Friday, 23 September 2011

A creative dilemma

I've been sewing like a woman possessed this week, which has put me in a bit of a creative dilemma - one that has been brewing for a while, I suspect.   This week's sewing was for a new shop in Kent, which is opening tomorrow and is stocking all sorts of vintage loveliness, mixed up with handcrafted goodies.  It's quirky and right up my street (I think it warrants a blog post of it's own!). Fortunately, the owner likes my stuff so I had free rein to make whatever I liked...

Here's where the dilemma (actually there's multiple dilemmas!) comes in:

1) Do I churn out things I can make easily and quickly or do what I really want to do and experiment with new designs and techniques?  (which take more time and may go wrong!)

B) Do I make things I like or try other styles that may appeal to a broader cross-section of buyers?  (I've stuck to the former so far, there's no joy in making stuff you're not keen on!)

C) Do I use the fabrics I like the most, or some that I want to get rid of? (I've stuck to the former on this too, for the same reason as above)

I'm sure most creative folk who try to sell their work face this dilemma, creativity versus economics I suppose.  I know I'm only doing it on a tiny scale, but I'm feeling the dilemma because like a lot of us, my sewing time is limited to evenings and maybe an odd hour here and there during the week. I was up against today's deadline, but still veered towards trying something slightly different each time rather than turning out repeats.  As a result, I managed to hand over 3 cushions, 2 door stops and a simple bag...(when I was aiming for 5 cushions, 3 doorstops, two bags, plus some little extras)

And that's before I get to my bee blocks, my list for family and friends (Susan, Matt, Nikki, Sian, Holly, Aunty Sue - I haven't forgotten!) and a project just for me, ALL of which I really want to get on with.

Hmmmm....for the moment I don't want to give up the selling, or compromise my creativity too much so I think I'm going to have to find some middle ground, like finding some easy makes and shortcuts that still allow me to add my creativity (for example, the handles on the doorstops below, much quicker than a stitched handle)

and maybe, just maybe, think about a teensy bit of childcare for Felix, so I can get one afternoon a week at the machine...

Phew, ramble over, I hope I haven't bored you...  here are the results of this weeks stitching.

This cushion was inspired by the backing for this project I saw over at Comfort Stitching.  I used only scraps and was very strict with myself not to cut into any new fabric!  I stitched all the pieces in place with meandering straightline pattern, which I loved when I looked at the back, might have to make a cushion front like that one day.

This next cushion was inspired by this picture which I found in my Flickr favourites, it goes to show my stash is weighted towards green and turquiose fabrics because I didn't have to repeat any fabric twice - wish all the colours of the rainbow were that well represented in my fabric collection :)

This next one is appliqued, and features this month's favourite fabric, Ruby Star Rising (thing I might be Ruby Star addicted, need to find a new crush)

Plus two doorstops, with handles made from some woven rope type stuff that I bought from a vintage habadashery that only opens on Saturdays here in St Leonards.  Apparantly it's normally used for making espadrilles.

And lastly, I opened my new book, The Bag Making Bible, at page one and had a stab at the Flat Bottomed Girl shopper bag.  Furnishing fabric, plus a bit of an IKEA print made this a speedy and cheap make - ooo is that some middle ground I just found?



  1. The back of your 'scrap' cushion looks like what i used to draw on my 'Etch-a-Sketch'!

    I hear your dilemma(s). I'd give the shop plenty of stock which would then buy me some time to be more creative and try out new designs/techniques etc - without the pressure of the shop 'needing' your stock. You're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed cos you want them to see how creative you can be - but remember you dont need to show all your cards at once :)

    As long as you enjoy what you do and how you do it, that's all that matters.

  2. hallo lovely, hmm dilemma well I say do a block of pieces you can do quick then start adding in your more experimental pieces using a nice balance of your fabrics, your colour combos are fab! Ps LOVE the doorstop design x x x

  3. drool..... gorgeous makes Ceri. I really want to have a go at that first cushion myself! (the quilting I did for the last cushion I made was like I'd started doing that then stopped far far too soon!)

  4. Everything looks great - I think you must go for quick, easy and cost effective for a while longer - what you think is dead easy is still way beyond most people/buyer's ability, inclination and understanding, so use what you know!

  5. I understand how you feel, Ceri. The shopper bag is so cute, maybe make some of those and then work on some more challenging pieces? I love every single picture in this post!

  6. Quick and easy in fabric you like without depleting all your favourites in your stash. And shortcuts like the doorstop handle - especially when they don't look like a shortcut but a design element. Bet the shop is on the phone begging for more soon!

  7. These are lovely Ceri! I used to make a lot of stuff to sell (baby blankets etc) and the prob with doing stuff that comes easy is that after a while you get really bored making it over and over. I love trying new things but it is time consuming too so I think there's a balance needed between the 2. I would also be on the side of working with fabrics you like, I hate working with fabrics I don't like, it's not worth the money!!

  8. Beautiful makes Ceri! You will definitely need to keep your design creativity alive cos you will get burnt out just churning out stuff for the masses (trust me I know!) - keep an element of design freedom in there! Also, just check the copyright when making stuff out of books to sell - I'm sure you're savvy with this already, but it's best to cover yourself. I know your stuff will sell really quickly. Jxo

  9. All good advice! Just get rid off the odd bit of fabric you don't like so much if it fits in. Others may prefer it! I'd make sure to allocate some time in the busy schedule for experimenting as you will need new products to sell further down the line and to keep your sanity! Experimenting is good ! But always keep an eye on your costs! Good for you and keep us updated. I'd love to know how you got started for instance as I'm thinking of making to sell too!

  10. I think it's all about balance. You need to have a stock of go to quick makes so that you aren't under pressure when you are required to provide a shop with six cushions yesterday. But at the same time you don't want to be working in your own sweat shop making the same thing over and over or you'll eventually get jaded by it so you need to be able to allow yourself to experiment and grow. It might be that you end up with the quicker more affordable and the time consuming more expensive range. I think it's perfectly fine to use fabrics you want to get rid of as long as it's appropriate for the project. Just because you aren't keen on something doesn't mean there isn't someone round the corner who loves it. I like the Bag Making Bible too! Lots of good tips in there. Good Luck!

  11. Love what you've created. I know what you mean about the dilema, I'm facing that too, and having gone my own way for a long time, I'm now stuck with a pile of stock (of bears) that appear to be too big for current tastes *sigh* I'm now thinking deeply about my next attempt to stock my etsy shop with bags. I want to be able to create so many things, but like you, my time is limited, and I also have a family list. Let us know how you get on, I haven't a scooby!