Friday, February 19, 2010

Sew With The Flow: Part 2

Alright, to continue with the flow...
You might like to grab yourself a cuppa and a snack, I am feeling a good long ramble coming on.
If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.
I believe I was going on about clothes for children and inspiration motivation and I was about to reveal who was knocking at the door. But first, I want to talk about Walter.

Walter was a substitute teacher that I had from time to time at the Junior High I attended in Santa Cruz, CA. He was young, enthusiastic and a complete surfer dude. If we walked into Mrs. Lamb's English class and saw Walter sitting on the desk, we would rejoice and run up to him like a gaggle of goslings vying for his attention. The rest of class time would be spent listening to Walter's outrageous surfing stories; they usually started something like this, "Oh man, I took the buggy down to Baja with a couple of my bros in search of some righteous waves..."

Now, I imagine you are asking yourself what this has to do with anything. I am just getting to that, I promise.

So, one day Walter shows up to sub for my sewing class. We had never had a sub before and I wondered how this was going to play out as I had some serious issues with my appliqued pillow project. He was a fish out of water but, if you can just imagine a cute young surfer dude in a class full of teenage girls...well, it was a blushing giggle fest. Only myself and one other student were putting our noses to the ancient Kenmores, intent on our dubious creations. At one point, the other student began to wail and moan over some trouble she was having at the machine. Walter was passing by and wanting to lend support of some kind, looked at her and smiled a beatific smile and said in true guru fashion, "No worries man, just breathe deep and Sew With The Flow!" I have a vague recollection of the girl bursting into tears after that. Walter's words resonated with me though, and have stuck with me all these years. Sew with the flow indeed. I find that sewing can be like that, sometimes the surf is rough and you wipe out but, sometimes you have a stellar ride on a righteous wave.

So, there I was getting my flow on with a jacket for Pony Girl, when a knock came at the door. Well looky there, it's the UPS guy, dressed in his crisp brown uniform with the shorty shorts, hat just so and mirrored cop sun glasses. He smiled as he handed me my package but, he did not speak. He looked like a character from a movie, all back lit by the sun - and I almost asked him if he would mind if I took his picture for my blog but, I thought that might give him the wrong impression. Off he went without a word.

What UPS guy delivered to me was this book...

What timing!
Sewing Clothes Kids Love by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollehn is a beauty! I had pre-ordered it ages ago and was quite excited to receive it. Nancy Langdon of Fledge/Studio TANTRUM and Sabine Pollehn of Farbenmix, were a couple of women I discovered when I was looking for inspiration to create magic clothes for my girl. The patterns that they and several other talented artists had put together, were just what I had been looking for. Unique, fun, colorful, creative and magical.
I ordered a couple of patterns, and though some were in German, I had no real trouble putting them together and in fact, found them a joy to work with. I loved the way they encouraged my own creativity. I found that the clothes fit so well and really worked with the way kids moved and played.

Along the way, I had sent an email or two to Nancy Langdon, to my surprise and delight, she answered those emails and since then, has offered just the right words of encouragement and support when I needed them most. It was really she, who inspired me to create my first pattern from scratch. I said it in my very first post on this blog, and I still believe in it's truth:
"To be empowered is wonderful,
to be encouraged is soul saving!"

This book is both empowering and encouraging. It encourages you to use your creativity and imagination and helps remove some of the intimidation you might feel at trying something new. The patterns are as good as ever (the book includes 10 full multi-sized patterns for children 18 months to 12). The emphasis is clearly on clothes for girls but, there are a couple of patterns for the boys as well. While the bold and colorful look of the clothes may not be for everyone, the patterns and construction are solid and can be made up to look any way you can imagine. There are some very good tips and tricks of the trade, with clear instruction and advice.

For the truly novice seamstress, there might be some unfamiliar techniques but, all that is really required are some basic skills, and you can create one of a kind clothing for your own superstar. I love that the underlying message of the book is to really have fun creating "real clothes for real kids" and "Because childhood is here and gone so quickly... it is important to dress a child for each special occasion." That special occasion might be a first day of school, a climb to the highest branch, an afternoon of puddle jumping, etc. Childhood itself is a special occasion!

As I was reading the book cover to cover that first night, there at the top of page 12, was the caption "SEW WITH THE FLOW"! How about them apples!

So, to Nancy, thank you for the beautiful book you made, the encouragement and the continued inspiration.

And to Walter, wherever you are, thank you for your wise words.


Floss said...

That's brilliant - I love your story, the quotation, and the lovely link with your new book. The little jacket is looking great!

A Bun Can Dance said...

I love Walter and I never even met him!!!
What a great post, Alex. Thank you so much. With my new crafty enterprise I need all the encouragement I can get and I think Sew with the Flow is going to be written out and pinned above my sewing machine. So true! Your glorious jacket is so special - I wish it would fit me :-)
And thank you for your kind and very generous words - you make my day when you visit.
Happy weekend to you,
Denise x

lifeshighway said...

Ah Lola, the wonderful story, the beautiful pictures and the brillant colors and all the while you were teaching us a life's lesson.

Kate said...

Love the jacket and your passion about the book is infectious so I shall definitely have to investigate further. Do I take it you've come down from the mountain? Hope all is well.

Kate x

crzylady said...

Thank you. It might be because I'm tired from a mean day at work or simply because I'm a crier.. but I'm definitely choked up and I think I'll take a deep breath, too.

The jacket is looking delicious!

Sherri B. said...

Lola, so glad you are up to posting and what a post it is! What a treasure of a book, you have sold me as I will be ordering it as soon as I am done here.
YOU are also an encouragment with your thoughtful comments on many of our posts..Thank you.

Mare said...

You know, i just love you and your enthusiasm! I think i might just order that book! I would LOVE to learn to sew special clothes for my Lola, and i know if Pony Girl likes them, so will she! And that jacket you are my Lola would say- "DE-wishous!!!"

june at noon said...

What a great story! That jacket is so much fun, too.

Lola Nova said...

Well now, here I was all worried that I had rambled on too long and strange...I should have known that you of course, would understand. You have made me feel most fortunate and happy, to have friends such as you!

Aussie-waffler said...

Gnarly dude, good to see you gettin' your sew on :)

tedandagnes said...

That Jacket is looking i finally have my Miss V I am truely looking forward to making a whole host of yummy clothes for her..i wait in anticipation to see some creations from that lovely lovely book....rxx

Luisa @ Dance in my garden said...

Love that story, love your blog..why the heck haven't I been here before!?
Thanks for that encouraging story, I am currently trying to get any sort of mojo back let alone a sewing one.

Fledgling said...


I wrote a comment last night. I took so long to write it. Maybe after all that time, I actually forgot to hit "Publish"...or got the word verification wrong. Fonest, that was the word verification. And I come back today to see if you responded... Fonestly, Alex, I am a bit speechless. I am humbled. So many kind words. Not only that, but exactly the reaction I wanted from this book. Exactly. But, dangit, return the book and ask for a refund. It is wasted on you, because you already GET IT. To me, the clothes are just about 10% of the reason for making the book (a great 10%, but nonetheless...). 90% is just about getting your flow on. If sewing isn't the thing, maybe crocheting, or photography or gardening or writing or drag racing or break dancing or moose calling or roller disco ... I don't judge. As long as it is a good and happy thing and builds community. So, if at least one reader gets it, I think the book is a success. A best seller, even if the numbers don't support my delusions.

What makes my tear ducts oddly squishy at the moment, is...allergies? Or maybe your mentioning of something encouraging I might have said to you? Yeah, maybe that. Maybe that, because I know what the right words at the right time have done for me. Maybe, like Bruddah Walter, those folks didn't even realize at the time that those words would make an impact on me. My goal, as deluded and narcissistic as I am, is to help people find that happy, flowy place. It is great privilege to have the opportunity to do so and a humbling experience when it happens.

Have I gotten to saying THANK YOU?? Maybe rambling is catching. Um: THANK YOU!! For the posting, for your words, for making magic clothes for Pony Girl, for just the way you are.

As for rambling, in crafting, raising kids, probably surfing, and life, a nice ramble now and then is probably a good thing.


Lola Nova said...

Nothing doing, I'm keeping that book!
I am so pleased that you found my rambling ways to be alright. Sometimes I just make my own weaving way to get where I'm going.
I think that your 90% comes across wonderfully in the book. In fact I was showing it to non-sewer this morning, she had a good long look and said, "I love it! Looking at this has given me a great idea for a painting!"
So, there you have it.

I may have to give that moose calling roller disco thing a try :)

Samantha Wright said...

Super cute!!

Pia K said...

lovely post and how about that book! and such apt words "because childhood is here and gone so quickly... it is important to dress a child for each special occasion" - i always think such thoughts when i pass by children's department full of cheap mass produced in the third world stuff... i wish more parents could see sense and go creative themselves. it's good for the soul (and not only wallet) to wind down with crafts. and really, who want to dress their children like everyone else when they should be dressed like the unique beings they are?