Saturday, 25 September 2010


If this was my lunch bag I'd fill it with gratitude and sadness

lunch bag v2 closed

Thank you very, very much for the dress advice yesterday. I'm so grateful that even if I don't have people to physically go shopping with, I have plenty of cyber-helpers! It's funny how much the panel was split, so I still haven't decided. I'm leaning towards picking a fight with Steven and not going.

lunch bag v2 side

So the first thing I would put in the new lunch bag is gratitude. Because this is a gift, I changed the design quite a bit from my half-a** late night version for Jamie. I used 99.8% of my brain cells figuring out the construction, and if you had given me an MRI when I got to dealing with the zipper and the two separate shell and lining bags it would have look like this:

I've concluded that you need a bigger brain than mine to figure out how to do this bit with more ease than I did. Obviously, I did manage to do it. But I'm sure there's a much easier way.

lunch bag v2 open

I know I said I might do a tute for this, but I don't think I will.
  • Reason 1: It was a seriously time-consuming project with the Thinsulate, zipper, boxing out etc. For me, buying one in the shop makes more economic sense than sewing one over a day.
  • Reason 2: I'm sure that there's an easier way to do this so I don't feel right having a tute explaining how to do something in a convoluted way.
lunch bag v2 inside

I'm feeling pretty sad. It was a bad day to find out that there's a snarky thread on a sewing forum about one of my other tutes. When I first wanted to teach myself to sew just after Maia was born, I bought some proper sewing books and commercial patterns for baby clothes to get me started. It was so intimidating how technical everything was and I struggled through the commercial patterns to find that the garments were by and large, well, large. It was only through Craftster and the people I found on the sewing boards that I discovered that it was okay to construct things differently, that you could experiment with drafting your own patterns based on your own children, that there were thousands of other 'non-technical' sewers willing to share how they did things. That if you stopped obsessing about what you're 'supposed to do', you could find what worked for you and the sense of achievement you gained would give you the passion to continue trying, continue making, continue learning. I guess I'm in a tricky position. I've never pretended that I'm a technically-trained sewer or pattern drafter, but perhaps that's a mantle I've automatically adopted by sharing (and yes, selling) tutorials. What do you think, should you only share / sell things if they're technically correct? Or is the message that 'there are different ways to do things and this is one that's worked for me' valid enough to be shared?


  1. Keep sharing and selling and ignore (easy for me to say b/c they're not about me) the comments. There are plenty of us learning from you. Hey, your experiments may become the new way to do things in the next version of the sewing books =)

  2. I don't think things need to be technical to be valuable.

    I made a dress this week from a Big 4 sewing pattern and as I cut it out and constructed it I said "This is basically vegbee's peasant top and I didn't need to trace, cut out a bunch of tissue paper, pin and cut for that one. And it looks just as good as this one, especially since my daughter will grow out if it within a year at most."

    So, yeah. Keep coming with the non-technical (read that, way more fun to construct) tutorials.

    For things you sell, you have an obligation to make sure they work (which you do by testing them 9 ways from Sunday) and represent the sewing level fairly (again - check). That's it.

    And for people snarking about a tute in a sewing thread I say Pfffftttttt to them. It's not very nice to be mean to people (you or anyone else) who spend a large amount of their personal time to provide loads of FREE stuff on the internet. Ingrates, I mean really!

  3. hey Amanda - try not to give a flying **** what nasty people are saying - you have a huge fan base your blog is so popular and you honest to god brighten my day without fail - sending you a very British pat on the back and a "keep your chin up old girl" xxx

  4. Grrrrr, lemme at 'em. How rude! I'm growling on your behalf but I'll then hypocritically tell you to rise above it and not waste any time being annoyed. In fact, let ME be annoyed for you - I'm having a misanthropic week so it's more economic for me to take the load...

    So many of your tutorials have made the "bing!" lightbulb turn on above my head, where 'conventional' (read: need-a-degree-in-astro-physics-to-even-trace-the-pattern) patterns leave me cold. The fact that you share your trials and tribulations and hilarious jodphur mistakes (ahem) with the world shows that you are a wonderful, gorgeous, kickass human being. (And you look hot in the polka dots, just sayin'.)

    Oh, AWESOME lunch bag too, by the way! :)


  5. Love the lunch bag.
    Love your tutes.
    Love your witty posts.
    Love you!
    Don't change.
    Don't be mad, they're not worth it! x

  6. Boo to the snarkies. If somebody had a valid complaint about something of yours they should contact you. Directly, politely and in the confident knowledge that you would do your best to sort out any problems or questions they had. Well that's what I would have done anyway! If this person wasn't cool enough to take this approach, they probably weren't cool enough to make your pattern in the first place. Definitely not a Cool Girl. Put it behind you and please keep the tutes coming for the benefit of everyone else out there who really appreciates your work!

  7. i am such a non sewer that i didn't even know there was a "technical way" of sewing! i use some tutorials for ideas. but mainly draw round clothes i all ready have. and try and think things out for myself, and learn from mistakes

  8. Define 'technically correct'? In my book* if it works, and isn't ridiculously overcomplicated, that makes it technically correct.

    Your patterns are simple, your instructions clear and detailed, and they consistently produce garments that wear well, fit well, and look fabulous.

    You have a huge bank of sewing knowledge and experience, it's not like you're just some johnny-come-lately selling dodgy patterns off the back of a van. And you may not have been sewing for many years, but you must rack up 30 squillion hours a week, because you don't seem to sleep :)

    Tell em where to stick it xxx

    *which has lots of pictures and smells like chocolate

  9. Oh for crying out loud, blood letting used to be classed as technically correct. Some people were just born in the dark ages and they'll merrily while away the rest of their lives there.

    God forbid anyone should be allowed to think of a better and easier way of doing things, eh?

    You keep doing what you're doing, cause you do it well:)

    Leanne xx

  10. Your work is thoughtful and well worked out. Your patterns are tested by a variety of skill-level volunteers, and any issues found there get incorporated in the final product. Don't change a thing, and if someone has a real problem they should contact you directly, not talk about it behind your back.

    Plus, I want Pickled Weasel's book.

  11. Oh..I think you are great! I wish I had your guts... putting your designs out there...I am a shrinking violet...(when it comes to sewing)...I don't even tell people I sew! I leave that up to my mother!
    I think you are brilliant and like everyone says you're funny too! I even read your posts out loud to my husband!
    So I say F*** the Begrudgers! (do we only say that in Ireland?)
    Keep up the good work!
    I want a copy of Pickled Weasle's book too!

  12. Should you keep tute-ing? Absolutely!!

    I really don't know enough about the technicalities of sewing to understand what the snarks could be about. But this I know - I made bags and customised t-shirts but didn't have the confidence to make much else. Then I bought one of your patterns and made my son a coat and a whole world of sewing opened up to me.

    I think (from my very limited experience) that it's quite a personal thing whether I chime with a pattern writer or not. Some very esteemed books I can't make head nor tail of, other people's patterns (including yours) read like the way my head works and I tune right in.

    Keep on keeping on, please!

  13. Rude internet people! A plague on all their houses.

    Hope you're having a good time at the party, I liked both dresses :)

  14. Maybe you should put the following disclaimer on your patterns/tutorials:

    The following pattern has been tested by ___ number of sewers. The sewing methods may not be "standard", but they work. If you don't like it... I don't give a FRAK!!

    Seriously, what is "technically correct? Like someone else already said, the complainers are obviously not Cool enough to make your patterns. Agreed on the "not worth the time" lunchsack" though. Maybe you *should* make the pattern and call it that!

  15. We are big enough and ugly enough to make up our own minds. For those who wish to produce couture garments, let them look elsewhere. For those who want a laugh and encouragement to have a go, you're the tops.

    Caveat emptor and all that - you don't set yourself up as an expert - so don't sweat it when others tell you off for not being one.

    Sheesh - life is too short. Crack on with the jodhpurs - that'll show 'em.

  16. Who died and made them the king of technically correct? Technique is not necessarily universal. And just because it might happen to be the way most people have been taught, doesn't mean it's the best. The old saying goes something like: I did the best I could with what I knew, and when I knew better I did better. Who's to say that in the future more people won't be doing it the right way (aka the Amanda way)?

    Most kids don't get real sewing in Home Ec anymore. The techniques my kids learn will be the easiest way to do something, because that is what I will teach them.

    I say capitalize on this... Become the bad girl of the sewing world. A rebel who thumbs her nose at petty complainers. You're a Cool Girl with jodhpurs, for goodness sake! Go on with your bad self!

  17. The rest seem to have said it.

    That's all I'm saying :)

  18. As someone who has sewn quite a few "technically correct" (and I assure you that they are NOT!!) patterns produced by big giant pattern companies who don't care if they work or fit your child or not, I would rather sew a Kitschy Coo pattern any day of the week. Your patterns are well drafted, well tested and your tutorials are among the best out there. Your online tutorials are just an extra bonus of sewing goodness. I love them! They are clearly written and easy to understand and execute.

    Who was this person??? Are they here in the states? Send me out - I'll get 'em!

  19. Don't stop sharing honey, you are talented, inspirational and funny!
    I was going to list the beautiful clothing that I've bought from you but was too embarrassed as it's quite a lot, he he!
    Thanks to you I've recently sewn my first garment in about 20 years. I made one of your puff sleeved smocky tops, yay. I admit I scratched my head in a couple of places but that's because I'm a complete novice/moron. It went together very well and I'm really rather pleased with it/myself/the hand holding tutoral! When I work out how to post a pic to Flickr I'll show it off :)

  20. Y'know.... WHEN you release your grown up sized hoody pattern, I'm going to buy it and make myself a lego hoodie (following remortgage, obviously). People want your so-called untechnical instruction, comment and direction.

  21. Some people are not happy unless they are complaining. Ignore them. Your tutorials and blog are fab. Love the picture of your brain by the way!! Thats what mine looks like after reading most sewing patterns.

  22. Amanda, I can't even sew, but reading your blog makes me think maybe I could one day. I love reading your posts, you always cheer me up, often make me laugh out loud and also make me think, "yes, maybe I could try..." I can't believe people would be horrid about you, surely the end result is what counts not how you get to it? Take no notice.

  23. ignore them. I've said often that one reason I don't sell my patterns is I haven't a clue how to write them down for proper grown-up knitters - I don't know if what I do is "right" or remotely normal - but it works for me! You're a long way past me, you can write stuff down so others CAN understand!

  24. Me again! Have just blogged about that fantastic tunic you made and used one of your photos. Hope thats ok? Have put link to you blog.

  25. I've been sewing since I was 13 years old after my 'technical' sewing teacher gave me double E and said I wasnt interested. I went home, made a skirt, my way, went back to class wearing it. My teacher then she asked me where I got it from because she liked it so much. I took great pleasure in telling her I made it and saying no when she asked me to take an 'O' level in sewing.

    The moral of the convaluted story is that some people will try to hide behind technicalities as they feel threatened by the talented and innovative people of this world.

    You are one of those people.

    Chin up Amanda, you're fab :)

  26. I hate proper sewing!! Keep up the great work. I think that cutting corners and coming up with new ways to construct things keeps sewing fun for me. Don't worry about a few random people!

  27. Oh, and that is exactly how I've been wanting to make a lunch bag but have been worried the time factor won't be worth it! Now I know I was right =) Thanks for helping me make that decision easy!

  28. Yeah. The internet. Weird place. Someone delurked on my blog to call me a twit and pretentious the other day. It was a reminder about the fact that there are exceptions in the cosy world of internet crafting. Personally, screw technical. I have always loved making stuff up and figuring out how to do it. It's how things get invented in the first place. Besides if you read lots of sewing blogs you get to see things like 'I was following the pattern but then I stopped because I like doing it this way better.' That's how it is. It's a creative thing.