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Saturday, 5 March 2016

My Sewing Dilemmas

Bags crafted by eSheep Designs
Early on, before I knew it, I had created four bags...
two Professional Totes and two Bellas!
I confess to being totally blown away by the amount of sewing that some people do, when making my rounds at various blogs that I visit on a semi-regular basis.

While I understand that these folks are retired, the time that they commit to their sewing hobby must be more than the average job would entail! It's hard to imagine turning out three or four bags every couple of weeks when I can't even do it every couple of months.

So do I wish that I had more time or inclination to be a "super sewer"?

Actually no, because I have a couple of dilemmas that make it difficult for me to become a prolific crafter ever, no matter how much time I have at my disposal.

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When it comes to seeing a neat and nifty sewing project, three questions immediately spring to mind...
  1. Do I need it?
  2. Will I use it?
  3. What will I do with it?
If I can't say yes to either of the first two and can't dream up a good answer for the third question, it's not likely that that the project will come to life. When it comes to sewing, I'm doomed to be practical. (Actually it's not just sewing, I'm doomed to be practical about most things!)

Early on, I was of this mindset because I had to purchase supplies for projects and it was clear that a sewing hobby is not cheap. So in the beginning, I had to refrain from making everything that I thought was cool.

Having earned a few bucks through pattern sales and such, I no longer have an issue with affording supplies or justifying their prices. That said, when I look around my sewing room and see the various projects from the past few years literally hanging around, my concern is now one of not creating clutter. And while it's true that I can sell/give stuff away, the whole process of selling/giving stuff away also requires an investment of time and effort that has to fit into my schedule.

Perhaps the most important consideration is that I will use something that I make. Even if the item will end up being given away later on, whatever I make has to appeal to me on some basic level that I will use it... at least once.

Projects crafted by eSheep Designs
I managed to take all of these projects with me on a vacation last year!

As an example, I took many of my creations with me on vacation last September: my Crafty Cosmetics Caddy, my Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray, my Hot Hues Crossbody Convertible Fooler Bag, my kimono slippers, my Gadget Grab 'n' Go and my waxcloth bucket bag (inside of which was my ribbon wallet, coin purse and key case).

My hubby brought his slippers as well as his two gadget bags. And I have previously travelled with other purses that I've made, as well as that humongous Professional Tote (seen in the picture at the top of this post, which now has the job of containing all of my small travel items).

Another development that has arisen over the past couple of years is that I typically cannot drum up the interest to make more than "one" of something. What I mean is that while I was initially quite prepared to make a third Professional Tote (had Christine's Bella not come to my attention), I am now loathe to make anything — particularly a bag — a second time. (Unless there is an overriding reason, i.e., gift-giving, pattern development.) I find this odd because I have no problem reading the same books over and over again and don't mind rewatching favourite TV shows or movies.

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Is it truly the feeling that "I've conquered this and I don't need to do it again"? I don't know. (When I started this blog, I had a "Made to Order Bags" page, indicating that my sewing services were available for hire. I have long since retired that link, knowing full well that I am not cut out for doing that sort of work!) I see and hear about other bag makers turning out three of the same bags all at once — mind you, I do believe they tend to create the "assembly line" way — and I cannot imagine doing so myself.

What about you? Do you continue to make bags despite knowing they are piling up to the ceiling? Are you a "make one and be done" person or do you enjoy creating several versions of any given pattern?

Or do you have sewing dilemmas of a different sort?


  1. I hear you Rochelle and I do understand completely. I started testing bags a few years ago and for me it was partly because I was in search of the perfect bag for myself and partly because I wanted to learn. I also was tired of buying poorly written patterns! Testing and making bags is an education for me too. It's like I am getting free classes (although I pay for all my materials, except the pattern cost). I have found some handbags I really like, but still haven't found the 100% perfect one and I am now at the point that I may just have to design my own, since I have gained more knowledge and confidence to do so. But that means I will probably need to make a few handbags of my own design in order to perfect it. I usually do not make more than one of the same design either unless I am making a gift or someone has commissioned me to make them one, which has only happened once. I am not in the market to make custom bags, especially since I cannot sell the bags I have made that I don't use or want. I have sold a few bags for my cost or slightly more just to get rid of them as I have way too many and some just aren't my style. We all have our own tastes and needs concerning handbags. I am at a point now where I will only test a bag that appeals to me.

    I also knit and quilt too and while I don't need another quilt or knit item, I truly enjoy creating and learning something with each item I make. If I only made things for gifts and what I really needed to have, I would hardly ever sew or knit. If I rarely sewed or knit then my skills would not be as good. I have learned a lot and gotten so much better at my crafts by just doing and experimenting for fun too. So while I understand your list of do you need, want and will use it, I couldn't stop creating if I went by that alone.

    When I test a handbag, sometimes I use fabric I wouldn't have chosen for myself to use, because it's a test bag and I want to get rid of certain fabrics. Then if the bag turns out better than expected or I really like it enough to want one for myself, I may make the bag again in my colors. I think part of the testing is also the challenge I like and the deadline to push me into finishing it and not putting it off like I can do with my own projects.

    With applique and patchwork, I can use fabric scraps to test a new quilt block and see what I think before making dozens of blocks for a quilt. I have been (hoarding) collecting fabric for decades and I need to use it. I never or rarely buy fabric and making quilts and bags is one way to use up my huge collection of fabrics. Fabric is the only thing I have ever collected. I have been gifted with some of my fabric and at my groups we have a table that people put stuff they don't want anymore and I have received a lot of nice fabric that way too.

    The bag hardware is the only thing I have had to purchase and I bought some in bulk years ago to keep the cost down. Of course bag designers are always using new kinds of hardware and I would go broke just keeping up with the trends of the latest look in hardware! I have the basics like magnetic snaps, rings, and I broke down and bought twist lock closures years ago when they were all using those and then suddenly they all stopped using them for a long time and next it was the flip lock or thumb catch ones. I never bought rivets and now the thing is the metal corner things and the large oval grommet handles. I had only tried using the twist lock closure once and the ones I bought weren't the best kind.

  2. Well, my message became too much for the space...so, im directly emailing ya!

    1. I love it when my commenters contibute copious amounts to the discussion! SonJa apparently outdid Daryl in the length department so could not get her comment to post. Her "two cents worth" ran the gamut from here to there, but is worth sharing, so here is an (unedited; part of SonJa's charm is that her thoughts often run faster than her typing fingers... LOL!) excerpt:

      "As you know, i am one of those "make three or more at a time" bag girls. Even if ive never made the pattern before. Its just faster to make all the same parts at the same time, assembly line style. While. dO vary the fabrics and maybe tweak the pocket sizing on each bag, for the most part, they are the same.
      WHAT do i do with them? ...i support so many animal rescues, so it is easy for me to "lighten my load" of goods. I simply make things and give them to,the rescues for online and silient auctions. Sometimes they bring in alot, sometimes not so much.
      The cost? Yes, materials CAN add up. I did place a good sized bulk order of stples for purse hardware and zippers, but, like you, i get a good bit of stuff from recycled bags. Often times there are three thrift stores that get so many bags, they sell "a bag of bags" for $5...and with careful selection you can get tons and tons of hardware for five bucks this way! And often, lots of good fabric to use for smaller projects as well.
      Unlike you, i DO actually have a stash of fabrics as i started my sewing journey as a quilter, so i do have some. I like having them available and i do use it. Ive not bought much at all n the past two years, save for some occasion deals that could not be beat (such as that entire bolt of fabric for three or five bucks...whatever it was)...
      I do LOvE to make and will, i hope, always do so. Im not one to hoard up my made items. So, i can make anything and if it strikes my fancy to keep or gift, great, if not, i can donate to an animal rescue. I did prepare for this though. Two years before i "left the traditional workforce", i started building my stash, knowing i would not likely have the fdescretionary funds for it afterward...and it has worked quite well for me.
      As for your guidelines of need it, use it....i dont apply them to me really. I look and say...hmmmm, do i think someone might pay for this? Will someone be attracted to this? Is the investment of time i think it will take worth it? And, if it is from a pattern i think i have to PURCHaSE to construct, REALLY scrutinize and ask myself....can i make enough of them that it is worth the purchase? I dont really include the cost of the materials because so much has been here for so long and much of it so cheap or freebie recycled, the materials are negligible....or it seems that way (though i know we are "supposed" to count fabric cost at replacement cost...i just dont see myself EVER needing to buy NEW fabric at 10-12$ yard...or more!)
      So, make to make, because i enjoy the process."

      Thanks for sharing, SonJa!

  3. I can happily make multiples of the same item, but only for so long and then I need a change. I like to have projects on hand that require next to no thought, for times when I am tired, but still want to sew, and making several of the same usually means I don't have to think too much about the project, but can at the same time perfect the item. It gives me great satisfaction to finish an item and easy items the same enable lots of satisfaction. I've just finished 13 library bags to be donated. By the end, I just wanted them finished, but as they were cut out, I persisted. Upon finishing them, that feeling of satisfaction made me pleased I'd taken on the project.

    Having said that, I also like the challenge of sewing something completely new to me, but only a one off till I decide whether I like the process or not.


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