Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sewing with Lipstick

I never considered myself to be "OCD" when I was growing up, and doubtless that I even knew what it meant. I didn't wash my hands a hundred times or lock the door repeatedly.  In fact I rarely cleaned my room, seeming to prefer wading through mountains of discarded clothes, scraps of paper that missed the wastebasket and shoes that were caked with country mud, rather than be tidy. I had a friend who's room was always immaculate...her mother cleaned it.

In fact, left alone to my own devices, I can still contemplate a pile of clean clothes precariously perched on top of my dresser for at least three days before finally putting them in the drawers below. I have acquired a modicum of neatness from my 34 year marriage to a man who likes everything in its place, so I tend to pick up after myself a little better than my natural proclivities toward slobdom would allow.

There are even areas in my life that have begun to border on obsessive behavior, if you want to use that term.  I rather feel compelled to sit in my nest (aka overstuffed easy chair) for at least an hour or so in the morning.  I need that "me" time to collect my thoughts, plan my day, journal and otherwise analyze what's going on in my life at the time (aka obsessing). I've also noticed that my frequent list-making has also taken a turn toward "if I don't write it down, I'll forget it" behavior.  I'm not sure if it's advancing age or just a desire to control everything around me - either way, it's kind of annoying, even to me.

I sew a lot. A lot. There is always a pile of unfinished projects waiting to be finished, fabrics to be paired with patterns and actual dressmaking to be done. Most of the time, my studio is in a state of disarray as I am sewing, but before I actually sit down to sew on any given day, there is an OCDness about my preparation. I can't just sit down and start up the machine, or mark a hem or cut out a pattern without first going through a litany of little things that have NOTHING to do with sewing.

1) There can be no dishes languishing in the sink. The counters need to be washed and clear.  This has nothing to do with sewing, unless I need to use my kitchen table for cutting out a pattern. Still, I can't concentrate on french seams knowing they are out there smelling up my kitchen.

2) The pillows on all the chairs and couches must be straightened and my nighttime furry throws must be folded neatly on the ottomans. This one is huge - I hate to walk into a room a see what appears to be the bed of my childhood in my living room... makes me twitchy.

3) I can't sew unless I first take a shower. That one sounds really lame, but there's something about a clean body and fresh clothes that makes me feel like I've already accomplished something...even though I haven't even started. Maybe it's because I'm a morning person anyway, and I would probably shower whether or not I sewed a stitch.

4) I must wear lipstick. Must. I know there's a whole "I'm who I am and I don't need to wear makeup just to please the world" thing going on these days, but I am not on that train.  Maybe it's my mother's voice in my head or walking by a mirror scaring myself ("who is that old lady in my house?"), but I need lipstick. Need it. I can listen to my sweet husband tell me how beautiful I am early in the morning, with my hair all nappy and yesterday's mascara smeared on my face, but I don't believe him until I put on my lipstick.

I went to one of those medical spas once, where they pump your face up with fillers to make your lips full and youthful.  I spent almost...well let's just say it's a very expensive process.  The results were lovely - youthful lips, smooth and ready for "Your Majesty" red lipstick.  It lasted for about a 6 weeks, then back to my normal self, feeling more wrinkled than ever, and poorer yet.  Let me say. it's not the answer when you're in your seventies...all you really need is a little "barn painting".

If I have my Bobbie Brown's on, I'm good.  I can think clearly and sew up a storm. Weird? Probably. OCD? Maybe. But the make-up artist herself said it best:

 "If I had to teach someone just one thing about lip color, it would be this: Find a lipstick that looks good on your face when you are wearing absolutely no makeup."

 And that's it in a nutshell.  I may add some blush, but the lipstick is really all I need.

Ready, set, sew!

Laurel. I am not OCD.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Five years, baby.

My poor little blog has suffered from neglect. Let's face it, keeping up with social media is work. Blogs require attention and by their very definition, posting is a non-negotiable. I wanted Laurel's Quill to be a place where I can write and share my life, but these days I think I'm too busy living it to sit down to document it.

And then I think who reads this stuff anyway?  I know I don't take the time to read blogs anymore, and I have read many that are definitely worth repeat visits. I?

I do spend a lot of effort posting on Instagram these days, and following my sewing community. IG is an easy and quick read, but even if you follow hundreds of cool sewists, friends and family, you can spend hours just catching up everyday. And somebody has to clean those toilets and make the bed, right?

I do write these days...I picked up journaling again, but most of the brain dumps that I do on paper are not really fodder for cyberspace (definitely TMI). Besides my IG posts, I also am a contributor to Fabriclady's blog, encompassing a 5-year collaboration that has fed my creative spirit - it details our sewing adventures and mutual love of all things fabric. Our collaboration is the best of both worlds for me - I write and sew for her and she keeps me involved in the fashion industry, which has also been a dream for me. I can live vicariously through her and her awesome store without really having any responsibility! LOL!

At any rate, I thought you might like to see what we do together - I co-wrote this latest blog about our monthly get-togethers in Berkeley. In Zan speak, she would say "How the Magic Happens!"

Laurel. Five Years, Baby!

Monday, January 15, 2018

We all need to get "Schooled" once in a while...

I hope that I'm never too old learn.  I'm 70, and even though I got my BA when I was 47, I still have daydreams about going back to school. God knows, it would be a challenge the way my brain is working these days. I've been sewing for 60 some years and you would think that I know just about all there is to know about sewing, designing and making wardrobes. You would be wrong.

Today I saw the cutest top on Instagram made by a gifted designer and I was immediately smitten.  It was made using a technique that many sewists have employed - patchwork. You take all your scraps and sew them together and make a unique design.  Over the years I've seen jackets, tops and dresses using this particular technique...always thought that my Ikat scraps would make a cool garment. And it's Sunday and I have nothing else better to do.

So in my haste to let inspiration run away with me, I asked if I might "copy" it - the designer (thinking that I was smarter than I am) said yes. And so off I ran. However, somewhere in the midst of posting a picture of what I intended to do, we both realized that my drawing looked very similar to the design I saw. I was never intending to copy the exact piece, but it was a little too close for comfort for both of us.

Dang. Lesson learned.  Read the IG background profile, Laurel.  If I had done this FIRST, I would have realized that the sewist was actually a designer and sold the garments under their own label...thus, I probably never would have even asked, or at least made it clear I had no intention to copy it exactly. The "yes" was a qualified yes - be inspired by all means but please don't actually copy. As sewists, we imitate other designs and ready-to-wear all the time.  We buy the same patterns, the same fabrics and try to make them uniquely "ours". A case in point, Chanel is very protective of their jacket stylings, but we all copy them, and call them "Little French Jackets".

It's a lot different for fledgling businesses, as I am well aware. The designer was very kind in the "schooling" process, but I felt horrible. (At least I DID ask, so I thought I was cool.) I used to make one-of-a-kind jewelry, and when Charming Charlie came to town, they were making "my stuff" as far as I was concerned, albeit cheaper, and my little cottage industry closed shop. They were not copying my designs, as they didn't know me from a hole in the ground, but I was pretty sure my customers would think I was copying them.

Hence, to complete my Sunday project, I was sent back to the drawing table post haste, confident that my garment would not resemble the designer's...just perhaps capture the spirit of the patchwork/piecing idea. I chose a pattern that I have used twice before - The Sointu Kimono Tee by Named Clothing.

Oh, and yes, sewists do pattern hacks all the time...I changed the neckline to a "boat neck".

 When I say "hack", I mean it.  I chopped my pattern into little squares and strips. 

I picked fabrics out of my scrap stash.  I even used a fabric that was already cut out in a skirt pattern.  The polka dots were never going to be cute as a skirt - what was I thinking?

So even after the pattern hacking, my design changed several times (more hacking my own design) 
as I switched around the fabrics.

By the time I finished, my sewing studio looked like a cyclone touched down.  Did I mention that I still love my new wood floors - perfect for cutting.

In the end, it was a great project for the holiday today.  I think it says me.  It actually reminds me of a dress that I made back in the 80's using this piecing technique.  I wish I had a photo of it, as I loved wearing it.

Put a turtleneck under this puppy and some leggings and call it a day.

Now all that remains is to clean up the mess.

Laurel. Considering myself Schooled.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Godfather's Lament...or mine?

Image result for godfather 3 quotes just when i thought i was out"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in"... Of course Michael was talking about getting out of organized crime and finally operating only legitimate businesses, so though my 2018 lament is hardly comparable to killing and mayhem, I am regrettably and forever tied to social media.

Last year in a heroic effort to cut myself off from all the political mudslinging, the never-ending barrage of memes and the bazillion Tasty food posts, I drastically cut back my Facebook involvement, opting to only follow family members.  I rarely posted myself and I was marginally successful in curtailing my two dozen or so daily peaks into the app, limiting myself to one or two peaks a day.

But social media is an insidious parasite, feeding upon your starved ego and regularly clamoring for your attention.  So as much as I would love to say I'm "over it", I'd be lying. It seems that all I really did was substitute one habit (Facebook) for another (Instagram).  And it really doesn't matter how you try to rationalize that Instagram is "so much better" than FB, it still hooks you.

As I began evaluating my life (as one always pretends to do on January 1 of any year) I realized the things that I wanted to change and or continue doing are tied to social media.  Perhaps I am being to hard on myself (as is my custom) as we are in the tech age and it's not going away. I'll never be tweeting like the Donald, but Facebook and Instagram are powerful tools that I can use to further my personal goals.  It's not like my brain will atrophy if I'm on my "devices" a few hours a day...or that I won't pay attention to my hubby or forget to cook dinner or even bathe. Besides, there are some very positive things happening in my little corner of the cyberspace.

For instance, I am halfway through my fourth year of collaborating with Suzan Steinberg, owner of Stonemountain- this week I will be making our 200th garment.  Our hard work that we have invested in the Fabric Lady blog is really paying off - women are coming back to sewing their own clothes, all because we have made sewing a wardrobe popular. I'm always amazed that people recognize me in the store and talk about how we have inspired them to sew again. We rely on our social media connections to inspire, communicate and teach.


In January I joined an Instagram challenge sponsored by Sarah Gunn to refrain from buying any ready to wear clothing in 2018. Sounds like a tall order, since I love me some Nordstrom's.  But I am an impulse buyer anyway and granted, I do make most of my clothes, so I thought I'd give it a go. One whole year! There are over 1,000 women participating in this challenge and we can track each others successes within a private Facebook group. (I should mention that there are regular prizes and giveaways during the year and if I hadn't been on FB I would never have WON the first giveaway of the year!!! A $100 gift certificate to Mood Fabrics in New York City!!

Image result for mood fabrics

I feel like I'm cheating on Stonemountain, but I have always wanted to go to Mood, ever since I started watching Project Runway.  So for my gift card I will have to settle for online shopping.

I also track some five or six hundred women on Instagram.  It's sound excessive, but most of them are sewists and designers.  IG is a wonderful way to see what other people are working on and to see their completed projects.  Another plus is that they have a "live" element that you can just scroll through and not not have to "click" on anything. No hands peeping.

I also joined a group of sewists on Instagram who sponsored a "secret Santa" kind of thing in December, where we would make a particular pattern and send it to another sewist as a Christmas gift.  It was an international group, so I made this Linden Sweatshirt (that was the pattern we were all to use) by Grainline Studios and sent it off to the UK to Charlotte (aka the English Girl at Home)

And finally, I am reminded of how much I love to write, just by seeing my old blog posts pop up in my FB memories.  I should be writing more. Maybe even keeps my head straight, so to speak. I hope to revive this blog in 2018 (do I say that every January?) and try to capture some of that wit and humor that I used to have on my blog and not take myself so seriously. I'm 70 afterall, and we're supposed to do and say what we want. This isn't one of those witty posts, but at least it's a start.

I look forward to seeing more creativity, seeing more beauty in the world and hearing about your me-made garments, and of course sharing my own stuff.  So here's to a great Social media year - 2018!!!

Laurel. I'm back.

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