Having recently finished one significant project and one major alteration that had been a to-do for ages, I now don’t have an obvious next project to work on. So, what to make? Seems like a simple question, and every other time I asked it of myself, it was.
However, I’ve been in the process of shifting sewing gears lately. As a result, the projects I’d usually turn to in this situation have been demoted so far down the list that it’s not worthwhile to think about it right now. The top of the priority pile is empty. How odd.
OK, so if habit won’t answer the question, I should give it some rational thought. What do I need? What do I want?
What a can of worms there! In order to answer those questions – and before I run through the usual script of “what gaps are in my wardrobe? what looks good on me? what do I have the fabric for?” etc etc – I think I need to give some thought to why I sew and what I’m trying to accomplish. I need to figure out what the goals are before I can determine whether a particular project will meet any of them.
Why do I sew? Well, I definitely get a kick out of being able to make something for myself. I like the idea of being self-sufficient; sewing my own stuff helps me get off-grid, which appeals to me in and of itself but also means I can be sure that the item isn’t sweatshop produced. I like having stuff that’s a little different from what’s available. I can have what I want with the workmanship I want, not what some buyer thinks most people will want or will put up with. (And trust me, if most people want it, that’s a good enough reason for me not to. The contrariness isn’t deliberate, but it has become very practised.) I want to be a creator, not a curator. I want to have skills, not buy products that act as a substitute for skills. Teach a man to fish, and all that. (I think this probably qualifies as Slow Sewing, if I could find a definition of that online.)
And yet I don’t usually get all excited about actually sewing; it’s more often something I do when (or if) the mood strikes and I have the time. I’ve noticed that I most often want to sew when I’m working, i.e. it’s attractive only in comparison to something I don’t want to do. I find I more often want to have the thing rather than make it. I know I tend to be motivated more by product than process, and that’s something I’m trying to work on.
I’m hoping that the process will become more enjoyable with practice, and I think I’ve actually seen some movement on that point.
Take the tiered skirts as an example. I’ve made 5 over the last few years (plus the jaipur skirt – a very recent significant alteration/refashion). The first two skirts I made were gathered, and after the second, I remade the first to correct a problem with the vertical ratios. I decided to do pleats after discovering that, with the process I was using, pleats would actually be easier. After the second pleated skirt, I concluded that I might have the mental energy to tackle one of these per year. Two years later, the red one (#3) went really smoothly and I think I may have enjoyed putting it together, start to finish. It certainly felt less onerous, even though I think it still took as long (about 15h).
OK, so I guess the only way to enjoy it more is to get better, and the only way to do that is to just try it more. That’s all part of the plan, though I still don’t know what to work on next 😉