Friday, January 19, 2018

The Story of Outfit One

Once a month, I meet with three other women to knit before they go to work and I head to the studio. I met them through one of the groups I attended and when that group ended, this was a fun option for still getting together. I told the story of Outfit 1 to them yesterday and one of the women commented that she was tired just listening. It isn't exhausting; it's exhilarating. And even though I've been smack dab up against resistance all the way through this project, it's going to be fabulous in the end.

The outfit started with the inspiration of the hemline and the skirt above. I sewed it in six panels with a six panel lining that is 2" shorter than the finished skirt to create the bubble. The elastic hem band brings the bottom width in from 107" to 44" and is 2" wide. When I cut out the fabric, I was so concerned about having enough that I forgot to watch for pattern twinning and it didn't go well. There were big blobs of colour all around the hips. I resolved that by sewing patches in place to disguise the blobs but was never completely comfortable with wearing it.

So, I started over. First, I took all the learning from the first skirt and altered the lining and fashion fabric patterns and measured the elastic and casing and gathered all the measurements I needed and then I bought a velour fabric with the same colour scheme and a smaller print and cut out the fashion pieces as well as the lining pieces in a light-weight blue cotton. Sewing the pieces together, I discovered an alteration error on one section of both the fashion and the lining pattern pieces. Sigh. I re-cut those, sewed the lining together, sewed the fashion fabric together, and was about to add the waist and hem casings when I noticed that I had completely forgotten about nap... and it wasn't good... it was really ugly... and I couldn't wear this version either.

SO, I started over... again... only by this time I had committed to a spending fast and to using only what I have in my studio. The entire outfit was developed around a triadic colour scheme of gold, turquoise, and purple - especially after I found the prefect gold leather shoes at the thrift store - and I wanted to maintain that theme. There wasn't a print in stash that would work and black seemed the best choice so I chose a black taffeta with an eyelet border which would have been...

... absolutely perfect if I had had a purple fabric in stash for the lining. Bits of purple showing through to go with the necklace was a fabulous idea. But I didn't have any. And I already had a lining sewn. And it seemed wasteful not to use it.. So I opted for an entirely black skirt with a blue lining which is rather pretty stepping in... and I sewed it... and the pattern pieces all fit together... and the math worked out... and the seams pressed beautifully... and there is no nap so there are no nap problems... and there is no print so there are no twinning problems... and I love it. A black skirt, a turquoise t-shirt, a purple necklace, and gold shoes still worked so I thought I was happy only....

... at the same time, I was finishing the knotted button necklace. When it was at the stage above, I added black shadows in the groves which looked fabulous and then brushed on a metallic silver to highlight the edges which did not look fabulous. My knot was wrecked. So I mixed together purple and black paint to match the background colour, added a slight bit of metallic to blend the ugly highlights in, and painted one coat. It look fabulous. My knot was saved. And then I added a second coat and it looked horrible. My knot was wrecked so I threw it in the washing machine just to see what would happen since washing it had rescued an earlier project and it did nothing. My knot was dead.

In stash, I had larger or smaller upholstery cording but none the same size. The bigger knot was way too big and the smaller one turned out great so I went with it and and this time I knew what not to do. I painted the grooves, added the beads, and stayed away from metallic paint. And my knot was saved or is almost saved. It still needs a good cleaning to get the lint off and then a coat of clear finish. The black in the grooves doesn't show as much in real life as it does in the pictures but I'll see about cleaning that up a bit too... carefully... so I don't have to make a third one - VBG.

The turquoise t-shirt I'd started was getting to be a whole lot more work to finish than starting over. The hemline was too long, the sleeve cap needed adjustments, and yet... still... again... for the third time... I needed to lower the neckline. Sigh, sigh. Since I had more fabric, I cut another version using an already altered Vogue 9057 and now it's done and ready and good and enough. I'll use the first t-shirt for a refashion.

But the first skirt wouldn't leave me alone. It kept chatting away about how perfect the colours were and how it brought the outfit together and how surely couldn't I do something with it. I decided to make a cardigan and redrafted the t-shirt pattern to add slightly more width to the shoulders and lower the armhole a half inch for greater comport and then divided the pieces into sections so the fabric print would get chopped up and seamed together.

There wasn't enough fabric in the skirt for the whole cardigan so the front pieces and the lower back sections are cut from the skirt and the sleeves were removed from an 80s, complete with shoulder pads, black velour jacket I found at the thrift store (prior to the spending fast and now in stash) and the upper back was cut from the back of the jacket. When I sew them together, I can figure out if more is need on the upper back. We'll see.

HOW FUN... that the fabric that started this outfit is also the fabric ending the outfit. And what a great creative journey.

Although I did finish a purse to go with outfit one, I'm waiting on the rest of them until I've finished all the clothing and necklaces. I'd rather use one black purse for all then not complete the outfits.

Tonight is the opening reception of the 18 exhibit at the art gallery. I ended up finishing two piece - one the more realistic flat houses and the other an abstract. Both are 18" x 18" as is the whole show - hung in tiles. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

These are the first textile wall art pieces I've done in almost ten years so I'm pleased that I finished them and that I entered them in the exhibit since my skills are rusty AND I'm pleased to realize that they were fun to do for this exhibit and even so, I have no desire to return to textile wall art. I'm really enjoying exploring creative clothing. It does give me a way of participating though and that's good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - nearing the finish with outfit one.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Practice & Progress

I am having SO MUCH FUN in my studio right now. I love this time of the year between the holidays and spring with so much opportunity for creativity. It's especially exciting to have The Outfit Project to work although not everything is going smoothly. I am having some major battles with Resistance but for the most part, I'm winning. YES YES!

I'm pretty sure I mentioned earlier that I'm feeling more confident and finding my way of incorporating some of the learning I experienced at my first Design Outside The Lines Workshop in June 2012. While I wanted to work with stencils and paint right away, it took a while to realize that I prefer more of an all over design than a specific statement moment because I prefer my moments to be necklaces. Knowing that, it's easier to develop these skills in a way that works for me. In the time since, I've done some surface design work here and there but I'm nowhere near competent in the way that I'd like to be. I need practice.

For Outfit 2's dress, I used three floral stencils ranging from small to a grouping and created floral motifs that fell into larger shapes and clusters as they moved down the dress. Before making the dress, I'd already knit the bolero and knew that it would cover most of the upper front. I left the bodice stencil-free in order to draw attention upward toward the necklace and my face. The dress is sewn from an Ikea curtain panel. The results are only okay and I don't love it enough to fix it so it'll be a day dress - worn for a day - and then turned into a bag of some kind. I am thankful for the opportunity to play with several ideas like the tied on hemline, stencils, and what can be done with a curtain.

I do love the statement necklace I created to go with this outfit. I started by isolating a section of my hand painted fabric using the shape of the pendant from a necklace I'd bought to recycle from the thrift store. I traced the pendant shape onto paper, cut it out, and then used the viewing hole to find the section I liked most.

I traced the section with chalk and it was layered with batting and embellished with hand and machine stitching and then wrapped around the purchased pendant. The position shifted somewhat but with chalk, it's easy to erase the lines. It's a tool I use frequently.

The beads were from a set of three wooden bracelets that was marked down for clearance. I'd been wondering what I'd use for the chain because nothing in my collection was quite right and then, there they were. Synchronicity. I love when that happens and I am really happy with the results. Ever since I first saw Diane's textile jewelry in 2012, I've wanted to discover how to create my version and I've had some really ugly trial pieces and only one other that I wear regularly. I can see with this piece that I'm making progress. . Diane prefers pins and bracelets and I prefer necklaces. I like the way that also influences finding my voice - I'm inspired by but nowhere near copying. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a textile pendant I love.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Collage Answered...

One of the coaches I approached answered with a very nicely worded email that basically said - paraphrased by me - I'm really busy. I don't think you have what it takes. I don't want to work with you. I've learned when I get these types of responses to stop and, instead of wallowing in ouch, look at what it is that person is seeing that I'm not feeling.

Do I have what it takes? In the past thirty years, I've taught locally, on-line, and across North America. I have spoken to groups from 5 to 50 to 500. I've designed a line of patterns, written a regular column, published four books, self published one book, and developed and taught over two dozen workshops. I've studied design and fit and fashion at numerous levels from personal to international and I've maintained a blog for almost as long as blogging has been around SO... yes I have what it takes. OR...

... more realistically speaking, I had what it takes. Do I have it now? While introducing myself, I told the coach about my priorities of work-life balance, continuing to develop my own creativity, and putting relationships first. These are such vital priorities now because they've been areas of difficulty in the past.

For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about making a collage so when my friend Francine was here this weekend, we both made one. My question was what does the next year hold? The collage answered first with an overall impression of calm and making a home and then with more specific details.

How I live my life is my choice. That's a simple fact however, simple and easy are not at all the same thing and very often something that is both simple and meaningful is also a lot of hard work. Simple. Not easy.

The older I get, the more important it is to me to live an authentic life and not one that is dictated by what "they" say. Why should I wear yellow if I don't like yellow or tights when they make me look like a lollipop or tiny jewelry when I prefer statement necklaces or paint my house muted colours when I like bold ones or... or... or... I have found a huge amount of freedom in ignoring the trends and doing what works for me. It's way more fun. And makes me eccentric. One day - since I'm getting older - I'll be an eccentric old lady and that has a delightful ring.

In 2017, my goal was to work toward holistic health meaning emotional, spiritual, physical, relational, and financial health as well as abundant creativity. I've since realized that this will be a lifetime goal and that at any given time I'll be working more on one area than another. The phrase The Art of Piecing speaks to me about combining together all the ingredients that maintain my priorities and fill out my life. Every time I sift and sort my home or my studio, I am picking through the pieces and determining what no longer works for me and what needs to be added. Each day I craft my existence.

Master the money issue is a really Really REALLY important phrase especially as it doesn't appear to fit with the rest of the collage. I am not terrible with money nor am I hugely in debt yet I'm also not amazing with money and I have debt that I'd rather not. I'm an intelligent, mature, responsible, reliable woman and I know I can do better in this area. I also believe that what I see in the collage is God's answer to my prayers about guidance and future direction and it is entirely possible that if I do not become far more proactive in this area, I will miss out on some of blessing and adventure that is meant to be mine. We made the collages on Friday and later that afternoon, I found Gail Vaz-Oxlade's book Debt-Free Forever on the bargain table at a local bookstore. I call that guidance too.

Working on The Outfit Project is really exciting for me. I can see that I am beginning to find my voice with creative everyday clothing and that I'm taking learning and applying it specifically to who I am and what I want which IS to life fully, to live authentically, to develop my personal style, to be who I am now and who I am becoming, to make a statement whether with a necklace or a comment, and to make it - life - memorable. The collage is covered with phrases like these. It was a bit of a surprise. I didn't realize how much I was feeling called to savor life more fully.

This picture of the woman's back will definitely mean different things to different people. To me, it exudes calm and confidence and a peaceful resting of the soul which is what I also associate with rocking chairs and I'm particularly fond of wicker rocking chairs. This one looks very much like the one I bought when I was pregnant with my first child. It has a strong association with hearth, home, and family.

I know I've mentioned previously that food, fitness, and finances are three areas I'm working on and as you can see, they all found their way into the collage. Parking thirty minutes away and walking to and from journal time at Starbucks is helping with fitness. Right after I post this, I'll start on the assignments in Gail's book and work on finances. Food is simple. It's not easy. I need to work out a plan to learn new tricks and retrain my taste buds.

If you'd like to make a collage, here is how I approach it. First, I chose an open and specific question such as what does the next year hold as opposed to am I supposed to be in business. Next, I cut a piece of poster board to the size I want to work with. Having a predesignated size forces me to really pick and choose what images and phrases get to be in the collage because I will have more pictures and phrases than space. After that, I pick about half a dozen magazines whose cover calls to me in some way. For my collage I picked one Oprah, one sewing, two gardening, and three home decor magazines. Then I quickly go through the magazines page by page and pull out anything that appeals to me and after that I go back through what I've pulled out and cut out only the phrase or part of the image that speaks to me. I do not make do. If it's not 100%, I don't keep it.

Once all the phrases and images are ready, I begin to place them on the poster board until I'm happy with what is included and how it is arranged and then I glue the pieces down and start looking for the message. Sometimes there will be an image that insists on being in the collage and you don't know why and there doesn't seem to be space for it. The picture of the dress above was like that. Not only did it want to be included, it wanted to be on the path. I may have an idea of what it means but I'm not sure yet however, I do know from experience that...

... more answers will appear over time as I continue to read the collage. You're probably wondering if I decided if I have what it takes to be in business right now. I believe the answer is a measured yes... IF... it's the business I really want, not a compromise or a capitulation. There is a path designed uniquely for me and  I do not need to manipulate and make it happen because doors will open when they are meant to open and if they are not meant to open, I will find peace with that answer. Until then, I can be calm and confident, focus on making a home, developing my creativity, and living holistically including improving the 3Fs - food, fitness, and finances which appear to be 2018's top priorities.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun day making collages with a friend

Friday, January 12, 2018

Still Broken

I have overnight company staying until nine tonight and haven't had a chance to figure out an alternative picture formatting method so... I'll post asap. Hopefully Howard will fix my desktop tomorrow and things will be normal again but if he has to take it away, I can learn a new method - LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a husband who can fix my cars and computers

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

All Words

My computer decided to pack it in last night just as I sat down to write this posting. The tower powered out and won't come back on so I can't access the photos I had ready which makes today's posting all words... written on my notebook. Howard is hoping to fix the computer when he's here on Saturday. I'll figure out a way to get some other photos into Friday's post and show you the stored ones later.

SO.. without pictures...

During my journal time, I read and respond to a daily inspirational reading, a spiritual study, and a creative study. The spiritual study I'm currently working through is Geri Scazzero's book The Emotionally Healthy Woman. The chapter on nine life changing tools includes The Hat of Wisdom and asks the question how can you apply past lessons to a current situation you face today? I think that's a fabulous question, one I wish I'd paid attention to a much younger age when I was circling - what seemed like endlessly - back through the same lessons.

My creativity coaching sessions with Diane were so successful that for the past several months I've been looking for a business coach to help attain some writing and teaching goals. While I've had a wide range of responses from the positive to the negative, in each case the coach was too busy to take me on. When I hit a dead end once or twice I keep trying. When I continuously hit a dead end, I've learned that life will be calmer if I just wait for the next step on the path to unfold.

Perhaps I will eventually have a business coach and perhaps that's not what's meant to happen. Either is okay. The bonus of looking for one has been clearly defining my priorities and goals. The younger me made decisions around business, creativity, and relationships that the current me is not willing to make. There's a verse that keeps running through my head. It's Mark 8:36 which reads what good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you. What could you ever trade your soul for?

Success now does not look at all like success did thirty years ago. Now, success is about maintaining a good work life balance, about  putting my creative development first before sharing with others, and about maintaining healthy relationships. If I have to alter one of these priorities to be a successful in my business goals, then that's not a success I want. I will instead chose to be successful out of business.

I've also learned how important it is to do the things (or not do the things) I want to do (or don't want to do). Several people have told me that blogging is becoming a thing of the past and that if I want to become known and hired as an instructor, I will need to become involved in some form of social media. It's not hard to tell that blogging is shifting magazines about blogging - like Artful Blogging - profile Instagram accounts and when once prolific bloggers haven't posted in months. However... I like blogging and I believe that's a key ingredient in living a healthy life. There are lots of things we have to do; there need to be things we want to do as well and not just for what they will get us.

In the studio, I've been working on the dress to go with the tied together bolero. I cut the front and back pieces of Vogue 1410 and then used three different sizes of flower stencils to create small to large flowers that were spaced further to closer apart from the top to the bottom of the dress. I'm not good at stenciling... yet... but I've did my best with what I knew and the results are good and enough - as good and enough as I can make them. And next time, my good and enough will be even better. I'm more about learning and developing now and not at all about perfection any more. Which doesn't mean sloppy. It means that being more realistic is a whole lot more fun and takes me places I'd never go if I strove only for perfection.

The dress is made using the remainder of the curtain panels. There is nothing precious about this fabric. It's polyester. It's a curtain. In fact, this may be a day dress - as in worn once for a day. Longevity was not the point. The point for me is exploring the potential of The Outfit Project and of each individual starting point and following those ideas down the what if path. When I looked at the panel and thought what if I... that was enough. This is vastly different than how the younger me sewed fashions. That was more about tailoring and couture techniques and the very best of the very best. Now, while I do my best on every stage, I'm less interested in a perfectly produced product and far more interested in a delightfully explored creative path. At one point in the past, I was so burned out that I didn't even know if I liked fabric anymore. That's a place I never want to return to and I'm so grateful that now I'm excited, overflowing with ideas, and enjoying time in the studio. YES YES!

The outfits are for the March Design Outside the Lines Retreat in Ashland, Oregon. The first retreat I went to was in June 2012 and I am only now getting to some of the ideas that started dancing in my head at that time. Not only does it take time to process so much new learning and ways of being creative and put them into action, life keeps doing its up and down, ebb and flow, at the same time. Now, five and a half years later, I feel like I'm finding my voice, that I'm taking those lessons and applying them to how I dress and how I live and how I like to create. I'm thrilled to be working in my studio and creating from that place of exploration and curiosity that first attracted me to creative everyday wear. The journey, the creative process, the fun of making things, is what I now find precious and I'm not willing to lose that for anything.

What creative lessons have you learned in the past that are influencing how you work today?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - lessons learned, priorities