Thursday, November 10, 2011

Solids only tote challenge - don't be intimidated!

This month I've decided to join in a solids only tote challenge.
It's my first time joining in a blogging/ sewing challenge and I'm excited to have something to work towards and others who are also taking the challenge to share this with.

So, this week the challenge began - basically we all have to make a tote using either patchwork, applique or reverse applique.  Simple!
Or so I thought, until I saw the pinterest board of everyone's progress so far!
All of a sudden I was intimidated by the amazing skill shown by the participants so far and worried that I wouldn't be able to produce anything that could possibly match up.

I felt like this for a while - thinking about changing direction from the plan I had for my tote, trying to make it more, complicated - more impressive.

And then - I remembered a blog post I had read only a few days ago about just this feeling!
It was on Whipstitch and is entitled You. Can. Sew. - and has a lot of very thoughtful responses to a very thoughtful post!
If you've ever felt intimidated by seeing how fabulous other's work is - then go have a read!

I read it and thought - "YES!" that's exactly the message I'd like to put out with the sewing and tutorials I post on my blog.  That ANYONE CAN SEW!  That's the reasoning behind my series of tutorials of making things in 5 steps and 15 minutes.  I always try to make my tutorials as simple as possible with photos for each step. I do this because that's how I like to learn things. I don't want people to feel intimidated by things I make - but instead inspired to try them for themselves!

Too often people say, "oh you're so clever - I wish I could do that!" or "oh you're so lucky - I wish I could go there.."   when in fact they could - they CAN!  There are so many things I have learnt to do that I initially thought were too tricky - or you had to be a specialist to do, but discovered, by having a go, that it wasn't so hard after all!

For example I learned to tile - from going to a workshop at Bunnings (a hardware store here in Australia). I then tiled our whole house - floors throughout, 2 bathrooms and 2 patios.  I definitely improved along the way - but the point is I did it!  And I'm very proud of it!
One thing recently I did that I was super proud of and it busted a big myth for me, was that I fixed our laptop computer.   The screen had died and the local computer shops told us it would be $2-300 to fix it, possibly more -and there was no guarantee it would work afterwards anyway!  We were advised to just buy a new laptop as ours was 3 years old anyway.  This we duly did - I mean - I know nothing about laptop computers or electronics - so what could I do?

Well - once we'd got a new laptop I figured I had nothing to lose by trying to fix the old one!  So I googled the symptoms of the problem - found out what was the likely cause - searched and found the part in Hong Kong for $18 - including postage - so I ordered it and recieved the part in 2 weeks. Then I found a youtube video showing me how to replace the part - followed this - and 8 months later the laptop is still working just fine - my daughter was very happy to receive that for her birthday!!

Each little triumph like this, encourages me to have a go at things - to not be intimidated! Yet obviously the feeling still surfaces!

Anyway - this brings me back to me being intimidated by the amazing progress work shots on people's totes for this challenge I'm doing.
Any other time, I'd look at the photos and say "WOW' and be inspired to try myself.  But this time - I'm in a challenge with these people - and can't help but compare myself to them. Wrong? maybe - but I think we all do it.

So I decided to look at it differently.  All of us do things differently - everyone has different strengths and weaknesses - and that's what will make this challenge interesting and fun!  I have to stop comparing myself with others - and start sharing myself and my skills.

I'm not a perfectionist sewer - more of a practical - does it work? is it secure? do I like the look of it? kind of girl!

So - staying true to myself and my style - I'm going ahead with my kind of tote.

I decided to use my scraps, since to me - patchwork is the idea of using scraps - and putting them together to make something bigger and useful.  It's a very practical and thrifty process - and I wanted to showcase that!

I also want it to be something simple that might inspire others to think "I could do that!"

So that's my own personal take on this challenge - I think it's 'me'.

So - here's the pile of scraps I decided to utilise, I know - I'm not very good at throwing things out!  I have boxes full of useable scraps - larger pieces, then this big pile of much smaller scraps - that I'm sure I could use for something.......

I picked out some of the solid coloured pieces (no patterns allowed in this challenge!). There are all sorts of different fabrics in there - fleece, cotton, linen, velvet, nylon.....hey - anything goes right?

First they needed a bit of an iron...

Then, I cut them into rough rectangles and triangles, whatever I could get out of the scraps I had.

and made a start on piecing them together:

I don't have a grand master-plan of a colour scheme/pattern or layout. Just whatever pieces fit together.  A practical rather than planned patchwork!

So I wonder how it will work out.....

I hope you'll come back and watch the progress of my practical patchwork tote this month!

How about you? Are you a perfectionist in your creative medium?  Do you get intimidated by the work of others or inspired?  And does it depend on why you're looking at their work as to how it makes you feel about it?

Let me know your thoughts - then head on over to our creative spaces - for some fabulous creativity - to INSPIRE you!!


  1. Wonderful post Jill. I can't wait to see your end result and I am sure it will be very you. It took me a long time but I remember that all these people that do what I think are amazing things all started at the bottom somewhere. With practise and learning what they can and can't do they now have their own style. I think I am about half way through learning my own style in cardmaking. I am glad I started doing challenges as they really get me out of my little box.

  2. Excellent post, Jill!!! The Solids Tote Challenge is all about learning something new and having fun, so, no I don't feel intimidated. It does, however, get me out of my comfort zone and also spurs me on to think outside the square and better my own work. So, yes, it inspires me. Am I a perfectionist? Absolutely! That doesn't necessarily mean I always achieve the perfection I'm aiming for.

    I have no doubt that you will create a fantastic bag, Jill and one that will stand proud amongst the other bags in the challenge. I'd better get a move on or my bag won't be standing in that line. Have fun creating!!!

  3. I can't wait to see your progress.

  4. If there is a will..Jill will have her 'creating to success' way! Can't wait to see your creation!

  5. Very inspiring Jill! I love your attitude and determination. It's hard not to feel intimidated by that pinterest board--I'm right there with you. Seeing that makes it easy to forget that our strengths and talents come in all shapes and sizes. You are awesome, and I'm so pleased to have you in this challenge with us!

  6. Oh that looks great! & the perfect way to scrap bust too. Can't wait to see the end result!


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