Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Blue Roses, or Pleurosis, Tee

No fun locations this time; it was strictly an errand-running day.

My mom left school at an early age to work in a garment factory, but that didn't stop her from getting an education. She went to night school to get her GED equivalent in Hong Kong, then continued with community college in SF once my siblings and I had all entered full-time schooling. I remember her taking introductory piano lessons at CCSF when I was just starting piano lessons as a little girl. I loved getting to visit her grown-up piano classroom and plonk away on the keyboard next to hers. My favorite of the classes she took, though, was the intro to American literature course. By that time, I was maybe in fourth grade, and turning into quite the voracious reader. I read every book we had multiple times, always borrowed the maximum number of books allowed at the library, read cereal boxes, my dad's Newsweek and LIFE magazines, and even tried the Wall Street Journal briefly before I gave it up as drier and harder to understand than nutrition facts. I got in trouble at school for always reading under my desk instead of paying attention. My first F ever was on a spelling test, when I turned in a blank paper because I hadn't even realized we were taking a test, I was so engrossed in a book about pirate ships.

Anyway, all this to say, when my mom started bringing home short stories and plays from her classes, I was thrilled to have new reading material. The three things I read that stand out to me the most were William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily, Shirley Jackson's The Lottery, and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The first two were definitely questionable reading choices for a nine-year-old, but they were also riveting and short enough that I finished them with no problem. The play, though, was much longer and more boring (even now, as an adult, I have to admit that it can't hold a candle to the drama of sleeping with a preserved body or a mob stoning party), so I didn't get very far. I did remember, though, that Laura's crush had mixed up "pleurosis" and "blue roses."

I didn't take note of any of those stories' titles at the time, so I couldn't exactly look them up later when I wanted to re-read them. As I went through high school, though, I eventually rediscovered each of those pieces, with The Glass Menagerie coming last, in my senior year. Each time was like meeting an old, if somewhat creepy, friend, and I was so excited to finally find out the ending of the blue roses girl's story. Well, it was disappointing, to say the least. To wait all those years, only to find out that Laura never did have a real gentleman caller? And her brother just abandoned her to her overbearing mother?

So this top is my happier ending for Blue Roses. It's another stashbuster, made from turquoise-and-white striped knit, leftover from this top (which has since been retired after an unfortunate laundry mishap), but dressed up slightly with gold rose buttons at the shoulders. Conveniently, it fits the Sew Weekly blue challenge this week! It fills a gap in my wardrobe, too, since it replaces, colorwise, another turquoise-and-white-striped-knit-with-gold-buttons dress that I got last year in Paris, which I promptly spilled beet juice on once I got home. Sucks. Anyway, this top is a more versatile version of that dress, since it's a separate that goes with skirts or pants.


I made it from my Not-A-Renfrew pattern, and it might have taken longer to position and sew and reposition and re-sew the buttons than it did to make the actual tee. It's funny, I never thought I'd sew such "normal" things, but eminently wearable knit tees are just as satisfying to make as quirky dresses. Okay, almost as satisfying. 

Summary: 
Fabric: A little less than 2/3 yard of some mysterious cotton-blend knit from a thrift store
Notions: Six plastic rose buttons, spray-painted gold
Hours used: Two-ish, but only because this knit curls like no other, plus stripe-matching
Will you make it again? Oh, don't you know it!
Total cost: $2.50
Final thoughts: When I wore it today for running errands, my husband thought it was a RTW shirt that I'd just added buttons to. I think that means I win. I also love the turquoise/teal+gold combo.

It just looks so real!

I actually finished this on the same day that I finished my husband-requested maxi dress, which also went together like lightning. I looooove knits and their no-unraveling business. I've got a sneaking suspicion, though, that I'm going to finish stashbusting my knits and then discover that I don't know how to insert zippers anymore. Seriously, between knits, buttons, and bias-cut garments, the last zipper I inserted was almost two months ago! Ah well, things could be worse. I could have a dead body in my bed, or discover that I'm up next for public stoning, or *gasp* not have any gentleman callers. Horrors!

This handsome gentleman is available to call on you, but he's a limited edition only, so call now!

24 comments:

  1. I gotta get me that sort of heavier knit so I can sew some tops!!! I am in desperate need of tops! I wanna get the NL pattern for the peplum top :D

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    1. Oh, top sewing is so easy once you've mastered the knit binding technique! You should totally do it!

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  2. I literally laughed out loud at the spelling test story. Love it. The tee's cute too!

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    1. I'm glad it brought you laughter! Trust me, I was not laughing when I had to bring that F home to my dad!

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  3. Nice! I only recently checked out your blog, but have enjoyed the post and will be back to read more.

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  4. lol - "it just looks so real!" I would say it's film worthy. =)

    Oh, The Glass Menagerie! - a very deep play, but definitely more about the small moments in life. I think you have to be involved in at least a scene from that play (acting class) or full production to really appreciate the amazing writing. (It's that whole way the script reads differently than seeing it come to life.) I was glad to see that the "blue roses" of your post title was from the play. Oh, the memories of college!

    (Horton Foote is the playwright I have trouble getting into - he writes life but so slooowwly. My theatre professor in college loved him, but snore.)

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    1. Everyone has their own phrase for denoting worthiness; I love it!

      I love TGM now, and love the symbolism in it, and can even appreciate the poignant tragedy of Laura's life now...but when I first read it as a 16yo, I was just disappointed at how it ended after I'd waited so long to find out what happened to her! I've never seen the play performed live, but I have seen one of the movies.

      I'm just a science major who took some humanities classes, so I've never even heard of Horton Foote!

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    2. You can rent the movie "A Trip to Bountiful" if you want to see a good Horton Foote example - all his plays are similarly slow and pretty much without a definite ending. (But just a warning if you do watch it: you will wonder why you bothered to watch the whole thing when it's over!)

      My theatre department did a production of his "Talking Pictures" when I was in college, and luckily, I only had to help with the set building & painting for it. I'm sure rehearsals were painful!

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  5. Your tee is very nice. I need to get into sewing some everyday stuff.
    I got a kick out of this post as I was also a voracious reader. I frequently pulled the reading in my desk/lap trick, because I was riveted. I got teased on the school bus for reading all the way home, and I didn't care.
    I love The Glass Menagerie, and that play on words always stuck with me too.:)

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    1. Oh, we could've been friends! I didn't know anyone else who read like I did, and definitely got my share of teasing too.

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  6. Haha! Love your adorable limited edition cat! The shirt is super cute too! It is always a win when someone thinks you are wearing RTW that you really made!

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    1. Thanks! Walnut is quite a looker, isn't he? And really, my husband should have known better than to think it was a RTW tee, since he saw me cutting it out!

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  7. Love this top! The stripe around the neck band is so neat- super impressed! Way to stash bust!
    I used to make the same trouble with reading wherever/whenever I could. I have a vivid memory of sitting on the bow of our little boat a little ways off shore reading Jurrasic Park and right where the t-rex gets all chompy a freaking dugong (manatee) surfaced next to the boat and scared the bejeebus out of me. Almost lost the book overboard. I've never read a book on a boat again... :)

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    1. Thank you for noticing that I tried really hard to get the stripe right on my neck band! Your reading on a boat story is just awesome -- I loved JP as a kid and definitely got scared a couple times, although never by a dugong! I'll confess to having dropped a book into a hot tub once...

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  8. Nice button detail! I remember in grammar school my reading teacher was flabbergasted because she had to tell me to stop reading as I too was reading a non-class book under my desk.

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    1. I love that so many of my blog readers are also, well, book readers. Our poor teachers, they wanted to promote reading, but also wanted to promote paying attention...

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  9. Your spelling test story might be my favorite story about you :) Love the tee shirt - the rose buttons are perfect with it! (I'm not a big fan of The Glass Menagerie either - but as a theatre major, I don't think I am supposed to admit that out loud!)

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    1. The sad thing is, it happened AGAIN, multiple times! And my teacher knew that I obviously knew how to spell the words, since I took to just memorizing the spelling list and writing it all out onto a sheet of paper...but they'd inevitably be in the wrong order!

      Isn't it funny how there are things you're just supposed to like because you're a ____ major? I actually do like TGM quite a bit as an adult, but I totally didn't get it as a high schooler.

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    2. Hee, I work in theatre and I'll admit that I also don't love Glass Menagerie... but then I've only read it and not seen it. I was also a big reader in school, but for some reason I'm a terrible speller - so my bad spelling test scores were just because I couldn't spell, not cause I wasn't paying attention ;) My teachers were very confused by the fact that I read so much but apparently hadn't noticed how to spell any of the words I'd read!
      Great tee BTW, and I'm sure zipper insertion will come back to you - it's like riding a bike, right?

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  10. I really like that you are sewing all of these extremely practical garments. The cake/frosting analogy drives me nuts, since you don't really need a lot of cake in your life, and I flat out hate most frosting, so I like to think of this as vegetable sewing. I love vegetables. :-D

    I thought I was bad as a reader in school, but I never read through a test! I did the 'reading under the desk' trick, but by high school I had figured out the 'find a hefty tome in your class subject and use it to hide fun reading' trick. Only sometimes I read the hefty tomes too ;-). I was reading them just because they were interesting, but it worked in my favour the one time a teacher tried to bust me - it actually was US History, not Harry Potter!

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  11. I really like your shirt and stole the button idea for one of mine! You can see it and my reference back to you in my blog post.
    http://tumbleweedsinthewind.blogspot.com/2012/10/foundation-garments-shirts.html
    Thanks for having a great blog! I really enjoy reading it!

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Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.