Thursday, June 20, 2013

The danger of solitary work...

Over the past few weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of hands-on learning while working in an established CFDA designer's studio and small manufacturing space, where some really beautiful gowns are handmade by some wonderfully skilled hands.  There is such an incredible value in watching someone more experienced show you how to do things "the elegant/efficient/more beautiful way" or just plain "better" than you do.

The biggest learning curve for me have been the tools available to anyone who knows how to use them, mostly sold in the garment district, but until now, a mystery to me.  Machine feet I've never seen before, why the workroom always looks like a tornado hit it, why we're using spiral steel bones we cut to size ourselves and tip, why the type of pins you use goes far beyond just being a matter of preference, how really using the numbers and letters the way they are meant to be used on the sample paper make your work easier, why I just can't live without a cutter's must, and so much more...

Effective pattern layouts and the work people do to save inches of fabric are like rocket science to me. And a great cutter moves with the grace, speed and agility of a ballet dancer.  Seriously.  I got to watch one work last week, and was truly impressed. This post on the Fashion Incubator blog gave me a much more real sense of how complicated the markers can get, and why all of this matters.  While it's enough to give you a headache, you really can't ignore it, and learning about these big picture challenges help me to navigate my small ones. This is too much information to learn on the fly. For the small businesses among you, you can always consult a company like to help you along.

Wow, there is so much I don't know.

Somehow, I'm energized by it, though.

Having worked alone for so long, I can see now that the doors have been opened to me to learn big things from people with far more expertise and experience than my own, and for that, I will be forever grateful. As a result, new opportunities and collaborations are coming my way, and I am excited to seize them.

It is through these valuable experiences, that I am discovering ways to really improve my skills.  When you work alone, you (and your clients) are your only critics. Right or wrong, happy or sad, it is always great to get a more experienced opinion.  Scary? Yes. A waste of time? No.

Well... Provided you keep plugging away and improving, it isn't.

It is truly eye-opening to find out what you don't know! And that is happening every day, lately.

So, what am I loving right now?  So many things! I'll show and tell a bit in related posts.  I've just been super busy these past weeks, and I'm blogging a bit less as a result. Tonight, I've got tomorrow's Speakeasy Tour to rest up for.  It's gonna be a fun one!

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At June 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM , Blogger Mary said...

Oh, I am so excited that you are having this experience! You know that you are in the right field when it continually excites you!

At June 21, 2013 at 12:09 AM , Blogger mimi jackson said...

Yes, loving every minute!

At June 21, 2013 at 9:44 PM , Anonymous Liz said...

This is so interesting Mimi! And I also loved reading the linked article on markers. I'm just fascinated about anything relating to garment design and manufacture, fabrics and the garment district...yes, right down to sewing machine feet. I'd love to hear and learn more about all of this stuff. Very happy to see that you are working in a studio and that there are all these new things to see and do. Please tell us more...

At June 22, 2013 at 7:57 AM , Blogger mimi jackson said...

I'd love to tell more! Seriously, where do I even begin? I will tell in "chunks", so that I can keep it relevant and interesting for readers!


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