Or hermitage? Not sure what the right term is, but I’ve definitely been there since Costume Con. I’m not 100% sure what it was — the mad dash to finish multiple projects, the stress of travelling, the alignment of the planets — but I’ve definitely been taking a big break from costuming since then. I did noodle a bit on a modern dress (which needs still sleeves and a hem), but mostly I’ve been giving myself permission to just loll around.
I think a big part is needing to get back in touch with what I love about costuming. There’s many things I love — brainstorming ideas, researching styles and techniques, wearing and putting together a beautiful ensemble, playing with personae. But what I’m not loving is the pressure that I’m hearing a lot of us discuss to constantly have New! Fabulous! Exciting! costumes for each and every event. We end up overtired, generally not 100% happy with what we made, and eyeing each other suspiciously to see who did manage to pull off an entire new wardrobe. Well, I’m done with that. I love creating costumes, and I’m not stopping, but I’m stepping back a bit to spend the time I want on the things that have meaning for me… which means moving a bit slower and letting go of the fact that everyone else seems to be able to bang out a perfect dress in a weekend. It takes me months, and I’m just going to be okay with that… especially given that I really do love sewing! So why bother to rush what I enjoy?
Another thing that’s been getting to me is confusion about my own motivations. As I’ve become a better sewer and costumer, I’ve started to feel like EVERY project has to be master-award-winning-to-the-tiniest-detail, or I’ve failed. I’ve started to feel like, “What’s the point of spending good money on good materials, and good time on good techniques, if I’m not 1000% accurate/perfect?” Which is ridiculous. There are things that I enjoy taking the time and care to do accurately, and then at the exact same time on the exact same project there’s another thing that I can’t be bothered with. I’m going to try really hard with being okay with that – not every stitch needs to be sewn by hand, I don’t HAVE to use reed instead of metal boning, etc. It’s okay for me to choose those historical materials or techniques that make my toes curl, and ignore those that don’t. Or to use a modern material or method if I like the result. Because really, I ain’t giving up my basting spray for ANYONE.
At the same time, I DO want to know what I am capable of, and I’ve realized that part of my angst is that I don’t feel like I costume to the best of my abilities — generally limited by time. So I’ve decided that *at some point*, and on *my own schedule*, I’m going to make one complete costume (I am thinking it will be the maja dress but that could change) that I will make, from the undies out, 1000% accurately. Then, when that probably multi-year project is finished, I’ll enter it in a CostumeCon masquerade. I’d like to do it to prove to myself that I can do it… but that doesn’t mean that every costume I make needs to be that perfect.
So with all that in mind, I’ve been sewing! And itching to sew, in fact! The Nell Gwyn dress is still on for the Costume College gala, even those many of my fellow mistresses have fallen by the wayside — but that’s okay! I’m really excited about experimenting with some historical techniques that I haven’t tried, and working on an era I’ve never done, but there are also some shortcuts that I am taking. The camera has gone AWOL, so as soon as I find it there’ll be an update… but yay! for costuming on my own terms and for my own love of it, and not for the imagined expectations of others (which really don’t exist, anyway!).