During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!
The theme for this month is Make It Local :: with Alexandra Smith of Lola Nova.
Today, Alexandra introduces Nancy Langdon, the designer behind studioTANTRUM/Fledge and author of Sewing Clothes Kids Love: Sewing Patterns and Instructions for Boys’ and Girls’ Outfits.
For you, I have a little downloadable Ebook to construct a fun, summery tunic dress based on macramé.
I’m pretty sure we’re at the tail end of hipsters being fascinated with all things 70s. All the good 70s things, as few as they were, like Milo Baughman and Curtis Jere, have been done. We’ve even gone through Corningware, muscle cars, black lights and Afros. All that is left is macramé, rotary phones, 8-track cassettes and TAB (not that new-fangled Diet Coke, thank you very much). And my vote is for macramé. I was recently wandering about Retro Row in Long Beach and saw dusty old macramé owls selling for upwards of $70. So, yes, macramé is upon us again. Right on!
The stringy Strigiformes is the official state bird for the year 1973. According to witnesses, the year 1973 was, in fact, a state (of mind…of sorts…in quite a state).
Macramé, the craft of knotting lace, is likely the earliest of the string-based arts, predating knitting, crochet and tatting by millennia. Fiddling and tying up bits of cord in fancy ways did not seem to have geographic or cultural limits, as ancient examples can be found in places as far-flung as Peru, China and Egypt. The earliest example dates to 3500 BC; since some anthropologists argue that civilization is only about 4000 years old, well, that means macramé is old.
Arabs were probably the first regular practitioners, tying up the weft ends of woven textiles in artistic ways. Sailors over the centuries have used macramé in innovative and creative ways, for example, around tool handles, so sharp knives and heavy hammers wouldn’t slip out of wet hands. The craft, brought from the Holy Lands to Western Europe by the wives and servants of crusaders, was fancied in later centuries by Louis XIV and William of Orange’s Queen Mary. Macramé found its most refined form near Genoa, Italy, where punto á gruppo was taught as a skill to poor children during the 19th Century and resembles fine bobbin lace. Be that as it may, macramé is now synonymous with Nixon-era housewives penchant to release small flora from terrestrial bounds with hemp houseplant hammocks. And lest we forget the hippies: Here, a cautionary tale of what happens when twine is combined with 70s era hallucinogenics (some of these items appear in fact be made from psychoactive hemp …)
And if you thought macramé owl wall hangings were bad, say hello to the macramé owl bra! “Macrame Accessories: Patterns and Ideas for Knotting,” Dona Z. Meilach (1972)
No words. Just no words “Macrame Accessories: Patterns and Ideas for Knotting,” Dona Z. Meilach (1972)
Wait, one word: MANcramé. Enough said. “Macrame Accessories: Patterns and Ideas for Knotting,” Dona Z. Meilach (1972)
On the other hand, if we embrace macramé fashionably responsibly, we can evoke that sense of hope for a better world, which is, I think, at the heart of the new hippie style.
Elizabeth and James
I hope my addition to the macramé trend this fits the bill.
“La Jolla” (lah HOY-ya”) is a simple, super-duper quick DIY dress with a lot of California soul. This straight shift dress with macramé overlay is an easy-living, flip-flops and popsicles kind of summertime piece to wear anywhere, anytime fun is to be had: as a swimsuit cover-up, as a dancing dress to the end of the school year party, or as a flexible, easy-to-throw-in-a-suitcase piece to take on vacation.
Made up in all white, I think La Jolla is pretty enough to wear to a beach wedding. La Jolla is a beautiful coastal town near San Diego. “La Jolla” is a corruption of the Spanish word “joya”, which means “jewel.” I find this to be a gem of a dress, because with a little cutting and polishing, some cruddy old tee shirts or a clump of boring plain knit fabric can really shine. “Jollas” also happens to be a genus of South American jumping spiders. Since this dress has that SoCal spirit, but also sort of has a spider web look to it, I’ve decided to call it “La Jolla”.
This pattern is sized for girls, ages/sizes 5 to 12. The design concept is great for teens and women, however, the knotting has not been calculated over all size sets within the Ebook instructions. La Jolla is available as an Ebook here.
And speaking of making the world a better place, all proceeds from the sale of this Ebook will go to benefit a home-grown, grass-roots effort to help the people of Enwen, a small village of about 1,000 in Cameroon, Africa, to help themselves. The story of Enwen is not a complicated one, but amazing nonetheless. A young man, Tichi, from this village was educated in Germany. Upon returning to his village, even though he had grown up in Enwen, he was taken quite aback by the poverty. And so he and his partner, Katrin, decided to do “something.” That “something” is Nahow, which in the native Pidgin means something like “S’up brah”. Nahow.de has developed many “somethings” and those “somethings” include an adult learning center to teach valuable carpentry and sewing skills, outfitting the village with solar panels, refurbishing the elementary school and sponsoring doctors’ visits. And this at very, very low cost. For about EURO 20 a month, a villager will be given an apprenticeship in carpentry. Like real, super-duper, hard-core, high-quality carpentry as only Germans can. The people at Farbenmix, my partner in all things sewing, have become personally involved with this project, even having gone to the village to teach sewing.
I’ve kept the price low as makes sense. As you know, PayPal will have their take. The Ebook has over 20 pages of instruction with lots of photos and illustrations. And the basic pattern pieces are there. I’ve translated it into German, too, just in case. It is a PDF file, so, if EURO 4 is a bit steep, maybe you can go halfsies with a friend.
Enjoy! And thank you for supporting the craft of sewing!