Seeing Things Through: Lessons Learned from Sewing

If nothing else, running this sewing business has pushed me and taught me how to see things through to completion. I don’t know about you, but there are countless times when I started a project with grandiose visions, and then once it got hard or tricky, I made a mistake, or if it required a new tool or element that I didn’t have, I just gave up and abandoned it. Heck – if it was only for me and nobody knew I even started it, then who cares if I finish it or not, right? (Oh – the piles of half-completed projects in my house!)

But when running a business and making products for potential future sale, and/or when working on a particular custom piece for a client, there really is no turning back. I must persevere and find a way to push through the tricky part of the project and find a way to make it work. And it is funny, because at this point in making a bag – when it gets tough or when I screw up – I always tell myself, “There is NO WAY I’d keep going now if I didn’t HAVE to!” I know myself and my default behavior, but am forced to change my perspective, have a little talk with myself, tell myself I’m “at work,” and then keep going. And when I refocus (usually after stepping away for clarity, going for a walk, getting a good night’s sleep, or sometimes just having a cocktail!), I almost always come up with a workable solution and am able complete the task that I would have trashed if my “other self” let me.

And in the case of making (and fixing) an error when working with leather, that feeling is legitimate. With leather, if you make a mistake there really is no turning back. Every stitch and seam punctures holes in to the skin, and taking out a seam leaves holes and damage. So when a mistake is made during leather-work, I am forced to create a solution, a workaround, and a way to get out of the situation without giving up. These bags can take days to make, and giving up on Day #3 because of a few faulty stitches is just not an option. So I force myself to see it as a new challenge, and although not what I originally planned, I find a way out of it. Sticky situations come with this job, and having the patience and creativity to master-mind a way out of it is essential. And, admittedly, once the solution is complete the smug feeling of clever accomplishment is priceless. 🙂

I can’t show you all of my mistakes and how I fixed them, because that would be giving away my dirty little design secrets, but rest assured – they are here.

And once again, I am reminded that sewing – for all of its practical glory and personal satisfaction – also offers important little life-lessons along the way, such as: don’t panic, how to not give up, getting yourself out of tricky and seemingly impossible situations, and how to strategize to independently accomplish tedious and complicated tasks, to name a few. And it’s just another reason why I love getting lost on independent creative project work. Parts of my brain that I didn’t even realize I am using are gaining much more exercise than just developing the technical motions of crafting a “new bag” (or pillow, or dress, or whatever). I’m learning to grow and develop as a person too.

And I bet I’m not alone in this feeling…

Most Popular Pins

If you’ve seen any of my work on Pinterest, you probably stumbled upon one of these photos. They were made and sold many, many years ago and are now living new lives out there somewhere in the world, but they remain – BY FAR – my most viewed pins! Tell me – what makes them so appealing? The colors? The mix of textures? The reuse of leathers? Do tell!