Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Of All Places

Where do I find inspiration?

I don't know. Sometimes in very odd places. Last night I was desperate for a few hours of quiet to draft some patterns and slopers without the kids pulling on my hair, so I did something I haven't done in a very, very long time - I watched The Sound Of Music on DVD (and drafted patterns). I always remember (with a chuckle) that Maria, played by the incomparable Julie Andrews, turned her old drapes into playclothes for the Von Trapp children. She was the embodiment of resourcefulness and thriftiness. And I say that as objectively as I can, considering that I would never, never do the same with my own hideously pastel-floral curtains. Watching the movie decades later now through the lens of a sewing-person-who-is-not-keen-on-funky-prints-or-elasticized-waists, I was tickled to find myself punching my fist in the air several times, muttering, "Yes! You rock, Maria!"

I haven't watched it all the way to the end yet, but so far, here's what I loved:

  • That scene in which Maria defends her ugly dress and brightly assures Captain Von Trapp, "I can sew my own clothes!" and he says, "I will arrange for you to have some material." That was the moment she should have realized they were meant to be married. Really.
  • The following scene in which three bolts of very lovely fabric were delivered by the housekeeper to her room. I was envious - she didn't have the excruciating experience of going fabric shopping with the seven children under her care.
  • The scene in which the seven children emerged from their front gate dressed in curtains. The audience, of course, smiles at her resourcefulness. Ah, but did they realize she probably drafted seven completely different outfits? That all fit? Not to mention her own impeccably-constructed pinafore dress that was like a second skin? The dedication! The skill! True, there might possibly be some corsetry involved (and I don't know), but even then!
  • The scene in which, riding in a horse carriage, she conducts the children in their singing lesson - did anyone notice her dress? The rusty-orange one with the diagonal stripes? The drafting! The piecing! The fabulous print! The back view! I want that dress!
  • Liesl's Sixteen-Going-On-Seventeen frock - this one - oh, I am so not a fan of frills and puffs but that bodice! Gorgeous. Gorgeous.
  • The gowns at the ball! The ridiculous 19" waists! How do one's body organs even fit within that circumference?
  • Maria's wedding gown - shantung silk (I think), fitted bodice and sleeves, classic! Never mind that the voluminous veil falls all over the place a la dry ice - ah, that first glimpse of her in the abbey with the nuns getting her ready for the wedding! I found myself asking, "did she sew that? I hope they gave her time off governess duties to sew that. Nobody could sew that and still do their day job."
There are other movies, of course, like Breakfast at Tiffany's, for Holly Golightly's iconic black dress. Everyone loves that black dress. But The Sound Of Music! Who would've thought there was more there than just the drapes?

Own miserable sewing update: finished drafting and almost-finished cutting out the fabric pieces for the yellow tunic, the funny-print bias-cut shirt/blouse/thing that defies definition, and another skirt with ribbon embroidery. All linen. AND (slightly excited about this) expecting in the mail, one of those wing-needle things for hemstitching - you know, to make those little holes like you see on linen napkins? If I don't end up shredding my fabric down to its barest fibers, I will take photos and share.

Off to the TV room to continue yodeling along with the Von Trapps now, so I can finish drafting one shirt collar and a neckline placket, both of which need interfacing that I hope I have enough of somewhere. "Cliiiiiiimb everrrrrrrrrrry mountaiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn!"


  1. I love how you so throw yourself into the movie and is able to suspend reality...

    How does Maria do it? She has a magic wand called the 'Costume Department'... but like I said, suspension is vital to one's enjoyment :) You knew that, anyway.

    I wish I had can watch movies with the same naivete I had in my pre-sewing, pre-adult era. Nowadays, I keep looking at the wardrobe and think 'hmmm, where are the seam lines?' 'Oh the dart should be longer on the back.' And of course i always think of how I can adapt a pattern to hypothetically make the blouse/dress/skirt in question.

    But that, in its own way, enhances my movie-watching experience ;)

    Suddenly I feel like getting the DVD too.

  2. I always loved Liesl's dress from that scene. Because I was a little girl and it was sooooo romantic :)

  3. I adored the movie as a child! Must watch it again for the costumes...

  4. The Sound of Music is probably my favourite film as well as my 4 year old. When I watched it most recently, I was struck by some of the Baroness Schrader's outfits (when she, Max & Gaylord are drinking lemonade and the white number at the ball). Oh, I could go on....

  5. I love that movie! Never thought about it in a sewing sense though - will have to look more closely next time.

  6. Oh, you will have to report on the needle. I have put it in a shopping cart and deleted it out of a shopping cart so many times.

  7. Jen: Isn't sewingness a curse sometimes? I can't look at ANY garment on a person and not think about how the fit could be improved (if it were store-bought). Not maliciously, of course, but in a sewing-way. Very sad. And I can't buy clothes for myself without first turning a garment inside out and studying the quality of the seam finish, zipper, whatever. If only I didn't sew, I'd own far more clothes.

    KJ:The Baroness' gowns are stunning! And she carries them so well, even that slightly-matronly-looking one in georgette/chiffon with the long puff sleeves that she wore when she met Fraulein Maria at the front steps, who was returning from the convent. Who sews clothes like that nowadays? We must track them down and become their biggest fans.

    Cecily: I certainly WILL! I am rubbing my hands in glee already, waiting for it to arrive. I just hope it works as well and as easily as it is supposed to.

  8. That movie does have a fantastic wardrobe! I remember feeling irritated at the movie "Enchanted" by how easily and quickly she put clothes together. Never thought about Maria... I always loved Liesl's dress, it looked so romantic =)

  9. Do you know I have scoured google images to find pics of those curtain outfits? That fabric! Oh, sweet heaven! And the decor of the house! Aaah! Inspiration, indeed.


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