Saturday, September 8, 2012

Georgia O'Keeffe and the Artist Smock

Tick tock tick tock. It's getting closer to the craziness that is my September, one of my favorite months of the year. (I was one of those annoying kids who liked going back to school.) I love September, but this is an especially busy one.

Thanks so much for all of the input on preparing for Design Outside the Lines (DOL). I feel much more focused now. However, rather than actually prepare, I have been indulging in my form of procrastination.

I sewed.

I decided I needed a smock.

What a rather ugly word. Smock. Smock. Smock. Is that a horse coming down the cobblestones?

I do not own an apron or smock of any kind and I am planning to participate in some messy-ish activities at DOL. Rather than bring any disgusting, worn out garments I would usually wear for a messy activity, (or a leaf bag in which I would cut a neck hole and arm holes), I decided I needed a smock.

A flattering smock.

Margy sent me some URLs of reasonably priced smocks, including some inexpensive hairdresser-type smocks. But, no, I have fabric, I have patterns. And nothing I could buy would be remotely flattering.

I started with the same Adri pattern I used for my "casually elegant" jacket. I made a few modifications: reducing the CF overlap so it's a regular overlap, converting the neckline to a round shape, drafting neckline and front facings, and lengthening the hem by 20". I used bust darts in the armscye and at the side seam, but none in the waist area.

At first I planned to loosely gather the long sleeves at the wrist, then I decided I'd rather leave them plain so I could roll them up. I added deep side slits so walking would be easy.

I wanted pockets. At first I drafted a gathered pocket similar to the one Margy used on a recent jacket. But I didn't like how they looked - the proportions were wrong. I had very limited fabric remaining, so I used an elasticized bellows pocket and only one, on the left side because I'm left handed. It felt suitably funky.

The black fabric used for the gusset is from a scrap of knit - from a project I can't even remember.

For the closure I used 7 snaps. These are size 24 (5/8") snaps installed using the SnapSetterwhich also requires the size 24 adapterto use the size 24 snaps. On their How To Use Tools FAQ page you will find instructions on using this tool, including a video by Nancy Zieman. It's quite easy! I last used these snaps on my Au Bonheur raincoat.

At 7am this morning it was me, some hardware, and a hammer. Very therapeutic.

You can see the double darts, especially on the right. I pin those on the body to ensure proper fit and sew the darts and then side seams, almost at the last.

The fabric is an inexpensive striated woven 100% cotton from I bought it over a year ago and I just barely squeezed out this smock. If I were to make this again, I'd used a "slipperier" fabric, because the cotton woven grabs the clothing I am wearing underneath. I wonder if there's a silicone spray that would make it easier to wear...

Georgia O'Keeffe

I mentioned I am interested in Georgia O'Keeffe because I'll be in her stomping ground at DOL. I ordered two books, which arrived yesterday.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collection

I bought this table top book to see a wider variety of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings and drawings. I was mostly familiar with her flower and her skull/bone paintings, but Diane Ericson had told me that she had some amazing landscapes and that the unusual colors she used (in the sky, for example) really depict the colors you see in Taos. I looked through each page in this book and found myself most drawn to her trees, particularly trees she painted while in the north east. It figures, I am such an autumn girl at heart, much more than I am a high desert girl.

How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living

I have to thank Brenda, who left a comment on my last DOL post. She mentioned a book she had recently read called "How Georgia Became O'Keeffe" by Karen Karbo. I checked out the reviews on Amazon and wasn't sure about the book, which is described somewhere as a self help book. But I think that description is inadequate.

It is a chatty, informal book about Georgia O'Keeffe's life filtered through Karen Karbo's views and anecdotes. It's like reading a friend's opinions and views, if she were very cool. It contains "life lessons" that she draws from Georgia O'Keeffe's life, which is, I guess, where the "self help" description comes from. It's more loosely written than a conventional biography, and she gives plenty of historical context to show how and why Georgia was such a unique character. Here is an example towards the end of the book:

O'Keeffe never lost her spunk, or her conviction that what she was up to at any given moment was somehow less important because she was older. This was also true of her fellow extreme seniors Katharine Hepburn and Coco Chanel. ... Like O'Keeffe, they were skinny, busy, and irritated until they declined a bit, then died. They were active, didn't eat a lot, and followed their interests. They never let anyone tell them what to do. They were always a bit pissed off. I can only assume that this is the real recipe for longevity.

I can relate to this, especially the grumpy bit.

I started reading in the late afternoon yesterday and finished last night in the wee hours. Very entertaining and I feel like I now have a meaningful glimpse into Georgia O'Keeffe, the person. As a bonus, the author described staying in the Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, where Georgia stayed back in the day. It is now a hotel and conference center and where Design Outside the Lines is held.

This book is the last in Karbo's trilogy of books "about kick ass" women, the other two being about Coco Chaneland Katharine Hepburn.What a great idea!

Now, if I were really channeling Georgia O'Keeffe, I wouldn't have bothered with a smock. While she did sew her clothing, even her underwear, she was famous for painting in the nude.