Monday, September 30, 2013

On Being The Same And Being Different

Fall has arrived, not gradually with ever cooling days and fading sunshine but suddenly, like a blast of cold wrapped in blistery clouds. Once again, I haven't prepared. There's no fall jacket hanging in the hall closet, no selection of colorful cardigans in my wardrobe. I'm already behind and as I flip the calendar over into a new month, I'm not going to bother thinking about about why it is this way, yet, still, once again. It doesn't matter. I want to DO something.

I want to sew with a focus on clothing that is definitely fall and winter as opposed to multi-seasonal. I've decided it's boring - because it is - to have clothing that I wear year round. I think there's a certain energy in putting away one wardrobe and bringing out another that I'm not currently experiencing and would enjoy. It's a huge shift in thinking because while it's probable that in my childhood or early adulthood I had seasonal wardrobes, it's so far back that I can't remember - which - wonderfully - also makes it an exciting new adventure.

Friday night, I went snoop shopping to look at the new fall lines and two words came to mind - boring and repetitive. When clothing made from multiple fabrics first appeared on the market, it was fresh, creative, and interesting but now the stores are full of these garments and everyone is wearing them. For me to also wear them feels like choosing to become a carbon copy. Not. One thing I love about sewing and about life at my age is the ability to ignore whatever trend I don't want to participate in and to do my own thing.

All of the pictures in this posting are from Peruvian Connection, one of my favourite inspiration sources. What I notice (once again) with these images is my preference for simplicity, clean lines, and texture and the similarity between the garments that attracted me and the patterns in my stash. The Flora Pima Cotton Tee - $89.00 - is a version of my T & T t-shirt pattern New Look 6735 while the Essex skirt - $179.00 - is easily sewn with Burda 8213.

The Legacy Lace skirt - $349.00 - above is very similar to Simplicity 5914 and the Miranda Lace dress - $269.00 - below is an incredibly common shape for me fitted through the bodice and waist before flaring out from the hips. There are a good dozen patterns in my stash with this shape. I even sewed a version out of a denim blue lace for my birthday in 2012 that except for the color is very similar to this image.

The style lines of the t-shirt, the skirts, and the dress are familiar to me and often repeated in my wardrobe choices.  I remember buying, and absolutely LOVING, and wearing endlessly, a sage green, baby cord, skirt just like the Essex, just like Burda 8213 when I was sixteen. The styles drew my eye once again because of these particular fabric choices and yet at another time, in another season, with difference fabric choices, the same style lines would still draw my eye because they're my lines which leads to a discussion we've had before on being the same and being different - as in how to reinterpret "old" lines in new ways. It is - to me - a fascinating topic.

The Bergama Cardigan - $259.00 - is virtually identical to the black cardigan I've worn almost every day through spring and fall for the past five years. All that's different is the fabric choice - a print versus a black rib... which is good... because that's easy to re-create... which is good... because mine is about to wear out and I LOVE THAT SWEATER.

The ability to identify our favourite styles lines and to reinterpret them is a wonderful advantage of sewing. Take for instance the Cotabamba Jacket - $289.00 - and its similarity to Marcy's Vogue 8430. Because I sew, I'm neither restricted to purchasing it in this fabric nor to sewing it in Marcy's choices. I can recreate it in my own way. We all can. That's such a gift to explore - to connect the words fall and winter with waterfall cardigan with fuchsia sweater knit with bound edges with... with... with... To connect all the dots and choices to create our fashions our way.

I was intrigued with Juliane's comment on Friday that she'd written down fourteen Myrna methods for putting back together a squiggly line down center front. Those kinds of exercises are so fantastic for our creativity even if we never actually sew that squiggly line. In our mind, we sewed it. In our mind, we thought through an issue and developed and grew and should we chose to follow through with sewing, we'll grow in new ways as I did when the idea I had for the ties on the purple t-shirt didn't work out the way I'd hoped.

Sometimes, the ideas that appear are ideas that keep reappearing. When I look at the Shadow Lace Tee - $79.00 - I see Katherine's Vogue 8691 and while it'd be easier to achieve a similar look through fabric choice what immediately comes to mind for me is surface design using stencils and stamps. Surface design is an idea that is constantly jumping up and down, getting more and more vocal, more demanding, more insistent on being explored. And I've started working on that.

In her book Creating A Life Worth Living, author Carol Lloyd talks about having two journals - the Feelings Journal and the Adventure Book. On page 27, she writes: Your Feelings Journal can function in much the same way most journals do: a place to vent angst, joy, sorrow, frustration, and the vaguest of longings (being a movie star, winning the lottery, feeling like a brilliant creative genius). Your Adventure Book will be the place where you chronicle your weirdest creative ideas, your madcap moneymaking schemes, your annoying tasks and routine actions. Don't worry: writing them in the book doesn't mean you are committing to them. Indeed, if you really use this book, you will probably have enough ideas in the first two weeks to last you for two years. But the Adventure Book - unlike the Feelings Journal - engenders proactive dreaming rather than passive peeving.

Many people have one journal that is a blend of the Feelings Journal and the Adventure Book and many artists feel that a sketch book is an essential tool. Because I'm so completely honest about what I write in my journal, I shred those pages daily which means they aren't the place to store creative possibilities. I've tried keeping a sketch book before and it hasn't clicked - rather it seemed like a huge chore and a distraction from the actual work BUT... the Adventure Book sounds less formal, more doable, a place to dream, to make up lists of fourteen Myrna methods, to virtually sew squiggly lines back together, and to lead to proactive dreaming and positive action. Since I'm determined to do less thinking/feeling and more doing/adventure, it could be good.

Today, I am going to pick a decidedly fall and winter fabric and the Burda 8213 pattern and sew a skirt.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - feeling lighter

Friday, September 27, 2013

So I Won't Take My T-Shirt Off In Public

Although this is a much longer story - that began at a much younger age - we'll only go back just over a year ago to when I was packing inspirational pictures for my first Design Outside The Lines workshop. My goal was to learn how to create unique, creative, everyday, wearable garments and I was confident that my skill set and creative abilities were a great starting point from which to attain that goal.

The workshop was FABULOUS, still the absolute best workshop I've ever taken because - for the first time in my life - I was in a group of like minded women, who thought like I thought, did what I did, and looked like I looked and I was with instructors who lived out and taught exactly what I wanted to learn and live out.  It would take something far beyond amazing to top the experience of that workshop. I came home completely energized.

But not productive. I've made progress on my goal but not significant progress, just mediocre baby steps. And although I'd hoped it would push me past the hump, the Design Outside The Lines workshop this past June was not the same experience and pushing past didn't happen. It's not a lack of time. It's not a lack of supplies. It's not a lack of skill and ability. It's not a lack of desire. It's not a lack of inspiration. It's a lack of something.

Wondering led to writing the question What am I afraid of ? at the top of a clean sheet of paper followed by the phrase I am afraid of... followed by everything that came to mind. If you have never done this assignment, you're in for a shock. It's illuminating. While I wasn't surprised by some things, there were a lot of swirly issues below the surface that had never seen the light of day and were only too happy to - finally - be acknowledged. I stopped writing before I ran out of entries.

One of the inspirational photos was this Anthropologie blouse. In retrospect, I have no idea why because I'm not a bow kind of girl only it tickled an idea for creating a t-shirt with a row of ties at center front, an idea that I sat on for over a year - doing nothing - when doing something was a much better approach.

Right after I decided that I was in the 99.9% and that I was never going to make (although apparently we should never say never but you know what I mean) fabric necklaces, I decided that I absolutely had to create this t-shirt because not creating it seemed to be connected with why I was blocked - to use Julia's phrase from The Artist's Way. I decided to pay careful attention to what my critic had to say as I worked and to make whatever decision was needed to push through because God only knows - literally - that I don't need to think more. I need to DO SOMETHING.

First, I chose Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 pattern because I've sewn it numerous times and really like the way it fits and it seemed a "safe" beginning. My critic said nothing. Next, I spent about twenty minutes pulling out of stash and discarding a selection of fabrics while my critic said wrong season, too stretchy, that one's way too expensive to play with, ever heard of pattern matching anyone, really ? ? ? and on... and on... so I picked a plain purple that had more stretch than recommended and opted to use Peggy Sager's solution for matching a knit to a pattern size, which I've used before, with success. For the degree of stretch, I needed to go down four sizes.

Conveniently, I had that size traced but it was from a top I sewed months ago before figuring out which alterations worked best for my body meaning it was okay but only. My critic told me all about how I'd be wasting my time and it wouldn't fit and how I didn't really want to trace and alter another pattern and why didn't I just go read a book and... and... and... I looked at the back of the pattern envelope, subtracted the difference between bust sizes, divided that number by the number of seams, and chose to take that much off each seam allowance. Good enough. Moving forward.

I wanted the ties to follow a curvy line down center front. My critic loved that idea and wanted me to spend hours getting the curve exactly right and then drafting ties off the curve so they'd be evenly spaced along the convex and concave curves and... and... and... After another thirty minutes debating that, I concluded to hell with the curve, straight is good and enough, and offset the center front pattern piece from the fold, extended the lines, and cut it out. Next.

Did you know
, said my critic, that your solution for changing sizes isn't going to work through the upper chest. What about that front princess seam? There isn't one in the back. The shoulder seams won't match. You'll be out by 3/4". You should probably start all over and trace the pattern. NO - I added 3/8" to the top of the princess seams and decided to deal with whatever came up.

Lots came up, particularly at the armhole because the front armhole is one smooth curve and the back armhole has a armscye princess seam that took an additional 3/4" off the back armhole. I dealt with all the issues problem by problem. One at a time. As they came up. And all the way along I kept telling my critic no, I'm pushing through, I'm sewing a t-shirt, and I don't care if it fits or looks good but it's going to be finished by Friday.

I spent considerable time on the center front seam stitching the top and bottom 1/2" right sides together and the remainder wrong sides together and then measuring and cutting strips every 1/2" and then tying the ends in knots and they looked terrible. Crafty. Not sophisticated in any way. Sounds familiar. Ah ha, said my critic, see you're no good at this, what were you thinking, go read your book.

I tried tying bows instead and my critic said, bows, how little girl, oh yeah, that's so you in that it's so not you, and you thought you were designing something unique and individualized, who do you think you're kidding, overtone. I untied all the bows and knots, carefully took out the seam, turned the cut edges to the inside, pinned and pinned and pinned, and then stitched from top to bottom just inside of the cut edges to create a smooth center front seam. The inside - as my critic told me - was one ugly mess. Fine. So I won't take my t-shirt off in public.

At this point, all I had was an ordinary t-shirt with some top stitching along each seam. Nothing special. Nothing especially creative. And my critic agreed taking the opportunity to tell me that I'm not at all creative and definitely not as creative as I thought I was and certainly not anywhere near as creative as Marcy and Diane, and definitely not - who are you trying to fool - as creative as all those other women in my Design Outside The Lines workshop and - BINGO - one problem identified. Apparently, I've been trying to measure up. Why?

Comparing is natural and such a waste of time and I so strongly disagree with comparing ourselves to anyone but ourselves that my guess is I shoved the feelings into my subconscious and let them completely and unknowingly paralyze my productivity. It makes a weird kind of sense. 

One of the things I loved about that first Design Outside The Lines workshop was that - for the first time in all the years that I've been sewing - I was with people who knew more than I did and were better at doing what I loved to do. That hadn't happened before. It was a completely novel experience. Right from the start, in my very first Home Ec class, sewing our stuffed frogs and aprons, I was the one in love with sewing, the one who knew exactly what to do, the over achiever.

In that workshop, for the first time, I wasn't the go to girl. I was there to learn and there was a whole room full of women to learn from and it was good and it was also not something I'd dealt with before. If I'd have been younger, I may have picked up on it sooner but it seems that as inspired as I was, I was also intimidated. What a relief to have identified that. Have you ever had a similar experience? How did you push ahead? This process of growing up completely amazes me. Who would have thought I'd be dealing with emotions like that now.

And I don't think comparing is the entire issue. One of the women shared with me that the first time she heard Diane speak, she cried and cried and cried because she knew that she would never be that creative. Perhaps that would have been a blessing rather than my reaction. When I heard Diane speak, I was completely energized. I knew I was that creative. I just needed to get it out of me BUT... what if I'm wrong? Ah yes... comparing, intimidation, and the fear of failure.

Listening to my critic was a really good idea. It identified the issue and the solution. PUSH THROUGH - DO SOMETHING. My goal was to finish the t-shirt. It didn't matter if I did my most amazing job - or not - whether it fit - or not - whether it was wearable - or not - FINISHED was the criteria. I spaced the cut off rectangles from the rejected ties along center front and then stitched them in place with a zigzag and then folded and stitched a larger rectangle over the top neckline.

And then I pin basted the side seams, tried it on and it fit great through the bust and hips. I'd been worried that I might have taken the seams in too much but it seemed just right pre-sleeves. I inserted the sleeves and fitzed and futzed with the mess I'd made of the armhole and they're not great but not horrible. They are wearable. And then, when it was finished, sleeves and all, I tried the top on again and across the chest it's a bit too snug and oh well, it's not unsightly snug, just a bit snugger than my preference. And it's finished.

The t-shirt is simple and yet innately me. There's texture and line and threadwork and an element of interest at center front that isn't so strong and overpowering that it takes over and outshines my face or eliminates the ability to wear jewelry. I like it. Good and enough. In the picture above, it had just been washed to remove all the chalk lines and was hanging to dry so I can take it to my creativity meet up this morning . YES YES ! ! ! ! !

Right about the time I finished, Steph posted her mission statement and it so closely matched what I was thinking about that it gave me a giggle. Serendipity and all. A mission statement is an excellent idea. I think it would give not only direction but push and I plan to write one as well. It's in draft stage, not as clearly articulated as Steph's because I'm still thinking it through but going forward I'll be comparing me to me and working toward creative everyday wear that matches my personality, my life style, my preferences, and my wearability factors and I recognize that means experimenting with new ideas that might not work out and improving incrementally piece by piece and it means DOING something as opposed to thinking about it. Maybe by Monday I'll have the statement worded the way I want because it seems like a good poster to pin up in the studio.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - two of the little girl twirl coats sold yesterday

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shut Up And Get Going

One of the things Patti and I did on Tuesday was look at the inspiration photos and think about the question how would I - Myrna - make that with fabric? This is a fabulous exercise. It challenges you to combine possibilities with the abilities and techniques already in your skill set and then to evaluate how or if you'd want to use those.

A compilation of shapes, this piece could be approached like a puzzle. An organic shape could be drawn on a large piece of paper and then subdivided into the smaller shapes that comprise the whole. At their simplest, the shapes could be made from individually cut pieces of fabrics... or they could be created from silk fusion... or from thread lace... or they could each be detailed with stitching over layered components like tiny quilts with the possibility of further points of interest in each piece that contributed to the whole. The shapes could be sewn together with beads in-between and the chain could be either simple as shown or a chains or beads or a combination of beads and chains in varying sizes. This piece has a lot of possibilities.

What attracts me to this piece is its asymmetrical and organic shape, the depth of the overlapping pieces, and the beauty of the rich colors contrasted with black. It looks like individually sewn pockets that are stitched together to create the depth that is an integral part of the design. Those same pockets have it sitting right at the edge of crafty because there's a bit of a home-sewn feel about it and yet when I think about creating this in different formats, it loses the uniqueness created by the overlapping pieces and the depth. There are ways; they'd just radically change the outcome and when I think about sewing a whole bunch of little pockets, it makes me want to run screaming in the other direction.

I've seen numerous pieces like this one. They appear to be one big long piece of fabric that is folded and threaded. The curved edge of the folds give a softness and flow to the piece even though the fabric used would have to have enough body to maintain shape. Silk dupioni comes to mind. This seems like something I'd want to do while distracted by talking on the phone or watching TV. I can see how to do it but folding fabric would get boring real quick.

This piece is a compilation of "stuff" much like the discussion of Diane's piece in yesterday's posting. It appears to start with three base shapes of similar size on which three small but related collages are built with connecting elements in the beading and cording. Depth and texture are key ingredients. Like most collage work, it's busy and that's not at all my thing so while I love the colour and texture and tactileness of the piece, I can't ever imagine making something like this and I definitely would not wear it whereas... 

... this piece is far more approachable for my style. It's simple and simple is hard to do. There's no place to hide. It would be an excellent opportunity to play with shape and line and with ways to make the edges look less flimsy and more sophisticated. While it's flat, and flat is a key element in it's composition, there would be an opportunity to create some depth with the choice of supplies and to add beading and embellishment along each seam line as well as within each shape of the overall design. I've made a piece very similar to this and it worked out well and the reason why I'd wear it - the flatness and simplicity with the possibility of a powerful focal point - is also the reason why it'd be boring to make again and again. It doesn't require a broad range of technique.

If I remember correctly, this piece is felted. What I find attractive about it is the depth and the use of color and shadowing to highlight each of the puzzled elements, elements which I think contributed to its size which would overwhelm many women. The answer for creating this piece my way is very similar to the answer for the previous one and for the first two. They are shapes within a shape. Each shape can be individually cut from a piece of fabric that is purchased, dyed, surface designed, fused, or created in some way or with the "small quilt" format. I can see how to develop it, build it, and stitch it and yawn, yawn... that would again get boring real quick.

When Patti and I talked about the design and construction options, we also talked about the challenge level of each option from both an artistic and a technical point of view which included the fun factor. How stimulating, how much fun, how energizing would it be to create pieces like these using those methods? Both of us concluded NOT VERY.

On Wednesday morning, I spent some time journal writing about my favorite jewelry pieces and about the elements any jewelry I wear have and any jewelry I created would need to have. Then I thought about this process that Patti and I had worked through with the above images and our conclusions and I wondered why I was pushing myself forward in a direction that we had already concluded would not be energizing enough. I had major questions and even so, I came home completely prepared to move forward with my attempt because I know I overthink things and I know that sometimes what I really need to do is shut up and get going except when I walked into the studio, I suddenly got very angry.

One of the really tricky things about being an artist is figuring out when you're actually listening to your inner artist and when you're self sabotaging and reacting out of fear. In the past few years, I have made a good half dozen attempts to create fabric jewelry and each time I hit that wall - the one where I recognize the struggle between crafty and sophisticated. Yesterday, I didn't want to push through. I wanted to put it down and leave it down. I wanted to say I am in the 99.9 percent and this is not where I want to invest my time. I thought about these words from Stephanie Marston's book If Not Now, When? ....

At midlife, we become disillusioned, not in the sense of becoming cynical, but in beginning to see life more clearly. The definition of disillusionment is to expose falsehood, to open one's eyes, to accept reality. As we break the spell of our childhood illusions, we experience a greater sense of reality. This allows us to evaluate ourselves and the world more accurately. If we haven't already become a famous rock star, neurosurgeon, or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it's probably not going to happen. Maybe that's really all right. Maybe life is less about what we achieve and more about how we live moment to moment, day to day.

I want to live with exuberance and energy, aliveness and passion. I get that from fabric. I do not get it from fabric jewelry. As Jean commented yesterday, clearly I am not a fan. I do not want to do the things that I would have to do to create fabric necklaces, never mind amazing fabric necklaces. As I discussed the other day, I do want something more than fabric OR... perhaps... I want fabric to be something more. I'll keep experimenting, following up tickles, and walking in that direction and we'll see what happens. I will DO something... like decorate those boxes... and explore painting techniques... and think about their application to fabric.

One of the first assignments in The Artist's Way is to write an affirmation such as I am a brilliant and prolific fabric artist and then record the blurts that your inner critic throws your way. Yes... well... interesting. Those blurts led me to ask what am I afraid of ? and to start on a project I've been thinking about for well over a year. The battle to move forward with it has gotten quite amusing. My critic is having a field day which is all very illuminating and all that other touch-y feel-y stuff BUT...

... I have to say that I'd rather not listen to my critic or my inner artist or analyze any feelings. What I want to do is create and enjoy creating. I want to play in my studio. I have absolutely no idea how I ended up excelling at over thinking and if I were to think about it I'd most likely conclude it has to do with fear or some unspoken goal but I couldn't - or at least I don't want to - care less. Whatever. It's exhausting. I've reached the point of overthinking overthinking and I'm tired of it. ENOUGH. My goal for this year was to do the work. I wouldn't say I'm excelling at that so far but I'm definitely going to work harder at it between now and the end of the year.

Mary Oliver asked - what is it you want to do with this one wild and precious thing called your life? That's an excellent question that requires excellent action.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - putting down and moving on

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spiraling At A New Level

Most of us want to run from our fear. We want to be anyone but who we are and be anywhere but here. Gaining greater maturity involves getting to know our demons and the insecurity they evoke. Most of us consider anger, disappointment, resentment, and frustration as feelings we should avoid. Our emotions actually bring us information about the issues we're facing and what we need. If we accept that struggle and pain are an inherent part of life and are willing to learn from difficult situations, we can discover a new sense of freedom. Even when we have no idea of how things are going to turn out, if we allow ourselves to accept what's occurring, and acknowledge our feelings, no matter how painful they may be, the situation will become more manageable. - page 139, If Not Now, When? by Stephanie Marston

Not every day, but many days, I will meet someone interesting at Starbucks while I'm journal writing. I enjoy people and I'm not hesitant to initiate a conversation if I think it might be welcome. Last week, I met a woman who journals every day as I do. She was just beginning The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Since I've worked through the book twice before, I offered to discuss it if she wanted to and then, just in case she took me up on my offer, I decided I would read it again. Good thing - because we're meeting on Monday and because I discovered - surprise - that I actually need to read it again. It seems I'm stuck.

A strange thing has been happening in the studio over the past year especially. It's like I'm frozen. It happened again yesterday when I showed Patti the embroidered cotton I bought while visiting my daughter. That particular yardage has textured embroidery along each selvage. Patti thought it would be perfect at the hemline of a top to which I replied my hips don't need the accent and then I rattled off at least half a dozen different ways to use the fabric. She said she was inspired by the possibilities.

I'm thrilled to inspire her but I wonder why when I put my hand on the fabric do I have all those ideas and yet the fabric will go into the stash and never get cut up? Being frozen like this is always fear. Being frozen is not totally unfamiliar - it happens to most artists at some point or points along their journey. Julia talks about cycling back through issues that we thought we'd finished dealing with and how we're never finished, we're simply spiraling at a new level. LOL - apparently I'm spiraling at a new level.

I sat down to write this post on Tuesday afternoon. Patti had just left for home. Our play date was over and the beginning elements of my necklace were truly ugly. I found myself wanting to cry from a mix of emotions. Before she left, I asked Patti if she would wear fabric and she replied that she'd wear leather or silk or a beautiful scarf but she would not wear a fabric necklace unless it was truly amazing because fabric has an unsophisticated, craft-like, overtone. I completely agreed with her. I've looked a lot of fabric necklaces and the majority of them are not what I'm imaging when I think about creating a necklace. That observation led to a discussion of...


... 99.9 percent of the fabric necklaces I see are not the level of amazing that I want to create than why do I believe that I'm the .01 percent? I'm pretty sure I don't believe I am but Patti said it didn't matter. She said what mattered is that I keep coming back to wanting to make fabric necklaces and that there's something there inside of me that wants out and I need to push past that wall. Talk about a taskmaster. THAT is why I'm so thrilled to be in a creativity group. She has my number. She told me I was over thinking and stop that and do something. LOL - really ? ? ? Over thinking ? ? ? Me ? ? ?

At the start of our play date, I'd shown Patti a selection of inspirational necklace images. All of them were nice but not amazing like this piece of Diane Ericson's. After I'd fiddled and futzed and come up with my piece of ugly, I showed her this image and we spent half an hour discussing the different elements and the way in which it appeared to have been developed from the cords upward. One of the things I especially love about this piece is how the eye moves back and forth between two focal points of nearly equal tension, an element I try to bring into my own work.

When we were discussing the necklace, we talked about the "stuff" Diane has incorporated into the piece. I feel quite confident in saying that Diane collects interesting stuff and has an amazing ability to think outside the box and see stuff's potential. I have a lot of beads and traditional jewelry supplies, but not a lot of stuff, and I think it's going to take some time and experience and success to begin to think from that perspective... if I ever do at all.

Here's my piece in front of the computer screen next to Diane's piece. I do believe that this would qualify as comparing my fragile first step to the masterworks of another artist - LOL - however, it was also encouraging. My crumple of fabric became something more with the addition of Diane's background and suddenly Patti and I could both see potential.

It was only after Patti left that I realized the formation of Diane's necklace follows many similar rules to creating a corsage ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! That awareness made it more approachable since I've made corsages and flower arrangements before. I went to Michaels and gathered a selection of stuff, came home, threw it on the work table, and panicked. It's all garbage - VBG - and even so I'm going to push forward. One thing I know for sure - I absolutely CAN paint and stitch this stuff, I can do something with it.

I've agreed to have at least the parts of a piece ready to take to Patti's on Friday morning when our group of three gets together. That means, I have two days to persevere although in this case persevere means with the theme of making a necklace and not with this particular pink scrap. I'm done with it. Next up is some mottled denim lace and a necklace that starts with the cords. Since I've made cords for purses before, that's a comfortable beginning.

During midlife, women begin to realize that they can achieve whatever they set their sights on. Well, maybe not everything. We're probably not going to set any track records... or suddenly become the most famous opera star in the world. But this is exactly the moment when we should challenge ourselves to achieve the things we thought we couldn't do. This is one of the great, inspiring things about this period. Who cares if you're not going to win the world figure-skating championship, if you discover that you can, in fact, skate and you love it? What does it matter if your watercolors will never be seen by the masses or your rose garden isn't going to appear in Martha Stewart Living, if you find pleasure and satisfaction in a new creative expression? - page 168, If Not Now, When, by Stephanie Marston

Who cares if your fabric necklace is in the 99.9 percent and not the .01 percent if you conquered, moved forward on an idea, and learned from the process?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - pushy friends and my "baby" turns twenty today. He's a wonderful young man

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Not Knowing Adventure

Thirty years ago, I made a decision to sew or knit only one project at a time. Twenty-one years ago, I made a decision to write. Twelve years ago, I made a decision to work predominately with fabric and wool and to ignore other art forms. Nine years ago, I made a decision to move away from traditional patterned work and to learn to intuitively create abstract wall art. Three years ago, I stopped creating wall art and started sewing fashions again. Two years ago, I began to actively work toward sewing creative everyday fashions. And so it goes.

Some of these decisions remain consistent in the form I chose them in and some have evolved and changed shape. None of them has been wrong and all of them have led me in interesting directions which makes it somewhat easier for me to look at making new decisions.

While fabric still fascinates me and I can't imagine not sewing and while I have numerous ideas for taking sewing even further along the creative everyday wear path including the t-shirt series, over the past few weeks I've realized that working with fabric is not enough. Perhaps it's because I'm no longer in business or perhaps it's because I have more time to create than I had before. Whatever the reason, I need a boarder repertoire, and in particular I need new adventures filled with not knowing.

Remember, your artist is a child. Find and protect that child. Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artist child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will follow and there will be falls - yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card. Judging your early artist effort is artist abuse. There will be many times when we want to look good - to ourselves or anyone else. We need to stop demanding that we do. It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. - The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron

Patti and I are having a play date today to begin creating jewelry. I'd like my pieces to be made predominately from fabric along the lines of the two examples above. The top one is $285.00 by Palnitska and the second one is $45.00 by Nicaeli which could start a whole discussion about why is the one so much more expensive than the other and how does one artist manage to sell at that price while another can't but we won't go there. I'd be detouring and avoiding what I'm really talking about because...

... if I'm honest, I'm terrified to even begin because I know I'm putting unreasonable pressure on myself to create absolutely gorgeous pieces immediately. I can't. I won't. That's not how it's done. What I need is to try this and try that and experiment and fail and sort of succeed and make one beautiful piece and many ugly pieces and then some more beautiful pieces before I can move forward in jewelry with the kind of confidence I now have - forty years later - with sewing.

I know that. I've even talked about it before. What I haven't done is anything about it and perhaps being terrified - now that I'm willing to admit that I am - is the reason why I've managed to put off making jewelry for so long and why I've invited a friend to peer pressure me into moving forward. On some level, I am comparing my not even yet made, step one, beginner work to the work of long-term artists with a well developed skill set. This is comparing apples to oranges. I - like so many of us - want to fast forward and be amazing now except creativity is an incremental activity. It develops step-by-step.

And I think there's another level - two types of terrified - a fear that if I start to explore other art forms outside of fabric, I might lose my love of fabric and since I've invested so much time, money, energy, and literal space to the development of that art form and since so much of my life revolves around that art form, the loss would create a huge hole and many layers of grief that I'd much rather avoid but - then again - not moving on creates those same layers in a different way. SO... if I think of fabric and I as having a relationship, it would seem I'm putting too much pressure on one "person" to make me happy and "she" might appreciate a break and in fact, it could make the relationship stronger. Weird but it works for me.

Artist dates are a significant part of The Artist's Way program. Julia describes them as a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children - no taggers-on of any stripe.

Yesterday, after journal writing, I walked across from Starbucks to the dollar store and slowly wandered up and down the aisles. While I was looking at everything, I was particularly looking for small cardboard boxes. The ones above are 5 1/2" square, firmly built, and cost only a dollar. Together, they are six forms to fill, six blank canvases. Along with needing to expand my repertoire, I'm - finally - acknowledging that I want to play with gesso and GAC and paint and other supplies that I have a limited knowledge of - and no experience with - and yet have nicely stashed on the shelves in my laundry room. Apparently, I've been wanting this for a while, strongly enough to start collecting but not strongly enough to start.

Why I want to decorate some boxes or play with gel mediums, I don't know because I have no love of glue or glitter or any other sticky mucky thing so we'll see how this goes. Perhaps, it's a journey about to begin and perhaps, it's a singular series never to be explored again. And both are fine. Years ago, when I wrote and taught Art Women Life, I made a "positive book" by decorating a Christmas card box and filling it with twelve small fabric pieces, the homework from each lesson.

The lid turned out very textural with a mix of paint and thread and scrabble letters and buttons and beads and... and... and... Sometimes when I look at it, I'm incredibly impressed and sometimes when I look at it, I think I threw every technique I knew at the cover and hoped for the best. The later is probably more accurate. And that's okay because the tickle has stayed with me and - as I mentioned last week - sewing the series of little girl twirl coats has opened my eyes to how much I like working in series and to a desire to push boundaries in new areas. This is good.

On a totally different topic, I received a package of thread in the mail yesterday. I use more black serger thread than any other color and I wanted larger spools that wouldn't run out so quickly. The spool on the right is 1,634 yards, 4 each for $16.00 at Fabricland. The spool on the left is 12,000 yards, 4 each for $39.99 at Silhouette Patterns. The Silhouette spools are over seven times larger and only two and half times the price. The equivalent yardage from Fabricland would be $117.00. The Silhouette spools are DEFINITELY the better deal and available in black and white.

AND NOW... I'm off to journal and then meet Patti and start the not knowing adventure. Wish me well. Be prepared for yucky pieces - VBG.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - creative energy, new frontiers

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Size Between Sizes

After waiting twenty-five years to find a group of this nature, I now meet weekly with two creative friends. It's such a gift. I'm very thankful not only for the creative energy of the group, the combined wisdom, and the accountability but for the regular support and encouragement of other women, particularly creative women.

Patti was away this past week so it was just Lorraine and I and I showed her my grandson's leather coat in progress minus the front zipper, lining, and collar. Even unfinished, it was REALLY cute especially with all the top stitched seams BUT - and you knew a but was coming up - on the back of one sleeve Lorraine found a hole - which she pointed out - something she says she'll never do again - and I hope she's lying because of course I wanted to know, especially as this is a special gift.

The first time I top stitched from the hem up the side seam and down the underarm seam to the sleeve hem, the fabric got stuck around the foot. I must have chipped a piece out of the faux leather while trying to get it out of the machine. I tried colouring the visible backing with a felt pen but a hole in leather is a hole in leather. I'm disappointed but not devastated. I have more fabric and it will take about two hours to redo... and I want to... but I really wish I didn't have to. My daughter and I talked about using a different - non leather fabric - and I'll look at options first before starting over.

On Friday, I mentioned that I am starting on a series of t-shirts. At that time, I was working with a dark grey fabric and a smaller size of my T & T pattern. When I finished the t-shirt, the body was too tight and the sleeve was too loose which was very strange since I'd cut it with zero ease so I'm guessing it was a combination of the fabric factor and the method but either way, I prefer the method I normally use for making adjustments and I'm thrilled to have come to that conclusion because it's both comforting and fabulous to not always be re-inventing the wheel and to settle into what works. 

One thing that works for me is princess seams. I decided that the main ingredient I want to work with in the t-shirt series is a curvy line up center front and the question of how to put that line back together. Instead of imposing other ingredients that would basically be irrelevant, I've decided to choose whichever pattern works for the garment I'm dreaming up. Of all the t-shirt patterns I've sewn, New Look 6735, Vogue 8691 without the ruffle, and Vogue 8323 (above) are my favourites and have been sewn repetitively. It's most likely I'll choose from these. The first has curved side seams, easing through the bust line, and a shaped center back seam and the last two have princess seams. They all have shape, which I need for my curvy body.

Based on the results with the grey t-shirt, it seems I didn't go down a full size and I'm somewhere in that middle ground - the size between sizes. It took a lot of work but I managed to get a version of V8323 cut from some scraps of a blue and black paisley and sewed a new muslin to test a change in sizes. It looks better on Millicent than me so I'm going to get out the t-shirts that are too loose, some pins and a measuring tape, and figure out how I'd adjust them to fit and then use my already drafted and perfected patterns which sounds like bliss to me. All good.

I don't have a lot of upper body weight and my shoulders are the slimmest part of my body and yet my upper bust measurement seems to have firmly settled into a larger size in the past year or so. Is this a part of aging? Do we get broader? I have no idea but I'm curious and I know some of you might know and isn't it wonderful to have a group of people you can ask that question to without sounding like a total idiot ? ? ? YES YES!

In-between show and tell, Lorraine and I had a fabulous chat about art and life and women our age, which is a better phrase IMHO than women of a certain age although it's basically the same thing. It seems that good phrases are constantly going bad and we end up working to take away the negative spins that get attached and yet phrases like this one exist because of their element of truth.

Women my age are dealing with different pressures and dreams than younger women and older women are. That's why it's wonderful to have friends older than yourself who can offer their experience, wisdom, and support and it's wonderful to have friends your own age who are right there with you in the experience you're going through and it's wonderful to have younger friends to offer the wisdom of all you've worked through.  I strongly believe in women supporting women.

I've alluded a few times to being quite stressed lately. There's stuff swirling and things to be decided and directions to be chosen and it's not something I particularly want to talk about in public other than to say that what I really want is not to come across as a wet blanket and to let you know that I'm not going to be nearly as productive as I normally am and I'm okay with that. I've decided to putter and meander and do whatever I want to do whether that's sewing or cleaning a closet or going for a walk or painting a door or taking a drive or... whatever. I'm letting you know what to expect to eliminate any pressure to perform. I am working on the t-shirt series but God only knows - literally - when they'll emerge and how many will emerge. I'm not going to push myself to make one a day or even one a week because...

... on a scale of one to ten with ten being highly energized, I would rate myself somewhere around a half and that's not normal for me. I've lost count of the number of times I've been called the energizer bunny in the past but not recently. Talking to my friends, I know that these periods of not recognizing yourself are normal however, that's only somewhat comforting when you're a half who is used to being closer to a ten - LOL - so my plan is to do more playing and more meandering. Tomorrow Patti is coming over for the day and we're going to play with jewelry ideas and see what happens. No pressure. Just fun.

A mind too active is no mind at all. - Theodore Roethke

I've started re-reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. In the outside margins, there are quotes... which I love.. and always read... and even though this is the third time I'm reading this book, it is only the first time that that particular quote has registered. If you're a thinker like I am, you recognize the truth of those words. Thinkers can out think a situation to the point that nothing is happening or to the point that we're putting unreasonable expectations on the experience that are near to impossible to accomplish. There is great value in being realistic, moving incrementally, and ignoring any tall buildings that might require leaping to take the slow meandering path along the rippling brook in the summer sunshine.

The half in me that needs to re-gather energy has decided to take the slow path. There are no route markers so I have no idea how long that slow path may be. There is no description of the trail so I have no idea what I'll be seeing along the way. I haven't invited anyone to walk with me and yet I'm confident friends will show up and be welcome. It seems that this is a walk women my age need to take, to re-evaluate, to prioritize, to make choices, to emerge fully energized. I'm looking forward to the end of the trail and to the journey. If you have any words of advice to add from your own journey, I would appreciate hearing them.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that explanations can bring clarity

Friday, September 20, 2013

The T-Shirt Series

Since working on the little girl twirl coats, my mind has been racing with ideas for a t-shirt series. I want to take my basic T & T pattern and divide center front with a squiggly line and then experiment with different ways to join that curved seam back together. That guideline is specific enough to give direction and general enough to allow for endless possibilities which is exactly what I like about series work. It challenges me to find new ways to fill a simple shape.

When I took my new measurements yesterday, they had gone down a complete size. Since I'm a triangle, think of that difference as moving the entire body - upper bust, full bust, waist, and hips - in one size smaller from whatever that number was originally - including cup size which meant I no longer needed the 1" length and width of the full bust adjustment that was drafted into my T & T t-shirt pattern. Because of that, instead of sewing the side seams wider, I traced a smaller size and worked through my usual adjustments. It seemed a better approach.

The front and back chest widths were correct and the pattern is drafted with zero ease as opposed to negative ease. For the sleeve, I chose the size where the bicep width of the pattern equaled my actual bicep width. This is something Peggy Sager's talks about in her webcasts. Her solution for any differences between the correct sleeve and the original armhole is to trace the armhole of the sleeve you'll be using onto the bodice you'll be using. I wish she had actually illustrated how to do that because I'm wondering if I've done it correctly - which means that I'm considering this first t-shirt as a wearable muslin and the base to develop the series from. It's plain, no squiggly line down the front.

My bodice is a 14 and the sleeve is an 18. The difference in width at the underarm is 1/2" each side and the difference in cap height is 1/4". That's an total of 1" that needed to be transferred onto the 14 bodice.

I started by using a pivot and slide method and aligned the underarm point of my traced bodice with the 18 of the pattern sheet and slide the shoulder point of the traced bodice until it matched the line of 14. Then I traced the 18 armhole onto the 14 bodice. The dotted line is the original armhole shape and the solid line is the adjusted one. As you can see, this narrows the front and back chest widths considerably. It's a concern and as I say that I wonder if this might also be the answer in cases where the problem was not the front or back chest width because I'm forever pinning out extra fabric in that area.

This new shape didn't include the 1/4" difference in cap height so I erased the new line and instead matched the shoulder points of the 14 bodice with the 14 line on the pattern sheet and then pivoted the armhole of my traced pattern until the width of the 14 (that short little mark) was aligned with the side width of the 18 on the pattern sheet and then traced the new armhole shape which is - as you can hopefully see - 1/4" lower. I'm not actually sure that I wanted to lower the armhole at the underarm point as opposed to raising the shoulder point but I'm going to sew this version and see what happens. It's a start. I'll learn what I learn, make some adjustments, and go from there.

I love this New Look 6735 pattern and have used it for years as my T & T only one thing confuses me about it. The instructions call for a fabric with significant crosswise stretch - 50% - and yet it's drafted with zero ease so significant crosswise stretch is not necessary. On the other hand, at bust height along the side seam, the front is 7/8" longer than the back. There is no recommendation for vertical stretch on the pattern guide even though that amount will need to be eased in. It makes a HUGE difference if you don't have that ability to ease. Ask me how I know. I've come up with many not so good solutions and the bottom line is easing is best and a dart works and I prefer easing to trying to figure out where to place the dart. I've learned to check both stretch factors before choosing a fabric. The one I'm using for this (hopefully) wearable muslin has 50% crosswise stretch and 25% lengthwise stretch so it will - just - work. I hope. We'll see. More on Monday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - progress

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm REALLY Grateful

One thing that I didn't expect to still be doing at this age is counting pennies and paying such close attention to finances. I thought the natural flow of a family's finances was relatively smooth at the start of the marriage, more difficult as you bought a home and had a family, and then smoother and easier again as that family grew up and left home and you downsized. Living in our condo has certainly been less expensive than our last house was and that's lovely since it's the same square footage only...

... I heard on the news last week that the percentage, ratio, however they calculate it of what we earn versus the cost of living has not increased since 1980. Income has gone up and so has the price of everything else and the distance between has remained static... my entire adult life. I graduated in 1980. That explains a lot.

It was a national figure which is somewhat comforting as it means I'm not alone in this and I know from my friend's conversations that it's certainly true for them as well. Even those who never discussed finances in the past are suddenly talking about how expensive everything is and struggling to figure out a new way of being.

The owner of Howard's company has gone to every branch to discuss the (not so wonderful) contract and explain why what he's paying is all he can pay. That was nice of him and gave everyone a different understanding only the raise is still less than the cost of living and we're still going backward and I think that's true for many, many people.

Two of our goals are saving for retirement and paying off our mortgage. They both take significant amounts of cash at a time when I'd much rather be doing more fun activities together. I find myself in a bit of an emotional tug-of-war between responsibilities and fun. Being financially wise can get downright dreary at times.

Of the two goals, paying off the mortgage is the most important for me, perhaps because it's more visible and perhaps because for most women feeling secure is critical to our emotional stability. As I age, I want to know that this is my home and I'll always have a place to live - as much as it is possible to guarantee - because I know there are always factors beyond our control that affect our best laid plans.

I'm REALLY grateful for my attitude of plenty in regard to creativity because I have a fabulous stash of fabrics and a wonderful collection of books, videos, and patterns that will allow me to continue to be creative for a really long time. I'm REALLY grateful that I've learned how to start with something and do one thing and then another and enjoy the process of growing a piece from start to finish. I am REALLY grateful that I even occasionally - LOL - sew a garment to wear. I'm REALLY grateful that I love to learn and that I have this "many black notes" activity in my life that allows me to continue growing and developing while challenging me to improve my abilities. I'm REALLY grateful for the skill set I've developed in the almost forty years I've been sewing and how those skills allow me to start projects with confidence even when I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm REALLY grateful for my studio and the bright, happy, creative place it is in my life. I'm REALLY grateful for others who share my creative journey and their skills and abilities and their inspiration AND... I'm REALLY grateful to have learned that life can't be all work and no play, that there has to be some of both.

Almost every morning, after I blog and get dressed, I take my journal and my latest study guide over to Starbucks and read and write while having coffee. It costs $2.15 a day - $15.05 a week - $64.50 a month - $784.75 a year. When you add it up like that, it's a significant amount of money, significant enough that you have to weigh going out versus staying home and making your own coffee. I go out because I want a reason to dress nicely. Because I'm mostly home alone and I need to leave the house and be around other people. And because I meet some of the most interesting people like the woman who sat near me yesterday. Learning that she journals every day just like I do led to finding other commonalities, a wonderful discussion, and some shared support and encouragement.  I could invest that same $784.75 in my retirement or put it on the mortgage and it would make a difference only I think it's best invested as it is - in making my life a little bit broader each day, a little fuller, more social, and more interesting.

Over the years, I've made a huge investment in creativity as most of us have. Along with supplies and equipment, I've bought books, magazines, and videos and have taken numerous workshops. The total invested is a number I don't think I want to know - LOL - as it'd probably pay off my mortgage. And I don't regret that. Whatever the amount, it is IMHO money wisely invested because it's enriched my life greatly. When I look at how dull some people seem to feel and how their life seems to be one endless sitcom after another, I wish that they too had a "many black notes" activity. It's something that I pray about for my children - that they'll all find an activity that will continue to grow and challenge them throughout their adult life.

Mine is fabric.

I was able to sew the zipper and the pocket without sewing the pocket closed while sewing the zipper in. It looks good and I think there may be a better way so I'll explore this concept some more in the future. I made the pocket a big square that will be caught into the zippered front opening and the bottom hem band. It's sewn from a black with silver metallic stripe that has stretch. I contemplated the same fabric for the lining but I think it'll create more complications than I want to deal with.

Since this picture was taken, I've sewn the side and underarm seams shut and added the hem band. The lining is next which means I need to take the lining fabric down to the embroidery place and have them embroider my grandson's name and birth date on some yardage. I decided to have the embroidery done first and then cut out the back piece so the words will end up being exactly where I want them to be.  It'll delay things. That's okay. This is a size three so there's no rush and I have a series of t-shirt ideas dancing in my head that I'm going to explore next. While I'm doing that I can think about how I want to insert the zipper, add the lining, and finish the collar edge. I'm not quite sure and I'm confident I can figure it out.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that I am really grateful

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Perfect Never Comes

Yesterday, I spent some time on Pintrest looking at the clothing boards of my friend Patti and my daughter Jessica. While I still don't see Pintrest as something I want to do - and I could change my mind - it's an amazing tool for discovering the particular interests of that person and what the two of you have in common.

The jacket above is an interesting mix of military inspiration, feminine fit, and flirty details. It seemed the perfect example of adding a new twist to a favorite shape... at least for me... because I really like and look good in this shape of jacket. When I went to the site to find more information - in particular what the main fabric was - the jacket wasn't there any more. For us sewists, that's not a problem - we can sew it - but I can only imagine how frustrating it might be if you want to buy the jacket.

Two of my favourite skirts are Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8499 and a downsized version of Koos' out of print Vogue 1244. Both have a belled shape to the bottom which led me to sew Marcy's Vogue 8876 dress. The skirt above reminds me of these patterns. It has extra details with the pleats at the back and large pockets and buttons in the front. I wish I could see it from different angles because I'd really like to know more about it HOWEVER... once again... it reminds me that "it" - with it being our style or a fabulous garment or a great look or... - is all about the details. It's about taking a simple shape, adding seams, embellishing with bits and buttons, and creating a fabulous look.

I've sewn more dresses in the last year than I've owned in all the years before. It's been one of the fabulous bonuses of learning how to sew clothes that fit from shoulder to bust to waist to hip to hem. The patterns I've worked with the most are fairly similar in style, typically fitted through the bodice and flaring from the hip much like the one above. The asymmetrical lines of this dress illustrate how that simple shape can be taken in "new" directions.

These hand warmers remind me of something Kat Wise might have made and possibly that's where the pin is from. I found that a frustrating aspect of Pintrest - that you can't always get back to the original source to find the details you want to know. Again... in this case... it's not an issue. I can sew. I can make lovely hand warmers like these if I want to but what impacted me the most was how fun and flirty they felt, alive, unique, individual. It made me think about why am I constantly attracted to these shapes and colors and yet these are not the shapes and colors I'm wearing on a daily basis?

When I saw my daughter's Pintrest pages, two thoughts occurred to me. The first was that our style and taste in clothing and accessories is far more similar than either of us has acknowledged in the past and the second is that while clothing is obviously a shared passion, neither of us is dressing the way these pictures indicate we want to dress.

For me, it comes back to yesterday's conversation about lack. For a long, long time, I had to make do with on sale and classic styling rather than trendy or individualized clothing and that has become so ingrained that even now when I'm sewing fashions again... and buying fabric at tremendously great sale prices... there is this invisible rut that I'm stuck in and a level on which I'm afraid to commit.

Holding something so precious that you never use it in "real" life is a waste of precious time. We only have one life. I can remember my longing for certain styles in my teens and twenties and thirties and forties and here I am at the start of my fifties and I'm still longing. Not so hard. I am making some progress and I've come to realize that some of those longed for styles just haven't happened because they aren't actually me, they just represent a part of my personality that wants more expression BUT... and this was my point... even if you don't sew, why would you make do and settle for less than your shining best when you don't have to and for those of us that do sew and have completely within our control the opportunity to be our unique and individualized self, why aren't we?

So what if fuchsia is this year's color and might not be next year's. I love fuchsia. It's always my color. So what if this particular style of jeans is in one year and out the next. If they look good on me and I can sew them to fit then they're always in for me. And that's not really the issue.

The real issue is not about am I willing to be different and develop and wear my own style. I am. The real issue has to do with some hard to pinpoint combination of a perspective of lack with feelings of fear of loss, failure, rejection or any number of other common fears with poor self worth on some level, the combination of which creates a reluctance to sew that favourite fabric in a style or size that might be gone tomorrow. What if it's amazing and then it's gone?

Even though I'm perpetuating that belief on one level as I come to terms with why it exists and how do I move past it, on another I so strongly disagree that I've been giving myself the lecture I'd give any one of you if you'd shared the same awareness. Why wait? Why not be amazing now? Why not grasp every opportunity to be fun, flirty, alive, unique, and individual because... if not now, when? Apparently, I'm not alone. Stephanie Marston writes:

... I interviewed hundreds of women from all walks of life, in a multitude of situations, from across the country. Every woman was interesting in her own way; each woman's story was unique. Yet there were common themes. After each interview, I was elated. I felt as if I'd hit pay dirt. Although the women often faced daunting issues, each was now circling back to reclaim dreams and needs she had lost along the way. What I found, with few exceptions, was that women experience midlife as a time of renewal and rebirth. Some expressed this more tentatively than others, but most all characterized this as one of the best times of their lives. The depth, strength, resilience, generosity, resourcefulness, and wisdom of these women were inspiring. - page 4, If Not Now, When?

I try not to dwell too long on regrets. If I have an opportunity to change the situation or to share what I've learned from that regret, I do otherwise, what's in the past is in the past and it can't be changed. The best choice is to move on however, some regrets can still have a future and one that I've given a lot of thought to is why don't I wear the kinds of clothing I pour over in the stores and admire on other women? Why the disconnect? Are those pieces really my style or are they simply pieces I'm meant to admire and move on from or are they pieces I need to gather my portion of inspiration from and incorporate into what works for me? If it is my style, I might not be able to afford to buy it but I can certainly afford to sew it and all those details are fun and challenging. It's sewing I'd enjoy. So why not? Wearing what you want to wear is not the near to impossible task. For most of us, knowing what you want to wear and then actually wearing it is.

It's never too late to be what you might have been. - George Eliot

Over the past few years I have gotten closer to that goal and while I want to stop and celebrate that success I also want to act on the advice I gave my daughter. Don't wait for the perfect moment, the perfect body, the perfect size, the perfect whatever because perfect never comes. Something always gets in the way. Instead, make today the perfect day. Choose.

I had time to spend on Pintrest yesterday because I was mostly a lump on the couch resting up from my busy weekend of baby snuggling. One thing I thought about was what to sew with the fabric I bought. You may have noticed that clothing in Myrna sizes has been conspicuously absent from the blog for a while. I've lost weight - fifteen pounds so far - and I'm not sure how to deal with the loss because I didn't set out to lose weight. It suddenly decided to disappear. Is it stress? Is it a change in diet? Is it a shift in my metabolism? Is it coming back? Will more disappear?

You see my dilemma. Do I sew now or do I wait and how long should I wait for? Is there any possibility that I'll actually hit that goal weight that I gave up on and if so, it's three sizes smaller so... perhaps I should wait... except... as you all know.... my wardrobe is minimalistic and fitted and already even my t-shirts are starting to be too baggy. Soon I'll literally have nothing to wear so I need to come up with a plan and I want that plan to be about living fully, brightly, boldly, beautifully and about not holding precious. I want to "use the good china" so to speak. I think that translates to sew something fun in the size you are now and if you change sizes, sewing something else that's fun...

... and that's what I'm going to do... right after I finish my grandson's coat. I think I've finally figured out how to get a pocket and zipper into each of the front princess seams without stitching the pocket closed while stitching the zipper in. I hope.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the picture lesson