2015 as a skirt

I love reflection, especially at the end of the year. I was heartily disappointed to miss participating in Gillian’s Top 5 series, but I continue to have so many favorite pieces still to be blogged that joining in didn’t quite make sense.

Instead, to celebrate the quickly approaching Lunar New Year, I present one garment to represent the year that was 2015 – my skirt created for the September wedding I attended.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

There’s nothing complicated about the construction or the design. Yes, I did draft it but I just followed a recipe from my drafting manual. Yet it epitomizes 2015 for me.

Permit me a bit of a metaphysical ramble. Like nearly all of my friends, family, acquaintances and many fellow bloggers, I underwent the process prescribed by Mari Kondo in The Magical Art of Tidying Up. And I benefitted, as expected – my living space has been reoriented to support me instead of my stuff, and my socks and undies are happily nested in leftover cardboard boxes that fit them perfectly.

But the fundamental question she requires the reader to ask of their belongings – does it spark joy? – quietly and sneakily turned my world upside down. Like my fabric-buying process, most of my decisions have been the product of tortuous mental exercises. I realized how few decisions in my life took joy into account.

So, I decided to make joy my decision-making criteria for the year. I joined an improvisational dance group, without any goal beyond moving my body for a couple of hours every week with a wonderful bunch of women. Sewing hours were more readily set aside for friend and family time. I changed jobs, going back to a full-time regular position on the team I’d left in 2013; it had nothing that I said I’d wanted (flexibility, sustainability focus) but the new role gave me a chance to work with people I really liked and it just spoke to me. I went to Japan. I went clubbing, for Pete’s sake.

I found myself buying fabrics in rainbow palettes that I would have chosen as a 7-year-old, without any of my usual dithering, and sewing up impractical things like Gabriola skirts.

This skirt fabric was one such purchase; I saw it, picked it up and walked it straight to the cutting counter. It sat on my fabric shelf, very noticeable among the solids, but it wasn’t until my friend’s wedding that it demanded to be a simple flared skirt. It was the perfect piece to wear to the wedding. Even in a particularly joyful year, dancing under the stars late at night to atrocious Top 40 music from the nineties stands out.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

The magical cloud of joy that carried me through most of 2015 sputtered out after Japan in October. Major changes started happening at my job. We lost our beloved kitty Orson in late October quite suddenly. Chronic health problems that had miraculously disappeared earlier in the year came back with a vengeance. I was exhausted, and needed to take care of myself.

But I wouldn’t trade my experiment for anything; it was a much-needed tonic and after a rocky couple of months, I’m finally ready for the new year that’s somehow already a month underway.

crabandbee.com | self-drafted flared skirt

I don’t have a particular goal or inspiration for 2016, but I’m wishing you joy and all other good things you may need this year.

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76 thoughts on “2015 as a skirt

  1. #1. That skirt is beautiful. #2. Your rainbow fabrics that a 7 year old would pick all need to come and join my wardrobe. #3. I”m so sorry things went downhill after Japan. Sounds like a lot of things piled up quickly! #4. Take it easy in 2016 and be kind to yourself! ❤

    1. Thanks, Gillian 🙂 You’ve always been wise to the power of rainbow fabrics! Thanks for the kind words. January and February have been about taking it is easy as possible while my life continues to shift.

  2. That skirt is just so beautiful. The joy factor in purchasing fabric or making garments is a big one. If it doesn’t make you happy, why bother? Here’s to more of that in 2016!

    1. Very very true. We’re so lucky to be able to create and sew because we love the process. It’s taken me awhile, but it’s a lesson I’m glad to have finally learned! Happy New Year 🙂

  3. The skirt is gorgeous. Beautiful job.

    The joy experiment sounds wonderful. I’m glad it carried you through as much of the year as it did (and so sorry that reality had to stick her snooty nose in in October). I hope you’ve got some good people around you helping you with the chronic health issues–those can be pretty joy-sapping all on their own, even without the rest of it!

    1. Thank you, Andrea 🙂 When I’m in a grounded place, I can see the contrast between most of 2015 and its last couple of months showed me what an amazing ride I’d been on. Just like good health, it’s easy to forget what you have until it goes away. I also think I wasn’t meant to stay in that mindset forever – it was a dialectic to how I’d been living, and I’ll end up somewhere in the middle. I do have some truly wonderful people around me, helping me along.

  4. Beauty of a skirt! And really interesting to hear how that book worked for you – I listened to the audio version and mostly dismissed it as nutty animist nonsense, but I think some of it has snuck into my thinking. I’m not suddenly miraculously a super-organised minimalist, I just feel like my thoughts around stuff and organisation have shifted somehow. It’s mostly down to another book, ‘It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys’ by Marilyn Paul, but I think Marie Kondo probably deserves a bit of credit too.

    So sorry about your cat. I hope 2016 turns out wonderfully for you now that it’s got going!

    1. How funny! She seems to be a pretty polarizing figure. When I mentioned the book to friends/family, they would either sound intrigued or personally affronted by her methods! I was in the first group, and expected to enjoy the process, but have been pleasantly surprised by the changes beyond my sock drawer. The title alone of the book you mentioned kind of stops me in my tracks, by the way 🙂

      1. It is a good title, isn’t it?! And I think the book lives up to it – it tied in very nicely with a ‘mindfulness’ course I took last year.

  5. Oh, I’m sorry about Orson! I’m sure you must miss him a lot.

    I too have been trying to only work on sewing projects that bring me joy. It’s an interesting factor to bring into the decision making process. I love the idea of taking a dance class for fun. I wish there was a hula hooping class nearby because I would like to get better at it.

    1. Thank you, Grace. It was really painful to lose him. He’d had kidney disease for over three years but had responded to treatment so well I assumed he would live twenty years. We were lucky to have him.

      Dance is the perfect foil to sewing! I recommend it 🙂

  6. Love the skirt, and hearing about how you made a conscious effort to look inward and create more happiness in your life last year. I think we could all use a dose of introspection (I know I could use some!).

    p.s. I have that same fabric…great use of it. 🙂

    1. Lucky you! I’m considering the possibility of cobbling together my scraps into some kind of crop top; I want to maximize that beautiful print. What do you think you might make?

  7. I didn’t read that book, but I read/heard so much about it that it feels like I did. I even organized my underwear as a result too! But I agree that the most powerful thing about it (at least of what trickled down to me) was the joy factor. I let go of a few knickknacks I’d been hanging on to because someone gave them to me, when I realized they just make me feel like stuff I don’t want is cluttering up my house, not happy about the people who gave them to me.
    It’s been a bit of a rocky start to the new year in my inner world, but I feel like I’m finally starting to get my footing back. I’d like 2016 to be about path finding, looking at where I’d like to go, and staying open to new ideas.
    Wishing you all the best this year, in health and happiness! I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and seeing what you make as the year goes on.

    1. Haha, I’ll bet you got an earful about this book! For awhile, it would have been very difficult to miss. But you got the essence right, even if you didn’t read the chapter on getting rid of outdated technical manuals – it’s the transformative question that matters. I will say I’ve found an organized undies drawer is utterly luxurious.

      I like your approach to 2016; I think I’d like to try something similar, looking forward but with some flexibility. Happy new year!

  8. Beautiful post, and beautiful skirt. Wishing you joy, Morgan, and all sorts of other good things. I hope the downward spiral of late last year sorts itself out, and that you can experience less ebb and more flow. And our inner 7 year old should always be in charge of our fabric purchases…

    1. Haha, clearly my inner 7 year old knows what’s up – RAINBOWS! No surprise that my room was covered in them when I was that age. 🙂 And thanks for the good wishes; I have a hunch things are equalizing a bit and I’m excited for what’s coming next.

  9. Interesting to read about your year, and the ups and downs (or maybe ebbs and flows?) you experienced. Wouldn’t it be nice if a whole year could just be perfect! I like picking fabric spontaneously, too. The downside is I end up with some really strange clothes – well, clothes that aren’t like anyone else’s, anyway! The ‘wedding’ skirt is a particularly lovely print and the simple pattern showcases that really well. Hope 2016 brings you many more moments of joy xx

    1. I certainly got accustomed to the ease of the first part of the year! Ultimately I don’t mind the contrast, even if it was jarring; I think I’m beginning to feel the difference between happiness and joy, and I think it’s possible to be joyful even times are tougher. It feels like being awake.

      Also, I’ve never thought the clothes you made were strange!!

  10. That’s a really lovely take on the ‘sparking joy’ test you carried out last year – sounds brave and exciting. Hope 2016 gets back on track for you!

  11. What a beautiful skirt! Those colours are amazing and I love what you made with it. Great post, i think this might have been the best reflection post I have read this new year. Joy might just be the best thing to wish anyone for the new year!

  12. I love that skirt! And also this general approach to life — joy is such a key ingredient, and certainly one that I myself rarely think about (joy, ease, delight, etc. … instead I seem programmed for: what’s hard? what’s ‘smart’? etc. etc. OI. o_O.) Yes to a rainbow of color and selecting the fabric that speaks to us without second guessing! And although I always love your posts here, I’m glad that time with friends/family is taking priority over sewing time if that’s feeling good/right. Improv dance sounds amazing! I started doing social dance last year and love it, there’s something about moving one’s body to music that is so lovely. Here’s hoping that you’re feeling recuperated and can pick up with this life-approach again in 2016 :-).

    1. I’m feeling much better, thank you! I was able to improve dramatically with diet and lifestyle changes, which always feels empowering and were changes I wanted to make anyway. Writing this post was cathartic and made me want to refocus on joy again after a rough couple of months.

  13. That fabric is gorgeous!. Looking out for joy seems to be really working for your wardrobe. Beautiful fabric always brings me joy, even if it is just folded up in stash.

  14. Your skirt is definitely sparking joy in me! What a great reflection on the year just gone. I hope that sewing can continue to be a source of joy and that you can find the right balance in other areas of your life. My word for 2016 is strength. It might sound corny, but this one word is really helping me to focus on how I’d like to go forth and I’m finding it quite grounding. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016!

    1. Ahh, strength is a good one! It’s certainly no cornier than joy 🙂 All these big words can get watered down by overuse and misuse but they can still be powerful.

  15. i have a feeling that 2016 will be an introspective, present year – in a good way. mindful living with no particular plan except to enjoy it. love your skirt – I know that 2016 will bring you more of those meaningful makes & much happiness.

  16. That’s a beautiful skirt! It looks like it has a very satisfying twirl on the dance floor or the sidewalk. And I love the blank space at the hem.

    1. Aw, thank you Sarah. He was the best little kitty, so smart and companionable. (So demanding, too, and no friend to sewing with his tissue eating and fabric peeing!) I miss him a lot. We did adopt a pair of adult kitties from a shelter a couple of weeks ago, though, and they’re delightful.

    1. “Smart” is such a good word for it – unlike “rational” decision-making, it’s instinctual and has generally led me to make better and faster decisions. Thanks, Lizzy 🙂

      1. Rational often equals sensible which, to me anyway, doesn’t always equal joy. Joy comes from all sorts of places… and irrational but joyful is ok!

  17. What a year… and what a skirt to sum it up. I love reading about the peripheral edges of your personal journey and how it all ties into your sewing (well, how your sewing ties into your journey, really). You articulate it so simply and elegantly, much like your sewing outputs. We’re already a month down – but like Lizzy above me, I wish you all the joy for the remainder of it!

    1. Thanks, Melanie! I feel like I use sewing as my personal growth laboratory… such a microcosm of what I’m going through at any given time. Happy new year to you as well – I’m guessing yours will be chock full of joy with your sweet Billie J!

  18. I’ve been on the KonMari ride for the last 6 months and it’s all culminated in a huge garage sale and me still selling stuff in a frenzy on the Internet. I’m still yet to really thoroughly shift things into their forever homes now that I have more space but I’m quietly enjoying every step of the way. I’ve definitely felt a surge of new energy from it after feeling stuck for no good reason. I’m sorry that your journey took a swing but it sounds like you’re still reflecting even in that space and figuring out where your joy lies. It’s amazing what can happen when you hone in on the simple yet powerful things – Joy. I hope you find your JoyRide again and regain some lost ground.

    1. I’m glad you mentioned how much you enjoyed the process of down-sizing! I forgot to mention that I also found the process itself pretty enjoyable (well, until I got to the knick-knacks and mementos category). I think taking the slow route sounds wonderful; it took a long time to accumulate so it seems fitting if it isn’t all gone instantly (in spite of what Marie Kondo says!) Congratulations on your new-found energy and I know you’ll enjoy what it brings you!

  19. What a beautiful skirt! And what a wonderful + thoughtful post. I love the idea of focusing on what brings you joy. I tend to over-plan and over-think quite a lot (especially when it comes to fabric) so going with a choice that simply sparks joy sounds fabulous! Wishing you a joyful new year!

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! I didn’t get too much into it, but this approach has helped me overthink less and even shop less while really enjoying what I do end up buying. Happy new year 🙂

  20. That was a really lovely inspiring post! I need to remember to do things that bring me joy instead of weighing myself down with things I think I “should” be doing. Love the gorgeous skirt and all your colourful makes from this year.

  21. Oh my gosh Morgan! Sounds like we were on similar paths last year. So bizarre when you get into a long term habit of decision making that makes all the ‘right’ decisions but somehow bipasses the joy / happiness thing! Wow, that is such a festive celebration of a wardrobe right there…I love that your life adventures have filtered into your sewing. That fuschia top is the absolute winner for me! Looking forward to all your sewing this year you gorgeous lass xx

    1. Holy cow, I went back and read your last post and you’re so right! I didn’t really put that together when I read it the first time. I definitely had a moment late in 2014 when I was dreaming up fantasy outfits for dancing and going to see bands and realized I needed to just do those things instead of sewing for them. Would love to hear more about your new life – happy 2016, Sophie!

  22. What a beautiful skirt! The print is so striking! I really hope the spark of joy returns to you in 2016. It’s so tough when circumstances make it so challenging to find the joy in each day. I’m really sorry about Orson and I hope that it gets a little bit easier each day.

    1. It’s funny, writing this post has actually been quite inspiring for refocusing on joy (aka listening to dance music on the bus in to work and whatnot!) Not to the extent of last year, but still appreciated after the last couple of months. We still miss Orson – his huge, distinct personality was unique any other kitty I’ve met – although I’m happy to report we adopted two kitties from a shelter a couple of weeks ago. They’re very different, which is nice, but very lovable. I’m sure they’ll be in my Instagram feed soon 🙂

  23. and joy it sings! I don’t usually like to read books that try to give recipes about how to live your life, I am more of a “go with the flow” kind of gal but now I’m curious. I’m sorry you found yourself in this late unfortunate turn of events … it’s gonna turn again … and 2016 will be another good year. xx

    1. I like that you go your own way 🙂 Marie Kondo does tell you exactly what to do, although I have yet to hear of anyone saying they followed her process exactly. I think there is a completeness to her method, which is nice when it comes to feeling accomplished. I didn’t measure up, of course, but as much as I did adhere to it, I benefitted. But I think I’ve had an addiction to “stuff” in the past, and this is a nice way to step back and get sober, if you will. I think less about my stuff than I ever have before in spite of being surrounded by stuff that brings me joy. Thanks for the good wishes; happy 2016 to you as well!

  24. The Marie Kondo book definitely resonated with me! I don’t feel compelled to follow it to the letter (I’m keeping my book collection!!) but I certainly appreciate the concepts. I’m sorry to hear that things have been rocky, but hopefully there will be a good turnaround soon. Beautiful skirt! What a perfect use of that gorgeous fabric.

    1. I don’t know if anybody managed to follow it to the letter! I adhered pretty strictly but still haven’t sorted out some minor categories like gardening, and have one persistent little box of trinkets and notebooks to sort through. In her opinion, I’m sure that opens me up to all kinds of future clutter! She might be right… 🙂 But I agree, the concepts were really helpful to me, and set a new living standard.

  25. What a wonderful and inspiring post. There are so many things to deal with as we move through life on a daily basis – some good, some not so good – that it’s easy to forget where we’re going and why. I love the idea of finding joy in the everyday things and reminding yourself of the importance of your own happiness when you’re making bigger, longer-term decisions. My personal view is that the purpose of my life is to enjoy my life, and I remind myself of this when I struggle with decisions (like whether to work for pennies at a job I love – spoiler, I did it and don’t regret it!). I’m sorry to hear about your cat and health issues and wish you the best in the new year. A beautiful new skirt doesn’t hurt. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Carolyn 🙂 I’m trying to get more on board with your philosophy of enjoying life. I’m glad you were able to make the right decision about work – that’s one of the areas in my life where I agonize and overanalyze the most!

  26. Beautiful post Morgan! I understand fully what it is like to have rough patches in life…but I tell myself that there is purpose in the pain. I have learned how strong I really am and that I must choose to find the joy in life. Seek it. Daily. Not always easy.

    I love your colorful palette! Color truly does lift spirits. Your skirt is so pretty and it’s wonderful to have such lovely memories connected to it! All the best in 2016!! hugs

    1. You’re so right, Margo. The “worst” things in my life have certainly formed and informed me! And it’s easy to see how well that worked in the past, but when I’m in the middle of some fresh new struggle, I tend to want to numb out. Thank you for the reminder to stay awake and still look for joy. Happy 2016 to you as well!

  27. Beautiful skirt – what joyful colours! I’ve been reading your blog a while now (but never commented until now) and love your style. This skirt definitely speaks of summer weddings and late nights dancing! Really beautiful post too – I hope 2016 will bring you lots more joyful moments.

  28. I think you win for having a 2015 that wasn’t like your 2014. The important part is growing and changing and trying new things! I’m sorry thugs went south in October, and hope 2016 will be better! The skirt is lovely, and I think it will be nice to own something that encapsulates this phase of your life, even if that’s not quite who you are a year from now.

    1. I can safely say it was nothing like 2014! That’s a very good point. I tried more new things in 2015 than I can remember trying before. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope your new year is going well, too.

    1. Thanks, Carol! That’s an especially nice/unexpected compliment because I feel a little bit hopeless when it comes to prints – I’m much more comfortable picking a solid.

  29. Morgan, my beautiful friend, what a ride 2015 was! We’re due for a coffee date, for sure. I’m looking forward to hearing how you’re weaving the joy back in, about the new kitties, and to seeing more of your stupendous (and now much more colorful) sewing!

  30. Love the new color shift. I especially like the green with poppys… I know I’ve seen it somewhere. Can you give me a hint where you got it please. Thanks…. oh, and love the newly made skirt too. Pretty colors all around. Like the flow of it… although, I think it would have been a hard choice for me to make which direction the flow would have gone, it looks great…. but my mind says I would have put it white area on top… don’t know why… just me. Very pretty…

    1. Hi Jean, I bought it from Felinus Fabrics on Etsy but I’m pretty sure I got the last of it, unfortunately. I spent a couple of days going back and forth about the print direction on the skirt!

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