Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Competitive Nature, Sewing Contests, and Motivation

A friend recently wrote an email and posed the question "Where does your motivation come from?"
I have a competitive personality. It's what helped make me successful as an outside sales rep. It's what drove me to become racing crew on a sailboat instead of kicking back cruising with rum drinks in hand (not that there's anything wrong with that) :)

It's what prompted me to take up racing x-country skiing and take 2nd in the North American VASA race (womens division) at the age of 39. It's part of what motivated me to become a soccer coach when, as a single mom I clearly did not have a lot of extra time.

And, It's what prompts me to interest in all the Contests on Pattern Review and the mondo of Amateur contests - the Timmel SWAP. I'm not in Summerset's league sewing contest-wise, but I do enjoy having the contest format to sort-of organize my sewing.
I love to sew. I love to pass along the knowledge and enthusiasm I have for sewing, which is why I love teaching it. And, I would sew anyway. The contests just give me that extra little oomph of a push.
The contests that cause me to push outside my comfort zone and expand my repertoire, those are the ones that interest me most.
The Ready-to-Wear challenge was one. And dang if I didn't just put off getting started on something for it long enough that I didn't get an entry made. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew (Ya think?) and time/wise I was so committed to the Timmel SWAP and the UFO challenge and getting clothes made for the Carib sailing vacay that the RTW contest just got back-burnered. Still. The garments that I ended up planning for it have hit my sewing queue for 2008.
The other contests coming up that are on my radar:
April - One Fabric Silk. Oh Yeah Baby! The requirement will be that the fabric be 100% silk, so no lace, but that shouldn't be a problem. Only problem will be deciding what to make.
May - the month of graduations, travel to get kids home from college - oh boy- is the month that I'd like to jam-pack with contest sewing. I'm so very excited about the MyPattern contest. It's really going to make me stretch and use skills I've only used sporadically recently. And I can see working that with the mini-wardrobe contest (which rules just got established - thank you's to Cindy-Lou, Pterion, the rest of the mod's and Deepika). I know exactly which grouping of stash fabrics I want to use for it/them.
May also hosts the Vintage sewing contest. I'm just not going to have Time to do all 3, although.... (it's that overachiever coming out again)
June - Stash! Wooohooo. I have stash that goes back to the 70's, and one piece of my mom's that I believe dates to the 60's. May be 50's, but more likely 60's. I'll have to ask - mom, that double woven pink wool crepe skirt length - 50's or 60's?? Most of the older pieces are ones not sewn because they're in the "too special" category. Isn't my goal in these next couple of years to USE those pieces? This will be the chance. I'm going to devote June and July to just only sewing with stash fabric.

By August I'm going to be ready to knit. And Sept and Oct will undoubtedly be devoted to weddings. my BIL Kevin is getting married in Sept and my son in October.

I would like to take a moment though, just a moment, to address what has become (as I see it) an increasingly distressing issue on Pattern Review. The pre-contest discussions. This is where the whole membership has the opportunity to weigh in on the rules prior to them being set. These discussions have become contentious, argumentative and fraught with tension. What a horrible thing for a volunteer moderator to have to navigate through. What a distressing thing this must be for Deepika, who started PR. I, for one, would be pleased to see PR just go to a format where the contests are set, Rules are stated, and if you like them, play along, if you don't, then don't play. I could live with that, and I'm sure pretty much everyone else could, AND it might alleviate some of the arguments emerging there on the message boards.

So, in addition to the overall, I'll try to bring to the table my motivation for every particular project I post about, but this is, in the overall sense, where I am right now.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
How do you decide what to make next?
if you decide to write a blog post about your inspiration, motivations, will you leave me a link in the comments? Thanks.


Anonymous said...

I'm a long time lurker, first time commenter. I'm new to PR, and I have to say I was a little taken aback with what happened to the Mini-wardrobe contest pre-discussion. I began to go back to the contest to rubberneck, it was like watching a trainwreck. I like your idea of having the contests set before things begin, enter or not based on that.
Enough of that. I was very inspired by the RTW contest. It was wonderful to see all the beautiful garments inspired by RTW.
Thanks for your blog, and all the others I go to every day, just seeing and hearing about sewing is the juice I need to get behind the scissors.
Thanks, Jan

Laura said...

I have to agree about the pre-contest discussion for the mini-wardrobe. It's been frustrating for me to see the rules changing for a contest from year to year - doesn't make sense to me unless something really needs to be tweaked - or as the contest goes along. I think the discussions aren't a problem as long as the contest moderator sets out the non-negotiables of the contest beforehand, but that's not easy to do if you're new to running one. Ah well, I'm happy with the rules as they ended up, and hopefully most others are too.

I think I'll probably combine my mini-wardrobe with some vintage sewing, and maybe a self-drafted pattern if I get the time.

Mary E said...

I managed a contest years ago, and I agree totally with you. Here are the rules, and make them as detailed as you can without scaring people off. It's the details and stretching of the rules that gets everyone in knots. That and trying to make every contest all inclusive.

LOL about the motivation. I loved your entry, but I had to laugh. I swear my blog entry today was written before you wrote this!!

Nancy (nanflan) said...

You're right. Not everything is up for a debate. That, plus some people have wayyyyy too much time on their hands, leading to ugliness (and a word that begins with B!)!

Linda said...

Marji - I applaud your tenacity and those of others who remain as active members of PR. I say active because I look at what others are making, but make no comments and do not under any circumstances participate in the message board. It is a crying shame that PR has acquired the reputation that it does. SG is a much more friendly environment. Even though both are moderated, PR still can't break its reputation. I have absolutely no idea what you all are talking about in a discussion on PR. But I hope that for those of you who do continue to participate on PR that there is an "awakening" of some sort so that it can return to the gathering place it should be. By seeing these comments this means that even with moderation PR has still to get rid of this problem.

Dana said...

Wow, you really are an over-achiever! Congratulations on all your successes.

I too agree with you 100% about the PR contest rules. I just noticed the thread about the Mini Wardrobe, went to check it out and it was already 12 pages long! I think I read about 1-1/2 pages and really couldn't believe the comments. I agree with you about the rules and definitely with Nanflan about the too much time thing!

Dana said...

P.S. The membership is fast approaching 150,000; how can anyone expect that many people to completely agree about anything?

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Okay I am not even going to comment on PR - whoops take that back - I do have something to say! If PR is moderated it is done so with a very loose hand allowing people to get pretty funky before they are shut down and two, I agree about the contest discussions - puleeze!

I think they have managed to drive away a lot of talented sewists who had plenty of knowledge to share and its a very sad situation!

As for the competitiveness and sewing - gurl power to ya! I like to sew for relaxation and to hear my inner creative voice...not to impress someone and that's what all the contests seem to be about on PR...

Okay, I said I wasn't going to say anything, right! *LOL*

AllisonC said...

Hi marji, I was planning on entering the moni wardrobe contest (whatever the riules turn out to be) - having second thoughts competing with you though! Just kidding, but congratulations on all your amazing achievements. I clearly don't have the same drive as you, but I am finding that sewalongs, blooging and perhaps contest in the future keep me motivated sewing wise. As for inspiration, I find it everywhere, blogs, reviews, internet, magazines and shopping when I realise that I just don't really need to buy clothes anymore. shoes and bags on the other hand....

Sigrid said...

Great achievements! And yes, I'm surprised too sometimes about the amount of comments on PR about rules. I fully agree, play if you like the rules, if you don't , don't play.

On my inspiration and how to decide a next project I'll write a post sometime soon.

Last: I saw your comment on Lindsay's blog on width of blog text, I've sent you a mail, but sometimes mails get in spam folders. Just want to let you know I sent it.

LauraLo said...

Love your post, you know. I can relate to many things that you wrote, especially the part about contests pushing you outside your comfort zone. I used to be a very competitive child but I grew up to be less competitive probably because my husband is very competitive too and I kind of naturally assumed the "moderator" role :) Also, because many people here (in my country) are ugly competitors, the kind that talk a lot behind your back or betray you so easily... yuck. This is not competition in my opinion. I love an honest, straightforward competition and I think I'm quite a fighter as a nature.
I agree with you 100% percent on the PR pre-contest discussions, I've seen so many ... let's say inadequate remarks on several threads, including the MyPattern contest... I too think rules should be established and who wants to play ok, who doesn't no problem. After all, participation in a contest is not compulsory!

LauraLo said...

Oh and I forgot.. I bet you're great as a teacher, I'd love if you set up some kind of online training, I think I would have tons to learn from you!

Summerset said...

Thanks for mentioning me! Yes, I'm pretty competitive too, but certainly haven't acheived what you have in sports. At all!

I will have to think about the motivation/inspiration post.

Debbie Cook said...

It seems to be a double-edged sword, IMO. For a new PR contest (which mini wardrobe and My pattern are), *someone* has to make up the rules so there needs to be some sort of discussion about them unless we're OK with unilateral decisions by someone who may not actually be familiar with the prereqs that could come into play (speaking more about My Pattern here). Yes, those two discussions did take a turn for the worst and I understand why it's a turn-off. But because I didn't want My Pattern to bite the dust altogether, I volunteered to don my Kevlar jumpsuit and try to corral all the various ideas and expectations. Maybe we need more such volunteers??

Also, do we expect Deepika to come up with all the rules all the time? If so, that's another big workload added to her plate so I don't think that's necessarily right either. So what's the solution?

I'm truly sorry that so many ex-PR regulars don't hang around anymore. I think there's tons more good than the bad there. And the "bad" is really just different personalities coming together in a very impersonal medium, which often doesn't play out in typed words as it would in real life.

Marjie said...

Thank you for visiting me! I'd love to try sailing, but I'd be burned to a crisp in about 2 minutes. Your recent vacation photos are spectacular!

As for inspiration, it comes from many places. Two recent projects were inspired by shoes:

Sometimes I'm intrigued by a piece of fabric, and let it "tell" me what it wants to be. And sometimes I want a certain thing, such as a skirt or top, and struggle to identify "just the right fabric".

I also read Debbie Cook, Cidell and Carolyn to see what they're doing, in hopes that I'll be inspired by them.

Of course, as we move toward spring, warmer weather and no snow, aren't all of us desirous of some new clothes?

robyn said...

You can imagine how dismayed I have been by the mini-wardrobe contest thread - I am slated to manage another mini-wardrobe contest later this year! PR has a great slate of contests this year, and I have planned (and failed)to enter many of them so far. The contests are great ways to get motivated and stretch, even though I am not very competitive. A full plate in the real world + Timmel SWAP is all I have been able to handle!

Kat said...

Wow! I didn't know there was so much dissension in the Wardrobe thread since I rarely go there.

Kat said...

Nice blog, BTW :) .

JohannaLu said...

Thank you for a very thoughtful post, to which I can really relate. My competitive side is definitely a driving force in my sewing. I am constantly setting new goals for myself, always trying to achieve that elusive perfect garment.

I am not really naturally gifted in many areas (maybe none?). Instead I think that my determination is my single best skill.
I started playing tennis two years ago, and while I sucked big time in the beginning I just kept playing despite my frustrations (at times I almost hated the game). And now, two years later, I have made substantial improvements and really love all aspects of the game.

a little sewing on the side said...

Yep, I have competitive energy flowing through me, too. And sewing is a fantastic outlet for it, because there is always something new to learn; a new skill to pursue.
I've wondered what inspires me. It feels like a life force that must be given free rein. If I go too long without doing soemthing creative and challenging, I feel like I am dissolving. LOL, kinda like, "I sew, therefore I am!"
And it's not just sewing, I do other stuff, too.
Great post Marji!

CharityinAlaska said...

I'm not remotely competitive. I like the contests simply because they provide some needed pressure and deadlines for me. I came from a far worse sewing environment (Ebay's children's designer community), so PR seems positively saccharine compared to my recent observations of that sewing community. I woulnd't be bothered one bit by having the rules unilaterally declared, but I think the discussions would still be necessary. People would still have questions about the interpretation of the rules. We have unilateral declaration in The Bible and our US Constitution and there are still a million theories at how the specifics work out logistically. LOL! LOL! Love your blog and linked to it yesterday. Could write a book on motivation and inspiration. I'll have to think about it. Perhaps fodder for a future post on my own blog.