Embroidered Mini Draw String Bags / Pouches

I’ve been trying to move out of the realm of felt patches and try some new mediums for my embroidery.  I got this homey loose-weave cotton situation at the fabric store a few weeks ago and started making these little embroidered bags:

little_bags

I like the idea of having a purpose for my embroidery — patches or bags or something, where the embroidery is part of a usable object.  I’ve been keeping little charms or my favorite jewelry in these bags.  It’s also nice to have a small area to work on specific techniques — for example, learning to do the roses, or practicing the french knots on the salvia-style flowers.

Here’s how you can make one too:

Create a pattern for your bags (if you like).  I cut an old cereal box to the bag dimensions I wanted (“bag space” of 2” x 2” with about two centimeters of seam allowance at the top, one on each side.  I used this pattern so all my bags would be about the same size.

If your bag will be bigger than your hoop, go ahead and cut your fabric.  If your bag is smaller than the hoop you want to use, just do your embroidery and cut it later.

Embroider your pretty picture.  Ooh, great job!  (If you didn’t cut your fabric yet, go ahead and do that now).

Fold down the tops of the side where you want your opening.  I folded it down by about a centimeter.  Stitch across the top to create a tube on each end for your drawstring (I used a straight-stitch and doubled back on some bags to create one solid line).

little_bags3

Fold the bag in half and make the outside faces kiss.  Sew up the sides of the bag, being careful not to sew the two drawstring tubes at the top shut.

Turn your sewn bag inside out.  Cool, it’s a bag!

Take a piece of thread or string and pull it through each of the tubes.  Knot the ends together.  Oh, wow!  You just made a cute little drawstring pouch!

little_bags2

Here’s what you can do with it:

You should fill it with treasures, or secrets, or treasures that are secrets or secrets that are treasures.  Or, give it to a friend!  Fill it with treasures and give it to a friend!  Fill it with secrets and bury it in a coffee can so that a hundred years from now some kids will dig it up and have a spooky mystery to solve!

DIY Weasley is Our King Patch

Embroidery plus my love of all things Harry Potter (20 years since the first book was published!!) resulted in a Weasley is our King patch:

weasley is our king patch

If you are as big of a Potter Head as I am, you’ll know that the song Weasley is Our King was originally created by the Slytherins to intimidate Ron Weasley during quidditch games. However, it was “taken back” by the Gryffindors after Ron helped the Gryffindor Quidditch Team win the cup in Order of the Phoenix.

Here’s how you can make your own!

  1. Choose two pieces of felt in different colors.  I chose red and gold (because Gryffindor, of course).
  2. On the piece you want for the inner crown, embroider the words Weasley is Our King.
  3. Cut the felt out around the words in the shape of a crown.
  4. Place the crown on your second piece of felt (the “border color”).  Secure it with a pin or needle.
  5. Stitch the crown onto the fabric.
  6. Cut the border fabric to create a centimeter or so border around the first crown.

Voila!  Use as a patch or attach a pin back.  Wear while singing the song of your choosing.

Weasley can save anything,

He never leaves a single ring,

That’s why Gryffindors all sing:

Weasley is our King.

Problems with the Follow-Through

As a follow-up to the last entry, I did in fact meet my goal of 500 words a day for the entire month of July. However, that success was short-lived, as the ultimate goal was to build a habit of writing 500 words every day for the rest of forever, and unfortunately I only made it through the first week of August.

It’s easy to let all the other daily stuff distract you. It’s easy to get derailed. Maybe it’s Sunday morning, and you’re tired and hungover, and you go out for bagels with your best guy and suddenly the whole afternoon has been frittered away and you haven’t accomplished anything. Or maybe you wake up during the week, and you can’t quite seem to get it together for work, so you end up wasting too much of your morning time, which is your best time to write, and you run to the train without having completed anything, only to come home later too tired and drained to do anything except watch X-Files re-runs on Netflix (welcome to my life). There are just so many excuses, so many tiny excuses, that end up knocking down whatever habits you’ve tried to set up.

In college, one of my professors said he thought I was capable, but that I always lost it in the follow-through. I agree. There’s something about making a commitment to my creative work that changes it from something I enjoy into a weight hanging around my neck, dragging me down. I become reticent and resistant; I no longer want to do whatever it is that I wanted to do. Once work has been started on a project, it becomes a reality, and the reality of a piece of work is much more overwhelming than the free-floating dream of it.

But that’s a childish reaction, and one that’s based out of the fear that I am, in fact, as extraordinarily unremarkable as I know myself to be. My desire to be right, to create something of meaning, makes me impotent. So it would seem the best course of action would be to remove the self, the ego, from my work, and try to concentrate on whatever it is about the piece that inspired me to make it in the first place. To concentrate on the purity of the work, with thoughts of how others would judge it left behind.

Big Fat Failure

Do you ever feel like a big fat failure? I know I sure as hell do. I spend most of my life convinced that I can’t do anything right.

This feeling affects most things I do, from working to having a successful relationship to writing. I don’t think there’s a particular reason I should feel this way; I’m not a significantly more terrible person than most people I know (but not significantly better, either). I make it to work on time every day, try hard to apologize when I know I’ve done someone wrong, and I don’t accidentally break an inordinate number of objects.

However, the feeling of being a failure still hangs over me, crippling any creative inclination I might have. This is what I feel is at the root of what I can refer to as my “writer’s block.” This feeling of impending, inevitable failure cripples me, acts as an immediate paralyzer to my ability to write. I sit down at my computer, pull up an empty word document, and immediately switch to facebook or tumblr. Or I don’t even make it to my computer, because writing takes so long and I’m so tired, and there’s no point anyway, because it’s not like anything I write is good.

And so nothing gets done.

My goal this month is to get over these feelings of failure and to get back into the habit of writing. For July, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, as some of you may know, is National Novel Writing Month. It occurs during November, and everyone who participates undergoes the arduous task of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Camp NaNoWriMo is like regular NaNoWriMo’s laid-back cousin. Occurring in April and July, Camp NaNoWriMo is a month dedicated to setting a writing goal and sticking with it – whether it be starting a new literary project of any kind (play, poetry collection, etc) or editing past work into a new version.

This year, I’ve decided to use Camp NaNoWriMo to get back into the habit of writing. Every day this month, I have to sit down and write at least 500 words. They can be about anything – parts of a story, a blog entry, or even just a random stream-of-consciousness journal-style entry of things that I have on my mind. No rules, just 500 words a day.

The point is to overcome my fear of failure surrounding writing. If I can get comfortable sitting down and writing anything, if I can get back into the habit of writing in general, I hope I can get back into the habit of writing something that’s actually part of a greater whole without worrying whether or not the first draft is going to be a complete and utter failure.

Because let’s face it – the first draft, by definition, is going to be a failure. But that’s ok, because you can edit it and make it better. The greater failure is no first draft at all.

Life’s a Drag

As a woman, I’m constantly being told about what I should and should not be doing with my life and my body. I should exude a certain level of sexiness, but never cross the line into being downright slutty. I should be confident, but not bitchy. I should be ambitious, but not if whatever I want interferes with my abilities to “keep a man” and start a family. Everything I do should be perfect, because I am a representative of my gender, and what I produce is emblematic of the potential of all women.

*sigh*

Needless to say, this can all get a bit… overwhelming. So when one of my friends asked me to join her at a Drag King workshop over the summer, I was intrigued. Swap my feminine persona for an ace bandage and a drawn-on mustache? Why the hell not? As a heterosexual cisgendered woman, it’s not often I have the opportunity to indulge in my more masculine side. And, as a writer, I told myself it would be useful to develop a traditionally-male mindscape to help add depth to my male characters. I thought it would be interesting.

What I didn’t expect was for it to be an absolute fucking blast.

The workshop, taught by gender performer and magical glitter cupcake Goldie Peacock, went over drag king history, the basics of packing and binding, and drag routines. By the end of the session, the six of us attendees were sporting sideburns and proudly strutting around with our imaginary dicks proudly swinging between our legs. I was surprised by the profound transformation that happened – I suddenly felt Powerful. Impressive. Aggressive.

These are all words that, when applied to women, are deemed negative traits. Dressing up in drag allowed me the freedom to find those qualities within myself and act them out. I was A Man – in other words, a valid human with a voice that deserved to be heard. Not only deserved, but demanded.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Goldie again for Level 2. We dove into the finer points of drag as performance – how can one concoct a personality? A routine? And does one have to limit oneself to a single personality?

Not only had drag provided an outlet for my so-called “masculinity” (in reality, normal human traits assigned to a certain sex by millennia of societal “norms”), but it also has provided a new artistic space and community to become involved in. My aforementioned friend and several other attendees are forming a creative network, and we have several ideas for some collaborative projects. Drag has me feeling more artistically inspired than I’ve felt since moving to New York, and I find that to be very exciting.

To quote Whitman, “[We] are large, [we] contain multitudes.” I’m excited to explore this multitude further.