Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sometimes you can save too much money...


I should have bought the pattern.

This particular exercise in frustration started with what seemed like a good idea at the time. A friend & I were perusing the vendors at a local quilt show early in November. We spied a demonstration going on and watched while a lady explained how to make this nifty three pocket purse. The pattern was a brand new one debuted at Market in Houston the previous week and this local shop hadn't even received their shipment yet. But of course, you could pay now and have the pattern sent to you once it arrived at their store. Well, the concept seemed so simple that my friend and I looked at each other and mouthed, "We don't need the pattern, do we?"

That night, I played around with folding a piece of paper to lock the basics of this idea in my brain. Basically, you just take two squares of fabric with batting in between, quilt it any way you want and bind the edges. Then by folding on the diagonal and stitching two seams, the basic bag is formed and the points become flaps and outside pockets when folded in place. I could think of so many possibilities for creative variations by changing the size of the square, using patchwork instead of wholecloth, using heavier dec fabrics and eliminating the batting all together. I could see many personalized purses hanging from my shoulder and given as gifts.

When my father would let his Depression Era make-do training kick in only to waste a lot of time and effort (and sometimes ending up having to get those things he was trying to avoid buying), he'd look at me and say, "Sometimes you can save too much money." My two days of working on this "quick & easy" project have made me realize that once again, I made things a lot harder on myself than necessary, all in the name of saving a buck.

It started with my choice of fabric. Didn't want to spend time quilting and binding a square. But I had a pair of worn flannel-lined jeans I'd cut up and saved and was about to pitch (really - I'll never make one of those rag quilts). Wouldn't take much to piece some sections together and it should be heavy enough to avoid a batting layer. Plus, I can just overlap the jean sections and run a decorative stitch along the raw edge - do the same for the outside edge and just let it ravel. What a time saver! Except that I had second thoughts about the weight of the finished project so fused suit weight interfacing to the flannel. And I still had to run some stitches to secure the flannel and denim together. Just used random straight lines of the same decorative stitching...and ran out of that color of thread. Decided that was enough for one day as I had to run off to my guild Christmas party. Rats, and I really wanted to have that purse to show off during show and tell!

I tried to start off Tuesday with more optimism, but right off the top I needed to address finishing the edge. The thread color was the biggest issue - had nothing remotely like it. Kept trying to remind myself, this is a prototype - it doesn't have to be PERFECT. But I don't listen to myself very well. I spent some time stitching on a scrap trying different threads and decorative stitches and ended up back with my original stitch and black thread. How creative. I was starting to feel like a real clutz, dropping bobbins as I changed them, wrapping the thread on the spindle instead of the bobbin when I went to refill it, making tons of stupid mistakes. But eventually I got the edges stitched and trimmed and now it was time to figure out where the velcro and side seam stitching belonged. Oh yeah, the gal mentioned you could add straps as well (although her demo bag had none) and just HOW do you do that? I cut a strip of denim, folded it over and stitched it like the edge and hid the ends under the velcro. Eventually I got all the sewing done and it was time to turn the side points and tack. I was losing my patience big time and ruing my frugality as well. I began to suspect there were additional tips and tricks included in the pattern that the demo lady failed to share. Some of my seams fell in absolutely the wrong places which made the turning hard. And just how was I to tack that point like she said? In real defiance, I grabbed a bottle of Fabri-Tac and glued that sucker in place. That's when I realized I needed to take a break.

I was definitely calmer after lunch, got the other side turned and calmly tacked with thread, glue tacked a couple other spots for security and considered what to use, if anything, as closures for the flaps. Not buttons (no way am I doing buttonholes or tabs of some kind on this), not snaps (to my surprise, I had none on hand, just hooks). Well, I guess I'm back to Velcro, but didn't want to have to sew it on. So out came the glue bottle once more and with velcro in place, I set it all aside for the night.

So yesterday ended on a very down note. I did not feel very clever. I did not feel creatively satisfied. I had lost all enthusiasm for making more of these (unless of course I get my hands on that pattern!) and I was pretty mad at myself for falling into that trap of thinking I was making things simpler only to make them just as complicated and time consuming - possibly more so. The good news is that when I looked at the purse this morning, I decided it wasn't as bad as all that, there was nothing more I needed to do to it and I could move on to something else. Yeah!

1 comment:

Felicity said...

Sorry to laugh at your expense but this was so funny! It reminds me of a little bag I made - never made one before - but the instructions were literally 1 2 3 easy peasy. It took 3 days and many phone calls to finish it but I was determined not to let it get the better of me! Silly little thing was good for nothing after all, too floppy!