1.30.2017

All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty

oonaballoona | by marcy harriell | All This Useless Beauty




I have so many things to be thankful for. Rob. The love of our families. The home we've made. The fact that that home is, literally, located on an island of sanity in the middle of an upside down world, an island that so many artists call home, so many who have made it their life's work to simply create beauty.

Over the weekend, we saw the Ethan Iverson Quartet play at the Village Vanguard. I closed my eyes through the first three songs, so grateful for the sounds, so grateful to have a respite. However (though you couldn't tell by the music) the musicians were having a difficult time. It was hard for them to come into work that week. Ethan admitted this after a couple of tunes, in a short impromptu speech in which he dedicated the rest of the concert to Billy Higgins: a drummer, an American, and a Muslim. The set was sublime. It was beauty.

Artists are struggling with beauty right now. Beauty feels ridiculous and ignorant right now. Useless. But for the audience, it is supremely needed. 

Each morning, we wake early (well, one of us earlier than the other), and try to start the day with something beautiful. As I search the screen for a small distraction, I think about my own small distractions, queued up to publish, becoming increasingly more ridiculous with each minute. By the time photos are taken and (hamhandedly) edited, there's some new atrocity that makes everything else... unimportant? Undone.

But Rob reminded me that this is exactly the sort of the thing we're looking for in that early morning hour, and when we find that thing, we don't consider the author to be either ridiculous or ignorant. We're thankful to sit on the couch and gaze at a bit of beauty for a moment. We're thankful to sit in a small jazz club and be surrounded by the sound of beauty.

It doesn't seem enough to create beauty, but it is not possible to fight without it. So, I'll continue to post these bits of cloth, and I'll continue to make beautiful armor that transcends at least my demeanor, if not the climate.

Will every post come with a disclaimer that I can't stand what is going on? If things continue as they are, then yes. I'm not okay with this. None of us should be. This is not America.

The sewing details.

Top: Simplicity 1099, hacked into a hi-lo top, added sleeves, & pleats to the hemline
Skirt: By Hand London's Charlotte skirt, with an added back vent
Fabric: Wax print from Mood Fabrics, using my January "fabric allowance"

I had a 6 yard cut of Supreme Wax Osikani to play with, which was extremely freeing. My immediate thought was to make a matching ensemble, full of pleats and frills and larger pattern pieces that wouldn't break up the print. I then fought myself for about an hour, thinking I should probably make something a little less "out there."

Then I reminded myself that "out there" is where I want to live.

79 comments:

  1. I am with you all the way Marcy! ( and you know I love this outfit )xox

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  2. Thank you. You were my moment of beauty today (actually, you are whenever you post).

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  3. You are fabulous. That is all. X

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  4. On the subject of beauty, this quote popped up on my Twitter feed this morning, by way of a former military man: "If we must fight, we must also sing. Soldiers know - low morale is deadlier than bullets."

    I love seeing what you create. It's inspiring, and a very welcome break from the rest of the world. :)

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    1. A true quote for sure. Thank you for sharing that!

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  5. This silhouette is sublime! Thanks for this beauty!

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  6. When things get this ugly, beauty is resistance. Xx

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  7. Yes! I keep thinking my IG posts are frivolous but actually, I sewed more last week than I have done in a while. I need the distraction. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Your beautiful dress was the respite I needed today. That hi-low + skirt combination is pure happiness. Thank you!

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  9. Thank you for this. Your dress and your words are beautiful.

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  10. We've never needed beauty and artists more. Thanks for being one of them.

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  11. This outfit is all kinds of wonderful. It would certainly call for Trump's attention so you can let rip about his crazy, racist policies!

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  12. Thanks, you're right about wanting to get lost in beauty and art for a moment :)

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  13. I love you and this outfit and every word above. Totally agree with all of it. I feel as a maker of beautiful things both irrelevant and more important and ever right now. I'm so grateful for people like you that keep going. And that reminds me to keep going too. XOXO

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  14. Thank you for sharing. Your work and your words are beautiful and I appreciate you being real in a time like this when everything feels like a punch to the gut, and beauty really is so valuable. We can't keep resisting if we can't stop crying in bed, right? So thank you for providing inspiration. We gotta be active and we gotta be in it for the long-haul, made possible by joy and love.

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  15. Sometimes my thoughts seem so ham handed when compared to the delicate beauty of yours. Thanks for reminding me to look for the beauty!

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    1. Ham handed, never! I love your honesty, and wouldn't want you EVER to change a thing.

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  16. Beauty is the food of hope. Without one, the other cannot exist.

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  17. Yes, we are all better than this. And, yes, you are creative and create beautiful things. And yes, we need you.

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  18. What a perfect use of that fabric. Just love it. Keep on looking for the beauty and creating it where you can. We all need to keep reminding ourselves of what we, and the country, can do and be.

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  19. Beauty is real...and meaningful...and important. So is speaking out...about that which is exactly as you say...UN-American. Just so you know....we are doing what we can here in TN (even): http://chaoticallypreciselifeloveandmelanoma.blogspot.com/2017/01/womens-rights-are-human-rights-in.html
    Thanks for sharing your beauty. celeste

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    1. thank your for marching--and it was heartening to see that it was happening across the waters as well.

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  20. Great outfit. And, yeah, love Ruth's quote "...low morale is deadlier than bullets". That is a very strong thought. So, beauty does help increase one's morale and the good brain chemicals. It is so important for the creater, and also for the viewer. Great post.

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  21. I've felt the same recently. I don't know what to do. It feels like the world is wobbling. Like when you're watching a spinning top, and you see it start to wobble, and know that it's coming to the point where it can't stay stable for long. It's horrifying. And beauty sometimes feels frivolous, useless, wasteful.
    But it's NOT. On inauguration day, I wore a shirt I made back in December. It has shoulders that look almost like epaulets made out of ivory ribbon. I wore it because it makes me feel strong, and I needed every bit of that I could get. And two other women noticed, and we looked at each other, nodded, squared our shoulders, and went forward. Beauty strengthens others. It stiffens resolve, gives courage. Gives a reason to fight. Gives hope. Tells low-lifes that they grab you by the pussy (sorry, sorry) at their own peril. It can turn us into badasses.
    KEEP MAKING.

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    1. No need to apologize! And thank you for that story. The smallest nods from strangers can mean so much.

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  22. Love your blog and love the Village Vanguard. Thanks for the reminder to allow ourselves to seek out and enjoy beauty at times like these. Feeling pretty helpless, watching from across the world, but trying to spread good where I can in my own life.

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  23. Beautiful post, wonderful outfit. Shine on, you creative, beautiful diamond! Keep creating, keep loving, keep speaking out for what's right and good and true.

    Many people across the world are standing in solidarity with Americans as you face the reality of Trump and his vile crew as President.

    Sending love from Australia xxx

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  24. Well said Marcy. I am finding it more difficult to embrace and "be in" the beauty of sewing and other art amidst the suffering and tears of this craziness. Thank you for the reminder of the many ways to be "out there." Of course, I love the dress.

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  25. Yes. All of this. Thank you for seeking and providing and protecting beauty.

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  26. your beautiful images and adorable smile made me, for a nano-moment, forget the pain my america is facing. and I really needed that, thanks. your outfit is far more awesome than any of the pictures for the actual patterns! mouah!

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  27. Oh, dude. There's this really great sign in my psychiatrist's waiting room that says "We tend to seek happiness when happiness is actually a choice." There's this strange way that beauty operates, I think, that runs on the same pistons as happiness (for me, at least), and in times like these I just want to be enveloped by something beautiful.

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  28. I vote that you strike out Useless from the post title. ;)

    I mean....your photos! Your DRESS. YOU. Your dialogue. Even the comments are loaded with beauty!

    And you know what...speak your mind...No, make that 'Continue to speak your heart'. This is your blog and I come, not just to 'see' you, but to hear your voice as well!

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  29. Thanks for adding beauty to my day. Your outfit is beautifully out there - love it!

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  30. Oh my goodness THANK YOU for posting this. I struggled with this very thing today as I posted a pair of fleece pajamas I made for my 17 year old. I felt frivolous and shallow. Like I shouldn't be sharing anything I made that wasn't full of purpose. Full of righting the political wrongs. I love your perspective. I love that you also include a disclaimer. Keep doing it. It is absolutely essential. You are not alone.
    We're with you.
    ~Michelle

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  31. Thank you for putting your opinion out there, this is greatly appreciated. We can have both - the beauty is needed for keeping our spirits up. But making and appreciating beautiful things doesn't mean we're braindead or uncritical.
    Personally, it helps me calm my nerves, among many other things...
    There is so much to stand up against for, not only in the States, but also in Europe. It helps to know that there are others out there thinking along the same lines and speaking up.
    frifris
    PS: Your outfit is the best!

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  32. The world doesn't make sense. My best friend's dad and husband were in a horrific car crash on Thursday. They have 5 children. They are in separate hospitals miles and miles from each other. We are keeping the home running between us but I don't know how my friend is still running. I don't know how you are all running over there but i know you will and i pray that this awful monster doesnt bully the beauty out of the world. I am a little distracted right now but please know that the world needs you and your beautiful dress. Thank you for a beautiful distraction this morning

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    1. Also those shoes are amazing I will wear red lipstick today in honor of your awesome outfit. Not useful lip balm but siren red lipstick.

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    2. Jennie, what a terrible thing-- I'm so sorry for your friend, and I know she is so thankful to have you there, I just can't imagine. I hope you wear that red lipstick like a cape and continue to superfriend! Hugs and love to all of you.

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  33. The world doesn't make sense. My best friend's dad and husband were in a horrific car crash on Thursday. They have 5 children. They are in separate hospitals miles and miles from each other. We are keeping the home running between us but I don't know how my friend is still running. I don't know how you are all running over there but i know you will and i pray that this awful monster doesnt bully the beauty out of the world. I am a little distracted right now but please know that the world needs you and your beautiful dress. Thank you for a beautiful distraction this morning

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  34. I never comment - and I should, because you and other wonderful sewing community bloggers remind me that there are so many fabulous and like minded people in the world despite the current situation in many countries. The tribe that you surround yourself with is bigger and brighter than you realise - connected by the Internet and Beautiful Inspiring Makes! As an outsider I feel thankful to see so much resistance to the current state of affairs - passive, 'useless', or active. Plus - you're lovely style of writing and your gorgeous makes always bring a smile, and how can that be useless?!

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  35. This post made me cry. Thank you for your beauty, and the strength we all need to share. Dark times lit by our creative energies...

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  36. Great outfit and blog post! Spent most of my life in the Middle East (born in Turkey and currently living in Tel Aviv) and yes sewing and clothes feel so unimportant compared to what is going on outside. The contradiction is always felt. But they comfort me and make me happy, we all need art and creativity to make us smile whatever the situation is.

    https://sewinprogress.com/

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  37. That thing is exquisite. Also, as a reader from Europe, I find your disclaimers to be a relief and a reminder that no, this is not normal. I'm a firm believer that beauty is resistance in the face of ugliness. So thank you.

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  38. You did a fantastic job keeping the print intact while creating a uniquely beautiful outfit.

    "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." The beauty we create today will transcend all of the ugly, the negative, the hurtful that we face today. We mustn't stop bringing beauty to this world!

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  39. I stand with you. And I believe that appreciating and creating beauty is a forceful way to rage against the machine. In solidarity . . .

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  40. What a great thoughtful post. As a European I see what's happening in the US from some distance, but I'm touched by the way you Americans respond to the situation. As a sewing, I'm always inspired by your creations. Keep making and sharing them!

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  41. Marcy, you belong "out there" I love your "out there" fashions. Keep on keepin on.

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  42. I am beholding to your Useless Beauty. This is the most awesomely beautiful dress I have ever seen. And I needed to see it today, on you. Thank you.

    "It doesn't seem enough to create beauty, but it is not possible to fight without it. So, I'll continue to post these bits of cloth, and I'll continue to make beautiful armor that transcends at least my demeanor, if not the climate." Yes, Yes, Yes. I second that motion.

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  43. Your threads, those shoes, your words, and the shout out to an Elvis Costello song all made me happy. In the midst of grief and anger. Beauty can be food for our spirits and keep us strong in the fight for a better world, a better country. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you-- and it's a stunning song, isn't it? One of my favorites.

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  44. Oh keep up the beauty . It feeds us all and also helps us to remember that there are many decent Americans who are on the side of good and decency and respect for others .Don't ever give up on beauty . sometimes it is all that gives us a lift . I remember after the bush fires which destroyed over 200 lives and countless homes and lives , the magic of the green shoots . It was so important for us all to feel the renewal and optimism that such beauty gave us.

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  45. Beautiful words - thank you for this, I needed this reminder today. x

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  46. I love your exuberant dress! I'm comforted reading your words. I have two children and I shudder at the thought of the world we will leave them.

    I envy your island. Where I live, I feel alone. I live in the deep deep south. So many here support the crazy. I know there are more like me that are appalled at all that is going on, but it is not a popular position here. I know that I've really pissed some people off, and all this seems to be just getting started. I am having a hard time holding my tongue.

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    1. you are exactly what is needed. it's easy to be brave surrounded by your tribe. speak up, speak out. don't let ignorance drown out the voice of reason. you will surprised at how many allies you have that are just too afraid to speak first.

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  47. Thank you for sharing. It is so important to remind ourselves why art is important, especially in tough times. Makes life brighter, adds meaning, allows us to step outside of the mundane for a moment so that we can face the day with a little more hope.

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  48. I am watching in horror and fear what is happening in the US right now, from Europe, and I can't imagine what it must feel like for you, living this surreal situation in your own country. Your words are truly beautiful and inspirational and a world without beauty is not a world worth fighting for, so please keep on making beauty, whether it be with pieces of cloth, your words or your smile, because it is so very needed right now...

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  49. Beauty is as beauty does. You and your dress are truly beautiful. Some are ugly inside and out.

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  50. Your "out there" is exactly what grabbed my attention on your Instagram, and finally brought me to reading your blog (and is helping with my resolution to stop obsessively reading Facebook, and actually read blogs instead.)

    I LOVE this outfit, every frill.

    Kat

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  51. As a professional artist I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with what you said ... and the outfit is beautiful

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  52. Beautiful writing, beautiful dress. The world is a very strange and scary place right now.

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  53. That is so true. When it seems like everything in the world has gone to a bad, bad place our first instinct is to say, "What's the use in making anything beautiful or even trying to enjoy anything beautiful," but that's exactly when we need beauty the most and, even though it's not enough, we should try to add all the beauty we can to the world.

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  54. Love and support for our US sisters/brothers/non-binary others, from the UK side of the pond.

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  55. Not just beautiful, but inspirational. Keep your head up, Marci. You are not alone.

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  56. Marcy, thank you for this moment of beauty! We all need it, and should support that need. Thank the gods for the artists!

    A friend of mine recently shared that it might be a good idea if we each chose three things to make our most passionate stand on, not that we don't support and believe in the other things, (there are so freaking many!!!) This way we won't burn out. 'Cause that's a real danger. I've been feeling it, bombarded, and bombarding my friends with a constant deluge of things that are not right and must be addressed! Then feeling guilty because I wan't to avoid some of the hoopla. But if we each choose just three things (the better to cover them all!)to focus on and take our stands, and support each other, then this world can't help but be a better place, right?

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  57. Marcy, what a beautiful, generous post. That's the first time I've seen somebody so boldly capture a "committment to zen" in prose. Your writing is so strong that you should write a book; no doubt whatsoever that it would be a best seller. The world could use your magical combination of expert use of color and form in your creations mixed with the calm with which you face an uncertain world. You inspire all of us as you continue to create such unconventional and outrageously fun garments in your quest for beauty. Please do seriously consider (I hate this next phrase) taking it to the next step. You have something truly special. Cindy (Creative Hormone Rush)

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  58. OMG this fabric is amazing! I absolutely love the look and adore your personal style!!

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  59. I've been admiring your work for freaking ages, and this outfit is no exception. There's not that many really flashy dressers in Dublin, but you inspire me to dress how I feel and that's very exciting. Right now, as scary as it is, having the courage of your convictions is so essential. Your version of fighting that fight is valid, and we're with you all the way!

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  60. Hey Marcy! As a serial lurker of your site for years, I had to say SOMETHING about this J'AMAZING top! Can you do a tutorial on it? It's just perfect for my upcoming trip to Egypt and Ghana!

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  61. Here in the U.K. we watch the events in America and don't know what to make of it all. It somehow feels surreal or like some sort of reality tv programme.
    People commented on my clothes every day about how funky like look or colourful. You see to me a day without dressing up is a day wasted and besides it takes me just as long to put something nice on as it does to put something boring and bland. Oh and I never wear black it drags me down
    Lynn in Lancashire Uk

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  62. Absolutely stunning. These photos are definitely a blast of wonderful beauty to start my day, found through Pao of Project Minima. And what you write is so true with people who are not living in your country too. Without beauty, dreams, spirit, we are lost.

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  63. Beauty is completely necessary right now, when there is so much hate and ugliness in the news every day. I found this through Pao of Project Minima, and your outfit makes me happy that there are people who dress like this.

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  64. stunning! And if we can't stop to find the moments of quiet beauty, then what's the point.

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!