A few of the comments from “Design Inspiration: Quirky, Casual 40’s Dresses” proved rather thought-provoking because design inspiration always touches on questions of taste. I like being challenged, especially when I am challenged by sewists for whom I have a great deal of respect. Sometimes I feel like the sewing blogosphere is almost too opinion-free. It’s ok to respectfully disagree!
Leimomi said “I think you have a fatal attraction to mullet skirts.” She’s right. I do. Yet I’m as unworried by her scorn of mullet skirts as she is by my dislike of the gilded fabrics which are so close to her heart, which is kind of awesome.
Lauren (and several others) would- “I actually really love the first dress with the double collar and inset. I would totally wear it :)” And you know, I think it would work for her. I can see it.
The beret in one of the illustrations also caused a slight controversy.
Everyone has their own preferences and styles- their own particular taste. Some tastes must be slowly acquired, some tastes appeal to millions. What makes the difference? If someone has different taste to your own, does that mean they have bad taste?
I don’t think so. Leimomi and Lauren both have their own individual styles which reflect who they are as people and as sewists. I respect that. Further, I respect their work- the actual physical effort that goes into creation. I think that is very important to remember when you work with your hands- respect for the work.
When I first started working at the quilt shop, I had a narrow idea of what made a “good” quilt. I believed anything else was rubbish and a waste of time. Such arrogance. To me, a “good” quilt was made of scraps or a single fabric paired with white. It should be made of rigid, self-contained little blocks to create a geometric repeat. The blocks could be machine pieced, but machine quilting was scoffable- barely acceptable.
I was such a narrow-minded quilt snob, I sometimes turned up my prissy nose when seasoned quilters and my quilting mentors put fabrics together that didn’t fit what I thought a quilt “should” be. However, I learned to set aside my own personal “taste” in order to perform my job well. I learned to help people put together fabrics and colors that reflected the vision in their minds or the picture in the magazine rather than what *I* would do, and had fun with it.
Quilters often came back to see us when they completed a project. That’s how I learned to open up my ideas about what a quilt could be. Every time I see a completed quilt I am blown away by the skill, imagination and number of work-hours necessary to complete it- even if I wouldn’t necessarily use the fabrics or techniques the maker employed.
I ceased to be judgmental about machine quilting as I admired the smooth, evenly curved stitching of a skilled free-motion quilter and practiced every day for months to try to replicate her stitching. I still can’t. From the first bargello quilt I saw, I realized how wrong I was about small, perfectly geometric blocks being the only way to go. And who can say whether or not lime green and violent purple sparkles belong together on a quilt if it makes someone’s eyes light up with glee?
It’s certainly not my call. If someone chooses to make something that’s outside the bounds of what I would, it’s not because they have “bad” taste. I began to understand that accepting others can have their own tastes doesn’t mean mine is any less good or valid. Taste is unquantifiable, it’s merely an opinion.
Most accomplished quilters and sewists I know in real life don’t give a monkey’s left lychee whether you like what they do because they’re sewing to please themselves. I like that attitude; sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the age of the sewists and quilters I know. Is it one of those wonderful attitudes that comes with life experience? I try to cultivate that kind of sewing confidence in my beginners and intermediates- it’s so much simpler than trying to create things to please everyone else.
So that brings me back to the question of truly bad taste. Even though “different” doesn’t mean “bad” to me, there’s some lines that should remain uncrossed (at least in my book)-
- Effort- I really, truly admire hard work of any kind. Not necessarily perfect work, but the neatest work possible. I doubt I will ever be impressed by smugly slapdash sewing efforts. Go figure, I teach sewing.
- Underwear- I fantasize about launching a 1 woman campaign for freeing the public space of visible underwear. Maybe I’ll make some posters, have a parade or something. Today, I saw a very large older man wearing something like this and puked a little bit in the back of my throat: (in his defense, he was all muscle)
- Slogans or outfits that are racist, mock dead people or religions, glorify violence, etc.
That’s about it for me. Those are my “good taste/bad taste” deal breakers. What about you? What’s your opinion on good and bad taste? Do you worry whether people will like the things you make and wear, or have you passed the point of giving a monkey’s lychee?
(I’d like to make a few more pattern alteration posts. What would you like to see?)