Friday, February 22, 2008

New Findings

Like a superhero, I'm a stay-at-home mom by day, and an Indiana University composition instructor by night. Now, many parents think it's a point of pride that they haven't had time to crack a book since their kids were born, or at least that's what aquaintances often tell me when I talk about what I've been reading or doing. I'd go nuts, though, if I didn't have some mental breaks throughout the day, and I think it's good for the girls to see me engaged in my own interesting, mentally healthy activities while they do the same, especially since they know that they are always welcome to join me in anything I'm doing, and I'll find a way for them to legitimately help. It's funny that if they see me making anything, from using the sewing machine to cutting out photos at my desk, they want to help, and they're always coming at me with picture books to read to them, but they never ask me to read to them from what I, myself, am reading. And some of my stuff has pictures!

Anyway, here are some great resources I've found this week:

I checked out some back issues of Sew Newsfrom the Monroe County Public Library, and while much of it is way above my head, some isn't. I generally like the stuff I sew to look casual (sloppy), but this magazine encourages me to take more care with my cutting, pinning, and matching of thread colors. I might actually do real buttonholes now, for instance, or maybe do zippers the right way. Their web site is difficult to navigate, I think, but the Sew News Library page includes some articles from the print magazine, and some patterns and tutorials. I read through the tutorial on making your own bra, even though it's way too complicated for me, with happy fantasies of someday sewing my own bras out of recycled awesome clothes. How much would I love a bra made out of a Darth Vader T-shirt, for instance, and I bet nothing really gives as much support for my huge bosoms as denim!

By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art showcases the work of several artists for whom handicraft is a crucial part of their work--knitting, embroidery, hand-sketching, sewing, etc. I found it especially interesting that the book showcases so many artists who do this, implying that this is a trend today. The artists' work seems to show a backlash against modernization and mass consumerism in their personal, often imperfect, handiwork, but they at the same time show a reliance on such modern technologies as Photoshop, computer drafting, and Kinkos that rewrites the traditional handicraft experience.

Letterghost over at Craftster reconstructed some beautiful dresses and a Spiderman T-shirt for herself, and when I asked her how she always got her reconstructed sleeves to look so normal, she pointed me over to WhatTheCraft.com, which has excellent tutorials for sewing your own stuff, pattern-free, when you otherwise don't totally know how to, you know, sew so much. My ultimate favorite is her tutorial for figuring out your own baseball sleeves, which I absolutely love, and are apparently called raglan sleeves. Who knew?

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