A Maker's Journey - The Project

The Lamentation of Hope

It’s Tuesday, the 30th of November, and I have yet to finish the inventory of my fabric stash. Which I decided had to be done before any actual sewing can happen. Nor have I written anything in the past 30 days. I’m nothing, if not predictable.

Meaning, this project is on the verge of turning into the fruitless lamenting that has become of all my other ideas that have preceeded it. With the slither of a difference that instead of simply vanishing from the scene, I’m now lamenting publicly. One could call that progress.

Although, I have not been entirely idle these past 30 days. Instead, I have – as a dear friend of mine recently described it – been practicing the fine art of procrastination without appearing lazy. In other words, I have been tidying. 

For starters, I swept the decks in the studio of all materials bar the ones I was actually working on. Then I re-aquainted myself with the entire content of my fabric stash. Finding long forgotten garments and even some I could have sworn weren’t there in March. All the while dutifully cataloguing every last scrap, before grouping, sorting and storing the pieces for future use. 

This inventory was done before, of course, but only as a scribbled list that became less and less legible as it went on. Now I have a phone scroll full of unfading pictures. Each as crisp as the one before. Which I intend to print out and stick to the notice board in the studio – hoping that this visual reminder will provide just the right balance of nagging and inspiration to keep me sewing.

And there is much to be sewn. Apart from the two cubby holes that are bursting with rolls of meter fabric, I now have got a basket full of things that require mending, a basket with items that require re-imagining, a basket full of colour-coded scraps and a basket full of half-finished projects that are patiently – for lack of choice – awaiting my revisit.

But it’s not just been the studio that got a sweep. During the hours of folding and photographing I also managed to clear my thoughts on what it is I’m trying to achieve here and how I want to do it. Too much generally, in a too ambitious way, but boiled down reads something like this: 

First and foremost, clear the studio of all current fabrics, by sewing them into items that can be used around the house, gifted or sold. Any scraps not used by October 31, 2022 will be donated or stuffed into a – yet to be purchased – leather ottoman as filling. 

Secondly, regularly publish my writing on this blog. I once dreamed of an eloquent bi-weekly column, but a monthly journal in all it’s unedited rawness is more realistic these days. Feel free to message me about any typos or overly inventive English sentence structures. I shall not be offended at the critique of my artistic expressions, when it means that at least one soul has read them.

Tidying of course is a perpetual task, stuff as well as expectations have a habit of creeping back in. Moreover, even just failing takes time. Which is undoubtedly my most scarce resource, creating this paradoxical reality in which I have to build and maintain tight fences around myself – my time and energy – in order to find some creative freedom.

But as I erect the barricades I shall whisper to the divine inspiration, come inside – dear friend – it’s a clean house in here.

A Maker's Journey - The Project

Lifting The Anchor

It’s Sunday, 31st of October 2021, and I feel like I’ve been here before. And in many respects I have. Here, referring to my sitting surrounded by a huge stash of fabric. But also to being in a place where an elaborate idea still just is exactly that; an idea in my head.

It was March this year, when I declared I would go on a journey with my fabric stash. I vowed to turn the meters and meters of cloths, discarded clothes and holey garments that had accumulated in our home into useful items. And I said, I would write about it here with some regularity. But 7 months later the pile of fabric is still here and the journal empty.

Of course, I have sewn a few things in the past months. Namely, summer hats for my girls, a blanket cover, four meters of buntings and only yesterday I turned an old leggings into bat wings for my eldest. I have also written a few things. Overall, however, I must admit that me and my idea never got of the platform or out of the harbour.

Subsequently, if the Englishman was here seeing me type these words his scepticism about my attempt to rejuvenate this project would be palpable. Although at least this time I didn’t make him haul the pile of fabric up to the allotment, for a picture in front of the hawthorn hedge.

Still, I can’t say I haven’t earned it. The pile itself is a physical testimony to my track record of unfinished, failed or forgotten projects. It consist of about four baskets and two bags of textiles. Scraps, remnants of past sewing projects, never-attempted clothes repairs and fruitless intentions manifested in over 20m of yet to be used bought or gifted fabric.

Thankfully despite all the visual evidence of my lack of success, my enthusiasm for this project hasn’t seized yet. Which brought me to the desk today. There is still a voyage of making and writing to be taken; and I am keen to lift the anchor.

As past travel arrangements clearly left me on dry land, I’ve established two simple rules of way-finding: to sew at least every Tuesday for an hour and to write here every other Sunday, come finished sewing project or not. May this lead me to a place, where the home studio space is clear and the journal is full of words.

It’s a sunny spot in my mind. Freed from all the fabric that has accumulated around me over the past 10 years and freed from the mental shackles that keep me tied to my past ideas.

I’ve often longed for a life where I make meaningful things and write meaningful words for a living. It is the very reason why this blog was originally created in 2016 and why time and again I bought fabric and accepted donations that might one day become something.

This time, however, I’ve taken money out of the equation. Neither the pile of fabric nor the blog will be about making a living anymore. They will be about the way I live. The rules for this project, therefore, are simple: Make and write about it.

Yet, in some respect it’ll be much harder than that. For one year, starting from today, I challenge myself to prioritise something that won’t potentially earn money yet will take time away from my responsibilities as a mother and home keeper.
Using my resources for other things than the immediate comfort of my family has seemed utterly indulgent for the past years. Hence the Maker’s Journey is quite the daring invititation to myself to become an intentional maker and storyteller simply because I long to be.