It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Musings on the Creative Process...

Some questions arose recently in conversation about blogs - why we blog, what our "niche" is - and it got me wondering about just what my "niche" is - why do I blog?  What do I have to offer?    Do I even have a "niche"?  What does my voice say, and what does it sound like to others?
I really started this blog with no idea where it would go.  Fellow sewing enthusiasts encouraged me to start a blog, and I thought it would be a great venue to document my sewing journey  - mostly for myself, to keep track of my sewing foibles and successes,  but with the (slightly veiled) hope that others would appreciate what I offered.

I relish a good read and a well-written story.  I've dabbled in, and appreciate, good photography.  I definitely love sewing!  And I thrive on creativity - on many levels.  And I'm always up for a session of sharing - learning and/or teaching.  I also like to practice compassion and encourage open-mindedness/heartedness, a lightness of BE-ing, and a few smiles and even giggles for those I interact with.  I do like to think that my blog utilizes all of those attributes, to one degree or another.  :)

I also realize that I would like to pay more attention to my writing style, as opposed to pounding out yet another post, just because I think I should share this thing that I've created, and maybe somebody out there will appreciate something about it - a helpful tip, an "aha" moment, a lead to an interesting pattern, or maybe just a pat on the back for me.... (hey, who doesn't love a pat on the back every now and then, eh?)


I am SO appreciative of the sewing tips and tricks I've picked up from other blogs - thank you to everyone out there who has helped me on this journey!  Along with all of the fabulous tips I pick up online, occasionally I hit on an idea or realization that's new to me, and I write about it, and someone else tells me that they learned something because of my writing about it, and I LOVE it when that happens!   Sometimes it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.   Just the other day I got an email from someone thanking me for my explanation of the welt pocket process (on a post a wrote a couple of YEARS ago) - something that's been written about a squillion times, but I wrote in a way that *I* understood it, and 3 or 4 other people apparently thought like I did and learned something new.   Cool.  :)   3 or 4 is good.

But is that really enough for a blogging "voice"?   I'm sure we've all been to that place before, where 37 people have explained something to us, and then 1 person says it in just the right way, at just the right time, and you "get it"!   In the technical aspect of the sewing world, I think that happens all the time.  I still read blogs that are directed to beginning sewists, and I read a little tidbit and have another "aha!" moment.  With all of the tutorials out there, I'm sure we all have something to learn, and many of us have something to share.

But that's not really a "voice", is it?

Which brings me back to the title of this post: "Musings on the Creative Process".  I think that's what sewing is becoming for me - it's really about the creative process as much as, if not more than, the finished result.   It's both the public and the internal voice for unravelling my creative process.   The process of finding out who I am, and how I express that - sewing really is (or can be) a way of expressing my internal beliefs of who I "am" in my physical, external presence.

Pardon me while I think out loud.  I'm coming to the realization that sewing my individualistic wardrobe is a way of melding my internal self with my external expression, and it is, quite frankly, a "coming out" in a way.  Which requires an understanding of who I am....who I am becoming....who I want to become.....

I didn't know, at the beginning, if this was going to all about sewing, but I did say in my profile (which hasn't changed since I first wrote it) that it was about the process:


"Having a dream of what I want to create is wonder-filled....having a finished product that makes me (and you) smile is delightful.....being aware of what's happening during the process is priceless."

and from my blogger title:

"It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through."

Perhaps I'm going back to the roots of my blogging experience - please bear with me as I explore this territory about the expression of the internal  through the external.  And I would love to hear from you as I do my own exploration.....

I know there are a lot of reasons why we sew - I'm curious about those of us who are really interested in bringing the unique and creative into our clothes.  I really hope to open a dialogue with those of you who care to share.....
  • do you sew, and dress, to express the inner you?  
  • Has sewing helped you discover/uncover who you really are?   
  • Does it take courage to dress the way you really feel about yourself?
  • DO you dress the way you really feel about yourself?
  • Do you sew to express your own individuality, and what is it that you are expressing?  Rebelliousness?   Power?  Artistry?  Thumbing your nose at something?   Something else?
  • Maybe you sew just to be able to be "on trend" and do it affordably, or just want clothes that friggin' FIT you, because nothing in retail does - I'm interested in those reasons too.  
  • Or maybe you just don't want to be part of the "fast fashion" crowd - kudos to you for that!
Why do you sew?   And what is the creative process behind it?

I actually plan to really explore this, both for my own self exploration and the curiosity that makes other people explore (obsess about?) their own creative process....

Your turn....I really want to hear from you!



49 comments:

  1. I've definitely experienced a transition over the time that I've sewn from being product oriented to process oriented and once you make that shift, you also seem to become more inside out expressive.

    This is a topic I really enjoy. Instead of answering quickly, I'm going to think about it and then answer in a blog posting next week because there's no way it'll be a short answer. I'm too chatty for that - LOL.

    Thanks for the thought provoking questions.

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    1. Ooooh thank you so much for this comment! This is exactly the thought process I'm hoping to connect with and explore! :) I look forward to reading your thoughts on this!

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  2. Great post Jilly, you are great contributor to others and very supportative too. I blog because I love sharing. I feel the connection with others the most important part of the process.

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    1. That connection is what makes the whole blogging experience so special - I'm delighted to have "met" you here - and your creativity - I remember encouraging you to enter a PR contest because I was so impressed with your creative sewing!

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  3. Mryna put into words what was swirling in my brain while reading this post Jillian. I now sew mainly because I want to express something from my internal reality. I blog to analyze that creative process and sometimes to jumpstart the process. Blogging and sewing are intertwined now. Off to think some more.

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    1. It doesn't surprise me at all that we're on the same wave length here :) Look forward to hearing your thoughts.....

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  4. Interesting post. I sew because I want specific clothes and I enjoy making them. I am a perfectionist so the technical aspects of sewing are my favorite thing and I always challenge myself to try advanced techniques. So many people, including you Jillian come up with amazing creative ideas and I like to see them on various blogs. I blog because I love to share what I made and I have gotten so much good info and inspiration from other blogs.

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    1. You never know what stands out when you offer something. At a Cañada gathering you spoke about linings, and finding something in your stash to use before going out to buy something new - that stuck with me! Finding scraps in stash is definitely an integral part of my creative process!

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  5. I am VERY new to sewing and to this whole WORLD that I've become fascinated by. I've always been crafty - not as much creative - and to me they are different. As a kid I enjoyed drawing and painting. I liked cross stitch. I liked "making stuff". Then as an adult I taught myself crochet. Then decided I needed to learn to knit (which I have now). Then somewhere, my drive to learn to sew came out. And I bought a sewing machine January of this year. And I am loving it! So to answer the questions you posed:

    •do you sew, and dress, to express the inner you?

    I sew because I enjoy making things in general, and sewing is fun and can be cathartic.

    •Has sewing helped you discover/uncover who you really are?

    No, I wouldn't say that.

    •Does it take courage to dress the way you really feel about yourself?
    •DO you dress the way you really feel about yourself?

    To answer these together... I do not dress the way I feel about myself. I feel like my 'style' is an effortless, feminine one, when I can express it. I love dresses and skirts. I like pretty, high-heeled shoes. I love costume jewelry and kind of like sparkly things. But I'm not a "girly girl". I don't "do" my hair daily. I never wear makeup unless it's an occasion (no, not even mascara or lip gloss), but I was never a 'tomboy'; I embrace my femininity.

    BUT, I'm a scientist. A young(ish) one. I am the only woman at work that isn't in an administrative role. I am often the only woman in the room when meeting with clients. I DO NOT want to be the woman in the room; I want to be the chemist in the room. Plus, I can't really wear skirts and high heels to work; it isn't practical. I can end up on my feet for hours. I can be working with something dirty. I can be working around hazardous chemicals, etc. So my work uniform is slacks and a top with primarily flat shoes.

    •Do you sew to express your own individuality, and what is it that you are expressing? Rebelliousness? Power? Artistry? Thumbing your nose at something? Something else?

    I am generally rebellious. And I like to have people who give the "okaaaaaaay" when they find I sew or knit or crochet; only to be amazed when they see what I've made (because apparently their mindset was something different)!

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    1. That was soooo much longer than I thought! LOL!

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    2. Thank you for your comments (which were NOT too long lol!) I find it interesting how many scientists there are in the sewing community - you're in very good company!

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  6. Very though provoking! Living in Asia half of my time with my husband, I find blogging primarily a way to share with family & friends. My blog reflects that in that it's all over the place: travel, people and of course sewing. I returned to garment sewing about 2 years ago and so much of my sewing efforts have gone into FITTING. I find the blogging community so very inspirational and informative! Sewing grounds me on either shore; however--due to all the travel & jet lag it often comes down to either sewing or blogging. Sewing usually wins!

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    1. I wonder if the FIT issue ever ends! Thank heavens for the TNT!

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  7. Jilly, you DO have a unique voice and I am glad you blog! You said it best, you reimind us to "practice compassion and encourage open-mindedness/heartedness, a lightness of BE-ing".

    I sew for ALL the reasons you mentioned. In the beginning it was about entering middle age and have nowhere to shop; nothing fit properly anymore. Now, my sewing has expanded to all the other reasons you mentioned, so it has helped me blossom on many levels. Sewing gives me so much more than I give to sewing.

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    1. Thank you Robin :) I forget that my underlying canvas is one of always trying to be conscious and aware of expressing the sort of person I want to Be, but that is the page that I'm writing on, and thus, a huge part of the message. Thank you for noticing, and for reminding me :)

      And how well-said, that sewing can give back so much more than you give it!

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  8. Jilly, I too think/feel (couldn't decide on which word best fit so I used both) that you have a unique voice. When I see one of your posts come up, I know I will read a post that is upbeat, positive and happy. Always. I really love that about your writing. You were also VERY kind and supportive when I first began blogging, and I thank you for that.

    The rest I will have to do some thinking about.

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    1. Thank you Elle - you always put a smile on my face! :) I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts about "the rest" ;-)

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  9. Humm-I sew because:- RTW is a horrible fit. At age 65, it seems RTW is either too youthful or matronly. Some people have a creative bug that bites and stings until we can find a way out for it. Right now, I feel a bit anxious because I cannot sew. We've recently moved and all my sewing things are packed away, waiting for my sewing room to be finished.

    Blogging serves several purposes. It's great for getting information and inspiration (I can't count how many patterns I've bought because I saw it on someone's blog). I think of blogging rather as a sewing club, only virtual. We chat about all sorts of things going on in our lives as well as our creations.

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    1. I hope your new sewing space feeds you well....and SOON! :D

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  10. Your blog is uplifting and funny and I do get an idea of what you are really like no matter what you are wearing or creating. That said, your clothes are unique and I envy the people who have been lucky and close enough to meet you and share your passion. I sew to make people look the best they can, I teach this to others if they want to learn, I blog to share good and bad techniques and warn people before they buy RTW with shoddy workmanship. I have been blessed to have lived a very full life in many countries hopefully gathering wisdom and wrinkles along the way and always sewing for others. If I had more time away from the brides my wardrobe would really reflect who I am inside instead of being functional and washable and loose while I spend so much time on the floor...maybe that will come when I am 70...or not.

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    1. Awww you are so sweet, thank you! I love the humour you spread, even while you are sharing tips and stories about some of your more....errmm...."interesting" clients.

      And the visual of spending so much time on the floor! It didn't occur to me, but I guess you're there a lot when working with floor-length gowns!

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  11. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my style lately. I've always had a hard time with my own style- my mom didn't approve, my sister would try to force her style on me, etc. So in the last year, with all the sewing blogs I read, I've been realizing that I need to figure out what I want to wear. I've been stuck in jeans and T-shirts because they were cheap and kind of fit me. I've been having a hard time sewing for myself and I think it is because I want clothes I like, but am not sure what I like. I am working on a pair of jeans right now, but jeans are pretty basic so I need to figure out what I want to wear with them. I like to look nice and well put together. So I guess for now I need to figure out what I like!

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    1. I'm still figuring out my "style" too - I think it's part of the whole process of sewing. There are way more style choices in rtw than there used to be, but that doesn't mean that your personal style is easier to find....nor does it mean it's even out there! I think that sewing kind of forces us into thinking about what our style is.....kind of what this whole journey is about for me right now. :)

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    2. I haven't really found much in RTW that fits my style. Maybe it's because it is all so cheap looking. 20 years ago it wasn't so bad, but now the clothes look like they will far apart just from looking at them!

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    3. And they will! Well, sometimes you have to wash them once before they disintegrate lol. I hope that more people read "Overdressed" and start realizing what sor of damage they're doing to our planet by buying those clothes!

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    4. I wasn't shocked by what she addressed in Overdressed. It is pretty obvious that the clothes are so shoddy these days. It is sad that people buy in to fast fashion. I have never been that way. I want clothes that will last and I don't really like trends. I do think that more people should be aware of the impact on the damage they are causing.

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  12. I sew for two reasons - one, to achieve clothes that will fit. And two, as a way of expressing myself creatively. I am still figuring out my own style, which is always evolving/changing. I love your voice, Jillian, and have always loved your blogging. It's unique, it's fresh, and it overlaps a lot with my own artistic point of view. You have a great energy about you!

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    1. Your style is, and always will be, uniquely you, even if you are "still figuring out" what it is lol! I love our overlapping points of view, and I love the inspiration that I get even when I know what you're doing doesn't fit "me" at all. I think your inspirational way of sharing is part of your style :)

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  13. Your blog really does tell a story, or rather more than one story. There is the meta-narrative of your outlook on life and creativity generally, and then there is the specific story of each individual project. We humans need and love our storytellers to help us make sense of our experiences! Love your blog.

    I sew for mostly two reasons: first, because I left a career I really enjoyed to homesechool my son who is on the autism spectrum, and I needed some area of achievement (that was mine alone) in which to be productive and successful. Second, though it wasn't originally my motivation, I now really enjoy the opportunity sewing provides to express a larger creative vision over time.

    Also, I really like making stuff, even when it's utilitarian or nothing particularly special.

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    1. You called me a storyteller!!!! LOL you have no idea how big a grin that put on my face! Thank you :D That could be the most helpful comment I've received so far about finding "my voice".

      The journey from sewing to fill a need (which is always there in one way of another, for most of us) to the larger creative vision is such a fun and fascinating one.

      And I hope your son is thriving through your care :)

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  14. I love your blog for the pure hearted positivity it displays and the unique vision you bring to your work. I sew because I'm tired of rtw telling me what I can have. I blog to reach out to people of similar interest and not bore my uninterested family and friends to distraction!

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    1. lol you never fail to make me laugh! And thank you :)

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  15. Intelligent, introspective, inspirational -- that's how I "hear" your voice.

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  16. I've said it before and I'll say it again...you are extremely inspirational!!! The Katharine Tilton dress you just made is major cute and adorable on you, especially with your hat and those shoes! It was another case of...I want to make that dress too. I love everything you make...you are so much fun and like free to be you!!! Then last night I read Barbara's post (sewing on the edge) about canning and color...why would we wear colors that we wouldn't eat. That's when I realized what's wrong. I have a ton of fabric...pretty colors, I love to sew and want to...I plan what I'm going to make...then I stop. Why? A few weeks ago I made Rhonda's "all points skirt"...it's cute...I haven't worn it yet. It's all because I live in a small town where all the seniors dress alike...literally...and I should be dressing like them because I'm 67. That would be slacks with a blouse or plain top and dreary colors. But I love maxi skirts, Capri's, Marci's pants like you made and above all...color. Do seniors here wear dreary colors because they have dying on their mind? This is way too long!!!

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    1. I give you permission to wear the styles and colors you love! ;-D You know what? I bet that secretly (if not openly) those drearily dressed seniors will want to be you ;)

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  17. I am inspired and encouraged by blogs where people write about what they love doing. The fun and interest you have in sewing shines through your blog, it is so enjoyable to read.

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  18. Thought I would read the comments before throwing in my two cents.

    Reading the comments was enjoyable, as was this blog post. I like when some said that within each post is not only the documentation of the creative process, but also a wonderful story about you. So true.

    My creative bones have gone on vacation, but they will return, so it has been a pleasure reading about your creative journey. It also brings great satisfaction to me since I am one of the ones who encouraged you to start a blog.

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    1. I know, aren't the replies great?

      Not only did you encourage me to start a blog, you are responsible for getting me to join BABES - my sewing life would not be the same without you! :)

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  19. I used to sew lots of jackets and gowns and things that need complex construction--and really enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of making something beautifully and creatively. These days, though, I'm working in a wonderful job that 1. doesn't require that level of dressing, and 2. has me far far busier. So my sewing has devolved into something that I do like a maniac when school is out. And I've mainly been making knit tops for myself--comfy, hopefully stylish, and I just love playing with the fabric and colors. The Tilton sisters are big inspirations, and so are you, Jilly. I read your blog and others as a substitute for being able to sew. Please keep up the great work!

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    1. Well you're still making lovely items! And I hear you about the busy-ness of the job - I know too many Waldorf teachers lol!

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  20. Great post! Very thought-provoking. At first I sewed to create things that I thought expressed my inner me, but I found out that I wasn't that avant garde and that style looked terrible on my figure. I have gradually discovered my style through sewing. It was kind of like peeling the layers off an onion. There was this idea of my style and at the bottom of all the layers was the real style. I now find I feel most comfortable and best in simple classic styles. Irony for this ex-alternative/punk teenage girl who had purple, crew cut hair in the 80's. Sigh.

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    1. I, too, started sewing with projects that I thought expressed the inner me, or at least who I thought I wanted to be, and came to the same conclusion - most of those projects were not me, looked terrible, and looked kind of like I was "trying too hard". I'm still figuring "me" out, but I love how creative sewing is playing such a vital part in doing so! :)

      And I think we are all changing, evolving, growing, all the time. Not ironic at all that you had your purple hair phase lol!

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  21. Wow! Lot's to think about in this post, Jilly. I live in a very small town where none of my friends sew. In fact, they look at be with bemusement when I mention my passion for all things involving a needle and thread. I admit to not knowing exactly what to "call" myself. Seamstress sounds kin to laundress. Sewist doesn't seem like a real word to me. So I now just say that I love to sew, in much the same way that I say I love to read.

    I derive so much pleasure from sewing. I used to race to the finish line, dying to see the finished product. But now I find that I enjoy the process as much as the end result. And the process starts with "communing" with my fabric -- handling it, draping it, dreaming about it. Then musing over the patterns, looking for just the right lines, etc. And then there is cutting out, fitting, marking, basting, etc, etc. Even ripping out! All necessary steps and I"m learning to if not love them all, at least I can endure them!!!

    I also sew in order to not be a slave to the latest fashions -- and the ridiculous pricetags that accompany them! At my considerable age (65), I found that I didn't want to look like a teenage wannabe nor did I want to look like a matron who had given up on style. I find with sewing my own clothes that I can wear the colors I like, the styles that work for me, and get a decent fit.

    My style is changing as I get older, but is still pretty much the same as it always was. I might cover up a bit more this year than last, lengthen a sleeve, etc, but I still tend to like classic, "ladylike" styles. I love to make "couture" garments, alternateing with what I call "down and dirty" sewing -- quick knit tops and dresses.

    I also find sewing a lot less expensive that a psychiatrist! When I get overwhelmed with life's events, I can retreat to my sewing room and get lost in the process! So relaxing. However, this is not to say that I save much money by sewing for myself! My stash would say otherwise! However, it gives a great sense of satisfaction in knowing that should something dire occur and I got locked in my house for weeks at a time, I would always have something to make! I'm ready for a lock-down!

    Although I have sewn for almost my entire life, it was only in the past few years that I began sewing for myself almost exclusively. And I know that I couldn't not have done it without the online sewing community! I am grateful to you and all the other wonderful bloggers out there who take the time (and lots of it) to share with us and to inspire us as we seek to create our own unique wardrobes.

    Cissie

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    1. I really think that many of us sewists who stick with it really do enjoy the process as much as, if not more than, the finished project.

      With as much processing as a well-done sewing project takes, how could you stick with it if you didn't enjoy all of the aspects? Even the ripping, as you say, is a part of life/sewing....the older I get, the more I accept the ripping as a valuable part of the journey. Enjoyable? eh. lol!

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  22. Your blog is one of the ones that I always look forward to seeing a new post - the way that you combine your personal journey and your creativity is inspiring to me, and I love seeing your sewing projects and reading your commentary.

    For me, I almost feel like my blog is another kind of artistry; at times it can be a way to share with others, or to just put it out there so I my ownself can look at it, and see where I am in the world and what the story of my life is. I mix that up with my sewing and art projects, because those are both closer to the center of my life. I want to take some more time and think about your questions... basically I sew to have clothes that are congruent with my true self, that also fit the body I have. I know that my personal style is neither fashionable or commonplace, being a sort of utilitarian fairytale look. At one point, I actually wrote up a statement for my personal style, and hope to eventually condense that into a one line mission statement.

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    1. Thank you Alison :) I love your succinct description of "utilitarian fairytale" - you seem to be one of those people who really knows how to express who you are! I admire that :)

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  23. Your blog definitely has your own unique voice. That's why I subscribe.

    In 2002, when my sister suggested that I write guest entries on her blog, I asked, "What's a blog?"

    She replied that it is an online notebook of her fiber arts projects so she doesn't forget what she did. She said to put the useful kind of information that I want to read, but post it on the internet for others to learn.

    I had no idea how influential her blog was at the time and was shocked to get comments and mail from as far away as Sweden and Japan. Her blog became less active and widely read when RL overwhelmed both of us.

    She suggested I take my off-fiber pursuits to my own blog so she can keep hers on-topic. She has a very strong fiber arts voice.
    http://www.fibermusings.net

    My voice is all over the map.
    http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com

    I thought that my aesthetic was "hey, that's on top of the pile and the serger is threaded with the right color", but a friend said that she could spot my aesthetic from a mile away. If you find it, please send it home. ;-)

    I don't sew to express my inner me, unless that means something that is practical, washable, doesn't scratch inside, fits and is made sustainably.

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