Tuesday, April 29, 2014

If Not Now, When?


The work that I am doing right now is not perfect. I thought about not carrying this one, not entering the others in the show for which they was made/destined/whatever. But I don't mind some level of "not perfect" work. It may generate comments.

I learn from those comments. Thank you! to all of you who sent emails and made comments on how to improve my leather sewing experience. I will do and re-do these first few, I have idea for the next few bags (how many bags can one generate before one needs to offload?).

The bag above is leather and silk knotted pile (handspun silk at that!) and it is not an unqualified success. The sewing is better! because the leather is thinner than the previous bags, but the thin leather is not substantial enough for a bag this large (messenger bag size, about 12" x 13").

So it will become components for other bags: the pocket here, the handle for this, the lining there, etc. There is always the ability to re-purpose in some way, fix, mend or re-sew. I am so looking forward to the first leather bag which satisfies! but until then, I learn.

The show this weekend was CNCH. It was in Oakland, an easy drive for me, so I was able to bring more than the usual few samples for class:


These are just the pile bags (not the bead bags!) so clearly, I have a few mad bag skillz! I just need to concentrate on the next phase: leather sewing. And learning to use that behemoth of a sewing machine (and perhaps have it checked over by Someone Who Knows).

Class went well:



Looms were warped, knots were knotted, colors were blended, samples were done and bags or pockets or nametags were begun! It was a good class, most people picked up the technique quite quickly and were off! knotting and planning and weaving away.

I also took a class this past week: Backstrap weaving basics from Laverne Waddington. Such a good class! Some very nice people from my guild took it with me, we had a nice few days together:


I have been trying to find out the weave structure of a band I saw several years ago (and used to have photos of, but alas, they disappeared). One of the weft brocades that Laverne taught was just this structure! I was so pleased to finally learn it!

Yes, it's easier to learn in a class. It may perhaps be more exciting (in many senses of that word) to learn on your own, but it will take more time, and probably cost more in time and materials. It's so nice to learn right along side other people, hear their insights and see how their work differs, even with the same tools/threads and instruction for all. But the learning is fun either way: self-directed or instructor-led.

Begin! Try something. Jump into something you have wanted to do! Take a chance. Leap off that cliff. What are you afraid of? What would you do if you were not afraid?

What else have I been doing? Why visiting these pumpkins for Easter week, of course:

Marin and Tulips

Jackson Spring 2014

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Continuing Saga

So I have kept at it, kept sewing bags, with decidedly mixed results:

Bag the first (second? third? multiple many?).

Ahem. Wool fabric, hand spun from my very own sheep. I've had this fabric, woven, for over 25 years! It is thick fabric, not enough for a blanket but too little for a garment. Probably enough for a vest, but really? Thick. Fabric. Fold, put away, keep trying at weaving.

I fulled it as best I could. Washed in a washer, hottest water, dried in the drier. It did not felt into a solid mat even then (probably too closely sett and beat to allow much room for appropriate shrinkage).

But anyway: practice pieces, right? I added zippers with leather plackets, pockets everywhere, and a leather bottom and handle.


What did I discover? My BIG fancy sewing machine (well not so fancy, but BIG!):
sewing machine 001

does not go through as many layers of fabric as I would have wished. There are crap sewing issues throughout. Crap! It looks like a total newbie project (which it is!). Still: my sheep, nice design, and good ideas and much learning!

We moved on:

I totally love it! But it is also full of crap sewing. Crap! There are skipped stitches all over the thing. There are holes where the needle went through but the thread did not follow. Leather stretches in funny ways! (see learning curve), and some of the design issues did not work (see that? cut to the wrong size. Stretch a bit here, fold a bit there, etc.).

You get the picture. Once, long ago in a juried show, the juror commented that my piece was "very creative, not very good craftsmanship". I kept hearing those words in a continuous loop all through the process of making these two bags. The irony? They are going to a show! (Not a juried show) Yes! I am displaying these in public! Crap! With my name on it. My biggest hope is that someone will kindly walk up to me and say: "I give leather sewing lessons and here's my card"!!!

I will have to design bags within the limits of my equipment for the foreseeable future. I think it's mostly user error, and I need lessons. The thing might need a bit of cleaning, or??? I have had to replace the belt, and I may not have it installed properly. I have to hand turn more than is likely. It won't fill the bobbin, so I have to hand wind the bobbins, too. So I think a bit of a learning process using the Big Bruising Sewing Machine is in order.

But... (You knew there was a but). The next bag is under construction. Already! This is such fun!