Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dreaming drives doing

How often do you pick up a book at the store and drool over book featuring the hottest new or old technique. You bring the book home and read the articles and pour over the images. Eventually, you put the book down so you can return to your current project. The book stays near by. You pick it up again and again until you find another book and bring it home. You read about a new technique. Maybe even you bring a few fabrics home that you would need to try that new technique. It goes on your pile of fabrics and eventually you find a purpose for it. Perhaps you wistfully think of that technique you didn't have time to learn. Maybe all those techniques end up in that pile in your brain and it fades into just another dream you dreamt but didn't realize.

I am the queen of this routine. I do it again and again. I have many books and in my mind, I've pondered so many projects I meant to start. I think about how much I had wished I had learned a technique or two to use in a new project I've started. I am a dreamer. I have a lot of books with luscious pictures of lovely techniques I've yet to learn. I think I've come to an impasse in my life. Its time to start doing.

Sometimes I look at a technique and think of how I can mimic it. My way is full of shortcuts. It allows me to tinker without learning. Somehow, the results never quite live up to my expectations. Why, well, its because I cheated. No one was hurt by my shortcut, except me. I failed to learn. I leaned on old habits and tired techniques. The result is that I've missed learning something special and valuable. Once learned, a technique becomes a part of who I am as a creator. Why would I choose to skip such a lovely learning experience? Enough is enough.

This week I found a wonderful book. Its called "Beautiful Botanicals, 45 Applique Flowers & 14 Quilt Projects" by Deborah Kemball. It was over my book budget and I'm well over my sewing budget, for the month. I just couldn't resist. I saw it 4 days ago and I could not get its beautiful pages out of my head. So I found a coupon and splurged. Perhaps because it was a forbidden purchase it became even more special.

Today I took one flower from the book and added it to my sampler. At first, I thought I wouldn't have the patience to learn traditional applique. All those tiny turned down edges and minute stitches to hold down all those edges. Yikes! I can't do that. The little fussy cuts, what if I don't have the right fabrics? The twisting and tangling thread. I don't feel like dealing with that mess. I can't justify the time it would take to learn this. I have too many projects waiting to get done. But in my advanced age of 50 something I've decided that I hate that old adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." I am not a dog. In actuality, I do have the time and its important that I learn something new every day of my precious life.

It was so enjoyable to let go of my old preconceptions and really learn something new. Not only that, but I think I could get very good at this! I took note of the advice she gives on how to use the fabric. Fussy cutting allows you create complex designs from simple shapes. I used freezer paper templates and my iron to tame those little edges. Tiny clips and patient stitches became a interesting challenge. With the help of an old tweezers to manipulate bits and pieces that defied my fumbling fingers, I was able to tack down challenging curves and bulky tips. It was fun!

Find this tutorial in the gallery list called, Hand Applique-Bold and Beautiful.
What was even better was the feeling of satisfaction that flowed through my creative spirit. I felt so proud of my efforts to master something I had avoided for 30 years of sewing. I loved it and I can't wait to do more. Because my flower, a cute little pansy, needed to fit onto one of the last empty spaces on my sampler, I had to work even smaller than the book templates. I told myself, that if I could conquer such a tiny little piece of fabric, I could say that I really did something. I know its just a decoration on 3 square inches of fabric. But to me, it was so much more.

I broke through the barriers I had held on to for such a long time. I found out that I am patient enough to learn this. I learned that taking on a challenge is not a recipe for disaster, it is an opportunity to feel pride. I found that my fingers could manage tiny stitches that frustrate me when I use them for other projects. For this technique, those very same stitches work perfectly. I also learned that one is never too old to learn. In fact, learning is a daily supplement for growing as a craftswoman and as a human being.

So the next time you bring a book home, do more than open it. Try it. Doing is much more satisfying than dreaming. Dreaming only involves thoughts. Doing involves all of the good things we need to feel as a creative individual. Dive in. Try it. If it doesn't work out for you, well that is something you have learned as well. The joy of creating involves many factors. Dreaming is a very important element in the creative process. In fact, without the dream, there would not be imagination. Its in the thinking of the dream, the anticipation of its success, the time figuring out and problem solving,that is where the joy lives. Its in the learning that dreams become alive. So go ahead. Learn, live, and love what you do.

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