Monday, 19 January 2015

Garment 2: Logan Lake, 1973

Skirt Front, Upholstery Samples
On the hill over-looking our house, c. 1970. That's me in pink
Fuzzy Felts- hours of fun
This skirt makes me think of crock pots, kitchen wallpaper, Fuzzy Felts, a little copper mining town in the interior of British Columbia...

My sister had Fuzzy Felts, and I babysat for a family that did not have a huge Elvis Presley record collection, but did have a crock pot and two boxes of Fuzzy Felts, which kept me occupied until the mom and dad got back from whatever it was they did in a town that, at the time, had no secondary school, restaurants, or doctor.

The only store sold day-old bread, canned goods, paper products, the kind of soap you need when carving a fake soapstone sculpture in grade 5, cinnamon or mint flavoured toothpicks, and two sizes of chocolate bars - 5 cents or 10 cents. Also, candles and other birthday party paraphernalia, including the Beatles cake-top tableau that adorned the angel-food money-cake with marshmallow icing made by my mother for my eighth sleepover birthday party. Pam Kaus and I wore matching shorty pyjamas purchased at the Fields in Merritt - the nearest town with dentists. The very birthday I received Donny Osmond Superstar, the double album I really, really wanted. But only one of the records. And not the good one.

Donny Osmond Superstar. Sigh
It was 1973; I was in grade 3 - best year of my life - the year I broke my arm, sliding with my sister on the hill behind our house while my parents were away at a curling bonspiel.

When we arrived back at the Keurver's, pulling the toboggan in shock and pain behind me, they took me first to Kelly Courtney's dad - the Lornex first aid attendant. My arm splinted, he sent us on to Kamloops, to the hospital, an hour away. Nothing so exciting had ever happened to me, nor would for many years.

As did every girl in my class, I had a crush on Donny Osmond. Pam and I - dressed in matching leotards, snap-crotch bodysuits, and plush-lined, zippered, Naugahyde winter boots - made up creative dances to "Pretty Blue Eyes" and "Puppy Love" in her parents' wood-panelled rumpus-room. I drew him pictures to hang on the wall of his bedroom - the side view of a girl in prayer, done in yellow marker... I had heard he was religious. I wondered about his bed - rumoured to be suspended from the ceiling! - and his drawer-full of purple socks. 
Birthday cake decoration. Ringo's drum is broken. Where's Paul?
I hadn't heard of the Beatles, yet - had no inkling there could be anything bigger than Elvis. I wanted this particular cake decoration because there was no Elvis one to be had.

Rediscovered when I was forty-something in a yellowed, plastic produce bag at my parents', along with every half-burnt candle from every childhood birthday cake my mother ever made for us, and all the fancy ballerinas that usually held our candles, I shrieked when I pulled it out of the box.

Paul is - ironically -missing.
Beautiful cyclops fire-dancing ballerinas - most elegant birthday candle holders
Souvenir from Lornex company picnic
Mother's Day gift, from Sears, now hangs in my kitchen
This skirt reminds me of our house: peering through the kitchen window, orange and brown diamond-patterned curtains, the boom of the blasting in the open pit mine, a 20-minute drive away; wet-look, vinyl swivel chairs - also orange -  the smiling daisy wall plaque that now hangs in my kitchen. 

My sister and I chose it at the Kamloops Sears during a routine trip to buy the necessities not available in our village: freshly baked bread, Kentucky Fried chicken, birthday presents.

Dad would let us loose with two dollars in an incense-scented shop that sold novelty printed toilet paper, Herbal Essences shampoo and witty plastic statuary. A carefully selected, slightly squishy, white, plastic figurine of a baby in diapers - "Life is one damp thing after the other" - sat atop our TV, between school pictures: me and my sister in wood-printed, cardboard frames. When she hated me, mine would face the wall.

My sister, napping, green shag rug
There was a wood-burning fireplace and wall-to-wall shag carpet in shades of medium green, which required regular raking - a 1973 zen garden embedded with crumbs, cat hair, dead skin, Grape Nuts cereal, the odd Barbie shoe and Orange Tang crystals.

Dry Tang from the package, orange fingers, the Flintstones - cuddled up with Shayne Morgan in the big chair after school. Freckles and a big smile.

This skirt makes me think of all that.

The first of my own designs I ever showed Blossom, she proclaimed the Logan Lake skirt to be "perfect" and I have no cause to doubt her. It's cut from her own instructions for transforming the perfect basic block into the perfect A-line skirt pattern - one of the first variations she teaches in her flat pattern drafting classes. So no wonder.

Skirt Back, defective reflective piping, bias waistband, hem and zipper facing

When wallpaper was wallpaper, hung c. 1975
I believe the fabric to be linen, c.1970, sister to the wallpaper in our Kamloops kitchen, where we lived next. It was 1977; the eve of New Wave. I cried silently the first time I saw it.

The linen, from a fabric sample card, came from the estate donation of Addie, a prolific creative force who lovingly rescued - judging from the attached tickets - every stray piece of fabric she ever encountered. Samples, seconds, bolt ends, yardage: six minivans-full of fabrics and notions plus a mannequin and extensive supplies for all her other hobbies: fabric dying, painting on fabric or glass, glass painting, knitting - by hand or machine - pottery. She was a gardener, too. In the months it took for us to sort, we felt we got to know her.
Hook and eye; raw edges of fold-over waistband will not fray

Since there was so little of the fabric, the bias waistband, hem and fly facing are pieced together from small scraps left from cutting the back panel of mis-matched green linen. There was just enough fabric.
The metal zipper, hook and eye came from my stash, removed from a worn-out, discarded garment by an ancestor of mine a generation or more ago - possibly my mom's mom. The reflective piping is defective, and came from a local sportswear manufacturer who must remain nameless. It will crack and flake off a little with each cleaning.
Like my memories of the mining town that inspired it, I anticipate this skirt will soften and improve with age.

All that's left
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