Hello and welcome! I’m Traci.
With Soft Tangents I am making space – space for experimentation and play, space for connection, space for my body to inhabit the world in an authentic and joyful way.
Defining Soft Tangents
- easy to mold, cut, compress, or fold; not hard or firm to the touch
- having a smooth surface or texture that is pleasant to touch; not rough or coarse.
- rounded; not angular.
- having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast rather than sharp definition.
- (of a voice or sound) quiet and gentle.
- (of rain, wind, or other natural force) not strong or violent.
- sympathetic, lenient, or compassionate, especially to a degree perceived as excessive; not strict or sufficiently strict.
- a straight line or plane that touches a curve or curved surface at a point, but if extended does not cross it at that point.
- a completely different line of thought or action.
Starting Where I Am
On the surface, this will be a place to catalog exploration. Lately I have been developing my sewing skills, so my posts will begin there, with an emphasis on learning to sew clothes that fit my body and my sense of style. I’m a fat, white, cisgender woman living in Los Angeles, and in my day job I have an independent creative practice where I work as a graphic designer and web developer. I love art, color, music, plants, and vegetarian food. I’m lucky to live a life surrounded by creative people.
What I’m Planning to Explore
I’ll begin with sharing makes from existing sewing patterns, trying some self-drafted patterns, and get into other embellishment techniques (like embroidery, printmaking, etc). I also like to knit, so some yarn will creep in around the edges. I’ll share peeks into my fabric stash and the music that was the soundtrack to my process. Follow along on instagram for casual, behind the scenes snapshots and teases.
Going deeper, the content may veer off into tangents on topics that inform my life and my making, such as body image, fatphobia, gender expression, personal style, feminism, social justice and mental health. This is an inclusive space where people from all walks of life are welcome, except haters – y’all can find some other corner of the internet to hang out.
Motivations for starting Soft Tangents
One reason that I am starting Soft Tangents is to keep a better record of the things I make and how I change along the way. I usually find it challenging to document what I’ve made – whether in my design work or in my hobbies. I am often in a rush to complete a project because most of my output is fueled by procrastination or hyperfixation.
My brain gets excited about, and motivated by, possibilities. I love to use my imagination and get amped up about what could be done. While sewing, this can manifest as excitement about transforming a 2D paper pattern into a 3D garment. Connecting the dots between the characteristics of a particular textile and the details of a particular design sparks my curiosity and gives me the motivation to start sewing.
Do I even like sewing?
Sometimes I wonder if I even actually like the sewing process itself? Sewing is hard work. It’s physically demanding, filled with technical difficulties and frustrating setbacks, and can be expensive. Despite all that, there is something about getting into the groove of a project and having something physical to focus on that brings me peace and quiets my mind.
Each project is truly an experiment. Beginning with a hypothesis about fabric, function and fit, then carrying out a series of steps until the result can be evaluated and tested. Along the way, the completion of each step is a boost that sustains the excitement.
Once the garment is complete though, I often have only a moment or two of “wow, I did it” before I’ve moved on (sometimes even before I’ve hemmed it, because hemming is very boring). Shortly thereafter, the garment has probably been incorporated into my wardrobe (if the experiment was successful), but mentally I’ve moved on and forgotten most of the process involved in making it and may not be able to recall many details about it.
Forgetting to remember
I don’t necessarily need to remember the process – this might just be an evolved survival skill to forget the difficulty of a previous journey so as not to be deterred from starting another one! However, I’m guessing that in the long term I would find it beneficial to my mental health to be able to reflect on the skills I’ve learned and chart my growth in a more linear way.
Plus, I think it will be fun just to watch how my personal style develops and morphs. I tend to not be very preoccupied with what’s “in fashion” during any given season, but my style preferences still follow my interests and evolve over time. I don’t currently feel like I have the language to describe my personal style, so I’m hoping this process will change that.
Sharing is (self) caring
I tend to be private, and writing like this is outside of my comfort zone. So, why document projects in this format instead of keeping a personal journal? Why start a blog in 2021?
Honestly (perhaps too honestly), I’m hoping the idea of sharing skills with others may lessen the guilt and shame I feel over having a “superficial” hobby (clearly a lot to unpack there). I think that shame for me is an emotion with origins in public, that magnifies and grows in isolation, so turning around and confronting it publically is the only way to defeat it. We can get into that another time.
Do internet publishing trends seem to come and go like fashion trends? Social media platforms are skinny jeans and personal websites are wide leg pants? I am here to spread out and take up space. I love the freedom of blogging and hope more people see the value of owning their own content. There are no rules here; no algorithm to hack, no character limit to edit for. Reflections can come at whatever pace I see fit. For me, that pace will vary greatly. I’m old enough to miss when the internet was weird and will do my part to bring some of it back.
Practice makes progress
I hope that watching me make things will inspire your own creative journey. There’s no substitute for getting actual hands-on experience, but watching other people make things has been really helpful in my development. I’m especially grateful to people who share their failures along with their successes. There’s so much sweat equity saved by witnessing those ‘teachable moments’!
I plan to share a full spectrum of projects to pay that forward, give you a chance to not repeat my mistakes, and try not to spread an unrealistic perception that everything is always sunny at the sewing table.
Above and beyond
As a stretch goal, I’m hoping this project will reach beyond my own perspective. I’d like to invite friends and fellow makers to share their experiences defining their own personal style and develop community through making. Please reach out if you’re interested in collaborating!
Happy making, space cadets
Post Gratitude: Thank you to Lindsey Garland Domes for helping brainstorm the name with me, to Liza Bernstein for coaching me through this intro post and beyond, to Greg Katz for listening to me sew late into the night, and to everyone else who has been encouraging along the way!
My college anime club used to have cosplay meetings where people sew their cosplays together. I'd like to get back into it so I'm excited to read more posts about your sewing process!