Musings Post SSS
It may seem strange, but participating in Self Stitched September (SSS) has made me think a lot about why I sew.
I say it may seem strange because everyone who knows me knows that I love to sew & so it may seem like a really silly question for me to ask of myself. To clarify, SSS has made me think about what I love to sew & why because it’s made me think about what I want to sew in the future. Committing to wearing at least one self-made item each day made me look at what I’ve made in the past few years & try & find ways of wearing these items everyday. Initially I thought that I needed to make more pants or tops & then SSS would be so much easier, but then I sat back & wondered if that was really the point, because, to be honest, I hate making pants & I’m still undecided when it comes to tops. So instead, I thought a lot about what I’ve really enjoyed in the past, the projects that have challenged & inspired me and of course the things that have driven me crazy & made me want to tear my hair out.
The first project that leaps to mind is, of course, my wedding dress, I’m going to exclude this from this general discussion, because, this really was a once off. I doubt there will be many times in the future when I am prepared to invest so much in a single dress, (all of it was worth it!!).
But as much as I say I will discount this project from the rest, when I look back over the past six months at the projects that were the most enjoyable/satisfying/rewarding, (my blue & green dress, the Gaga dress, my hen’s dress and the BurdaStyle book project), and the reasons why, I noticed that they all shared some common themes with my wedding dress.
Excuse me while I demonstrate my dorkiness & make a list for your viewing pleasure.
- The project had a purpose.
I hear you saying, ‘Steph, surely everything I make has a purpose’. Not true. For example, if I’m bored & feel like sewing, I’ll walk into my room, look at my patterns, find something I kind of like, look at my fabrics, find something that kind of suits it & then get halfway through making before decideding that I don’t like it or I do a dodgy job because I’m not sure if I’ll even wear it and so on, then the half-finshed garment very quickly finds itself in the basket of shame. When the project has a purpose, for example, a friend’s wedding or Malanka or even my own wedding, then I finish it (because it would have been really weird to walk down the aisle in half a dress) & I try to do a good job of it because I know I’m going to wear it & I want to look nice in it.
- There was a deadline AND a reasonable amount of time to complete the project by said deadline.
The key here is not so much the deadline but the ‘reasonable amount of time’. As all good engineers know, setting a deadline is easy, putting enough time between you & it is a little more challenging. Generally speaking, I’ve found about a month is perfect for me to make something reasonably nice & not too complex. I then have time to really plan what I want to make, find/draft the patterns I need, look for a good fabric, make a muslin & then make the final garment without rushing.
- I learnt something new or had the opportunity to perfect a recently learned technique.
This is really important as it’s what keeps me interested. My blue & green dress was all about making sure the finish was really polished, reminding myself of the importance of taking the time to do everything properly. My hen’s dress was the first pattern I’d ever drafted (even though it was with instructions). My Gaga dress was just fun & weird & something completely different. Anway I think you get the picture…
The point of this 10,000 word essay is I want to change the way I approach sewing, because I’m beginning to lose my mojo. I want to make a concerted effort to stop these slapdash projects. The majority of these projects end up unworn or unfinished, which is, if nothing else, a waste of good fabric. I want to be proud of the things I make.
At this point you’re probably worried that this essay is beginning to turn on you like a drunk at 2am on New Years Eve. You’re right to be nervous, because here come the resolutions. Personally I suggest you take Monty Python’s excellent advice and ‘Run away! Run away!’*
Actually there’s really only one & it’s not that revolutionary & really quite boring.
I would like to work on roughly one project a month and I would like that project to meet all of the requirements I listed above (purpose, time, learning).
You may wonder why I’ve even bothered posting this massive brain dump here & I guess it’s because part of this hobby overhaul, is that I want to change what I post here somewhat. I want it to be more helpful & interesting to others. Something beyond ‘look I made something’. I figure if I’m learning something new, then maybe others will too & maybe I’ll learn from them too & then maybe I’ll get stuck in a circular loop… ;)
But seriously, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening. I’ve had all this stuff churning around in me for the past month & it’s nice to put it all out into the ether. I’d also like to say thanks to Zoe from So Zo for starting SSS. Whilst I may not participate as wholeheartedly in the future, you’ve really made me think about my hobby & what I do & don’t enjoy about it. Whilst in the past I’ve loved just jumping into random projects here & there, at the end of the day I want sewing to be enjoyable & rewarding & this is what I think I need to do to make sure it stays that way.
*Watch the ‘The Holy Grail’. It’s awesome. Unless your name is Brooke, then it’s terrible & horribly silly ;)