Making Issue No. 3 + 7 / Starry Sky Skirt & Emerald Dress
I, like most sewists, have a great love for fabric. I love feeling it, studying the texture, learning about it, and, of course, making things with it. I'm sure you've heard it said that fabric collecting and sewing are two different hobbies; sometimes that feels so true! The experience of falling in love with fabric before I know what to do with it is one that I know well, and a fond memory from my early sewing days. I remember when I first began sewing and walked into a fabric store, it felt incredible to see all the material and realize the options were limitless. Wait, I'd thought, I can use any of these fabrics to make something? Realizing that I could make something custom, something I hadn't seen before and that no one else had, was one thing that kept me going in sewing because it made me feel special. It also felt as if I'd stumbled into a whole new world of possibilities, and it was exciting!
These days, many of my projects still start with the fabric. Here's how my creative process usually works. I'll stumble upon a material I find beautiful, and then I'll see if I have a pattern that it would work well with. I keep patterns that I come across and would like to use in the future but don't yet own on a Pinterest board, all of which are organized by type of garment, dresses, pants, jackets, etc., which makes accessing them and their details quick and easy. Sometimes when I find a fabric I love, I immediately know what pattern to pair it with, but sometimes I don't, and it's such fun to search through patterns and do research to find the perfect match. This step of the creative process, which feels more like designing to me, is one of my favorite parts.
When I first started making more of my clothing, I only purchased fabric for specific projects I planned to make; this helped to keep my fabric stash small, which was convenient because don't have a lot of space to store excess fabric. But the longer I've been sewing, the more I've learned that sometimes it's good to have material on hand that hasn't yet been assigned to a project. The reason for this is that creativity can't always be structured; by nature, creativity is a very free activity. There have been times where I've had a project planned, pattern and fabric chosen, then fell in love with a new pattern I discovered that would also be perfect for the fabric, and spontaneously jumped on the idea. Most of the time these turn out well, and even if they don't, I still believe the experience was a success because I learned something in the process by allowing myself to flex my creative muscles in this way. Every creative experience is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Sometimes I purchase fabric with a garment in mind, but not a solid plan. Often, these have been the fabrics I treasure most because of their beauty. And in this case, it can sometimes be challenging to make a concrete decision and cut into the fabric finally. I'll think, what if I don't do this fabric justice because of my skill level, or, maybe I should save it if I find a pattern I like more. I used to get stuck in this predicament more often than I do nowadays and I think it's because I've realized that if I make something I don't love, there is a good chance that I will be able to repurpose that fabric and use it for something else. I've done this quite a few times, and it's very satisfying to use an old skirt or dress I haven't worn often, or that never fit well, and transform it. I've never regretted chopping into one of those pieces to create something new; it's just another part of the creative process for me and a way to give new life to fabric I love!
Sometimes, when an idea starts to form in my mind, a sort of magic happens where both a fabric and pattern meet to make the perfect combination; this is always the goal, and sometimes it's easier to get there. Ever since the Angry Flowers Print Linen designed by Karen Gelardi became available, I've been looking for the perfect pattern for it. I adore floral prints and especially those that look as if they're part of a painting or have been hand-painted, so was immediately drawn to the Angry Flowers Print; even something about the name attracted me. What I love about small batch fabrics like this one is that their limited production means that what I make from it will be even more special because there will be less of it out in the world. This fabric also has a special place in my heart because it was made here in California, the state I was born and raised in, the place I still call my home.
Because this fabric has such a bold print, I wanted to use it for something simple, such as a skirt, to let the fabric shine. Looking back at some of the older Making Issues I realized that the Starry Sky Skirt by Rae Hoekstra from Making Issue No. 3 would be an excellent match for it; instructions for this skirt can be found in pages 65-69. Simple linen garments are such a delight to sew and are still my favorite type of clothing to make. For this skirt, I hacked it a bit an added pockets from the Emerald Dress in Making Issue No. 7, which is an easy addition. In the next post, I'll be sharing how I did that! - Emily