Conquering New Things That are Really Old
Having embarked on my new/old journey into textiles and sewing (again), I have been incredibly insecure about my sewing abilities. I have been sewing since I was 10 years old and have a very crafting oriented family. In college I took a costume construction sewing course, this class taught me the fundamentals of sewing, pretty much everything from plackets to you name it, but that was about 20 years ago. I have always had a sewing machine for making things for my kids, like quilts and blankets, but I never trusted myself to sew something I'd actually sell. As a graphic designer, I was much more comfortable in front of my mac creating on Adobe Illustrator, making things on the computer, knowing they would be perfect. I honed my design craft by selecting fine papers and choosing offset printers/ die cutters but my heart has always been in textiles.
I mentioned this in previous posts, but I had known that I wanted to create a line for the home for some time, after coming to Austin, I decided it was now or never. I dusted off my sewing machine and dove in, my first few samples were not the best, even though I wasn't doing anything complicated, they were just not the level at which I wanted to be making. I wanted to conquer this skill, and be able to rely on my own hands, knowing that I could create a finished piece that I would be proud of. I sat at home sketching, and it came to me, lille huset would evolve in the same way it began, with the merging of the things I love: nature and architecture. I worked everyday, designing the fabrics that I would be able to print myself, i.e. simple one color designs that were coming from my drawings. When I would start sewing, I was making things but they needed to be better I knew: A. I needed a better sewing machine and B. I needed more attention to detail. At the same time, I was also trying to re-learn screen printing and having never printed on fabric, I had a lot of experimenting to do. I didn't know how to get the colors I wanted from the speedball inks, but knew I had to just keep going. I would print every Saturday from 9-2 and come back to my studio with a pile of freshly printed textiles.
With this pile I would try to imagine what I could sew from it. I dove in and started piecing things together making patchwork pillows and let me tell you, it felt really good. My fabrics weren't perfect and my sewing was iffy at best, but I kept going. When I created my initial collection "The Garden and The Grid", I brought it to the winter markets around Austin. I did a series of events with my "new" stuff all the while with my heart in my neck. I kept my dollhouses close, because they were my safety net, and something I knew I could sell. I don't know what it is about old friends, but hearing positive things from the people who really know you, is the best, most affirming thing. It was during one of these fairs that one of our closest college friends (My husband and I met in architecture school, but didn't fall in love until many years later, but because of that we share our close friends) was visiting and he came by my craft show booth and was like, "wow, it all came together, you are sewing again and it all makes sense." That feedback fueled me, it filled me up and I kept going.
For Christmas, I invested in a new sewing machine, and it was the first time since I was 10 years old that I put faith in my sewing again. I made a plan to apply for a spring show to create a deadline for my making. I was accepted into the One of A kind show in Chicago, and decided that would be my "official release." My plan from here is to be able to keep making, being a working artist- gulp. I have to tell you that jumping back into something that you have put aside for the past 20 years is VERY scary, but it is something that I now realize I have to do.