Sometimes, creating is not a bucket of fun

Sometimes, creating is not a bucket of fun

Every project, despite the results, isn’t always fun or exciting.  Skill limitations, time restraints, or expense can really turn something fun into something frustrating.  I generally try to avoid being whiny or complaining about my first world problems, but I also want to keep it real. I suspect some of you may closely identify with the story I’m about tell. There is a silver lining to this story – I hope my moments of madness will inspire you push through any projects you have like this one.

Last week I revealed this year’s Halloween costume, Urban Witch. Y’all, it worked my nerves, but I’ve come out on the other side a better maker and creator.

My most important advice ever: EDIT. EDIT. Then, edit. Here’s just a few trouble spots and places I edited – multiple times ….

EmilyWitch

We knew we wanted big floaty arms that mimicked a cape, but weren’t an actual cape. Because I have no clue how to make 3D things like garments, I like to start with a pattern. The only one that we found that sort of fit the bill was Simplicity 1551. First sign of trouble – it only came in a women’s size 8. I didn’t panic. I went ahead and bought it and made it from muslin so I could adjust it way down for fit. EmilyDressPrep

Honestly, I was rather impressed at this stage – it looked like we wanted it to look, seemed like the fit was going to be ok and had the general feel of the type of dress we were trying to make. I  thought a knit could be a good forgiving choice and when a friend pointed out it knits didn’t need to be finished like cottons do, I was sold. On her other most excellent advice, I only took apart the front and back sides of the muslin dress to cut two solid pieces on the fold rather than all six panels as designed. This is where things go really wonky – I did a bad job adjusting the cut of the collar to accommodate the weight of the sleeves. I had to take some of the fullness out of the skirt to accommodate the two, rather than six, panels. I had also incorrectly measured the full length of the inside of the sleeves and bought fabric three inches too short. I had a mess, hot. Dressonthefold

It gets worse. The sleeves were terrible. I made them from the same blue knit with a bright yellow/green on the inside. They were so heavy. They just hung there like saggy sacks of sad. I swear, they put 20 pounds on a 9 year old! I was so dejected. At this point, I thought it might be time to throw in the witch hat, run to the Halloween store and trade $$ for a finished costume.

EmilyisSosad

 

I walked away from it for a few days then came back to with the eyes of an editor. I asked myself what’s not working and how can you make it work? Then, demanded an honest answer. The sleeves had to go and some seams had to be added for fit. There was a time crunch now, I couldn’t be finicky. I just let go of my ideas of what it “should” be and let the fabrics speak. Emily found both the bats and the blue tulle like sleeve fabric. Wait? What? I don’t have to MAKE bats, they are already on the fabric? Check! Don’t have to add bling? It’s already in the blue fabric? Check! Things are looking up for sure.

 

Also on the cutting room floor – dying the fabric to create an ombre like effect, painting buildings along the bottom of the skirt, adding a FMQ bat across the neckline, adding hot fix crystals through the dress, and shortening the length of the wig. See how much different the first doodle is from the finished product?

SketchbookWitch

 

My second most important advice ever: Let go. Trust the process, Trust your instincts, and follow the project where it leads you.

After all that aggravation, frustration, and deviation from what I thought it should be – I’m happy. Once all the accessories were added and I wasn’t focusing on every single detail, I even liked it! I swear, some of the biggest headaches turned out to be the dress’ best features. Running down the street with her billowing sleeves, sparkly shoes, and witchy accessories, she looked exactly as I had envisioned even if it was nothing like I planned.

Projects that look effortless rarely ever are. Have you experienced one that you absolutely hated right up until the second it all came together? Knowing what you know now, would you make that project again?

24 Comments

  1. Wow, Susan, your ability and willingness to work with a muslin for fitting are impressive (that’s one thing I never had the ambition or courage to do in dressmaking and at times I paid for it dearly). And the costume came out looking great!

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  2. Susan! I always thought this costume was amazing, as you know, but I’m even more impressed now I know you haven’t done lots of dress making before and you used a knit fabric and adapted a pattern that was the wrong size! And I completely identify with the trials you describe. I seriously find that with a lot of projects I feel like I have to go through a pain barrier and there’s a horrible time in the middle I wonder if it’s getting worse before it gets better (which seems to be a necessary stage) or just getting worse and worse. The upside is that you can end up with something much better than originally planned like you have here. The original pattern looks very boring and generic compared to your version 🙂

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  3. Wow, and here I thought making a costume could be lots of fun. I may not be looking forward to my kids’ costume requests in the future. You are a great momma, and pretty awesome seamstress!

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    • It is fun – just not for the reasons I expected! She did have the best costume on the block and I’m certain these are the things she’ll remember when she’s grown. I bet I’ll even remember it fondly when she’s grown, maybe I shouldn’t have written it down!!

      Thank you for stopping by with such nice things to say. 🙂

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  4. Letting go , and following where a project will lead you is such great advice. You did such a great job and it looked amazing in the end. I admire you for not giving up.

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    • Thanks Rachael! I’m still not positive what pushed me though, but I’m glad it did too!

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  5. I have had a couple of those projects too where I just ripped it all apart and restarted after a few days. You did an amazing job, Susan!! I can’t get over how beautiful and happy she looks 🙂

    -Soma

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    • Thank you!! I honestly dont know how the shoulders are holding the sleeves. I think I took them off and put them back on no less than 10 times. Good thing the knit is forgiving!!

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  6. I am living proof that you can start out with one project in mind and end up with something slightly or totally different ~ just go with the flow…see I call that creativity and you have a ton of it 😉 Also makes me think of my first quilt ~ chose a pattern that was not for a beginner, but hey, when did I ever follow instructions or suggestions? lol Finished the quilt with great pride, hand quilted it and with chest all puffed out finally showed my hubby the finished quilt. He took one look at it and pointed out that one block was turned in the opposite direction than it should of been…really? Crap. Next came his mother and sister and they spotted it right away ~ but I was use to their quirks and when they asked why did I do that? Did I do it on purpose or was I going to take it apart and fix it…I looked them in the eye and said ‘why? that’s my personal touch on someone else’s pattern and made it mine ~ that block represents all those who have an original bone in their body and are not afraid to go against the flow ~ it’s me! They kind of laughed and continued down the too bad you made a mistake line…so in turn I laughed and said it was a psychological test and they failed…eh? instead of seeing the good in life, they focused on the one flaw and totally lost sight of what was accomplished. Folded my quilt (with the crazy block up) and placed it on the back of my couch. TADA! oh, did I mention they are my ex’s family? lol

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    • Ack!! That’s almost as bad as when you’ve put 100 hours into something and you very proudly show someone and they are totally indifferent. “Yeah, that’s nice”. Talk about wind out of your sails!

      It’s funny – I don’t mind the imperfections of handmade items. In most cases I really like them! They do give it a personal touch and remind you of the time and effort that went into what was being created.

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  7. The outcome is pretty cool. Plus the little lady seems to really enjoy it and that’s what counts the most.

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    • Yes yes, you’re right. It is about her having a good time! I just get in my own head a little more than I need to sometimes. 🙂

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  8. My biggest experience is in making clothing. When I was a young, stay-at-home mom, I used to make all of my boys’ clothes, except socks and underwear. I just grew up doing it, and it didn’t fluster me at all…..well, just a tiny bit. When I’d throw a tantrum while making something for myself, my Mom would tell me to put it down and walk away for awhile. I thought she was just a crazy old lady, but it was what I needed to do. Once I realized that my MOTHER might be right about something, it took a lot of pressure off. You did the right thing by letting it go for a bit. Emily looks so adorable in the costume. I can just see those sleeves flying down the street. I bet that bag was the talk of the block…8-)

    xo Linda

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    • It’s pretty crazy how our mothers are always right isnt it? Even if you don’t see it right at the time. Heck – I even sound like my mother these days and say stuff I swore I’d never utter. I use the walking away trick a bunch – sometimes I don’t walk back.

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  9. I definitely know what you are talking about!! My starry night quilt has been like that from step…it is an ever evolving project, changing to fit the needs of the quilt and my interests. But with no deadline it just keep going and going and going…

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    • I suspected you might know what this one feels like. 🙂 I love every step Starry Night has taken – I hope it gives you a happy place soon!

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  10. I am so happy for you and getting another great costume complete 🙂

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    • Thanks Michelle! I’m glad it is done too. I think this is one of those things we will look back on fondly years from now and I’ll be sure glad I made it through. 🙂

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  11. Yep, done that! Big bed quilt… was half way, discovered that the final project was not going to fit underneath the old sewing machine… Took the whole thing apart and started over in a quilt as you go technique…. Only to come to the conclusion that I would run out of fabric before half of it was put back together again. So much for my math skills! 🙁
    I can proudly say that I tried my best, and even though his bed quilt is not my best quilt I will never give it away. It is a daily reminder of the lover have for this craft.
    Esther

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    • Oh no!!! That *does* sound painful! I hate it when I do math wrong. I always buy about 20% more fabric than I need “just in case”. It seems like I do math perfect on fabrics I don’t love and end up needing the extra on fabrics I do! Oh well, if we were perfect, it wouldn’t be handmade right? 🙂

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  12. Not being a creative person like you are I really did not understand most of what you were talking about, however, this costume like all her other ones I think is fantastic and you are fast approaching genius in my book. Nina

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    • I don’t understand most of what I’m talking about either! hahahaha! Thanks for stopping by and using big words like genius. Going to give me a fat head. 🙂

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  13. Every single garment I ever tried to make for myself was a project from Hell! I’m really, really good at following instructions and really, really bad at improvising so if the pattern doesn’t fit EXACTLY right on me… I am in trouble. So I basically have a pile of unfinished garments somewhere in this house and it’s going to stay there! :-). Kudos to you for sticking with it though. The finished dress is really nice.

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    • You know, there’s something about garment patterns I just can’t figure out. I think it is those crazy line drawings! I’ve never ever ever tried a pair of pants, talk about out of comfort zone! Maybe on day I’ll get the guts….

      Good for you for putting it down when you needed to. Sometimes letting it go is the wisest decision of the bunch!

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