Sewing Room Reflection: Quiet

I’ve been reading the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s about being an introvert, what that means in our culture and the strengths as well as the challenges that come with this personality type. It’s been a very interesting read; I highly recommend that introverts and extroverts alike pick up this book.

What does this have to do with sewing? Well, it started me wondering how many of us sewers are introverts and how we can use our personality type, whether quiet or outgoing, to enjoy our sewing time more.

I know that I can get totally absorbed in a sewing project and be totally content working by myself for hours on end. I also tend to start on one project and stick with it until it is finished. I very rarely have simultaneous sewing projects going on. These are typical work habits of an introvert.

(I don’t want to speak on behalf of extroverted sewers to say what kind of work habits they have. If you are an extrovert, please feel welcome to comment about how being an extrovert affects your sewing hobby.)

Taking the time to think about my introverted side has made me realize that some of my favorite sewing projects are ones where I really took my time to plan the project out and didn’t take any shortcuts on the construction. I was absorbed in and enjoyed the whole process of sewing, rather than just wanting to skip ahead to the finished product.

As I move toward the beginning of a new school year and have less time to devote to my hobbies, I want to remember what I’ve learned about myself from reading this book. First of all, I need to give myself the time and space to sew. I need a quiet hobby that recharges me after a day or week of teaching teenagers because teaching, while I enjoy it because of how much I value education and its power to transform lives, uses all of my energy since I have to exude more and be more outgoing than I am naturally inclined to be. There’s not a lot of quiet, individual work time during a typical school day!

Secondly, I ought to plan out my sewing projects and sewing time so that I can enjoy the process fully without feeling like I have to accomplish a project in a certain time frame. I could maximize my enjoyment if I have all the supplies I need ready and waiting for when I have some sewing time. Doing my preparation for the next couple projects I have in mind will allow me to simply sit down and allow myself to become absorbed in the sound of my sewing machine.

Are you an introverted or extroverted sewer? How do you see your personality type come out in your sewing?

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Sewing Room Reflection: Sharing Joy

Sewing is usually a solo activity for me. I get my sewing room set up for whatever project I’m working on, turn on the music I’m in the mood for, and I start creating. The vast majority of the time I’m sewing by myself because, out of my husband and I, I’m the only one who sews. To be perfectly honest, I like it this way. I don’t have to share my sewing machines, notions or fabric stash with anyone else.

The problem is, though, when you enjoy something as much as I enjoy sewing, you naturally want to share that joy with others. It’s probably best not to call something this positive a problem! It may be a challenge to find opportunities for sharing the love of creating through sewing, especially if you’re like me and mostly gravitate towards sewing items for your own wardrobe.

I was very fortunate to have one such opportunity this past week when my good friend, Katie, was in town. When we were planning her visit, I threw out a few different ideas for ways to spend time together and, on a whim, suggested doing a sewing project together. I was so glad when she liked that idea! From going to the fabric store to snipping the final thread, Katie and I had a wonderful day.

Katie chose to make a simple camisole top. Here’s her finished shirt:

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(I made a project too, but I’ll do a full post on that soon.)

The best part of choosing to spend her visit doing a project together was seeing the happiness on Katie’s face when she had her camisole finished. I have sewn so many different things in the past that the joy of seeing what I’ve made is muted, but Katie’s joy became my own when I saw how excited she was about what she’d made. My enjoyment of sewing was multiplied by sharing it with a friend.

This is a beautiful cycle, I think, and it can apply to almost any area of interest. Share or give away what you love and it always seems to come back to you in a greater measure. How do you share your enjoyment of sewing? When have you experienced something similar?

Sewing Room Reflection: Almost There

My mind this week has been preoccupied with how it feels to be almost there. You know what I mean. It can happen near the end of a long car ride. It happens in the sewing room when all that’s left is stitching the hem. It’s happening in my “garden” right now as I wait for tomatoes to ripen. You can just about see, taste, hear, smell and feel your reward. It’s a good feeling; one of anticipation and excitement.

I’ve been more concerned lately with what it’s like to have this feeling of being almost there interrupted. There’s a detour. A seam needs unpicked and re-sewn or the bobbin runs out. A storm breaks the heavy branches full of green fruit. What does being interrupted at this point in the process feel like? My gut reaction to this situation is to feel the opposite of anticipation and excitement; I feel disappointment and regret.

Once the sting of my initial reaction has faded, how do I move forward? There are certainly two paths laid out in front of me. I can keep driving, sewing or waiting. The alternative is to let the circumstances that were out of my control get the best of me. It can be very hard to hold on to those feelings of hope and enthusiasm that I started with, but I think that’s the better path.

I try to think of how my enjoyment of the final result will be multiplied by the struggle, how my patience will be rewarded, if I stay the course. But there’s no reward for giving in to the feelings of frustration. It’s, of course, okay to stop the car or take a break when the disappoint occurs, but I encourage everyone to keep the end in mind when you are stopped by something you can’t control.

2013 Goals Progress Report

We have made it through the first six months of the year, so I thought this would be a good time to revisit my 2013 sewing goals. Here’s my progress report:

50 posts: I made a goal of writing 50 posts in 2013 and so far I’ve written 21, not including this post. I’d say I’m doing pretty well at achieving this goal. I’m a little under half way to 50 posts, but I think I can easily reach my goal if I keep sewing and posting at my current pace. It’s been wonderful to spend more time writing about my sewing.

Sewing at least once a week: I did pretty good at keeping this goal from January through May, which was the hardest part of the year to stick with it. Doing some sewing for my sister’s wedding helped keep me on track! Now that it’s summer break, it’s been a breeze to sew at least once a week. The ratio is basically reversed; it’s unusual if there is one day a week when I don’t spend time at the sewing machine!

Building my sewing community: If you’ve been keeping up here, you’ve probably read about Urban Threads Studio. I found out about this new organization as I was looking for people or places in Chicago where I could work on this goal. I was so lucky that they just happened to be moving into my neighborhood. Through my involvement with UTS I’ve met others who are interested in sewing and I’ve also invited a few friends into my sewing circle. I am very excited to see how this community grows in the second half of 2013!

Teaching: Through UTS I also have the opportunity to accomplish my next goal. I started out by helping at the Mending Cafe event, where anyone can bring in clothing that needs repaired. I have had a great time teaching others to do some basic sewing at this event. I am also going to be teaching a couple of workshops, which is going to be very fun, I think. My first class is how to make a reversible apron and it’s coming up soon on July 9th from 7-9pm. (If you’re in Chicago and are interested in this class or others, there is a coupon deal going on right now on youswoop.com)

Challenging Project: I haven’t really taken on a very challenging sewing project (unless you count teaching). I am still interested in learning to quilt, but whenever I go to the fabric store I end up gravitating towards what I know best, which is garment sewing. I still think it would be great to learn some new sewing skills or put my sewing skills to use in a new way. I just have to figure out what project will help me do that. Any suggestions?

Did you make any sewing goals for the year? How are you doing at keeping them?

Sewing Room Reflection: Confidence in my own Two Hands

There are a lot of things out there that can make a person feel less confident. From social media being used as a way to shout an opinion without thinking of who it may affect, to our own personal demons telling us we’re not good enough, there is so much judgment and evaluation. It can seem almost impossible to get a break from these influences.

In my sewing room, I am reassured though. With each stitch, each seam, each step of the process, I gain confidence in my own two hands. It’s hard not to feel a little bit good about yourself when you’ve just taken some two dimensional pieces of cloth and created something new (even if that something new isn’t quite what you’d imagined).

I’m not saying that when I make a mistake I don’t feel frustrated, because I do (just ask my husband). It’s just that this sort of thing doesn’t jar my confidence in the same way as other things. I don’t feel inadequate when I’ve made a mistake.

Maybe this is because, through past experiences, I’ve learned that most mistakes can be undone or fixed. Knowing that I am both capable of making and solving problems is freeing. And isn’t freedom pretty closely related to confidence?