Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Into The New Year

It was at this time of year, in my early twenties, when I made the decision to work on one garment at a time. Scattered around my sewing room were unfinished projects either abandoned at some level of difficulty that I needed to overcome or started in the wrong season, the wrong size, the wrong color, or some other not the way it should be way. I was doing a lot of sewing with not much to show for it and while I know it doesn't work for everyone, one at a time has turned out to be a good decision for me. I've stuck with it for thirty years.

Another decision made at some point along the way was to end the year with no unfinished projects so... I finished the bag. Frankly, I just wanted to get it over with. The main section sat on the work table taunting me until I decided to push forward, learn what I could learn about painting and stenciling, and get it done. I did - push through - and get it done - and I learned another lesson too.

For at least twenty years, I have had three cupboards in my laundry room dedicated to paints, dyes, and supplies even though I've done a minimal amount of surface design. I keep saying that I'll get to it and if what "they" say is indeed true, that visualization develops the exact same "muscles" as doing the actual task, then I am - LOL - going to be very good at this at some point ONLY... I put off getting good until too late and several paint pots were dried up and useless. A sad lesson; get off your pretty little behind and get going.

Above, I've mixed a gold, soft fabric paint with a copper, décor paint. I wanted the softening factors of the fabric paint to help the décor paint and that may have worked but more importantly, what a gorgeous color with all those swirls. It reminds me to stop, pay attention, smell the roses, and enjoy the little moments.

I tried this and that and it seemed like I threw everything but the kitchen sink at this little bag and in spite of the effort, I still didn't like it so...

... I pulled this selection of dots out of my supplies. They are left over from a jean jacket made years ago and they worked so well on the jacket that I saved the rest of the dots and have used them on several projects since. Isn't it fabulous when you find some thing that works for you and you can play with it again and again - YES YES YES.

In the picture above, there's a layer of black tulle over everything and the dots are stitched in place with free motion and scribble stitching in a lime thread. As I worked on the bag, it felt like quilting and the phrase when I was a child kept running through my mind and making me laugh. Not that quilting is bad, or that it is childish, but for me it's a thing I used to do and not what I want to do any more. Those feelings confirmed my need to move in different directions. And I just LOVE confirmation.

Once I finished adhering the dots, I decided to be finished with the project. It's folded up in the bits & pieces to be refashioned box and may at some point in the future be useful in a garment, perhaps as a collar, or a pocket. We'll see when but... right now... I'm moving on. One thing I've decided to concentrate on in 2014 is series work, spending more time on each pattern to perfect not only the technical aspects but to push the creative ones. Going through my patterns, I pulled out basic shapes that I thought would be a great "blank canvas" and then counted the patterns and had a good laugh. Forty. Way too many.

Rather than over think the picking process, I decided to start with Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 which Steph is now calling The Myrna and...

... the Burda 8213 skirt which has been a familiar shape my entire life as far back as high school. I'll work with these two patterns and see where they go and when I'm ready for a new direction, I'll choose another - perhaps a button up blouse to explore new frontiers or a trouser pant or a fit and flare dress since both of those have also been common shapes in my wardrobe my entire life. Or work on one of my other goals - refashioning or surface design.

Another decision I made about five years ago was to start the new year with an engaging project. That requires paying attention to which projects you've really enjoyed and making one of those. Last year, I worked on Three Rows Of Ruffles. This year, I'm refashioning the silk knit dress above into a cardigan and recording the step-by-step thinking process for a future posting.

In her comment to my last posting, Seraphinalina wrote a new year doesn't mean the end of old problems or that it's all going to be sunshine and roses on the other side, it's just a date. I totally agree and replied that for me, it's a hopeful date like my birthday or the first Tuesday after the labour day weekend. These are dates on which I evaluate how life is going, make corrections, and try to set a direction that will be positive and encouraging for myself and those around me.

Last year's word (actually phrase) for the year was do the work and that's a perfectly wonderful ambition for this year as well especially as I will learn to do the work by doing the work. I'm happy to start 2014 with a creative direction that is full of potential and of my own choosing. Unfortunately, some of the things we'd rather leave behind cross that invisible date line and come along uninvited and unwanted into the new year and there's nothing we can do to prevent the migration. BUT... we can choose our attitude. I've been thinking about what do I choose to take into the new year and here's the list so far:

Self care
An ongoing commitment to faith, family, and friends
Routines and habits that nurture
Continued bible and creativity studies
Journal writing
A really BIG Starbucks card
A (mostly) positive attitude
A desire to learn
A desire to build creative relationships
Developing a dream book
3R's - respectful, reliable, responsible
Smelling the roses
Seeking out the silver lining
Engaging creativity

... and a determination to hold steady. In The Creativity Cure, authors Carrie Barron and Alton Barron write: the relationship between creativity and resilience is reciprocal. If you can hold yourself steady, you can create. If you can create, you can (gather, bend, and hold) yourself, keep yourself steady. In my opinion, we all need creativity and resiliency in life.

What are you taking into the new year?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - helpful friends

Psalm 90:12 - Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are. Help us to spend them as we should.


  1. " Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691 which Steph is now calling "The Myrna" and..."

    damn straight i am, woman!! heehee, it's quite well deserved, in my humble opinion.

    I love your choices for your two first 'in depth' patterns. They're both great basic shapes, with plenty of opportunity for stripping down or adding embellishments. They also both go well together, and as you point out are proven workhorses in your wardrobe. I also like your approach at starting with two, then choosing another set when you feel it's time. Especially as this series approach is pretty new to you, it's difficult to know beforehand how it'll go. I'm very excited to see how this goes with you - especially as i've always wanted to develop a selection of some tried and true patterns from which i could sew my own wardrobe. This seems like it would cut down on time wasting with fitting, etc.; help to project a consistent style; and again help me maintain a more consistent style focus provided i choose my TNT designs well.

    Have a great day and Happy New Year Everybody!!!!! steph

  2. I love the last quote on your post. I'm printing it out and putting it on the wall in my sewing cave. I spend a lot of time in my sewing cave to the bemusement, wonder and a variety of other adjectives to my family and friends. But for me it's the glue that holds my life's steady and reliable...and allows me to create...which actually allows me to live. I always take away something wonderful from your posts...thanks for this one!

    I think that you will have an amazing year as you work through this new dimension of your creativity. I will be following along and Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year! I wore a top I'd made to a party, and my husband said, "you should make more of those." So I will...until it's time to move on. You can do lots of variations with one pattern. It will be fun to see how many.

  4. Happy New Year M! I so hope that this year brings you great creativity and new insights. I love Sera's comment cuz it is so true. The new year is just a date. Can't say I'm unhappy to be flipping forward to a new calendar - what with some of the drama I saw in 2013, but every year is one to be grateful for - a mere click from the one before.

  5. I'm also in the "it's just a date" camp, but then again, any and every day is a good one to take a look at one's life, evaluate, and make fresh choices. Love your list! And I'm inspired by your "bits & pieces to be refashioned" box; that's right up my alley :)

  6. Apparently the Blogger/Microsoft debate is still on and I can't reply underneath the comment yet BUT... at least I can do this...

    Reply to Steph: Me too. I like those two patterns and I think two was the way to go. I've been dreaming of merging them and making a long dress with the Tilton top and the Burda middle and the Tilton hem. Still dreaming but...

    I agree that T & T patterns are so worth developing. I've only played a bit with my t-shirt one and this V8691 and I find once I start pondering ideas like the dress I just mentioned start flowing... and that's great... because I can only handle so much muslin making and fitting as you're saying and then I want to move on to actual clothes and then creative clothes. It's a great transition. I do need to keep better notes though. I think I won't forget what I did and then I do... forget.

    Happy New Year.

  7. Reply to Carolyn: YES YES - print out that quote. It really resonated with me because - like you're saying - I just don't stand up straight and cope well without studio time.

    Thank you for the compliment on my posts. I'm glad there's a take-away for you - and me - I'll take that amazing year. It's just what I want and I'm looking forward to sharing the journey.

    Happy New Year - I hope there's less drama and more fun for you going forward. I could really relate to what you wrote a while ago about enough drama.

  8. Reply to Little Hunting Creek - have fun exploring that top pattern. I wonder how many variations you'll come up with. What I love about series work is the way that one idea leads to another and another. How nice of hubby to reinforce how amazing the top was too. Great feedback. A lovely warm glow to take into the new year. I hope it's a good one.

  9. Reply to K.line - drama... oh yes... there was definitely more than enough of that in my 2013 too. I figured if I had to flip the calendar then I was doing it with a good attitude and a plan for moving forward. That's what I love about these invisible date lines - the opportunity to evaluate and make decisions that work for me.

    Sending wonderful, drama free, wishes your way for the new year.

  10. Reply to Jilly Be - It's been good to work on that list and think about what's important to me. I've also been working on another project that I talk about in tomorrow's posting. While I can evaluate at any time, my hopeful dates spread themselves out over the year so I'm - sort of - doing it every three months. Check points. Spring is the other one but it's more intuitive and less a specific date.

    LOVE my bits & pieces box. I started that when I was quilting and would put leftovers in there for future pieces. When I returned to fashion sewing, I carried on and it gives those things I don't quite know what to do with yet a place to be until I figure them out. It's part of my finish or be finished with process which is another of the things I've figured out along the way that works for me. A nice advantage of aging.

    LOVED ... absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVED your Koos skirt. Can't wait to see the next one. I'm wearing mine today and it's just too much fun. I want to make another one too.

  11. Last night sermon was Isaiah 54:17. The point was that the darts thrown against you will wound you but they will not kill you. Resilience helps you to survive the darts. When I reflected on his sermon, I realized that the gift of sewing and creativity provides an anchor and a shelter in good and bad times. It is a gift to be able to become immersed in a project that allows your mind to grow and blossom.

    I adopted your phase of "do the work" last year. When I was struggling with a project, I could hear you say do the work. This helped me to work thru issues with some projects. I either ended up with a finished project or I learned something new.

    2014 is going to be a great year!!!! Looking forward to see the fruits of your creativity. Happy New Year

  12. Reply to Towanda: Thanks for sharing the sermon. Sewing has certainly been a gift in my life. I'm always intrigued by what others do to "anchor and shelter". One friend likes to iron clothes. Another cleans. One works in the garden. Another paints. Another cooks. It's so fabulous to have our thing and so important to do our thing. Self care.

    YES YES - I'm so glad "do the work" worked for you last year. I'm going to push it even further this year. Are you keeping it or taking on a new phrase ? ? ?

    2014 IS going to be a fabulous year. I'm determined. Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm. Happy New Year.

    1. I'm keeping it. I'm going to make it into a sign and post it in my sewing room.


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