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