(*Un-Finished Objects: sewing projects set aside and hanging over your head whispering “Finish me!”)
The Pantone color-forecasting service Spring 2017 color chart has been out for a month, have you seen it? I was too busy finishing Halloween costumes to even take a peek. Truth is, as much as I’d love to “Think Spring!”, I have customer orders due by Thanksgiving (next week?!) and then Christmas is another busy sewing season for online orders.
Christmas is in 5 weeks? As 2016 comes to an end, once again my sewing pile of UFOs is taunting me..the seasons seem to speed by so fast that projects don’t get finished in time to wear them. Does anybody else have this problem? Why can’t I keep up? I can think of a two reasons:
Hofstadter’s Law (“My hands are jealous of my brain”): it takes a second to come up with a great idea, but far longer to put it into reality. Projects always takes longer than you expect, and it’s almost impossible to accurately predetermine how much time is involved (is this why we buy more fabric than we have time to use?)
Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong”): your sewing is going along fine and then suddenly:
You run out of fabric, thread, interfacing, etc
Your sewing machine/serger/iron refuses to cooperate (I am convinced that tools KNOW when you are under pressure, and they are trying to tell you to calm down and do something else for awhile….or maybe they just want to show who’s in charge and remind us to give them respect)
A silly stitching error requires un-picking (ugh, total time-waster)
And the everyday interruptions: the kids need homework help, dinner needs cooking, the phone won’t stop ringing
What about the scheduling problem of balancing your “Need to Sew” projects with your “Want to Sew” ones. That could mean dealing with family needs (repairs, alterations, costume-for-the-school-play) before getting a chance for sew for yourself (ie: “selfish sewing”). In an ideal world, we could keep up with our “need to” sewing, and then use free time for more creative sewing. In reality, the creative projects often get put aside ….and become UFO’s.
My own “want to sews” involve testing new patterns, adding fresh styles to my Etsy shop. But what happens is that I get new projects halfway done, and then a bunch of customer orders come in, which of course take priority. This September I had the cutest new Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) costume cut out for my Etsy shop. Days went by with more urgent sewing until I realized it was too late to list the costume for Halloween. During October I was busy sewing costumes when I realized that the 2 new Thanksgiving styles I had pattern-tested and cut out were getting too late to list. Now it’s mid-November and I just saw a television advertisement for a major retailer, already marking down Christmas outfits! So now I have these 2016 UFOs for what…next year? Will I still be excited about them in 2017?
(And what if you are sewing for your kids? They surely won’t be the same size next year!)
I should be able to keep up with the seasons of the fashion calendar, I’ve done that in the apparel industry for literally decades. Right now the industry is working 3 seasons simultaneously: Winter 2017 product development, Autumn 2017 apparel sampling/approval, and Summer 2017 garment production (Spring 2017 has already shipped from factories to retail warehouses). But the timing is less structured and disciplined when you sew for yourself, or for customers: you can wait until the item is needed. And just as any school-teacher can tell you that the kids who are most often tardy are those who live right next-door to the school. Procrastination is human.
So, back to the new Spring 2017 Pantone colors. The majority of my sewing is in white, but I do love color! I should be excited by looking at the fresh palette and yet I’m also anxious. Why? Instead of seeing what’s new,I see what’s no longer in vogue. The color shifts each year are subtle yet important. Compare Spring 2016 (left) to Spring 2017 (right):
The popular aqua-and-peach combo is over. Aqua “Limpet Shell” has morphed to Sky Blue “Island Paradise”…. “Peach Echo” is gone. Is it time to dump any leftover peach fabric? Lime Green “Green Flash” has been replaced by Moss Green “Greenery”. Uh-oh.
You’ve heard the phrase “like it’s going out of style“? (“The kids are eating Halloween candy like it’s going out of style“) That saying originated in the fashion industry. Back in the day before color forecasting and trend services, when a color or fabric seemed to be on the way “out of style”, manufacturers would rush to cut it up and sell it before it was too late. There’s sometimes a hope that an out-going color will “come back into style some day”…but the shade is always slightly different next time around. The color forecasting companies keep us on our toes this way. New colors = new reasons to shop.
So I worry: Do I have any UFO’s in a color that’s on the way out? Should I hurry up and finish them, or is it too late? It’s sort of like leftovers in the refrigerator that nobody eats, but nobody throws away either. Just thinking about this creates negative energy that is so draining!
I remember my mom teaching me that not every sewing project will be a success. Even when buying ready-to-wear, where you can try it on beforehand, not every purchase turns out to be a winner. She taught me that’s it’s okay to toss a sewing project: sometimes the learning experience is enough to justify the expense put into it, and sometimes finishing a project is just “throwing good money after bad”…in this case throwing the value of your time into a project simply because you’ve invested in the materials. Kind of like this Aubrey DeGrey meme:
Maybe it’s best to think like Marie Kondo, best-selling author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”: hold the item in question, thank it for its usefulness, and say goodbye. Do you have a UFO that’s sapping your enthusiasm? Let it go. Fabric in a color that’s no longer fresh? Donate it to a thrift shop: it could be perfect for a school theater group in need of costumes. On-wards to 2017 and a new year of sewing adventures!