainly not complaining. It is melaluca flowering season, and there goddamn paper barks all over every street in every inner city suburb in Australia, so I need to deal. Won’t be long now, though, and I can come off the antihistamines. Library is MINE.
I have been back to the Con’s library this week. It is a joyful place. Though it is full of students, now, and that sucks. They’re almost uniformly middle or upper class, supernerds and 70% male. Guess that’s what a career in hardcore arty music requires. The jazz section was all dusty when I first got in there. Now it has at least some use. The refec near the library is SHITHOUSE. The actual room is quite nice – it has a lovely little stage (with nice piano), and would be perfect for a dance gig. The acoustics are magical. But the food is inedible. I was reduced to pre-made sandwiches. Most of the students in this (actually quite nice) mini-refec were eating packed lunches. There you go. emusic is not all mine. Yet.
I am blowing through my emusic downloads ridiculously quickly. Even when I ration them. There’re simply not enough. Quickflix is suspended.
Since we moved to Sydney the DVDs have been slower to arrive, have almost always been terribly scratched, and we never get anything in the top 50 of our list. I have suspended our account until we’ve decided what to do. We’re still on one of their unlimited DVD accounts, but I’m not sure it’s worth it, as we only get about 3 a week, which isn’t much better than getting 12 a month max, is it? The video shop here is pretty good, so we might just go old school. Though using a video shop means I have no natural limit on my DVD viewing. Dr Who and Farscape rule my world.
Screw BSG with its upsetting gender politics and ridiculously FAILED science. I am all about rebooted Dr Who and Farscape. I didn’t dig either the first time I saw them, and never really got past the first couple of episodes. Now I love them. Farscape passes the Bechdel Test. Dr Who does not. Rose + her mum. Talking about the Doctor. Though every now and then Rose gets to discuss a drama with another female character, there’s not much woman-to-woman action. I think it’s partly to do with the newer format – story arcs only last an episode, rather than a week’s worth of episodes. There’s not as much character development. And a bit too much kissing. I like Eccleston, but I’m not struck on Tennant. His bottom jaw sticks out too far. I liked Eccleston’s big nose and ears a whole lot. And was the Doctor always this manic? I’ll have to rewatch some old ones (I liked brown, curly haired, long-scarf, jelly baby Doctor best). I am a crocheting demon.
I should post some pictures to prove it. But I love complicated afghan patterns, and have been compulsively crocheting as I watch my way through the Commonwealth’s greatest contributions to popular culture. We went to Spotlight in Bondi Junction the other weekend so I could stock up on yarn. That joint was totally trashed on Saturday afternoon. I need another supplier; perhaps I could order online in bulk? The poor Squeeze is buried in gorgeously three dimensional flowers, in various combinations, so perhaps it’s time to stop.
No. I am bike YAY!
Yesterday we rode down the Cook’s River after work for a quick ride. It was overcast, humid and coming up a storm. It was great. The sun set over the river, we saw wildlife, we dodged nonnas out walking and talking and planned a longer down-stream walk for a future date. This river goes to Botany Bay, you know. I am still dealing with the fact that we live in Sydney.
I’m surprised by the historical weight I’m carrying in Sydney. It’s like all these suburbs and places are full of all the post-Invasion history of this country. Every bit of history I remember has something to do with Sydney. And most of it is narrated by songs from the Peter Coomb’s song book which delighted so many good little Australians in the 1980s.
And we’re bound for Botany Bay.
I’m sure that that song has celtic roots as well. One of the strangest moments of my post-MA European travel was being shut in at a Cornish pub where a heap of drunken … Corns? Cornishpeople? sang one of those sorts of ‘traditional Australian songs’. But with celtic names. My Irish grandfather used to sing The Wild Colonial Boy. So even though I’m caught up in all this Australian music, it’s just as Irish as the American folk music I dig.
I did arrive in Australia in 1982, straight into rural Wagga Wagga, so moving to New South Wales is far more familiar than moving to Melbourne did in 2001. The humidity is lovely. It’s not as heinous as Brisbane’s, but it’s nicer and wetter than Melbourne. And my skin loves it. The Squeeze declared last night, as we rode up the hill towards the lightning and iron-grey sky: “Moving here was the best thing we’ve done!” He’s delighted by the tropical storms. So am I – I’ve missed them. There’s something wonderful about a good, heavy-like-a-hot-shower rainstorm, complete with lighting and crashing thunder. Far, far better than drizzly, wingey bastard Melbourne weather. Even if it didn’t rain, it’d be cloudy and overcast forever. I don’t miss that shit. Though I’m thinking the Victorians are. Dollhouse sucks arse, Pushing Daisies is delightful.
That’s it in a nutshell, really. I’m not impressed by DH.
1. The FBI/BSG guy is a crap actor. He’s so crap I can hardly watch him on screen. That scene in the last episode where he and the ‘dead wife’ DH client chatted in the kitchen? It was so, so, so bad. I groaned. I gnashed my teeth.
2. The opening credits are incredibly, crappily bullshit.
3. I’m still not entirely sure about the gender stuff. There’s an awful lot of talk about the women ‘dolls’ as sexualised bodies. And though there’re references to their missions which don’t involve sex, we spend a lot of time looking at them having sex or wearing very high heels or tight, booby shirts, or generally packing a whole lot of very conventional, bullshit femininity. It’s a bit too Alias for me, but with less self-determination on their part. I had hoped there’d be a clever twist to undo some of this, but I’m beginning to lose hope. Joss Whedon is hyped, but, really, Buffy was his pinacle. I didn’t mind Serenity (look, I’m losing the italics, ok?), but it wasn’t great. The film wasn’t great cinema. The series wasn’t that good – a little too heavy on the patriarchal family structure for my liking. Yes, I get the whole male captain/father parallel, and that Mal might perhaps have been overcompensating for his wartime mistakes with other people’s lives, but still… Actually, it takes Buffy an awful long time to lose her patriarch. I’ve rewatched a bit of season 5 lately, and she’s STILL got Giles there, Watchering. So perhaps Buffy isn’t so great either… God, if this is the best we can do, this string of compromises.
Anyways, I’m not impressed by DH
4. Did I mention the terrible acting by FBI guy?
Pushing Daisies, though, is wonderful.
It’s charming. It’s clever. It’s lovely to look at. Its visual style has a lot in common with Tim Burton’s brighter, more colourful stuff. It’s a bit surreal and hyper-colour, but not dark like Burton. Well, except for the premise of the series: the pie maker protagonist can bring dead things back to life. For a minute. If he touches them within that minute, they go back to being dead. If he doesn’t, they stay alive and something has to replace them in the deadness. The point of the series: Emerson Cod (finally, a show with a not-white central character!), a private detective, works with the Pie Maker to solve murders. For profit. Pie Maker brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, back to life in one of the earliest eps, so they can’t touch. They love each other. The other main character is Olive, who, by the end of season two, is the very best character.
Why do I like this program?
1. The hyper-colour, phantastical mise en scene.
2. Passes Bechdel Test.
3. Olive. With her pet pig Pigby.
4. The male protagonist is a pie maker. There’s a lot of talk about food and baking pies and comfort food. It’s very lush. Here, have a look.
5. The singing scenes. Olive sings a couple of songs. One of which is ‘Eternal Flame’. Yes, a Bangles singing scene. The other is ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’. It’s wonderful.
Also, there’s singing.
6. Chuck’s spinster aunts (who raised her) are cheese fans and also used to be synchronised swimming super stars: Darling Mermaid Darlings. One has an eye patch.
7. Most of all, I love the dialogue. It’s very, very wordy. Lots of fast talking. But it’s all puns and onomatapeia (sp?) and all those other lovely wordnerd things. It looks good, it sounds good, and it’s funny. It makes me giggle.
8. It’s not horrid. There are some pretty gross deaths, but it’s not upsetting. Most of the programs I like these days are horribly dark. But Pushing Daisies is not. It’s lovely. The Pie Maker and Chuck love each other. Olive is tiny and super tough and awesome. She can bake pies or solve crimes. She’s great.
9. I watch it before bed, when I’m tired, and it helps me get to sleep. It’s nice.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that it was cancelled before the end of its second season. Apparently they’re screening the finale in the US in their summer, so at least we’ll get that degree of closure. But still. It’s really great telly. Here’s the first bit to prove it: