19th Century Chick Lit

Part of the Web site, www.19thcenturychicklit.com, this blog is about the connection between the popular women writers of the 19th century and today's women writers and readers. I'm actually interested in women writers from lots of different time periods and genres--the 19th century is just my starting point.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Nesting Instinct

I’ve been doing the thing they call nesting lately. I think. Or maybe nesting is the thing you do when you’re going to have a baby (which I assure you, I’m not). But ever since my fiancé, Allen, and I moved into our house this summer, I have been obsessed with picking out fabric and making things. I have spent hours perusing at ReproDepot and Tonic Living, and checking out sites like Marrimekko and Amy Butler Design for inspiration.

I’m practically giddy with fabric overload, and I can’t seem to stop sewing. I’ve made window treatments (for some reason unbeknownst to me, I’ve fallen in love with the café curtain, which seems to totally go against my mid-century modern aesthetic, but what can you do?). I’ve made them for my office and kitchen. And I've never had so much fun making a Roman shade before.

Ooh, la, la, cafe curtains! Just don't let me start tacking up roosters.

My Roman shade (which actually works), courtesy of Amy Butler's amazing designs.

I found a great blue and brown retro flower print for our bedroom, and made some fun drapes.

Blue and brown are the bomb.

And the pillows, my god, don’t even get me started on the pillows. They are such instant gratification to make—you pop in a zipper, sew up the seams, insert the pillow form, and you’ve got a little piece of colorful art right there on your couch to snuggle with.

Pillows are like chocolate, but without the saturated fat.

Did I mention bags? I was obsessed with making bags in college. And the fascination seems to have returned. I’m already thinking about making some as Christmas presents. My lucky relatives.

Alright, so I'm a bag lady. It's Amy Butler's fault.

Allen thinks I’m insane. “Aren’t you ever satisfied?” he says. “The house is fine,” he says. Ah, men. So not the point. The house is fine, yes, but it’s even better with handmade, creative touches. There is a great scene in Ruth Hall where Ruth’s awful mother-in-law visits and thinks that Ruth is all hoity-toity because their parlor is so pretty. Ruth just gives off a smirk because in reality, it’s all very modest stuff: She just made all of it, so it has that extra special look.

This nesting thing is very 19th century really. Just about every female character in 19th century chick lit is crafty and creative—they’re knitting mittens, doing needlework, sewing dresses, and painting. It was their creative outlet, just like it’s my creative outlet. Which is why it’s also very modern. Jean Railla, who wrote the book Get Crafty: Hip Home Ec and runs the site Get Crafty argues that today’s crafty women are bringing about the new domesticity—where it’s hip and feminist to craft. I absolutely love this idea. (And it’s a fabulous, inspiring book, BTW!)

Craft on, ladies!