If 2008 was the year of upheaval, 2009 the year of adjustment, and 2010 the year of treading water, then I want 2011 to be year that sh*t got real. 2010 was by no means a bad year but it was definitely an unhappy one. I’m still trying to unpack the reasons why that might be. One thing however is clear to me though. I traded in discipline for survival and it shows in so many areas of my life. I think because I was so tired, overworked, and overwrought I applied the “enough to get by” standard to most non-work areas of my life, and nowhere more so than in my crafting. So I enter 2011, five pounds heavier, financially not at all where I want to be, up to my eyeballs in clutter, and staring down an unfinished mountain of projects. I’m still working on rectifying a lot of this (most of it will require a lot of work and attention throughout the year, see my resolutions list) but this Saturday I took a big step towards the last item on this list–I started a 10 week class on garment construction and design.
I think it’s important to know when to ask for help. I’m proud that up to this point, my only formal instruction in sewing, is one afternoon workshop I took in law school at my local fabric store. I’m largely self taught, learning what I could from books, the internet, and a helluva lot of trial and error. All that has only gotten me so far though. Nothing makes me cringe more than garments that look “handmade.” If I wear a garment of my own making, I want someone to say: “Damn, you made that?” and not “Oh yes, that looks handmade!” With that standard in mind, I found myself getting frustrated by the growing stack of unfinished garments in my unfinished projects graveyard. I think part of the reason behind this is that garments demand a level of attention and precision that I could not provide in 2010. Garments are unforgiving. There isn’t much room to fudge.
As the pile of unfinished projects has grown, so has my anxiety about garment making. At some point, I realized I wasn’t going to get out of this mess alone so I bit the bullet and decided that I’d commit ten Saturdays in 2011 to getting serious about garment making. I had my first class on Saturday and to say that I’m elated doesn’t even begin to cover it. I think I learned more in those three hours than I did in my entire first year of sewing. We covered a lot of ground–some basics about garment construction, fit, pattern-making, and the history of garment making and design–and we had our first demo in draping. Draping is a fascinating process. It’s a very intuitive and collaborative process; you spend a lot of time listening to what the fabric is telling you.
What I absolutely love about this class is that our instructor spends a lot of time telling us the WHY of things in addition to the HOW–why a fabric behaves a certain way and then how to address that. I realize now that a lot of the frustrations and roadblocks I encountered in garment making are because I wasn’t listening. I picked the wrong fabric for the wrong project. I didn’t realize there’s a better way to do something. I followed instructions blindly. I didn’t make muslins (this perhaps, is my greatest grievance). Basically, I was fighting the process at every turn. Should I be surprised then that I end up with garments that make me cringe?
Next week we’re going to “copy” a garment that we bring in–that is make a pattern from an already finished garment. Then we are going to construct a muslin, address fit and pattern issues, and based on our pattern, make a final (hopefully wearable garment) in a fabric of our choosing. I already have a garment in mind to copy, this cowl neck that I adore. I can’t wait to tell you more about what I’m doing and learning over the next several weeks! Hope you had a lovely weekend!