Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Giving Jo-Ann a Piece of My Mind.

This was posted on Facebook today by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores:  
What prints do you want to see on fleece or flannel? Sunflowers? Roller skates? What else? Let us know in the comments below.
These are not the kitties they are looking for.
There were about 300 comments when I came across this post, nearly all, I kid you not, consisted of variations on "more of the same!", "puppies and kitties!", "Red Hat Ladies" and "Crosses, there are just not enough Christian images in your pajama fabrics."  

As you can imagine, I had a lot to say on the topic.  Here is what I posted:

I guess you guys are doing a pretty good job since it seems to me the vast majority of requests above are for things I see at Joann's and Joann.com all the time. 

I make a lot of flannel pajama bottoms for my nieces, nephews, friends and family. So what I am looking for is flannel or a nice pajama-weight 100% cotton shirting. (Do whatever you want with fleece)

First of all, I wish you guys would make plain BLACK flannel. It would be so useful for costumes at Halloween that would keep trick-or-treaters warm and then could be pajamas for the rest of the winter. (Think about a black witch costume nightgown, black pirate shirt and pant pajamas etc.) 

Secondly, I wish there were a line of coordinating smallish prints in bright saturated colors. I would love it if there were some small plaids, polka dots, 1/4 and 1/2 inch stripes, checkerboards, houndstooths, herringbones, animal prints and other classic 2-color prints that I would use as accents like cuffs on pj bottoms or contrast collars or pockets on nightgowns, pajama shirts and robes. (These would also be great to have for those Halloween costumes that become pajamas-- tiger for Halloween, tiger pajamas for the rest of the season.) 

I can never find enough prints that aren't too babyish or princessy. There are all kinds of prints that would appeal to girls without being so "Barbie-fied." For every soccer, football and baseball print I see, I wish there were volleyball, field hockey, tennis and softball prints. Girls love sports, but the ones they tend to play are underrepresented in your line. (IMHO, obviously) 

I LOVED a couple of prints I found this year that were great bright colored retro toy prints-- 50s style robots and rocket ships. More please! Nostalgic and stylized toys from that era would be awesome. (Including Lego as someone mentioned above, and backgammon, parcheesi, Ouija, 4-wheeled skates. old-fashioned bikes, skateboards and scooters, hula hoops, jump ropes, marbles and jacks, playing cards, lite brite, etch-a-sketch, or those classic Playskool and Fisher Price toys.) 

I have made great use of the few ethnic paisley, stripes and prints you have carried in the last couple of years. Those are great for grownups too. 

Someone suggested an all-Britain design-- Big Ben, Tower of London, Union Jack, Stonehenge, Globe Theater. I thought that was a great idea. I would also love if there were a series-- Britain, France, Australia, Japan, Italy etc. The 50 US States... Along with those, I would love maps, globes and nautical maps. 

Obsessed with Gnomes.  Needs pjs.  !

I have a niece who is obsessed with Gnomes. She and her friends dressed as lawn ornaments at Halloween-- a Garden Gnome, Flamingo, Jockey, the Kissing Dutch children, the Madonna of the Garden. I think that would be an awesome theme for some pj prints. 

Gnomes with big dotted mushrooms and a story-book woodland design would be awesome. 

What about characters from Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm Fairy Tales? Those would be great considering the popularity of shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time. 

I think you can still never get enough of medieval knights and wizards while you are at it. King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot...If there were Joan of Arc or Shakespeare character flannel, I would scoop it all up and be sewing for years for my friends. 

I would also love fabric with busts of great composers, writers and philosophers-- maybe even with a quote here and there... 

Finally, what I have been surprised to see is the complete lack of anything STEAMPUNK. You know the Jules Verne copper contraptions, airships, goggles, gears, clockworks celebrations of Victorian technology and science fiction? THAT. Google Steampunk and then design fabric from that. 

I hope this is helpful. I tried to list things I would snatch up in a heartbeat and that I have not seen anywhere else-- all of which is PUBLIC DOMAIN. :)

I posted that and the very next post was "Pugs! Pugs! Pugs!" 

(See what I mean about puppies and kitties? )

A very sensible woman named Kim Childers-Burns piped up next with:
PLEASE do NOT submit to the pandering xtians! Keep religion off my fabric!!!!! How about some willow trees!

I am now madly in love with the probable-Wiccan Kim Childers-Burns whom I don't know from Adam, but who had more sense than the puppy-kitty-red-hat-lady crowd. 

I had her back and posted this:  

I know how Kim Childers-Burns feels. I am ok with pandering to Christians, though, as long as other Faiths are represented. I am a big fan of that Co-Exist logo made up of symbols of a variety of religions. So if you want to pander to me with busts and quotes of Darwin, Einstein and Hawking, that would be ok too. :)

I hope Kim Childers-Burns appreciates my two cents. 

The thread continued with requests for  Bears! (two different kinds: Panda, Polar) Unicorns! Rainbows! Butterflies! and Baby Owls!  (I kid you not) 

 There was one suggestion in there that was not like the others and I quote:

 Eve Clover Rose Smiling cartoon penises

Thanks Eve, whoever you are, for some real out-of-the-box thinking!

I also realized that despite the pages and pages of demands I posted, I had left out one super-important suggestion. 

Me: I need this on fabric!
Jo-Ann: As You Wish.
Valerie: Do you think it will work?
Miracle Max: It'd take a miracle.
They need to make a licensing agreement with whomever owns the rights to The Princess Bride.   So I posted that too. 

I am done suggesting.  I will wait and see what the collection looks like when they bring out new designs in November.   I am expecting the return of lots of puppies, kitties and crosses for the Midwest Church Craft Association. 

And that's a shame.  Because if the home-sewing fabric and craft industry wants to continue to be an industry, they are really gonna have to think about reaching out beyond the baby-blanket-making Church ladies.   They may want to produce materials that make people want to learn to sew.  And it would help if they remembered that half of American adults are single. Those smiling cartoon penises are a genius suggestion.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Forward and Back… to Basics

I know, I know, I have been gone for a long time.  I had been blogging so consistently— nearly halfway through my planned 100 days of making stuff.  And then I stopped cold in my tracks. What was that about?

I began to feel the "making" project was too chaotic and arbitrary.  It was definitely providing me with something to show for my days.  But it wasn’t moving me toward whatever is next for me. I needed some time to take stock.

Toward the end of my time at my last job, I was trying to figure out what I could bear to do next.  I was miserable working on personal property tax for a Fortune 500 company.  I felt like my only value was my neurotic tendencies toward OCD, but not really anything that made use of the talents and skills I value in myself.

As things were falling apart and I could barely even drag myself in to work, I discovered that there was something that did still provide delight and enjoyment in my life.  It was fabric shopping. On days when I couldn’t bear to look at another tax bill at work, I could still find the energy during my lunch break to check out new fabric shops on line.  

One Saturday, I was so determined to get to a particular sale that I ended up taking 3 forms of transportation and walking a total of about 7 miles to get to and from my fabric shopping target.  The chance for a great fabric score is one of the few things I can think of that would get me to walk 7 miles. 

As a product of my “100 days of making” experiment, I learned that I generate an awful lot of ideas for projects, but even with all the time in the world, I don’t manage to make much of a dent in the pile.  I see fabric and am inspired to make a project. So I impulsively add it to my project list.  I am now on a fabric- buying moratorium (no matter what inspiration I have) until the pile goes down measurably.  I am also trying to think about prioritizing the projects rather than doing them haphazardly as the spirit moves me.

While I intend to keep making stuff, I want to re-focus this blog.  My time away made me realize that no matter how much stuff I might make for an Etsy shop, there is no way I could make enough money to turn it into my “day job.”  I was kind of putting myself to work in my own personal sweatshop.  So I quit. (And my boss was ok with that.)

I am working on a couple of other ideas now, which I will share when I have a better handle on them.  In my profile, I describe myself as “Diva, Spinsta, Provocateur.”  I think those words do describe qualities that are pretty central to my identity.  So what can I do that exploits those tendencies?

More importantly, as accurate as that description is, it doesn't account for my passion for making things better.  I don’t know what the word for that would be.  (Fixer-upper? Do-gooder? Bossy Big Sister?)  I do know I am compelled to do it by habit, preference, values, talent and temperament.    

I used to do a lot of care-taking with no sense of boundaries and then wondered why I felt resentful and martyrous.  I have gained some insight, maturity and experience that should allow me to make conscious choices in care-taking that won’t deplete my energy, but multiply it.  It will be good for me to practice boundaried care-taking.  Surely that will allow me to enjoy the process and outcome rather than spinning around in bitter resentment about giving more than I get.

As an appropriately boundaried helper, I want to get back to some of my original thoughts about being a spinsta, particularly one “at large.” My friend Carla and I set up a Facebook group called “Spinster Studies” where we post and discuss articles on the topic of single life in America.

The articles reflect a culture permeated with messages that demean single people in so many ways.  It makes not finding “The One” and being childless the equivalent of social leprosy.   I think I have done enough spinster-studying in the last couple of years to start adding to the discourse through this blog.

I intend to bring my iconoclastic voice, visibility and viability to other folks who live alone, (with or without cats.)  Spinstahood can sneak up on a person and be quite a shock when it finally dawns that it isn’t going away any time soon.   I want to help people who are feeling isolated and less-than as I did.  I can show them how to claim their own space and identity in the face of the culture's attempt to marginalize spinstas of all ages, genders and orientations.

There is  much more to be said.  As a Diva-Spinsta-Provocateur-Make-Betterer I have decided I am just the person to do it.