Changing a dress into an artistic statement
Last week I showed you a fluffy pastel coloured gathered dress, a dress which perhaps would satisfy every pre-puberty girly dream of being a princess, a dress which has no potential to offend or shock. A dress which accentuates the waist but without revealing any flesh. A dress that is immediately understood as „female“ which is soft and embracing like a hug. Wearing it projects the ultimate „do not fear me“, I am a harmless fairy tale maiden…
I trying to look harmless
But for all who meanwhile got to know me better it is apparent that this dress could not be the end of it 😂
Today I can show you the finished outfit and I thought perhaps you are interested how these ideas create themselves – because often it feels like this for me. If you are more interested in the technical aspects of the sewing hop to the last paragraph.
The main topic of my next upcoming exhibitions is the topic of how women after a certain age are represented (or not) in our society. My premise being the representation is lacking and one dimensional or even completely missing. For example, women above I guess 40 play near to no role in social media, in serials or films. Just try it out and fetch your phone and type „sitting woman“ (or blond woman, or black woman or flying woman… doesn’t matter) and look at the output of images you get: mainly young, conventional beautiful, mostly white, always able-bodied. As if one stops sitting over the age of 40…
After working on this topic for longer (I will spare you all the research) I somehow ended one evening with a strange mix of ideas: on the one hand I was occupied with thoughts about knitting a balaclava (pure relaxation knitting) and on the other hand I was planning for more artworks. Both melted together and I ended sketching several balaclava-dress amalgamations.
While looking at this I saw bright pink and soft pastels, I envisioned secretive figures hiding in plain sight, I could see a kind of story developing in front of my inner eye. These are the moments I get super restless I want to start to sew or create what I have in my mind before it loses importance for me. In this way the first pink dress with the balaclava headpiece came into being.
But while sewing (I needed some days) I researched traditional garments of grieving women, remembered different historical ritual garments, especially headpieces which are created to inspire awe or fear. In the late Middle Ages, there is a rich tradition of pointy hats which are worn by the repentant, hats that are worn by people accused to be evil (often this is tangled with anti-semitism), hats that are meant to show that the person elevated himself unrightful.
From there my thoughts jumped to the trope of the „secretive warrior“ a superior fighter with near magical skills to stay silent and indivisible. I envisioned a female super-hero who is dammed to hide her face, is feared, and celebrated because of her powers, who can see without using her eyes, alluding to the topos of ancient seers like Teiresias who is described as blind by Homer…
That was the moment the second outfit took form in my mind and which I finished this week. The fluffy and harmless looking dress is now transformed into this:
I added a headpiece to the outfit. A headpiece which has its roots in historical ritualistic garments, in folklore but also in modern days superhero stories. And I may have added a bit of humour… because the headpiece is the bodice of the dress, I sewed a second time. I added a hem to the bodice, so that it is a proper sweater. To transform the sweater into a hat I sewed a jacket zipper to attach the sleeves to one another.
I was mentally prepared to do it by hand to avoid sewing through both layers of each sleeve, but thankfully the fabric is stretchy enough and I could attach the zipper with the sewing machine while pulling a lot at the neck-opening. After closing the zipper, I turned the whole sweater so that the zipper is on its inside as this looks neater in my eyes. On the photos you can see the zippers „outside“.
The headpiece is now a fully usable sweater, the only trace of it being simultaneously a hat are the zippers on its sleeves 😀
If you want to see more beautiful projects with yarn, fabric and most of all needles, follow @needleworkmonday on hive blog. Or even better grab your needles and keyboard and join the #needleworkmonday community. You can read more comments on this post on my hive blog.
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