My friend, Calamity Kim, makes the most delicious raw edge applique bags. I know, “delicious” is a weird word to use to describe something other than food, but it works for her bags. After seeing her posts of the bags on Facebook when I found out she was teaching a workshop on the technique she developed, I just had to sign up. And I couldn’t go it alone (the more the merrier, right?), so I recruited my creative and talented friend, Debbie, to join me. Debbie lives about 100 miles away so it was a perfect opportunity to make an overnight party out of it, she and her husband arrived the day before and we ate and drank and caught up on our lives. The morning before the workshop we all rode our bikes to a local French bakery for breakfast and it was Tres Bon! Eat.Bike.Create – that’s my motto and we did all three in the same day!
The workshop was sponsored by the Sarasota Surface Design Guild and held at the Waldemere Fire Station where the monthly meetings take place. It is a large community room where 20 of us could easily spread out with our sewing machines and accessories and get to work on our applique faces. The class started with Kim giving us some basic instructions on creating the face. There were a couple of specific rules that we needed to remember, so she made us repeat them together out loud…it reminded me of elementary school. Even after the enthusiastic audience participation, some of the ladies still broke the rules. Artists…sometimes they march to the beat of a different drum.
As we started working on our faces using the kit Kim provided as part of the workshop, I discovered that this technique was hard. She makes it look so easy. I complained a little. But I got over it. Going into the class I was sure we would be using free motion sewing because we had to go around little circles in the eyes and other small, curved areas. No.Such.Luck.
Kim painstakingly sews each stitch using the machine’s straight stitch at a very slow speed. To turn corners or go around curves, we left the needle in the fabric, lifted the presser foot, and turned the fabric. Wow. So much for someone like me who likes instant gratification on her projects. This was going to take a long time. And it did.
At the end of the 3 hour workshop I had a face on a piece of fabric, but was not even close to constructing and applying it to a tote bag. However, although it was difficult when I started, the face began to take shape and I was starting to like the result, so I was inspired to go home and work on finishing the project. This was not going to end up as a UFO – unfinished object.
A few days later Hurricane Hermine put a damper on our plans to travel to Tallahassee for the weekend, so I took advantage of a Friday off work to finish my face bag. I tried to only use fabric I already had, but when it came to constructing the actual tote bag, I decided I should invest in a fabric I really loved. A quick trip to Joann Fabrics and I found the perfect home decorator fabric on sale…it was a steal!
I love my bag and look forward to using it to tote other art projects. I’m thinking of making another one, but I will probably have to wait for a hurricane threat so I can hunker down and sew all day.
Here are a few tips I thought about as I was making my bag:
- Workshops are a great, inexpensive way to learn a new technique without making a big investment. The social aspect of interacting with fellow like-minded people is a tremendous bonus.
- Limit your choices when trying a new technique. Kim provided a kit because she knew we would lament over the choices of fabric for our eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid decision fatigue (yes, that is a real thing), minimize your materials and concentrate on the technique.
- Join a local art group. These groups support local teachers and are a fun way to expose yourself to a variety of art.
Local Sarasota Links:
Calamity Kim – check out her Facebook page where she posts the classes she teaches
Sarasota Surface Design Guild – join in the fun!
Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild – another great group of artists!