Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sewing as a solitary activity



For the past year or so, I have had an odd feeling that as I sew, there are people watching my progress.  Not like "I see dead people", more like "I must do a good job because so and so expects it" This phenomenon of maintaining a reputation is probably a common affliction but I was surprised to see it pop up in an online format.  After serious thought about this character challenge (defect?), I realized that I do all my work by myself, and share the results online almost exclusively.  This is not the way the real world works.  Most of us struggle in public, and share our successes and our failures.  For example, today I took big Nick to the arena to lunge him.  He was amped up and ripped the line right out of my hands...away he went, the naughty goober.  People saw my inability to hold him, and my annoyance, and my slogging through the sand to chase him around until he wanted to come back to me.  Thread nests, equestrian style.

When I began sewing seriously some years back, there was very little support and community online for those of us struggling with thread nests and zippers.   I had friends who had sewn in the past but were too busy with their careers, family or other hobbies to sew.  One of my friends, the lovely Cathy V., attended Design Outside the Lines and came back full of fire.  She is a potter, beekeeper, rider, teacher (retired), sewist and much more.  Anyway, we drove over the mountain to visit Marcy Tilton and it was Marcy who said to me "Oh, you must look into PatternReview".

PatternReview was my lifeline to information, collaboration, and a sense of accomplishment as I taught myself to sew correctly.  I soaked up information, bought far too many patterns just because I loved someone's dress, and made some good friendships.  Since that time, I have branched out to other places online and find myself happy enough to post a picture and a short summary of my work, knowing that others will see it quickly as they too scroll through the projects.

While PR is a valuable community and I will continue to add to the database of pattern reviews, I appreciate the other ways to build community.  Here is a list of some of the places online which I visit.  I have not included blogs-that is a whole 'nother issue.

 http://www.sewing.org/










Craftsy

Facebook-sewing groups

Here is the main point of this long and rambling post-we do our work by ourselves, and can share it or not.  While online communities provide some support and collaboration, we should approach with some caution.  It is all too easy for the community to become the reason we sew, rather than the work of our hands.    

23 comments:

  1. Well you're just gonna have to go to all the arizona fabric stores and make real sewing friends...
    I like thought provoking posts.
    About the only people I don't share sewing with is my family - even though they reap the handmade gifts - it's just something I do.

    I've always had friends who sewed/crafted and I also have not moved to another state.

    I think this is the allure of the mindfulness movement. To be in the moment, enjoying our seam making. Not worrying if the result will be to our liking, or that the fit will be off. Revering the creating that transforms fabric into something to wear.

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    1. Kathy, okay, off to those fabric stores! Yes, the mindfulness movement has been a blessing for these too fast times.

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  2. It's nice to be reading you again. I'm taking an online class with Marcy Tilton and her sister. How nice you got to meet her. And she inspired you. I'm glad you're sewing, it is fun and fulfilling and sometimes painful.

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    1. Thanks Susan, I appreciate your comment! I also am watching that craftsy class. It's wonderful.

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  3. I have been sewing since my teens but only really enjoying it since my late 30 s when I had children. I have learnt so much about sewing from the internet and love reading blogs. However I am glad that I am in the position where I can resist the pressures to try sew what is the latest popular pattern etc and just do my own thing which I know is not at all trendy or couture etc. I am in a sewing group and my mother and another good friend sews but I really cherish my downtime alone in my sewing room to recharge my mental batteries.

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    1. Janine, your situation sounds wonderful-a sewing group, and your mom and friend close by. I so agree with your comment about resisting the pressure to sew the latest popular pattern.

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  4. Interesting post, Mary...I have come to love the juxtaposition of solitary sewing, pleasing only myself (my hardest critic) and then sharing not only successes but trials and tribulations when I feel like it. The internet has been a huge cauldron of information and details for when I want to challenge myself (which is often). I also like the friendship aspect of those I follow, like you...

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    1. Margy, what a wonderful description of the online sewing community=cauldron! We are all contributing to what is sure to be a very good soup.

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  5. Well TSAB, It has always seemed to me that much of PR is sewing as a competitive sport and then OTOH, compliments for garments that obviously don't fit or are poorly made. But thank you for the additional resources.
    Shame on Nick! He just has to let you know once in a while what a badass he is. A treat in the pocket is worth a thousand steps. Did you whistle? I hope he was contrite once you got him back. Sometimes they are just future dog food!

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    1. oh Theresa, you have hit the nail on the head, as usual. Sewing as competition, and complimenting just for the sake of it. As for Nick, you know that once a horse starts to play keepaway, you have to keep them moving until they are tired of it and you appear the winner. It was tempting to whistle, but I ran him until he called "uncle". Badass indeed.

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  6. Mary: " Sewing as competition, and complimenting just for the sake of it." Of course you see this online, but this happens in the 'meat world' as well - maybe even more so, as it's harder for most of us to criticize a person to their face. I don't see what's so terrible about encouraging a person's efforts, lord knows sewing can be very difficult especially when you're starting.

    Maybe people just want to have fun and end up with a pretty decent dress or blouse? As opposed to sweating bullets for hours so they end up with something which will please the most demanding perfectionist? A lot of people have stressful jobs or personal lives and want an enjoyable hobby. I say good for them!

    Not to mention people on the net who point out 'wrongs' which may not be 'wrong' at all....mrs. mole pointed out the 'wrong' stripe direction of the sleeves on a tee on this post:

    http://fitforaqueen.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/sleeve-cap-flap/

    however, if the designer had made all of her stripes parallel to the floor, in sleeve as well as the bodice, i personally think her tee would have echoed prison wear a bit much for my taste. Not to mention the overemphasis on the shoulders, which could overbalance the rest of the wearers figure.

    It's tempting to rely on certain 'rules' of sewing, but you're making design choices every time you are following those rules, and sometimes you have to sacrifice them for the overall look of a garment - in your own best judgement.

    just my two cents, steph

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    1. Hi steph, yes, I agree that encouragement is essential to developing skills. And, it is just plain nice. You have given me lots to think about, and respond to later on. Thank you!

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    2. Thank YOU for all those interesting-looking-new-to-me links! i meant to say so in above post but my brain - well, it ain't what it used to be ;) Happy Day! steph

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  7. I think about this a lot, Mary. About the solitary aspect of sewing and the social aspect, both online and in the "meal world", as Stephanie called it. :) Luckily, most of us seem to be a combination of introvert and extrovert, to some degree, because I need both to stay happy and sane.

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  8. Hey shams, you definitely get this issue. Your balance is always good!

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  9. You started me blogging! You were one of the first kind people to comment and encourage me. So for that I thank you and I am truly indebted because the internet has opened up a whole new world to me and you are part of that.

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    1. oh Ruth, that is one of the nicest things anyone has said to me. I am honored to be a part of your blog's history and I read it religiously. Your talent, technique and style are an inspiration to me. Lately I have not had as much time to comment but that will change as I settle into Tucson.

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  10. Wise words I should reread now and then!

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    1. haha...copy and paste. :-) Love your blog!

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  11. I do not have a single "real" person who still sews in my circle of friends, so I love the fact that I know "virtual" people all over the world who do sew. While I am always sewing something, I'm not quite as dedicated to it as some, so my following of sewing blogs and Pattern Review tends to be sporadic. I do thank you, Mary, for including the links on your post, some of which I'm familiar with but others which are new to me, and which I intend to check out in my "spare" time.

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  12. julia, you are so artistic and wide ranging in your interests. I love hearing about what you are creating.

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  13. I do not even know a single person who sews outside the 'virtual' world.... particularly garment sewing. Okay, I know maybe 2 people who quilt but one lives 1000 miles away from me and the other is so busy she's not able to get together. So, the internet's global garment sewing world has been wonderful to me.... meeting people like you who support and encourage each other means so much to me. I've only been garment sewing for a year so I'm sure my work may not measure up to other's standards, but with such nice support from the sewing community, it has encouraged me to better my craft... not to be competitive... just to learn new techniques and ways to construct a garment. I am not a member of Pattern Review so do not know what goes on there. Do I want to churn out garments just to churn out garments? No. I want to enjoy the process, the 'mindfulness' as someone's already mentioned. This is an enjoyable hobby to me, and one I want to keep enjoyable and not competitive or stressful. 'Life' is stressful enough!!! Thank you for taking the time to post your list. I'll have to check those out later.

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    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks for visiting and commenting. I agree with you so much, and I also know I need to quell my competitive spirit in order to maintain the mindfulness inherent in this hobby. I love to sew, and I usually am proud of my work. I also enjoy sharing with a select few, you being a part of that!! :-)

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