the leopard, she cannot change her spots

needs sleeves, hems, and pockets
needs sleeves, hems, and pockets

Last year around this time I was all fired up about the new Claire Shaeffer V8804, another one of her Chanel-type jackets, complete with the quilted lining and many fussy construction details that I wanted to learn. I was also fired up to emulate the great Ann Rowley, and purposefully gather all my materials and make all my design decisions before starting on the jacket, thread tracing and copying all the other fine techniques Ann uses all the time. This is contrary to my usual way of working in which I kind of make it up as I go along.

I do give myself a pat on the back for having tried to do things another way, but it just didn’t work for me.

For one thing, I had trouble assembling all materials and trim, because I had specific things in mind that I just could not find. (This is a big reason that I don’t like shopping. I can never find what I want.) I spent weeks just trying to source things, with my mojo fading before I even threaded up the machine. Then the compromises began, and that killed off my remaining motivation. I’ll fess up to the compromises when I show the finished jacket.

I usually don’t have UFOs because I am strict with myself about finishing project A before moving on to project B. Finishing is the most tedious process, and it is much more fun to start something new. So I have to make myself finish. In this case, I was so frustrated that I cut myself some slack and put it all in a box where it sat reproaching me all through the spring and summer.

Now that cooler weather is only a couple of months off, I decided to do whatever it takes to get this thing finished. The trim has been applied and the sleeves are all ready to insert. I have chain to apply to the hem. A couple more sessions and it should be done.

And then I’ll go back to my usual comfortable way of working. Not that I’ll never attempt a labor-intensive project again, but I will have to gain some perspective on this one first.

embrace your spots and relax



19 thoughts on “the leopard, she cannot change her spots

  1. Sometimes it’s good to challenge ourselves. But it is good just to busk it too. I too would love to be fearsomely organised – but in all honesty my organisation is just fearsome 😦
    I’m sure your jacket will be lovely.

  2. Awww, that does sound frustrating, Robyn. Mojo can be a capricious thing and you need to respect that. But the jacket looks quite promising to me!

    • Thanks, Shams! This project is putting me in mind of your story about the Hermes scarf gifted to you that was so not your style. Although there are occasions where this jacket will still be just the ticket for me, it won’t be that often.

  3. The leopard photo makes me smile! Every time I tell myself I’m going to stick to “the plan”, it doesn’t work out so well, Always some adjustment to take in stride. It encourages me to know that you “make it up as you go along” Your beautiful work is an inspiration to me. I know it will be a great looking jacket.

  4. Another make it up as I go along type here. But the jacket, I think, will be loved when its done. Chanel jackets have such a plain cut that they often look boring when half done, with the sleeves on the table and the hem hanging down. They get transformed in the finishing. I’m sure it will be superb.

  5. I think your jacket looks beautiful, Robyn, but I certainly understand your frustration with this project. It’s a lot of work, and then you end up with a jacket that might not fit your lifestyle. The trim was the hardest part for me as well. Although I’m proud that I finished mine, I ended up thinking that I’m just not a Chanel jacket kind of person.

    • Your jacket turned out beautifully, and is such a good color on you! You’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s a style thing. I will wear this for sure, but it is not my every day style. Some people really enjoy special occasion sewing. Not my favorite. It is teaching me some truths about myself!

  6. Robyn, I had to laugh when I saw your title. Yes, I resemble that leopard also! It is good to give ourselves challenges sometimes, if only to be happier in our TNT methods. I am currently riding in a western saddle, and following direction from a cowboy. It is helping me clarify WHY certain cues are used. The same holds true for my sewing, though I am not near as accomplished a sewer as a rider.

    The jacket will be beautiful and you will surely wear it happily.

  7. Passion, exactly what I have been thinking about today. When you see the finished project in your mind, it’s alive and you run toward it. When that image fades, it’s like someone has pulled the plug. But the end result may be very perplexing, it may be a new objet du désir entirely or it may be a haunting, taunting reminder of the unattainable. And then you put it on and others see it afresh, and you may see it in new ways also. And maybe the passion has been transformed or stored in the mind’s eye for new hunting-gathering excursions. Hope you will model it for us!

    • How eloquent, Mary Beth! When the passion fades, it’s even more difficult to keep on if interest in something else has been ignited. But yes, better to have felt the heat that cooled than not to have been het up at all. 🙂

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