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Friday, July 24, 2015

July 24, 2015

So, I made this commitment to finishing up backlogged projects. That's a thing. A thing that I have not posted about in two weeks. I did start a project about two weeks ago. A fairly easy one. I expected it to go by quickly, but something like perfectionism really got to me (which is odd because I don't consider myself a perfectionist) and left me pretty well paralyzed for a while.

Let's talk about The One That Almost Did Me (and this whole project) In.

Here it is:

Yep. A drawstring backpack. There's a whole story to it. It really is a project I've been sitting on for a while.

I like to walk to this coffee shop that is about a mile and a half from my house* on mornings when I don't have to work, but I'm wimpy and don't like to carry anything heavy. String backpacks are the lightest (and most balanced!) way to carry a book and a wallet that I've found, and they're fairly easy to come by. I don't think I've ever actually paid for one; they're usually handed out free at the local teacher 5K where my coworkers and I annually bring up the rear. However, while free is nice, those bags are usually ugly -- made of that material that's not quite fabric but not quite paper and covered with advertisements for local shops. (Oh, but thanks for sponsoring us teachers, local shops! I don't mean to suggest that I don't appreciate it!)

I've had it in the back of my head for a while (like, two years) that I should just make my own out of a prettier fabric, but those plans really started to come together about six months ago. I'd just made myself a different sort of drawstring pouch for carrying my embroidery in since the one I had been using (that I think came around a gift set of soaps when I originally got it) finally fell apart. Making that bag was much more complicated than I imagined it would be, but the end product was nice, and it made me start thinking about finally getting around to making a nice "walk to the coffee shop" backpack.

The purple fabric comes from a dress I bought at the thrift store. Its long, loose silhouette reminded me of the dark mori girl aesthetic, which I really love, so I bought it without really being mindful of the fact that visual kei stuff looks very different on doughy blond women of almost 40 than it does on the waifs who model it. I never did wear it out of the house. I got as far as cutting it into a useable piece of fabric and then stuck it into my sewing box, to be forgotten until I pulled it out to attend to as part of this project.

Ok. So there's even more backstory.

This is my backpack from college:

 It was also my best friend's backpack when she went to college (we were both non-traditional adult students and not the just out of high school kind). I was grateful to her for giving it to me because I could not afford another at the time. It was in pretty rough shape though, and over the four years that I carried it, it burst many seams, especially around the front pocket (that zipper just really wanted to come off.)

Every time a new hole appeared, I'd sew it back together. I knew that my stitching left something to be desired, and I wasn't motivated to even try to be neat, so I went the opposite route, using brightly colored embroidery floss and making my stitches as obvious and uneven as possible.

This was my favorite part:

You can't really see it, but the pink stitches are little X-es.

My original plan had been to do the string backpack similarly, but I realized that I'd kind ofoutgrown that sort of willful messiness. I thought it would look forced if I tried it, so I decided I'd do this one as neatly as possible. Besides, it would give me an opportunity to practice my sewing. I'd love to someday do machine-perfect, even granny stitches even though J says, "If the stitches were perfect, how would people know it was hand made?"

This is a week's worth of effort at making a straight line:

I pulled those damn stitches out and started over SO many times. And they're still not straight.

I pretend like I have a really good handle on the growth mindset. I get it. You have to be bad before you can be good. But I've BEEN bad at this for a LONG time, and I was working really hard at being good this time. It really surprised and frustrated me that I didn't have a magical breakthrough fueled by past failure and good intentions. Maybe someday I'll be a granny-level seamstress, but it will take a lot more work than I've done here.

I wound up stuffing the thing back in my basket, letting my guilt about its unfinished state (and this neglected blog) build until this evening when I threw on my headphones and sewed for three hours straight.

Ha. I have a finished project, a blog post, AND a backpack that is not made of weird paper-fabric. (What is that stuff anyway?)

Now I need to think of something to do for next week.

* The coffee shop is almost directly between my MiL's house and my condo, so this ritual actually went uninterrupted for the year that we lived at her house.

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