My "How Slow Can You Go?" ChallengeWritten on January 12th, 2024 by Pearl Ryder
Yesterday I started Brooks Ann Camper’s Skirt Skills course, which is an introduction to custom, slow sewing. Last fall, I’d heard from multiple friends in Jennifer Wiese’s Workroom Social Sewists group that the Skirt Skills course revolutionized their ideas about their bodies, garment fit, and construction. After about 3 years of sewing (I started up in late December 2020 – very much a pandemic hobby in that winter pre-vaccination where we had A LOT of time at home and I needed something to do with my hands), I had reached a point where I felt comfortable adapting patterns to my body but I wanted to dive deeper and level up my construction skills. Around the same time, I listened to Brooks Ann talk about her sewing journey on the Love to Sew Podcast and I was electrified by how strongly I identified with her approach to sewing and custom garment creation. “That’s what I want to be doing!”, I thought. And so, here I am.
I watched the intro video to the course twice (once yesterday morning and then again this morning) because I was again so struck by Brooks Ann’s approach. Not only did I watch it twice, but it probably took me about twenty minutes to watch a 10 minute video because I kept pausing to write down the words of wisdom that are SO DENSE. Something that especially stuck with me was Brooks Ann’s emphasis on setting your own pace and that “rushing interferes with learning”. These words came in right as I’m trying to learn how to slow down as a general principle in my life. To choose less stimulating activities more often. To accept and feel comfortable with a slower pace of learning. For so much of my life, a rushing and perfectionistic approach has served me well. I collected lots of gold stars and kudos, a few higher degrees, gainful employment. But right now I’m at a place in my life where I can afford to slow down and look around. And realize that all that rushing was in pursuit of goals that didn’t feel like they reflected my interests and that in aspects of my personal life, the rushing was counterproductive to connection and safe emotional connection. It is time to slow down.
Hence, this blog. As I was bustling around (old habits die slowly too) preparing a new space for pattern drafting and cutting, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself to take this course VERY slowly. Can I absorb each lesson and then write about it here before moving on to the next? (Spoiler alert, of course not perfectly! Yesterday morning I was so excited about the course that I jumped the gun to start thinking about drawing/sketching before the lesson was released today. But I did stop.) Along those lines, I’m noticing how slowing down is also allowing more space for perfectionism, which I’m trying to be aware of and try letting go. That means minimal editing on these reflection posts. Focus on expression. Welcome mistakes as a way to learn. I don’t know where I’m going. But this is the first step.