Sewing without a Schedule

I have been sewing for almost as long as I've been on the planet.  

These are not actually me, but the bangs are awfully familiar!

Sewing has been a constant in my life.  Whatever else was going on I would always sew.  In high school, in college, grad school, single, married, kids, empty nest, 10 different cities (even more houses!), different careers,...and now retirement.  I am realizing as I 'practice' being retired (I am hoping to become quite expert at it eventually!) that I still sew, but it is different somehow.  I have been trying to put my finger on it.  Why does it feel different?  

The obvious answer is what I am sewing is different.  I no longer need clothes to wear to work.  (I'm actually struggling a bit to figure out what exactly I do want to wear, other than my Ugg slippers.) I've cleared out and sent loads to the thrift shops and still only pick a few items.

I really don't need anything in the wardrobe department.  But my sewing really isn't about 'need.'  No one would ask a painter, "Do you need another painting?" or "Where are you going to hang that one?"  Painters paint because it's what they do, it's what feeds their souls.  My sewing is a lot like that.  I need the creative muscle exercise that I get when I'm designing clothing and drafting patterns, combining materials, choosing colors...it's what I do to feed my creative soul.  So yes, what I sew will be different as I move into this new part of my life, but there have been other times when what I sewed was different.  The thing that I am noticing with this transition is more how I feel about the process, and how the process unfolds.

Here's what I am pondering...I'm not sure if this is the whole answer, but it makes some sense to me right now.   I think what I am noticing is the absence of a deadline.  Until now my sewing had to fit into another schedule.  I would 'grab' sewing time between work hours, on weekends, before soccer games, late at night...there was always something that I was going to bump into if my sewing time expanded. 

 There were also deadlines in terms of finishing projects.  I would want to make a new dress for a special event, or get something made for Christmas, or fit a project into a weekend because otherwise I would never get back to it.  Now, I can spend almost as much time as I like in my work room.  No "hurry up before ------(fill in the blank with the next event)."  Just time to wander around in a project and let it simmer.

The last few projects took weeks instead of hours.  I didn't actually spend any more hours, the hours were just spread out over much larger windows of time.  I would hang something on my dress form and it might stay there for a week.  A pattern might evolve over days.  A detail might change several times before actually being sewn.  I've always done these steps but until recently they would get crammed into whatever slice of time I was stealing from the rest of my life.  A race to finish before the next event, which usually meant that the ideas were only as developed as I could manage in my time limit.  

What I am enjoying about this new way of sewing is the pondering, processing time.  I'm realizing that just because I am not in my work room doesn't mean I am not working.  (This is where the adage "sleep on it" is a very real part of my new process.) I didn't have that luxury when I was trying to fit my projects into a particular time frame.  Now I think and rethink and by the time I actually get to doing whatever the next step is, it feels like I have already done it.  My projects have come together without the usual 'unsewing' and redoing that comes from half-baked ideas.  It's as if I have made whatever it is before.  I don't know if this will be the same for all my projects going forward, but it has happened enough at this point that I am sensing a pattern.  I'm definitely not completing as many projects, but I am savoring each of them much more than I ever did when I was on a deadline.

It's early days in this retirement experiment so I'm quite certain that I don't have a lot figured out at this point, but for now as I continue learning into this next phase, I am enjoying the luxury of taking time with my sewing work.  Really letting my projects set the pace instead of forcing them into a time slot.  Ohmmmmmm.....

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