And all of December's activities finally gave me the kick I needed to bring a new crew member on board...
Anyway, while I'm still excited for the year ahead (and before anything new can truly start), I'll try to put a bit of a lid on 2017. Now is no time to be self-effacing, it's time to review 2017 with confidence.
The Year of Doing Things Properly: SewingIf you want some background on 2017's theme, you can read the original post here. As time went on I began to realise that some people would probably call this a form of mindfulness or potentially even ACT, so maybe it wasn't all hooey.
This theme gave me just the right balance of motivation to do things well and discipline to stop myself striving for daft perfection. I again took on a few commissions (silk dresses, eek!) (merch, eek!), and offered some gifts (quilts, bags, clothing) but ended up with some stuff staying with me: a fabulous fancy coat, some salvaged wrecks, comfy staple tops and loud trousers. And for the most part, I really love the results.
I started working more on hand sewing, and have found my groove with a few stitches. I did my first hand-sewn buttonholes some real embroidery. It's a long uphill climb though, there is a lot of practice ahead. I'm still struggling to find the right needles, having spent a long time wondering why everything was so difficult with the tapestry needles(hint: they're blunt). I also did some cool applique, tried a bunch of quilting techniques (argh!), revamped how to sew a zip fly and scratch-drafted men's patterns.
I finally built a workstation, with great natural light and a radio. I can shut a door behind me and it feels separated (even though it isn't) so I'm not camping out on our dining table (which is also where the computers are).
I've been visiting Misan's Clearance Basement of Wonder less for fabric, profiting more from the opening of Misan West and Goldbrick Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. Misan West often hits the mark when I have a vague idea of what I'm looking for, whereas Goldbrick Fabrics has a swatch system which makes it very easy to look for something really specific. Though I still have a soft spot for the Basement of Wonder, it's not so convenient for some of what I've been looking for recently. I can't wait to return for some suitings. That being said, I visited an Abakhan store for the first time recently. Boy, that's a dangerous shop for sure. For notions I've relied mainly on Jaycott's, William Gee and MacCulloch & Wallis depending on urgency, known quality and quantities required.
My "Sewing Financial Year" rolls over on 1 Oct, I'm both ashamed and proud to say that I spent nearly as much money in the months Oct-Dec 2017 as I did in the months Jan-Sept 2017. The vast bulk of the latter amount was in August, which was mostly buying supplies for commissions (and so those costs were recovered anyway). I think I splurge in the months Nov-Jan and again in May and July or Aug, this seems to have happened for as long as I've been tracking my sewing costs. So, I think I can time my productivity and my spending to work well together.
What about outside of sewing?In terms of other makery, I did some laser cutting in the form of sock blockers, reindeer and tap merch but haven't been near a hackspace in several months. (Unfortunately!)
I got some project management qualifications, bought a raclette grill, modeled for the photography club, babysat some degus, started learning to drive, went on a surprise trip to Portugal, rediscovered some friendships through chance encounters, got engaged, discovered #makershour, finally got to try liquid nitrogen ice cream, learnt to use so many new digital tools, and jumped headfirst into caring for our new garden plants. 2017 was also my first dance out with Gog Magog Molly, which I only count as significant because I haven't actually "performed" anything in years. My mental health took a beating throughout the year (my measure of a successful day at work during the summer was managing to not cry) and I got run down with some viruses during the autumn. Suddenly the notion of "doing things properly" turned into "doing nothing, but doing it properly" and trying to practice "looking after oneself properly".
Things I've learnt in 2017:
- Don't superglue things without putting a temporary surface down first. You will pull up the veneer on your table
- Actually, just don't use superglue. Find a new adhesive.
- Don't sew in the car,especially when you're a navigator
- Supermarket vegetable containers make good project trays (mushrooms, asparagus, baby corn, berries)
- Bees love lavender
- Strawberry runners need to start growing "knees" before they're willing to be pinned down to be propagated.
And, looking outwards (as opposed to introspection). One of the most interesting things I've noticed in 2017 has been urban change and gentrification. The contrast seems very arresting when you consider the local tower block fires. The area is going through massive regeneration, and the group White Noise has been talking about it. Because you came here to read about sewing, I'm also going to recommend their piece on Shepherd's Bush Market.
2017 also saw the beginning of my small-scale campaign to get One Blackfriars renamed as The Bust. I don't care if the architect thinks it looks like a very specific vase. Millions of mannequins will argue otherwise. It's a giant bust.
Announcing: The Year of "just because"Here's the thing: I consider myself to be pretty resilient. But it's good for the soul to have things to look forward to. Perhaps, as an insurance against the next time things get rough, I want to nurture my own sense of enthusiasm. Or at least, feel free to be passionate, or excited or indulgent.
So am I committing in January to continue overcommitting to for the whole year? It's not like that. I will continue to (occasionally) overcommit, and I will continue to (occasionally) get burnt out. Go big or stay at home. So they say. But I want to make it easy to treat myself, especially when it's needed. After all, it's supposed to be fun.
Much like last year, what does this mean in practice?
- Making fancy things! Just because. I didn't make a pretty dress at all for myself in 2017 and the late months were filled with utilitarian garments or refashions.
- Fun and/or dumb things. Just because. I have an idea to time-trial the overlocker against my sewing machine workflow and tell you all about the results.
- Excitement and joy. Just because. Yes, chores will always be there. But to me sewing is about imagining and producing the extraordinary.
- Achievement and confidence. Just because. To paraphrase something I was told recently, it's difficult to project external confidence without appearing arrogant. I have been sewing enough that I should know that good results are not a fluke anymore. And as for my makes "out in the wild", I'm not good at controlling how I dress, but I can control what comes out from under the presser foot.
Snoop My StashSince you made it this far...I've got a treat for you.
New year, freshly organised stash: