I received word that my Secret Valentine Gift had been received, so I thought I'd share more of it here. I found out it had arrived just in time (having posted it on 29th Jan) via the carrier pigeon of the internet, Flickr. Apparently I really should be on Instagram....
My Secret Valentine partner that I was to sew for is Meagan (Blog, Flickr, Instagram). Just like a real life, awkward blind date we get/give little snippets of personal information. I knew Meagan liked bold colours, especially blue and green, did not like leather, worked for an historic theatre and had a lovely family including two (?) dogs!
The "rules" of the exchange are that you should work with what you have such that the cost of postage is the only real expense, and that it should arrive as close as possible to Valentine's day. I received my partner's information about 5 days before a week long holiday and I knew I'd have to post my gift within a few days of returning home.
And so I chose a project that would be mostly hand sewing while on holiday with a bit of quick assembly back at home. The main fabric is a shot weave blue/red furnishing fabric that I think is probably silk. It has a very dense weave and a crisp, almost paper like quality. Apart from it being the only bold, solid blue (or green) fabric I had, I thought the curtain-ish look was sort of reminiscent of a theatre. Then of course I went through the crisis of confidence when making a gift for someone else, and I consoled myself that if she didn't like it at all, and wouldn't carry it to the theatre, she could donate it as it would probably make a good prop for the wardrobe department. Right-o, worries cast aside I started stitching.
The soluble canvas is one of those absurdly fun things (right up there with iron on vinyl, freezer paper stencils and other sewing "highs" :) ) I'm sure there is a proper way to do cross stitch but I was learning from a Japanese embroidery magazine without speaking a word of Japanese and safe in the knowledge that my bag would be lined and no-one would ever see the back. Let's just say it's not as pretty from behind.
After I'd done the first side and then started on the second, I realised I'd mistakenly left a little bit off the bottom of every flower that faces to the right. There's the imperfection that is the badge of handmade, right?!
Back home I was second guessing myself about the lining I'd originally chosen. This multi-coloured stripe was well out of my comfort zone and I was very close to using a beige/olive mini floral instead. I managed to overrule myself and go with the bold and then threw in a lime green pocket just to ramp it up a notch.
The construction was confusing to say the least. I realise now what I was meant to do to have the handles at the edges of the top band, not set in slightly as mine are. I really need to scribble some notes in English in the margins of the magazine. I also wonder if I somehow misread the measurements for the handle width and top band width. In the magazine's photo it appears to have a wider band at the top and the handles on this bag are oddly wide.
Anyway, Meagan wasn't to know any of that. I hoped she'd like it. In case she was lukewarm, I thought I'd win the dogs over by throwing in a sample pack of Vet's Best rewards. I mailed it off....
There's something really lovely about sewing for someone else. It's very satisfying to create something that you can be proud of and then send it off to be received on the other side of the world. While there's lots of opportunity for nerves, I've no doubt that the creative people who join these gift swaps will always be gracious in receiving. There'll be something to admire; The style, the fabrics, the workmanship, or just the generosity of spirit.
Of course, there's also the opportunity to "meet" new people. I found quite a few new blogs to read and sewers to follow through this exchange last year and I'm sure I will again. I'm going to go stalk all those Instagrammers by using Websta to search for the #2015sve Secret Valentine tag. (I can't wait to show you what I'll be receiving when the post finally arrives)
Thanks to Sanae and Ute for organising the exchange and creating this international whirlpool of creative friendship.