Perky would NOT be the word to describe me yesterday. Exhausted. Crabby. Those are both good options. Not much happened. The fabric is washed, dried, folded, and in the stash closet and that's as good as it got. The laundry is still waiting.
Stitching was beyond me but I did start taking the alphabet quilt apart. After separating the blocks, I cut the green borders off the edge of each letter block. It was going to take a tremendous amount of work to unstitch those strips for very little gain as I want to condense and combine the letters onto pages in the new book.
There were twenty-seven pieced blocks. Twenty-five of them will become a small quilt and I'll reuse the green backing and red binding if possible. I'd forgotten that the blocks were sewn using a quilt-as-you-go method. That means I can't replace the batting as I'd originally hoped but it'll still work.
The original quilt was sewn in 1986 and was the third quilt I'd made. Taking it apart illustrated the growth in my skills and abilities. I no longer use polyester batting, or cotton thread, or straight of grain binding, or quilt as you go methods, or primary colors. Today, I wouldn't use white thread with green fabric, single fold binding, or basted turning stitches, and I no longer cross-stitch. Come to think of it, I no longer quilt either. Since I'm not a keeper of things, it's very rare for me to have a piece of my earlier work and even rarer to take it apart and refashion it. That alone makes the project fun.
Last week, I attempted to watch a YouTube video and instead got caught up in a Dove Real Beauty Sketch ad in which a forensic artist makes two drawings of several women. The first drawing is of how each woman describes herself and the second is of how someone else describes her. The differences are eye opening.
Taking the quilt apart reminded me of the ad and of how much we individually grow and evolve over the course of twenty-seven years. I am not at all the same woman who made this quilt so many years ago. While some struggles remain, overall I am more confident, more sure of myself, less willing to settle, able to say no, and happier with who I am and where I'm at in life. Getting older has some pluses.
In my case, now that I'm in my 40s, I find myself wanting to dress not necessarily younger but edgier. Classics that I once loved, like tailored bouclé jackets and basic LBDs, suddenly seem aging. I want to push my boundaries, to find silhouettes that are modern and clean and have a twist. I need a little funk. Not a lot. But enough to keep it all interesting." - Jennifer Alfano
In a recent posting, Erica B wrote about What I'm Wearing/My Uniform and included the quote above from an article in Harper's Bazaar. I'd just been thinking along similar lines, especially after shopping with Mary. Although she's almost a decade younger than me, we are both finding it hard to dress at our age... which I think is a subtle difference on dressing our age because, as the article says, it's not so much about what's age appropriate as what's appropriate for you.
While someone our age or older might wear a garment with confidence, that doesn't mean we can wear it with confidence. I love tights. I think they go fabulously with so many outfits. And every time I wear them, I feel like I'm playing dress-up so I'm trying to figure out which tights with which skirts or dresses would work for me and I think it comes back to the uniform idea that Erica and the article talk about.
In my 30's and 40's, I was a work-from-home Mom and my uniform was jeans and a t-shirt. It was both familiar and the rut that I've been working to get out of and yet, if I think about what is my uniform now, it is still jeans or a skirt, with a knit top, with a cardigan, with a statement necklace. And there's something comforting about accepting that fact and then working to make that look edgier.
On the drive back from my daughter's, I stopped for lunch. As a woman walked by my table on the way to the exit, I caught a glimpse of her high back hips and thought old lady pants and then flood pants because they were a cropped length BUT... looking closer... they were actually linen with interesting seaming that reminded me of a Marcy Tilton pattern only the woman had paired them with an ill fitting, crew neck t-shirt, athletic socks and running shoes, no jewelry, no make-up, no hair, and a mismatched bag. The pants by themselves, I actually liked. The total look wasn't doing much to flatter her. I mentioned that not to criticize this woman but to say that her choices made me think about mine.
It's easy to slip into a rut where we're not making much effort and it's easy to give up when the effort we're making doesn't seem to be paying off. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out my style and yet, perhaps, that's not actually what I've been doing. Perhaps, I've been spending that time trying to change my style. Instead of embracing who I am and building on that base, it's quite possible that I've been "trying on" someone else's clothes, which is - of course - playing dress-up.
Dress-up is not necessarily bad. It's a great way to evaluate new ideas and see if they can be incorporated into the way you're moving through life. Some can; some can't. Yesterday, while I was taking apart the quilt, I watched another episode of What Not To Wear. The woman profiled - Christine - was a graphic artist. She wanted to dress in a way that expressed her individuality and creative perspective. Yes, me too! The answer? Details.
As Oprah used to say - I still really miss that show - it's all in the details. My skirt or jeans and a knit shirt uniform are perfectly fine if the clothing fits and flatters me and the accessories add sparkle and interest. Instead of rejecting it, that basic outline is an excellent place to build from.
A comment that comes up frequently in WNTW is that we'll need to feel uncomfortable to move beyond what we have been wearing and into what we could be wearing and yet, if you watch each episode to the end, when the women find the garments that suit them, they are incredibly pleased with how they look and say something along the lines of this feels like me. They are comfortable, which means uncomfortable is only a momentary step between where you are and where you are going. That's good to know.
Today, I'm going to think about skirts which I love and jeans which I love and knit t-shirts which I love and cardigans which I love and statement necklaces which I love and about how I can make those parts of my uniform more interesting and more edgy in a way that feels like me at fifty. And I'll think about shoes and bags and whether those are elements I want to incorporate or not. Right now, I'm a black girl - black shoes, black bag, rarely rotated. That might need to change if I want to embrace sparkling accessories and edgy details. Time will tell.
What have you been learning about your style? What can stay the same and what would you like to change?
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - twenty-seven years of sewing progress