Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Well, I promised myself, back when I started this blog, that I would not allow long periods of time to pass without posting something. Now it's been over 2 months again! Shame on me.

In my own defense, school did start during those 2 months, both for myself and for the boys. It has been hectic, getting used to the new routine, getting classes prepped every week and all the rest. The positive in all of this is that after a slightly rocky start, both boys are on their way to doing ok in school, so we'll take that gladly and move on.

Studio-wise - oh my - lots going on and lots of thoughts. I've got projects for 3 clients all in various stages, all waiting to be finished. I have trouble making myself work on those things some times, either because I'm not sure what I'm doing with them, or because there are other things I would like to be doing. That old conflict between what I should do and what I want to do keeps tripping me up. The good side of the client stuff is that I have figured out how to balance between my desire to do things perfectly, and the need of both my client and myself to having things done fast and less expensively. I'm learning.

Perhaps my biggest studio issue these days is the problem of what to sew for me and how to use up some of the overwhelming quantity of fabric and supplies that have accumulated over the years. We all chuckle at the concept of the fabric stash, arguing in favor of it as a hedge against inflation, and our own personal, open-24-hours-fabric store for middle-of-the-night sewing emergencies. Still, I've reached a point where the volume of the stash sometimes feels crushing. It's become too much. Money was spent to build the stash, so giving any away brings on guilt. Too, the stash has been considerably refined over the years, to the point where there really aren't that many pieces no longer in keeping with my ever-evolving tastes. So I need to use it up!

I look at my closet and dressing area - the obscenities of my wardrobe are as bad as my fabric stash. Having not maintained my weight-loss of a few years back, I now have 2 whole wardrobes - one larger sizes, one smaller sizes. I cannot bring myself to give up on getting back to the goal weight, cannot afford to give up for health reasons, yet must dress every day, so must keep the clothes. It's absurd. There's too much for my closet and my shelves. I do NOT NEED more clothes.

Do I wear my own work to my classroom? Ummm....no. I should though. A teacher of sewing and fashion design classes should absolutely be wearing her own work to the classroom, most of the time at least. So even though I do not need more clothes, I should be sewing for me for professional wear. I'm thinking that I need to sew pieces for now, regardless of size, and continue doing so even if the size seems to be changing. As for space, well I guess I need to apply the rule of getting rid of one piece for every new piece that I sew. Might even get rid of 2 pieces for every sewn piece at the beginning. Again, I paid $ for those clothes, but I know that not everything in my wardrobe, large or small, is the best possible fit - when it fits. Some pieces are not so flattering. It won't be easy, but I'm sure that I can clear out some pieces, refining the wardrobe in both size areas to where it's only the very best pieces left, with newly sewn pieces gradually taking over.

For a while, before that previous paragraph took shape in my mind (over many weeks), I was thinking that I needed to sew for me, but not needing clothes was looking for something ELSE to sew. I've always wanted to dress for the lectures in the History of Fashion class. I want to go to class wearing what I'm discussing that day. It will be fun and interesting and certainly could keep my sewing skills busy for a long, long time. I've been told that I should just sew 1/2 scale pieces, so that the students could touch and look. I might do that TOO, but I really want to do pieces that I can wear.

I've started that project, as per my previous posts (July 2009), with the 2 gowns that I did before Costume College. The dark green jacquard turned out ok, though I did not end up wearing it at CoCo. I just didn't have enough time to get my hair and accessories and such together. The white gown with the blue under-layer will need a different set of stays and the first stay did not work as well under the white as it did under the green.

Now, I'm planning out garments and patterns for several periods, figuring out underpinnings and getting ready to build a lot in the months ahead. I've got fabrics and trims set aside to do a while collection of Greek and Roman pieces, enough that we can use them in class, with the students getting to try wrapping multi-yard pieces into chitons and peplos and togas. I want those pieces to be nicely finished and trimmed, not just ragged cuts of yardage.

I'm also scouting patterns for a late 18th C. caracao (jacket) for a piece of fabric that is just begging to be sewn soon. Several other fabrics have got their destinies in view, so it will, will, will be a busy, productive fall and winter. OH, and I came up with a nice form to use for planning my costumes and keeping my ideas in order, even if I can't get to them for a while. I'll post a link to it here, as soon as I figure out how!

As for the sewing for my own wardrobe, I probably broke a mental barrier yesterday. I picked up and sewed up a pair of dark, dark olive-brown, slinky knit pants. I can't even remember which pattern I used to cut them, but I threw them together in a fairly short time, mostly serging the seams and am really happy with how they turned out. It feels so good to see something that I sewed, hanging in my dressing area, ready to be worn. I'll post a photo if I can convince myself to do so. I hadn't sewn slinky before, except to hem rtw pants. It went well and I'm going to cut 2 or 3 more pairs. I wear a lot of slinky pants already, but almost all black. I really want to have some color options!

Oh yes...the other big problem area in my studio - all of the home dec projects waiting to be finished! Part of what broke me out of my sewing block was that I finished a curtain panel over the weekend. Now both ends of the living room window have curtains - it's only been a year or two like that! I need to take the panel down and re-do the hem as it came out a little longer than it should have, but right now I don't care. It hangs partly behind a set of shelves, partly behind the cluster of plants and plant stands at that end of the window, so no one but me will notice that it is a little too long. It can wait.

Now that the weather has changed, I really need to finish one of the two bed covers for the master bedroom. I planned and got fabric to do a major overhaul of that room, but have finished nothing in 3 years I suppose. The original bed cover got the better of me somehow and I just set it aside.

Since then, I've also started a cover made of 14" squares set on point, cut from home-dec samples that were being discarded. These were fabrics that ranged from $100-400+ per yard. It took 80-90 squares to build the top. I serged them together with the seams on top, intending to cover the seams with upholstery gimp. This would make the back side completely finished too. I've since rethought how I should have done it, but I'm not changing it. It's in 2 pieces right now. I want to put the gimp on 1/2 of the seams - parallel to the last seam that joins the 2 sections, then do that join, then put on the rest of the gimp. It's really big - a bedspread rather than comforter size and it's going to be a lot to manipulate around the machine, especially after the 2 sections are joined.

I can't decide which to finish first, but we need one of them right away as we really do not have anything properly sized for the king-sized bed and have been making do with overlapping smaller pieces ever since we got rid of the waterbed. I want a nice room and I want it now and I need to GET THIS DONE!

Then I can work on the window treatments, bed skirt, table cover, throw pillows and whatever else I had planned. Is it any wonder that my studio is drowning in fabrics, projects and supplies?

I want my workspace to feel comfortable. I don't want to feel like I'm drowning in my own list of projects. I want to make lots of wonderful things. I want to dress in my own work and feel going doing so. I want not to feel confused and frustrated in my own space. And most of all...I want to crawl under warm, comfortable covers that are big enough for both of us to share!

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