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The curse of “I could make that!”

28 Sep

I can admit without being too obnoxious that I am a somewhat crafty person.  I inherited some mad decorating skills from my mom, who would come up with all sorts of thrifty ways to make our house look nice during our poorest of times.  Like the magic she worked with Laura Ashley sheets from Marshalls – instant couch cover, with the aide of a few safety pins.  (Yes, we wrapped a white sofa in sheets, and no one knew it!)  There was another time where she got different colored paper fans from Pier One, opened them to varying degrees, nailed them to a board, and hung it like valances at the top of the windows.  And the infamous story of when she saw an outfit made of white eyelet at the department store, but couldn’t afford it, went home, realized she had white eyelet curtains in the breakfast room and had a new outfit the next day, and less curtains in the breakfast room.

This is what I grew up with.

Needless to say, now, as an adult with a sewing machine and the ability to knit AND crochet, I look at stuff and think “I could make that.”  Even worse, I taught myself to sew, knit, and crochet, so of course, I could probably learn how to do other things as well.

It’s a curse really.

See, the thing is, you have to first invest in all the tools to make things.  Like when I decided I could sew cloth diapers for Maura.  It would be easy!  I could learn how to sew!  I had a sewing machine!  I could get a serger!  I could buy all the materials!  Pick out the best patterns! It’ll be great!  I could make diapers for a fraction of the cost to buy them!  After completing my first useable diaper, I showed it off proudly to my husband and he laughed and said “Congratulations, you’ve made a $400 diaper!”

It was true.  That diaper was a bit pricey if you considered the cost of materials.  Forget the time investment.  I could have bought a couple of dozen diapers for half the price.  (Oh wait, I had.)  But the positive spin is that I did learn to sew thanks to those first few diapers.

However, you step into the crafting world and suddenly you’re surrounded by other crafty people who are all “OMG,  have you tried THIS????  Isn’t this awesome???” and you’re all “OMG YES!  I must try that too!”  And you go online or to Joann’s and wander about and fill your basket and  place your orders.  Because you’re going to learn to make THIS!

And then you’re surrounded by jewelry making materials.  And realize you don’t really want to make jewelry after the first couple of tries, but now you have 14 pliers and 500,000 beads in assorted colors.

We won’t discuss scrapbooking, or how I decided that since no baby book covered Maura’s special milestone timeline, I’d make her a baby book.  Or how that turned into “Look at all the pretty paper!  I neeeed!”

No, we won’t discuss that at all.

One of the problems is, I’m not the only one who thinks “I could make that!”  My family thinks highly of me as well.  Halloween costumes, a tablet cover, a First Communion dress – sure, Mom can make that!

What can I say, I hate to disappoint them.

At one point, I found myself surrounded by all this “I could make that!” stuff that was going unused.  I realized that I had a bit of a problem going on.  That led to the hard phase of “Well, I don’t use it, but it’s still good stuff, and just what am I supposed to do with 14 pliers and 500,000 beads?”  Then we were moving to Ireland and I had to get hardcore with my clearing out.  The woman at the consignment shop became my best friend (it seems my yarns and fabrics were quite popular with the crowd there, proving I was not alone in this problem.)

During my time in Ireland, I had a bit of a reprieve, except with yarn.  Oh, there were two of the loveliest yarn shops near me.  But that was okay, I actually make stuff with yarn – AND complete it.  I had entered a new phase – “Don’t buy it without knowing its use.”

So yeah, I got all confident in my decision-making skills when it came to the “I could make that!” curse.

Until I returned to the Land of the Consumer.

See, in Ireland, even if I wanted to go down that rabbit hole that leads to Crafting Hell, it was hard, because there weren’t a lot of places that sold all the crafting supplies you could ever want and never use, definitely not all under one roof.

Here?  Here they make it SO easy – especially when the local shopping center has a Michael’s next to a Joann’s.

We won’t discuss how I dragged fabric to Ireland only to drag it all back to here, still unused.  Or that I have more than enough yarn and ideas for it to see me through a year.  Or that afghan I started crocheting before I left for Ireland and still haven’t finished.

No, we won’t discuss those.

Suddenly I find myself going “You know, I could learn how to spin wool.  That’d be cool.  Spinning wheels are cool.” and “I could make a cover for my KitchenAid mixer instead of buying one.  Heck, I could set up an Etsy shop, making mixer covers.  It’ll be great!”

This week, I bought a new duvet and duvet cover (as the one we had was for a full size bed and we’ve upgraded to a king size.)  I have spent several weeks deciding what look I wanted, found one, bought it finally.

Yet today, I was thinking “Hmm…you know, I could probably make a duvet cover.  It could be like a patchwork, bohemian-style, with a mix of colors and patterns.  Yeah, I could make one, it would be easy.  Maybe I should return the one I bought and just make one….”

And then I mentally slapped myself.

“No, you’re not going to make one.  You haven’t finished unpacking.  You haven’t finished finding new homes for your stuff.  You don’t even have a clear space to sew yet.  We won’t discuss how you know you’ll just end up spending more in fabric than you did on the duvet you did buy.  Now stop it you crazy woman!”

See, you could make it…but sometimes, you have to admit that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Or have the time.  Or that you’ll actually save money.

So for now, no, I’m not going to make a funky Bohemian-style patchwork duvet cover.  I have a house to still unpack, forms to still fill out, a pile of yarn that needs knitting up.  I can put that idea on the backburner for when life’s not as crazy.

That said – just saved a pin to Pinterest for how to make your own KitchenAid mixer cover.

Yeah, it’s a sickness.

Miriam's First Communion dress - my pinnacle of sewing skills.  (Grandma made the veil because after making the dress, I was DONE!)

Miriam’s First Communion dress – my pinnacle of sewing skills. (Grandma made the veil because after making the dress, I was DONE!)

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9 Responses to “The curse of “I could make that!””

  1. Joan T Warren September 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    Too funny to me because I share the same curse!! My husband finally insisted I not start any new projects until I finish the ones that are started. Sure made life boring! I nearly stopped any projects at all, since the old projects are never as interesting as the new ones. Hey, now that I think of it, it wasn’t long after that I started blogging! This must be related.

  2. Renee Anne September 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I know what you’re getting at. I have a bin full of beads and other jewelry making supplies. Yeah, haven’t done that. Love the idea, have good ideas, just don’t do it. I should get rid of that stuff. And then there are my 10 bins of yarn and 3 bins of fiber and my spinning wheel and needles and notions and bags…that takes up a closet by itself. ::sigh:: I may have a problem.

  3. cathymcallister September 28, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    This is hilarious! I am the same way, except I’m not actually good at any of it! I just collect the materials, and then they collect dust. Thanks for the laugh!

  4. katepantier September 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Phoebe!! I’m just like this! Only these days I rarely start a project if I know I can’t finish it. I’ve spent too much $$ investing in things, so glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  5. Sara September 29, 2013 at 5:19 am #

    My Mom has two extra rooms since my sister and I moved out long ago. Both are choked with craft supplies. Sewing, card making, scrap booking, knitting, embroidery, etc. Not to mention the cooking stuff, all the machines for grinding her own wheat, making bread. Sometimes I think she picks up new hobbies just to spend money collecting all the supplies that then just sit there when she moves onto the next thing. It’s a huge waste of money and seems very American.

    I took two sweaters to the tailor and got them altered. It took less than half an hour to take them and pick them up. Total and cost €16. Much simpler. I will never buy a sewing machine as long as there are tailors.

  6. Dean B September 29, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    Oh I wish I had your disease! I’ve always wanted to do crafts, but sadly, I’m crap at doing them. I bought a sewing machine, thinking I could learn how to use it… A friend taught me at first, but I’ve forgotten how. So now it’s in a box in our airing cup board. Maybe when my daughter starts school? …

  7. Jessica September 29, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Oh I’m the same! Mail-order craft shops should come with a stamp of being able to cause serious addiction. I did beading, and had an impressive supply of lampwork beads. I found a place so sell them when my interest became non-existant.

    I’ve been doing origami for 20 years. I have paper EVERYWHERE.

    Then I got a sewing machine. Soon after I found a place with japanese fabrics. I have a small basket full now, but I haven’t done any sewing.

  8. LornaJane September 30, 2013 at 2:05 am #

    My whole family does this! Apparently my mum couldn’t afford cute outfits for me when I was tiny so she would go window shopping, then go home and make it. As a teenager, if I saw something I liked she would say “we could do that!”. And now I have a baby niece, my sister told me that all the cot mobiles are rubbish and she thought I could make something better … I’ve been soldering for weeks 🙂 I will say that I totally treasure that I always have had handmade clothes, bags, soft furnishings and all the rest. They’re always just exactly what I needed, and they’re the reason that I learned to craft myself.

  9. emcclure2010 October 2, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    LOL!! This is like my entire family. Sewing, knitting, garden beds, flavored vinegar, you name it. But you know, if I ever need anything I KNOW my mom has the supplies! But yes, I frequently give myself a stern talking to about this issue. Lol

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