I’ve spent most of the last two days working on cutting and binding the edge of the dress hem: trimming the hem to a uniform length, cutting and sewing together bias strips of china silk, machine stitching the bias strips to the raw edge of the hem, trimming the seam allowance back to 1/8″, folding the bias strip over, and prick-stitching the raw edge of the bias strip down. And, finally, trimming the excess off the bias strip.
All this, for something that will not be seen in the finished garment.
This, naturally, got me to thinking about why I was doing this. And to me, the answer is simply integrity. To do the best workmanship I can, given time and skill constraints, is to work with integrity; and to work with integrity is sacred work – an offering to the Divine.
(I hate to use a capital letter there, because of the confusion with various other interpretations of the Divine – most notably the Judeo-Christian God, but also others of the sort that lay down rules, reward followers, and basically tell you what to do. My view of the Divine is simpler: it is all-that-is-worth-honoring, that thread of beauty and joy that runs through everything in creation, and that every creator touches and strives to capture in his/her work. I don’t think it’s self-aware, but it is sacred – quite possibly the only sacred thing.)
I am pretty serious about this, and I think it reflects in my work. In working, I strive for the same thing I feel in deep meditation; that focused awareness that connects with the Divine. This means paying attention to detail – making sure that I get every stitch right, that the weaving is well-done, that the “feel” of the work is just so. It is not something I think about, but something that, like meditation, I simply do. By my focus, by my attentive work, I call forth my connection to the Divine, and make my work sacred.
But beyond that – my work is a connection to the Divine, but the finished piece is also an offering to the Divine, something you would give to your root teacher (in Tibetan Buddhism, this essentially means the head of your spiritual lineage). Nothing less will do. It is possible for the finished piece to be less than perfect – perhaps you had time constraints, perhaps your skills weren’t up to it, perhaps you couldn’t afford the best materials – but it should represent the best you can do. To do less is to insult your Muse, and dishonors your relationship with the Divine.
This is how I approach my finished work, and that is why I am putting so much work into the dress. It may not be perfect – there are certainly flaws in it – but it represents my very best craftsmanship, given my skills and resources. It celebrates the Divine: my work is sacred.