Finished Object: The Liberation of Tripoli Blouse

This blouse has a history.

I cut it out the night before a two-hour demonstration class last year.  I taught piping techniques and set-in sleeves.  Demonstration classes can be nerve-racking: thirty or forty-odd people watching you sew, a camera focused on your hands and beaming them to a screen behind you.  I believe I wore a mike that day, too.  It’s tough to keep up a running commentary while applying piping evenly to a peter pan collar, don’t let anyone tell you differently.

When I sat to “dem” these techniques, I broke out in a cold sweat and couldn’t find my tongue- this crowd wasn’t mommy-night-time-seamstresses but a large group of older quilters I respect deeply.  Then I spotted a woman I’d grown particularly fond of at the back of a room- a blond woman I bonded with while teaching her to fit her figure.  She smiled broadly at me.

A year later, the blouse languished in pieces on my work table.  I needed to demonstrate a convertible collar for another class, so I reached for this blouse and taught Sherry’s excellent method.  After that, it lacked only buttons and buttonholes, yet I procrastinated until last weekend.  I’ve been feeling “meh” about sewing and life in general lately, hence the lack of blog postings.

When I finished it, I felt a quiver of fear.

“Darling, is this kitsch or simply outside my comfort zone?” I asked my husband, who is frightfully honest when I make sartorial inquiries.

He paused, considered carefully and said “Definitely kitsch.”

I KNEW IT!  Without cutting the buttonholes, I hung it up.

Then this morning I turned on the news and just like that several month’s worth of blues lifted away.  I saw liberated Libyans pouring into the newly-renamed Martyr’s Square.  They did it!  They really, really did it!  Politics aside, I watched enraptured and laughed with them.  I had to dress for work; as my eyes fell on this bright “kitschy” thing in my closet, I knew it was meant to be the Liberation of Tripoli blouse.  It looks like I feel today.

Cheers to the end of a despot.  The world could do with less of them.

I had to dance a little:

I made this from a favorite 1950’s blouse pattern- Vogue 8872.   I hope every time I wear this silly blouse, I think of today and how I watched crowds of liberated people in a square on the other side of the world and drank a little wine, danced, sang Journey all day long and rejoiced with people I’ll never know, from the bottom of my heart.  I hope I can remember that when the blues circle again.  This is kitsch, but sometimes it’s good to be effervescently bright, hopeful.

Liberation Days are my favorite days.

(Thank you, Mrs. C)


  1. sorry to hear you have had the blues…love your red skirt and think your blouse looks very sweet. But honestly I am with you, its the emotions behind it which make it truly special. I think all of us should have a liberation blouse.

  2. I love this outfit and that Zinnia fabric is to die for! I could do with a few Liberation bits in my wardrobe as I am also struggling with the inner seamstress at the moment! Keep on going hun! It looks fabulous

  3. Love this blouse on you! Pooh-pooh to your husband's opinion (although he is, of course, entitled to hold it. I am also entitled to disagree with him, lol.) And three cheers for the Libyan "rebels." I met a college professor from Benghazi some years ago, and pray daily for his safety. Don't know if he is even still alive, but I know that he would be rejoicing now. Dance a few steps with me — I'm dancing right now.

  4. Nice to see you back, Steph, kitschy blouse and all. Perhaps you feel burdens for people… Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice and all that! Sometimes it's nice to finish an old, old ufo just to throw out skeletons. I should probably take note of this!

  5. jlfittro- Gaddafi, is that you? Of course, the CIA has created coups in the past, but there's not any real evidence that's what happened in this case. You might just as well have said the liberators were Al-Qaeda militants dropping acid. That's what Gaddafi said last Feb….Thank you, thank you to everyone else! I have such dresses to show you all, and a creative collaboration to pitch…

  6. I think your blouse is wonderful, not kitsch at all. Just because one's husband will say what he thinks doesn't mean his opinion is a truth! :) Except when he says you are the most gorgeous woman in the world. That's different…Hip hooray for Libya, I remember the elation when the Berlin wall came down, and when Nelson Mandela was released. Things we never thought would happen and they did. Anything is possible feelings. This is you "Anything is Possible" blouse!

  7. Now look at the top with new eyes … it will always be the memory of a joyful liberation … it is associated with this, so enjoy this beautiful blouse!

  8. Glad to have you back; blues begone! We can hope the Libyans stay liberated, and can form a better government. Your blouse is fine. Wear it with joy. Kris in Ohio

  9. Mrs C, watching my parents watching the Berlin wall come down is one of my earliest memories… Carol, he really said that! Gadafi, I mean. I was choking with laughter when he did. I'll miss some of his more light-hearted antics, but it's good the Libyans will rule themselves soon.

  10. Love the fabric, love the history, and love your little jig! I'm guess the glass of wine helped with that? You write such fun posts. :)

  11. I love the pattern on the blouse! And the piping! It's totally adorable, not kitsch! I have to admit that when I read 'Liberation of Tripoli' I thought of WWI or WWII. I've been working with souvenir textiles from that area and era lately!

  12. I'd take husbie's opinion with a grain of salt. Love the piping, the styling and share your views about the despite of Gaddafi.

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