I love “postmodern” garments — you know, that lay bare the device or “leave the dirt clinging to the roots.” Grunge was the best. I adore unfinished hems, assymmetry, and bizarre combinations of shapes and fabrics.

But MUCH more so than in poetry — for I never subscribed to the notion that you must “learn your chops before you can deconstruct” a poem — I feel that I dare not attempt such outrageous sewing maneuvers before I’ve learned to do the most basic things, like put in a demure and unobtrusive zipper, or make a buttonhole.

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Gary will attest to my mania (reawakened from my teenage thriftshop days) for vintage fabrics. I’m spending hours on eBay trawling for them. I particularly like “novelty” fabrics that represent something (which may, in fact, speak to my poetics, but I’ll leave that to my readers to decide). I used to have an amazing collection of clothes with pictures on them — a dress of black & white sailboats, a sleeveless blouse with rulers and measuring tape and scissors, a skirt of cartoon roosters, an aloha shirt with bulls and matadors. Oh, and the skirt with the major inventions (record players, compasses) — including the year they were invented! Most of these clothes have gone the way of ??? — but I still have a good but small collection of 60s cotton skirts with the following prints:

Japanese temples
a moody beach scene with dunes and sea grass
Greek ruins (all blues and greens)
big Chinese vases in dramatic gold and turquoise on a black background

there are probably some more I can’t remember right now because it’s winter and all my summer stuff is in storage. But I’ve long been possessed of a kind of an anxiety that this kind of garment is disappearing, and I’ll never be able be able to get it any more. Recently I gave up bidding on the PERFECT polished cotton skirt with Egyptian designs on it because it went over $50 — and it seemed insane to me to pay that much considering that I never paid more than, say, $15 for any of the abovementioned items. Of course, I’ve found my own solution. I am going to make them myself.

Projects in the works include:

a skirt of gray and moss-green dinosaurs — gray green muslin ruffle underskirt — trimmed with green velvet ribbon

a “Persian vase” print a-line skirt

A wrap skirt of turquoise teapots

(please oh please let me win this auction: the circus fabric — in three small panels — to make a bag)

and of course, the necktie skirt

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A passion to — if not master it, at least get competent!

Wanting to sit like an idiot and fondle trims, all day, examine the way fabrics drape. Those filmy dupatta fabrics in the Pakistani shops — incredible colors — just TWO DOLLARS a yard — layered, they are the stuff of dreams. When will I be able to work with them, cut them on the bias, drape them so they flutter?

So far I’m entirely autodidacted out of a book and from following patterns. But I’m starving to learn.

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