Craftineering

 

I have my first-ever trunk show coming up on Saturday*, and in an anxiety-fueled whirlwind of productivity, I got pretty much everything done on Monday, and it is just hanging out in giant Ikea bags waiting to go.

So, naturally, I needed a new project.

I decided, after having made dozens of drawstring project bags, that I was going to learn how to do something with a zipper. Zippers terrified me, but I found this fabulous tutorial on YouTube and made a quick run for zippers and fusible fleece. I have a ridiculous fabric stash (Hi, I’m Kathleen R and I haven’t met a craft supply I won’t hoard), and since these use just a fraction of the fabric I use for full-sized project bags, I was off to the races.

And I made a thing. It’s a notions pouch!

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The thing is adorable, to be sure—all chubby and squishy and triangular with AN ACTUAL ZIPPER.

But it has some issues. For one, the unicorns are upside down and all the blood is rushing to their heads. It also has an unfinished zipper edge and all the interior seams are unfinished. I knew I couldn’t put it in the shop looking like it did- it’s fine for me, but if I’m going to ask people to pay actual money for something I made, I want it to be as good as possible.

I slept on it, spent some time thinking about the construction and the materials and the technique and on the first try, I solved the problem of the exposed seams.

And y’all, I engineered the dickens out of that thing and made it do what I wanted.

Try 1: Got seams and zippers unexposed. YAY.

Try 2: Got handle inserted (not where I wanted). Seams still too bulky.

Try 3: Got pattern going the right way, fixed the bulk at the seams, and got the handle properly placed.

I couldn’t be more pleased—they are the perfect size for embroidery scissors, stitch markers, darning needles, and all the other little bits and bobs we need. I found my new favorite place (ZIPPERS IN EVERY COLOR FOR A QUARTER) and then cut out fabric for nine more of these.

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(That escalated quickly.)

My mom commented on the emergence of my latent-yet-strong engineering genes. As someone who has long been the “right-brained person” in a family of “left-brained people,” the joy and satisfaction I am finding in the technical aspects of dyeing and sewing are taking me by surprise.

The script that has been written for me—the script I have written for myself—is that I am no good at things that aren’t literature/feelings/writing/artsy stuff. I often say that I am “not good” at math, which is an outright lie, one that has its origins in the fact that I wasn’t quite as good at math as English as a child, and I certainly preferred reading to numbers. I’ve constructed this narrative for myself—that I can only excel in one area because that is my scope, and anything outside of that scope is somehow beyond me.

I think a lot of us do this- we take on identities and expectations that are placed on us: we are the good kid or the black sheep, we are science geeks or bookworms. We are the peacemaking middle child or the responsible eldest, and in our families and in our lives, we live into these roles over and over again. And they are helpful shorthand, in some ways, but they are also profoundly limiting. If we stay in our boxes, we may never learn how much more we are and how much more we can do.

I’m an advocate of starting small—learning how to knit revolutionized how I think about work, myself, and the world around me. Even if you are crap at something at first, trying something new is crazy empowering. You learn a new thing, for one, but also—you may discover gifts you didn’t even know you had. TURNS OUT I’m a craftineer—I’m all about engineering things to make them work better, but only if they are craft-related.

Did I run around yesterday pumping my fist and yelling, “I AM A BADASS!”? Why yes, yes I did.

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I hope whatever you are making makes you feel like a total badass.

*If you are in Atlanta, I’ll be at The Craftivist in Inman Park from 12 to 5 pm with a ton of yarn, project bags, stitch markers, and homemade lemon bars and cream cheese brownies. Come say hey, because one of my biggest fears is that I will have a party and no one will come.

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