Sometimes we need a challenge to really push ourselves out of our comfort zone. This week I worked on a tunic for a customer who had provided me with a vintage Italian silk drapery panel. Really beautiful. Quite old. Shredding in some spots. She asked if I could make her something from it and added "no pressure...whenever you feel like it...and if you decide you don't want to use it, that's okay, too." I liked the last part. A possible exit strategy.
I don't like to do custom work. Usually, the customer, whether they admit it or not, has an idea in her head about what the final thing should look like and so I find myself trying to fit into that idea that she has (real or imagined, it doesn't really matter.) I rarely do my best work under these circumstances.
But this was different. Not only were there no parameters or special requests, she had given me an amazing textile. The pull cords for the sage green silk shade were present and I immediately could see how one could pull them to create billowing and draping. I was intrigued.
I gladly took the drapery panel and said I'd love to work with it. It sat in my workroom in its plastic bag for several weeks before I took it out to inspect it more closely. Then a little bit of panic set in. What in the world could I do with it? It was beautiful. It was delicate. What if I ruined it?
I've always believed that the best thing to do in this situation is to just jump. So I did. I draped the fabric on my mannequin and immediately started poking around for parts and pieces that would work with it. I devoted a good part of the day to pinning and draping until I felt I had something to show for my effort. When I called her to schedule a fitting, she said she'd come over right away. "Really? Right away?" I said to myself. Oh dear. This was happening too fast.
She came and loved it and the next day I tackled the sewing...much more difficult than the designing. At least it's that way for me. I used more pins than usual, took my time, and enjoyed one final surprise.
I needed a way to connect one side panel to the other, in order to keep the garment large enough to fit over her shoulders. Sitting on top of my ribbon box was a vintage silk snap belt that my friend, Katrin, had sent me a couple weeks before. It worked perfectly.
So that's it. I feel good about this whole experience. It's all about giving ourselves that little push as we jump into the unknown.