Oh, and have I not shown you the AWESOMENESS of the Bella costume that totally made me buy it in istanbul?
( Replyhazy dubbed it Poison Ivy )
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It should be noted that I am a self-taught crafter. I didn’t come from a sewing home. Sewing, knitting, and the existence of God were just things we didn’t talk about at the table. If you wanted to know about such things, you learned them in on the street, thank you.
It should also be noted that had I had the patience for learning about sewing and knitting at a young age I had AMAZING resources to do so. Both of my grandmothers were quite crafty. Grandma Christina sewed many of the toys and dresses of my youth and Grandma Leah (although having some issues in regards to colors and yarn quality) was a technically strong knitter…but I didn’t have the patience when I was young enough to learn from them.
My mother has taken up knitting as my craft bubble has expanded here in Japan but it didn’t come easily. In her own words:
“Watching me knit is more fun than TV. I think I am in the category once called Educable Mentally Retarded when it comes to skills needing hand-eye coordination. The synapses have no interest in connecting and go off doing other things.”
Her early adventures in learning to use to the sewing machines (yes, multiples) I left at the house involved trips to the machine shop where the staff marveled at the number of sewing errors that could be made by one person. In addition to delicate hand-eye coordination, my mother, smart as she is, isn’t highly skilled at visual problem solving either. Luckily, I have these skills. My background is in art and making stuff, and working with my hands.
Don’t think I was always a good sewer. I wasn't. I was a lazy “that will do” sewer with no clue about the special needs of various fabrics or how to construct or when to change a needle. I had visions my hands couldn’t carry out. I made a few simple things (elf hats…my god did I make an inane number of elf hats one year) and a few rough costumes for Halloween and Anime conventions.
I didn’t own a sewing machine for my first 3 years in Japan. I didn’t see the need. I wouldn’t have known where to buy one.
( Sewing blather )
Last week I knew my limits and turned down two gigs. I am quite happy that I did 2 restaurant nights and not 4. I was still shaking off a cold and figured the rest would serve me better, even if doing all 4 would have paid off my NEW SERGER.
Awww yeaaaah. My last serger, a used Toyota I got off Yahoo auctions for under 100$ a few years back was eating fabric again and I realized that I had skirts that weren’t getting made and bedlah finished but going unworn due to the unmade matching skirts. That’s no good! I haven’t actually been tempted by the swap meet or a used or new costume in ages…but I sure as hell could use a month of uninterrupted sewing time.( serger and restaurant blather )
cooking and no makeup.
What I have to choose from this Saturday.
I usually choose one full-skirted costume, one more streamlined one, and pack a third "in case we get to it" costume.
Would love feedback.
Silver blinged out Princess Banu Original..bedlah, skirt, CAAAAAAPPPPEEE. (have a few good performance shots of it. It will also work with Johhny Pearl. Skirt is now longer, belt no longer so damned low)
Henna’s Tahiya coin costume, nice and old school feel…fairly Ansuya-esque (would work best if I want to shoot sword…not sure if I have a good veil for it though…might work for 3rd maybe we get to it choice).
Johnny 1:Pearl Party bedlah with classic Persian lace skirt
Johhny 2: gold and multi-color jeweled bedlah
The orange airport fixed-up is not included because I’d be using the same skirts and veil I shot the gold costume in.
White Pharonix (Eshe’s…and probably a bit too Egyptian AND Eshe for me too shoot in…here’s Eshe in it )
Pink Basic Sahar If you’re a dancer, you know exactly what it looks like.
Crazy Striped Hananx(I’m slightly thinner now, the elastic was also loosened and the skirt hemmed: no muffin top no tripping)
Ozma’s Poppies (I now have a lace and beaded trumpet skirt and arm thingies with it)
There’s a point of exhaustion that masquerades as a heightened sense of infallibility.
I first learned about it my foundation year (freshman year) at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Your foundation year is a time where you learn to push your limits by having to take a core collection of classes inside and outside of what you assume will be your major…in doing so you might learn to love a new branch of art, or to respect a class of artists you’d previously looked down on… but you’ll most definitely learn many of your own limitations.
The student body shrinks during foundation year….Well, I gained the freshman 15, but the number of students decreased. The only weight I lost was in the flesh I shaved off my fingertips in late-night X-acto accidents.
It is a difficult time. You must transition from being the skilled artistic spirit of a group or school to being surrounded by peers. Now your art isn’t something that simply happens it is something that you must learn to make happen…with deadlines and critiques. Knowing how to make yourself create, when to finish, and when you’ve done your best and just need to give up is a rough path…and it is often worst the further from your skill base you’ve traveled.
Most of my sleepless nights came from 3-d design classes. At 3AM my project would implode and the poor planning of faux-infallibility took over.
I remember one in particular, it was a hat box to hold the hat from our previous project…a hat box I’d envisioned as containing many layers of foam core that would slide effortlessly into the negative spaces of my wire hat and create a second complicated combined shape…it imploded. I ran around the apartment fueled by terror and false epiphanies making plans for the 5am opening of Builder’s Square and my 8am critique…let’s just say it was hard to defend the half-melted mess of builder’s insulation/Styrofoam, gesso, gold spray paint with bowling-ball styled “handle holes”…
I learned that at the exhaustion point, new solutions should not be undertaken. At the exhaustion point, certain projects need to be set aside, even if they don’t involve change…because a trip to the emergency-room to sew up finger-tips takes more time than a proper nap. I learned to keep my drink and my brush-water/paint-thinner in very different feeling cups.
Costuming is no different. I know my limits because I’ve run full speed into them, over and over and over and over again, before I got wise.
I have learned to only cut patterns when I am well rested and in a good mood…and before any wine. I know at certain hours my serger will resist rethreading/resetting. I know that a piling up of simple errors signals it is time for me to rest, or walk, or eat…even if the voice of faux-infailibility whispers “you can do this, you can teach the fabric who is boss…” I know that if I am attempting assert authority or dominate my machine/needle/serger/fabric, the battle has already been lost and I need to wave the white flag (or any fabric at hand).
I know that if I have a gig with other dancers the next day, that they deserve to work with someone well rested and at peace with the world…no matter how much I’d hoped to debut a new costume.
I know that a container of beads will not close itself, but that it might spill itself.
If I have a great idea on how to “make it work” at 1am…I can sketch it/prep for it/write it down. If the idea was gold, it’ll be gold in the morning, but if it’s not I’ll be better able to realize design flaws after breakfast and my morning coffee.
When your thread won’t stop knotting, you’ve cut two left legs, your sleeve is inside out, you’re thinking ”they won’t notice if…” your finger is bleeding, your clothing/hair/sanity is shorter than when you started, the fauxibility sirens are calling to you. Stop. Clean up. Sleep/walk/shop/eat/love/screw/bathe…
Stopping is not failing. You’re not a quitter.
If you are afraid you’ll loose momentum then, after cleaning up, carefully lay out the supplies you’ll need for the next step before you step away from your work station.
What lessons have you learned?
OMG yeah, you're right... the hellish break-down of old bra- linings... yikes!!!
So I wandered over to her blog and made a comment on the issue with a link to one of my albums of fixer-uppers so people can see what it can look like in there and that it's not hopeless.
Today she joined my fan-page, looked aorund, and left the comment: