November Newsletter

November 6, 2016

Photo by Laura Malek from 1, 2, 3 Sew.

Creating in a Bubble: How Groupthink is Shaping Our Lives

I don’t know how to talk about sewing right now. November is upon us, bringing an end to this divisive election season. Then our country will be back to normal, right? Right.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how we compartmentalize ourselves, both personally and creatively. In the vast landscape of the internet with the world at our fingertips, we choose to enter the echo chamber of those who think like us. Our Facebook algorithm hides differing opinions and promotes our own worldview, further dividing us from others. Twitter has become a war of dueling factions shooting barbs into the electronic abyss. We are often afraid of the unknown, but it seems that the only way to move forward together is to seek understanding of others.

Many people seem to be controlled by fear and hate right now. Rather than responding to their views with visceral reactions, we should reach for understanding. Ask why. Why does someone have these opinions that we find offensive? What’s the underlying cause and how can we help? We need to ask these questions now.

As makers, we tend to divide ourselves creatively as well, creating a bubble of groupthink. We are naturally influenced by those around us, absent-mindedly emulating the current trends. Now even our Instagram feed is tailored to show homogeneous images. As a fabric designer, I realize that I need to follow design trends to a certain extent because I am in the business of selling fabric, but I’d like to see us break out of our self-imposed style restraints more often. How about we spend some time looking at Japanese kimono fabric, Alabama folk art, Renaissance tapestries, or Russian constructivist art? We need to push ourselves out of this repetitive cycle of the same.

Although I think our sense of aesthetics is innate, we are naturally influenced by what we see. We should seek inspiration, take it all in, but perhaps try to look in unexpected places. Intentionally trying to understand different perspectives not only expands our worldview, but leads to greater innovation. If we take the time to explore new ideas, we can break through conformity, discover our authentic voice, and improve both our personal and creative lives.

“One has to take several different shots of a subject, from different points of view and in different situations, as if one examined it in the round rather than looked through the same key-hole again and again.”

— Alexander Rodchenko

November Tutorial: Simple Tote

Make something! This quick and easy tote is a sewing essential. Here, I used faux leather straps and copper rivets for durability. You can make your tote in various sizes, add pockets, key holders, dividers, or zippers. Find the instructions on my blog here.

The fabric is from my Rough Cut and Monochrome fabric collections.

Fall DIY Projects that Help Numb the Pain of Existence by Sarah Solomon for McSweeney’s.
DO: Sol LeWitt’s Letter of Advice to Eva Hesse on Brain Pickings.
The Craft School Experience podcast.
Let Your Workers Rebel by Francesca Gine for the Harvard Business Review.

Want to try some other tote bag patterns? Both of my books 1, 2, 3 Sew and 1, 2, 3 Quilt have bag patterns.


Thanks for reading. –Ellen