Friday, October 15, 2021

Literary Sewing Circle: Sun Down Motel Inspiration!


It's time for some more sewing inspiration for our Sun Down Motel readalong! Today we're looking at Carly's contemporary timeline. I'll start with characters and see what we might want to make. 

Carly is our main character in this timeline, and one of the first times we see her she describes herself for us:

"I looked down at myself: worn jeans, old boots that laced up the ankles, black t-shirt that said BOOKS ARE MY LIFE beneath a stretched out hoodie, messenger bag. Add my dark-rimmed glasses and ponytail and I was pretty much a cliché."

We'll start with the Carly Cardigan by Treasurie. It's not quite a stretched out hoodie, but it is a knit sweater, so pretty close! 

To really catch Carly's student look here we could also make the Carly Bag by IThinkSew, a very messenger bag influenced shape, although a little more compact. Enlarge it a smidge and add a zip-covering flap and you'd have a classic messenger bag. 

A little later on, Carly heads to the public library to investigate some newspaper articles, and thinks she might be mistaken for one of the local students as she was wearing "jeans, my lace-up boots, and a sweater under a waist length jacket, my hair in its usual ponytail". Perhaps that waist-length jacket was something cool like the Carly Aviator Jacket by Style Arc (which is a little more hip length, but close!)

Carly's roommate Heather is also intrigued by the mystery of Viv's disappearance, and agrees to help Carly out. On first meeting, Heather is wearing a big poncho, and when they go to the Sun Down Motel for the first time together, she changes to a black puffer coat. Carly notes that she thinks Heather is always cold. 

Maybe she'd be comfortable in a cozy knit Heather Dress by Sew Over It. Made up in a sweatshirt fabric and worn with leggings, it would keep her toasty.

Or if she made it in a lighter weight knit and needed an extra layer, she might toss on the Heather Blazer by Friday Pattern Company, made in a cozy wool blend.

If you're a knitter, you might also want to try creating the Heather Poncho by Deborah Cowell, for a really direct influence! 

When Carly meets Nick Harkness at the Sun Down Motel, she finds an ally, one who she is also interested in in other ways. Nick fixes the vending machine and while doing so, Carly talks to him about the events at the motel. However she can't help but be distracted a bit by the way his arms look in his t-shirt. The obvious choice here is to make the Nico Raglan Tee by Jalie, a classic for men & boys! 

Or you might just want to take a hint from the whole storyline and make up this Drama Dress by George & Ginger! 

And now, moving on to some of the settings in Carly's timeline, and how they might inspire us. First off, of course, is the Sun Down Motel itself. The retro vibe of it might appear in fabric choices or silhouettes. 

You might try a novelty print dress in something like this On the Road vintage cotton:

Or a summer dress called the Summer Sundown, a free pattern by So Sew Easy. The photo is even taken by a pool, yikes! 

Or perhaps some home decor inspired by Motel Keys, like this pillow by Lucky Spool.

If you want to recreate something in direct homage, check out this vintage motel dimensional embroidery project found at Sew Daily! Just change that "Starlite" to "Sun Down" and you'll have a reminder of this creepy locale whenever you want it ;) 

Then there is the diner in which Carly, Heather, and Nick meet to discuss what's going on, and where Carly meets people from Viv's timeline in their later years. This could be reflected in fabrics or pattern choices as well. 

Another novelty print, this Route 66 fabric found on Etsy covers motels and diners alike

This slightly more sedate "Arnold's Diner" novelty print found on EBay might be a little more to your taste

Or maybe you'll just take a Diner influence and make the Muse Melissa Dress, which has a hint of retro waitress uniform to it. In the right fabrics you could serve up a soda, no problem!

Carly also spends a lot of time at the Fell Central Library, researching newspaper articles from the 80s in their archive room. As she says: 
Libraries were my places. I was that girl who maxed out her library card every week, starting with The Hobbit and The Witch of Blackbird Pond and moving up from there. I could kill an hour by wandering into an unfamiliar part of the Dewey Decimal System and checking it out. Computers, card catalogs, microfiches -- I could navigate them all.
Perhaps some newspapery/library influences can be found here. You might use the new Bookish collection by Sharon Holland to whip up a cute cotton dress or top. I like the Passport design, but many of these are fabulous! Page Turner is a more sedate colourway that could be used for a nice blouse, I think.

Bookish - Passport

Bookish - Page Turner

Or maybe you want to go more on theme with this newsprint clippings cotton, that looks kind of like a pile of printouts that Carly might have stacked up on a table. 

If you're more into home decor, there are tons of bookish quilts and wall hanging patterns designed by Heather Givans, also quite famous for her library related fabric prints. This Book Club quilt is a great idea for our sewing book club, don't you think? 

To finish it off, you could whip up this easy Academie Cardigan by The Eli Montster, as a nod to Carly's studying in the library. 

Or if you're more inclined toward something in crochet for the fall, check out this Reading Room Sweater at AllFreeCrochet. 

Whichever you choose, and whatever your project may turn out to be, I hope this has inspired you in some way! If you have further ideas, feel free to share them in the comments to inspire other readers, too. 

Next week, we'll learn a little more about our author. 


  1. OK, book read! Lots to think about. And I guess my first question is why did Viv become so intensely involved. I understand her frustration at the way women were regarded, and lack of police commitment, in part due to the process and thinking at that time. But if every individual took law into their own hands, their would be no law. Maybe the intensity of feeling could have been put towards trying to right the process.

    Carly on the other hand, was immersing herself in her aunt's last known whereabouts, and had a really personal link. Except she too didn't really trust or go to the police.

    So what does this say about perception of police, not necessarily as people, but as a group locked in the framework of their rules/regulations/processes? Even today discussion around this continues regarding domestic violence. At what point can they intervene - death is really getting a little late in the process.

    And for inspiration for a make? - I am still thinking. Love all your inspiration posts, and I think the 80's inspiration is stronger for me.

    1. Great thoughts, Sara. The perception of police is definitely a hot subject right now, for many reasons. And the lack of trust in the law is definitely something to consider when looking at how Viv (and Carly) approach their investigations.

      I'm also finding the 80s inspiration a little more 'sticky' in my mind, but haven't decided on my final project yet either!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!