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

32 comments:

  1. Well I like that T shirt and the style is really you. Well done.

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    1. Thank you. I think it's a great jumping off point - an idea that can lead to a idea.

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  2. Love it. Purely delighted that you decided to JUST DO.

    Since last week when you said you were going to draw a squiggly line down the front and then try to close it up, my mind has been absolutely on fire trying to come up with all the different ways Myrna would accomplish that task. So far I have fourteen Myrna methods on my list (yes, I am writing them down) and I have a feeling that my list is so basic that you won't even use any of them! You are far, far more creative than you think you are.

    The purple top works. It is unusual. It is creative. It draws the eye. It is not symmetrical top to bottom, which is usually a good thing. It is Myrna. Now how many ways could you use expand that basic concept to create different looks and looks? See, now my little brain will spend a few days trying to figure out what Myrna might do next.

    I consider myself to be fairly creative, and you inspire me and encourage me. I thank you for that.

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    1. Sorry about the typos. I was excited!

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    2. LOL - apparently you've been working harder on my idea than I have been. Thanks for sharing that. It's encouraging. It'll be interesting to see if I do any of those things. As I said to Juliet, this top is a great jumping off point. Just the rectangles and raw edges have my mind spinning. All good.

      Thanks for sharing that I inspire and encourage you. I'm glad.

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  3. I really like this top! and congrats on selling two of the coats--I'm sure they will be loved.

    There is a quote from Ira Glass (host of "This American Life" here in the US) that, to my mind, fits your dilemma. (It fits mine as a writer; that's for sure!!)

    Part of it reads, "Most people I know who do interesting, creative work wen through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have ... It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions."

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    1. Thank you re: the top and re: the coats. The lady who bought them LOVES them and bought them for her niece who is having twin girls. What fun.

      LOVE the quote. It reminds me of the poster about the gap - that you're making stuff that's not good and it's trying to be good but it's not. I'll have to see if I can find that link and include it in a posting. Definitely we learn to do by doing.

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  4. God only knows I need to stop thinking and do something. Oh how that line resonates with me. I love the result and I love that you pushed through and finished something. Hooray!

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    1. Good luck with your own pushing through. YOU CAN do it. I'm going to keep pushing now. I think that might be work too but work I want to do.

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  6. Myrna - I am much impressed with your perseverance as well as with the finished tee shirt. The subtle applique that you ended up with looks far more attractive than the ditsy bowties that were the initial inspiration, much more "Myrna". I wonder if you would have come up with that result without all the precursive efforts. Truly in the words of Bilbo Baggins, the road does go ever on, and our creative journey is one that can last a lifetime. While I have never had the good fortune to be in a group of sewing people that I was not "at the head of the class" I imagine that it would be very humbling. I am grateful for your willingness to share so much of your internal mental "backchat", that encourages me to pay more attention to what is happening in my own internal life.
    :::

    I have a one line description of our house decor "Modern Eclectic Whimsical Handicrafted: Pacific Rim meets Danish Modern, with a dash of McMenamins and Karl Larsson" (this touchstone has been of great help in decorating the house and in choosing what to keep, what to let go of and on the rare occasions that purchases are needed, what to bring into the home); I think I need to come up with a one line style description for my wardrobe, and the best I can do is "Utilitarian Folktale"

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    1. Thanks for appreciating my journey. My hope when I share is for exactly that - that it will resonate with someone else and help them on their journey.

      That's quite a decorating statement. Wow! I'll be interested to hear if your wardrobe one evolves. What was again weird - and serendipitous - was that as I shared with my friend about the mission statement, she reached over and pulled up a piece of paper that she'd begin drafting her own statement on - and we hadn't even talked about it yet. So wonderfully weird.

      If you're ever not head of the class, it is a wonderful experience with pitfalls. Now that you know mine, hopefully you have gather the wonderful and ignore the rest. It's worth looking for if you have the opportunity. I think what we come up with is a result of which paths we follow so if I hadn't followed this path, I wouldn't have come up with this result but the results I did come up with would have been equally interesting.

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  7. I am so glad you finished, and I love the T-shirt you ended up with!! I think Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic recently published a similar sentiment: Less Planning and More Sewing. I am certainly guilty of over thinking, too (and even spend too much time thinking about how to stop over thinking:). I look forward to your next T-shirt.

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    1. THANK YOU - it's nice to know that I'm not the only over thinker who over thinks about over thinking. I absolute AM going to stop doing that and DO SOMETHING seems to be the key to quitting. Let's both do something. Sounds like fun.

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  8. Love the t-shirt--and it does look like you. Sometimes I think the internal critic needs to be joined by an internal unconditional lover who will let the critic blather on a bit, and then gently and firmly and fondly (ah yes, you again) shush her/him/it, so that we can confidently and cheerfully move ahead. Elle

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    1. I agree. Talking back to my critic was how I conquered moving on with textile art and appears to be what I need to do again. Good to know. Now to do.

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  9. Your thought process is so totally foreign to me. But then I'm not an artist. It makes me think of a term we often used at our office--Analysis Paralysis. hope you find what you are looking for...............JJ

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. You're right - it's very over analysis when action is required. At one time, my thought process would have been totally foreign to me too. I was much more product driven - sew a top, sew a skirt, and so on. This thinking about it - whatever it may be - with more depth (and too much depth sometimes) seems to be part of the evolution from being product to process driven. I'm mostly okay with that but I certainly don't want the paralysis to go on for any length of time. Identifying what was happening seems filled with possibilities that would be similar to making a business decision. Once made, everyone/thing can move forward.

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  10. egads, Myrna and everybody - this whole conversation may get me to writing a blog post ;) !!! first, just a sweet sweet shirt and really Myrna. Also, shows that you don't have to shut up the inner critic/overactive left brain, you just have to work thru it or around it or while saying, "yes dear....oh, is that so?.....hmmmm....oh whoever would have thought..." - in other words, whatever does the trick for you right then. How brilliant of you Myrna to write all this down, it will be a priceless touchstone for you in future.

    Alison, i love your home dec descrip!! And i have had my own name for your style a while: "Breughel in the City". Hope you don't mind :)

    How nice that those little coats sold, how fun for granny and the little girls too! But i'm not surprised at all :)

    Happy Weekend All! steph

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    1. You writing a blog post would be lovely. I keep checking and so far.....

      Thanks for the compliment on the t-shirt. I really like it too. Interesting that I wasn't picking up on all that critic chatter when I'm so used to working around it in textile art. Guess "she" snuck in the back door where I least expected. I enjoy writing to share experiences to connect and to support and encourage others but I rarely go back and read my writing later. With the blog, I can correct something but with a formally published piece, it's done so I'd rather not know. That's the interesting thing about publishing. You grow up and move on and evolve but your work stays exactly as you were on that day.

      The sale was nice and it really was quite amazing how they did that from the guest room closet - LOL - the buyer was a friend. She's a huge fan of my work and has bought numerous pieces over the years. A good friend.

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    2. hi! it is so weird how these troubles creep up on us ... and you don't necessarily know what will trigger it, either. Thank goodness for other creatives who can help a body out! re:writing this down, even if you never read it again the simple act of writing helps 'solidify' the experience in your consciousness, so you'll be much more likely to remember it when you need it. and with blocks the more tools to cope with it the better.

      and - re: yoga instructor. if you ever see a class/place that looks like you'd like to try it out, just talk to the instructor before hand. They will be very happy to discuss any concerns or special needs you have and steer you in the right direction (if they're a yoga teacher worth studying with). Just tell them you're a perfectionist and tend to really overthink and you want a class that helps with relaxation and calming the system (there's a bunch of different kinds of yoga and some are quite stimulating). Tell them i told you to ask for a big old corpse pose at the end of the class ;) heehee, don't worry about the name - it's just practice ;)

      anyhoo just in case you ever get the yen. i have a big, very active brain and i have been able to learn to quiet it and also my physical/emotional body, it's a skill like any other. Yoga is the queen of methods for this so i have no hesitation in rec'ing it in case you ever want to try it out. happy evening, steph

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    3. Thanks for sharing that yoga works. LOL - maybe some day. My two favourite forms of exercise are walking and dancing but they aren't a regular practice.

      I've found journal writing a wonderful way to work things out BUT... there's always a but... you still have to ask the right questions otherwise it's a slower path. I never would have imagined this answer but I'm glad I arrived at it because I so disagree and now I can move around.

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  11. Love your shirt. It's very chic. I have creative paralysis often, so I made a list of twelve categories and assigned one theme to each month, like make something out of silk, sew a scrap quilt,make a tshirt, use a border print...you get the idea.It has really helped to have one theme per month. The only rule I can make anything i want in the theme, but i must finish

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    1. LOVE your solution. It's a form of series work which I love and could be a great choice. I already finish things so this is good. Hmm... thinking.... NOT over thinking...

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  12. I love your purple t-shirt! It looks like something you would have made, and it's also something I can imagine in a fun trendy shop. Your personal struggle through all of this is helpful to read and think on. I am not in the same place as you but I can in a different way. We all have fears and self-doubts. It's good to do what it takes to work through those.
    Carrie

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    1. You're right. We can have similar struggles, different areas of life, with the same answer, and it's wonderful to connect and share and help each other through those things. I'm not into comparing so this really surprised me. I like the t-shirt too.

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  13. I love your purple t-shirt. Here is some bead work that you might find interesting http://sandysnowden.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/daily

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    1. I thought the t-shirt turned out pretty well and I can see different directions to take that concept in and have fun. Thanks and thanks for the link. I've looked at her beadwork before. It's got personality.

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  14. And it turned out awesome!! So great! I am taking notes. Thanks so much for sharing this journey with us. Just verbalizing what the inner critic is saying is INCREDIBLY powerful.

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    1. You're welcome and yes, it was empowering.

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  15. I have never commented on your blog before. Yes, I agree with you, you do tend to overthink sometimes. However, I am not an artist at all, so what do I know? Right. I love this t shirt and have every intention of copying. (Sincerest form of flattery) There is something about it that makes a distant thought of Japan tip toe across my mind. And BTW, I think you should keep the thought of yoga playing in your mind. An excellent yoga instructor and practice is life affirming.

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    1. LOL - I'm working on the overthinking. Glad you love the shirt. Warn me if we're going to be wearing it in the same place so we're not "twinsy". You never know. Yoga could happen but I'm more likely to start walking if I were to chose some regular practice. It's the thing I return to off and on.

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