I’m bad at hobbies. I’m one of those people who gets frustrated when I can’t do something well the first time I try it. Yes, one of those people… If I do happen to stick with something long enough to at least get a basic handle, the next hurdle is practising regularly in order to improve. So, if I count all the skills I’ve gained from all the pastimes under my belt, we can see that the number of times I’ve overcome that hurdle is… oh right, zero.
In December last year, I saw Kelly Doust’s The Crafty Kid on display at the library just as I was checking some books out, and despite the fact that I had nothing to sew and nothing to sew with, I quickly added it my pile. I soon grew tired and annoyed with the author herself (“oh you simply must only use all natural, organic fibres, and I don’t know how anyone could possibly put anything but cashmere on their bodies and their children’s bodies in winter” – to paraphrase), but the projects in the book looked simple enough to put me in an inspired mind. I received a sewing machine for Christmas, looked at it in its box for two weeks, packed my computer away, bought Pip Lincolne’s Make Hey! While The Sun Shines, procrastinated a little bit more, and finally, I made this –
In the book it’s called the Piggy-Back Pocket Monkey, but when I presented it to Devin, he gave it a pat and called it ‘Friend’, so Monkey Friend is the name on this guy’s birth certificate.
For a complete beginner like me, the instructions weren’t always very clear. Some parts seemed to skip along quickly, being vague, other parts were so specific that they made me question things I’d done before. (“I did that in step 3 but it didn’t say anything about that there, why is she specifically mentioning it now?”) A misprint in the list of materials meant I spent $14 that I didn’t need to. But I managed. There was one moment of panic, when I turned the whole thing the right way out after sewing everything together and realised that half of each leg had managed to escape being stitched, but I fixed it the best I could – that’s why the bottom corners aren’t square. The pattern was for an older, taller kid, so I just tie the legs around Devin’s waist and put a knot in the tail. The monkey in the book was decorated with triangles, but obviously I made my own design. I am so. sick. of. triangles.
My mum found the calico hanging around the house. The brown velvety fabric was in the scraps bin at Spotlight. The most expensive thing about this was the Heat n Bond used to iron on the face and cloud design.
So, aside from sewing vertical blinds and little pouches for board game pieces, this was my first solo sewing project. It wasn’t perfect. I have so much room for improvement. But I’m really satisfied, and I want to make more things. (Admittedly it did help that I already knew how to basically sew a button and operate a sewing machine…)
I think one of the great things about sewing is that often, it doesn’t matter if your stitches are wonky or your seams aren’t flat or you… accidentally miss the monkey’s legs. You can still end up with something that looks good and that you’re proud of. I mean, maybe get back to me when I have to make a formal gown or some such thing that requires less character and more precision… but for crafty, hobby projects like this, imperfection is fantastic.
All right, another expense was this pin cushion because I didn’t much fancy sticking my fingers into a box of jumbled pins. Devin kept taking it when I wasn’t looking because the little people around the edge are, apparently, “baby boys!” I had to go and buy him one of his own, so he can grab it and exclaim “little baby boys!” to his heart’s content. Pin-free.