A Sewing Vacation

A Sewing Vacation

I need a vacation…

In the past week, I think I’ve said “I need a vacation” about a zillion times (yes, that’s a real number – not just a sewing measurement ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ). Ideally, I want the type of vacation where I’m not tied to technology. I want to check out from the world. Reading and sewing are high on the list of things I’d do during this much needed vacation. I’ve seen knitting cruises in the past and though I’m looking to get away from people right now, if a sewing cruise existed, I might be tempted.

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Fellow sewers and crafty people tend to be more fun and easier to get along with than the people I interact with regularly as a freelancer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my clients, I just need a break. As an introvert, extensive downtime is key to my survival.

Sewing is one of many ways I escape the stress and daily pressures of life, so you can understand why I’d be tempted with a sewing cruise. If any travel planners are among my faithful readers, here’s what I think it would look like. If you set one up through your travel agency, please reach out!

My ideal sewing vacation

My old singer is heavy, so if machines were provided, I’d be happy to use another machine for the duration of my trip. Also, I do like the cruise concept, even if it’s just around the coast line for a long weekend. In New England, Maine and Massachusetts both have boats that offer these type of trips. On the cruise ship, there’d be an area set up with sewing machines and the option to either choose a project offered by the trip organizers or bring one of our own.

As with any vacation, fabulous food to meet everyone’s dietary requirements and plenty of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are necessary. For living arrangements, standard rates for double rooms, of course, but I’d be willing to lay out some extra cash to have a single room and the break from people I’m looking for.

While it’s not necessarily something I’d be interested in, to keep the cruise exciting and fun for everyone, activities like speakers and classes would be excellent. By the time the ship arrivals back to port, we’d all have finished a fun project, enjoyed some serious relaxation, and maybe learned a little something and made some new friends.

What do you think? Would you go on a sewing vacation cruise?

How to See in the Dark

How to See in the Dark

During the course of my career, I’ve had the good fortune to work on quite a few large film productions with some highly recognizable actors and actresses. Film-making is exciting and tedious all at once, both exhilarating and debilitating. It’s not a life choice to venture into lightly – at least not if you require a steady, dependable job and paycheck.

You’ll never work again…

In movie making, and even more so in television, nothing is ever a sure thing. Shows get cancelled or pushed (postponed), people get let go for various, and sometimes odd, political (company) and personal reasons. I, personally, never believe a gig is going to happen until I’m actually there on the first day, filling out the inevitable novel of start paperwork you must complete at the commencement of every single job.

I’ve worked like this for twenty-five years now and I can say only two things for sure. One, explaining to people not in the business, be it your family, friends, or the bank you want a mortgage from, what you do and how you are hired, is never an easy thing. And two, that weird space you enter when you’re between jobs and the phone isn’t ringing and the little voice inside your head whispers you’ll never work again, never gets easier, not really. It doesn’t matter that history has always proven that you will indeed work again; you simply believe, irrationally, that this time is different.

At least that’s how it usually is for me. Yet, at the same time, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t fathom going to the same office every day for thirty years or more and doing the same thing over and over. It’s just not how I’m made. So I take the uncertainty and the freelance roller coaster ride in exchange for getting to do something that, most days, I love.

If you’re thinking of a freelance career in film, television and the theatre, you need to be really honest about whether or not you’re able to live with a heightened amount of insecurity.

I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in. There was no way I was giving up.

Here are a few of the things that I’ve found invaluable and helpful in surviving the freelance life.

1. Tenacity

Be determined. Wholly and truly give it your all. Remain persistent. Things don’t necessarily come easily. I remember a conversation I had long ago with a friend and colleague. We were talking about ‘breaking in’ to the movie business and how we landed our first job on a major film.

“I fought, bit, screamed, clawed and scratched my way in,” my friend said, “There was no way I was giving up.”

2. Resilience

It’s easy to believe in yourself and your talents when other people do. The true feat, though, is to believe in yourself and your abilities when no one else seems to. There will be failures and missteps and things that you wished had turned out differently. That’s all part of the whole thing.

There will, of course, always be that odd, seemingly infinitely lucky individual, who coasts, completely upright, into a successful freelance career with out skinning even one knee. But that’s the exception.

Most of us arrive a bit battered and disheveled with grass stains on our knees and twigs in our hair.

3. Vision

As the extremely successful celebrity stylist (and all around nice guy), Derek Roche has said, Build your own dreams or someone will hire you to build theirs.

 4. Learn how to see in the dark

When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it…

Some of my first theatre jobs were as a backstage dresser during live performances. This involved laundry and maintaining the costumes, as well as, helping the actors get dressed if needed (period things like corsets and garments with multiple back closures) and doing quick changes backstage in the dark.

Many backstage dressers use small bite lights to help them see while performing fast costume changes. I never really did. If you spend enough time in the wings in the dark, you eventually are able to see. I have no idea if this is a scientific fact; I only know that it was true for me. I have no problem finding zipper ends, or a slew of hooks or snaps in the dark.

Darkness, of course, can come in different forms – it can be literal like working backstage or it can be figurative like not being certain what your next move should be or being unable to see the path in front of you. When the darkness comes (and it will) you have to be able to navigate your way out and through it, you have to reach for that zipper and be able to insert one end into the other by feel.

Seeing in the dark is a tricky thing to master. It involves taking all your tenacity, resilience and vision at once and stepping forward, all the while trusting that the ground is indeed beneath your feet – just as it should be.

Sew Calm

Sew Calm

Like many hobbies, sewing can help you relax and put aside the stress of daily life. Depending on the hobby, there can be many reasons for this. For me, sewing is relaxing because it requires intense concentration, which means there’s no room left in my brain for worrying about life stressors. And then there’s the rhythms – they call to something deeper much the way drum beats do in Native American rituals.

Snip Snip Snip

Next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen.

Next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen.

Have you ever noticed the sound scissors make when cutting fabric? There’s something almost melodic about it. Try it out next time you’re sitting down to cut some fabric really listen. If you can safely close your eyes for a moment to tune into the sound, do so. The crunch, snip, clip is mesmerizing. I allow it to become like a mantra – if there’s something I’m working through, the rhythm of the scissors can help me hone my focus and energy. Try it – you’ll see.

Whirr Whirr Whirr

I don’t have a lot of experience with modern machines; I’m still using the old Singer my mom taught me on, so I’m not sure if newer machines have the same wonderful whirring sound. When doing a long straight row of stitches and keeping steady pressure on the pedal, that whirr is as rhythmic as train speeding down the tracks. The whirring helps organize my thoughts and creates a space where my only focus is the machine, the fabric, and the whirr. As my problems and stressors take a back seat, they also subconsciously begin to resolve.

As with the snip and whirr sounds, my anxious thoughts fall away and my focus hones in on the task at hand.

Motions

Sewing also has a lot of repetitive, and thus soothing, motions. The body and brain disconnect during these moments and the subconscious takes over. Just as our brains are able to work out problems as we sleep, so too can they work out problems while our conscious brain is disconnected during waking hours.

Pin and Unpin

The motion and concentration needed to properly pin a sewing project are often all consuming. I find this quite soothing. As with the snip and whirr sounds, my anxious thoughts fall away and my focus hones in on the task at hand. When I’m done, the thoughts and anxieties plaguing me don’t seem so all-encompassing.

Joy of Completion

I’m sure you know the feeling. That moment of elation when the hours of snipping, pinning, and sewing come to fruition with the final product. For me, the only thing that tops it is when I’m wearing something I made and someone compliments it, giving me the opportunity to say that I made it. Oh man! Is there anything else like that? I don’t think so.

How about you? What part of sewing speaks to your inner being and helps you relax and release the stressors of daily life?