My pledge was to make a yellow coat for Esme, or a circular skirt from Neoprene. Embarrassingly I posted both these proto-projects on the blog; then procrastinated. When nothing much happens I find there is usually an underlying emotional conflict.
In truth I find it really hard to make clothes for close relatives, mainly because I fear rejection. Those of us who make things for our families put a lot of love and time into selecting a pattern, and fabric, then making it up, and trying to make sure it fits really well. We want them to love the jumper/hat/skirt/jacket. We probably fantasise that the item will become a favourite that is worn continually until it gets holes in it. “This velvet jacket? Yes – I love it! My Mum/Granny/Auntie made it for me…”etc. Conversely if they don’t like or won’t wear the item, we may feel hurt. I know I do, and I know it is my problem. But it tends to mean I avoid making things for those I love.
Quite deliberately I chose to deal with this issue as my Made Up challenge.
When I said I would produce something for Esme Sweatykniiter warned:
Making things for others can be fraught with danger! My daughter’s “style” seems to change monthly, and my grandchildren prefer to wear as few clothes as possible.
In fact I have been troubled by this issue for ages. On Artisans’ Square I asked CCL, who was sewing a whole collection for her husband,
Did he choose the styles/patterns himself, or do you know what he likes and extrapolate? I have a funny relationship with my family who want me to “make me something” but don’t really know what they want until it exists, then they have really strong feelings. At present my daughter has asked for a skirt and I am scared to make it in case she doesn’t like/wear it. How do you deal with this?
CCL generous gave me a full reply which you can read for yourself. In summary she suggests that when loved ones don’t wear the item it may be because they don’t want to ruin it, or because it doesn’t actually turn out how they envisaged it. I don’t think my children worry too much about getting a (ahem) patina on their outfits. But I do think she has a point about being able to “see” the garment in your imagination before it is made.
This is why so many people now use Pinterest, or similar, to capture a picture of something that they want.
The younger generation have their own ideas about what looks good, which are just as valid as ours. With my daughter I find we clash quite often on style issues, but I really respect her opinion which she expresses with the confidence of the instinctively cool. In an ideal world collaboration may be the best approach.
Made Up gave me a chance to experiment with consultation and engagement (a technique that I have learned in the workplace). We collaborated on this project, sharing some of the work.
It started with her emailing me a photograph of a brightly coloured, neoprene skirt.
I decided it was probably a full circle skirt, mid thigh length, made from fairly stiff neoprene, possibly supported by a petticoat. I was keen to get the fabric and colours just right. This wasn’t possible, so I considered painting heavy silk and backing it with something fairly substantial. I blogged about it and got some very useful advice. Then I procrastinated.
Actually when I found some inexpensive stretch cotton in Simply Fabrics Esme declared it was “exactly” what she wanted. The colour scheme is similar but it is not neoprene. We then set out to design the skirt together, and to my surprise Esme asked for it to be knee length. I had also assumed a wide waist band, and instead she chose a 1″ one. Most significantly the skirt droops rather than standing proud. So the eventual skirt does not look that much like the picture. But it is “inspired by” the neoprene skirt, and it does look very pretty.
In addition Esme did most of the cutting out and sewing herself, including putting in a perfect invisible zip. As I had struggled with putting a zip in a skirt for myself just the previous day (six attempts, and still not right), I couldn’t believe how well she had done this. I did the waist band, hook and bar and the hem.
I have fulfilled the promise I made to Karen. But there remains the matter of the yellow coat.