My blog posts have been inconsistent and heavy. I have been honest about the struggle and hugely appreciate the beautiful messages of support I received after posting a few weeks ago. Sometimes when we are really in it, working so hard day in and day out it is so tough to see how much progress we’ve made through all the fatigue. Today I am taking a moment to look back, stand up from it all and see how far I’ve come over the past 6 months. Each week I’ve been able to put in somewhere between 5 and 10 hours on my business. Most of that is sewing up the blouse pattern and learning how to use the pattern software. It never seems like enough time when we’re in it. But when we look back over the weeks and months what do we see? In August I committed to two and a half weeks of intense study in the mountains of North Carolina at Penland School of Craft with a famous pattern maker, Giovanni Daina Palermo and the socially conscious, fine sewing and manufacturing expert, Libby O’Bryan, partners on the label Rite of Passage. What I learned there was not only the fundamentals of pattern making but also all of the super vital building blocks of fine sewing like how to properly cut fabric or make lines on the pattern paper, the best tools to use or how to sew the highest quality seems. Importantly, I also made the first pattern and prototype for the made to measure blouse, inspired by the basic menswear shirt, tailored to the needs of the female form. The intense study though extremely physically and emotionally demanding gave me a toolbox of skills to take home to my sewing room. Over the past six months I’ve been refining that pattern, getting the fit, the lapel, the collar, the arm where I want it to be before I start introducing other women’s measurements. I also began taking digital pattern making lessons with the phenomenal PAD Systems instructor, Kristine Gloviak, (all generously purchased for my developing my made to measure business by CART Inc. in West Virginia). For anyone who is learning new hand and software skills in their 30s or beyond, you know this is no joke. And to learn the two of these side by side, though extremely valuable for my business and my brain seems at moments insurmountable. If I didn’t love this work so damn much I would have given up a long time ago. But nonetheless between the sweat, blood and tears I find moments of total solace from the crazy world outside my sewing room, ironing the fabric or pinning a collar or stitching away at my sewing machine. And now I am making the final tweaks to the pattern and very close to calling it done. I have also dyed the Penland prototype using natural dye – in this case the avocado pits and skins that are the waste product of each morning’s breakfast. Like the sewing, I stood over that first batch of avocado generated dye, my friend and teacher Lee More Crawford standing by, completely entranced with the sights and smells of my blouse taking on a beautiful earthy pink tone as the avocado pits released their dye. I stood their knowing that although in this moment big change seems so very far away, I was witnessing the birth of a new way of producing and relating to our garments. The small actions I take every week, though all seemingly never enough, will one day be a movement to bring all pieces of garment production home, to know how it impact the soils, the water, our land, our people. To reconnect with this process, to see it in our communities. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for all the small things you do every week to make the world better. You are not alone. You are part of the revolution. Go, fight, win.