Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Try Try Again

Besides connecting with friends at Sew Expo, I love seeing what everyone is wearing and taking in lectures that make me think and focus my work. I went to a limited amount of presentations - five. I wasn't impressed with one of them. It provided little real info and was basically advertising. I walked out of another before it started because the hand-out at the door was crafty-tacky and didn't reflect at all what I was hoping to hear and it was so crafty-tacky that I had no fear I'd miss something by leaving. The three I enjoyed were Marcy & Katherine's fashion show and Diane's lectures A Room of Your Own and Creative Tune-up.





My friend Ute arrived wearing a version of Marcy's coat pattern Vogue 8934. She painted the patches with black on top of the same purple that the rest of the coat is sewn from. This is low contrast as opposed to the high contrast that I was working with on my version back in October. Her coat looked FABULOUS. So many times I try a pattern once and if it doesn't work out, I nix it from my repetoire. Ute's version of my failed attempt encouraged me to try, try again. I have some gorgeous stretch silk dupioni that could be perfect... and I have paint... and I have desire.





Every time I see Marcy & Katherine's fashion show, I am impressed with the quality and the drape of the fabrics and what an incredible difference those factors make to the finished garment. It's the jump from okay to fantastic or from wadder to wearable. My Vogue 9035...





... pants were so unlike the pattern envelope that I didn't even finish them even though my pressed cuff looks a lot like the envelope. On me, they weren't graceful and attractive; they were poke-ing-out-ish. After seeing Marcy's in the show, I wanted to try again so I had her help me choose a black knit fabric to work with. That should up the odds of success.





The topic of Diane's lecture A Room of Your Own is one that's near and dear to my heart. Since leaving home at eighteen, I have always had a studio. To me, it's the critical component for a creative woman especially as - IMHO - we were not put on earth just to make everyone else's lives easier. Our lives matter. Our skills and abilities were gifted to us for a reason. It is important to both nurture our creativity and to allow it to nurture us.

When I wrote my book Setting Up Your Sewing Space, the focus was on organization of time and space. It was matter of fact and not too emotional because at that time in my life, I was matter of fact and not too emotional. LOL - things have certainly changed. Years later, I taught a a workshop called Studio Makeover that focused on creating studios that meet both our physical and our emotional needs. To me, this is the perfect and essential blend.

In her lecture, Diane talked about the percentage of your studio that is devoted to the past, the present, and the future. FAR too often when I was teaching I would see studios crammed to the rafters with projects that were never going to be finished and possibilities that were not going to be explored further. And what I found with my students was a real sense of failure around the projects that "failed" and the crafts they'd tried but didn't like. Why?

We can't know what a combination of fabric, figure, and pattern is going to be like until we combine fabric, figure, and pattern. And that's enough. We don't have to wear the garment to learn from it. And it's not like we can walk into a "restaurant" and order a "pint of painting", taste it, and see what we think. We have to buy the supplies, try the craft, and evaluate whether this is for us or not... and if it is, we find a present place for it in our studio... and if it's not, I vote that we move that stuff along. There's no need to let it block our creative flow. Is your studio holding you back or encouraging you forward?





I went into Diane's Creative Tune-up lecture feeling focused and on track and came out feeling confused and frustrated. Since this is definitely not the typical reaction to one of her - amazing - lectures, I needed to give that some thought. It was when she started to talk about the mystery of not knowing that I began to doubt and then - with more thought - I realized I'd slipped back into wanting to be someone creative and that I needed to refocus on being myself creatively. It's an important difference.

Although I completely forgot to get pictures of my outfits everything I wore was comfortable and felt like me. I found myself looking around for simple garments with subtle details that added punch without dancing and demanding attention. When you're looking, there's a lot to find. At one point, I was in line behind Vicky, a woman I've attended several Design Outside The Lines retreats with. The garments she was wearing - like her coat above - were exactly what I'm aiming toward. VBG - I do believe that I would enjoy living in her closet for several hours. I came away from standing in line behind her inspired that yes, it can be done. I can be me and I can be me creatively.

And THAT... is worth the price of admission.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - I can be me creatively

If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you. 
- Zig Ziglar

18 comments:

  1. So glad you had a good time on your trip. I spent part of my afternoon trying out your recommended method of hemming jeans, and they turned out great--thank you for sharing that! Interesting points about the past/present/future in the sewing room; I'm in the (eternal) process of re-evaluating my space, and that's a good point to ponder as I muck out the stalls. ;-)

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    1. You're welcome for the hemming tip. I thought it was fabulous when I learned it.

      I'm not sure a space is ever complete because the person occupying it is always in the process of change - or hopefully always in the process. Becoming stagnant is not good. I've never been one for holding on to stuff so I could really relate to what Diane said about the past weighing us down. I'm rarely confused about whether to give something away or not so if confusion happens, I will hold on to the item until I am sure. That happened with the polymer clay supplies and now I think I may be able to use them in a less refined way in accessories so they may get another chance some time soon.

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  2. Great post and lots to chew over. I also gravitate towards low contrast, especially in clothing— I'm moving the opposite way with painting. I love how we will revisit an idea time an again with different materials. I think this is a basic part of the creative process.

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    1. My art is typically bolder and brighter too - as is my home decor. I tend to think of that as the accessories that perk up my "black" wardrobe. It's one way of expressing that aspect of our personality too. Too much with clothing is too much for me. I get lost so I'm happy to be getting closer to the right balance.

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  3. the problem I find with clothing by Diane Erickson and the Tilton sisters is that they are not great on women who have curves and definitely not on pear shaped women including myself! There is just too much fabric in almost everything and really, in Diane's things, just too much going on. I am a modernist to my core with a degree in painting and I've worked as a landscape designer for years. I have a good design background, and to me wearable art is an oxymoron. Art is really not very wearable. Marcy posted pictures from the expo of women she deemed fashionistas. Most of their clothes didn't fit. That's kind of hard to do when it's all over sized! It takes a good eye to combine prints and have them look good. Almost no one showed a good eye for this kind of design. Yes, rules are meant to be broken, but not with everything. With clothing I feel that flattering pieces are foremost if you want to feel good in your clothing. You can be creative, but if you want to like how you look, fit and flattering shapes come first. Can you be comfortable and creative in your wardrobe? With moderation and a lot of editing and self critique. One of the most enduring aspects of my arts education was the weekly critique in studio classes that taught us to analyze our work and listen to the classes criticisms. It gives you a tough skin and the ability to look critically and honestly at your work.

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    1. I agree with you that fit and flatter are critical elements. I wish that more women would explore how to get clothing to fit them well. I read a bunch of reviews the other day where a repeated comment was the need for a swayback adjustment. That wasn't the problem. Most of those women needed to shorten the center back and center front lengths to bring the curve of the garment in line with the curve of their bodies. This is a "soap box" subject for me. I'm quite passionate about it. AND THEN...

      ... I love how you can take that fitted garment and make it more creative in a way that works for you. I have some pieces that are both comfortable and have the creative elements that I want to incorporate and - like you said - they took a lot of editing and self critique to achieve. I'm hopeful of taking that forward into more garments.

      Weekly critique would definitely teach you a lot. How wonderful to have had that. You do have to develop a tough skin with critique but I think it's not so tough once you see the value of the feedback. What I found critical though was that I had to trust the source of the critique. It's such a gift when someone gives you an honest opinion. When Marcy told me definitely not for the harem pants, it was FABULOUS. I wasn't offended at all. I wanted more information that I could use to make better decisions.

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    2. Thank you Nancy K, for saying what I think needs to be said. Usually clothing designed with orgami techniques and geometric shapes are not particularly suited to the human body. Rather difficult to alter to conform to one's shape. And, while pairing prints can be very interesting and creative, a restrained use is more sophisticated. Marcy and Katherine look good, as well as Diane, and are inspirational advertisements for their pattern and fabric business but not all of us can carry it off.

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    3. Over my years as a textile artist I really learned how to work with pattern and color mixing and I love taking that ability into clothing but definitely want to aim toward sophisticated as opposed to clown. It's also about what looks good on you. I'm a low contrast kind of person.

      A color wheel is an amazing tool for mixing especially if one works in groups next to each other on the wheel where the differences can be less black and white and more gradual to give that sophisticated look you're referring to. It's a huge benefit just to play a color wheel and pieces of fabric rather than garments, making combinations, taking pictures, seeing how they look.

      One of my pet peeves is cutesy prints on adult women. No bunnies and kitties please.

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    4. You are definitely in my camp of thinking, Nancy. Fit and flatter is everything! I love to make artsy clothing but it doesn't always work on my figure which is large bust, slim hip and wide waist. I want to look good and be comfortable in my clothing so I can present myself at my best. I recently culled my closet and gave away all my artsy garments that didn't make me look and feel great. Many had hung in my closet for several years unworn. I guess I didn't want to part with them because I had put so much time in crafting them. Now I feel that they were part of a valuable learning process . I love this discussion! Karen

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    5. I have to agree here. Being the artsy/craftsy person that I am, I find myself drawn to artsy type patterns, most of which don't fare well on non-model body shapes. They end up looking like a poorly fitting costume. Some are downright clownish. I'm finding the best route to take is adopting a design detail that can be grafted into an existing fitted and flattering pattern/style .

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    6. I think it goes in about that order - fit... flatter... fun. At least it did for me. I figured out how to fit my figure and then I looked at styles that flattered it and now I'm looking at ways to make those styles fun. That's the great bonus of a T & T. You know it works and you can graft those elements in that add excitement. The more I grasp that, the fewer patterns I need and the ones I buy are typically for those details.

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  4. Hi Myrna - what a great blog post! You are without doubt both creative and brave about plunging into new ideas, colors, techniques. It is easy to get discouraged if a pattern or fabric does not work out, and giving stuff another try is so difficult to do sometimes. I'm going to remember that!

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    1. I'm actually excited about trying them again. I liked them in the first place and I'd like to make them work for me. YES YES

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  5. I am afraid that I am with Nancy K on her comments about the fit of these clothes. Neither Tilton clothes or Ericson clothes will fit my mature and plus sized pear shape without considerable editing. And really anything I have tried usually hits the wander bin. It is entirely possible to be creative without pointy outy things on your pants. You don't want to Be them, or copy them, just channel creativity in the direction that you need to go using the inspirational bits that work for you. IMHO

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    1. Most designers design for their own body type so it can really help if you get a chance to see the designer's shape.

      I saw a fabulous interpretation of one of Katherine's designs a few years ago - it was a gorgeous blend of fabrics and colors that worked really well together only the garment didn't fit the wearer properly. She was very tiny and it overwhelmed her. Fit has huge impact and many of the designs we "doubt" would be better if fitted to that persons figure.

      What fits on one figure type doesn't fit at all well on another. An example for me would be the location of the shoulder point. If the top of the sleeve cap isn't on my shoulder point and the cap isn't high and narrow, it's a frumpy dumpy look. To get the look that works for each of us we need to know our numbers and our alterations so we can take that pattern we like and make it one we love... and then use those creative inspirations to make them work for us.

      I bought a pattern each of Marcy's and Katherine's and I have absolutely no intention of cutting on the lines and sewing as is. It was custom built for me so I'll need to shorten the center back and center front lengths, make a narrow back and narrow chest adjustment, raise the underarm, adjust the sleeve cap, possibly add a full bust adjustment, and look at how much ease I want on my hips. Minimum. Without these adjustments I'll be swamped by the garment but with them I think I'll end up with something pretty wonderful. It makes me so upset when I read a review where the writer complains about issues that are adjustments for their figure and not issues with the pattern. LOL - soap box issue here. Can you tell ? ? ?

      VBG - I do love my one pair of point-outy pants. But they are dark. Fitted to my figure. And have vertical stripes.

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    2. OH... AND... it was so good to meet you. Too fun that we were staying at the same hotel. I ordered that book from Lorraine and I'm intrigued to see that alteration you talked about. Some of her methods sound like ones I use but I have a feeling I'm going to learn a lot. Thanks.

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  6. Grand to meet you also. I have been pouring over my new text book to find my figure variations. The one Loraine told me I had is not in the book. There is my partial full inner thigh but not the extra one I have "inner knee pads"! LOL. So I can describe what she told me when you are ready.



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    1. THANKS - I'll wait til I get the book and see what I learn from it and then we can compare notes.

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