from the jazz age to the space age

Monthly Archives: February 2013

I remember this book in the library when I was little. I’ve searched for it for years, but couldn’t find it for a price I was comfortable with. About a year ago my husband and I came across a copy in a little bookstore for $25 and snatched it up.

Dare Wright was the author and photographer of the “Lonely Doll” series. They’re utterly charming, but for me, “Lona” is her triumph. Publishes in 1963, its dreamy black and white photographs transport you to Once Upon a Time and Princess Lona could have stepped from Cocteau’s La Belle et Le Bete. The story concerns an evil wizard determined to enchant a princess. He finally succeeds in shrinking Lona. And this is where it gets interesting- she goes on an epic quest to save her own land as well as two other kingdoms, with the knowledge that she will eventually have to allow the Wizard to enchant her again and bring a curse down on his own head, destroying him forever. She succeeds, and in the process breaks the spell keeping a Prince in the form of a toad. At the end, she whispers the Wizard’s name three times and feels the enchantment shrinking her to a toad. The wizard is destroyed, and the Prince picks her up and vows to find a way to break the spell. They depart from the kingdoms she saved. Years go by they are seen returning to her kingdom, hand in hand, all spells finally broken.

In case you’re wondering, the full sized Lona is played by Dare Wright herself. And yes, she was very,very beautiful in a 50s way. She’s almost a dead ringer for Disney’s Aurora.

Part 1~

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Ok, so I’m super into this. For Valentine’s Day I asked Mikael for “DIY Couture” by Rosie Martin. I’d been looking at the amazon preview for a while, but I already have so many sewing books that it was going to take something special to entice me to buy. I’ve been hit with sewing book burnout. Either the book starts at size 36 bust and I’m feeling too lazy to grade down, or I realize the patterns lack some basic info and I’d have to make a muslin just to figure what size I should then make a muslin in, or the patterns are like ones I already have so even though I like the book, there’s no reason to own it. And of course, the main reason is that since I have so little time to sew, I’m reluctant to add new projects to my sewing wishlist. I’m currently stuck on a Burda pattern that isn’t hard, but I just haven’t had time to focus on it (it involves drafting an asymmetric collar).

A little about DIY Couture: the idea is, by using half circles, rectangles, and by tracing around clothing that already fits you, you can make simple clothes. Usually I recommend practicing first by making a tea towel or tote bag or something, but I can honestly say, after using some scrap material to get familiar with your machine, you could probably actually make an item of clothing from this book. I grew up with sewing patterns around. My Grandma was an amazing seamstress and her photos bear witness to her skill. But, through the years of talking to my friends who want to take up sewing clothes, but never do, some people just don’t get patterns or the idea behind sewing curves into 3d dimensional shapes. So, I can see where this book would be great for them. Some people fall outside the size range of commercial patterns or have to do so many alterations to patterns that it becomes overwhelming. Some people want to make simple clothes but can’t find any very easy, uncomplicated patterns. And finally, some people suffer from sewing burnout in its various forms.

What attracted me to DIY Couture? Well, through my 30s, I wore fitted clothes, usually made out of wovens with minimal stretch. I favored a “soft vintage” look with a girlish vibe or else an early 60s Audrey/Jackie look. But post baby and on the cusp of 40, while the classic early 60s look still works, I’ve been feeling a little “mutton dressed as lamb” in my “Aughts referencing the 70s referencing the Victorian/Edwardian era.” I want to pare down my style to something simple and more mature that’s still fun and eclectic. As a result, I’m really feeling the glam side of the 70s and the new wave side of the early 80s. I recently cut my hair into a bob, and that was definitely a part of my desire to wear clean shapes.

A few reviews I read have thought DIY Couture was geared toward younger seamstresses, but really, I haven’t seen a recent sewing book that isn’t. And The 10 basic clothing shapes seem pretty flexible:

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1. straight skirt (A line, straight, or pencil)
2. grecian dress (dolman/kimono sleeves)
3. skater skirt (a circle skirt)
4. waistcoat (trapezoid and rectangles)
5. cloak (circles)
6. slouch top (super cool and reminiscent of Japanese pattern books)
7. goddess dress (easy riff on Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like it Hot” dress)
8. hoody (dolman sleeved jacket)
9. trousers (elastic waist)
10. romper (trousers above with a top piece)

Note! nothing has darts. A few pieces have pleats or tucks, but not the straight skirt. I recommend you make it out of material that has stretch or just wing it and put some darts in during the fitting before you sew on the waistband.

Each of these pieces is then shown in one of eight collections, with cute titles like:
Acid Candy, Monochrome Art, American Road Trip, Rude Disco, Coffee Classic, Jungle Punk, Safari Prep, and Tea Picnic. With the exception of Rude Disco and Jungle Punk each collection has something to offer me- esp Road Trip, Coffee, and Safari (pics below).

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I find them simple, but thought provoking. I like circle skirts, but it’s nice to see them in a non-vintage setting. They look so fresh and clever when done in unexpected fabrics (like black denim) or paired with structured, geometric new wave blouses.

I feel the book succeeds brilliantly in what it sets out to do: introduce novices to sewing and empowering them to make their own clothing by demystifying the technical aspects of sewing. She’s definitely punk’s response to Pink Floyd. And I love pretty seam finishes as well as the next person, but I find even the idea of keeping up with the home vintage couture craze exhausting. My only wish is that she’d talked a little about grain and nap. To be clear, if you love detailed, complicated patterns or clothing that fits closely, this book is not for you. If you want your structured clothing to mold your body into a shape other than what it is, this book is also not going to make you happy. But if you’re a fan of Japanese pattern books and soft, fluid styles, clothing that flows over or floats above the body, in an origami way, and yearn for very simple patterns, then this is a great book. I for one, want to explore some rad, batwing New Wave looks crossed with plaids, tweeds, and florals. Why yes, I have been looking at early Vivienne Westwood ;D

diy_0006For each project, there’s a large photo of the Acid Candy version, paired with a drawing of the pattern pieces you’ll make as well as small photos (different from the ones earlier) of each variation.
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Next, there is a front technical drawing of each variation paired with written instructions explaining how the variations differ from the Acid Candy version.
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Detailed visual instructions with both photos and clear, technical illustrations show you how to create the shape, cut the fabric, and sew together the Acid Candy version. If you want to create a different version, refer to the written instructions at the beginning of the project’s chapter. If something diverges radically, then Martin often has a special page devoted to the variation to help you create anything too difficult or hard to visualize.
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Who knew there were so many variations of a circle skirt? Not me.
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This one is my favorite. And I love that it’s so easy.
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At the end of the book, there are line drawings of most of the variations for you to copy and mix and match together.

Today I dug through my ridiculous fabric stash and found 3 fabrics to start with. After my Burda dress is finished (I refuse to ufo it), I want to make a woven plaid circle skirt, a grecian dress cut down to blouse length, and a waistcoat. Obviously, I’ll be modifying the patterns a bit by using invisible zippers instead of the simple lapped zippers shown, as well as sewing up the sides of the coffee classic waistcoat instead of having it wrap. But the thought of just sewing something up and not fussing with set in sleeves is really nice right now. I’ll keep you posted!


Check out my illustration for Amelia’s Magazine | PPQ: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Review.

I was really excited to work for them! I have a print issue from about 10 years ago that I treasure and they were one of the first magazines I started watching when I got into illustration 6 months ago.


My illustration for “Remember the Good Times” has been published and is up at the “Story Shack!” I had a great time illustrating the story by Andrew Newall- without giving away the ending 😀

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Kind of nervous. I chose a tour for my sketchbook to go on: “Mysterious Maps Tour.”

I decided to title it, “Here be Dragons.” I am mapping the interior world of the mind and showing its connection to the body. It’s an art project that I’ve been wanting to do for over a decade so I decided to just commit and do it!

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My husband and I exchanged gifts on tuesday. We have a set budget and simple desires. He wanted another Elric book, along with a DC reprint “Ghosts” and the Mars Trilogy by Burroughs. I asked for a book of prints by Ernst Haeckel and “DIY Couture” by Rosie Martin (book reviews for both later.) Last night we spent playing Dungeon Crawl Classics with some friends, drinking out of light up Lord of the Rings chalices that a friend brought. It was fun. Valentine’s Day is great for reminding us how wonderful the other person is. And believe me, being together a bunch of years, having a child that takes nearly all your time and energy, working full time, going to school full time (Mikael is doing both)- it wears on you, and your partner can get lost in the shuffle of “life”. Haha, cleaning the bathroom does not make you feel sexy.

So, for us, it’s nice to have little breaks every month and holidays are perfect for that. Tonight I’m making Italian stuffed shells and cheese. For March we have St.Paddy’s and Mikael’s birthday. April is mine, and so on.

What I’m getting at is, it trips me out to see people hate Valentine’s Day. As another consumer driven excuse to buy more crap, well, yes, it’s gross, but so is every other holiday in America. I think it’s because V Day is supposed to celebrate love and when you’re single it makes you feel your singlehood acutely. Which is bad for most people. I don’t want to get too “Man Who Fell to Earth” on you, but I’ve never felt that. I’ve felt wistful and hopeful when single. Vaguely excited about who I might meet throughout the day, but not lonely. With my books and drawings, I could never be lonely.

I’ve only ever felt truly lonely in relationships. I don’t think there’s anything worse than looking at the person who’s supposed to care about you or love you and realize they don’t know who you are and don’t care. So, no, I can’t imagine why people get so crazy around Valentine’s Day and loathe people in relationships and snidely insinuate those relationships are false or the people are fooling themselves or they’re just going to break up eventually so it’s all a bunch of sound and fury signifying nothing. To you I say, “sour grapes.” And having been in a couple of long term relationships before I was married, saying that they’re going to end is like saying ice will melt in the sun. No duh. Everything ends. I’m going to call my Great Aunt Vi today because her husband died a few years ago and I know she’ll be feeling lonely. Everything ends, but what I’ve learned from people is, enjoy it while it lasts. Fully engage and live your life. Don’t hide or go in half way because you’re afraid it won’t last-it won’t. Nature will have it all.

Last night I lay in bed and talked about this with my husband. I told him, “I think without you, I would feel so lonely for the first time in my life. I can’t even imagine it.” He is, no joke, my best friend. Even if we had never been romantic, we would still be friends with tons in common. Luckily, we like each other. In the quiet moments of our lives, I look at him and still see the young man I married, with his dark eyes and long lashes, like sea creatures, waving in the tide. And I fall in love with him, all over. Everything ends, but everything also begins.

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A little over 3 years ago~ Mikael and my pregnant feet.


Daleks! A Whosical

I had the pleasure of creating some promotional art for “Daleks! A Whosical” {check out their facebook group page!}
I also discovered I hate drawing Daleks. They are really detailed. You wouldn’t think it to look at them bc they’re basically Nazi trashcans, but yes, very detailed. Seriously, Rose took about 20 mins bc she’s just big eyes, big mouth, and a button nose. I loved drawing David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Getting his crooked nose to look right was a little harder, but I’m pretty happy about it. I originally wanted him wearing glasses, but because his head is up, they ended up obscuring too much of his eyeline, and I wanted his crazy eyebrow on display. It was a last minute job and so I ended up having 3 days to do this. A very fun project and Matthew Hearn, the man behind “Daleks! A Whosical” was great to work with.


I have an art feature and interview in Chasseur Magazine #3. PLease check them out. The magazine is very beautiful with lots of fashion and art editorials. They asked some great questions and commissioned an illustration especially for the issue. I created, “Feather” for them. I was a little nervous bc it was the first illustration I’d done since deciding to pare down my coloring style. They’d liked me based on the strength of my previous illustrations, so I was apprehensive about turning in something that looked very different to me. Luckily, they loved it, which gave me the confidence to continue in this direction. After this I ended up making some custom brushes and going farther toward a handmade, organic look, which is what I’m working in now, i.e. “Donuts vs Beignets,” “Garden Planning,” “Dow of Hemlines,” etc.

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Donuts vs. Beignets

I often get asked if I can draw anything other than pretty girls. Yes, I can. I can also reduce complicated political ideologies to delicious fried food. Hunter S. Thompson said politics are better than sex, but I’m going to bet he always had a mental subtitle: fried dough topped with sugar is better than politics.

My post about the photo refs for this illustration is HERE.


I realized today that I never blogged about these. For our Anniversary Mikael gave me “Chuck Dugan is Awol” and the Criterion edition of “Darjeeling Limited.”
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The Darjeeling Limited is my least favorite Anderson film, but even a weak Anderson film is better than many other films by lesser mortals. Plus, I really wanted to watch “Hotel Chevalier” which is, hands down, the best part of the Darjeeling Limited. The Criterion Edition doesn’t disappoint. Double discs and charming insert drawn by Wes’s brother, Eric Chase Anderson.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe Louis Vuitton luggage was designed by Marc Jacobs for the film. They were also for sale, although it’s hard to imagine hardcore fans having the cash necessary to buy them. Anderson’s middle period encompassing Tenenbaums, Life Aquatic, and DL are increasingly aspirational and escapist. Luckily with Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom he’s both doubled back to Bottle Rocket and Rushmore while managing to move forward.
On the commentary Wes is irritated by the interpretation of the luggage as emotional baggage, esp when the brothers discard their luggage to catch the train (in slo-mo of course). But, really dude, you (and Roman) are the one(s) who wrote a story about three brothers carrying around and fetishsizing their dead father’s luggage. You could have crafted more complicated symbolism.

My main beef with DL is the lack of character developement, which I understand in the context of the film: the brothers are on a journey. Owen Wilson wants it to be a spiritual journey, but his limitations are as great as the others and together, they are all stuck on a physical journey. Even after someone dies, Adrien Brody continues to wear his father’s glasses, even though his prescription gives Adrien headaches. He’s unable to move on from his dysfunctional family and create a new family with his wife. So, yeah, lots of stagnation until the end when they run to catch the train and throw away their luggage. It’s abrupt and unfulfilling. (Yes, I did refer the characters by the actors who played them.) The characters possessing the most depth are played by Waris Ahluwalis and Amara Karan. Amara is nicknamed, “Sweet Lime” by Jason Schwartzman for the drink she serves them. It’s revoltingly condescending and I think, meant to be so. He sees her as just another character in his next novel and not as a human being. All three brothers are repellant despite their picturesque style, although Anderson’s gifts are so great that you do manage to have some slight pity for them.

Luckily, I’m shallow and visually the Darjeeling Limited is beautiful. Waris Ahluwalis is beautiful. Everything in this film is ridiculously beautiful.
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and then there’s Eric Chase Anderson’s novel (novella?). It’s a slight, fast, entertaining read. Filled with obsessively detailed maps and characters that riff on boys adventure books from the late 60s.
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I just got all Inception on you.
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there are maps of bodies
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maps of action
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maps of backpacks
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and much more. It’s delightful. And the back cover has shout outs from Michael Chabon and Owen Wilson.