Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie & Julia: a Sewing Blogger's Impressions

When I tell people about the concept of my blog, I've often gotten the response: "It's just like Julie & Julia!" At first, I was reluctant to agree. I wanted my project to seem unique. But, let's face it: this blog is really just like Julie & Julia. But with sewing.

I've come to terms with that. Working in book publishing, I know that it's very common to hear new projects explained by what they have in common with successful ventures. A manuscript will often be pitched by an agent as "Twilight meets Harry Potter - but with zombies!" or something ridiculous like that. But, however absurd, this kind of pitch does actually accomplish the goal at hand: to make the reader understand the new project by adding context of an already established project.

And anyway, the similarities really are inescapable. In Julie & Julia (the book), an underemployed 30-year-old New Yorker with a sweet husband and a passion for cooking decides to start a blog project in which she cooks every recipe in an old cookbook and writes about it. In my humble story, an unemployed 30-year-old New Yorker with a sweet husband and a passion for sewing decides to start a blog project in which she sews every pattern in an old sewing book and writes about it. (Not that I'm saying Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing has the following of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Let's not be silly!)

So fine. I am the Julie & Julia of sewing blogs.

So, since the film version of Julie & Julia released today and both Jeff (the sweet husband) and I had the afternoon off, we decided to go on a little date. I put on my full, gathered skirt and first we went to the little French restaurant across the street for croque monsieurs and Oranginas. (Is there anything more festive than an Orangina? I don't think so.) Then we walked over to the neighborhood cinema to see the film.

So, as you might know, the movie is based in equal parts on two books: Julia Child's My Life in France and Julie Powell's Julie & Julia. I was very struck by how both women's stories were about having a passion for something, and sharing it with the world in some medium. It was also about how that singleness of purpose plays out within the confines of a marriage.

In the Julia Child story (in which Meryl Streep is completely delightful), Julia's obsession with her art seemed to bring her closer with her husband, and the relationship story was one of utter adoration and support. In Julie Powell's story, her obsession veers into narcissism and causes her to alienate her husband.

My husband tirelessly listens to me talk about my sewing and my blog, and I hope that each of us having creative pursuits is something that unites us rather than divides us. In any case, the movie was a good reminder to me that the point of having a creative outlet is to connect us with the world, not disconnect us from it.

I was struck again by the many moments in which Julie Powell's story mirrored mine. The thrilling moment when she published her first post. The day she turned 30, an age which suddenly didn't seem so scary now that she had a bigger project in mind for her life. The meltdowns when projects went awry. The triumphs when they didn't.

In any case, the movie gave me a lot of food for thought (ha ha). Oh, and the clothes! Julia Child's story takes place, in part, in 50's Paris, and there was a party scene in which she was wearing a divine silk shirtwaist - with pockets!- and I thought how all you vintage pattern fanatics would die over it. Fabulous.

Do any of you plan on seeing this? I'd love to hear your thoughts, as creative types and as bloggers.

P.S. For the record, I want Zooey Deschanel to play me in the movie version of my blog.


  1. I saw the movie with a sewing friend this afternoon and we throughly enjoyed it. Infact, it made me want to dust off my Julia Child cookbooks and try a few recipes. For me the movie had everything true love, great clothes and women who found their passion.
    ps your blog was our pre-movie topic.

  2. I love Zooey Deschanel and her sister Emily. I loved them even more when I found out they share a duplex complex in L.A.

  3. I just saw the commercial for the movie last night. I'll probably rent it once it comes out on dvd (I'm really, really awful about going to the movies. It's only because my husband wants to go see something that I do half the time! :p) I'm kind of curious because I spotted some fantastic clothes in the tv spot! lol. Plus it's got cooking, and that is another hobby of mine. ;)

  4. I really want to see the movie too, how could you go wrong with Julia Child? And Zooey Deschanel is my absolute favorite actress, and she wears such cute dresses all the time.

  5. When I saw the first previews for this movie in the spring, I knew I wanted to see it. And truthfully, when I started reading your blog a few weeks back, I did think of Julie & Julia. But just for a moment, and then it went away. :)

    I have a 6-year-old and there appears to be a movie coming out next weekend that combines an American animation studio (is it Disney or Pixar?) with Japanese-style animation. I bet we'll see that one, and life will get busy, and I'll catch Julie & Julia on DVD later this year. LOL

    BTW, your casting choice is inspired!

  6. I never thought about it, but there is a lot of similiarity. I can't wait to see the movie-- I LOVE Julia Child! I use to watch her all the time on public tv.

    Your article is very well written and brings up good points which hit home. Sometimes I feel sewing separates me from the family. I am a talker so it is hard for me not to include my husband--and the blog intrigues him so it adds a bit of interest to pattern and handsewing topics!

    Organgina (sp?) is the best summer treat--you are right!

  7. I will probably see this on DVD also. I work so many hours that I'm not loath to give some of my sewing time up for something that I can see while I'm sewing...I know, one track mind! *LOL*

    BTW there have been other blogs based on a theme...there is the woman who is living her life based upon Oprah's advice & show & blogging about it too. So the Julia & Julie theme is not new. You have just found an interesting point of view from the sewing world!

    Glad you enjoyed the movie and its great to know that besides good food there are wonderful outfits in the movie, too!

  8. OK. So your 'practice' (as they say in Zen Buddhism) is sewing and Julie/Julia's is cooking. And perhaps there is a little bit of similarity between your situation and Julie's. As a woman with a couple (heh) of decades on you, I can tell you that a) it's ok, b)working one's way through a series of exercises to delve deeper into perfecting one's 'craft' is the way that the apprentice travels toward the mastery. And THAT is a very good thing.

  9. I thought about your blog when I saw ads for this movie, too! As a fellow Orangina lover, I do love this idea, and am glad you are writing...

  10. I like your blog. It's fun to see your interpretations of 50's garments. It definitely has more than a passing resemblance to The Julie/Julia project, esp with you being in Queens and all.

  11. Carolyn, you're funny. I never thought to watch a movie and sew at the same time! Brilliant.

    SO fun to hear your thoughts, everyone. And, just for the record, I don't think I'm the second person to come up with the idea for a theme blog! Quite the opposite. I think I'm like the 100 millionth. I suppose it's just the similar life situations, and the idea of working through a book while blogging that are the parallels.

    Toby, I like your Zen take on the whole thing.

    I think the movie has inspired Jeff to cook something fancy for me tonight. He's got out all the back issues of Cook's Illustrated!

  12. I love your blog. I just found you on Sew Retro. I'm going to sign up as a follower and add you to my blog list so I can keep up with what you're sewing.

  13. HI.
    I have been following your blog from the start. (this is my first time following a blog)
    Not sure why I haven't commented before. I love your blog and what you are doing. Your story is inspirational. Haven't we all felt lost at one time or another. It's great to have found such a wonderful project to embark on.
    I enjoy watching your progress.
    All this has got me wondering.... Will my patterns be sought after one day? Will I be some one's Doris? (I do write notes on most of my patterns) If only there were a modern version of VoNBBS so 50 years from now someone would stumble across it at a used book sale and decide to take on the task.... Just a thought.
    I do plan on seeing Julie & Julia.

  14. I also think the movie looks good. I don't often think that any more! I will wait until it is on HBO or some channel. It is so expensive to go out to a movie now. Plus, we would have to pay for a babysitter!
    The only movies we see now in the theater are kids movies!
    Glad you enjoyed it. Look forward to reading about your continuing journey through the book!

  15. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I am planning on going to see it. After reading your post, it will make it more interesting for me and give me "food for thought."

  16. I am really late commenting here, but I thought your review of the movie was very similar to my own reaction. I did not like what blogging did to Julie and to her marriage. I sure would not be willing to stress my marriage that hard! As it is, my situation must be more like Julia Child's, because my DH can carry on a pretty good conversation about sewing now!


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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