Life, man. It gets away from a person.
I just HAD to share a new dress that I made for
my birthday Valentines Day the upcoming Joanna Newsom concert (March 29!!). I have some other projects that I have not yet shared in cyberspace, so let’s get reacquainted!
My 30th birthday was in December and I was toooootally confident I could finish this dress in time for my cocktail hour, which happened to be occurring in…two days. Can’t say I’m proud of rushing through one of the rare times I make myself a SILK DRESS. In the end, I had to wear another ensemble but REALLY HERE, I had cocktails to drink so whatever.
Plus, it has a cape-like thing on the back and that makes up for any mistakes. Such as, the not-great yoke attachment:
I’ve pressed it a few more times so it’s getting there, but for now, most people’s point of view will be here:
Not too bad, Brad. It also helps that the front doesn’t matter much, look at this BACK:
[of the dress]
Not my most creative work as far as deviating from the pattern illustration. Try to guess which version I made:
I wanted to add some contrast, so I lined the inside of what I’ll call the cape-doublet (Frenchified!) with a gray kimono silk print that is just so delicate and lovely, I had to work up the courage to use even the small bits for this.
The pattern had the cape just dangling in the wind, and I thought that was just asking for embarrassment (let’s say, a gust of wind throwing it into someone’s face. Most likely mine and yes I think about these things). I decided I’d cut the dress a few inches shorter than the cape and baste the ends to the raw hem of the dress. I cut out a lining with the front and back pieces, a few inches shorter than the dress. Attaching the lining along the hemline and basting the necklines together, the hem was lifted into place and the cape curved around it. It makes just a hint of a bubble hem and just a fun photo opportunity!
To keep with the no-hem theme, I cut out a mirror-image sleeve and folded it over into a double-layer that I basted as one piece. In all likelihood, I’ll be very overdressed at the concert as Seattleites tend to wear North Face and jeans everywhere. But I like being overdressed, so I CAN’T WAIT.
I finished this last October or November when I was still working on my STOUT projects. I assume I never blogged about this one because…well it’s a skirt. It was easy, it has elastic, it has pockets and an attached tie belt. There.
I worked some pattern-mixing in. Both fabrics are very polyester stretch wovens, making them perfect for skirts (only way to keep things breathing).
I love the elastic panel across the back. The pattern includes options for pants and shorts, getting me closer to having the confidence to attempt pants or shorts again. Beginners: GET ON THIS PATTERN. You can do it!
I wish I had counted how many baby booties I’ve made in the last year. This is the only pair I crocheted. I’m currently on a shopping fast and am challenging myself to use what I already own instead of buying everything I think I need. I’m a firm believer that constraints make me more creative. But it doesn’t necessarily make things easier.
I almost went out and bought some new yarn, thinking I didn’t have anything that would work. I searched through my bits and pieces drawer (DIFFERENT from my yarn drawer!) and found these forgotten-about skeins: one is 100% cotton and the other is 100% silk. YES THAT BABY DESERVES SILK ON HER FEETS. I think the colors look great together and are not a combination that I would usually choose. See? More creative already.
There’s a sweet little Wednesday Addams-style dress I’m working on next. And about four saved drafts that I want to post. I suppose that means I’m back on blogging! Later!
My first Colette pattern! Considering I wrote a guest post on the Colette blog before ever having completed one of their designs, I’d say it’s about time.
I can see why people like them so much! Easy pattern, clear instructions, cute results! I needed a low-risk pattern for this luscious jersey knit I bought back in 2006 while I was studying in Paris, giving it sentimental value. I had juuuuust enough yardage (er… pardon, métrage) to cut out the Moneta, so any f-ups and I’d be an inconsolable heap on the floor.But I found success! I lengthened the waist by about an inch and took a bit out of each armhole and it fits like a glove. I might have been able to finish the entire thing in a weekend, but with the 90-degree days we’ve been having in Seattle, I can only handle so much time in my hot sewing room. Did the collar call for a 3/8″ seam allowance? I used the usual 5/8″ and it turned out a bit narrow, requiring occasional adjustment to keep it looking flat and neat. NBD.
I was hoping to learn how to use a double needle for the hem, but for the life of me, I could not get it to look right. Take a look at my practice scrap…If it looks like nothing but a jumbled mess to you, exactly. I changed the bobbin tension, upper thread tension, stitch length, pressure foot pressure and could not get that god damn tunneling effect to flatten out, no matter how many tutorials I went through. Almost every one mentioned the zigzag stitch as an alternative, with the caveat that it would make my garment “look handmade.” Why are we serious crafters so worried about our handmade items looking handmade? I USED A ZIGZAG AND MY DRESS LOOKS GREAT!
Here’s a secret (not really) for you: you can make the vest yourself with vintage Simplicity 9261 (figure out how to make the baskets by Googling “crochet baskets tutorial,” natch). Realized halfway through that if I had lined the white lining to make it less transparent, I could have made a reversible vest (DUH!!). Please take advantage of my lesson learned.
More important to me than having my own Etsy store/clothing line is to encourage people to just make stuff. The ability to make things with my hands feels so freeing from the constant temptation to buy buy BUY. Although some might argue that I’ve only concentrated my blatant consumerism to a particular interest (I did recently admit to having almost 400 sewing patterns), I do find it easier to keep my money in my pocket when I’m out shopping with friends when focusing on finding sewing inspiration, therefore giving less of my money to some rich homophobe and/or encouraging the cycle of exploitative labor. It’s my way of fighting for the Big Issues in my small, individual way.
That being said, I also feel that sometimes a person just wants to see what a garment looks like IRL before jumping in and sewing. In my fantasy world, I would be able to shop off the rack AND sewing patterns at the same time. WOULDN’T THAT BE AWESOME??!!! Imagine all the times you’ve tried something on and it fits great but is made from the most awful print. What if, next to the rack is the same pattern on sale so you can sew it up instead? The closest realization of this fantasy I could find is The Makehouse in Victoria, B.C. which holds a sewing pattern borrowing library and is making physical samples of the patterns for folks to thumb through (WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT??).
Basically, I just want to be transparent about how I make what I make. I’m a librarian by trade (if not in practice at the moment), and we’re all about the beauty of sharing. We’re also all about navigating fair use.
If you’re left wondering whether or not selling a vest made from a vintage Simplicity pattern is copyright infringement, I would argue that my decidedly non-legal but informed research shows it is not (at least in the States):
…copyright protection for the designs of useful articles is extremely limited. The design of a useful article is protected under copyright “only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.”
– Statement of the United States Copyright Office before the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat072706.html#N_13_
A more readable interpretation of patterns and copyright is provided by the University Libraries of the Ohio State University. I encourage you to read more if copyright fascinates you as much as it does me.
I just love making shit. It’s pretty much all I ever want to do. I love matching a fabric with a pattern or choosing a yarn or finding some cool beads at a thrift store. I love watching my hands create something useful and pretty. And I want to share that with as many people as possible, whether it’s through encouraging others to create for themselves or making something for someone else to enjoy. Sewing is way more important to me than selling. So, hopefully through Etsy and this blog I can give someone the motivation to start being a producer instead of simply a consumer. At the very least, I have a virtual space that allows me to just keep going about my nerdy endeavors.
After god knows how many cumulative years of experience making things with my hands, I am now FINALLY trying to capitalize on my “gifts.” JK– working this new seamstress job over at Wai-Ching has invigorated my creativity. I’ve feared that turning what I love into a job would make me start to hate what I love and really the opposite has happened. So I welcome you to my little etsy shop: JonnieAnnaliese. I’ll keep adding items about as haphazardly as I post to this blog. Please use ANNASFRIENDS for a 10% discount!
/shameless self promotion over
Here is my first finished project to be created under my previously invented STOUT tag (Sewing Things Only Using Tractables). As I start blossoming into a shacked up 30-year-old, I blossom into my midlife body as well. So I’m trying to spend the next few projects focusing on elastic waistlines, drawstrings, roomy ensembles, etc. that can follow me anywhere! Because what else am I going to do– cut down on beer? AHAHAHAHAHHHHAAAAAA YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL
Anyway, this is a lovely buttery soft jersey from my last Fabric.com binge. I made the dress for a very stylish wedding I attended in LA a few weeks ago for a very stylish friend from grad school at a very stylish brewery in Glendale, where many guests consisted of stylish creatives so I really felt the best look I could hope for is “fits and is comfortable.” Luckily, in more casual situations, I can definitely pass for stylish. Or, with the right stilettos, a well-educated suburban principal on her way to church. I haven’t stopped creating dress personas since I finished The Secret Lives of Dresses.
Construction could not have been easier. The fraternal twin pieces of the lining and the fabric are sewn together for the elastic casing (no need for silly fabric casings!). I realize details aren’t easily seen through the lens of a blog, but the reason I think this is a STOUT staple is because the casing is placed low on the dress so you can hike it up to where it sits comfortably on you and the bodice will drape over the casing to conceal the elastic. Nice touch, McCalls!
I use my serger on knits as much as I can since I don’t like the stretch stitches on my regular machine, but the hem is hand sewn. For anyone interested in sewing with knits, this would make a great beginner pattern.
The tricky part was my original idea to add pockets. Now I have to file it away in my sewing memory database that slippery knits make slippery pockets. The pockets were a constant burden as they were never really IN the dress and would often fall out with my hand. Maybe it’s the dark taupe color of the fabric or the way I just described it but, there was something about the pockets that reminds one of certain gratuitously ill-lighted anatomy slides.
I just didn’t want to have to keep adjusting a sloppy pocket on each hip. What girl would?
You can see my new pocket-free confidence shine through.
On a final note, I just love to include little tidbits about my photographer/stylist/muse/stinkface. A few months ago, on the way to something or other, Emily wondered out loud When am I going to see some snails? As night fell and we were walking home, I said “Maybe you’ll see a sna—” CRUNCH. Emily hadn’t exactly seen it, but instead can say she’s stepped on a snail. Which is something I cannot allege. After taking this post’s photos (ON LOCATION OUTSIDE MY APARTMENT BUILDING), I saw a snail in the garden and Emily yelled “SHOW ME WHERE IT IS” before she would walk through so she didn’t step on it. He survived.
Soooooo….does anyone else own enough patterns to necessitate pattern cataloging?
Considering there is an app for that, I take that to mean I am not alone in the struggle for premium pattern organization. I purchased the original Sewing Kit app about two weeks before the HD version was released. Not only did that leave me a little bitter that my $9 was wasted on an “old” app, but I also wasn’t impressed with it enough to convince me to drop another $9 for the HD version. And from the looks of it, the HD version isn’t too great, either.
I’ve looked at the ways others have adapted database systems to suit their pattern cataloging needs. Virtual organization could simply come down to personal preference. Sarai at Coletterie uses Tap Forms, Lula Louise has her system using Evernote, neither of which appeal to me for no good reason at all (mostly, that I don’t want to spend a lot of time cataloging and I can never remember my Evernote password).
Instead, I use Pinterest and now the world knows I own at least 385 sewing patterns (I’m sure I missed one or two).
My cataloging system is fairly rudimentary in that the main appeal of this system is pretty pictures. Plus, I didn’t have to take any of my own photos– I just Pinned from the pattern company’s page, etsy or the Vintage Patterns Wikia.
What I like best about my virtual catalog is the ease with which I can match my inspiration with its coordinating pattern. Just type in the pattern number, limit the results to My Pins, and any Pin matching that (usually) unique number will pop up and I can scroll through ideas for that pattern, even if I Pinned it on another Board.
For example, if I search for “5894,” for Butterick 5894, and limit the results to Your Pins…
…the Pin from the Patterns I Own Board appears as well as a similar dress that I Pinned to another Board and labelled as 5894 and I can look at both at once.
What if I want to search for particular garments? Since Pinterest doesn’t have an option to filter search results to just one Board, I labeled the patterns using plurals (“dresses”) with the assumption that most of the Pins on my other Boards are labeled singularly (“dress”) and will thus not show up in my search results.
Here is a visual: searching for “dress”
Searching for “dresses”
The Pinterest system only works OK for garments with no singular such as, say, “pants.”
Regardless, I like that I’m not limited to the usual categories. I can create my own labels, such as “open source” (y’all know your BurdaStyle patterns are Open Source, correct?) and scroll through those.
It’s nowhere near a perfect system, but considering how much time I spend on Pinterest, at least I can gain from the convenience of my pattern catalog being in the same virtual space. What I really want is a LibraryThing type website & coordinating app for all sewing patterns– new, vintage, and out-of-print. You could make lists of patterns you have, you want, that you’ve made, see pictures of what others have made, tag them…I really should have taken that app class in grad school.
I hope that is helpful to someone out there! And please let me know if I can explain any better (my writing skills have gone downhill since writing my FORTIETH cover letter).
Any pattern hoarders out there want to share your cataloging system? Or try to convince me of the greatness of Evernote? I’m open to convincing.
Before I get started, I want to let y’all know I recently did a tongue-in-cheek guest post titled How to Prevent DIY Anxiety for Coletterie. Welcome, new readers! And thanks to Sarai for taking a chance on a little-known vanity blogger. I’ll let the conversation on that piece continue on Coletterie because today I wanted to talk about the chubs. I feel so cliché when I talk about my weight. I also find it next to impossible to actually just talk about my weight without advice, reiterated diet myths, or being told I’m not fat as if that was all I was looking for (I realize it’s well-intentioned). It is of course, not the end of life as I know it. I realize I’m still the person I am, no matter what size. I’m also not a lazy public health crisis. I don’t feel unattractive to my partner or ugly. I do admit being humbled when, as a thinner person, I extolled the virtues of confident double-digit-sized women, and then find myself thinking too long and too hard about that unflattering angle a photo caught me in. To be honest, I knew it was coming and I’m not interested in trying to stop the tide. I’m perfectly happy with my life and I’m not going to waste my time counting calories and running on a boring-ass treadmill. I already tried that anyway and I hated it far more than I hated finding another dress I was unable to zip. It’s just a fucking dress, now hand me a scotch and some chips.
That being said, I feel like I’ve developed a strange deterrent from starting a new sewing project. Why spend the time, energy, and (already spent) money on a new dress, only to outgrow it after only a few wears? Which seems very counterintuitive at first. Sewing is supposed to be a way for a person to create clothing for an individual shape. So surely, I hold an advantage as a sewist in that I don’t find myself sized out of some brand that doesn’t believe in the mythical being called the Size Twelve. But, mind blown, no matter how great my hand-hemmed, fit-adjusted-three-times, waist-nipping dress fit over the months I was creating it, after a year and a few more pounds, it no longer fits. Now, I have to not only think about the fit in the present, but also the fit a hypothetical twenty pounds from now. My usual hourglass style doesn’t work so well without the hourglass shape.
At the same time, though, I’m surprised at how much of a relief it is. Like I said, I knew Getting Fat was my genetic and/or cultural destiny and now that I’m no longer delaying the inevitable, it’s actually a little freeing. Like I’ve spent the last fifteen years as a fat wolf in a thin sheep’s clothing (yes, I was the Fat Friend, and no, I am not getting into that on the Internet). So now I’m a chubster and I’m still happy. Happier. And I secretly feel like a badass when I wear something I “shouldn’t” and don’t make any excuses for it. I imagine all the times I pointed out flaws in myself for doing things like Sitting While Wearing Pants and try to imagine what I thought would happen if I didn’t say anything. Did I expect someone to say it for me? Wouldn’t that make the Fat Fink the jerk? Hyperbole aside, others are fatter than me and others are thinner than me, so who cares? My weight is my business.
But, with this new-found fat awakening, I still care about comfort. So bring on the elastic waists! In fact, I’m planning on spending 2015 Sewing Things Only Using Tractables (new tag: STOUT). I might need to work on that acronym. But I’m trying to be more open to seeing the potential in the non-fitted.
If you ask me, this is a prime example of look-at-the-technical-drawing-not-the-illustration. Look at that envelope! It looks like a fever dream set in an 80’s office!
But there was something about the pencil skirt and the black a-line skirt that caught my eye. Pencil skirts have always been uncomfortable to me, but I can’t resist the sexy secretary look. A pencil skirt with stretchy sides, though? In a print to take the edge off the elastic waist? BOOM
No zipper necessary, making this an excellent beginner pattern. PLUS, only one yard of 60″ wide fabric. The print fabric has a bit of a stretch, which also helps the comfort quotient. Can’t get enough of this skirt!
Bonus points, it’s the skirt version of a hat I made for my dad.
The pattern includes a kick-pleat in the back, but I decided to sew it up “for that streamlined look” (don’t know why that requires quotes, but it felt right).
Looking at these pictures, you can see exactly on the seam where I decided “Screw the kickpleats!” so I might go back and readjust the back seams to make it a little more consistent (that’s not being perfectionist, right? Just detailed?). My S.O. assisted me in the photography for this post and of course, as I’m looking through the images, I come across this number:
I get the help I ask for.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to making the a-line version. Highly recommend! It’s just about as comfy as a new set of slippers…
Not much more to say here than what I said the first time I made these. I do have to say the marled look was not the original plan and instead a happy result of Shopping My Stuff. Didn’t quite have enough of any one yarn to knit these and used two instead. I’m loving my new (relatively) frugal self.
Since I’ve never been good at conclusions, especially when I start writing about something as personal and contentious as weight, I’ll simply offer a St. Paddy’s Day toast: To a cozy STOUT year!
Pattern: Simplicity 2451, view D (+1/2)
Fabric: garage sale
I can’t imagine this is going to be a very long post. My Little Red Skirt was one of those projects that I whipped up without a problem. I got the fabric from a friend of a co-worker’s fabric garage sale back in 2008 or 2009. The woman was a fashion designer on top of that, so it was a magical garage indeed. She was selling vintage and new fabric for like $1 per yard and let’s just say I spent more than $50 there. Then, I became way too scared to use up most of the fabric I bought because that is a fear that I have. But I love those Sudden Clarity Clarence moments when I match a pattern to its fabric, which is what happened here.
The fabric is so busy that I thought only a mini-skirt would do it justice. You may have noticed above that I used view “D 1/2.” The pattern offers a longer version with a vent and a mini version, cut off above the vent. I cut out the longer version so I could hem it at just the right length, and ended up with a mini vent in the back. Juuuuust right.
The zipper!! I’ve had this stashed away for some time. It belonged to my step-grandma. She died when I was a baby, but my mom inherited her insane amount of sewing, knitting, and crafting supplies (THREE SEWING MACHINES) and I have spent the last decade pilfering these supplies from my mom.
Even though the fabric looks like a woven (and I guess it technically is, I don’t know these things), it has a substantial amount of stretch to it. Like any Mad Men fan, I love pencil skirts, but my baby-making hips make them feel too constraining. This pattern is great because it’s wider in the hips and then slims down at the hem, so not exactly a pencil skirt but close enough. The stretch in the fabric makes it that much more comfortable. I usually wear skirts that fit higher around my waist, but as long as I have pockets, I am a happy skirt-wearing camper.
Sewing and fast fashion might seem like completely different ways of dressing oneself. One is slow and methodical, the other is impulsive and cheap. Apples and oranges. But for me, I find the more I sew, the less I want to buy something from H&M.
It’s not that I NEVER shop fast fashion– I still succumb to impulse purchases if I find a dress or a top that is OMG SUPER CUUUUTE! But if you really look at the designs, they’re pretty simple. What gets you to impulse-buy something is usually a cute print, a bright color, or some kind of detail (I think in the fashion world they call it “interest”) that makes it special. So simple design + cute fabric + optional INNNNTEREST (I’m trying to say it all pretentious) = cute garment. The difference, of course, it that cute fabric does not always mean quality. Skirts shrink, armholes rip, etc. etc. Take for instance, my apple dress from H&M:
I bought this at the Dallas H&M. I was living in Austin at the time and went to Dallas for a conference. Dallas has (or maybe had, I’m not sure) the only H&M in Texas, so my friends and I were all excited to get our fix. I have a thing for apples (I’m from Washington, my name starts with A, I have an apple tattoo, I don’t know I just do), so of course I felt I needed this dress.
A few washes later, the length was becoming a problem (in this picture, I’d had it only about 4 months and it’s already shorter than I’d like). I think it hit me when I sat down on the bus and realized there wasn’t even the protection a thin layer of cloth could provide between that bus seat and my ass. Eck! Dress Over. I wasn’t ready to give it up, though. I don’t like throwing out clothes after a few months, even if it was only $20. So I hacked off a few inches and made the dress into a little peplum top. Cute!
Until, of course, a few washes later and now even the top is too short (I don’t even have a picture of it because I only wore it a few times). AND I STILL DON’T WANT TO GIVE IT UP. Now it’s sitting in a closet waiting for a few inches of trim to be added around the hem. As I’m writing this, though, I’m realizing I’m fighting a losing battle.
So what did I save here? I’ve had the dress only two years and it has already become unwearable twice. I know I’m supposed to have thrown it out at this point or given it to a charity shop (which, by the way are now overrun with clothes they can’t even sell). During my Save the Apple Dress phase, I started to realize how much work and money I put into salvaging my cheap clothing (trim, after all, isn’t free). Think about all the cute things I could have made in those two years that could still be wearable. I still have my Hilary Duff lemon dress that I made four years ago and it’s in great condition (as well as a reasonable length).Simple design + cute fabric. The fabric wasn’t even expensive or particularly high quality (it was from Joann, along with the McCall’s pattern, on sale for $1.99).
What I’m getting at is that fast fashion isn’t as cheap as it initially seems. I’m not even going to get into the ethical problems of cheap clothing (I think that’s common knowledge at this point and it clearly and sadly isn’t stopping most people from buying it, including myself). But if over the course of a year, your $15 or $20 dress is supposed to be replaced AT LEAST once, now you’ve spent $30-40 as well as time at the mall (eck), possible mending (even if it’s turning a dress into a top), and that probably won’t last another year. Why not spend the $30 on cute fabric and a simple pattern and make something that fits well and is unique? Or bust out something from your sewing stash? I should ask myself those questions next time I’m tempted by something I think I “need.”
Obviously, not everyone has the time to sew and for some, fast fashion is a necessity. Understandable. But why have a closet full of craptastic clothing if you can afford to create something better?
As I mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to make myself a pair of underroos. And now that my sewing aspirations have been met, I can finally stop sewing (lollllllzzz). And as promised, I will not model them.
I think it’s fairly common knowledge in the home sewing world that vintage patterns are annoyingly difficult to decipher. And just to frustrate myself, I guess, I decided the first time I was going to make undies, I would use a vintage pattern (and with a knit, which I also hardly ever sew with). I hit some difficulty by Step 2, so I ended up using the instructions from the Out-of-Print McCalls underwear pattern, which I hope to sew up in the near future.
I was on a vintage underwear pattern kick a few months ago. I love the drawing with her long, flowy blonde hair, just chillin in her, ahem, “full coverage” bikini undies.
I’m not going to call them granny panties.
I actually did cut a bit out of the rear and they still cover everything. The crotch piece is comically wide, and I thought about taking a picture, but perhaps that would be too much? Regardless, they are SO COMFORTABLE it’s like they’re not even there. Perfect fit. And I had to put a little bow on the front, since they’re not panties without a little frill.
So happy with them! I have three or four other patterns I want to try out at some point, but my fabric stash doesn’t include a lot of knits (guess I have to go fabric shopping!!! Emily is groaning right now). I don’t think they were easy enough to earn a “beginner pattern” tag, so I created a new one for less than one yard (tags are at the bottom of the post). I have a few small pieces in my stash that I could use up, so I should start paying attention to smaller pieces.
If you ever need some low-mental-energy fun, I highly suggest doing a search for “panties sewing pattern” on Etsy and limiting to Vintage. You’ll get gems like the following:
Completely off topic, I spend a few days last week in Palm Springs at a midcentury-modern hotel called the Orbit In, which was a delight. Here I am floating in my inflatable pretzel. Since we’re on the topic of vintage, thought I’d share (look at that poolside bar!). Emily knows how to plan a weekend getaway.
Some time ago I read an article in the New York Times titled You Can’t Take It With You, but You Still Want More and I can’t stop thinking about it. If you’re a research nut (or are looking for three peer-reviewed articles for a research paper), the actual study is published in Psychological Science and available through your local library. In a rather small nutshell, the study found that students from a “large public university” (I’m assuming in the US since 2/3 of the authors are from American institutions, but I could be wrong) will forgo leisure in order to earn more of something they cannot consume. Their methodology is actually really interesting (why can’t I ever think of something clever like that??) and the NYTimes summarizes it better than I will attempt to. But it led me to wonder, in my own life…..
Why can’t I just appreciate something without feeling the need to have it???
I just went through my sewing pattern stash and set aside 56 patterns I don’t expect I’ll ever make and it hardly made a dent in my lifelong accumulation.
I’ve tried to justify my hoarding– “They’re so cheap, so what if I never get around to it?!” “It’s creative inspiration!” “How can I NOT buy this ridiculous vintage bra pattern?”
Do I have any intention of making a big old bullet bra? Absolutely not. But the problem is, even with all of my justification, when I do clean out my stash, I feel a little guilty. I start telling myself “you really need to sew more” or “you waste so much money.” So it’s no longer fun or “inspirational,” but instead something else that I’m not doing enough of (other things: exercise, cleaning, meeting new people, hiking, library assessment, publishing, whatever). My attempts at self-discipline have more often than not failed. For example, I’m fortunate enough to have a dedicated craft room in my apartment and when I moved in here, I told myself No More Hangers= No More Fabric:
I have continued buying fabric:
My sewing board on Pinterest has almost 400 pattern and fabric pins. When I see some kind of FABULOUS pattern on Etsy (those glasses!):
all I want to do is buy it just so….I can have it? WHERE DOES THIS MADNESS END??
I remember reading an article in an anthropology class in college– The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race by Jared Diamond (spoiler alert: Diamond believes it’s agriculture). This particular passage has stayed with me:
Are twentieth century hunter-gatherers really worse off than farmers? Scattered throughout the world, several dozen groups of
so-called primitivepeople, like the Kalahari bushmen, continue to support themselves that way. It turns out that these people have plenty of leisure time, sleep a good deal, and work less hard than their farming neighbors. For instance, the average time devoted each week to obtaining food is only 12 to 19 hours for one group of Bushmen, 14 hours or less for the Hadza nomads of Tanzania. One Bushman, when asked why he hadn’t emulated neighboring tribes by adopting agriculture, replied, “Why should we, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?“
I’m ignoring Diamond’s use of “primitive” to describe Kalahari people. Anyway, why indeed work so hard when there are enough proverbial mongogo nuts to satiate everyday’s appetite? I recognize this could be a “first-world problem,” but regardless, it’s hard to deny the Glorification of Busy. So many tools that were created to streamline everyday activities turn into a time-suck that leaves us feeling overwhelmed and not good enough. Plenty of people have written about the problem with comparing oneself to “perfect” social media images, so I won’t get into that. I love Pinterest and social media, so I’m not ever going to just give it up. I am struggling with how to see something that I could potentially purchase and just appreciate it without owning it. Or learning how to shift my leisure time from spending so much time online PLANNING projects to an activity more meaningful, like actual sewing. And doing so without making myself feel guilty when I do indulge in an Etsy-athon. As someone who is so tied to my to-do list (which rarely involves anything fun), I’m trying to keep telling myself that I’m allowed to play. Not that I “deserve” to play (that indicates I have to do something to earn it). But also that I don’t have to accomplish every idea that comes in my head. So what that I have 99 crafts on a Pinterest board or almost 200 items of clothing on another? Do I have to do/purchase all of them? No. But I should be considering why I feel the need to purchase every single thing that appeals to me.
If you can’t tell, I’ve been reading a number of self-help books.
I started this post as a stream of consciousness, so I’ll try to wrap it up as nicely as I can. I know all I can do is spout platitudes like “You do enough!” or “Comparison is the thief of joy!” But as I learn to be less cynical about these kinds of things, I start to accept them. I did an activity last week similar to The Wheel of Life and it helped me put into perspective what in my life I value and how I should work on balancing my time. The only way a consumerist society can work is if most people feel unsatisfied with their current state. So stop judging others. Stop comparing. And ask yourself often: “Do I want to do this right now? Do I have to do this right now?” If the answer is no to both, fuck it.
In case you were wondering, the books I’ve been reading are:
The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown
Dr. Brown might be known by some from her TED talks. People like her because she’s not all crunchy “love yourself and others!!” and is very relatable.
Making Peace with Your Plate by Robin Cruze and Espra Andrus
Even though this was meant for people with Eating Disorders, E.D. can be replaced with any number of things. After all, eating disorders are arguably one manifestation of perfectionism. If you have a tendency to be obsessed with being perfect at something or reaching an unattainable goal– whether it’s weight loss, academics, your home life, etc. this book will magnify the irrational thinking behind it.
Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice by Dr. Robert W. Firestone, Dr. Lisa Firestone, and Joyce Catlett
I haven’t finished this book, but it’s full of readings and activities to bring out the reasoning being your critical self-talk.
Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
Not a self-help book, but a novel. It is AMAZING so I wanted to share. I guess I could argue it shows how living under an expected “norm”– and judging others based on that norm– is really a form of critical self-talk. Maybe.