About Me

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Blank Canvas Syndrome

                There was a time in the not so distant past, during my first years of med-school, when I always worried about money. It's true that with today's fast fashion one doesn't need to spend a lot of money to dress reasonably well,  but my passion was never for clothes but rather for sewing my own and enjoying the process. Since I was so worried about not spending much I felt like I couldn’t justify any purchase, fabric included, and not having "enough" material to create from made me miserable. A couple of years later and my financial situation is stable enough to afford spending money on my hobby; I decide on a specific amount I can spend on fabric every month based on other expenses I have and my priorities. Having a budget means I can purchase fabric without guilt as I know I only buy what I can afford and I know each piece of material will end up as a garment I can wear, or as something I tried and learned from. 
                Undoubtedly I spend more on fabric than I spent on clothes prior to my sewing days. However, having "enough" material to work with means I have the freedom to create whatever I want. Usually I alternate between difficult and easy projects but of course also choose a project based on my mood, needs, and the free time I have on my hands.
                "Enough" is a tough word to define, though. Currently I have about 20 pieces of fabric in my stash to make garments from, but I also have two drawers full of scraps to use for pockets, binding or craft projects. 

Two recent additions to my stash. The bottom one will hopefully end up as an Alder dress while the top one (which I purchased because my boyfriend really liked it...) will be an Alder tank hack.
Having 20 pieces of fabric in my stash means that fabric is not the "rate limiting step" in the process of sewing and designing my wardrobe. So what's stopping me from sewing through this fabric and creating the wardrobe of my dreams?

My art teacher in high-school called it the "Blank Canvas Syndrome", when student will stare at a blank canvas in-front of them fearing from ruining the canvas by potentially not creating a "worthy" painting. Sometimes I feel the same thing trying to bring myself to cut into the fabric. I'm afraid I'll end up with something I won't wear and therefore my efforts will only waste good fabric. Hesitation is another stumbling block. In my mind's eye each piece of fabric can be multiple garments, while in reality once I decide on a pattern and cut the fabric, I can't be anything else. How do I know which pattern is the "best" for each fabric? The black and gold polka-dot fabric that ended up as my victory slacks was purchased to become a dress. Only later I realized the weight and stretch are perfect for slacks for fall, rather than a dress I won't wear that much.

Stretch cotton for pants. I never wear colorful pants, but I want to try and see how it works.
I don't want to let my fears prevent me from experimenting with new silhouettes and patterns. I know that trying something and failing it is better than having a closet full of fabric (rather than clothes). I also know that by sewing the same thing over and over I will never improve my skills and have interesting wardrobe, but I find it difficult to just let go and have fun with the fabric.

What about you? Are you reluctant to cut into good fabric because you don't want to "ruin" it? Do you feel it prevents you from trying new things?

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