Sewing: bags& review

Every so often you have to do a review of what it is that you have already made, even as you’re preparing to make more.  These small bags have been somewhat popular at trade fairs and at giveaway/trade events.  They’re not difficult to make, either, and I churned out fifteen of them today.

In essence, each bag is four pieces of fabric — the shell is a strip about 5 1/2″ tall and about 22″ long, and a square 5 1/2″ to a side.  The two squares form the bottoms, and the folded-over long strips become the sides of the bag.  Usually the inner lining is folded over in such a way that it becomes the drawstring casing.  I didn’t finish the drawstring-threading, but I did manage to make 15 bags, and cut the parts for maybe twenty more.  SO there’s going to be a big pile of these, fairly soon.  Whether they sell…? That’s a different question.

All the same, there’s a lot of new stuff coming out of the pipeline as I figure out some of the processes by which raw materials get turned into finished projects in my shop.

Most of these bags are made out of fat quarters. As Iv’e discussed elsewhere, A fat quarter is roughly 18″ by 22″, so usually I can get three long strips out of one, and one of those strips can be sliced up into two of the bottom squares and sometimes a third.   This did lead to questions, though. How many bags did I already have in stock

And this led to unpacking certain boxes of stuff, and figuring out what was in them. The answer was that there were quite a lot of baby quilts, and a fair number of crib quilts, and a couple of throw-sized quilts (around 60″x60″).

And, more than a dozen of these bags that I’ve just made another dozen of — in rainbow stripes and fox prints, constellations and navigational instruments, sharks and kimono.

Not pictured, but definitely included in my review, are my magician’s robe, a couple of different styles of vest, a few kimono-style jackets, a skjoldheim-style hood, a few belt pouches, and a dozen aprons.  Stuff builds up if you don’t find a way to get it out of the house in some semblance of order.

My mom pointed out that the job of an artist or artisan is to create. The job of being  a critic of the work is someone else’s job. Sometimes that’s the customer — who make their appreciation or their critique apparent with their purchase (and sometimes their complaints afterward). Sometimes it’s the skilled artist who offers some constructive thoughts on how to take a specific skill to the next level.  Sometimes it’s the awestruck visitor who sees the work in the studio for the first time. But the creative process belongs to the person who does the making, and maybe their muse.  Chuck Close the painter reportedly said, “inspiration is for amateurs. I work for a living.” There’s something to be said about just showing up and making stuff, whether or not it sells.

Blankets are among the most difficult things to produce, for all that they’re flat. Mostly that’s because they’re sandwiches — a top layer of pieces all sewn together and ironed flat; a bottom layer of one or two pieces of fabric sewn together, and a middle layer of batting that serves to make the blanket actually warm.  Stitching and binding helps hold the whole thing together.

The thing that I think I’m proudest of, right now, is this stack of finished blankets.  They don’t do much good in a stack, though, when they’re not wrapped around a kid or a person.  So I might do some giveaways to friends, people recently born or people related to people recently born.

This means taking them down off the Etsy site, of course.  It’s not possible to sell something and then give it away, or vice versa. It’s not like software.  It’s one or the other.

And of course, whether it’s one or the other, it’s so much more than that as well.  I had a conversation with a friend the other day about magic, in which we noted that almost any art form can be turned into a magical working — by color and contrast, by hue and texture and form, through intention and purpose.  Almost anything that I make has the potential to be an object of power in someone’s life, provided that I give it enough story, enough layers of artistry. Good or bad, perfected or no, art carries meaning.

And meaning carries magic, everywhere it goes.

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