I am working on a project that is way outside my comfort zone. It is taking me into the world of fabric and sewing, a world that is at once mystifying and familiar.
When I was a girl, I would spend hours tucked away in my mom’s sewing closet. I would pore over every single page of her borrowed pattern books, choosing which cuff, which collar, which length etc., I would pick for each shirt, dress, pant, jumpsuit, you name it. My mom also had piles of fabrics and I would run my hand along each one, taking in the colours, textures and patterns with delight.
What my mom could do with the sewing machine was sheer magic to me. If she and Dad were hosting a dinner party, she’d whip up an incredible floor-length gown in no time. Picture day tomorrow? When I woke up, I would have a fabulous new shirt to wear. She even worked a miracle with my 7th-grade sewing project, finishing it while I slept because I just couldn’t get the hang of the sewing machine. I never did.
Some of you may remember a couple of years back I gave it another go. With support from my sister Shannon, I found a pattern and fabric. My Auntie Laima helped me pin and cut the pieces and showed me how to use the machine. Those pieces of fabric then sat in a bag in our storage room for years!
I was pretty hard on myself for not getting any further. Then I realized the experiment had actually been a success. I had given myself the opportunity to explore sewing. I had help, I had instruction and I just didn’t want to do it. I could let it go.
There are a million creative avenues and we don’t have to take each one.
In fact, with the limited time we have on this planet, it makes sense to focus on the ones that feel like ‘ours’.
Having said that, I’ve also learned not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is so much I can still enjoy about traveling to the creative world of sewing. It’s a world I have tremendous love and respect for, even if it’s not my home. It is a world of beloved women in my life. It is a world of colour and shape and technical prowess, of measuring and math and magic. I give a deep bow of love and respect to those who live and breathe in the world of sewing. It is a wonder.
This week, when my project took me to a fabric store, I still found it intimidating but truly, it is a wondrous place. I could have spent all day with the fabrics, just like when I was a girl, discovering colours, shapes, patterns and textures.
Just look at the few bolts I’ve shared in today’s picture: the gentle joy of soft blue and yellow side by side, the muted vibrancy of pink and teal, the effect of white backgrounds versus black backgrounds, shapes that would be a delight to draw, the impact of scale, the way patterns take us back in time…
Looking at fabrics is like dipping your cup into a well of inspiration and having enough to sustain you for months!
Our creative projects can stretch us into the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. When that happens, remember that you can ask for support, get help and instruction. You can decide what is for you and what you can honour in others as their gifts.
Everything we create transforms us in some way. Perhaps the projects that take us outside of our comfort zone are there not only to stretch us but also to help us see that we don’t have to do it alone.
PS Special shout-out to my sister-in-law who has offered to do the sewing for my project. Thank you, Sylvia!
NOTE: Originally shared in my Letters from the Studio. To receive my weekly missives, sign up here.)