a study in improvisation

Sometimes, I feel like I’m not a very creative person.
Sure, I look creative. After all, I have a music degree (two, actually), and I mange my own clothes. I also enjoy cooking, most of the time. But here’s the thing: I’m a classically trained musician. Which is basically the equivalent of not being the author who creates the story, but the translator who takes a different language and rewrites it into English. The times I’ve gotten the most nervous performing have been the times I’ve been told to just make up a part. And I see this in the other things, too. I can follow a recipe well, but I struggle to take a handful of ingredients and turn them into a tasty meal without one. And I choose the fabrics and tweak the fit, sometimes I mash together two patterns if I’m feeling brave, but it’s almost always someone else’s design that I’m just interpreting.
Self-drafted wrap skirtThat being said, this skirt was definitely out of my comfort zone. And it’s certainly not perfect. If this was Project Runway and Michael Kors was still a judge, he’d probably pull out that Becky Home-ecky phrase, furthering my dislike of him for making my name synonymous with bad sewing. But I made it, without a pattern, and it did what I wanted it to do. And that’s pretty huge for me.
So here’s the details: it’s two yards of quilt cotton that should be all wrong for me–mint green? Pink? Really? But the flamingos called to me. I cut it to the length I thought would be good, plus seams and hems, then cut that piece into thirds. The back is adjustable, with buttonhole elastic courtesy of Brooke, who kindly sent me some from her own stash when she learned via Instagram that I didn’t have any. Aren’t sewcialists the best? The front waistband is flat, and secured by two buttons– one inside, one out. I fully lined it with some white polyester from my stash, which took my totals down another 2 yards.
Self-drafted wrap skirtI think my favorite detail is the front curve. I had to wing it, because I didn’t have anything in the room that was round and large enough, and our plates aren’t round either. But I think it turned out really nice!

I was also pleased that I was able to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions, as wrap skirts are prone to. I first wore it for a morning out with Doug and Hobbit, on the boardwalk at one of my state’s busiest beaches, as we had a couple of errands to run at specific stores in that area. It was quite breezy, but my legs stayed covered!

Self-drafted wrap skirtI’m also pleased that I was able to finish it in time for the end of the month, since this fabric just screams summer and probably won’t really work once it starts getting colder. I may have a long way to go to truly get the hang of designing my clothes from scratch, but I think this is a step in the right direction.

(Note: the stupid Blogger app on my phone ate about half of the original post when I was trying to get off of the original draft, so I’ve reconstructed it as best as I could.)

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15 thoughts on “a study in improvisation

  1. Look at you, improvising and winging it! I really like the curve at the front, and putting elastic in only the back is smart – adjustable and flattering! Did you have fun at the boardwalk?

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  2. Eeee it looks so good! Makes me want to start cutting into my matching fabric right now! I'm so glad I was able to help you out by sending some elastic. =)

    I completely understand being out of your comfort zone when it comes to making stuff up – I stink at acting improv and fake books for piano. However, I think the more you experiment with sewing, the better you'll get because each project gives you more building blocks to work with. Keep experimenting – you're good at it!

    ~ Brooke

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  3. Aww, thanks! And I'm excited to see what you end up doing with the fabric! I actually ran into a woman in a restroom who did a double take and said her daughter had a dress made from the same fabric. I told her she had good taste. 😉

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  4. I think having such a narrow view of creativity can be really hindering – look at all of the things that we can do that other people admire! Just because it's not strictly from scratch doesn't mean that we're not making creative decisions every step of the way.
    Also, speaking as a translator, I can say that it is a really creative job! It's not just plugging words from one language into another, it's figuring out (creatively!) how to convey the same *feeling* in an entirely different grammar and structure and culture.
    Anyway, the flamingos are cute, great job! 🙂

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  5. becky, i love this story and i adore this skirt! i started as a classically trained singer, and i remember the terror i felt the first time i was told to improv. then a teacher said, “you learn the rules so that you know how to break them.” which i ran with. in like, everything. FLAMINGOS EVERYWHERE!

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  6. I always feel the same way! I also have a (classical) music degree, and am much happier following recipes and patterns than throwing things together. I like to thing of myself as being interpretive rather than creative. 🙂

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  7. I feel just like you in that I take other people's ideas and go with them, not coming up with the idea myself. But we're still more creative than the people who buy their clothes, working their hardest to stay on trend. We still make unique garments with our hands, and pushing our comfort zones every time. I'm not sure I could pull off the flamingos, but you can and you do!

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  8. Thanks for giving your career perspective–I apologize if it sounded like I was making it sound like it's not a creative pursuit! I was thinking more as a musician, since I have gotten comments before (especially from non musicians) that have made me feel like I'm not as good/creative as the musician who composes.

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  9. Good point! We most likely also spend a lot more time thinking about how cohesive or not our wardrobes are and various garment details than the average person, too!

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  10. Pingback: How very exciting. | sew adagio

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