Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Write a Sewing Blog?

I volunteered to speak to one of the Maryland neighborhood groups of the American Sewing Guild and Andi suggested I talk about being a sewing blogger.  Hmmmmm, there are hundreds of you out there who would be better at giving this talk than I am but I guess I'm closer to Rockville, MD than most of you are.  So I thought I'd write my random thoughts about why I blog as a way to gather the random threads in my mind and try to weave them into something coherent.

1.  Friendship
I was the odd person in a room of beginning bloggers at an adult ed class a few years ago.  I didn't really care about statistics or Google searches.  When I told the instructor that my goal was "to make friends" she smiled wanly and moved on to the topic of analytics and site optimization.  She never did answer of my do I segment my blogroll into categories, how can I use a different font such as a sewing stitch design for my title, how come my reader list isn't the same as what shows up on my blogroll?  We were not on the same wave length at all.  But wave length and a common interest are exactly what prompted me to start blogging three years ago.  
I've always enjoyed the internet for its strictly passive fun.  I love to read and what could be more enjoyable that a 24 hour a day open library of all the information I'd ever want to know on any subject in the world.  But one thing I noticed over the decade was that people were so enormously generous with their time and talents.  I was inspired by early sewing bulletin board posting people and then by those same people who became bloggers.  Before there were "blog readers" to gather daily posts together, I had a huge list of bookmarks of those sites.  I admired their sewing projects, their energy (with jobs, families, responsibilities they still found/find time to blog.....and I can barely get the bathrooms cleaned.) So when Google made blogging readily available for someone as non-techy as I am (trust me, we just got a family cell phone plan and smart phones after more than a decade on a flip phone and pay as you go wannabe) I wanted a way to give back for all those hours of fun and to "meet" some of you via this funny WWW.  I just enjoy finding kindred souls who love sewing, patterns, fabric, techniques and clothes as much as I do.  And who find detailed discussions, (with pictures!) on bound buttonholes and interfaced hems equally enthralling.  I'd love to meet all the readers and bloggers out there but since that's not possible, here's the way to enjoy one an other's company virtually.

2. Inspiration  I don't mean that my garments or my design talents are going to inspire a younger generation.  I'm not that gal.  But I am a 62 year woman who still enjoys clothes and being a girl and I want to motivate other women of my generation not to fade into the sunset.....not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your choice, not your default.  I've have many decades behind me of disliking my body, my proportions, my weight, my whatever.  But I've done a lot of work on my inner self in the last decade and a half and I have put a stop to that madness.  Sewing a fun, varied, appropriate wardrobe is a way to reflect my happiness and that's what I'd like to inspire others to do.  It does take more time than shopping to test a pattern, fit it and adjust it and then sew it up.  But I think the final product always looks better than anything I could buy in a store.  Let's not settle, ladies.  Most of the women of my generation know how to operate a sewing machine.  Find a sewing/fitting friend, get some fabric and a few patterns and give it a go.  

3. Record-keeping  My mother always said I'd forget my head if it weren't attached.  Blogging forces me to slow down and put on a page just what I did sew, imagine, read, buy, create.  I like that.  On days when I feel totally unaccomplished and incompetent, my blog reassures me that I am not those things.  And my mom was right, I will forget so much unless I put it right there in front of me.  This visual record is a great internet gift to myself.

4. Anti-aging  These are not my middle years....unless I'm going to live to 115.  I like that blogging in its own little way forces me to learn something new and certainly puts me in touch with a generation of sewists previously unavailable to me.  One of the reasons I loved moving back from southwest Florida to Baltimore is that I love being around the energy of all generations and blogging links me to that same type of energy.  So I think blogging is one of the things I do to keep mentally young.  I love being older and more accepting of myself and others but without continually learning I've seen how people become mentally stuck.  This is a time in my life to celebrate the blessings of time and energy in my sewing space but also to connect to an ever changing world outside.  Blogging helps me do that.

5. Comments  I may feel the freedom to create and wear what I like with less regard for others' opinions at this stage in life..... but I also love the comments that we share among one another.  I know that the blogging world has grown larger and larger and therefore commenting time becomes scarce when there are so many great blogs to read.  But I fell on the floor laughing in recognition when Carolyn wrote her "Comment Ho" post a few years back.
I'm a small blog presence in the sewing blog world and seldom have to deal with s p a m, thankfully.  So if you comment, I say thanks, and if you don't, I sure do understand. 

6. Pictures  I hate taking pictures but I love what the pictures tell me about a particular garment or outfit.  Well, I don't loooove it but I so appreciate the value of those photos.  No more kidding myself about how that item looks in real life.  Pictures have made it easier for me to quit a project early, make some needed adjustments the next time around or better accessorize an outfit.

7. Friends and family  I reluctantly joined Facebook a few years back and ended up being very glad that I did.  Not so that I can connect with lost acquaintances from my past but because it gives me more info and insight into the daily lives of my not local family and friends.  One of my cousins lives across the country and his wife posts a picture each day of their almost 1-year old first child.  That's a treat to see.  My blog does something similar for my small but scattered family and friends.  

8. No Guilt, No Pressure  I get to blog about my hobbies not to try to earn a living in this struggling economy which does make me one the very luckiest people on the planet.  I love the fact that people have found a way to reach new audiences for their services and products.  I am fascinated by this whole new area of commerce.  I once worked very happily for more than ten years in the check printing industry (told you I was a dinosaur) and only twenty years ago it was revolutionary to think that consumers could order their own supply of checks directly without the bank middleman (some of you may have to stop and ask your parents what a "check" is)  The internet has changed all of that.  But that's not my situation.  I don't have ads or a product to sell and so my blogging is as erratic and scattered as I am.  I'm a terrible typist so I have many more blog post ideas than I will ever get to in reality.  That keeps me interested in blogging but also puts it in perspective for me.  My sewing, reading and sometimes cooking blog gets to be on my schedule and that's a freedom I celebrate as well.

Well, I am not going to change any minds about whether or not to take up blogging but I've clarified better for myself why I enjoy this new world.  And to those of you who were pathfinders long before me, thank you.  If you have stopped writing, I miss you.  If you are still writing, I admire you.  If you have just started, I'd like to cheer you on.  Happy blogging and happy blog reading.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Utilitarian Sewing Projects

Most times, frequently, sometimes my sewing projects are less than dramatic or glamorous.  My recent sewing activities have been necessary but not particularly creative.
Mr. Lucky and I are no longer snowbirds heading to Florida for the winter.  The coldest winter in Maryland in twenty years is occurring daily.  No, those two things are not cause and effect but they do mean that I need warmer layers in order to be comfortable in my chilly house and out on my daily walks....yes, I walk 3 or 4 miles on any day above 20 F.  And I've always been a person who feels the slightest chill.  I joke that menopause brought me briefly up to room temperature.  Here are the latest sewing projects keeping me as cozy until we head to Florida for a month long visit in March.
First I wanted something warmer than just jeans so I sewed up two pairs of Style Arc Barb pull on pants using some Polartec stretch knit two sided fleece.  
Style Arc Barb pant in Polartec stretch microfleece....and temps not in the double digits
The inside next to your skin....or maybe next to your silk long the short pile velvety side.  The outside is a smooth knit.  For both the black and tan pants I used a soft 100 weight microfleece for the elastic waist with a little less bulk and even greater softness next to my waist.
beige version.....not pretty but oh so toasty
the microfleece waistband
the soft velour finish on the inside
That green sweater is a mohair one from the 1980's and the warmest indoor garment I own.  I actually own a second one in pink and they are most likely the oldest garments in my wardrobe.  I believe I channel my inner Mary Frann (Johanna Loudon on the "Newhart" show in the 1980s) each time I wear them.
Mary Frann was the female equivalent of Bill Cosby in her fabulous sweater collection on the "Newhart" show

Now for some projects without revealing pictures.  I wanted some underthings to keep me warmer when the winds are blowing and temps are dropping.  I used two new to me patterns to make a small collection of silk knit items: 
Kwik Sew 3636....see the snow outside?
Kwik Sew 3636 no side seam leggings.  I sewed a size M and took off 3/4 off the top while adding 2" total length.  These are silk knits that I have stashed for years, I believe from a Jomar fabric trip with ASG.
Kwik Sew 3636
I made Sarah Veblen's suggested fitting adjustments to the Margarita top LJ Design A La Mode Margarita top and am thrilled to have some warm but stylish camisoles to wear under sweaters and pullovers.  I snapped a pic of only one of them but made the same beige and blue above.  I will post a picture of me wearing one once the weather becomes bearable enough to let me expose my upper arms for more than a few seconds!
One of three new silk knit camisoles from the Margarita top 

Last little note before I close is to continue my reading record for the last month or so.  The first two of these books were total winners for me.  I had heard so much about the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts" and it is usually hard for a book to live up to that hype.  Wow, I was touched, intrigued and fully involved in every much so that I bought a copy for my Kindle after returning my library version.  The Power of Introverts

After seeing "Saving Mr. Banks" I just had to read more about P.L. Travers and our library wisely stocked several copies of her 1999 biography in anticipation of just that reaction.  

The movie was wonderful and this book was even more illuminating.  The Mary Poppins books were magical to me as a child and certainly influenced my lifelong love for England.  After reading about her unusual life I am eager to re-read those children's books with a new eye.
The last book was less "literary" but still an interesting way to pass a cold wintry evening.
It's quite melodramatic but an interesting examination of language acquisition among a group of bonobos.  What does make us human?  In this book, the animals are kinder, more empathetic and compassionate than most of the humans.  I loved "Water for Elephants" and am glad I read Sara Gruen's latest even if it wouldn't be a book group worthy selection.
Now, off to prepare projects for my upcoming sewing retreat and a separate ASG neighborhood group presentation tomorrow.  Hope you are engaged in some enjoyable projects this weekend in your corner of the world.