I had a couple of weeks off over Christmas (actually, that’s not quite true – it’s my quiet period as well, so I have a fair amount of time, but on these 2 weeks I did no working-work). I had a bunch of projects that I wanted to start but an uncomfortable, unsettled feeling that was stopping me from getting stuck into it.
Usually for me this feeling is resolved by, instead of getting stuck in, stepping back and spending some time just fooling around and getting re-organised. So that’s what I did – mostly without as much intent as this will sound 🙂
I have a nice studio space beside my garage, but it was feeling crowded and uncomfortable to work in. I wanted to get another dressmaker’s mannequin, but knew I wouldn’t be able to fit anything else in.
After a bunch of thinking of options, I realised there was only one thing to do – the loom had to go (no, not forever, but I’m not going to be using it for a while). It was literally taking up half the room.
That opened up tons of space!
I’ve been doing sketching and drawing in my office in the house, but the lighting isn’t great and I don’t like working there – it feels like work. So I decided to set up a space in the studio for that. I bought some lights and pinboards, borrowed a trestle table and set up a desk to draw at. The bonus is that my daughter can sew at the same time as me now, which makes that more likely to happen!
I have a set of blocks that I use for patternmaking, but I wasn’t happy with them. I wasn’t very good when I started them so every time I start a new pattern I have to remember the things that don’t quite work (bad waist positioning, terrible armhole shapes…). So I procrastinate when I want to start a project because I know the first draft won’t be very good.
I decided to redo them all, which is a big deal as it’s days of work. I also decided to try a new method (I’ve tried three different patternmaking methods and didn’t like any of them for real people who aren’t size 10 with an hourglass shape – one day I’ll do a detailed review of the methods). I bought a Craftsy class by Suzy Furrer which turned out to be my best patternmaking decision ever. Her method is fantastic, and the block it creates is wonderful. I still needed to do mine and kiddo’s twice due to some measuring mistakes, but now I have brilliant, wonderful, perfect blocks and I know my draft patterns will be pretty close to right first time.
And I have them on card, all hanging on pattern hooks, looking like I know what I’m doing. There really is something in the appearance of being professional 🙂
So with space and supplies, I should have been ready to get into those projects. But no, I was spinning around in circles, still not sure where to start. I had too many ideas and couldn’t start any of them.
Post-it notes to the rescue!
I wrote out every project I was thinking about – some were for garments and some were just fabric I wanted to use. I even colour-coded them with different colours for kiddo and I.
Then for each I applied the good old ‘Getting things done’ method and thought about the next action for each – what was stopping me from just getting started.
I had a few barriers:
- Some (like a couple of pair of trousers) couldn’t be started until I lost a few kgs – there is no point making good things when I’m bigger than I want to be, then lose weight. These just needed to be parked.
- For some, I actually didn’t know what to make. I know that I want some stretch tops and some cute blouses, but I don’t know what I want. These needed research.
- For some, I didn’t have some skills I needed. I don’t have enough experience with fine (slippery) silk to start a silk blouse. I don’t know how to bind the armhole of a sleeveless blouse. I have very little experience with knits. These all got put on hold, and skills added to my projects list instead.
- Some were for winter, and I really should work on things I can wear sooner, so they were parked as well.
The process of getting these out of my head and into a visible form was excellent. The worst place to hold ideas is in my head – it’s just far too messy. So now they are all on my pinboard, with sketches, inspiration and fabric.
This was better, but not perfect – I can see everything I want to do, but not what to do next. So I also put all my projects into OmniFocus, where my entire life’s todo is. Now I’m comfortable. I can easily see what the next step is for any project, rather than trying to hold that detail in my head as well.
This may completely look like overkill but with a job that involves running 3 conferences and a couple of client projects at once, I am accustomed to outsourcing all my thinking into a computer. I spend an hour a week looking over all my projects, updating them and figuring out next actions. It really means that when I have some time I can see exactly what I can do right now.
So with that all in place, I can start projects. The first three are a denim jacket and jumpsuit for kiddo, and a sleeveless blouse for me (I knocked over the ‘learn sleeve binding’ problem). I’ve even made a start on them:
Hmmm…so what now? Finish the stretch blocks, redo the denim jacket pattern or make a blouse? I might just do all three!