Flowers, Light, Shadows and How to Change Your Life

Am I going to blog about wilted flowers today?

Nope. However, I do like to observe when flowers slowly change and become unique in their decay. Some collapse looking quite sad, while others fight and try to stay on top of things. Just like people when they get older.

These tulips were the inspiration for an idea, which was meant to become this month’s fabric manipulation. But then, while stitching I had another idea, and so it goes.

My last attempt to create a curtain wasn’t at all what I was hoping for, but I still wanted to give the idea one more try. There was an old flowery bed sheet in my stack and I started to cut out and applique some individual flowers on a hand-made curtain. I like when light and shadow are an integral part of the design.
What you see on the left is the appliqued fabric with the light shining from behind. The top flower and butterfly are not cut yet. The image above right shows the reverse side, with the flowers being a bit blurred, but still recognizable. Reality beats blog pictures in this case, but you get the idea.

And here is one more impression in the morning light:

I’ve used reverse applique, because the stems and leaves are quite delicate and too much work to cut, pin and sew into place. Instead, I cut the flowers roughly from the bed sheet, sew them on and cut the excess away like in the image below. Will I ever applique the entire curtain? I don’t think so, but it doesn’t matter. Even just one flower or two make the curtain special in a humble way and I can always add more and let it grow slowly.

The important thing was to start and that can sometimes be difficult. Everyone is familiar with procrastination. Think of all the attempts to eat better, exercise more or clean the closet. Inertia sets in and…

Starting a creative project can be similar.

But last week, I made an interesting discovery, a technique to change one’s behavior. BJ Fogg  of Stanford University works with the principle that every permanent change starts with a small step. The concept is to create a tiny habit and attach it to the end of an existing one.

The unique feature is that the new behavior shouldn’t take longer than 30 seconds. Once the 30 seconds are over, it can be expanded if you feel like it. With that, procrastination is  out of the picture, because everyone has 30 seconds. Surprisingly, it really works. They were the best spent 30 seconds of last week.

What did I use it for? One of the things I did was to tackle the second biggest chaos zone in the house. You know, the kind, that looked like a thrift store had exploded into the 50 square feet of my front foyer. It was so big and messy that every time I passed I had to close my eyes. Well, not anymore.

If you feel the need for a change go to:

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11 Responses to “Flowers, Light, Shadows and How to Change Your Life”

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  1. terif says:

    I’m interested in the tiny habits program, mainly because I’m fascinated by educational psychology. I’m going to have to think up something I want to work on. Hmmm….

  2. Vicki K says:

    I like how the quiet stripes work with flowers and butterfly and hand stitches – pretty, pretty.

    Ok – so how did you go about your entry thrift store clear up – did you put things away, organize them, or get them out of the house? Did you really stick to the 30 seconds per day? I want to visualize the process!!

  3. kathrin says:

    Thanks Vicki. The assignment is that you look for a behavior that happens reliably and then attach a new habit. So whenever I came into the front door (did that a lot, because the weather was nice, I was in and out) and after placing the key on the landing, I would pick up one thing and put it away. Putting the key was really the anchor, to trigger the new behavior. I placed a paper bin for all the papers that enter my house. My plan was to throw out one piece of paper at a time, but once you start, might as pick up two or three. I stopped, when I got annoyed and it seemed like work. The 30 seconds are more a time guideline; Fogg suggests you go by numbers as in “I’m going to throw out 1 piece of paper”, or “After lunch I do three push-ups”. The system really works in a very subtle way. Or maybe not so subtle and I’m Pavlov and the dog at the same time?

  4. Katie says:

    That sounds like a fascinating way of developing a habit, and that curtain is lovely in that light. I have scraps of various fabrics that would be perfect for applique–I was wondering what to do with them!

  5. Katie says:

    That sounds like a fascinating way of developing a habit, and that curtain is lovely in that light. I have scraps of various fabrics that would be perfect for applique–I was wondering what to do with them!

  6. BlushingBeetle says:

    This is a lovely curtain and a lovely way to start new habits. I’ll have to start giving this a try!

  7. Funny, I had the same parrot tulips. I came home yesterday, after being gone for several days, the flowers had an unspeakably awful smell, so I threw them out. Wasn’t inspired at all. Love your curtains. Very simple and straight forward. I never would have thought of doing that.

  8. Ah, I love your work on the curtain! Around the holidays I cut out lots of flowers from patterned fabric and ironed them onto interfacing (or whatever that material is that you can then iron them onto something else). But now they’re sitting in a box. ; ) Maybe I need to take 30 seconds to try doing something w/ them!

  9. Your curtain is so beautiful. Your technique is a little like broderie perse I think, I have seen some wonderful Victorian quilts using this method with lots of lovely animals and flowers and household objects all jumbled up together on the fabric.

  10. Syl says:

    I just have to say, I am so glad you are back to blogging. I love your aesthetic sensibilities: textures on textures. I really appreciate that you post both your inspirations and your own projects; it’s helpful: jogs my own inspirations without feeling closed-ended, like mimicry. And when I’m problem solving, I often think back to the ways that you have solved problems: hand stitching, letting the structure show, patching, building layers, etc. It’s not a natural approach for me, but it is freeing in the way that true inspirations should be.

    In my constantly back-logged google reader, yours is always one I seek out and read every single post.

    So thank you, thank you, thank you, from a faithful reader!

  11. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Syl. I haven’t made enough this year, but I also love to getting inspired and dream about what I “could” make there were no time constraints. It’s a bit like reading travel guides sitting in your armchair, isn’t it?

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