Friday, April 3, 2015

The Second Right Answer

The creative study I'm working through is Roger von Oech's A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative. I've talked about it before but to recap, it looks in detail at the ten mental locks that prevent us from being our most creative one of which is the right answer. Thinking that there is only one right answer prevents us from searching for additional answers and it's only by having choices that we can actually make the best choice in a given situation.

I learned about searching for more than one right answer during my Year of Play in 2004-5 and have carried that learning forward into fashions. I would add don't cling. Sometimes when we've stitched something less than amazing, we're reluctant to transform it and instead settle for good enough. Why? Most of us have enough clothes that settling is not necessary and since we're sewing in great part for entertainment, why not take that adventure forward?

While the tank top with the angled hem looks good on me, it doesn't feel good on me. There's something about either the hemline or the contrast with my jeans or some other unidentified element that I want to explore further and figure out but I knew I wouldn't wear that top so I cut off the hem to create the curved look in the middle picture. The camera angle is less than ideal and I'm wearing yoga pants with super adherence to my hips but... Not. Flattering. Yesterday, I finished the top at right which has many of the same features as the first one and yet it makes me feel comfortable perhaps because the hemline has more movement and less emphasis on my hips.  I know I'll wear it a lot.

A lot of my design work is done on my dressform. It's an invaluable tool that only goes so far. I keep in mind that clothing displayed on Millicent is similar to but not identical to clothing displayed on me. She lacks my customization. I work back and forth from the dressform to the mirror and keep trying the garment on. Yesterday, I spent four and a half hours finishing the neckline, armholes, and hems. There was a lot of back and forth and on and off.


To searching for more than one right answer and don't cling, I would also add take the time to get it right. The wonderful thing about sewing our own clothing is the ability to fine tune them exactly to our body. One thing I dislike about RTW tank tops is that the armhole is typically too low and that flabby bit of skin to the front is on display. I don't have to settle for that. The shape of my armhole can be exactly what my arm needs so I can wear sleeveless comfortably.


I pinned the binding in place on the dressform and then tried on the garment and repeated that until I was happy with the shape and then I stitched the binding in place on one side before using the measuring tape to transfer the information to the opposite armhole. Every inch below the shoulder seam, I measured the distance from the binding to the raw edge of the fabric and adjusted the other side to make the two sides equal.

I used a French curve to make sure that the binding moved gracefully around the armhole. If you don't have one of these rulers, they are FABULOUS for design work and for pattern adjustment.

The piecing on the center front panel and all the seams were constructed by overlapping the two fabrics, running a row of straight stitch 1/8" from the edge, and then zigzagging over the edge. With the seams, I trimmed away the seam allowance on the top layer and then matched it to the seam line on the bottom layer before stitching them together. If there was extra fabric underneath, it was trimmed tight to the stitching. For the binding...


... I fused knit interfacing to the ribbed knit with the greatest degree of stretch running along the binding strip and then cut along the ribs to make a consistent width which was then...

... pinned around the edge, stitched down the middle, and zagzagged in place along both edges. If you look in the earlier pictures, you'll see that the front neckline, back neckline, and back hemline are angled. I pinned the strip across the fabric and tried on the garment multiple times until I liked the shape and then I stitched the binding in place and trimmed away the excess.

March was a particularly productive month and this last week has been amazing. The bags above are only some of the leftovers that can be taken forward into other garments. There is still enough of this fuchsia ribbed knit to make one more top. How fun.

I have quite a few appointments booked next week when I get back from visiting my daughter and her family so I don't imagine I'll get as much accomplished as this past week but I definitely want to keep the next couple weeks after that as appointment free as possible. I need to sew.

Since last Friday's sleepless night, I've sewn the white linen top, the blue printed knit 3/4 sleeve t-shirt, this pink fuchsia tank top, and a floral sleeveless collared blouse that you haven't seen yet. I plan to add the black and white paisley top I sewed in January and - when the fabric arrives - a black knit tank top and a black knit t-shirt to make up the seven tops for my cruise collection. PROGRESS has been made. It's time for pants and skirts.

In her comment yesterday, Steph linked to the article Ten Ways to Add Drama to Your Outfit. It was interesting how many of these dramatic aspects I already incorporate either all the time, most of the time, or frequently. My hair is always done and I like a wild fluffy look glued in place so my hair moves with me. I always... always... always wear make-up although more on some days than others. I'm known for my eccentric jewelry and in particular statement necklaces. I often wear all black with bold accents. I love clothes with architectural details. I have a small but fun collection of bags and shoes in accent colors and I adore high heels and shoes with details. Apparently, I already have quite a bit of drama. That said...

... when I'm working on a project, the pictures you get are the real me living in the studio. Taking a top on and off for four and a half hours does a number on your hair and I don't wash and do it again just for the picture. I don't change my pants for better ones, add jewelry, or fluff up the image in any way. If I had to stage the photos, you wouldn't get any which means that you often see things that I wouldn't be caught dead in public in although... LOL ... what could be more public than the Internet? But you know what I mean. I guess I should try and post more Myrna Done Up pictures too. It's a thought.

Since I'm busy all weekend and won't be sewing, there won't be a post on Monday or Tuesday and we'll see if I have anything to say on Wednesday. Hopefully. I have - LOL - be known to be chatty and there is that print blouse you haven't seen yet.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - 5/7 tops

What conventional wisdom are you relying upon? What would happen if you forgot the obvious answers that spring to mind and searched for new ones? 


  1. Very nice! Yes it would be nice to see Myrna "done up" but that's ok. I do find that I'm more pleased with my garments when I put it altogether. A good or OK garment paired with its bottom, 3rd layer and accessories often becomes excellent.

  2. Great post. And I like the newest version a lot!

  3. You're killin' me!!!!!! This top refashion is AMAZING!!!!!

  4. Yowza! you hit that nail on the head! Funny how both hems are 'dramatic', but one feels so different on you than the other, isn't it? You just look so much more alive and much more 'you' in this last version. Right on!

    i hadn't thought of that, but i bet YOU would get a lot more precise picture of your garments if you took the time to do the hair, makeup, jewelry and other accessories prior to taking photos. I know that when i think back to how i look in certain garments or outfits i generally think of the photos i took, edited, and put up on the blog as that is the image i spent the most time looking at.

    Could make quite a difference - similar to how garments look on Millicent vs. how they look on Myrna! Have a great weekend, stpeh

  5. Love the new hemline - there's movement and grace, a gentle softness that is very attractive! I am intrigued by your layered patterning of the striped knit - very clever. I understand about the quick pics, maybe when you are in the final stages and try the combos with accessories for your packing you could take some pictures to post during your trip or when you return.
    I really appreciate all your sharing.

  6. Your final version is a stunner! Good for you for not "settling", and thank you so much for sharing the process you went through to reach the final version of the top. You've made me realize I don't want to "settle" on clothes, either.

  7. It is just beyond me how you *do* this! Every time. Love it!


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