Tomorrow I start a four-week solo Charleston class. It feels like an appropriate class to take now for several reasons. I need some kind of exercise that will tone me up in a way that water aerobics has failed to do. I go to the local Y thrice weekly and my figure remains the same no matter how much stretching or wiggling I do with the styrofoam noodle while I'm wading in the warm-water pool. I also need some kind of class that's utterly and completely happy, and jazz music from the 1920s and 30s totally lifts my mood. Finally, I'm looking for a workshop that will put me solidly to sleep when I come home. And I think this particular class will do the trick.
Now I will not wear anything fancy schmancy attire for this class, but I feel like I need a dress just like Flapper Fanny's at some point. Check out what the popular cartoon-girl of the 1930s wore. For a cartoon with a glowering husband, Fanny thinks: "Keeping a husband in hot water doesn't make a husband more tender." Or how about this one with suitably suspendered Fanny: "Most people call a spade a spade until they try to make a garden." I'm not one to smoke but this one's a hoot too. Can you read more about Fanny here at this blog.
I really don't know any women who read this cartoon back in the day, back somehow I can imagine the comments little old ladies who remember and what they would say:
Myrna: "I loved Flapper Fanny. She was always in the Chicago Daily News, and after my daddy read the late-afternoon edition with his pipe in the living room, my older sister Emma would always get her hands on it, and cut out the 'toons before I got a chance to read it. Then she pasted them into her scrapbook, all before I could look at it. It made me so mad. We had more than a few fights over the newspaper, and I can remember scratching and drawing blood a couple of times. Naturally, I was spanked for disrespecting an elder. Emma never did let me look before she cut...so I ended up still stealing the neighbor's paper every once in a while. Oh, I was a bad girl, I was."
Betsy: "Flapper Fanny was quintessentially naughty. Smoking, staying out late, fretting about her boyfriend. She was just everything I wanted to be...especially the hair. I figured at a young age that the boys might think I was wild if I just cut my hair like Fanny. My parents wouldn't let me. They thought I would go to hell if I got a pageboy. How do I stop a young girl who wants to grow up? I just went into the outhouse once with a pair of my mother's sewing scissors, and cut with a mirror in my other hand. Oh dear, I got in such trouble. But I wasn't sorry. The boys at school did notice my new hair-do."
Norberta: "Flapper Fanny was good, but there were lots of girl cartoons back then. We were all looking for role models, you know. I liked Marianne, who was quite the jitterbug. I remember she could cut the rug with her boyfriend. Gay and her Gang is the one that really that sticks out in my mind though. Gay seemed so saucy, and there was so much innuendo in those cartoons. I don't know how they got away with it in a family newspaper. I liked Gay. I'd cut out some of the cartoons, past them onto cardboard, and dress them up with little outfits I drew. No wonder I became an art teacher. It was all because of Gay."
That's just my make-and-pretend for today, perhaps because I like to sketch girls with drop-waist dresses and bobs. Since I'm so caught up in the era, the music and the dance of the late 1920s, I figure I need to make like Fanny sometime during my Charleston class even if it's only at the end....if and when we perform? I don't have a pair of Mary Janes anywere, but I've got the Louise Brooks hair cut. That's where the above pattern, Vogue 7571, comes in handy. Vogue Fabrics is having a sale on a half-a-table's worth of galloon-edged stretch lace. I think they may have robbed Victoria's Secret factory there's so much of this fabric. I've never seen so much of this particular type of fabric there except for the meager remnants that I'm sometimes able to eek out a t-shirt.
With the sale, there's more than enough to make a dress. Now the pattern doesn't call for anything with stretch. It's just plain old lace and charmeuse. Me? I "see" an easier than green peas dress minus the zipper in the back. All materials are as squishy and pliable as can be.
So...the challenge will be to buy the necessary fabrics and to make the time to create this Fanny-worthy dress. Right now, I'm more like to sew underwear and bathing suits with the sizable stash next to my bed and in my closet.