Warmups and Numbers

Something I have incorporated from Brooks Ann Camper’s Skirt Skills class is the utility of warmups. I’ve been working on a simple scrap quilt (more on that below) and now I start my sewing time with something very simple related to that quilt – laying out the strips or cutting a few more. It takes about 5-10 minutes, max, and I can feel it help me get into the groove. The obvious takeaways from a class are the content - and Skirt Skills is delivering so far on that front! - but what I’m noticing most about taking this course is how much I am absorbing Brooks Ann’s approach. Use a warm up to gently get started. Stop and take breaks to stretch, eat a snack, take a walk. Be kind to yourself. These aren’t delivered as preachy messages but rather integrated into how the content is delivered. As those TikTokkers say, I am here for it.

Skirt design has been tucked away for the last week. I haven’t felt much inspiration to sketch. But I did take Brooks Ann’s approach for the custom croquis and use it to sketch this little image of my husband walking with our bebe.

A 30 minute sketch applying Brooks Ann's tracing approach to a different sort of image.

This sketch was a real win for me. I’ve been realizing over the last few weeks that I need a LOT more quiet time than I’d previously built into my life. No screens, no attending to anyone else, low stimulation activities (reading, drawing, watercolors). Last Sunday morning, I was feeling frazzled. We’d had a lot of socializing the previous day, which got me all excited and jazzed. Sometimes after socializing, I feel electric, as though I’m glowing radioactive all over. When I’m in this state, I feel drawn to keep pursuing more stimulation - I want to jump around, dance big, have more parties, see more people. It’s a known and happy place for me, one where I feel upbeat, confident, and certainty that this is good, this is engaged with others, this brings connection and approval. But there is a quieter part of me that I’m starting to learn how to hear that says “whew! That was SO fun and SO energizing. Now it is time to rest.”

And so, this is where I was last Sunday morning. Tired and frazzled but also buzzing and electric. I was short tempered and irritable with Cassie. Craig was just waking up after his turn to sleep in and he invited me to join them on a walk. And I felt that pull, the internal pushing aside of the quiet one, the “sure you want some quiet, but it’s more important to go and be in person and connect through shared time.” But I said no and instead sat down at my desk and made this sketch and found it actually a very restful and still connecting process. That was the surprise for me. That quiet reflection time spent alone doesn’t mean distancing myself from others. If anything, the pushing aside of what I want to meet what I think others want is ultimately more distancing when I get exhausted, angry, and resentful that my needs aren’t met. But it is an active process to practice taking the space that I need and prove to myself that it can be done safely.

In other news from the back bedroom, I have been chipping away at making my custom skirt block with Brooks Ann, which has involved a lot of mirror photos, body studying, and measurements. I am happy to be moving forward into the paper block draft and getting my hands on some fabric next week.

I have studied my body in the mirror a LOT this week.

I started to feel itchy to get my hands on some fabric this past week, so I pulled out some quilt scraps that I’ve been playing with. This quilt top is built of 6” strips of my garment sewing scraps.

Sometimes on a gray and rainy day, I need to touch bright and colorful fabric.

The theme is “Space for Everything”, physically representing how I’ve been trying to open up to all the feelings, even the less pleasant (lowness, loneliness, sadness, fragility) and the confused (sad-angry, all mixed up). I’m representing these mixed up emotions with scrappy improv blocks, which also help use up my smaller scraps.

A few improv patchwork blocks.

I have noticed that I don’t have a ton of fabric to represent the less pleasant or calmer emotions and I’ve got lots of pinks and reds and vibrants, but I’ve decided that’s ok. This quilt is about celebrating where I’m at right now and the active process of making space for everything – not about having perfect balance in this moment. What more can I ask for? I’m feeling grateful and excited to keep following these ideas.