Running on Empty

I’m having one of those days with sooo much that needs doing and I’m feeling so overwhelmed by it that I have no energy to do it. The Victorian Heritage Festival is one week from today and all I have completed is the underwear, which is a bit problematic from just about every angle (no pun intended).

The underskirt is awaiting its ruffle, which depends on which shoes I’m going to wear, which I have not yet decided.

The overskirt front piece has absolutely no life and the center hangs from the side pleats like wet paper, so I decided to go ahead and line it with the last of the black fabric. Except I somehow measured incorrectly and the lining piece is two inches too narrow. I set that aside earlier this morning to ponder the options.

The 10-day forecast calls for highs in the 40’s and overcast/cloudy skies next weekend. No rain, but there will be wind – out here on a peninsula with the entire Pacific Ocean just around the corner, wind is a fact of life. And if it’s going to be that cold, I’ll freeze without a wrap. So, to take my mind off the overskirt debacle, I decided to just cut out the fabric, the flannel flat lining, and the lining so it would be ready to go when the time came. It’s a large-scale brocade-like print done on a mid-weight home dec cotton fabric. I ordered enough, I hope, to allow for matching the print. But I cut the first piece, the left front, and my brain just kinda snapped. Which way to mirror this saves more fabric? Do I really have enough fabric? How did I calculate the yardage? Thanks heavens it’s only 4 pieces…uh, oh…that back part looks a little tricky. And just when do I think I’ll have time to make the waist for the bustle dress – which just also happens to be my Historical Sew Fortnightly project?

Then there’s the petticoat for the Victorian Undergarments class that’s nagging at me.

And the project for my 1880’s Bustle Hat class that I’m making completely by hand with the goal of wearing next weekend needs attention. The tip and crown are wired, the brim is next. After the buckram frame is together it needs the mull, then the fabric, then the trim. And I’ve never made a hat from scratch before, so I’m not rushing it. At least, trying not to.

I took a break and played with my Pinterst boards, only to get confused by how to tell a Victorian house dress from a tea gown when they look the same to me: one piece, front button, princess seams, Watteau back, embroidery work, lacy bits – how does one tell, or are the people who post them confused, or are they really one and the same, or…

My mind is spinning as if I had one foot nailed to the floor so I can only run in circles.

In the past, I’d just push through and force myself to do something – anything – towards getting these projects done. But I have learned two very important things.

First, when my mind is this jumbled, forcing myself to keep going only creates more problems than it solves. And fixing those problems will take twice as long as it took to create them, if not more. (I can be extremely creative when it comes to “alternative” ways to mess things up.)

Second, I’m a bit slower than I used to be and, when coupled with learning how to make clothing that I’ve never tackled before, I need more time than I’m giving myself to get these projects done. My allotted time frame needs a serious reality check.

So for the rest of the day, unless inspiration strikes earlier, I am going to back off the gas. Lunch is way past due, so that’s next. Then maybe I’ll knit a bit or read or even take a nap. And, while I’m calmly sewing the wire to the buckram for the brim of my hat, the rest of this jumble will be percolating away in the back of my mind, sorting itself out, and I’ll then be ready to pick up the scissors again and sally forth.

At least I bloody hope so.


Reality Check (i.e., recognizing over-enthusiasm in the mirror)

ca. 1870 (via Tumbler)

ca. 1870 (via Tumbler)

It is time for some serious reality. I will not make the Jane Austen Tea on Sunday and I am crushed.

Deep down, I knew this is how it probably would end, but I’m stubborn and didn’t want to throw in the towel too soon. Well, it’s been thrown now. I’d so been looking forward to meeting Laurel Ann (Ms. Austenprose) and a few other noted local Janeites, enjoying the costuming and the food, the whole shebang. But I’m fighting against a two-part conspiracy.

This virus is a pain in the keester. Our local variety is notorious for laying one out for 4-5 days, hiding for about 2 weeks, and then coming back twice as bad as before. It’s not the flu, “just” a cold…bad enough to wish I’d bought stock in facial tissues (I think I’m carrying the market myself). It is hard, not to mention unsanitary, to layout a pattern, cut, mark, sew, refine fit, etc., when my nose gushes every time I lean forward. And the sneezing is another dimension of  “sharing” I want to fore-go. (Thank goodness the washing machine has a “sanitize” setting.)

I do not want to meet all of these interesting people, only to wipe out half the room. And I don’t think there is a Regency formula for a hand sanitizer. I don’t think the word sanitizer even existed. And wearing a mask over my face defeats my desire for a period-correct evening.

So, it’s a case of same time next year. I would rather make my clothing correctly than slap it together with a “good enough.” It’s happened before.

The other heavily-indited co-conspirator is me. From the beginning I tried to so too much, too fast and got too frustrated and too overwhelmed. That’s what happened with my first Victorian-style bustle dress. I rushed and, while it fit beautifully and the pattern was correct, in the end I didn’t like it. Wrong fabric, wrong colors. I still don’t like it. The only reason it’s on my “Completed” page is to document where I started and how far I can go from there. It also serves as a reminder: do not let this happen again.

While I’ve been busy sneezing and blowing my nose, there has been plenty of time to think and re-assess my goals. What do I want to get out of this? Knowledge, experience and technique. Is throttling myself with deadlines the best way to do that? Not at this particular point in time. So, the deadline board is gone. I care about Costume College next summer. And I care about the JASNA AGM next fall. In light of where I am now, those two are sufficient to keep this squirrel busy… finish a piece, tuck it away, and on to the next.

In truth, it’s nice to leave the pressure behind.  The tricky part for me is not bringing it back. There is so much I want to learn and try. I’m a kid in a pretty dangerous candy shop and restraint is called for. (That’s restraint, not restraints.)

The Plan: finish the long stays, THEN finish the Georgian/Regency gown, THEN complete the bonnet. While I’m doing all that I can contemplate what to do for Costume College. I’m only going to do one costume and it will be done correctly, inside out and head to toe.

There you have it: 2014 in a basic, uncrowded nutshell. If I can do more I will. And if I can’t? Well, the world won’t exactly stop rotating, will it?

The Road Most Avoided

Welcome to my world.  (Image by wikipedia-org)

Welcome to my world.
(Image by wikipedia-org)

I’ve been out of commission lately, hence the lack of recent posts. Details aren’t necessary, but they have kept me away from my Fiber Fantasy-land. Thursday I “donated” a few tubes of the red stuff and yesterday I spent some quality time with my head in an MRI machine. Results are pending (aren’t they always?).

Due to this…diversion…I’ve missed some self-imposed sewing deadlines, but I’m only competing against myself and the judge is very lenient at the moment.

I picked up the chemise this morning and am working toward to the finish line. The last time I wrote “and I’ll have it finished tonight” bad juju sprung up all over the place. So I won’t promise a finish tonight, just a closing in on. I also “amended” the project list to lighten the load.

The Regency long stays need a bit more needle time before I can determine exactly how many steel bones I’ll need and what type and size to order.

So it’s back to the…uh…past and you’ll be tormented once again with my “projectus interruptus” techniques. Oh, you lucky ducks.

Sewing in Circles

Women Sewing In A Garden 1920, by Frederick Carl Frieseke

Women Sewing In A Garden 1920, by Frederick Carl Frieseke

Pierre Auguste Renoir - Marie Therese Durand Fuel Sewing

Pierre Auguste Renoir – Marie Therese Durand Fuel Sewing

When I think of an afternoon spent sewing, bucolic images such as these come to mind.

Gentle breezes, the scent of roses, birds singing in the trees just for me. (Hey! If I’m gonna be delusional, I may as well enjoy myself.)

In the real world, however, I usually get behind or (worse) get distracted and viola!: short of fabric by 1/4 yard, lose the last of the ten perfectly matched vintage buttons, sew the right leg of the drawers onto the left side of the waistband…there is no limit when it comes to my creativity…and end up with something that feels more like this:

Women at industrial sewing machines, 1909.

Women at industrial sewing machines, 1909.

See the woman in the second row glaring at the camera? Oh, yeah. I’m feeling it too, honey.

But for a few days I have some quiet time to stitch to my heart’s content. Theoretically, at least.

I’m house/dog sitting for a friend over the weekend. She has a house that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is quiet. The dogs are even getting along (at least no bloodshed for the time being). Yes, t’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?

I pulled out the instructions for the Regency Corset, read them through another couple of times, and am ready to start. I’ve washed the heavy white twill and the lining. And I’ve talked myself into handmade eyelets. Hence, The buttonhole thread.

The stage is set, the players present…it’s curtain up!