Do Your Homework!

I work part-time in the sewing department of a store that specializes in arts and crafts and home decor. When I got home, I told my husband and daughter that I was done brainstorming problems for the day. It felt like all the customers that came across my path that morning were trying to create items without all the essential information they needed. I found myself asking multiple questions to narrow the parameters so I could help them find the necessary tools to complete the project. As an artist I’ve been taught a few steps to help make the ideas come to fruition. Here’s what I wish I could tell my customers:

1. Flesh out the details!
If you want to recover your chair then come to the store with the measurements. Take the time to see how things are currently constructed, draw basic pictures of what you think it might look like. Bring bits of samples of the surroundings so that you can see colors and textures when you’re in the store choosing your items. What do I mean by bits of samples? I mean the things that will be a constant in the room like a paint chip of the wall color or throw pillow with a color scheme you’re intending to match. 

This process works the same way for me as an artist. Size, shape, color and other artistic elements all need to be considered before I begin. Gathering all this information can help further the creative process along.

2. Research, research, research!
Having the internet at your fingertips gives us is a huge advantage and minimizes your learning curve. Search YouTube and other sites for videos for similar projects.  You’ll usually find multiple videos to choose from.  I often get little golden nuggets of information that teach me something I didn’t know. These golden nuggets feel like priceless jewels that I got for free. If it is something that I have a passion for then I’m inclined to pay for further education via a class, subscription service or mentorship program.

Pinterest is a great place to find tutorials

Another way to find what you need is to search for social media groups and association social media accounts. Many can recommend someone that is knowledgeable in that area. If you don’t feel tech-savvy, talk to friends, look in your community, and find local businesses that might help you. 

Doc Brown from Back to the Future

3. Go Mad Scientist!
Yes, I’m serious. I’ll admit I fit the stereotypical look of the mad scientist with my white hair and the sometimes crazy look I get when I’ve come up with a new way to investigate a hypothesis. My family will usually find me in the basement working on something, often unaware of the world outside my art studio. (Maybe I should get a white coat to finish the look? Ha Ha Ha! Laughing is allowed! ) All joking aside, I try to encourage customers to try out their ideas with minimal cost.

For example, I suggest they use an old sheet to test out a sewing pattern. I’ve done this technique myself and found that the pattern had some directions that created a look that I didn’t like and I couldn’t see from the drawings on the package. 

I also discovered that it didn’t fit well in certain areas even after alterations. My time and effort to make and even alter the pattern were not wasted.  The process sharpened my sewing skills and confirmed to me that what I already knew about putting things together would have given me the look I imagined.  The first time, I followed the directions word for word, but if I were to make the pattern again, I would change a few sections. Using the material I had on hand kept me from spending on more expensive fabric, although I suspect using a more suitable fabric might have given a different look when the dress was fitted, I ultimately, abandoned this pattern because it just didn’t achieve my idea. 

Now if you’ve read to the end of this and still want to come to my department without measurements for your project, you are welcome; however, you’ll make your creative process much easier and more enjoyable if you take just a little time to think, research and prepare.  Having such information and having done your homework will also help others to assist you more efficiently when you need it.