My first 3 hand-made shirts are in an exhibition, in a museum called the Johnston Collection.
I am pleased and honoured and a little embarrassed, I’m not sure how my handmade shirt stacks up against the other, beautiful hand made things from other male creators…but mostly I have been inspired to reflect upon this project and energised to keep making.
I started making my first shirt around December of 2017. That means in around 21 months I have made 3 shirts by hand.
These shirts take quite some time to sew. I’m guessing but…100 hours for a shirt. So, it makes sense that it has taken so many months to create 3 shirts, right?
When I sew, I have a very important principle that I follow. There is no timeline for completion. I am not in a hurry. Not trying to get finished. I am in each stitch, enjoying this moment.
That being said, I am wasting time.
It is not the sewing that slows me down, it’s all the avoiding sewing that slows me down.
Over the last two years of this project I have spent an inordinate amount of time not doing the next step because I am worried about getting it wrong. Concerned that I will ‘wreck’ this shirt because I put the collar on incorrectly or sew a buttonhole badly.
I’ve been in an ongoing conversation with my desire to do everything right, first time, every time.
I think this is amplified by the fact that I am learning. Experimenting with buttonholes, researching and finding the best technique for me…sometimes it is slow and unsatisfying work. At these moments I’ve forgotten my principle of being in this stitch, I’m wanting the thing done fast and not doing the thing at all because I’m wanting it done perfectly.
I am now making shirt number four. It is a beautiful stone colour that I have chosen a strong contrast colour (hot pink) for the thread.
With this shirt I have clarified my approach. I now have two principles. To be in each moment of the shirt making (not just the sewing) and to keep moving forward (no matter the pace). To achieve this new principle will require me to ‘catch myself’ when I am avoiding the next thing, to turn off my irrational pursuit of perfection, look at the problem I am trying to solve, back myself, take my best educated guess and get on with it.
This sounds much easier than it is, for me.
So far it is working.
I’m enjoying sewing and the progress is visible.
Let’s see how shirt number four turns out.
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