Where do you get your inspiration from these days?
If you were tasked with answering a question, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts — or would you Google it?
Now, with the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Google, that aim to serve up information before you even need it, you don’t even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you’ll have your answer. Has the world gone mad, or just plain lazy?
When I was at college I used to spend my weekends at the latest London exhibitions and spend hours in my college library, reading and searching for answers to questions. For my college dissertation I came home with piles of books to read through. Even shopping for my college collection fabrics, I would spend days travelling around London, looking for the right fabrics and searching for trimmings to match.
My favourite thing to buy has always been books, clothes and fabric. I have several bookshelves all around my house and I have read every one. Nowadays I do my food, clothes and fabric shopping mostly online, I rarely go to the shops. This has become more so since I have had a child. it’s just easier, many mothers will agree. He is getting older now and I have started to go to shops more. I suppose I am a tactile person, I like to smell a book, to flick through all the pages, to touch and see how a fabric or garment feels. Is this seen as not normal these days? Online you only see the cover of a book before you buy, fabric you cannot feel and or see the drape potential, you can’t try on a top or dress, you have to send it back and wait weeks for it to be resent.
I may be one of few these days, as the online search engines are the easier option for today’s generation. To get answers, when I was at school, which wasn’t all that long ago; you had to visit your local library and search through the hundreds of books, the internet didn’t exist. I have heard the words “just google it” from several past students I have taught. Children use their thinking skills less and less as a result. With so much information easily available, does it make us smarter? How are those who grew up using the Internet — the so-called “Google generation” — different? There is a relative lack of research available examining the effect of search engines on our brains even as the technology is rapidly dominating our lives. Of the studies available, the answers are sometimes unclear.
It is questionable, are we luckier, everything is less tactile, yet much easier, quicker and cheaper? We don’t need to buy books, we don’t need to print and or even leave your sofa to get the answers, or do we?
I have always loved research and I still buy books regularly today. When teaching, I like to show my students an image in a book rather than from a computer screen as often as I can. When I first started teaching trips to the school library were built into schemes of work. It’s so rare these days and such a tactile resource, well suited to textiles that is under used. Even product analysis is an unusual activity for students in schools these days. I hope DT teachers keep using their handling collection?
The benefits for me? Today’s project is an example.
One online search engine I do use regularly is Pinterest. This is my go to for inspiration and or ideas, its creative, visual and informative, maybe today’s modern version of the ‘arts section of my local library. When I have a future project in my head, the first thing I do is write a list, then the next place I go is Pinterest, I put in a chosen topic and start to research. I have several boards now and use them all the time for my teaching and my own learning. I like that sharing ideas is a very positive thing happening today.
I bought a sashiko throw quite cheaply on eBay some time ago and have been toying with what to make from it for a while now. Because I got it online, I didn’t know what it felt like, it’s not soft, so not suitable as a throw on my sofa. I nearly made a kimono from it, then decided on bags. I love-making bags and sell a very popular London bag on etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/ItsSewSimpleShop and here on my website. I also teach bag making in my Beginners workshops. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/beginners-sewing-workshop-tickets
bag making is a really easy way to start learning about pattern cutting too, as the shapes are so basic. I wanted to create a new shaped bag and have been adding to my bag board for a while now. I’ve only just come across one, fit for the function; teaching, fabric choice, shape and size.
The the other bag components, I went rummaging in my fabric boxes, I have several, one of my resolutions is to use what I have and not always buy more fabric. I found a selection of fabrics; gingham, wool and some corduroy, all suitable when combined with the colours on the sashiko fabric. Using the online tutorial found on Pinterest, I made my own paper pattern, adapting and moving away from the original. When ever I make something new, I like to make more than one. I learn with the first and feel really confident as a result with the second. The second is always really quick to make and I can usually do it without looking at any instructions. It’s a good way to practice.
I found the instructions easy to follow and the make relatively simple. If you are a beginner the straps and base corners may be challenging. The corners and the sides need to match, so it’s good to tack or check your pinning.
So what is best, books or computers?
So many crafters, today are self-taught, or is it YouTube taught? Everyone has become teachers, sharing their knowledge and helping others to learn something new. We do however go through information online very quickly without evaluating it for accuracy? People are becoming less sociable and more insular, yet we are talking to people online that we don’t even know, all over the world. We are staying in touch with people online, which in past generations we naturally would lose touch with? This works for me as far as family are concerned, I have family as far as Canada, New York, Australia, Wales, Ireland and even just Manchester. Family that without Facebook we wouldn’t be as close.
How many people are you friends with on Facebook? How many of those friends have you actually seen in the flesh recently? Would you say hello to them on the street? my mother died 20 years ago, texting hadn’t even started at this time. That’s not that long ago. My mum would be texting me 20 times a day, if she was still alive. We used to call each other every day and to some people at the time saw this as excessive. I used to queue at my local red telephone box on a friday night, calling friends to make arrangements on where to meet that evening. I didn’t have a mobile phone till I was 22 and this was just because I was followed home one night, I saw as it as a safety need, I rarely used it as it was just for calls and these were expensive, more so than the landline. When did you last use your landline? Basically times are changing and there will be something different next week, next year, in another 20 years. This doesn’t mean we have to stop the things we enjoy, does it?
I will finish by asking you some questions that I don’t think you will know the answer to? When was the last time you used a book to answer a question? Have you ever visited your local library? Do you even have one in your area, or has it been closed down? Do you know where it is? Do you have a local fabric shop? Where is your nearest book shop?
Well, Google it!
Then make time to go and flick through all the pages and to smell the inside of a book. Go and touch some fabric before you buy it! It’s an experience you might enjoy!