Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Adventures in Sewing Up a "Simple' Bag

Last week I took a class in making a simple bag that afforded me some valuable reminders in sewing and life. I should have known better. The class sounded like a fun way to spend an afternoon sewing with friends, that ended with an attractive bag for carrying stuff. The sample at the Bobbin Case was quite nice and the construction technique looked and sounded so simple. I very conveniently forgot my past frustrations with bag construction and the simple lesson that no matter how easy something looks, one rarely finishes a class project in the class.

Lesson One: 
Simple does not mean quick.

We started out with the opportunity to practice free motion quilting by assembling two yards of complementary fabric in a sandwich and quilting it. This was quite enjoyable as I do a lot of free motion quilting. The bag construction phase of the class started off smoothly enough. I got to practice making a feld seam which I had long forgotten. Then I looked at the clock. Oops. I began to realize that I just might not get the bag done in one afternoon. This should not have been a big deal but, of course, in true 'Judy fashion', I had brazenly sandwiched the class into a very busy week. I immediately began to feel pressure to finish the project now.

Lesson Two: 
Pacing is essential in life.

This self-imposed stress immediately began to take the fun out of the sewing. Fortunately, I had enough awareness to appreciate this and decide to just leave everything and return the next day to finish up. (The Bobbin Case staff was wonderfully understanding about this idea.)

Lesson Three: 
When in doubt, breathe and let go.

I returned the next day to 'finish up' my project. I fully expected to whip through the end of the construction and walk out in an hour. Ha! Things started out smoothly and then I got to the final step of attaching my handles. I looked at the strips I had prepared the day before and realized I needed to change my construction method. It was all downhill from there. Anything I tried did not work. Frustration was a polite way of describing my entire attitude towards those handles. Being surrounded by a group of sweet, caring ladies trying to help me only increased my frustration with myself. I realized how ridiculous I was being. I was as stressed out with the silly handles as I would get at times when I was 'working'. It was entirely due to my choice in how I was handling the situation. All the support I needed was right in front of me but there I was again putting pressure on myself to perform perfectly in an unrealistic time frame.

Lesson Four: 
If you keep repeating dysfunctional patterns, don't be surprised with the same results.

I took a few deep breaths, packed up my things, and went home to take care of things that needed to be done. Later that night, when I finally had some quiet time, I looked at my almost finished bag and then slowly cut and stitched a perfectly functional set of handles. As I got ready for bed, I set my finished bag where I could see it. It looked great. I realized every time I used it, it would be a great reminder of the power of choice.

Lesson Five: 
Our choices determine the quality of our lives.
Recognize dysfunctional patterns in your life and choose to change your responses.

The bag

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Judy! I love your finished "Simple" Bag and the story that goes with it. A modern fable or parable for all of us 'Type A' perfectionist personalities, eh luv? Hugs!

    P.S. The bag looks great and I hope you get many years of use from it!