I finished three new shoulder bags, out of a set of 10. I wanted to finish all 10 today; that may have been too ambitious a goal. I would have finished four bags, but I sewed a panel in upside down and then cut extra fabric from a squared off corner before noticing, essentially ruining it.
Related, I am in love with Instagram stories, which is strange because I don’t get/actively dislike Snapchat. Anyway, I didn’t finish everything I wanted to finish today, and I’m trying to be okay with that. I’m having such a good time with sewing, but I so badly want to be faster and better than I am. I know that will come with time, but I am not a patient person.
In addition to preparing for a craft show next month (Jack of All Trades in Oakland), I've been trying to make a quilt block every day. It has been a process; I think I'm averaging like 2 a week at this point. I'm working towards being okay with that; the idea that wanting to do something and having a goal doesn't mean that I will automatically achieve it. Making a quilt block takes time, obviously, and adjusting my life so I have that time every day isn't something that happens with no effort. I think the biggest challenge in dedicating myself to sewing as a craft is how much comes down to being focused and dedicated. I rarely feel as though I'm focused or dedicated enough, and when I look around at other people who are doing this, it seems so easy for them. Those are thoughts I try to avoid, because comparing yourself to other people (or, to the edited versions of their lives that they present online) is never a productive thing to do. What I try to do is focus my thoughts on sewing as a process, as a daily effort to improve. Approaching sewing with that attitude feels kind of amazing, when I'm able to do it, which isn't constant or easy.
So a lot has changed for me in the past two months! Amongst other things, I have refocused my energy on sewing. I'm trying to approach it in a more focused and disciplined way. Right now, I'm trying to use up as much of my fabric as possible. I've had so much of it for so long that it's gotten overwhelming to know where to start. This week has been shoulder bag week; I've taken apart nearly all my wool blazers and trousers, which honestly feels amazing. The thing is that I have all of these prepped exterior fabrics to use for shoulder bags, and I've got no fabric to use for linings. I've got a few new thrift stores I'm going to visit to try to find some shirts to use. Men's dress shirts are the absolute best thing to use for linings. The patterns always look natural as linings (stripes and checks), and they're so easy to take apart. Wool blazers are the most time-consuming clothing to take apart, tho getting a look at all the tailoring is quite interesting.
I'm currently preparing for a craft show next month--it's my first show in over a year, I am excited/terrified, whatevs--so I'm attempting to use up all the clothing I have so I can go to Jack of All Trades with as much product as possible. I have maybe been edging into hoarder territory, so much of what I'm using is semi-new to me. That includes this amazing Harris Tweed. It's not cut especially well, or rather it's just a very old-school dowdy blazer, but that herringbone pattern is maybe my favorite pattern ever.
I actually second-guessed whether I should even take this blazer apart and make it into a bag, but luckily there was a very large in the lining. That combined with the generally unimpressive cut makes me feel less bad about cutting it up.
It's frustrating that I still haven't gotten over that feeling, the idea that there's something bad about taking apart clothing that is literally one step from the landfill. No matter how beautiful the tailoring, no matter how beautiful Harris Tweed's work is, the reality is that there are literally thousands of wool blazers moldering away in basements and attics and thrift stores all across the country.. I'm not taking apart clothing that someone would otherwise be wearing; I'm making something useful from something that was going to waste. There are certainly some thrift store finds that are worth saving, and if the lining wasn't torn, I may have tried to resell the blazer as is. Ultimately though, this blazer will soon be a shoulder bag that will preserve the beautiful work done in the Outer Hebrides.
Life has been less of a struggle lately! For lack of a less self-indulgent way to put that. I've been focusing on building good routines and habits, and strangely enough, it's been working.
I make everything out of reused fabric, which is super rewarding but also frustrating. (Have I typed that exact sentence here before, or does it just seem familiar because I have that thought every time that I sew?) I'm thinking of a small expansion into new fabric, really just new solid color fabric to make it easier to use all my scrap fabric. I'm a little obsessed with scrap quilting at the moment.
Work has been a struggle, lately. Depression and anxiety are kind of the worst! Ha. I am fighting it though. I bought a new sewing machine today, with encouragement from everyone important in my life. I immediately finished two bags, so I actually feel good about the dumb amount of money I spent.
My new machine is the Janome Skyline S3. I'll write more about it when I've gotten a real handle on it. So far, it is my favorite thing.
It's really overwhelming how much depression and anxiety has influenced and continues to influence my life. I don't really know how to fully explain it to myself. I don't know that I even trust the understanding that I've reached so far. And it feels so self-indulgent and ridiculous to even talk about, but it's so strongly influencing my ability to make Chapman Handmade a real thing that it seems dishonest to not address it.
That's all I've got, I guess.
Or: sometimes I need a break from the sewing machine
Embroidery samplers traditionally have inspirational phrases, so Beyoncé lyrics seemed appropriate. I really want to do a new one, I just need to find the right lyric. I'm endlessly impressed by ladies who do original creative work in embroidery, because it's so hard for me to force my brain to work that way.
Embroidery on bags is much easier. Straight lines all the way.
I'm working on a new flower sampler though. I have high hopes that it'll turn out well. I'm working on large flowers this time. I have yet to find a really great source for embroidery stitches; I just Google different stitches and go for it. Any recommendations welcome.
I've been focused on making shoulder bags lately, and zip pouches, along with setting up this website. I haven't finished a quilt in what feels like ages, tho I have approximately 20 quilts that are in progress.
These three shirts are going to be a baby quilt. I'm going to finish taking apart the shirts when I'm done with this blog post! I have no idea how much fabric I'll end up with, but I'm hoping to get a 40x40" quilt out of it. We'll see!
This is the current iteration of a quilt I've been working on for a year. There's more of it, of course, but this version includes a lot more sizes of half-square triangles and variations. I keep doing this thing where I start improv quilts with a limited amount of fabric and then halfway through, I can't decide how to finish it and then convince myself I'll run out of fabric. Insert eyeroll emoji here. I'm determined to finish it this year though.
I was going to include photos of some more quilts I'm working on, but honestly, all I can think about now is making some progress. It's time to work .
I make things. I sew things. Chapman Handmade is about sewing new things from old things. I take old clothes and linens and remake them into shoulder bags, zip purses, pillows, and quilts. I focus on craftsmanship. I want to give new life to old fabric to save it from being discarded and to decrease consumption, but also because there's something special about owning a thing that already has memories and a history.
It's a strange thing to start a blog for my business, when I've had so many different personal blogs over the years. (My best friend and I found our LiveJournals last year, which was horrifying/hilarious.) It feels so personal to admit to the world how much sewing and Chapman Handmade means to me. It feels right though, to start a website, a blog; to start referring to it as a Business, instead of mumbling something about having an Etsy whenever it comes up in conversation. I've been making and selling tote bags and zip purses and other little things for a few years, both on Etsy and at small craft fairs, but for whatever reason*, it's been hard for me to learn how to take it and myself seriously. So, this is me doing that.
I have an Etsy store - chapmanhandmade.etsy.com - and an Instagram - instagram.com/chapmanhandmade and a Tumblr - chapmandhandmade.tumblr.com. You can check me out there. Soon there will be more here, too, as I figure out what I want this space to be.
*I know the reason, hello Anxiety/Depression, we meet again.