Monday, August 30, 2010

Introduction: k.

My name is k. and I like to make people do what I want! hehehe  This support group was imagined (very selfishly I might add) as a way to get motivated again.  I have been sewing forever, but due to some vagaries of my life (kids, location, health) I have been in a bit of a lull.  I don't like that.
For many years I pursued sewing as my private profession, sewing much of the day working on designs for collectors of fashion dolls.  It is a great job and my sewing has really grown a lot since Boxpleat Fashions began more than 10 years ago.  The trouble is that once sewing became work I quit sewing for FUN.  It all became doll sewing with no more quilting, no more clothes for me or even for my kiddos.

It wasn't all bad though, as it pushed me to build my design and pattern drafting skills.  One of my favorite things to do currently is to search out vintage patterns and fashion photos and draft it for one or more of the dolls "I work for."  Several times in the last several years I have designed things that made me say "Ahh!" with delight when they worked just the way I saw them in my minds eye.  Working in 1/4 and 1/3 scale has some surprising benefits over sewing for people.

First,  it lets me explore fabrics in much more dramatic ways.  It is MUCH easier to buy a single yard of fabulous cashmere, micro-sequins or silk matka.  Especially since the $$$ pricetag is balanced by the fact that if I make 2 or 3 suits out of that cashmere it is easy to earn it back.  It is also easier to store your fabric collection when it doesn't have to be dress lengths.  It also is much less intimidating to explore new types of fabrics because the investment is really relatively small.  It took me several years to get over being super CHEAP about my fabric selections and buy what I wanted rather than just what was on sale.  I still do that, but I can buy the good stuff too.  (And heaven help us if the good stuff is on sale....)  It is great fun to find little samples and remnants that no one else can use but me.

Second, let's be honest.  I wear jeans and a t-shirt almost every day.  I have a collection of vintage suits and things but they get worn twice a year if I am lucky and I never seem to go to formal events at all.  Much of doll collecting is about fantasy and many of my customers buy things they themselves would never (or could never) wear themselves.  There is a LOT of room to explore.

Third, and perhaps finally for now, when you don't have a ton invested in the pattern, the fabric etc, it is easier to just bail when something isn't working.  I remember once picking out a LONG seam on something I was making for myself....that simply doesn't happen in my work.  Even if I do decide to pick something out, it is often just a few inches.

I don't have any professional training but I have put in more years sewing than some people who do.  I am a believer in the right tool for the job and I probably have most of them at this point, so if you need to borrow something.  I love sewing and I want to work on things that challenge me.  I despise doing the same thing over and over again. k.

The pics are all lifted from my website and are some of the ones I have enjoyed working on for various reasons.  All are patterns of my own drafting, and all are in private collections.  The other thing you can learn from these pics is that I am NOT a photographer.  If anyone wants to give me pointers, feel free. :)

Welcome to The Group!

There is always techniques, better skills, a tool we never thought we needed.  This Sewing Support Group is a chance to grow your skills.  Maybe your skills are prodigious, maybe non-existent, but everyone can improve across the spectrum.  So here is what we will do:

First, if you want to participate, email k.  She (I, really, k. that is me!) can guide you through the steps to set you up as an "AUTHOR" for this blog.  That means you will need to actually post...

Second, please post an Introduction of Yourself.  You don't have to tell us all the gory details (we want you and your family to remain "internet safe") but tell us a bit about you, your situation and your sewing.  I will post an example for myself, which you can feel free to trump, tweak or mock as you will. heh.

Third, you will need to check in here (at the blog) each month (First Monday) to find the current "Theme."  This will be a simple word or phrase that will be the beginning of your personal challenge.   Example (for entertainment value only) "Fabric that Intimidates You!"  Perhaps, as a beginner, you are freaked out by working in silk.  Perhaps you bought a gorgeous piece of something on your first trip to China but can't bring yourself to cut in to it.  Perhaps you have never tried matching plaids.  Deep Pile Velvet, anyone?

Themes will be drawn from a...jar? vase? baggie?  Haven't decided yet.  But you should feel free to submit ideas for them either by email or comment.  Remember that it should be something that can be interpreted for any skill level.  It can be a specific technique (especially one you want to improve upon) but will more likely be a category or a dare.  It doesn't even have to be words necessarily, if you find an image that opens a world of possibilities for you.

When you read the theme, you need to think how it applies just to you, in your own head.  You are going to have to find a way to push yourself.  I remember learning, in educational theory, about the notion of "n+1" which is the idea that you take what you already know and add just that next little step.  The trouble is that only you know where your skills really are and what a "+1" is going to be for you.  The other members will be doing completely different things from what you are doing and that is as it should be.

Fourth, you need to DO IT!  A month may not be enough time to finish your Victorian Walking Ensemble, but even if you don't "finish," you still will have insight and (ideally) pictures to share.   Tell us what you were challenging yourself with, help us see the growth you hoped to make.

Fifth, You need to actually post.  You will be tempted to not post what you are up to....You will think, "No one wants to see that disaster" but the truth is, we do.  We all need to see disasters (and hear what you learned from it....even if it was "I need to become a saint before I try to sew chiffon again!") and triumphs too.  All of us will experience both if we are really trying to challenge ourselves; this is true for people sewing at every level of skill.

In your posts, try to include pictures as well as descriptions where you can.  You should also use "labels" to help the search function on the blog.  You can use ones others have set up, or establish your own.  Also, when you discover techniques that simplify or bewilder, share them by link or tutorial so all of us can enjoy (or help you figure it out.)

Lastly, this is a support group.  So in addition to working on your own thing, you should be prepared to offer your own...what? wisdom? baseless opinion?  whatever.  Be a part of our community.  Offer suggestions.  Ask for inspiration.  Laugh.
 One final note (and I wish I didn't have to say it but here goes...) This is a public community but it also needs to be a loving and respectful community.  Critique is essential for growth but needs to be offered with an eye to assisting that growth and not tearing it down.  Similarly, if your feelings are easily hurt by criticism (even when kindly meant,) you had better let us know when you post so we can avoid trouble. hehehe

And another, so I guess that last was the penultimate note... heheh...when you post pics, please be sure to give credit where credit is due.  You should try to identify (if you didn't take them) where they are from and who took them, linking to the original if you can (and protecting copyright as necessary.)

I hope this can be an adventure for you that leads down paths you have been longing to follow and perhaps some you didn't know were there.  Happy sewing. k.