Making in Fits & Starts - Sarah

I’m struggling with time management. Lately I’ve been feeling so BUSY and though I like everything I’m doing there’s just too much of it. I think summer is usually like this, particularly on Cape Cod where I live. The winters are so long, grey and dreary that one feels immense pressure to maximize each and every summer day.

But this is hard when it comes to my creative projects because I need a chunk of dedicated, focused time to sit and work on a thing to make it feel “real”. It’s hard for me to feel  engaged or that I’m producing something of quality when the time comes only in quick fits and little starts. And so the result? Procrastination - obviously.

Part of my problem is I want to sew extraordinary things. I have a slight obsession with period era clothing, particularly Victorian coats and Edwardian white lace lawn dresses. Not exactly ideal for an afternoon sewing project. So I’ve been Pinteresting and squirreling away all sorts of dream designs I’d love to tackle one day.

A few favorite Edwardian lawn dresses from my Pinterest excursions:


But that kind of advanced sewing takes, time, attention, calculation and skills I have yet to even learn (or so I tell myself). I live in a small space which means I sadly can’t leave a project out on a table to come back to later. I have to haul out my sewing machine and set everything up every time I want to work. I know - I’m creating more excuses for myself.

And yet, in one of my recent pinterest rabbit-hole excursions, I was thinking about these extraordinary vintage garments and the insane amount of time it must have taken to produce them. And then I got to thinking about the fact that while the ultra-rich had access to professional seamstresses and tailors, the majority of people were making much of their clothing themselves. And since women were somewhat busy with the house, children and taking-care-of-the-husband, this work necessarily DID happen in fits and starts. In those free moments between tasks or beside an evening fire they’d sew or mend or knit. I have a feeling the reality of this work might have been *slightly* less romantic than my dreamy impressions make it to be - but the reality remains that clothes were needed and people found the time to make them - often by themselves.

So why can’t I use that same approach? If I go back to making excuses for myself I’d say it’s because I wasn’t taught the finer points of sewing and lace-making from a startlingly young age….Or that my busy, distracted,  modern life doesn’t allow me to be sufficiently present...Or that I don’t have the tools. But really? I’M not even buying my own excuses.

The idea of having a long-term project that you pick away at over time isn’t revolutionary by any means. For most busy people, this is just life’s reality. To me, knitting lends itself more kindly to this slow making style as you’re able to work a few rows and put it away in a bag as needed before pulling it out again later. In many ways, knitting can be less fussy and tool-heavy than sewing so I decided to put an outfit together where I could knit a top and get a little help from my local seamstress to sew a vintage-inspired skirt from our Khadi to go with it.

Here’s my inspiration and starting point:


That’s an 1860’s-ish linen petticoat from The Met’s Costume Institute and the Riley sweater, a log-cabin panel constructed sweater by Amy Christoffers (thank you to Karen Templer for sharing on her wonderful blog Fringe Association!!).  I’m wanting to use our new Anar Yellow Striped Khadi for a modernized version of the skirt and some luxuriously soft and drapey yarn for the knit top….

I have a fun event in mid-August that cries out for a vintage-inspired outfit which gives me a wee bit of time to get going. And if not? A late summer garden party isn’t a shabby goal. In any case, putting this blog post out there makes me feel like I’m making a commitment to completion - if only really to myself.

Stay tuned!

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