The “Original” Pocket Books – My first adventure in making more.
You know those moments when at the same time your mouth is impulsively saying “Yes!” your rational brain is screaming “No!”. Well, I have them all the time. Like… ALL. THE. TIME.
In these moments, the rational part of me knows that I’m probably about to sign on for or get involved in more than I can handle, but the challenge intrigues me, or the proposal flatters me, or the potential excites me just too much to say “No”, and so “Yes” just comes spilling out of my mouth.
A few weeks ago, I put a link on Facebook to my last post, The Pocketbook. Later that day, my friend Kate posted this comment:
Now, if I had listened to my bad-ass, super-cool, no-nonsense, rational self when I read her comment, I would have immediately replied, “HELL NO! I definitely can not make a dozen of those by December 7th.” Of course, I ignored rational me, and instead listened to some pathetic inner voice which whispered something like this inside my head: “She likes it. She really likes it.“ (Think Sally Field.) Next thing I knew, I told Kate I could probably make a dozen by the 6th.
With that, the “Original Pocketbook” adventure began – my first venture into the mass production of one of my creations.
Right away, I ran into problems.
Problem #1. The first “Pocketbook” I made, the one I had blogged about, was haphazardly assembled from a recycled jean’s pocket and clothing closures from clothes I planned to toss. I was out of jeans and I had hardly any clothes with snaps and none with ties or laces left in my toss bin. I had to gather materials and I needed to think more carefully about how to construct them intentionally.
Problem #2. I have a six-month old baby and very crappy time management skills when it comes to domestic tasks. (I can manage my time at work fine, just not at home.) I had to figure out when I was going to sew these things, especially considering Thanksgiving and Chanukah fell along the timeline somewhere.
Luckily, my sister and husband were able to donate a few old pairs of jeans and a couple of shirts with snaps to my cause. I still had to modify my original design by using some new materials. I used zippers that had been sitting in a drawer forever instead of ripping the zippers out of old clothes; I also used bits and scraps of fabrics and ribbons left from old projects for a few elements. I didn’t buy anything, so in that respect it still felt like I was using materials that would have otherwise ended up tossed or unused.
When I finally got it together enough to get started, I was sneaking in a little sewing and cutting here and there whenever M napped and again after she went to bed. I had decided to make all the sensory pockets first, and the book inserts second.
I had about four of the pockets completed when… clunk, clank, errrrr, my Brother SE400 machine stopped working.
I took my machine in the next day. $140! – not to mention it would be a week before I could get it back. A week. I only had a little over a week to finish. I knew I could borrow my sister’s machine in the meantime, but it doesn’t have an embroidery feature, so all the embroidery work would have to wait until my machine was fixed. I was feeling like I was officially in over my head and time was flying.
At this point there was, of course, no amount of money Kate could sell these things for that would make them worth the time and effort (and now cost) involved, but I was in deep emotionally and I’m not one to give up once I start something, especially if I’ve given my word.
I kept at it and shortly, my processes start to improve. I became more efficient; the “Original Pocketbooks” were adorable and were well-crafted; I was feeling hopeful that I’d be able to send these things out to Kate without being totally embarrassed. I even tackled the time management piece and planned out exactly how much I needed to accomplish on each of the four remaining days in order to be ready by the 6th. I was feeling pretty – darn – good about it all when it suddenly it occurred to me…
F%&*ing Crap! I don’t have until the 6th. Kate lives in California – which means I have to ship them to California which means I have three days fewer than I had thought! Yeah… I know… you are probably thinking something smug like, “How did she not calculate shipping time in there?” But try not to judge too harshly… I have Mommy brain. Every thought I think has to cut through the milky fog of my sleep deprived brain and sometimes the obvious is lost on me these days.
And so, my adventure in mass production ended in one glorious all-nighter. Yep. I pulled my first all-nighter in years. I went all in. Once the baby was asleep, I got all set up and then camped out at my craft table sewing, moving back and forth between the two machines, listening to episodes of Emily Owens MD and The Bletchley Circle playing on Netflix, and sipping endless cups of tea. Honestly… I loved it. First, I’ve always thrived with a looming deadline. It makes everything seem a little more exciting somehow. Second, since the baby was born, there hasn’t been much time to sit around by myself for hours on end, sewing, watching TV and sipping tea. So it was a little like an all-night party for me.
When I finally crawled into bed that morning around 4 AM, I had ten “Original Pocketbooks” completed and ready to ship to Kate. I told myself I could finish the last two during the day and ship them out later in the afternoon. I slept for a few hours, woke with the baby, and then the minute she went down for her morning nap, I ran in to get started on the last two. I was furiously sewing away, when I looked down and…
Yes. I know. I’m not proud of this moment. (Remember – Mommy brain.) Seeing this disaster, I decided to call this project done. I sent Kate a message and told her I’d be putting ten in the mail instead of twelve.
As I sat on the couch, looking down at the “Pocketbooks” I had laid out on M’s nursery floor, I smiled and thought about this:
Those moments I mentioned at the start of this post, the ones where I jump in and act impulsively instead of heeding my more rational thoughts, have led to so many amazing and wonderful learning experiences in my life.
I sat looking at my colorful creations and reflecting on the resulting journey. I thought about how many new skills I developed by taking on this adventure and about how many problems I had to solve to complete them. I thought about how many new ideas the project inspired. I thought about how many opportunities it gave me to witness how supportive my husband is, never judging or implying that the endeavor was silly, but instead seeming to love me even more for being the impulsive creative that I am. For each of the moments I could remember thinking I should have said “no” to this project, I could find three or four reasons why I was glad I said “yes”.
I put them in the mail and the intrinsic joy of having created them left me feeling happy. I let them go and didn’t think much more about them. The other day, I received a check in the mail from Kate for $200. It will more than pay for my machine which needed repair anyways. “They liked them. They really liked them.” 😉