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Some of my first sewing projects involved making small purses. (I love a good bag. So much to carry).
Nowadays, I consider my textile endeavors to be devotional objects, especially when there is a lot of hand stitching, embroidery, and applique' involved.
I got inspired by Gudrun Sjoden's neck pouches and wanted to try making my own.
I decided on three approaches, but I am sure there are limitless possibilities here.
These tiny pouches are meant to be worn like a necklace, but they could also be wall art -maybe a spot to tuck away tiny treasures.
Check out photos below to see all four pouches in detail.
Below the photos are instructions for making your own quilted version!
What do you think about them? Which one do you like best?
Applique and Embroidery
Pieced Denim with Dyed Yarn Quilting
Instructions for Sewing
At the beginning of my week, I pulled the Butterfly Card. This seemed appropriate since this was my week of no social media, and without the distraction of social media Pat and I had time to nurture an idea that had recently poked its head into our sphere of creativity.
In the absence of social media, we have the room, the space for the dreaming up this next phase for us.
And speaking of phases, that Butterfly Card is about the cycles of creation, which every project goes through.
There is a book that accompanies the cards. Its explanation of the Butterfly Card reads,
You may be at the egg stage, which is the beginning of all things. This is the stage at which an idea is born, but has not yet become a reality. The larva stage is the point at which you decide to create the idea in the physical world. The cocoon stage involves ‘going within’: doing or developing your project, idea, or aspect of personality. The final stage of transformation is the leaving of the chrysalis and birth. This last step involves sharing the colors and joy of your creation with the world.”
This cycle can even be applied to your daily activities. For instance, you may decide you’d like to have a more joyful day. That’s your seed. Next, decide to accept that you want a joyful day. Then decide to take joyful action (however you see fit), and finally, share your joy with others.
All of the creative projects in which we engage fall into one of these four stages. You can examine where you are in your creative project and invite the next phase to come. Just being aware of your developmental stage will help you to evolve into the next phase.
Get yourself ready for the next transformation by appreciating where you are at now, asking what’s the next best thing, and inviting it to manifest.
What phase is your creative project in?
As you know, I preach “follow your curiosity”, and this week I am curious to see what will happen if I take a break from Social Media!
There I said it!
So, let me first declare that I love Instagram. I love sharing, connecting, and being inspired. Instagram makes growing my business possible, but I am also wondering how it may be negatively impacting my creativity. I wonder what effect the constant checking-in with it has on my creativity, and I wonder if there is harm inflicted to my self esteem from constant comparison / analysis of post performance. So, I ask myself, “by refusing to be bored in any given moment, what am I sacrificing?”
Furthermore, I have been thinking (for a year or so, now) about Manoush Zomorodi, her book Bored and Brilliant and her podcast Note To Self. Ever since I heard of her Bored and Brilliant Project that challenges people to be less phone/device dependent in order to encourage deep thinking, I have been curious to take on her challenge, and it seems I am finally ready for some deep thinking!
Also the recent New York Times article about Niksen, a practice of scheduling time to do nothing - like literally nothing, staring out a window and daydreaming argues that having seemingly unproductive time of doing nothing actually spurs creativity and counterintuitively productivity. So, I ask myself, if I stared out windows more and at my phone less, would I be more creative and productive? We shall see this week.
The terms and conditions:
For the next 7 days, I will be posting blogs to my website and podcasts, but I will not be sharing on Facebook and Instagram.
I will not be checking-in on these apps either - not responding to comments, posts, etc.
I will still listen to podcasts and music on my phone, but I might challenge myself to one day without either of these in order to really force myself to be alone with my own thoughts. Terrifying!
And I will also still use my phone for pictures to capture the developments in nature and to document my work.
Through these 7 days, I will be keeping track of my thoughts, emotions, instincts, etc., and I am planning on recording a podcast at the end of this experiment, with friend and artist Sarah Johnson who is also planning on taking a break from social media this week.
So, without further ado, see you in a week. I hope to return with creative inspiration, deeper thoughts, and new perspectives!? Sure. . . See you on the flip side!
When I came across a Spoonflower Magazine (Spoonflower is the company the prints fabric, wallpaper, and wrapping paper designed by artists), that offered a free pattern for making baby hats, I was tempted. Then, some friends having babies, further encouraged me to get sewing.
So, I went to work on some tiny designs for baby hat fabric. Now that I am learning to draw digitally on an iPad Pro with Procreate and Apple Pencil, I was able to learn how to make a repeating pattern digitally. So exciting! Fortunately, Spoonflower's magazine had instructions on how to do this, too! So helpful!
While designing, I decided to make some non-baby fabric patterns for t-shirts for me. :)
I have a favorite t-shirt from Uniqlo that has unfortunately shrunk, while I have simultaneously grown larger. In analyzing the garment, I noticed that it was fairly simply constructed and decided that I could try to copy it.
Until now, I have only made dresses from patterns, which some other brilliant sewist designed.
I entered into this project with that feeling of not knowing how much I didn't know, but as usual I just jump in with fingers crosses.
Below, I show the process of making the hat and a little tale of making the shirt.
I then made more in various prints. See them below. Which one is your favorite?
To make my pattern, I folded my Uniqlo shirt in half length-wise. I traced the permiter of the folded shirt onto pattern paper.
I decided to use 1/2" seams and also added 2" to the width and 2" to the length. So since the pattern represents the shirt folded in half, I added 1 1/2" to the side, 2" to the bottom, and 1/2" to the sleeves, shoulder, and neck.
I cut my pattern twice (one front, one back), and I notched the front pattern to create a slight scoop of a neckline.
I also cut two tiny slivers of patterns for reinforcing the neckline.
After I made the first shirt, I created the remaining three in an assembly line fashion.
The Fashion Show
- The striped jersey had more stretch to it, making it a little more tricky to sew with.
- Something happened with my neckline that made it too tight to pull over my head. So, I had to take out some stitches and make a custom, notched collar.
- Next time I will order more than a yard of fabric for this project. I did not have enough fabric to allow for the print to line up. For instance, for the eye fabric, I was able to run the eyes horizontal on the front, but I had to align them vertically on the back. You can kind of see this in the photo.
One of the rug hooked workshop participants told me of her devoted workshop attendance. She has followed her curiosity, and in doing so, attended a variety of craft and art classes to learn new processes, to understand new tools, and to express her creativity in new ways.
I admire her eagerness to learn and to be a beginner. We can get comfortable in our expertise, and it is challenging to be a novice. Being a newbie is uncomfortable. It’s humbling.
When we learn new skills, we grow our toolkit, which only expands our creative potential. Learning new skills expands our creative horizons not only because of the widened skill set but because we approach our creative project from the perspective of a student. We come at it with questions and curiosity rather than from the perspective of an expert that might make presumptions that close doors to creative possibilities. When we create from the perspective of a student, we have a new opportunity to ask what is possible from ourselves.
After getting past the uncomfortable lumps of learning something new, we can practice our new skills, which boosts our confidence in our creative abilities. Getting comfortable in a new skill allows us to trust ourselves enough to try something even “riskier” the next time the opportunity arises. Learning to knit might lead to learning to dye wool, which may lead to learning to spin. You might not have started spinning wool without first learning to knit. Then, you might need to build your own website or learn how to design your own label etc. It’s endless.
Finally, learning a new creative skill may prompt a deep dive into the creative ocean where you may become a new expert. If that is the case, we may need to come up for air once in awhile to learn something new. And in this way, we practice expanding and deepening our creativity.
Being an expert requires being a student. It’s an endless cycle of learning and mastering. Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones only deepens our creative potential!
Wow! What a great start to the 2019 “A Season To Make” Workshop Series!
We kicked off the series with learning to make Rug Hooked Pillows. Both days were realizations of my dream of creating opportunities to make in community and in nature, at the cottage.
I have had such powerful and creative experiences at Spring Bird’s Cottage, and this workshop series is one way to share that with guests and participants.
We laughed, created, and had so many great conversations - even confessions! (But those are not for this blog!)
Check out the photos below to see our creations and check out future workshops here!
While packed uncomfortably in a our Prius, driving friends to the airport, she was on a roll with running the game. She was thinking of her animal, and we sardines were guessing.
Our uncomfortability in the tight car motivated us to increase our accuracy in guessing, which for Penelope meant we weren’t playing correctly. For her, we weren’t prolonging the fun of asking questions. We were throwing out answers are answers like starts at a board, “Stork!” “Blue heron!” “Flamingo!”
But she refused to accept our answers and asserted “More Questions! Less Answers!”
We howled at her unwitting declaration of the familiar existential conundrum. It seems like the older we got, despite being certain of so many things in life, there was even more questions that felt unknown - like a whirling sea of 20,000 questions!
You may know that I am super impatient and stubborn. When I am swimming in that ocean of questions, I feel like shouting at the universe “More answers and less questions!”
And while I am certain that we need a “certain” amount of certainty to feel safe and secure in homes with food, to have healthcare, to feel loved, to be able to love freely etc., I am also certain that we can live with a lot of uncertainty. We can accept the existence of and omnipresence of uncertainty, and maybe, we can even learn to delight in them.
If there weren’t uncertainties, then everything would be predetermined. Questions are opportunities. They are potentials. They are curiosities, and they don’t have to be feared if we choose not to respond to them in fear.
So, I’ve figured a few more of my existential questions out, but I think I’ve also grown much more comfortable in living with uncertainty. Well, back to the game,
“Is it a cow? A flamingo? An elephant? A rhino? A stink bug?
The Universe shrugs, “More Questions!”
“Does it fly? Does it like the smell of rain? Does it sleep in on the weekends? What’s its favorite moon phase? Does it shed its skin??? . . .”
We are at a crossroads, and we at Spring Bird are here to do what we can to make sure there is a place for future inhabitants be them human, creature, or plant. So, this quilt is also my prayer, a textile document, to the future.
Anyway, the foundational fabrics are dyed linen, altar cloth. They are dyed with zinnias and goldenrod. The story elements were made with various fabric scraps and embroidery thread. I chose to do rough edge applique. Finally, the hand quilting is done with cotton thread and bamboo thread.
This is the story of the 14 acres that I call home. It begins with glaciers that long ago receded leaving their melted waters, which supply the spring water that I drink. Then the mastodon and other mammals stomped on the earth making the soil rich and nutritious. Eventually modern humans, the Potawatomi People, transformed this natural space into a place, a home. The old oaks that still stand would have been young trees then. Their acorns would have been food for the Potawatomi people who may have washed the tannins away in the cool, creek water. Unfortunately white European settlers pushed the Potawatomi People from their land and cleared forests for farms. This 14 acres, too hilly to cultivate, became grazing land for the cattle, their cans of milk kept cool in the creek. Then in 1947, an artist, Torkel Korling, envisioned a forest on these muddy slopes. His love of the natural world led him to cultivate an arboretum, to restore the native plants and animals to this place. When he left, the Bartholomews took on his mantel. Mimicking the generosity of the woods, they invited guests to learn, to retreat, and to just be in nature. Now here I am, in a place we call Spring Bird, to tell your story, to help others recognize themselves in you so that they may make the choice to save you - to save themselves - to save future inhabitants and potential woodlands. I am here with you now and love you dearly.
With all my heart,
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.
Adventures In Natural Dyeing
A Season To Make
Creativity Tools And Books
Feed Your Cats
Make And Do Art
Philosophy Of Creativity