Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Edgy Details

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


  1. Sorry you're having a crabby day! Those always make it hard for me to be productive. I hope it passes soon.

    I don't comment often enough! I love reading your blog. I always find myself nodding as I read. We are in such different places in our lives, but I think the search for comfortable style is a universal - or at least it is for me! Thanks for writing so much that makes me think.

    1. LOL - today is better. I was just catching up on tired.

      Thanks so much for your kind comments about the blog. I'm glad it makes you think. There seem to be questions at every stage and some of them are the same. I know that when I was your age with three children, I often wondered where the me in this equation was and now that I'm older with adult children, the search for me is the same, just shifted. Expressing ourselves, being all that we were created to be, appears to be a life long journey.

  2. Well! Step into my wheelhouse! I have spent the last couple of years trying to figure out how to dress this new body of mine. It's a good body (that was a tough one to accept), but it doesn't look like it did in my twenties, which was the last time I gave my clothing any real thought. Then I had kids and I was too busy, and I settled into my uniform too. I spent quite awhile trying out the vintage-based styles that were all over the place, but the truth is that I am pretty much straight up and down from shoulders to hips, so all that waist accentuation just made me look bigger.

    It's very frustrating to not know what to put on in the morning that will make me feel good and feel appropriate for my day. I love clothes. I spend a lot of my time making them. Yet I have struggled lately with finding things that felt like they expressed who I am, rather than what was on sale at Superstore when I got my groceries.

    I guess what I want to say is that I get it. It's totally emotional and crazy making and defies all logic. Much like parenting teenagers some days.... No wonder I feel like a drink more often than not!

    Hugs from here.

    1. Hugs back...

      At every age, things shift... but... from today's perspective at least... it seems to me that the answers are "simply" variations on a theme, that the things we've been attracted to all along will always be the things we are attracted to with shuffles in perspective. LOL - sounds good in theory. Definitely crazy making. Not sure a drink will help - VBG. More sewing. More fabric. Those sound like great solutions.

      The uniform concept appears to be a good answer to what to put on in the morning. Helpful anyway. It bridges gaps. I totally understand loving clothes and still struggling. Go figure. One wonders why? Perhaps to keep us involved and interested. Brain stimulation is always good for over thinkers like myself.

  3. I think crabby days can be a great help in getting to the bottom of something. Do you know the website You Look Fab? It's a great resource, with a wise woman with a generous spirit and open heart behind it. (And a supportive husband behind her.) Elle

    1. LOL - I don't think there was much to get to the bottom of other than a need for sleep and some time alone and to readjust to being home. I always come back from a holiday thinking that I'll have the energy to do a million things and it's never so. And I never seem to learn either. Today, I'm moving slow.

      I vaguely remember that website name. I'll look it up. Thanks.

  4. nothing wrong with playing dress! As you say, it can help clarify your thinking. I think we all have our true uniform; the trick is to enjoy tweaking it and making it fresh.

    By the way, your story of that logging truck really made my heart stop. We see them around here, and I give them a lot of room!

    1. I loved playing dress-up when I was a little girl and I especially loved Barbie dolls. My games were all about the outfits and the home décor. Makes me laugh. Even then I was not domestic.

      When we were in Oregon and Washington last year, we noticed that the logging trucks are much smaller than the ones in British Columbia. Ours are wider, longer, and higher... probably more terrifying. Normally, safety is not an issue but there are those crazy drivers who take corners too fast and... I was glad to make it home safely.


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