Friday, June 15, 2012

Spring SAW 2012 Part 2: Story Scarves

Preface: If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from Maya Donenfeld then you MUST DO IT!! I don't care if she is teaching a class in proper cabinet dusting methodology or how lick mailing envelopes, you MUST DO IT. She is my hero and she is amazing. I would make her a cape but I'm almost certain- like most fashion conscious superheroes- she already has one; in her case, though, it's likely made from reclaimed FedEx containers, recycled t-shirts, and burlap.

-Overview of the Class-

Beginning: The class started with setting up power for the sewing machines and preparing our workspaces. This was a bit of an anxious exercise; however, immediately after, Maya pulled us all out into the sun and arranged us in a circle. She spoke a few calming/encouraging words then asked us all to tell each other our name, where we were from, and why we were there (at SAW). This broke the ice and allowed us (as a class) to become focused on being present in the present and tapping into our MSOP (which stands for Mojo Standard Operating Procedure, aka creative process); we soon forgot about the anxiousness associated with preparing our workspace.

Maya then had us make a 5" x 6" sachet (later filled with dried lavender which she supplied) in order to allow each of us to become familiar/comfortable with the tools we'd be using during the day (rotary cutter and mat, ruler, sewing machine, iron, etc.) Concurrently, it was at this point, as we made the sachet, that Maya asked us to really start thinking about the story we wanted to tell with our scarf; she requested that we begin the process of sifting through and eventually making a pile of those materials we wanted to include.

The simple first project was really nice for intermediate sewers as well as complete newbies; it was great to start with something small and completely manageable. I could see that everyone's confidence level increased as they made their rectangle; additionally, we all left with an awesome little lavender sachet at the end of the day.

Middle: Once the sachet was constructed, Maya had us turn back to the materials we'd brought for our scarves; hopefully, by this point, most people had assembled a meaningful pile. We were then allowed to work at our own pace and MSOP.

Throughout this time Maya would stop and check in with each person; she wanted to know our direction, what story we wanted to tell, and was key in helping us cull and focus our narrative.

She also, at opportune intervals, provided quick and effective tutorials to those who wanted to add a ruffle or gather or other design element to their scarf. This was great because, even though we were immersed in our projects, we still learned new skills and techniques.


I want to note that Maya brought a ton of linen garments and scraps for us to use. This was very generous and helpful; I used an old linen skirt (provided by Maya) for the back of my scarf and likely would not have finished had she not brought the extra materials.

End: Toward the end of the class Maya gathered us together and demonstrated how to design and create a stamp from eraser material. She wanted each of us to carve a simple symbol, meaningful to us, which we could then use to sign our finished piece.

I believe the other reason for the stamp was to show us that we could take reclaimed materials (old linen skirts, drapes, etc.) and make them new by generating printed fabric of our own design.

Once we carved our design we stamped it on our scarf and sachet.

Wrap up: At the end of the day we assembled our projects and sat on the stairs of the playhouse for a group picture. If time had permitted, it would have been great to dedicate some time to gathering the group together to speak about each of the objects and learn the story behind everyone's scarves. I believe Maya wanted to give everyone as much time as possible to finish their scarf and, therefore, we didn't have the luxury of a group wrap up.

My MSOP: The scarf represents any given week in my life: I'm a working mom; I feel like I work all the time. The business shirts are my days (and sometimes my nights). My kids are in my heart every moment (represented by the robot patch on the pocket, where the heart is). The brief scraps of color represent the time I am able to piece together for creativity.

The scarf is made from my husband's old business shirts, strips/scraps of my favorite fabric, and a small patch of fabric which I designed for my kids (the robot over the pocket) using spoonflower.

At first I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my scarf or what story I wanted to tell. But, Maya has this uncanny ability to sense when someone needs help and guidance. She asked the right questions at the right time which allowed me to find my "fiber voice." After just one very brief conversation with Maya the story I wanted to tell clarified and I was able to set my own pace.

Thank you, Maya, for everything! You are beautiful and inspiring.


  1. You, my friend are many things. However, I have come to realize now that perhaps most of all you are a block carver/ definitely have a special talent for it! -J

    1. You are so wonderful.
      I really enjoy it! I just wish I could do it more than once a year; 2 year olds and carving knives don't mix well...