Scattered Creativity

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

I am constantly in amazement of the talent in the online sewing community. Actually, I am in awe of the whole creative community. You follow along on blogs and Instagram and you see people pumping out projects like clockwork. Seamstresses have a new garment (or two, or three!) each week, knitters who complete socks in an afternoon, painters, photographers, weavers constantly making beautiful things come to life every day. You can’t NOT marvel at their impeccable skills, patience and creativity.

I envy them, I truly do, because that level of productivity and skill eludes me. No matter how much time available, how many stacks of fabric and patterns and ideas at the ready (trust me, there are loads), I will likely only get a garment or two done a month. Now here’s where, when I observe others, I am tempted to call myself lazy, chastise myself for watching too much Netflix, but when I really look at it, that isn’t the problem at all.

I just want to make ALL the things.

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

In the past year I’ve taken up knitting and weaving, while still dabbling in hand lettering, photography, scrapbooking, graphic design and any other crafty thing that happens to catch my eye. It brings to mind that old saying; Jack of all trades, master of none.

When you make things, and try new things, the easier it becomes to make and try NEW things. You learn to observe and reverse engineer, you build transferable skills that make it easier to understand what is happening. In short, it’s really easy to fall into that “Wow, [insert fancy craft here] is pretty easy and fun! It only took a few hours”.

But soon, as with all things in life, in order to level up from that excited beginner, you need to invest more time to get to level two. And here’s where I usually weigh my options. Spend 30 hours learning intermediate and advanced skills in craft A OR spend 3 hours messing around with the basics of craft B?

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

Time goes on and I hop hop hop around. I see an inspiring weaving online and decide to sketch it out, buy some neon yarn and enjoy a few peaceful hours with my warp and weft. I take a break from that to look at Instagram to see that Justine is hosting a watercolour lettering class, so sign me up! On my way to the class I’m texting a friend and we decide to marble some fabric, so I’ll stop and go pick up the paints. (Okay, so I am dramatizing the pace a bit here, but you catch my drift).

In many ways, I feel like this has enriched my creativity, allowing me to pull from many influences and gives me the ability to do so many different things. I can play and adapt, solve problems and copy things I see on Pinterest, in my own little way.

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

But sometimes I feel frustrated. Why have I not mastered invisible zippers? Why do I still mostly shoot my camera in Auto mode? Why have I not finished my design for Spoonflower? I feel stuck and plateau-ed in many of my favorite things, just leapfrogging between the plateaus, like stones on the water.

I grow a sense of longing as I observe others perfecting their test garments before moving onto their good fabric ( I don’t often sew voiles because I am worried my limited sewing quota will be spent by the time it’s done), or see someone make 3 t-shirts in one day. I feel left behind. Then I remember all that I HAVE accomplished, in all different ways.

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

I don’t really have any answers for which way is best, or if a way IS even best. Depending on what your goals are, focusing on one thing could be what you need, or it could be the opposite. Right now, personally, I don’t need to have really deep skills in any given craft. I can play shallow in anything that interests me because this is my free time, my creative space, and there are no rules or limits.

One day I could change my focus and this all will change too. Right now I will try to ward off those feelings of inadequacy and revel in the joy of dabbling. And if, one day I fall down the rabbit hole and want live in one craft only, that will be okay too, and I will fight off the feelings to go run to something new.

When your creativity is just all over the place // Boots and Cats

They say comparison is the thief of joy and I wonder if that is the moral of the story. For all those skilled craftsmen I feel inadequate against, perhaps some of them envy my freedom to try everything. We all have our own strengths, our own goals and our own time, so maybe it’s not worth it to try and play apples to apples at all.

Do you ever feel like you could level up your skills in one area or do you wish you could try more things? At any given time do you tend to focus on one craft, or many?

 

Imitation vs Inspiration // Authenticity in Style and Sewing

Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

Have you ever seen a photo of someone and just wished you could be them? Whether it was their on-point style, their illustrious setting, or their radiating confident attitude. This can lead to jealousy, but oft lends itself to ideas and inspiration. Pinterest has opened the doors to every image of every style imaginable perfect for each person’s tastes. Personally, I can’t get enough of vintage photos and styling, especially from the mid-century. I want to be transported to that era of designer dresses, flawless eyeliner and sculpted to perfection hair. I imagine the feeling of exuding youthful coolness and fun, so effortlessly.

Style icons, muses, and inspirations do come from all eras, times and places for me, but ever since I opened a John French Photography calendar when I was 15, model Jean Shrimpton became one of those women captured in time that I’ve always wished I could be.

I guess what all this is getting at, is that the real reason I arranged a full out sixties photo shoot was that I wanted the opportunity to be Jean for a day. There’s a photo from a 1965 issue of Vogue that just captures the essence of everything I love and admire about the decade. I’ve always wanted to step inside that photo and live a bit of that reality. While that isn’t possible, I looked to the talented friends around me and thought, if I was going to make it happen, we could do it right.Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

The whole experience was a dream, a day full of laughs, inspiration, (and a few dresses thrown in for some good blogging measure). I could not be happier with everything that came as a result. But as I started to share and post the photos, I felt a twinge of apprehension.

If you know me in real life, you know this isn’t how I dress and look everyday. In fact, I appear very 2016 casual. I am by no means committed to vintage style regularly. I love it, but it doesn’t always work for me, and takes more time and effort than is usually available. I worried that people who knew me thought I was simply wearing a costume, or those who found me and the blog through these photos would find some of my other sewing projects and feel like I’ve deceived them, thinking I was a mod-girl 24/7.

It’s really a shame that in this day and age, with access to so many influences and muses, there is still the prevailing idea that we are supposed to be committed to a single style persona. We’re encouraged to explore and develop our personal style, but there’s a catch; “It’s totally okay to be anything you want to be, but as long as you stick to that one thing.” I understand why we think this way, if someone presents themselves consistently, it’s easy to understand and relate to them.

Authenticity in Style // Boots & Cats

I, and so many people I know, have such an array of interests and fashion muses that it seems inefficient (and boring!) to stick within that box. It can be hard, because to people who don’t know you, it creates a dissonance in who they’ve assumed you are, but I think we need to work toward allowing ourselves to take on a new persona as frequently as we like without fear of being judged as fake, or a poseur, because you fail to commit to a single definition of how you look everyday. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable to be a 60s girl one day, to a J. Crew girl the next, and a fluffy skirted fashion blogger the day after that.

The way I see it, there are so many ways to draw elements of your style in different ways, and those may change depending on the aspects of your life. Sometimes certain things don’t fit the situation , but it’s a balance of your mood of the day, convenience and practicality, your environment, your dream self and your aspirations that all work together to create your style output. And sometimes that means you appear radically different each day to the next.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, you have to wonder, no matter how you choose to present yourself, where are you drawing your style from? How is it influenced from those you admire – by drawing your look from someplace else, where is the line between imitation and inspiration?Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

These photos, for example, were planned out down to the colour and size of the flowers to directly reflect the photo in Vogue. Does that mean I wasn’t creative enough? Is my choosing to recreate something that brings me joy celebrating the influence it’s had on me, or does it display a lack of individual creative thought?

In the world of sewing, I often ask myself if choosing to make a dress exactly how it appears on the pattern envelope makes me less of a creative person than someone who hacks, slashes and reinvents the design or even drafts their own concept from scratch? Sometimes, the way a garment is presented by the designer is exactly what I want to have in my life, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for not re-interpreting it.

Can you even compare someone looking for something relaxing and straightforward make with someone who had the desire to inject their own elements based to grow their skills and techniques? Maybe it’s not something we should consider at all, and instead look at the act of creating ANYTHING as a marker of expression and leave it at that?

Authenticity in Style // Boots & Cats

To me, creativity is a spectrum and there’s no wrong way to do it. Following the steps 1-2-3 can be an entryway to learning something new, or even a relaxing way to keep moving forward. I didn’t stray very far from the envelope my first few patterns, and I stick pretty close when I entering new territories (sewing with knits, or tailoring) or even trying a new craft altogether. It’s okay to make the decisions and play out your work in the way that speaks true to you.

Recreating these photos brought me, and those who helped me bring it to life, a lot of joy. The fact that we had to plan, collaborate and bring everything together was enough of a journey that, even though we were quoting the source material, lent itself a voice of it’s own.Jean Shrimpton Photoshoot // Boots and Cats

I believe the reason the online sewing community in particular is thriving is because of the concept of inspiration. I don’t know about you, but before I purchase any new pattern, I have to do an image search for every possible version I can find of it made online. It helps me visualize what can be possible, and what options are open for me to explore. I enjoy seeing how everyone infuses their own elements of style. I find things that have been made the exact same way I want to make it, and I am sometimes pleasantly surprised with twists people have put on things that I hadn’t even considered before. There is so much to be gained by just being open to the ideas and concepts from everyone, and getting to know all sides of them, and embracing the style they present.

Something as simple as a few fun photos can open up so many questions! I definitely would love to hear any thoughts you have on the subject as well. Do you feel comfortable deviating from your ‘normal’ style, and does sewing allow you to do that more easily?

And when you are creating something, how closely can you draw from others before it becomes more than just inspiration? Have you ever felt nervous to share something you are afraid people will judge as inauthentic or copied, even if your journey to that result was completely you own?

Sketching lately

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

It’s been about 6 months since my grand declaration of more dedicated sketching and practice, and I have to say it’s finally taken off. At the beginning it almost felt like it wasn’t truly going to happen (remember the failed 365 challenge?) and it took a LOT of motivation to get my butt moving . Over time though, the discovery of new tools and building the habits has me sketching almost every day.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I love it as an outlet to zone out from my day and reconnect with my creativity. I often sketch on the floor, lying on my stomach like an enthusiastic toddler. It keeps me away from the computer (read: distractions) at my desk. Anytime I have an idea or feel inspired, instead of running to Pinterest I run to the pen and jot it down. I’ve also begun frequently including colour into the mix, as I discovered my perfect medium in January.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & CatsThe subjects of the sketches are different daily. It is much more meditative without a set goal in advance. I sometimes feel inspired and emulate the works of others to explore and feel what a new aesthetic is like. I thought the key to getting better was regimentation, but I’ve had the most fun and success with random experimentation.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

I sketch when ideas strike or when there’s a few lazy minutes to spare. I am surprised and very pleased with some of my recent sketches. I daresay I may even be ready to turn some into my my first fabric designs(!).

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

My latest ‘gadget’ is a Fashionary notebook: pages upon pages of barely-there croquis to draw fashions upon. Before sewing I sometimes need to fully visualize what the end garment will look like to make important decisions (prints? sleeves? pockets? trim?) and often try to sketch it out. Humans are dang hard to draw though so the faint outlines are a huge help so I can focus on drawing the clothing at hand. I am also enjoying the element of drawing the textile designs on it too.

This little addition has also helped fuel the sketching fire by aligning my sewing efforts with my illustration efforts. Bam! 2 for 1.

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

If you want to get in on the sketching game here are a few of my tips/challenges to try:

  • Keep a notebook and pen within arms reach at all times
  • Instead of pinning that thing you like – draw it out!
  • Follow other artists and illustrators on Instagram – peek at their sketchbooks and try their style on for size (but make sure to give it back once you’re done)
  • Draw on the floor – preferably in a warm sunbeam
  • Play with prints and patterns, then place them on things. Sketch the design on clothing, furniture, stationary…
  • Relax and have fun!

Improve your illustrations // Boots & Cats

Welcome, 2015

Welcome 2015! // Boots & Cats

It’s the first weekend of a new year, a time to reflect, ponder, relax and refresh (according to every blog post I’ve read for the last week). 2014 was inspiring, fun and a year full of learning, so I am quite excited to be welcoming 2015. (Though the fact that in 6 months we’ll be closer to 2030 than 2000 is kind of frightening).

I think I need to work on my 'subtly disguising the camera remote' game

I think I need to work on my ‘subtly disguising the camera remote’ game

To celebrate 2015, friends and I put the confetti poppers to good use at our New Year’s Eve party. The affair was sparkly, joyous and fun, though prepping and hosting an event can be a little stressful. Some of that stress may be attributed to the fact that my dress wasn’t finished until about 6 pm, 2 hours before party time. I’d planned on finishing most of it on Dec 30th,  but late in the evening I noticed I had sewn in the lining in a way that had one of the shoulders all twisted and called it a night to avoid further mistakes (never sew while sleepy). I then woke up at 7am and decided I NEEDED to add pockets. Talk about making more work for oneself last minute. I made sure to have a backup dress planned but between decorating, food prep and set up, I managed to sew it up right. Success!

Welcome 2015! // Boots & Cats

Looking back at the blog this year, I am very proud of what I have produced, even though I fell behind the posting schedule I’d originally planned. I am still working to strike the balance for making good content and using my time efficiently to get it done. Many of the things I am posting include projects or techniques I have never tried before, which will always take up more time. A personal shining moment was in taking the leap and doing a full DIY graphic redesign of the site. There are a few (responsive) kinks to iron out, but we’re getting there.

Welcome 2015! // Boots & Cats

Your favourite posts from 2014 included:

  1. A photo shoot featuring my cat Cinnamon (cats will always reign supreme)
  2. A refashion of a wild vintage dress
  3. My halloween costume from How to Steal a Million
  4. The cat-crazy Belladone dress
  5. Learning how to arm knit

Welcome 2015! // Boots & Cats

Now that the balloons have been popped, the confetti has settled, I am hoping 2015 will be filled with new sewing adventures, unique DIYs, interior crafts and many more cats! The big goal for Boots & Cats this year is to reach post #100, which means I should be posting about 3 times a month. New projects are already in the works and I can’t wait to share. Thanks for coming along for the ride and wish you a very happy 2015!

On Setting Goals and Learning New Things

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ll know that beyond sewing and cats, I am completely enamored by fabrics; their colors and design. Once I got a taste in university, I have been very passionate about the world of textile design, both in digital printing and hand dye methods. As much as I read about, rave and ogle the work of others, I leave my own participation in the craft in the dust, afraid to pursue it. A dark cloud of “I’ll never be good enough” constantly hangs overhead.

Still, in day dreams and brainstorming I feel the fire burn inside. There is so much I feel could do with this, but a voice had something very real to say: “You aren’t even trying to do it.”

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

This isn’t anything shockingly new. Last summer, in an attempt to beef up my drawing skills I started a 365 day drawing challenge. A drawing a day for 365 days.  How many drawings do I have? About 42. It is not that I got bored or lazy, but I began to feel a frustration creep in. Those crotchety slinky voices that say “You suck” “You aren’t improving” “Why keep doing this?” Well. I guess they won out on that one.

A few weeks ago ALT summit teamed up with ethical accessory producers FashionABLE to launch a design contest for woven scarves. I was immediately excited. All I had to do was submit a digital drawing and selected designs would get woven and put up for a vote. I threw the doubts aside and said,  what have I got to lose? It was the first project in a while that really got me motivated, excited and engaged. I sketched, color collected and submitted my design.

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

Yesterday they revealed the finalists.

No, I was not one of them. (Sorry if that is where you thought the story was going!) But it doesn’t matter. The fact that I was so interested in the process confirmed to me that I shouldn’t leave these ideas bumbling around in my brain anymore. I am getting back onto the sketching bandwagon, finishing my SkillShare e-courses and jumping in with both feet to keep fiddling around with this hobby of mine to bring it to a place I am really proud of. (Sorry Mad Men re-runs, I’ll have to catch you later!)

Goals & Dreams // Boots & Cats

Even though I didn’t get selected, there are three absolutely gorgeous scarf designs for you to vote for on FashionABLE’s website. Please vote and support these talented designers. (I voted for Dayle’s design. I am a complete sucker for neon touches).

Let’s all go out there and chase some dreams!

On getting things done.

gettingthingsdone

Do you have a ‘never ending’ project? One of those projects you told yourself you would always do, and yet, for whatever reason, never fully come to fruition?

I bet you can tell that I have. Otherwise this post would just stop here. Picture me, three years ago, promising my friend to make her a custom dress. Excited talks of designs and ideas, oodles of fabric options, then decisions, purchases, buttons, making voiles…then…nothing.

I am unsure what event prompted the complete stall of this project (probably school), but all of a sudden, everything stopped. And as time grew onwards a simple dress became a wall. A 1000 ft tall impenetrable tower of houndstooth.

Pins

Why couldn’t I do it? I put it out on the desk. I put it away to keep the cats off. I wash it and iron it. Fold it away again. Finally I decide to cut the pattern pieces…then stack the pieces in a box. Take it to Montreal when I would have lots of free time. Bring it home from Montreal still in pieces.

The wall was completely self-imposed. The longer I waited, the taller it got. It became a running joke. “Have you made my dress yet? I hope it’s not out of style these years later”

What was worse, is that this impenetrable wall of inertia put a complete blockade on all my sewing endeavors.

“Ooh I just got some vintage fabric. I bet it would make an awesome summer dress….but I can’t make anything with it until The Dress is done”

Over all this time, a thoughtful gift had become a bit of a curse to my productivity. Was it because I was selfish and wanted to make things for only myself? Was I just guilty that it had been so long?

Finally one day with an open schedule. I just did it.

I pulled out the pieces. And I overlocked the raw edges. Okay, step one. done. That was easy. Now, what is step two….

*(Not as easy as I would have liked since my serger wished to test my willpower this day by defying the laws of physics.)*

Before I knew it, I had a bodice…skirt…pockets. Things were coming together. The more I got going, the more I wanted to KEEP going. Suddenly the project was exciting and fresh again.

The opportunity to finally gift it was exciting too, as it would be a welcome surprise after all this waiting. No one believed they would ever see this dress done, and here it was. My friend finally got her dress and was so happy. It fit too, which was a blessing, because between the facings, linings and pleats, re-sizing would have been starting from square one.

*(The hem does need to be taken up a bit, but that is the easiest alteration ever so I am not counting it)*

Red Lining // Getting things done // Boots & Cats

I guess the point of my story is that the big procrastinated projects do not need to rule your life. Set your goals and demolish them. The longer you put off a project because of guilt the worse it gets. You’ll be surprised at how great you will feel as you are accomplishing your long lost projects. Here’s to getting over the wall and just getting things done.

Last year I fell so far short of my sewing goals, and now? I have my next 4 clothing projects lined up with many more in the works to burn through my growing fabric stash. I can’t wait to sew them up, learn new techniques and show you what I am coming up with!

Autumn Project Sneak Peek

Autumn Project Sneak Peek

A trip to the craft store always gets my head full of new ideas for projects. I tend to spend way too many minutes in the scrapbook paper aisle gazing at all the colors and textures. (Same reason why fabric stores take me so long to get through). Eventually, my basket gets full and I get to take my new puzzle pieces home and put them together into fun new things!

Like pretty much everyone in the blogging world, I LOVE autumn. Cool mornings and sunshine-filled afternoons. Fashionable layers to play with; dresses with leggings, scarves and cute booties (that are just impractical once the snow falls). Pumpkin flavored cupcakes. Big family dinners. Hot chocolate with whipped cream. I could go on forever about this.

Halloween Decorations // Boots & Cats

Also as much as I love the season, I like decorating and creating a mood for the season. Since this is my first year in my own apartment, I have a complete blank slate as to decorations. I have a few projects in mind using glitter papers, scrapbook paper and string. As well as using foam pumpkins for accents. (Hmm…what is she going to make??). I also stocked up on Halloween washi tape. Not sure what I am going to do with it, but I love washi, so it was a no brainer.

Glitter and washi // Boots & Cats

After 3 years since my last print, I had over 550 photos that needed to get printed out. Whoa. It took quite a while at the instant print booth, and some of the staff at Shoppers thought I was insane (after having to change the ink AND the paper for me). Instead of just slotting them into albums and that being that, I decided to take a more creative approach. Not quite as ambitious as a full scrapbook, but something more akin to Project Life. This will be an ongoing endeavor for sure, but I will show you pages as I start to get them going.

Photo book projects // Boots & CatsGlitter Paper and Photos // Boots & Cats

And lastly, now that my last few prints are trickling into the mail box, I will show you the full reveal to the gallery wall I was planning earlier this month. I am so excited to get this one up (and these frames off my floor!

Gallery Wall // Boots & Cats

I hope you are excited as I am for the things that are coming up. October is going to be an awesome month, I can already tell!

365 Day Challenge

challenge2

The other day I had an epiphany. It really shouldn’t have been one, since it was something I have been told multiple times over, read articles about and it wasn’t a concept new to me whatsoever. But basically I was thinking to myself one day how I’d like to be a textile designer and illustrator. “It’s just that I don’t like my drawing style and I am not very good at it” I would say.  Somehow expecting to wake up one day with the skills that I had been missing. Then it hit me “Why don’t I start practicing my drawing skills? I bet if I did it more often I would improve over time.”

Light bulb.

It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master of something, so if I wanted to be an illustrator, why wasn’t I illustrating? Like at all? Really, it doesn’t make sense. So henceforth and forthwith I have decided to start drawing and sketching more frequently. I decided to build the habit, I would make it into a 365 challenge. Many bloggers I have seen have taken on a 365 and I thought it would be fun too. I won’t post all 365 days of sketches (I am sure some would be pretty embarrassing), but I’ll share snippets of progress along the way.

threehundredsixtyfive

It also happened so nicely that the day after this epiphany my Rag and Bone blank page sketchbook arrived. The perfect pretty vessel for this challenge. I decided that the things I wanted to improve most were object sketching and hand-written typography. I am going to keep my ‘rules’ to a minimum as to allow myself to draw as I please, but for the most part I think each day page will have a theme- a worded heading with a page full of things that reflect the theme. But some days might just be random doodles. It’s all part of the journey.

flora

I look forward to a year from now and see how far I have come. This is the first time I have concsiously focused on improving my skills in this way. Quite the experiment it will be I am sure. Have you ever tried a 365 challenge?

leschatons

Some of my favorite 365 challenges:

Elsie’s 365 Days at Home

The Uniform Project

Refashionista’s 366 Project

365 Days of Dining

Creative Studio

welcome

It’s been a long time coming, and there’s still a long time left to go in the set up and organization of my creative space. I finally have the opportunity to have a space of my own to create things, that I can leave as a complete mess for a while if I need to, and no one else will mess with it.

wholespace

The next big step, now that the space is functional, is to add things to the walls. I hate the fact that we are renting a place with beige walls (I really wished for white) so I am probably going to cover them up as much as possible. I have a couple prints waiting for frames and I want to hunt down a thread spool rack to hang above my machine.supplies

I made sure to allow myself access to sewing and crafting projects, without creating too much clutter for either.

brightlight

dress

Before people start asking; no the dress on the form is not something I made, nor is it for a special event. Basically it is a vintage dress I was given that I don’t have a proper hanger for yet. I didn’t want it to get damaged, so here it sits until I can store it properly.

buttons

shoesThough everything is fairly neutral, I like to accent the space with small pops of color. This is also the reason I love having my fabric on display in the shelf instead of tucked away.

popsofcolor

storageEach of the drawers in the dresser next to the desk is curated and organized for ease of use. I have drawers for paper/cards, painting supplies, scrapbooking, and wooden/felt/foamy projects.

vintage-patterns

And speaking of vintage…there is a huge file box currently residing under the desk filled with old sewing patterns from my grandmothers. Many of these will be projects one day, so keep an eye out!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my space. Moving is serious business and can be a huge drain on your creative outlet. I am so relieved to have this space up and running again so I can get back to making things!

Life Does That.

I do apologize for the inconsistency in posting as of late. Life has gotten a little hectic, as it will from time to time. We are all moved in to a new apartment, but some delays in setting up my sewing and computer space and some internet connectivity issues (damn you concrete fortress!) has put my creative productivity to a screeching halt.

We shall return to our regularly scheduled programming soon. In the meantime, please enjoy this kitten using a sewing machine.

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Whiiirrrrrr….