The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Quotes from MAAP (Making Art A Practice)

As you all know, I approach sewing from an artistic endeavor rather than a purely functional duty to meet a need and otherwise not be bothered with.

Unfortunately, I think sewing got that rap during the Women’s Revolution during the 60’s.  I always thought, that if you wanted to go out and head up a corporation, or start your own company or cook dinner for dinner parties (a la Martha Stewart which is how she got her start), or you wanted to design and sew your own clothes, that you should have all those choices.  But during the 60’s we sorta threw the baby out with the bath water, and a couple of things got tangled up with being bad when in fact, they can be very liberating and certainly can individualize a person like nothing else – even a good ole company owner and corporate head will have to admit that!

But that’s another subject for another day….for now, I’m reading a new book that I just adore.  It’s titled: Making Art a Practice (I think I’ve talked about it here before.)

So I thought for the holiday weekend coming up I would pull a few little choice gems out, and share them with you.  BTW, if you’re an artist (and all you sewists should think of yourself that way), I highly recommend this book – it’s short, to the point and later in the weekend will be some specific examples of even just quoting from the book is not enough, you really should pick up a copy.

But here are some jewels:

We might think it’s hard work that matters most, that if we slog away long and hard enough, we ponder the cosmos and practice our skills, we’ll get where we want to go…… But sometimes, we see that effort doesn’t liberate our creativity but can even constrain it…..We know there’s more….Sometimes we don’t know how to begin – – it can all feel so daunting.  An art practice helps us to express ourselves fully and freely with our minds, hearts and spirits, no matter how fledgling our efforts.  We do need to work hard, and play hard too.

Whoa!!!!  Ain’t that a mouthful.   How  many times have you set out to make something, and don’t know where to start?

How many times have you come up with some extra time, and don’t know what to do with it?

How many times are you in the fabric store (or on a trip and have an opportunity to visit a fine shop) and are at a loss as to how to make the best advantage of it?

What this quote told me more than anything else is that this is common among artist.  And Cat Bennett, the author, goes on to talk about how she had to rethink of her art as a practice.  What she’s saying in the above quote is that slogging along, doing for the sake of doing, isn’t practice.  You have to set about practicing not only new things, but set forms and methods that will bring about the result you want.

For example, when I teach my beginning sewing, and we get to the buttonhole part, I get a scrap of fabric and have the student do 10 or so buttonholes to hone her skills up, and then she starts making the real ones.  This gets her comfy with making them but it also gives her the confidence that she can do them and do them well.  This ONLY comes from practice.  And although being an artists sounds all lofty and such, practice is as much a part of being an artist as is the creating of the art work.

So form your practice in areas where you need it.  Not comfy with making lapels and collars on tailored jackets?  Sit down and work at practicing it over and over – that means making a collar and lapel one after the other (you don’t have to make the whole jacket just the collar and lapel part – sometimes that means you have an unlined jacket or something fairly simple, but has that lapel and collar).

Maybe you need practice with buttonholes.  Maybe you need practice with inserting collars into collar bands and the onto the shirt.  Maybe you need practice with waistbands.

What ever it is, form your practice so that it works at what you want to know or need to know.

As an artist and a musician, I can tell you that this works.  I even have to sit down and hone some of my sewing skills before I do them for real.  Like if I’m getting ready to do a besom pocket (something I don’t do regularly), then I will sit and make a couple up first to make sure my skills are in order, then do the real one.  Additionally, I have to sit and practice my Christmas music now so that by the time the holidays roll around, I’m at least a little more accomplished (with as few wrong notes as possible, so that the music is a little more enjoyable – for me mostly!!!!)

That time spent just plodding through a project will get you more information or what you need to know, is better spent by you looking at your cadre of skills and selecting those that you wish to fine-tune.  If nothing else make a list, and the next time you have some free time, work on that list.

You will be shocked at what you discover!

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