I’m considering modifying my primary identity from, “creator,” to, “Librarian.” Of course, creativity is a valuable component of librarianship. I think my health, mentally, is just reaching the point where I don’t need to fall back on stereotypical creative outlets so hard, in order to maintain normal functioning. (In the past, my creativity has been useful as a coping mechanism. It also could have been connected to my brain not working at its best.)
If you’re looking specifically for the section of this post which I mentioned in the opening line, skip down to the heading, “The necessity of Creativity,” below.
Monpe (mompei) project
That said, I was puzzling over the monpe (Japanese field pant) pattern last night (Folkwear #112, old version)…having finally gotten the guts to go and mark and cut out pieces for my toile (trial garment) and attempt to assemble them.
The major issue I was having from around this time last night, is that I couldn’t tell the right side from the wrong side of the muslin fabric, and the pattern cutouts were too much alike for me to easily make out what was what. Having extra fabric on all sides of each pattern piece also turned out to be more of a pain than a help: I ended up cutting most of it off (and am hoping I didn’t cut off a seam allowance by accident). A quilting ruler helped to add the extra 1/2″ which would theoretically size the pattern up to a 16. (The new version of the pattern goes up to size 20, but I don’t have that one.)
Looking ahead in the instructions, I was able to reverse-engineer what needed to go where, and now it’s looking correct. I have the pieces pinned out, though this is actually several steps ahead — I just needed to assemble the thing to be able to see what was going on (the instructions don’t help all that much if you’re going step-by-step with no vision of what you’re working towards).
I’ve found that pinning along (instead of across) the sewing line helps with precision, and that I shouldn’t baste until I’m sure things are correct. I’ve had to rip out diagonal basting (silk thread) at least two or three times (without using them) because of errors, and a line of sewing, I had to rip out once…and I’m doing this all by hand. Pinning is much more amenable to adjustment.
Also, it would have helped to copy the stupid shape-coded markings from the pattern to the cloth. I was using colored thread as markers for these spots, but I found when reading the instructions that the shapes mean something. I just didn’t want to go drawing big squares or circles on my fabric, though maybe I should. Color-coding is also another option.
I also need to use the cutting mat under my fabric, next time I try to mark it. I ended up denting the kitchen table with my marking wheel.
In any case, it’s better that I’m practicing on muslin than with my good fabric. It’s also surprising when working with the muslin, how much easier it is to pass a needle through than with quilting fabric (Fat Quarters, in particular). I was using Sharps in both cases, but it’s seriously much easier to sew through the muslin, than it is to quilt (which may be the reason why “Quilting Betweens” needles exist, I know now). I have a needle that’s actually bent from trying to pull it through quilting fabric, which caused me to just get a couple of new Sharps for the monpe project.
If the reason to sew is that I like working with precision, needles, and sharp things, too: well, it doesn’t disappoint. And actually having an end goal of a functional garment that I’m working toward, helps.
Since I haven’t been sewing for a very long time, it also helps to have the cheap muslin toile to screw up with and pin and unpin and mark and rip stitches out of.
But yeah, it can be frustrating.
The thing is that I don’t know where I can actually get a pair of authentic monpe for a good price, and if I could get them, they would almost certainly be vintage (i.e. used). It’s seriously difficult to find this stuff here. Either you look in Japantown and get vintage stuff, or you look outside of that and get inauthentic Americanized lingerie (the implications of which are things I don’t really want to get into, now).
I do…really, though, want to make a wrap top, utilizing a Japanese pattern which is modified for a curvy body and American aesthetic sensibility (i.e. not to a cylindrical ideal, as traditional garments generally aim toward). That is, I am thinking I want to tailor it.
Unfortunately, I think this means I’m either going to have to make the pattern myself (I have the instructions), or alter an existing pattern. I have a beautiful green-blue batik that I got a number of years ago for this purpose, but I want to make the monpe first, in order to hone myself at least a little.
Update on the Wool-Eater blanket project:
I’ve also been working on that Wool-Eater crochet blanket, though I got a bit discouraged when I realized that one of the skeins of yarn which I have and need to use, is from a different dye lot than the one it’s meant to match (even though I thought I matched them). This means that there are two slightly different colors going on in two rows that are supposed to be one color. I could rip out and stop at the pink row (I’m on light green, now), but I think I’ll go on with it imperfect, and try and make something more functional than just decorative.
Today, as well: I was asleep most of the day. I’m not sure if it is connected to staying up late last night trying to figure out this monpe problem…or needing to get back to schoolwork today and not wanting to face it; or not wanting to go in to work for extra hours. It could also have been because it was really hot, earlier.
The necessity of Creativity
Anyhow…I’ve just noticed that I have accumulated experience in a lot of creative outlets, but that my life doesn’t have to revolve around those outlets. As, I’m thinking, it’s likely that a lot of people don’t really…you know, do this. I mean, I don’t think that most people wish to be creative. Or, maybe their creativity doesn’t express itself through arts or crafts or design.
It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing, but my “creator” identity is something I came up with when I was in ill health, in order to keep myself going. And I mean, I was likely seriously ill. I am not sure I knew the extent of this, I just knew my experiences would sound, “weird,” to other people. But now, I’m effectively 16 years into recovery.
At this point, a lot of the unwanted mental activity that I was dealing with as a youth and young adult has been effectively brought under control. I can also communicate better now than I could then, which lessens the need to go out of my way to find creative expression (though I do believe making your own clothes is a form of creative expression).
The identity shift isn’t a solid thing yet, I don’t want to scare you; but I’m wondering if I thought of myself as a Librarian first, and on top of that as just a creative person (as versus an agent of the creative Divine), if it would help me pursue my goals (and free up my energy). It just seems that this kind of really fulfilling way of being kind of crept up on me while I was trying to figure out a way to stay creative and survive in the world. The creativity was my reason to survive.
But now I’m moving from, “surviving,” to, “contributing,” and that is an entirely different proposition. By this I mean that there are ways I can apply my creativity and problem-solving skills to improve the lives of others, and help make the world a better place. This is as versus doing my best just to take care of myself and stay alive.
It was and is helpful to take some control of my life, and making things is a great way to avoid feeling at the mercy of others. I think maybe, though…there are more ways to create than I thought of when I was younger…and I’m about to move into a position where I can and most likely will be tasked with helping my communities (which helps others as well as myself). That actually is a much more powerful position than I’ve ever been in, before, and it takes away the feeling of a lack of control.
I’m also older and in more control of my own life than I have been before…hmm. This is to say that I’m not entirely certain why I’m less drawn to story-weaving or pictorial arts than I was as a youth, but it seems to be correlated with some relief on my part…