Friday, October 7, 2011

Sewing Writer's Block

 I have curtains! This is my studio- seen here. There are lots more pictures of this space coming! Bill recently built a custom daybed for this window. It's ready for paint, but we can't give it up long enough to let the coats dry. We also have plans to build a spool art table for the other corner. I am currently in the process of completing my wall art with scraps from the bathroom we gutted for additional closet space. That hit a delay, because I didn't listen to my husband. You'll hear that story soon. Bill also built new shelves in the existing closet. And I am painting and re-upolstering a chair Bill's grandfather built for my sewing chair. This space is really coming together and is now one of our favorite spots in the house.

Back to the curtains- I picked out this fabric at Ikea- mentioned here. It was the inspiration for my studio/ home office, but the fabric sat in the drawer for a year. I couldn't even use the space in the winter from the chill through the single paned curtain-less windows. I thought I would share what I have learned about myself through this sewing drought by reviewing the 4 items that will apparently stop me dead in my tracks and avoid sewing an essential item like it was disease infested. 

Number 1: the astronomical price of bias tape. Well it's only a few dollars, but I needed a lot of it for 4 curtains. And it added up to an amount I felt was unreasonable for notions. Also I needed buttons. LOTS of buttons. I couldn't stomach having such a large receipt dedicated to bias tape and buttons, so I just didn't buy them. 
Note to self: waiting one year did not make them cheaper, did not allow me to think of a different solution, and the month where we had an extra $40 magically allocated to the fine category of 'sewing notions' never came. 
In the end, I didn't buy all the buttons that the pattern suggested and it made me feel a little better. 

Number 2: Adding backing. I decided to add a white fabric as backing so it would be thicker and more energy efficient. This added a step that was not part of the pattern. Evidently this terrified me.

Number 3: I have very odd shaped windows. They are wide and short and since they are cornered together one side is longer than the other. I have sewn many patterns in my life and I have made my own patterns, but I have not used a pattern to make something custom. I had to measure my windows and then figure out what that meant on the pattern itself. Again for no apparent reason this made me nervous.

Number 4: I have never used fabric that wasn't from the JoAnn's sale rack or my mom's stash. I was terrified to make a mistake on my precious Ikea fabric. Eventhough, I think it was only $9.99 a yard. This may explain my irrational fear of home decor fabric.

In the end my mother and mother-in-law came for the day, armed with their sewing machines and years of experience. They worked away sharing stories of their first sewing machines and who taught them to sew. I worked away at my real job and listened contently to their happy chatter. In some ways, the day was validating. There were many Pow-wows, rethinking, reworking, LOTS of seam ripping, and in the end the curtains were still a bit wider than the windows. They hit all the walls and made all the mistakes that I was scared to. It's just part of the process. Even still, they both said they wanted to make more of them when they were finished, since they finally found their rhythm by the third curtain.
All this to say, sewing has a huge learning curve. EVERY time. The first time you make a project it will never be perfect. You will always learn something. You will always make a mistake. You will use your seam ripper on nearly every project. Once you finally 'get it', you will want to make a million more and sell them on etsy. Then you will get bored the third time and move on. I don't know many things that are like sewing. 
I remember one winter I was toiling away making a suit of armor for my nephew. My machine bound up every hour or so. I was constantly ripping, reworking. My husband questioned how it was fun at all and if I really enjoyed it. Then I finished. He couldn't believe I made it. And I think he saw how it was all worth it. The pains of labor make you love it even more. So don't let fear of failure overtake you. And as far as money: Yes, these curtains were probably more expensive to make then the curtains in my son's room that I bought at Target, but they are custom handmade curtains. No one has them. This is something our mass produced Wal-Mart world makes us forget. These curtains have a story. They have memories. They share all my mother and mother-in-laws stories too. You can't put a dollar amount on that.

 What is the project that is beating you? What fabric or pattern is sitting on your shelf or in your drawer waiting to be tackled? What fears are holding you back?


  1. Thanks for sharing your curtain story. And you are could fit most any adventure or new step that someone is contemplating taking. The seam ripper is a valuable tool. My adventures are more in the computer graphics department and I am going through a phase of learning how to enjoy digitally erasing!

  2. Thanks for reading! Yes, the fear of failure can apply to many projects. Good luck with your editing. I hope your eraser tools give you the strength to power through any mental road blocks that come your way!


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