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Behind The Scenes

The 5 Improv Lessons Julia Bergen Applies to Her Business

When we heard that Julia Bergen of Do Re Mi Jewels moved to Chicago to attend The Second City’s Conservatory Program for Music Improv, we were all like, “Yes, more on that, please.” The cross-stich maven spends her weekends holed up in the classroom learning how to create songs on-the-spot, turning ideas floating around in her head into full-blown pieces of music mastery. But what does that have to do with her jewelry line? Well, you’re about to find out. These are the five takeaways that most definitely apply. —carlye wisel Sense of Humor: “You’ve gotta be able to laugh at yourself. Any creative endeavor is about constantly growing and changing shape, and the ability to laugh at yourself helps with growing pains. If you’re having fun doing what you love, others pick up on it, and it’s infectious!” Persistence: “Keep on keepin’ on! Some days you feel like you have zero energy, but part of being a performer—and of having your own business—is pushing through those lulls and making it work. It helps to have a different focus to bring new motivation both onstage and in studio. Onstage, I might explore new characters one day, and focus on movement the next. With my business, some days are filled with more writing, maintaining the website, or sketching new designs.” Positive Thinking: “Staying positive is directly related to persistence for me. I make sure that I feel gratitude for successes small and large, and keep checking in with myself about the future goals that I’m working towards. It’s all a balance of acknowledging what has happened and what you want to happen next. Just like with improv, staying in the moment allows you to be the truest to your vision.” Play!: “Take time to play in all areas of your life. When your guard is down, you discover so many new ideas, and you have less stress and a sense of flow. Try out new ideas and don’t be afraid of creating something ugly! Not every note will be beautiful; not every sketch will be completed. Not all creative impulses are created equal, but the less-than-stellar ones are just as important to the process as the golden ones.” Baby Steps: “While the instinct to already be at the finish line is there, take baby steps towards your goal. I’m still at the beginning of my musical-improvisation road and have just started getting my jewelry and design business on its feet. With the slower pace, I’m able to feel out what I like, what I don’t like, and where I need to improve. I take comfort in knowing that I am actively working towards my dreams, and these early stages are a part of it.” Come back tomorrow to see what Julia improvised for us. Sign up for our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss out!
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Do Re Mi’s Easy-Peasy Guide To Cross-Stitch

You have probably dabbled in knitting and have likely braided up a friendship bracelet or four. Well, now it’s time to get down with cross-stitch. And we have just the gal to teach you: Julia Bergen, who painstakingly created each of the little cross-stitch wonders for her edition of necklaces, is an expert on all things threaded and is happy to get you started (and share some of her own work to get you even more motivated). —carlye wisel Get Julia’s all-stitched-up necklace while you can! Just 30 of ‘em in the world! Julia’s creations: Julia’s personal mantra, all stitched up.“Cross-stich over a photo transfer—this picture is of my dad and his brother, when their family lived in Kanpur, India.”“I’m interested in cross-stitching in a larger scale—like this pegboard—and seeing how it affects my work.”Julia’s how-to:Materials:+ Cross-stitch fabric+ Embroidery thread+ Needle+ Scissors A tip from Julia: “Cross-stitching from a pattern bought at a store or designed yourself is all about counting. A highlighter can be helpful to keep yourself on track: Just mark the stitches you’ve done on the pattern.”Instructions:Step 1: Thread Tailin’”Embroidery thread is made up of six strands. Separate two of these strands to thread your needle for stitching. (It helps to keep two strands in your mouth, as you peel away the other four. Sometimes thread has separation anxiety, so doing this will minimize knotting.) After threading your needle, pull it through one of the holes in the fabric. You’ll be pulling it almost completely through, but leave a little tail.” Step 2: Securing the Thread Tail“Cross-stitch fabric is a grid that’s formed by small holes. With cross-stitch, you are making small Xs in each square of the grid. While holding the thread tail with one hand, pull the needle through the hole that is diagonally across from your starting point. If your stitch looks like a forward slash, you’re in the right spot!” “Still holding the thread tail, turn the fabric over. While being careful not to completely pull the thread strand through, place the needle in the hole directly across from the hole your needle just came through. This stitch will be crossing over the thread tail, securing it in place.” “Does it look like this? If so, blue ribbons all around!”Step 3 Get Stitching!“Now that you have the thread tail secured, you can start whipping out stitches! Starting out, you may need to continually flip the fabric over to make sure that your needle is inserted into the correct hole. Eventually you’ll get a feel of where the needle needs to be.  Each stitch will be going from the hole at the bottom corner of the grid square to the top hole. Keep your stitches going in one direction. Since I’m a righty, I stitch from left to right, but you should follow the direction that feels most natural.” “Once you have finished the row in one direction, start going back over your forward dash to create your backslash stitch. You’ll be crossing over your last stitches to form a small X.” Step 4: Finishing the Stitches “This step if for when you are running out of thread and need to use new strands, or when you are complete with your stitching. Making sure that your thread and needle are coming out of the backside of your fabric, thread the needle under the first 3 or 4 stitches. Pull your needle through the stitch tunnel and your thread is now secured! You can now snip the thread, and shout to the heavens that you know how to cross-stitch!”
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