I consider myself a fairly competent woman. When I decide I want to do, or learn something, it’s usually not hard for me to accomplish. Lately however, there have been two things that are giving me a little bit of trouble; photography and sewing. Don’t get me wrong – I know how to use the sewing machine and the camera, they’re gadgets… I get gadgets – but what I’m producing just isn’t any good. Or at least not “good enough”.
A little back story: A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn to sew. I did a lot of research about machines and decided on a Singer – not top of the line, but it had good reviews and it was affordable. One afternoon, I got an email that Joanne Fabrics was having a sale on the exact machine that I had decided upon. It was a really deep sale too, like $100 off. We all piled into the car and headed to Joanne’s. When I got there, it looked like they had just received delivery of these machines, there were lots of them. I picked one up and an associate came over while I was reading the box. I mentioned the sale and she told me that the machine was not on sale – I told her that I had just saw online that they were, in fact, on sale. At this point she got pretty snippy and told me that I was wrong, that the machine was only on sale from the website. I knew I hadn’t read it wrong, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. (When I got home, I checked and I was in fact correct, so I don’t know why the store didn’t know) On the way home, my husband suggested that we stop at the Sew and Vac shop and just look.
I walked out of there with a Baby Lock, a machine that I had no business owning. When all was said and done, I spent over a thousand dollars on something that I didn’t know how to use. It was so intimidating that after playing with the stitches, embroidering words and names into fabrics, and making two bandana pillows, I put the cover on the machine and there it sat – for a couple of years.
Recently, I decided that I was going to try again and I found some tutorials for making a camera strap cover. I cut my fabric and interface, ironed them together, and carefully constructed the strap. As I was sewing, I noticed that I couldn’t make a perfectly straight line. I started to research that as well and then I called the store where I purchased it. They told me to bring it in, that it might need servicing which was no big deal, about $79 and that you should do that every so often anyway. I dropped it off and they called me the next day to tell me to come get it, it was in perfect shape, didn’t need service and that there was no charge.
So apparently the problem with the machine is me. User error.
When I got to the store, I expressed my frustration to the women who work there and they immediately plugged the machine in and sat me down. We talked about how I was sewing and what I was doing and everyone was in agreement that I’m trying to go too fast. They suggested that I forego the pedal and use the stop/start button. They thought, and I have to agree, that my speed wasn’t consistant on the pedal and that feeding the fabric through at a consistent speed, while operating the pedal like that was causing my misalignment. We tried a couple of times and it worked way better their way.
On to the camera… I’ve been taking pictures for a long time, upgrading each camera as I got more and more proficient. I recently upgraded to my first SLR from a high end point and shoot. The day I got the new camera, I immediately started shooting pictures, joyful in the knowledge that I was shooting professional quality, gorgeous shots. I transfered the pictures to my computer and… they looked exactly the same as the pictures from my point and shoot. Exactly. the. same. I read the manual, I joined some photography groups, I’m reading tutorial after tutorial and I’m revisiting a night photography course that I took last year.
Slowly, painstakingly slow, ever so slightly, my pictures are improving. As I learn more about what each setting does and WHEN and WHY to use them, the photographs are getting better. Have I mentioned it’s very slow going?
So what’s the point of all this rambling? Both situations have a lot in common. I’m going too fast. I’m not taking the time to learn about what I’m doing, I’m just jumping in and expecting to create haute couture and museum worthy photos. And that’s just not going to happen. So, in what seems to be a theme in my life right now, I’m being forced to slow down, to connect with the world around me, to pay attention to the details and to have patience with my self and my process. All things that I do not excel in. It’s funny, but the word I chose for 2012 is “connection” and that’s exactly what this is forcing me to do; connect. (Careful what you wish for) I’m going to two events this weekend for the simple pleasure of taking photographs. Walk around with a big fancy camera and people start talking to you. Which is good for me – see, what people don’t know is that I’m terribly shy and I almost never will be the first one to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But if you talk to me first? That I can handle.
Also? I’m really glad I bought the expensive machine… I never would have gotten the service that I’m receiving from the sew and vac shop – A. White Sew and Vac Ocala – they’re even giving me free sewing lessons that I start next week because I bought the machine from them. Never would have happened at that other store.
And here’s my camera and my first attempt at the strap cover. Not too bad, there are a lot of problems with it, but it’s usable and I actually love that I made it myself. Also, it’s much nicer around your neck than the plain strap. The bunching of the fabric is cause by the fact that it’s actually too tight, but that’s also what’s keeping it in place. I’ve decided to call it “ruching” and pretend that I meant to do it that way.