Do What You Love

I had plenty of time to ponder while sitting at jury duty, waiting to see if I might be needed. I did spend a chunk of time sorting through Girl Scout stuff, getting things organized for the new year, but then thought (and rightly so) that if I started to write, they would likely tell us what to do. First it was go to lunch, and then it was go home. So, I have been given the rest of the week back.

So, while waiting, I pondered. What do I love to do? What would I spend more time on if I had more time to spend?

Now that I have a dedicated room, one that I see every morning and night, sewing quickly comes to mind, both as a must do (mending pile is calling) and want to do (create clothes and other stuff). My first sewing project on my own was a zebra costume for my daughter for Halloween. I happened to have a piece of zebra print fabric (extra from Grandma’s old couch – that is another story) that was about the right size. I used a blanket sleeper as a “pattern” and, though I didn’t leave quite enough room for seams, it somehow worked (she was very cute squeezed into the little suit and, at 1 ½, didn’t really care what it looked like anyway).

After this, I realized that I could buy patterns and make other clothes as well. I started with knit pants (luckily, because they were easy enough for me to be successful and therefore keep going). Shirts, I found, were not quite as easy. I spent most of an afternoon sewing, ripping out and re-sewing seams on my first shirt, then decided that having some seams on the inside and others on the outside was a fashion statement. At one point, I found a book in the bargain section (imagine that) on how to sew dolls and other toys. That year, the girls in the family all got fabric dolls and my kids and their cousins got rather large puppets as gifts. When the kids got older, they made requests for Halloween costumes and I did my best to comply. One year I even made Civil War Era costumes for my husband and myself.

Of course, this continued to progress. I signed up to help with costumes for middle and high school plays (my current machine was purchased at WalMart at 10 pm the night before dress rehearsal for one show when the old one fell apart in my hands). By the time my youngest was in 7th grade, I was the co-coordinator for costumes and made more dresses in a month I had previously thought possible. I was insanely busy, but loved it (and felt a sort of withdrawal the following year when they didn’t need any costumes).

When my sister got married, I organized a community quilt as a gift for them (I stole the idea from good friends when they got married). Several years later, I decided to try to make a quilt completely by myself and ended up making and gifting three. (I have yet to put one together for myself, though I have the fabric – all purchased from and reflecting a trip to Hawaii.) It was suggested that I make and sell these, but I think that would take the fun out of it. Besides, they were all designed and made for the people who have them. I’m not sure about doing that for strangers.

A year or so ago, I was approached by a friend who had a client with a specific need. She had a pillow with a hole slightly off-center and needed a washable cover for it (which would have to be removed to be washed). I took on the challenge, and feel that I could safely add domestic engineer to my resume (it was fairly complicated, but in the end, I was very happy with the result). As a job, though, I don’t see much possibility here.

I do think I could consider the possibility of custom curtains. I made most of the curtains currently in our house, either because I couldn’t find what I wanted or simply because I refused to spend what I thought were exorbitant fees for something I could do for a fraction of the cost.  But marketing is not really something I want to spend time on.

Wow, I never thought I could spend so much time on this topic. I never even got around to upcoming sewing projects. Other related activities would be refinishing/refurbishing old furniture. I enjoy this, but enjoy the end result more. I guess what it amounts to is that I can not bring myself to ask someone to pay more than I would be willing to pay to get a job done, and that some jobs I wouldn’t do for what I would pay myself (a revelation I just now came to).

An exception to that, of course, is writing. Although much of the writing I have done has been for free (press releases and newsletters for the elementary schools, and a press release for our town’s annual Ocktoberfest), I have gotten used to receiving appropriate pay for freelance writing and am repeatedly frustrated by the trend within some publishing arenas to be “reader written.” Likewise for ads promising circulation, but no pay at this time.

I guess things keep circling around to exactly where I though they would, and one of the purposes of this blog. I need to write.

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