Monday, June 30, 2014

Be More - Be Better

Howard flew to Calgary early Sunday morning to visit our daughter and her family and Barb left this morning after breakfast which means that after a busy week, I'm home alone for two days. What fun. A sewcation.

While Barb was here, I sewed the Trio pants - and then resewed them - and a pair of jeans that turned out fabulously - and started on a jacket. I'll post pictures of the refashioned pants and the jeans asap. Today, the start of my version of Oscar de La Renta's out of print Vogue 2956.

I'm not one for handwork unless it's absolutely necessary with necessary meaning that I can't do a better job by machine. Sometimes, I'll do a combination of hand and machine work like with the binding on the armhole. The jacket is not lined so the inside needs to be neat and clean. The seams are either hidden as by the yoke or exposed but can be neatly finished with a serger except for the armhole seam. Because the sleeve is set in, I cannot get the degree of workmanship that I want by serging the seam so instead I used bias binding that is tacked in place by hand. I'll press and machine stitch it to finish. I'm willing to do that amount of work to get the look I want.

The weather is gorgeous this morning. I opened the doors and windows and sat out on the front porch to do the hand stitching. A deer joined me, munching on the leaves across the way. So peaceful. While I stitched, I thought - as in thought some more because it's been on my mind for days - about Carolyn's recent posting An Inside Shot. She asked thought provoking questions about why we sew from our perspective with the recognition that everyone's perspective is different.

A lot of people say they LOVE clothes. That's not how I'd phrase it. What I love is clothing as an art form and the ability to create texture, shape and line through a combinations of details along with the endless possibilities inherent in fabric. Wandering the mall doesn't interest me and yet I could spend hours at a high end boutique checking out the details and figuring out how "they" did that. And then, I want to do my own thing. I'm not interested in copying. I like the architecture of clothing and the puzzle of putting it together and of taking a two dimensional form and making it fit a three dimensional form. My goal is to create clothing that fits and flatters both my shape and my personality. One of my favourite baristas at Starbucks says I have a style all my own - a lovely compliment.

Carolyn writes: I'm adding more details to my garments because I don't have a price point... I have a point of view. 

Sewing for me is both an artistic outlet and pure entertainment. Because I shop for and sew from my stash, I am actually able to sew much less expensively than I can purchase RTW and the pieces I create are of higher quality and better fit. Sewing inexpensively is an ability that has developed over time and with experience. I know how to shop the sales like some women know how to shop the malls.

The fabric I'm working with now was on the discount table at 70% off - or about $3.00 a meter. The jacket takes 2.5 meters so the fabric cost is $7.50 plus interfacing, thread, and buttons. The two small buttons on each sleeve are recycled from a previous project and the main buttons are knot buttons made from fabric and cording meaning that while they added tremendously to the appeal of the piece, the notions did not raise the price significantly.

To answer some of Carolyn's questions, I view creative wearables as an art form and sew to express myself and to create a wardrobe that is neither trendy nor classic but one that is unique and reflects my personality, individuality, and preferences. I want the inside of my garments to be neat and presentable but I don't need to wear them inside out. I do, however, need them to be as impeccably finished as possible to the best of my ability. Most of the time, neat and presentable means a well stitched, well pressed, serger finished seam and I'll often use a surprising thread color to add energy and interest to the inside such as hot pink or lime green.

The area in which I am growing in my craft - the area where I want to be more, be better - is with details. The dart at the shoulder. The slit at the hemline. The small buttons for a touch of interest. The knot buttons for texture and individuality. Collars. Closures.  Because of the way I shop, these are not expensive details but they do take more time.

I'm a huge advocate of slow sewing, of taking the time to do the best job you can do, to learn to do by doing, and to be in the moment fully enjoying the entertainment of sewing. That means doing a step over if it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. I originally turned under and hand stitched the hems for the sleeves and jacket bottom only the fabric is so fine that the bulk had a negative impact on the right side so I took out the hand stitching (which had taken quite a bit of time) and serge finished the hemline and then turned and stitched it once. The look is vastly better and something I am prouder of. It was worth the time to re-do.

For me, sewing is not something to be rushed through. I have no desire - or need - to sew a dress a day which works just perfect because not rushing allows me to take the time to add those designer details that lift a garment beyond the ordinary. Ordinary and average are not words I want applied to me.

Barb and I talked a lot about clothing as an art form while she was here. We met when we were both creating textile wall art and while she's sewn clothes before, it was mostly from a practical point of view and she couldn't relate to the artistic part. I overheard her talking to her mother on the phone last night sharing what she'd learned from being in the studio with me this last week - the potential of creative clothing. For me, clothing is just as fun to create, if not more so, than creating wall art and has the bonus of something to wear without looking just like everyone else.

I returned to sewing fashions at the start of 2010. In the past three and a half years, my skills and abilities have grown tremendously. The flow of garment work came back quickly and I've improved my technical and fitting skills substantially, The success rate of my pieces is rising steadily.

Attending the Design Outside The Lines retreats in 2012 and 2013 opened my eyes to the potential of creative clothing and yet as much as I was drawn in that direction, something was holding me back. This year at the retreat, it felt like I turned a corner of some kind. I feel a sense of confidence and see the affects emerging in my work. The retreat was almost a month ago and I'm still as excited as I was then. My mind is bubbling with possibilities. This is good.

Thanks Carolyn for such wonderful, thought provoking questions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - home alone

Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries. 
- Corita Kent


  1. You're welcome...but it's one of those posts that I've gone back and forth over whether I should have asked the questions or even posted it. I've loved the responses and even found some ways that I can be better in them. Thanks for your blog post. It's an interesting read and response to the questions posed.

    1. The posting was great for thinking through why I do what I do. The reasons have shifted over the years and that's good. I think questions like these help us to evaluate where we're at and where we want to go. I'm glad you posted them. You're welcome for the post.

  2. oh what a fun discussion! thank you Myrna for bringing my attention to Carolyn's thoughtful blog post (i'm busybusybusy these days so my blog reading is even worse than normal - !)

    i basically sew so i can have clothing that fits (and not 'perfectly' but at all - it's that bad with me and RTW) and that i like to wear. I'm super picky about color, fabric, construction, notions and things that aren't 'right' to me bug me like you wouldn't believe! So i take my time and make things that i actually enjoy wearing, that last (i can wear clothing out pretty quickly), and that reflect my style and can be used to create outfits i like.

    That last part is kind of funny - my style is more on the minimalistic side, but i do like fun touches on clothing so it's often jazzier on the inside than according to the 'public view'. I like having that outlet as well, since as a rule the clothing i like to wear is not going to have a super duper 'artsy creative' look to it. heehee, little do that know all the seams on that drab light tan skirt are bound in mini stripes! Which is fun for me as i like to turn the expected on it's head.

    I end up ripping things out a lot and doing them over, as well as doing a fair amount of hand sewing. I enjoy doing hand sewing, but i enjoy *wearing* a hand sewn garment even more. I was lucky enough to attend the Britex event space opening on Saturday,

    and to listen to talks by several bloggers. What a treat! Beth from Sunny Gal Studio spoke to this a bit, saying that she never uses a serger for construction and likes hand sewing as well. I've never had or even wanted a serger, in RTW i just do not like what all that thread does to the fall/movement of a seam. Not to mention manufacturers that use scratchy, pilling poly thread - yuk! But then, i suspect if i was a mother sewing for small children a serger would be my most treasured possession :) It all depends on who we are, what we're doing in our lives and what is important to us.

    Thank you for two very interesting posts Myrna and Carolyn! steph


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