About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Thursday, April 26, 2018

How hard can it be?

The title of this post is the motto of my life.

For those of you who are wondering what my life motto is.

Well there you have it.

I am the sort of person who expects things to turn out, it's just my nature. When things don't I immediately figure it's only a matter of time.

This approach isn't probably as wonderful as it sounds. There are some pitfalls. For instance I have an appalling sense of direction and should be more organized in figuring out how to get places. Instead I mostly head out and assume I will find my destination eventually. Sometimes it takes hours. I probably married someone who was clearly unsuitable first time out with too for example. Oh well on that one.

Mostly I always expect that somehow I will figure things out. When faced with a new project or an opportunity, back to the motto, my first thought is - well how hard can it be?

I inherit this trait from my father.

My dad was a dedicated DYI-er. I remember once as a teenager watching him get ready to go off and teach cross-country skiing lessons. He had cut off a pair of navy serge dress pants and gathered them at the knees himself to sort of look like knickerbockers and was headed out the door.

"Dad do you know how to cross-country ski?" I asked him.

"Well I got a book from the library," he said.

"How hard can it be?"

This same attitude occasionally sends me off into uncharted sewing territory.

For instance I have recently decided to make bags.

My reason for doing this is that I haven't done this before.

I joined some FB groups of bag makers where I quickly discovered that making bags is a lot of hard work and requires some elaborate gear, tons of pattern pieces, and even more patience and perseverance.

I streamlined my expectations right away.

The keys I discovered are two things:

1. Getting in structure. Best are fusible fleece or foam interfacing (apparently this is also called headliner foam and you can get it at an auto body shop except I don't go to auto body shops so I got mine at Joann's in the US and I believe it is easy to get online.) With the foam I just zig zagged it on to the main fabric. This stuff saves the project from looking exactly like a home-made tote bag.

2. Hardware. The metal parts really are an easy way to make a simple sewing job look more professional. I got mine from the fabulous Emmaline Bags, which BTW also has great tutorials as well as the free Miss Maggie pattern I used for the bags below. Using some hardware, like rivets, is also an excellent way of getting around the bulk issue with things like sewing on straps. Purse feet are another nice touch and I think add to the durability of the bags.

The other big thing I discovered was cork fabric. This is really just cork laminated onto a poly backing (no it doesn't swell up in the rain) and sews like a double knit. I did find that a teflon foot was important to keep the cork moving smoothly under the needle but that was the only technical adjustment I made.

The natural bag pictured here was made with some packaged cork I got in a machine dealer's store in Texas but the black cork from MM Cork is a much more superior quality. MM also sells remade straps too which might be handy, although I sewed my own.

The concealed zipper application in both bags is from an Emmaline add-on tutorial.

I also made my husband a new wallet from some scraps using this pattern from Mrs. H.

So really in the universe of bag making both of these bags are very, very simple but I have developed a work around by deciding that simple is more classic and looks more expensive.

Justifying laziness is near the top of my list of challenges I line up under how hard can it be.

Actually in the case of bag making, really not all that hard.


Janome Gnome said...

I’m similar. And when it goes askew I tend to announce that Picasso and DaVinci were allowed sketches before they nailed it, then carry on. I just finished a brilliant book I thought you’d like. A Man Called Ove. It’s a Swedish novel that’s been a massive hit since translation to English, so you may know it. It’s a study of how quiet men get to be people who say what they feel by doing and making things for people. Beautifully written. Struck me it might appeal.

Shirley said...

I love this post and the way you look at the things, great bag and wallet too! Pippi Longstocking has a saying, something like: “I’ve never done it before, so I think I can do it.” That’s the way to go.
Kind regards from The Netherlands, Shirley

Summer Flies said...

Yes I'm a bit the same. The motivation may come from thrift (tight-assiness?) but also because some things just aren't that hard and if you don't have a go, you'll never know. I made my sister's wedding dress when I was 26. I remember her taking me to the shop of the designer, trying it on the dresses and then telling me she wanted that, but at $1200 in 1987 impossible to buy. I bought $120 worth of fabric (a fortune for me as I was making $50 per week) and just doing it. I didn't have blogs to tell me that it was hard, or do a test run and it never occurred to me to look at a book or even to 'fit' it. I just did it. It was a heavy crepe backed satin, and I triple stitched the skirt to the bodice, flipped it around to discover the skirt was inside out! I couldn't even get angry, my Mum knew to stay away and I locked myself in my room for 3 hours and unpicked it and then sewed it on. My aunt felt so sorry for me that she hemmed the skirt! What I didn't realise then and took a big event 25 years later for me to understand, is that I will not be beaten if I want to do something. I don't pull it out often but when I do.. there is no stopping me.

Leigh said...

Yes! How hard could it be? And you know, it really does work! Hardly ever took the pre-requisites in college, didn't bother with that pesky 'experience' in jobs, just got in there and did them. I saw an arbor at the home show for $3000. I turned to husband - let's make one. How hard could it be? It still stands in my yard. Sure there's the odd problem, but meh, it'll be fine soon. LOL