Tuesday, 16 September 2008


It's been ages since I went shopping with for stock with like minded people. People with similar skills and knowledge, people with great taste. Mostly it's because I just don't have the time (as we all lamented), and end up instead stocking my stash cupboards in a random and opportunistic fashion.

But a day planning projects with others is a most worthy investment. Even if it fails to yield the yarn and trim on the urgently required list.

For a start they see things I don't. Rolls of fabric invisible to my pre-programmed eyes, project possibilities not even on my radar. Combinations of colours and textures. And then there's the tips and tricks which naturally bubble up when talking through a range of choices. The bad experiences, the lessons learnt. Bypassing the need to make all your own mistakes makes a welcome change.

And in between shops and deliberations there's a very pleasant lunch, and some show and tell of projects blogged months ago. I have to keep reminding myself that despite all the talking and sharing, this is a first time meeting. Praise the internet for getting all the boring stuff between acquaintances out of the way without using up our actual face to face time.

This meet up was most timely for me since I've been feeling a restless urge to sew big time for a while now. I suspected it was more than just Spring fever and after talking with the sewing compadres I think it really is. Sure I want some new clothes to take me effortlessly between my arse wiping floor mopping muck covered mummy days and my smart CBD office attire, but I also want to wear my craft. I want to be a little less safe in my clothing choices and starting thinking about things in a different way. I'm feeling bold.

One of my strengths as a sewer and clother (that's a word, right?) is my attunement (did I make that one up too?) to good fabric. I really think I can spot and feel good fibre instinctively. I make no such claims about colour and patterns - in fact colour is a positive weakness for me but that's another story (can it be learned?). I sew with good stuff - stuff that feels nice and wears well and looks like it is supposed to look - and I think this compensates at least a little for my natural tendency to scrimp on the precision detailing.

But I've always seen design as just a way of showcasing the fabric. And with me inside, with all my mess of plus size fears and phobias, I've really restricted the kinds of clothes I make. When I was a starting out sewer as a teenager, I made everything big and (hide in here!) shapeless. When I hit my twenties and really honed my tailoring skills I wore a suit pretty much everyday. When I had kids I quit the suits for obvious reasons, lost the time to sew and ended up in jeans and T-shirts.

I still have the occasional good sewing adventure and buy the odd interesting thing but mostly my wardrobe and sewing projects reflect the kind of straddled compromise I feel live. The pragmatism and practicality, the can't be bothered with anything more complicated than the minimum, the I don't want to stand out or have to make choices that count when I have two kids hanging off me/throwing up/wiping snotty noses on my shoulder/just doing the school drop of anyway kind of way.

Spending time with others who have the same kinds of lifestyle issues I do was really inspiring. Not in the wow look at what she made, I wish I had her life kind of way. More in the it's hard to make the time but gee I'm glad when I do kind of way. The I so love this thing I made which was a little unusual kind of way. The I may not have much time but I know how to use it kind of way.

So now I've got a stock of projects on the cutting table. Some of them are simply home made slightly more interesting versions of jeans and T-shirts. Others are still in the planning - fabrics I love so much I need time to work out how to do them justice at the same time as producing pieces I can wear and love. I am especially transfixed by this loose knit linen which happens to go quite nicely with a piece of poppy print woven linen from my stash. I can't decide which side I like better between the stocking stitch and the reverse, or even whether an outfit made out of these fabrics will suit me, but I reckon it is time I found out.

When I was describing my sewing style I realised that I have gone from an experimental, trial and error creator to a sew by numbers pattern person. I know I made that progression for a reason (several in fact), and that there is real value in being methodical and reasoned. If I had more time to invest I'd start out by redrafting all my pattern blocks and doing things the proper way. But I don't. And actually I am kind of glad about that. Maybe a little time playing will do me the power of good.


Anonymous said...

please tell us where you found that linen knit...it is divine!!!!

Janet said...

I'm looking at those dark grey wovens and thinking oooh (and about my own needs); a-line skirts and pants for work, boring but required.

I think a day stocking put sounds like a day very well spent.

trashalou said...

I reckon I'm good for 'attunement' but may have to draw the line at 'clother'.

kirsten said...

did you get that linen knit with me?
and i didn't buy 15m of it??
i have been ogling that pic of it on flickr. [think i best get back there and try again - perhaps a low blood sugar or low caffeine moment...]
sensational, i tell you!
and get sewing, girl - you have a gorgeous selection of textile there just awaiting you!

Iona said...

Mmm, that poppy print and that grey knit - green with envy at the moment.

I'm getting a similar feeling, that I could be more adventurous in my clothing but it's just easier not to be. But I've decided to play a bit more with colour and print choices and combine that with a bit of serious self-tutoring on patternmaking. I'm hoping it means the best of both worlds - me clothes that fit!

Di said...

Indeed it was an excellent day, and you have articulated it so much better than I ever could have.
Attunement is a word I am sure, but I think you meant "Clothier" :)) I have a very good friend (an excellent sewer) who had business cards for her part time hobby business made up stating that she was a Clothier. Which aside from impressing me greatly at the time, I think proves that it must be legit.

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