New Year’s Resolutions

New Project, Old Project

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 treats us well and that we treat each other well. 

Let’s quickly review 2015, because it’s the thing to do:

In January of last year, I taught myself how to use my sewing machine. It was frustrating and tear-inducing and it sucked. I did it. 

A lot of my sewing project sucked. I spent a lot of time ripping stitches, swearing so loudly that I woke the dog. I completely ruined at least three things to the point where I never want to see that fabric again. I made myself bleed a bunch. I have scars from my iron. 

But I’m stupidly happy with how both my project and my year turned out. Little Something arrives in April, my cats have never been snugglier, our dog is an adorable idiot, and Mr. Something got a promotion. 

So. 2016. 

In 2016 I’ll continue to sew something new every month. I’ll also make two new (to me) recipes a week, with at least one being a crockpot recipe. At the end of the year, I’ll compile our favorites into The Something Family Cookbook.  

Sound good? I can think of infinite ways this could go sideways. It’s going to be great. 

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2015’s Project: Learn. 

Twenty Crafteen is almost over, friends. This year I made (deep breath): coasters, tote bags, crayon rolls, aprons, circle skirts (I miss wearing you so very much), a misshapen dress, baskets, zippered pouches, wine totes, pajama pants, pajama shorts, a nightgown, and baby blankets. 

I didn’t make everything I wanted to make. I was so hoping to make a dress that a) fit and b) I liked, but that didn’t quite happen. But. BUT. 

I started 2015 by texting my amazing friend a picture of my machine’s deconstructed bobbin case with the caption: “what is this and what did I do.” I cried over that stupid bobbin case. 

I started 2015 not knowing how to sew a straight line. 

I started 2015 with no handmade clothes in my closet. 

I started 2015 a less patient person. 

To really stick with a new skill, you have to be patient with yourself and forgiving of yourself, things I’m not sure I have ever done. Past Me had visions of the Wondrous Creations that would fly from my machine with no effort at all. I got frustrated when I realized that this would not be the case. I thought I was failing because I was inherently bad at sewing. 

I changed my expectations, but I still pushed myself to try more challenging projects. And now, at the tail end of the year, I have skills I didn’t have before. I’m proud as hell. And maybe a bit more forgiving of myself?

At the very least, my bobbin case doesn’t make me cry anymore. 

A Year of Projects: February’s Tote Bags

I started February’s project a few days early, in January. Now it’s officially February and I’ve already made four tote bags. I have a problem.

Here’s something I love about this year-long endeavor: I’m already so much better than I was a month ago. My fourth tote bag looks so much better than my first. Every mistake I make truly is an opportunity to learn, which, yes, is super cliche, but in this case it’s accurate.

For my third tote bag, I decided to make a gift for my friend’s son, who turns 5 in a few weeks. He loves Star Wars, Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc., so basically he’s awesome. I found some adorable Marvel Comics fabric at Jo-Ann, and put this together the other night:

photo 1

The tote measures 13″ tall by 11″ wide. I think it’s a good size for coloring books and comics. I made the strap a little shorter than I would for an adult so it doesn’t drag on the ground when carried by a teeny.

 

photo 2

The interior of the bag; I added a pocket (the Captain America part) with a label that says “To [Kid], From Amanda”

I think it looks adorable. I reinforced the straps and bottom of the bag like crazy, because littles tend to put a lot of stress on their stuff (I assume). I’m going to put a few coloring books and maybe this crayon roll in there and call it a gift. It only took about an hour (and that’s because I’m still new to this) and cost maybe $7–yay for fabric sales!

Lately I’ve felt like a motivational poster: “You can do it!” “Follow your dreams!” “Practice makes better!” But seriously: sewing is better than any therapist I’ve gone to, and I can’t wait to make more.

 

February’s Sewing Project!

It is still January, but you wouldn’t know it here on the Front Range. Seriously, it’s been in the high 60s the past few days, which is the perfect weather for Beach Boys and windows-down driving. My brain and body are confused–wasn’t it just your wedding anniversary, and didn’t it snow on your wedding day, and isn’t there still snow on your front lawn because your house shades it? Yes, yes, yes. Nothing makes sense.

But as January weirdly melts into February (see what I did there?), so changes my monthly sewing project. January’s project, you’ll recall, was these coasters. I made about five or six sets or variations, including two hot pads for casserole dishes. I sent a set to my mother-in-law (Mother Something, I guess), the lovely lady who gifted me my sewing machine a few years ago. She loved them! I practiced using fancy stitches and attempted sewing on a curve, which is REALLY HARD. I fixed many bobbin snarls and refilled my bobbin a few times and I didn’t even cry about any of it, but I did whine a lot.

I’m starting February’s project early, because a) I’m excited about it, b) I have all my supplies, and c) you can’t tell me what to do. If you’re sewing along, which could be fun or not or whatever, you do you, February’s project is this tote bagIt seems easy enough that I can make it to the pattern and then get whacky and do a bunch of variations/gifts/if I know you in real life, get ready for lots of presents this year.

THAT WAS A LOT OF WORDS IN A ROW.

tl;dr

January: coasters

February: tote bag

A Year of Projects: January’s Coasters

Yesterday, I figured out how to use my sewing machine. I’d used one before, in 7th grade sewing class, but since that was 17 years ago… I was a little rusty.

However, once my friend helped me put the bobbin holder thingy back in, I was up and running in what felt like no time at all. I sewed a few straight lines, clapped and squealed while my dog raised her eyebrows at me, and rushed out to the fabric store. My mission: supplies for these coasters.

As far as first projects go, they were simple enough that I could follow the instructions, and the end result was something more than just a piece of fabric with some thread running through it. I felt (and feel) accomplished. I can see the possibilities that this sewing machine has for me. Well, they aren’t the prettiest things in the world, but here’s my favorite part. You can tell which ones I made first and which I made last. I improved significantly as I went along, which is the point of this whole exercise!

My plan for today is to make a larger coaster/hot pad thing for casserole dishes. Every month, if I finish my project early, I can make more or make variations on that project while I plan next month’s.

January: coasters (done 1/5)

February: ?

New Year’s Resolution(s)

I used to make resolutions that were really hard to keep: “Be nicer.” “Exercise more.” “Keep the house tidy.” For me (and for many others), these sorts of resolutions don’t work. They aren’t concrete enough, and there isn’t enough quantifiable evidence that you’re working on them to track. These are also the sorts of resolutions that you can make every single year because they are just the sorts of things we’d all like to do. They are squishy.

Last year, my resolution was to keep my email inbox clean. I read the emails I needed to, deleted the rest, and unsubscribed from listservs I no longer cared about. It was really, really satisfying. I kept it up all year, and I’m still doing it. I made it a habit, and that habit stuck.

This, I think, is the point of resolutions: to create habits that are (hopefully) life-long. This also rarely happens. It is actually really hard to stick to new habits and get rid of old ones. (Duh.)

My resolution for 2015 is this:

  1. Learn how to use the sewing machine I got from my mother-in-law (a few Xmases ago).
  2. Complete one new project a month. If I mess up, I have to start over again and redo it until it is complete. By the end of the year, I should have at least 12 completed projects.
  3. Start small (coasters) and work to something big (I’d love to make a dress, but we’ll see how the year goes).
  4. I will ask for help when I need it. I’m not allowed to give up. If I end up with twelve months of coasters, pot holders, an apron, and some curtains, it will have been a success.

Obviously, I’m going to share each month’s projects here, even the ugly parts. (Because that’s my other resolution: make more mistakes/let other people see my mistakes. You’re welcome.)

Did you make resolutions for 2014? Did you keep them? Did that influence your resolutions for this year?