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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Answer and question

This is a big catch-up post.

I have been on overdrive getting my marking done and my end-of-term marks in and I have been heavily involved in getting my Christmas stuff made/sent away.

My youngest and his girlfriend stayed with me until they left for four months in New Zealand Wednesday (gee my boys have nice girlfriends) but of course they left before I could get a shot of the shirt I made him (he flew out in it, a good sign) or the hat and scarf I knit her. And yesterday I mailed out three packages for my son and his girlfriend in Brooklyn. He will be spending the holidays with her family in Maryland, much closer, as he is negotiating what is hopefully going to be a new job, and it really wasn't a good time to leave the country for a week.

I made them a few things and of course I can't show them to you on the off chance they read my blog. Got to maintain the element of surprise. And since those two in New York have far more good taste than I do I am quite certain they will be truly surprised when they see what I have made for their apartment.

So having cleared that part of the decks what I have ahead of me now is work on the Barbie dollhouse for the little girls and, once I finish something for a guy my husband works with (this man does leatherwork and is making a purse for his mom and needs someone to sew a lining with a zipper - he doesn't do fabric), I am, get this, going to be able to start sewing for myself.

I am more or less desperate to get back to garment sewing. I have two most beautiful pieces of double knit from Mood that I want to make two more Kristen dresses from and it is burning me up. 

Just having the fabric in my house has made me happy. Recently I bought the bullet and actually threw out some fabric I got from another vendor because the one piece I had made from that lot pilled after two washes. I decided there was no point in investing time on the rest of it, a rayon single knit, in different colours.

The more I sew the more good fabric means to me.

I am also going to be making my fourth pair of Barb pants, which brings me to Patti's question about that pattern.

Listen Patti I love it. The leg is slimmer (see a picture a few posts back) than the Lindas but not too skinny. Enough to look modern but not uncomfortable. The key to these pants is a fabric with decent stretch crosswise as the hip is fairly close. After the second pair I added a little to that area and found them more comfortable -it will depend on how much your fabric gives - so you might want to sew pair one with a wider seam allowance to adjust to fit.

All that said this is now my favourite pants pattern. Stylish and a snap to sew, IMO another Style Arc winner.

So that's the answer.

Now a question.

Last night I was at a retirement party for a wonderful colleague and ran into one of my favourite students. This girl is smart, industrious, beautiful, and so talented. And of course being a thinking person at the start of her career she struggles with self-confidence, wondering what direction is the right one for her, trying to figure out when to be brave and when to play it safe.

I looked at her, from the other end of a career, and thought to myself of all the mediocre folks I have seen, with about a quarter going for them what this kid has, who have done very well in their careers because they just believed in themselves so much (OK mostly they have been men, no surprise). 

I wanted to tell her to relax, enjoy herself, just do good work, and something I tried to explain about protecting your core. 

You know what I mean? 

Work is just work and you have to learn to keep yourself separate so professional judgments and set-backs don't get taken to heart. To be able to work really hard and do your best but not take it personally. To have anchors in your life (for me this has been family and my sewing - no matter what happened at the office I could always come home and put in one hell of a zipper).

So my question to you all this morning is what would you say to twenty something young woman to give her the perspective on work and life that a person has in a well-developed career that really would be more useful at the beginning?

What do you wish someone had said to you? What would, as they say, you say to yourself at that age?

These are interesting questions. Look forward to your thoughts. 


Karen in VA said...

I wish someone had told me there is more to life than work. Your advice to her to protect her core was excellent. I've found that when you're smart and talented and want to do a good job, that there are those who will take advantage of that and try to work you into an early grave...
It took me a long time to set boundaries and I'm so much happier now that life is in better balance.

Anonymous said...

My mantra has always been " It is you who make the institution ( business, job,etc) great, not the other way round".

Jodie said...

I'm going to send pieces of this to an assistant principal of mine as we just had this conversation....although it drifted into why people (TEACHERS) aren't kind and count prep time minutes, etc.

I would say to the young 20-something is to remember that you sometimes just need to know YOURSELF that you are doing an awesome job. And that awesomeness may not get recognized right away by the people that you work for. And that it isn't personal. Although it might be very personal to you. And to also remember that your job is your job and your life is your life and the two should be separate. And the life part bigger. But it can take a while to get to that point. said...

My advice is a little odd. It is to always remember that life is a choice. You can choose to feel bad about something or you can choose to always do your best and recognize that you have done your best, whether it was perfect or not, and let it go.

Something I saw a long time ago affected me deeply. It was a pie shaped "wheel of life" that was divided into 8 equal parts. With career, health, personal development/education, family and friends, environment, romance and personal relationships, finances, and fun and recreation, all in their own equal segment. The idea is that so long as everything is in balance, your wheel rolls along evenly and in balance. Once one segment gets larger than the others, it makes for bumps in the road.
I try to remember that so my journey is in balance and doesn't have big hills and valleys. Wish I'd seen it when I was in my 20s instead of my 50s!

Pattyskypants said...

It has taken me three and a half years to recover from my career, but during that time I have been working as the part-time assistant to my replacement. On our office suite door we have the slogan: Be Nice, Work Hard. That's our motto and it really works. I might also add: Respect each others' style. Everybody has their own way of approaching the goal and I find the unhappiest coworkers are those who believe their approach is the only right one.

Janet said...

Those are great questions. Striving is good and all that…but I think it is over rated. When people want recognition and acknowledgement: promotion, being in a "certain club"….It isn't what it is cracked up to be unless you love the work. Don't move "forward" unless, you love the work. It has been a privilege to be a teacher. I love what I do. I love working with elementary students, which, btw, doesn't have the status of older grades (which I have also taught). I was encouraged to go into leadership, but it took me farther away from the kids. Teaching is actually more work, in some ways, than administration. What is success? What is going to feed you? How do you want to make a difference? How do you want to leave the world a better place? You can be very brave if you are working for good.

Anonymous said...

Having been retired for 4 years from a difficult but successful administrative position after my kids were in middle school, my advice is to think carefully but follow your heart in decisions that matter. Work hard but remember to take care of your health because if that goes, nothing else much matters. And lastly, but very important is to maintain your integrity in everything you do -- by that I mean, be honest, be fair, be respectful and treat others like you want to be treated.

Unknown said...

I love what Pattyskypants said!

SewRuthie said...

Heck, well I am half way through my career, so let me have a think. It is good to have a mentor outside of work who cares about you and your career without relation to the current job. This may be several people over your working life. Work life balance is important. Make sure any significant other in your personal life treats you with respect, if they don't at the start it is unlikely to improve. Similarly if you expect respect at work, you mostly will get it. Personally I've found anti-stress meditation (non religious) is good and helps put things in perspective. Treat other people well, even if they don't always do the same to you, this gives you integrity and the ability to sleep at night. Things which seem like mistakes are learning opportunities, which is why experienced people are worth having! Sometimes you can't change a boss, workplace or organisation and its good to look for a new opening. Change is going to happen, so find some way to incorporate that. Have a great career.

LinB said...

The only thing I can add to the excellent advice given by each person above is: 1. Seek out something beautiful every day to look at, even if just for a fleeting glimpse. 2. Find something that makes you laugh, every day. 3. Remember that every person you meet and interact with was some woman's precious baby, once upon a time.

Summer Flies said...

I love all the advice given above. I wish I had all of this when I was young (now in early 50's). Maybe I did have and didn't hear it/listen. However, the only thing I would add is don't be afraid. If it doesn't work or go the way you thought - it really won't matter in the whole scheme of things.