Thursday, April 09, 2015
Slowly, slowly ... a little bit of sewing
Today I took a break from my regular schedule to kick back and do nothing. Which, in my corner of the universe, seems to involve prepping sewing projects. Self, really? On the other hand, as I've mentioned before, I don't craft much when I'm writing, and sometimes I really just itch for a lovely dive into the tactile, beautiful, satisfying world of garment making.
Pictured above, left to right: the makings of a refashioned Archer (with a peek of my all-time-favorite Liberty print), a quilt for a friend, a summery Alder. Grainline Studio appears to be my pattern company of the moment!
It was nice. Nice to putter - slowly, slowly, never hurry never rest. Nice to sink into the intricacies of cutting and ironing and prepping projects for the machine. Nice to think about my friendship with the woman for whom I'm making the quilt (we go back to 14, which is over half a lifetime ago, eep!). Nice to think about the coming season and what I'd like to make - not too much, a couple garments, enough for my evolving style, things that will work well in a streamlined wardrobe.
I used to feel this great big rush to craft. Get something up for the blog, work my way through my stash. In the last year or two, my financial situation has fluctuated quite a bit and so I now think of my stash as a lovely place to shop for fabrics that I currently can't afford to purchase. (I do splurge now and again, but for the most part, stash shopping it is!) Fabric choice really is important to how much I like the final product. And I think that's something that sewing my own wardrobe, and my current slow-clothing approach to garment making, has gradually cultivated, namely an understanding of what is most important to me in the making process and final product.
In two of the financial management/simple life books that I own, the author talks about the "fulfillment curve" and finding that sweet spot that defines "enough." For me, this question applies not just to money but also to crafting and the size/composition of one's handmade wardrobe. Just how much is enough? What elements comprise enough? What are the pieces that bring me the most joy and satisfaction, are the most important to me, and how do I try to focus on those in the moments when I do spend crafting? Given that my time for crafting is now somewhat limited, I find it increasingly important to hone in on these "high impact" areas. If this hobby is going to be an escape, a creative outlet, a way for me to kick back and relax, then I'd certainly like to maximize my chances of finding just that when I do finally clear off my table and haul out my sewing machine.
After a good number of years and experimentation, I think I've hit upon the formula that (currently) works for me. Quality fabrics in colors and prints that I enjoy, and that also play well with the rest of my wardrobe (a great way to avoid wardrobe orphans!). Silhouette, style, and degree of ease that work well with my lifestyle and personal preferences (I hate tucking in my tops, which not only rules out certain blouses but also certain types of skirts and pants). At present, patterns that are neither too fiddly/fussy nor too complex. And there are certain types of garments that I enjoy sewing more than others (pants = ugh, dresses = yeay!) so I am perfectly content to focus on the ones that I like and then hit up the thrift shop for the rest.
And most importantly? Take it slow and take it easy. Part of this means thinking hard about which project I really want to tackle next. Could I see myself wearing it once/week for the upcoming season or two? Am I in the mood for something simple or something more involved, for a new pattern or to dig out a TNT, for fiddly fabrics like silk or easy fabrics like cotton or wool? Part of this means accepting that I'm just slow - I probably crank out a finished object every month or two, and I need to be OK with that. Part of this means working with fabrics that I absolutely love, which are paired with patterns that I'm either reasonably sure will be a good match, or else willing to leap into that hideous/fabulous territory that I seem to love so much.
And part of this means accepting that the current pared-back state of my wardrobe (which I actually quite love, and which really is not "pared back" at all when one considers how 90% of the world lives!) My parents were up recently to visit, and my mom seemed a bit surprised that all my clothing actually fit into one closet. Ha, I'm not that bad, am I? I guess I am. Was. Whatever. I guess this is part of locating "enough," too. Some days I feel quite bored with the clothing I have on hand, but the flip side of the equation is that it only takes one or two new garments to suddenly make me feel like I have so many more choices and a nicely refreshed wardrobe! Which is a great feeling to have.
Here's wishing all of you a beautiful spring, happy moments spent in your leisure activity of choice, and the permission to occasionally chuck responsibility and instead opt for that very thing that your heart, or soul, most craves ...