totally random

Coming Out of Retirement

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!).

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13 Comments

  • Reply Florence July 1, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Good for you. I have been dying to hear someone say this for a long time. Way to go!

  • Reply sstormwatch July 1, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Sounds like you and Sarah are both coming to this realization. Good for you both!! Enjoy your work as you decide.

    And I like your idea of doing something completely accurate on your own schedule. Someday I hope to do the same.

  • Reply Anonymous July 1, 2009 at 12:40 am

    You and me both. I'm not making a darn thing for CC. I just don't need that kind of stress on myself.

    And on a selfish note, I'm glad I've learned not to feel as pressured to try to compete with people more prodigious than me.

    I love showing off my work to new people. Every event has a different mix, so it's not like I'm wearing the same thing AGAIN.

    I love seeing stuff on people I've seen before. How it holds up, seeing those details I missed the first time.

    Good luck! It's tough to contain your expectations.

  • Reply JennyLaFleur July 1, 2009 at 2:10 am

    Here, here!!! Especially the part about not giving up basting spray for ANYONE. :P

  • Reply trystbat July 1, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Ditto on the basting spray & thank you for introducing me to that wonder (tho' I made a dumb mistake w/that which I'll have to tell you about sometime ;-).

  • Reply myladyswardrobe July 1, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Its steam-a-seam for me!! And glue sticks! Not giving those up for anyone!!

  • Reply sewaddicted July 1, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I discovered on the weekend how wonderful & stress free it is to wear a costume again. I didn't have a new costume on either day of the con, and it was wonderful!

    I still reserve the right to mutter imprecations about ironing so much fabric but at least it wasn't a migraine inducing mad scramble to finish.

  • Reply Iena July 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Welcome back! I've been MIA since Costume Con as well, and unfortunately life events have interfered with my Costume College and mistress plans. Hopefully I'll be sewing again soon, and I think I'll stick with your philosophy of taking it easy!!!

  • Reply Lauren July 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Good for you. I had to take a break after making my hubby's frock coat. I had to remind myself that this is my hobby and I do it for me. Looking forward to seeing your new creations.

  • Reply barelyproper July 1, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Go you!

    Costuming is supposed to make us happy, and not have the stress/crazy outweigh the fun.

  • Reply Jennifer July 2, 2009 at 5:27 am

    I couldn't agree more!

    Looking forward to seeing you at Costume College in ANY of your costumes. They are all well done (if even done in a few quick hours).
    I think we all have those projects we've beaten ourselves up over then suffered thru an event on little sleep. Fantastic costumes finished ahead of time, full of details, and feeling well-rested = the ultimate costume goal.

  • Reply Kate in England July 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    That would be State Hermitage, I presume…!

    I think doing what's right for you is so important – there's no point in making yourself hate what you're doing just to please other people (which you can never predict anyway).

    And if anyone I know EVER makes something they're 100% happy with, it'll be a day to celebrate indeed!

  • Reply colleency July 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    *hugs* I had to give myself permission to not feel bad about myself if I don't complete x number of projects in a year. I gave myself a goal, not to finish at least this many items, but to not feel bad about myself if I don't make more than 6 things in a year.

    Um…basting spray? I'm going to have to find that.

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