Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Two Dozen Challenge

One of the reasons why I want to simplify fit is to maximize creativity. In reference to my art career, I refer to any format within which we can be creative as a blank canvas. Blank canvasses come in all sizes and shapes. A writer calls it the empty page. I want t-shirts and blouses, pants and jackets, skirts and dresses to be the blank canvasses within which I am creative with sewing.




With knitting, my current blank canvas is the scarf format which I chose because gauge is less relevant, because scarves don't need to be seamed or fitted and - for me - because I rarely wear them making practicality and wearability less important issues than meditative stitching and creative expression. That's freeing and there's something about less pressure that lets us risk and be more playful.

A scarf seems like a simple object and yet think about how many different scarves you know of. Within the structure of a scarf, with only square, triangle, or rectangle shapes, the possibilities are endless.

The silk scarf above is a gift from my friend Patti. Right now, Millicent is wearing it and I love looking at the richness of the color and stoking its silky surface every time I walk by. The design was created with stamps, resists, and overlapping dyes. It's a gorgeous gift and I will wear it but most likely not very often and that's okay. In fact, in terms of creativity, I think there's a tremendous amount to be gained by removing the to be worn by me parameter. 




Another blank canvas for me is Simplicity 2745, a little girl's coat ranging from size 3 to 8. The one above was sewn for my friend's granddaughter and you can see how much she loves it. I've sewn this coat with the quilted (by me) fabric above, with bleached, dyed, and refashioned t-shirts, with a sweater knit, with a wool blend (twice), and I have some ideas floating around for creating another version with the remnants from the Koos skirt. In art, we call that working in series. Working in series stretches your creative abilities by building one idea on top of another which is why...

... I'm considering The Two Dozen Challenge by which I mean choosing twenty-four patterns to work with exclusively for a predetermined length of time. At first, I contemplated a dozen patterns and then started to panic that a dozen would not be enough although it would be especially as I'd allow myself to borrow design elements from the other patterns in my rather extensive collection because why reinvent the wheel BUT... if twenty-four makes me feel calmer, twenty-four is what it MIGHT be.

In essence, this challenge would be about working with a T & T and most of us have done that but what I'm thinking about is to having somewhere between 1 and 24 well fitted patterns and then using those exclusively to create variations on the theme and see what the experience teaches me and how much it develops my creative skills.

Knowing that all patterns develop from basic blocks, I have a sense of excitement around the possibilities inherent within the parameters of this challenge and within the blank canvass patterns that would be chosen. Experience tells me that even a bad choice could lead in amazing directions and even so, I've been contemplating this challenge for several months and I'm not quite ready to commit.

In the past, I have worked like this with textile art and it was highly beneficial, an experience worth modifying and repeating. For the first time since my return to fashion sewing, I think my sewing skills, my sense of adventure, my calmness of mind, and my awareness of my style are all reaching a place where a challenge such as this is actually possible, even desirable. I know for it to work, the possibilities of the patterns I choose need to truly seem endless. I'll be giving my studio a good cleaning some time soon and plan to go through the pattern stash then and evaluate the challenge further.

Have you done anything like this? If you could choose twenty-four patterns, what categories would you chose and how many patterns would you put in each category? Does a challenge like this interest you? Do you see it as limiting or limitless? While - as I said - I'm not ready to commit yet, I am giving it serious thought because many of the artists I admire work in this way and I believe it would take the focus off fit and put it on creativity where I really want it to be. What are your thoughts?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - past experiences that can lead to future growth

17 comments:

  1. good morning, Myrna! You never cease to make me THINK! I'm going to contemplate the 24 patterns (or whatever number) idea and see where it takes me. Thanks again for always making me smile when I see that you've put up a new post, 'cause I never know what new ideas you're going to present.

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    1. LOL - that made me laugh. I'm glad you're happy to think. I have the gift of taking thinking to extraordinary - and not always necessary - levels. It's nice to share my thoughts and have them well received.

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  2. 24 patterns is too00o much for 'me'. But I like your 2 dozen idea (well, I like all all of your ideas!) and I'm wondering if I can take one pattern, and make a dozen tops out of it. It will go inline with one of my goals this yr - to arrive at a TNT pattern. If I keep tweaking it, maybe by the time I reach 12, It will look good with all that practice?

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    1. I think the number of patterns picked will be influenced by the time frame. Right now, I'm evaluating two years keeping in mind that current details can be added to the core garments meaning it's not like I wouldn't still be (accidentally) in style but more importantly there'd be a huge focus on my style.

      YES - one pattern, a dozen tops, you'll have learned a LOT. Two dozen and you'll be miles ahead especially as you evolve into cardigans and dresses and jackets from that same top pattern. All garments develop from the same base.

      TNTs are so worth the work of developing. I have a few and they would definitely be in my mix of patterns.

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  3. Your 24 pattern concept makes me think. I like re-sewing patterns I've tweaked to fit me. My style is fairly classic. I'd have more basic patterns for bottoms - pants and skirts, and be more daring with tops. That is already reflected in the wardrobe in my closet and in my patterns.

    Love that pink coat on the little girl.

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    1. She is quite adorable isn't she.

      Sewing a pattern more than once is a huge benefit to having it come together wit increasingly improved results and then if we add the ability to evolve and be creative within that format there's lots of room for daring. YEAH. I can see you enjoying this format.

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  4. I think it is a great idea. I have not sewn.that many patterns yet myself, but i have sewn one up to 5 times. Each version are different, length, in sleeves, depth of cowl, really teaching me how beneficial it is to have a tnt pattern that i can go to over and over. The concept is awesome i think esp when i have a precious pc of fabric that i want to sew with there and then and do not want to risk it by making in style i m not sure i will like and questionable fit, and making muslin for that process again is too long. Just grab the trusty TNT that i know i love, and sew it in that pc of fabric, and i'll have a garment i know will be perfect for me.

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    1. LOVE your enthusiasm and you've nailed it right on. The wonderful benefit of a TNT is to know that you can pick it up and sew it with success using your most expensive or favorite fabric. There will always be a fabric factor but once a pattern is adjusted for the body's shape, typically issues around fabric factor are minor and doable in the process of sewing. YES YES - good for you. I hope you'll develop some more TNTs. How long have you been sewing fashions for? It sounds like you might be newer to sewing.

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    2. Oh yes, am very new at sewing fashions. In fact i just pick up machine sewing after i gave birth to my son 2.5 yrs ago, and sewing clothes after i became full time stay at home mom when he turned 1. Sewing really helps me not to turn too batty. ;) im just learning slowly, with each project i think. My learning need is like audio, visual and hands on. Just reading will not cut it. Just listening also will not do. Just watching, okay i might catch on, but watch and then i do it, now that makes more sense to me, and i will retain more info that way. :)

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    3. You are what is called a kinesthetic learner - or a tactile learner - which means that you learn best by doing. A friend of mine has a fabulous teaching method that she describes as the first time I talk and I do, the second time I talk and you do, the third time you talk and you do and by then you'll be okay. She's a kinesthetic learner as well - as are many people who create. I learn by reading and doing. It's much harder for me to learn from listening.

      WELCOME to fashion sewing. You'll find it amazing, addictive, and never ending. It's a fabulous way to not go batty. I've been sewing for almost thirty years and I'm no where near the end of learning. New frontiers are constantly opening up.

      PLEASE keep in mind as you read my blog that I tend to go to the extremes. I'm all about encouraging you to your best so please ask questions but don't think that sewing needs to be as complicated as I might be making it. I like to try a lot of theories and it sometimes seems like I don't have a clue which way is up, but I do, I'm just exploring. It's how I learn - try this, try that, figure it out, see what happens. When I'm presented with a new idea I like to evaluate it and see if it applies to me in any way and then I like to share what I learned. And then I just might change my mind when I evaluate it further or learn something new.

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  5. "I want t-shirts and blouses, pants and jackets, skirts and dresses to be the blank canvasses within which I am creative with sewing. "

    This is just so much the direction that I have been travelling in my own sewing work. I cannot imagine the wealth it would be to have even a dozen TNT patterns, much less two dozen. I currently have six: a knit top, a woven bias front top, two very different sleeveless dresses/pinafores and two very different bodices that are used for the top half of my everyday pinafores by attaching a simple one piece pattern gored skirt to them. I will admit to being occasionally tempted to purchase patterns, more often for a particular design detail than for actually making up to wear. There are three more clothing designs that I would really like to have as TNT patterns, a button front blouse with a stand collar, a simple pair of pants, and a jacket with a two piece sleeve. I have found that having an assortment of basic patterns has allowed me to put my focus on the decorative details that are what interest me and that I find pleasurable to work on.

    My personal goal is to have a small curated collection of basic patterns that please me, and I have been working sporadically on this goal since 2004, which was the year that I decided that I wanted to have a tee shirt that fit me. The pattern that I adapted and fit that year, over the course of several months, is one that I have used ever since with great success, and inspired my goal of having a wardrobe of basic patterns in my personal style. I think that I could be happy with an even dozen patterns, the nine clothing pieces mentioned, and three lingerie patterns (sports bra, regular bra, and underpants). That would cover pretty much all my clothing needs.



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    1. SIX ! ! ! How fabulous for you.

      One thing I want to keep in mind when choosing is that a dress shortened is a top, a top lengthened is a dress, a dress with the bottom cut off is a skirt, a dress with more ease and a raised shoulder for shoulder pads and an opening down the front is a coat, a coat shortened is a jacket and made from knit it's a cardigan, and... and... and... When I start to think about all the possibilities in just a dress pattern, it seems so fun.

      LVOE your goal of a small group of curated patterns. I think that's where I'm heading although I fully intend to pull in design elements from other patterns so I doubt I'll stop buying ones that have a very different element that I don't want to figure out.

      To be honest - my mind is now debating two plus a dozen as in two dozen basic patterns and one dozen more out there avante garde ones because I love those too and I don't see a reason to re-invent them but I know I need some boundaries to both limit and actually sew them BUT my main focus is the core patterns.

      The categories I've been considering are knit tops, blouses, skirts, pants, dresses, coats, lingerie, and accessories.

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  6. Since I'm so picky about fit (see my reply yesterday) TNT's are the only way I get any sewing done!LOL

    I think I'm at about 12-15 now but that number could be increased if you add the ability to use a top pattern as a basis for a dress.

    A approach my sewing in terms of seasons-cool/cold and warm/hot. Each season I work on a new TNT for that season. If I'm lucky I can get two done for warm/hot since they seem to have less fit issues for some reason.

    I'm very creative in changing the details to change the looks but not as creative with the embellishment aspect as you are. I'm patiently impatient! As an example-when you twin needled all the knit to make the ribbed fabric for the sweater. Never, ever in a million years would I have the patience to do that but I will completely rip something apart that's done and wearable if I think something needs to be changed!

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    1. Excellent. 12-15 is an enviable number. I'll be there one day - LOL. I wouldn't have thought of seasonal since my clothes typically span all seasons but that's a great idea to consider. Thanks.

      LOL - maybe I'm just crazy - for some reason I tend to like making things that are labour intensive which is definitely why I want TNTs. That said, I just finished a skirt and love the fabric and the look but didn't like how it came together so I'm going to take most of it apart and do it again. I can totally relate to that.

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  7. I've been struggling with fit so I decided to start over again with new measurements. After I create a sloper using the computer drafting program , I want to refine some of my current patterns to develop a sew of TNT patterns. I want to be able to combine a computer pattern with a commercial pattern. By the time that I'm done, I want to have a set of patterns for tops (knit and woven),dresses, pants, skirts and a princess seam jacket.

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    1. This is a VERY good path. It's the one I was on before. What I did was buy a Vogue fitting shell and then have a seamstress fit me in the shell and then I transferred those measurements to my computer program and worked with it until I could print out a pattern that identically copied the fitted shell. After that, I used Lynda Maynard's method from her book DeMystifying Fit to use the computer print-out to adjust commercial patterns. Worked FABULOUSLY. I'm coming to similar findings this past few days and my friend Lorraine - the couture seamstress - is going to fit me later on in May when we both have time. I'd gotten away from the program because of a computer upgrade. I may be figuring that out asap.

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  8. I love the idea of TNTs and am working towards a few myself, slowly. But i've been experimenting with my preferred optimal size of wardrobe for the last three years and 24 TNTs would send me into overwhelm! And, for me, i've never had much success with seeing any garments as 'blank slates'. Once i've decided i'm going to make, say, a layering tank for me, any number of options are off the table right away. But then, my approach is more 'i want clothes to wear that i like and don't bug me' and not so much 'expressing my creativity'. I'm also extremely sensitive to even very minor variations in texture, color, and so on - which also means that i don't have to worry about running out of possibilities :)

    We are all so different in these areas! i think it's great people lay out their preferences and the ways they like to think about things, it helps other to define their own preferences and ideas. Which makes sewing in a way that pleases you all that much more likely! Hooray for diversity! steph

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.