Take pen in hand and write a brief creative autobiography of your life. Allow yourself thirty minutes to put memories on paper, filling in the prompts below. How did you express yourself at different times in your life? Did you act in elementary school? Did you sing in the high school choir? Did you decorate your apartment in college? Large and small, your history of creative action is a map of your creative life. Allow yourself to make connections as you write. What do you miss? What was fun? What have you denied yourself? What do you desire to do now?
The above was an assignment at the end of chapter eleven in Julia Cameron's book The Prosperous Heart. The prompts that followed were for each set of five year increments - age 0-5, age 5-10, and so on - and asked you to answer the following: I was most aware of my creativity when..., I wanted to..., In my household creativity was..., I wished that I had..., and I was creative when... The prompts are good but I found the most surprising thoughts emerged when I simply started writing and let the words flow without critique - a stream of consciousness if you will.
I have a reputation for being outspoken, for saying out loud the things that other people only think. That dubious gift leads to the implication that I am aggressive. And I'm not. I often tell people that they'd be surprised by what I don't say. What I learned when I started answering these questions was how passive I actually am, how often I settle, how often I don't speak up on my own behalf, an awareness that I'm often acting on the outside and stuffing on the inside to get along. And I think that's normal and true of all of us especially when we're young and that our lives are a journey of discovery, of revealing the inside to the outside. The older I get, the less I care what people think, the more authentic I am becoming. This is good.
Clothes reveal the inside. What we wear and how we dress says a lot about how we move through life. Are we wearing clothes that are truly us or clothes we've settled for? To what degree do our finances control our image? Do we wear what's popular or what feels authentic? Are we sewing what's easy? Are we risking new styles to see if they might become a comfortable part of our visual identity? Are we playing it safe, repeating familiar lines without new interpretations? Do we settle for practical accessories when we really want to wear party shoes? Are we staying stagnant or learning and growing?
Every time I look through my pattern drawer, I'm drawn to out of print Vogue 8398. There's a message in that attraction that's trying to break through and yet every time I put the pattern back in the drawer and don't sew it. Why not?
It seems ever so slightly prissy and somewhat classic yet at the same time form flattering with the princess seams and flirty with the peplum back. Have I not sewn this pattern because a raglan sleeve is not my style? Is it because I'll need to fit the bustline? Am I afraid that on me it won't look as flirty and feminine as I want to feel in it? Am I wondering what to wear it with? Even when we think we're not thinking, questions like these run through our minds every time we contemplate pairing fabric with pattern to sew. We have expectations and hopes and perhaps those answers only appear when we actually sew, which is another version of learning to do the work by doing the work.
Are we too quick to judge? Do we immediately say I can't wear that rather than how can I wear that? With the raglan sleeve jacket, it's a simple matter of drawing in the shoulder seam and utilizing a fitted sleeve to make it more flattering to me. When Vogue 8975 was released, I thought the dress might be doable but completely missed the potential of the cardigan until...
... I saw Nancy Murakami's version. While the aspects of this style that don't work for my figure still exist - the dropped shoulder and the lack of a defined waistline - Nancy's version impresses on me that any pattern can be less of what it appears to be and more individual and customized if we'll take the time to evolve its lines in our own specific direction and that we will continue to find our direction by continuing to evolve. We learn to sew by sewing. We learn to dress by dressing. We learn to sew creative individualized wearable clothing by continuing to sew creative individualized wearable clothes and the more pieces we make, the more we learn, and the more our style and individuality are revealed. And then... we take that learning forward and make increasingly wiser choices.
While I will in all likelihood change the sleeve on Vogue 8398 and attempt to make the pattern work for me, it's unlikely I'll ever sew the Vogue 8975 cardigan. With the first, there's enough potential to take the risk and with the second, there's enough awareness to not go there. In contrast, Vogue 8982 is much better suited to my figure. It has sufficient seams and darts to fit a curvy figure, a more defined waist, a set in sleeve and strong shoulder, and - if you look at the pattern page - you'll see it interpreted in numerous ways all with a different personality. Our choices - of pattern, of fabric, of notions, of details - all speak to our authentic self BUT...
... the expression of our authentic self is NOT set in stone. We're not done evolving until life is finished. As new aspects of our personality are revealed, as we drop some roles and take on new ones, as we experiment, and as we accept that not every garment has to be an absolute winner in all areas, we'll be drawn in new directions. Butterick 5994 is not nearly as form fitting but it has almost all of the same elements and room to play. It's worth exploring and...
... so are the two dresses - Vogue 8975 earlier and Butterick 5986 above - because in the right fabric with the right visual personality and the correct amount of drape these could both be fun to wear and flattering to my figure and they are so far from a pattern I would have chosen just a couple years ago. They reflect new learning and new experiences and new layers revealed. I find myself wanting to not stagnate but to continue exploring new frontiers that balance what I know to be true about myself with new learning. This is - to me - a fun and valuable aspect of life at my age.
It is learning that looks at Butterick 6028 and acknowledges that no matter what "they" say, skinny pants do not look good on my figure, that skinny pants make me look like a lollipop on a stick however, these pants have an elastic waist and princess seams in the back, a natural waist level, flat pockets, and flattering seam lines that do suit my figure. They are worth exploring to find that perfect width of hem that will work for me and to play with visual pattern because even though I'm a bottom heavy triangle - oh well - I'm okay with pattern on the bottom. I like it's vibrancy. Life and especially the creative part of our lives is a journey of becoming more of who we are and sometimes who we are color and pattern and creativity wise is far more important than the exact right lines although the best of the best is color and pattern and creativity paired with the exact right lines. What fun to discover ! ! !
LOL - I bought some new patterns. Bet you guessed that.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - risk and guarantees