Leslie Louise DuPaix' Search for Answers
My Singer Time Machine
For me, one of the nagging problems with being T is that things never seem to fit just right. (I meant that in a sort of non-physical, psychological sense, but as in all great writing, the statement can be interpreted at many different levels.) A lot of my T-time activities have involved searching. Searching for something and never finding it; or finding what I thought I was after and deciding that, “No, that was not ‘It.’”
I have spent a lot of time searching for things on the ‘net, never exactly sure for what. Most of what I found was definitely not “it.” One of the sort-of-fun places I ran across was www.pettipond.com, a CD place focusing on petticoats. The girls that are really into that call themselves “Pouf Bunnies” and unlike some of the costume sites that often strike me as a little less than positive and uplifting, the Pouf Bunnies seem to be trying to just have fun and enjoy who they are.
One of the CD causal theories has to do with “imprinting”—at some key moment when an organism’s systems are primed to receive some signal and lock on to it, it will do that even if the signal is from the wrong station. For those of use who did the puberty thing in the ‘50s, it is easy to see how one could lock on to the crinolines, the full skirts and the petticoats that were so very popular back then with the girls of our peer group. As a point in passing, the famous poodle skirt, to the best of my memory, was NOT all that hip, at least not on the West Coast.
So, when I discovered the Pouf Bunnies, I could relate to what they were all about, even though my systems had homed in on different signals back then. Being an open person, I thought, “Maybe the Pouf Bunnies are on to something I might enjoy. Maybe I am missing out on something.” And never wanting to miss out on anything that might be cool, I thought about back then.
One of the things I think we M2F T-folks grieve about sometimes is having missed out on female childhood experiences. There were a lot of cool, girl things going on in the ‘50s and I remember sometimes being very sad about not being able to be part of them. (There were also a lot of cool guy things going on then also, and I DID do a lot of them, and was glad for that as well, so it was not all gloom, misery and sadness for me.)
So, what is a poor aspiring Pouf Bunny to do? Milk the experience for all she can. I went to Wal-Mart and bought several yards of white nylon netting and some white acetate brocade along with several yards of a yellow cotton print cloth off of the $1/yard table. I went home and drew up a pattern for the petticoat, and another for the full skirt. Several nights latter I had a passable, wonderfully full white petticoat and a lovely full yellow cotton skirt. With my white nylon shell and sandals I don’t look bad at all. A bit too old and saggy to blend in with the American Band Stand crowd, but the look is still there and a lot of memories are triggered and some longings fulfilled.
The best of it all is that I recreated an experience that would have been mine if Ms. Leslie had been Miss Leslie back then. In the ‘50s all girls took Home Economics, which included sewing, and most of them put that to good use in sewing lots and lots of the full cotton skirts and the petticoats. I suspect that a motivated girl could turn out a skirt in 30 minutes after school with the proceeds from less than 2 hours of babysitting wages buying the cloth. No flaps with the folks as to why she needed another skirt, and she would have something new to wear the next day.
Finally getting to experience all of that was really the best part. The skirt and petticoat are a good addition to the wardrobe. Quality wise, they probably would rate a B+ or better for a 10th grade Home Econ class project. Perfect for a barbecue or a picnic. Cool, easy maintenance and attractive not only in a retro-way.
I had not thought of my Singer sewing machine as a time machine, but it can be. As for being a Pouf Bunny, I doubt it--a Pouf Mouse or a Pouf Hamster maybe, but not a full-fledged Bunny.
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