A couple of years ago, while flipping through a back issue of Threads, I came across an article about Gretchen Hirsch, who looked like a really cool lady who liked to sew vintage. I sort of forgot about her, until I stumbled across her blog post about sewing ease while making the gingham skirt and placed a hold on her book Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing.
Well. I’m kicking myself for taking this long to get my hands on it. I will be promptly buying every book she has ever published as this chick and I have a lot in common. The introduction outlines her interest in “feminism, body image, foundation garments, pop culture and anything else that caught my fancy (p. 7).” Immediately, I am hooked. As I am a staunch feminist who looks anything but (if you know me, you will be well acquainted with my love of blush pink, gold sparkles and anything with a bow), I was particularly drawn to Hirsch’s thoughts on dressing in a silhouette which back to a time where women were not much respected. When she writes “there’s something subversive about wearing a full skirt and crinoline to an office full of people in business-casual gray slacks and blue button downs (p. 16),” I am head-over-kitten-heels in love with this woman.
Not only do we love the same cuts and fabrics, but Gertie’s book also features a full, mid-length black and white gingham skirt, not unlike mine. I swear I made my skirt before I got hold of this book. My husband can attest to my actually squealing when I found the page dedicated to Peter Pan collars. I think the words I actually said were “you mean, I can put a Peter Pan collar on anything I like? Also, v-neck Peter Pan collar? Amazing!” Did I mention this book comes with patterns? Double amazing.
While on the topic of the politics of fashion, I listened to a podcast today of The Next Chapter in which one of my favourite CBC personalities, Shelagh Rogers, speaks to one of the editors of one of my recent favourite books, Women in Clothes. I recommend this book to any woman who has ever worn clothes. Seriously. It’s not a fashion book, but gets into women’s heads about why they wear what they do. The collection of essays, surveys and photos really made me think about why I like what I like.
As an aside, my peplum blouse has become my favourite. According to my Stylebook app, it’s one of my most frequently worn articles of clothing. If you aren’t already using this app, and you are type A and well-dressed, I recommend it. It’s making me so much more cognizant of what I actually wear versus what I think I wear. I’ve also avoided that slump of “I hate all my clothes, let’s go buy all the things!” and have avoided a lot of shopping. It is, however, making me extremely picky about what I do add to my wardrobe, which is forcing me to plan to sew more of my clothes than ever.
If you are interested in my next project, I’m working on a chambray blouse (and likely a skirt – I over-buy fabric to the extreme). I’m using the same peplum pattern, but doing a Peter Pan collar this time, and doing a smooth peplum, without the pleat. I’m looking at a front-button skirt with the remaining fabric. I might just try my hand at making my own pattern for that one…