This past week I was making the final pattern changes to print out our first beta client’s made to measure blouse. It has been months of making “final changes” only to discover something more that needs to be done on the pattern. And last week I had to come to grips with something: The pattern software is going to get me about 80% there and then I will need to manipulate the pattern to get it to completion. This thought was nerve wracking. I had comforted myself with the believe that I would plug in the alterations, see a complete looking pattern and print. No such luck. In my regular meeting with CART Inc. Director Dr. Bruce Mutter, I shared this realization with him. His response: yes, that’s how it goes. You’re not really going to know if it works until you sew it up.
I feel fortunate to be working with CART Inc. where using technology to improve manufacturing processes such as identifying new uses for coal or building driverless ATVs is their bread and butter. When I talked to Dr. Mutter about not being certain how the pattern would come out, what was a realization for me, was a given for Dr. Mutter. Yep. That’s the norm.
And so I’m learning to get comfortable with that. This week, the pattern will be good enough for sewing and the only way we will know how good it is, is by fitting it on our first beta client.
I realize, part of my disconnect is the need to rewire my thinking around experimentation. That’s where we are at. Making patterns, sewing them up, improving the system and making more patterns. I have to fight mightily against some inclination to be at the finish line, when I’m actually at the starting gate with this process. I have to intentionally set aside the idea that I have a finished pattern in my hand. Rather I have a hypothesis: if I make these changes to the pattern it will fit our first beta client. It is daunting. But I’m totally obsessed. Today, the local tailor and owner of Common Threads, Lisa Lambert and I begin our weekly evening sessions to work on this process together. What that means is a much more rapid process of making pattern changes, sewing them up, doing fittings, making more changes. I am incredibly excited.
So as we step back and look at this world, this nation that needs so very many changes and improvements I hope these experiences help you feel in good company if you are taking steps to try something new that requires a mindset that thrives on experimentation to find better solutions. Nearly every corner of our world needs an upgrade to provide better quality jobs, to improve our relationship to the environment, to improve our communities and the list goes on. If we are going to make changes, we are going to have to get comfortable with the idea that we have to try new things and let ourselves and our work evolve.