Friday, May 19, 2017

Not Thinking About What Doesn't Need Thinking About

Tonight, I'm having a sleep over with my grandsons while my daughter and her husband celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. I can not believe how much faster time is moving as I age. I'm ten years older than that day I remember so clearly. As I said to a friend earlier this week, I feel a tremendous need to get up earlier, go to bed later, and get to all those ideas that are jumping around in my head.


Yesterday, I went shopping with a friend and - hopefully as I'm writing on Tuesday evening but talking as if it's actually happening/happened - wearing my new pants - the denim Trio Pants - which I finished more than once. The first time I sewed them, I took the hems back down and the waistband off, shortened them substantially, lowered the waistband an inch, and re-hemmed them. The next time I sewed them, I took the waist band off and the hems down and took another 1" seam in on each side, restitched the waistband, and re-hemmed them. And then I altered the pattern and stitched a shorter version out of a bright blue/black/white print for the summer that I am counting on coming some time soon.

I love the way the top-stitching looks with the denim thread. It's a thicker turquoise thread combined with a longer stitch length so that it will show up nicely against the fabric. Top-stitching is one of my favourite details whether it's in a coordinating or a contrasting thread. How do you feel about top-stitching? What is your favourite detail?

The taupe pair of pants that I mentioned in the last posting - the ones that I cut out but didn't sew - are in the paint pile. I'm going to add black and other colours and paint the pieces to have an overall colour/tone that I would wear. I think that will be fun.

My all time favourite - most sewn - top pattern is Vogue 8691 by Katherine Tilton although my version is so evolved from the original that Marcy once asked me whose pattern it was. I've shortened the top, removed the frilled hemline, changed the neckline, altered the sleeve length, and sewn it over and over and over again because it's incredibly flattering. I wear a black version all the time only it's gotten so big that I took a 1 1/2 - 3" in total - tuck down center front just to get me through until I can sew some more. AND THEN...

... I altered the pattern and cut out a purple version and everything that could go wrong went wrong from not walking the seam lines to make sure they were accurate and having to add 2 3/4" to the center front to hating the way the fabric stitched up to finishing the wrong side of the fabric for the sleeves because it was too dark to see which side was the right side, and... and... and... It's in muslin mode now. I've pinned and tucked and cut to see what I want to do to finesse the smaller size and I'm ready for that project when I get back to the studio.

The second wire wrapping workshop I've finished is Start Wire Weaving: Cabochon Pendants with Dawn Horner. For the assignment, I practiced with this blue stone bought quite a while ago. The instructions say to separate the two base wires by the depth of the stone only I didn't take into account that my stone was deeper in the middle and narrower on the edges. That was good learning. I'm not going to finish this pendant since it's really rather ugly. Instead, I'll cut out the stone, ball the wire up, and see what it can become however....

... I did use the technique to move on to my second - designed by me - piece. I've been asked several times what the stones are and I have no idea. I bought them on a string at Michaels. The colour of the smaller beads rubbed off when I finished the piece and I repainted them with a metallic acrylic paint before finishing the piece. Originally....

... I designed the pendant to have the curly edges to the top and kept struggling to bring the piece together until I decided to change the orientation. That's one thing I've learned with textile art and painting. That just because you think it's going to be this side up doesn't mean it's going to be this side up. No matter what I'm creating, I've learned that I have to stay flexible and listen to the developing piece and see where it wants to go.

The Craftsy platform has been fabulous for learning this new skill of wire wrapping. I'm on their email list and usually wait until there is a sale before buying a new class so I get more for my money. Some of the ones I've enrolled in haven't been at all what I wanted but most have been and some have been even more than I could have asked for. I'm finding that working through the assignments is helping tremendously. Right now, I'm enrolled in Big & Bold Wire Jewelry by Sharilyn Miller. We're actually making a necklace as the assignment so I'm not sure what I'll do for my "designed by me" piece but we'll see. I want to take the skills in a different direction to make sure I'm thinking independently.

When I get back to my jewelry bench, I'll be working on cutting apart and shaping the jump rings made from a larger gauge wire and then assembling the pieces of the necklace. Whenever I finish work for the day - or go away on a trip - I leave my studio space(s) clean and neat and ready to return to and I make sure that I know what I'm going to do next. That helps me to flow right into the work. With sewing, I'll be working on the painted pants and another top. With knitting, I'll be adding a collar to a baby cardigan. With wire wrapping, I'll be separating the jump rings and assembling the necklace. With learning, I have the next workshop ready to review. I find that knowing what I'm going to do next and having studio routines help me to think less and work more. What systems do you have that support your creativity?

The creative study I'm working through right now is Creative Thursday: Everyday Inspiration to Grow Your Creative Practice. It it, the author writes: Thanks to the Internet, there are now countless opportunities to learn from people all over the world who can inspire and/or challenge us. Exposing yourself to something entirely new will not only increase your skill level and build your knowledge base, but it might open you up to a possibility that you had no idea you would love so much. 

My oldest son and I were talking about productivity the other day. Both of us receive comments all the time about how much we produce and we both think it's because we're organized and efficient. For me, not thinking about what doesn't need thinking about is a huge part of how I work. While I'll alter my routine if needed, I pretty much follow the same schedule every day and when I'm working in the studio, I have other routines I follow like placing pattern pieces here and cut pieces there and working in a specific order and cleaning and sorting at designated stages. These all sound confining and yet they are actually freeing. If I need a pattern piece, it's over there. If I need the fabric part, it's right here. If I need thread or scissors or a zipper or elastic, it is exactly where I think it is and each project starts on a fresh page. It's a positive habit that allows me to maximize my time and creative energy. What habits do you have that work for you; what habits do you have that you'd like to change?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my hip has healed enough that I can now jump on the mini tramp again without pain... which is good for getting back to my routine of exercising before showering


  1. I agree that in many garments top-stitching is the key to defining and maintaining structure. Top-stitching on denim in a contrasting thread is also very popular right now, as is embroidery embellishment. That said, planning and organization is essential for me to accomplish anything. Even so, having such a large collection of fabrics and notions keeps me busy just remembering what I have. I carry a small swatch notebook and have pattern information stored on my phone and in the notebook as well. You seem to accomplish much and I wonder how you do all that with the busy work schedule you must have at the beauty shop! Bravo Myrna! I have likely missed several posts recently when my computer was acting up but I can see your wire wrapping seems to be a new passion.

  2. Top stitching is a nice detail that's not all that hard to do but really elevates the garment. I love how yours looks; The blue stands out, but not too much.

  3. great news about the hip healing progress, so glad to hear it.


  4. Also glad to hear that your hip has nearly healed. I try to keep my studio organized but occasionally misplace an item which is frustrating. And I rarely work on more than 2 items at a time. Everyone seems to have their own way of creating which I respect. I love your new denim pants! Karen

  5. Pain-free hips are wonderful, but I'd say that about any joint. Although with hip pain, sometimes there's no relief sitting, standing, or walking. And I can remember sooooo clearly the "old people" talking about how fast time goes. Sigh. Now I'm the one saying "whatta ya mean it's the end of May already!?!??!".

    I like where your wire work is going. That necklace reminds me of an octopus trio dancing - it makes me smile. Wire work is another "some day" item on my list, along with learning to knit, crochet, spin, weave, paint, keeping the flower beds and garden weed (mostly) weed free, and.....on it goes :-) I like top stitching, but right now, I'm happy if I get the fit close and no puckers in the seams.

  6. Love the wire work. A set of the single pendent would make great coat buttons :)
    Glad to see you so inspired. abbey


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